Reviewers who said Beyond Redemption is the grimdarkest of grimdark haven’t been exaggerating. Don’t let the irrelevant cover fool you: Beyond Redemption has nothing to do with cowboys or Western settings. It is the epitome of grimdark, featuring an incredibly original magic system and a pre-modern setting.
Beyond Redemption is extremely dark and gritty, but far from depressing and full of twisted, sharp, dark humor. The main characters are truly horrible people, but pretty much all characters are quite vile except for Morgen, who is an innocent little boy the Geborene cult is grooming to be their god.
In this crazy world, people’s delusions shape reality and all magical powers come from mental illness. I must say this is the most original and novel magic concept I have ever seen in fantasy.
The main characters are all vile and amoral people, they are straight out cutthroat criminals, but you root for them anyway. Micheal Fletcher is the kind of genius who makes you care about the horrible characters. The bickering dialogues between them was one of my favorite elements of this book.
Bedeckt, Wichtig and Stehlen are a criminal trio riding around the land and robbing the people. They hear about the Geborene Damonen cult grooming a child to be their ascended god and come up with the brilliant idea of kidnapping him for ransom. Bedeckt is a middle aged man and the only sane character in the story. Stehlen is a hideous woman with no morals, she is a Kleptic, a compulsive thief, and a merciless murderer. But she ended up one of my favorite characters. Michael Fletcher’s magic makes you like such an awful character. Wichtig is a self-worshipping swordsman who is on a quest to be the world’s greatest swordsman. He is a very annoying fellow, but I felt sorry for him later on as his background story unfolded.
Morgen’s chapters make a grim display of a sheltered little boy’s exposure to the dystopian, filthy, corrupt world and vile people who can’t be trusted, and how it all changes him. The emotional depth in those parts is quite intense.
Konig is the theocrat of the Geborene Damonen cult and his delusion makes shards of his personality appear as flesh and blood Doppels. The Doppels have their own personalities, which stem from the aspects of Konig’s personality. The Doppels are compelling and intriguing, their bickering and plotting against Konig and each other was very entertaining to read.
Gehirn is the other main female character, she is a high ranking member of the Geborene cult. She is a powerful pyromaniac who can set a whole town on fire and she is as hideous and broken as Stehlen. She is one of the most complex characters and the parts showing her weaknesses hold her down was some of the most realistic scenes I’ve read in fantasy.
If all the main characters are so awful, what do the villains look like? There is a terrible villain called Erbrechen, who is a horrendous slaver, rapist and cannibal and this fellow makes the other thieving, murdering, awful characters look innocent. He is truly revolting and the chapters featuring him made me cringe and wish the most violent death upon this nightmarish creature. I can say he is on par with Joffrey from Asoiaf when it comes to the villains you hate with passion.
Michael Fletcher’s gritty realism is a work of art and should be great fun to read for any grimdark lover. Beyond Redemption is full of twists and turns and you don’t see any of it coming. The concept of death is also quite original, but I can’t say much for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free.
The book ends in a cliffhanger leaving the door open for a sequel. The sequel, The Mirror’s Truth just got published a few days ago.
Beyond Redemption was a 2 am in the morning page turner for me and I can’t recommend it enough.