This was an interesting one! The general premise is that madness (delusions) become real. Belief shapes reality. So if someone believes they can control fire… they CAN control fire. If someone believes there are multiple aspects of themselves walking around… there ARE multiple aspects of them walking around. If a group of people believe a person to be the world’s greatest swordsman… that person IS the world’s greatest swordsman regardless of actual skill. AND if an entire faith/nation of people believe that a young boy will become a god when he dies… that boy WILL become a god when he dies. Add into that a general belief that there is an afterlife and anyone you kill in life then serves you for eternity in the afterlife and what you get is a bit of a mess. A really well-thought-out fun mess!
Beyond Redemption (BR) took me a while to get into. The magic system is without a doubt a brilliant concept and learning about the various different forms of delusions and the powers they grant was very fun and excellently done. BUT, I’m the type of person who likes to relate to characters and for much of the story I found them all very hard to relate to. They are all aresholes and any redeeming features are few and far between (yes, that’s kind of the point), but as the story went on I got glimpses into those characters’ complexities. From about 1/3 of the way through this book I found myself alternating between liking and hating all three of our “main” characters, and by the final act I found myself hoping they’d all make it through the shit storm headed their way… despite also being fairly certain that they all deserved to die and the world would probably be better off without them all.
It’s really a credit to Fletcher’s writing that he makes the story so compelling while the characters are so contemptible. But let’s not breeze past the world. It’s a hellish place this world Fletcher has created and however heinous the characters are, it’s because they are a product of the world. How could it not be hellish when madness can shape reality and the more insane you are the stronger your powers to mold the world around you become.
There are certainly a few blips along the way with BR. It slows down to a crawl about half way through as it sets up so much of what is to come, sometimes feeling like it is repeating things so us readers REALLY get the gist. Almost as though Fletcher is holding up a sign to some of the rules of the world to let us know how important they will be later on. And the rambling thoughts of many of the characters may be disjointed for a purpose, but they sometimes repeat themselves so much that I found myself hoping the story would move on because I can’t bring myself to skip even a single word when I read a book.
So I’m going to give Beyond Redemption a solid 4 stars. It’s a really well thought out, interesting read that grips you with an insane magic system and forces you to like characters who really don’t deserve it.