Title: Beyond Redemption
Author: Michael R. Fletcher
Publication Date: 1st July 2015
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Thanks to HarperVoyager for sending me a copy to review!
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature; what the masses believe is an axiom. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.
Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken – men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, who must Ascend to become a god – a god they can control.
But there are many who see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates – the Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left – have their own nefarious plans for the young god.
As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question then is: Who will rule there?
Fletcher has written a brilliant fantasy novel, using real-world mental illness as a starting point for his creation. It is just such a simple, yet awesome idea! It was fascinating seeing the manifestations of mentally ill people controlling the world. It was really interesting to learn about the many different illnesses through the lens of a fantasy realm. There is also a really helpful guide at the back of the book which describes each type of Geisteskranken and the mental illness it is based on. It’s not often that I can say I learnt a lot from a fantasy novel, but I really did.
The characters are an intriguing mix. I really liked the relationship between Wichtig (the Greatest Swordsman in the World), Stehlen (a thieving Kleptic) and Bedeckt (completely sane). They are a weird group but the dynamic works well. Konig was also excellent, particularly because he literally gets to talk to himself, the Doppels who each represent his strongest characteristics.
It is also incredibly quotable – I had to keep post-it notes on me at all times to mark my favourite lines about power, communication and sanity. Here are some of my favourites – it was so hard to cut them down to just a few!!
Communication is manipulation…We first learn to talk so we may better manipulate our parents.
Power corrupts and a corrupted mind becomes more powerful. You ask if there is a ruler…who is sane? I think the answer clear.
The Gefahrgeist must first fool themselves. After that, everyone else is easy.
If communication was manipulation, emotion was the fulcrum on which the leverage was applied.
Sanity. Insanity. Genius. Rampant stupidity. Frankly, I can no longer tell them apart.
This book was absolutely amazing – it would have been a five, except for the slightly unnecessary preoccupation the author had with female-female self-loathing sex scenes. There were a few and they served very little purpose while making the reader uncomfortable.
I had a small problem with the language – most of the fantasy words Fletcher uses are German, which I used to speak fluently. It was just plain weird to reconcile it with the fantastical world… However, understanding the links WAS kind of cool. Wichtig, for example, means important (which he thinks he is) and Konig means king, highlighting his power.
I would highly recommend this book, not just for fantasy fans, but for anyone interested in mental illness. Fletcher has done an amazing job at literally bringing to life the manifestations of such illnesses. A brilliant book, excellently written, this is definitely worth a read.