Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
Review by: Michael Baker
Fantasy is a pretty tried and tested genre. That is not a bad thing of course. A lot of fantasy you see tends to follow a similar pattern, be it Chosen Ones, prophecies, great holy wars between good and evil, medieval-esque settings and so much more. That is the beauty of fantasy though. Because of its nature, the world is at your fingertips to mold and create. You are heaven and hell. You are God.
I first learned about Beyond Redemption through a friend of mine who recommended it for me, when I was searching for fantasy that went beyond the classic bread and butter. This delivered. Oh, boy, did it deliver. I had the pleasure of speaking with the author just this week, and I offered him an interview on my blog. Soon I hope, you will be able to see it!
This review does contain a couple of spoilers, but I will not go into much detail.
Book one of the Manifest Delusions series, Beyond Redemption is really that; a grim, gritty and realistic look into grimdark fantasy.
Set in a grim-painted realm of constant war and grief, Beyond Redemption explores consequences of magic, the power of religion and the stability of a soul as it slowly fractures. The magic system is solid, especially when dealing with consequences. Those skilled in magic suffer from increasingly powerful delusions that threaten to break free and trap the sorcerer. Called Doppels, these constantly conspire against the main character Konig, a High Priest dedicated to turning a young child into a god he alone can control. Of course, this does not go to plan, and the story throughout takes an increasingly dark turn. Can you murder a child to make them Ascend? This book also takes an impressive view of the afterlife. In death, you essentially live your life all over again, based on how violent your life on the living realm was. It’s quite unique and takes a refreshing look at the brutality of the world.
If you are squeamish, look away. This is a violent tale and pulls very few punches. All of it is well done and painted in such a way even I felt affected the way it was written. That takes a lot to do to me.
The book really highlights characters quite well, and it pulls no punches in its brutality. The trio of dangerous, ill-redeemable killers; Wichtig the Swordsmen and master manipulator, the vicious Kelptic and killer Schelten, and their “leader” and often sick Bedeckt, were a brilliant joy to read, despite them being borderline evil. Their relationships were believable and relatable, and despite all of their many vices and problems with each other, they got along…just. It is a dirty, violent threesome, full of murder, sickness, violent acts and one of the dirtiest sex scenes I’ve ever read. Don’t think it was tasteless, however. It was truly fascinating reading about the three.
That is not the only plotline, however. Konigs utterly insane strategy explores the equally conflicted Geisteskranken, the most powerful characters in the story who equally suffer the greatest flaws; their magic destroys them from the inside out. As he desperately tries to control his increasingly potent Doppel mania (An insight into real-life multiple-personality disorder), one of his most powerful servants, Gehirn Schlechtes, goes out to try and find the child, a destructive pyromancer with a lust for her own pain and desire to kill. She meets a Slaver with a devastating power for religious mania, converting and slaughtering his followers to be “loved”. Their relationship and that plotline was the most disgusting of all, but it was incredible how much it drew me into it. Oh, human stew. Got to love some human stew. So yeah, if you aren’t a fan of cannibalism, this may entice you to look away. Man, did it reveal some truly dark shit. You can virtually smell the excrement and vilify off the pages. But my word does it deliver effectively.
One possible flaw of this book is potentially how nearly every character can be seen as an evil bastard, with only the god-child Morgen showing some positive traits, but they are so well written that this rarely troubled me.
In conclusion, Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption is a joy to read. It is in depth, and it flows without going through the purple prose crap that plagues so many generic fantasy novels. The action scenes are fast and crisp but don’t over-extend, and the prose is extensive but not flowery. All I can say is…well done. Beyond Redemption is one of my favorite books of the year so far, and I still have plenty to go. I cannot wait to pick up the second book in the series, The Mirror’s Truth because I am invested in this series. It is not for the faint-hearted, so that is a word of warning. If you are squeamish or for some reason let written words offend you, then you’re looking for the wrong book