Beyond Redemption was provided to Grimdark Magazine as an advanced-reader copy by Harper Collins.
The cornerstone philosophy of self-help literature is something I’m very familiar with – your beliefs create your reality. This idea can be traced from James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh to more modern teachings like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. What these gurus teach is that your mind and your thoughts create and attract what you see around you. What if this was physically true, and humans could shape reality through the power of thought, but those who could do this were all insane?
That’s the concept in Michael R. Fletcher’s dark and gritty fantasy, Beyond Redemption.
There are two types of people in Fletcher’s dark world – the sane and the Geisteskranken (German for “The Insane”). These deluded crazies are varied in their beliefs and abilities. Hassebrands are pyromaniacs that can bring fire with a blink of an eye. Kleptics are magnificent thieves and disappear from memory like a shadow in the night. Gefahrgeists are sociopaths and gain strength from those that worship them.
Konig Furimmer has many delusions and is the high priest of the Geborene Damonen, a religion that believes humans created the gods, and they’re in the process of creating a new deity. Konig hopes that god to be Morgen, a young boy and the last of a group of children born specifically to “ascend” into godhood. But in order to ascend, Morgen has to die.
In this world, anyone you kill must serve you in the Afterdeath. What if you kill a god? That’s what Konig is hoping for – a god to serve him and prevent him from going the way of all Geisteskranken and having his own delusions destroy him.
Bedeckt is the haggard leader of a trio of drifting murderers always looking for the next score. His companions are Wichtig, who claims to be the “World’s Greatest Swordsman” (his delusion is catching), and Stehlen, a Kleptic who kills first and asks questions later. When these three ride into a town and hear news of a god child, Bedeckt sees a hefty ransom in kidnapping the boy, enough to retire on.
After Stehlen wipes out an entire Geborene church, Konig sends Gehirn Schlectes, a Hassebrand, to burn out the truth. But in a world with many strong delusions, loyalty can be as malleable as molten steel. Gehirn discovers Bedeckt’s plan to kidnap Morgen, but abandons her mission after joining a travelling horde following a very powerful Gefahrgeist, who Gehirn can’t help but love and serve.
Now everyone wants the god child and the power that comes with him. In a world full of the Insane, nothing is true, and no one is safe.
This book is dark. Just when I thought the plot couldn’t get any more morbid, Fletcher takes you down even gloomier alleys. His writing style dances from elaborate to more down-to-earth language in a way that grips hold of you. You keep turning the pages not only to see how much worse things can get for these characters, but also because it’s so easy to read. I loved it.
Many of the elements in the story are those we’ve seen before: an aged barbarian at the end of his stamina, a cocky swordsman, a religious nut greedy for power and self preservation. But Fletcher has taken these classic tropes and given them new, psychotic life. Gehirn was one of my favorite characters. I couldn’t decide if I loved or despised her. She’s a whacko for sure, like almost every character in the book, but is she one to root for? And who doesn’t like a grimdark protagonist that can burn you to ash in milliseconds?
There were a few things in Beyond Redemption that could put a grimdark reader off. At times a character would try to explain how delusions created reality. This was seen particularly with Wichtig and his philosophy of winning the crowd before ever drawing a blade. However, it was only at the start and overall I don’t feel readers will be overwhelmed with the world-building. There were also many points of view, but it was pulled off well.
Michael R. Fletcher has put himself on the map as a grimdark author to watch and read for many years to come. Beyond Redemption releases June 16th from Harper Collins and gets 4 Grimdark Lords out of 5.
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