Swarm and Steel
To escape the hell she created, a woman must team up with a novice warrior and return to her homeland in this gritty epic fantasy where delusions are literally made real.Zerfall awakens in an alley, wounded and unable to remember her past. Chased by an assassin out into the endless wastes of the desert, she is caught, disfigured, and left for dead. Her scabbard is empty, but the need for answers—and the pull of her sword—will draw her back to the city-states.When Jateko, a naïve youth, accidentally kills a member of his own tribe, he finds himself outcast and pursued across the desert for his crimes. Crazed from dehydration, dying of thirst and hunger, he stumbles across Zerfall.Hunted by assassins and bound by mutual need, both Zerfall and Jateko will confront the Täuschung, an ancient and deranged religion ruled by a broken fragment of Zerfall’s mind. Swarm, the Täuschung hell, seethes with imprisoned souls, but where gods—real or imagined—meddle in the affairs of man, the cost is high.In Swarm and Steel, the power of belief can manifest and shape reality, and for political and religious leaders, faith becomes a powerful tool. But the insane are capable of twisting reality with their delusions as well, turning increasingly dangerous as their sanity crumbles. It is here that a long prophesied evil will be born, an endless hunger. The All Consuming will rise.

Swarm and Steel Details

TitleSwarm and Steel
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 22nd, 2017
PublisherTalos
ISBN-139781940456898
Rating
GenreFantasy, Dark Fantasy, Fiction

Swarm and Steel Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the author and the publisher—Talos—in exchange for an honest review.Victor Frankenstein became well known as the Mad Scientist after he created the Frankenstein’s Monster. Well, Michael Fletcherstein (totally just made this up) deserves the nickname of the Mad Author for the creation of every book in the Manifest Delusions series, including this great standalone.I need to question a bit of my sanity here. Swarm and Steel is at its core a standalone and is Fletcher’s take on a lov ARC provided by the author and the publisher—Talos—in exchange for an honest review.Victor Frankenstein became well known as the Mad Scientist after he created the Frankenstein’s Monster. Well, Michael Fletcherstein (totally just made this up) deserves the nickname of the Mad Author for the creation of every book in the Manifest Delusions series, including this great standalone.I need to question a bit of my sanity here. Swarm and Steel is at its core a standalone and is Fletcher’s take on a love story set in the same Mad World as the Manifest Delusions main series. You might think “oh, this sounds lighter than the main series.” Let me tell you that no, it’s not. It’s still insane and, in my opinion, the most disgusting installment yet. For instance, there’s this character who’s building a puppet made out of his snot, nail clippings, and body hair. Also, the two main characters, Zerfall and Jateko—the couple—are a walking corpse and a cannibal. Seriously, anything touched by this author becomes a swarm of madness and insanity. And yet, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the book anyway. "If you care what others think to the point it defines your choices—defines your happiness and self-worth—you’re giving them power. Over you.” If you haven’t read Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth (you seriously should though) and are looking to start reading Fletcher’s work, it’s definitely okay to start with this book if you want. The story is completely separated; it starts slowly and builds up everything to reach the amazing climax sequences. The last 20% of the book, like The Mirror’s Truth, is full of breathtaking action sequences that lead to the most suitable ending for the book. However, I will still suggest you read the main series first. Not only are they some of the best books in the genre, if you’re a super spoiler-sensitive person like me, there’s a tiny nod to some events in the main series. The main series is in my opinion superior, and reading those main novels first will ease you into understanding most of the terminology used in the book.Don’t get me wrong, Fletcher did a wonderful job in re-explaining both old and new terms again, but I feel like they still can be a bit overwhelming if you’re a newcomer to the series. Aside from that, Fletcher did a superb job of expanding the Mad World by exploring Swarm and several new Geisteskranken (The Delusional) that were only mentioned in the main books.Admittedly, I do have some minor cons with the book. Unlike Beyond Redemption or The Mirror’s Truth, this book took quite a while to truly engross me in the story and characters; specifically, 50% of the book. This is due to the fact that the characters, though they are still well written, just pale in comparison to the main trio of the Manifest Delusions main series. It can’t be helped really; Bedeckt, Witchtig, and Stehlen are uniquely amazing characters that captivated me ever since their first appearance. The fact that I’m reading this straight after The Mirror’s Truth is partly to blame as well because my feelings for the main trio are still fresh. However, the last half of the book truly made my time spent reading this book worthwhile and it almost completely overshadowed the cons I had with the first half.Overall, Swarm and Steel is a magnificent side story for the Manifest Delusions series and is definitely a must read for the fan of the series. Finishing this book means that I’ve read all of the full-length novels written by Michael R. Fletcher, and I can safely say that with one or two more books, he will definitely be included in my ‘favorite authors of all time’ list. Once again, if you’re a fan of the genre, all of the books in the Manifest Delusions series a MUST read; I can’t recommend them strongly enough.You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
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  • ☽Luna☾
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5This ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Release date is 22nd of August 2017. “Am I a monster?” “If you are. I am too,” This book was so totally & utterly disturbing and I'm in awe of Michael R. Fletcher's writing prowess. But loving this book totally made me think to myself "since when did I become such a warped morbid piece of shit?". I feel like only warped minded people could love a novel like this. It's basically a book about cannibalism, madness, re 4.5/5This ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Release date is 22nd of August 2017. “Am I a monster?” “If you are. I am too,” This book was so totally & utterly disturbing and I'm in awe of Michael R. Fletcher's writing prowess. But loving this book totally made me think to myself "since when did I become such a warped morbid piece of shit?". I feel like only warped minded people could love a novel like this. It's basically a book about cannibalism, madness, revenge, hate & love. YEAH YOU READ CORRECTLY... LOVE. This is quite possibly the most fucked up 'love story' I've ever read in my entire life but I totally dig it & it's my new favorite ever romance. I actually found it so adorable "I’ll never leave you. I’ve lost everything except you and now I have more than I’ve ever had in all my life.” (it's actually not adorable and a normal person would find it twisted and deranged) however I'm not normal and I am quite deranged so this love story was clearly made for me.This book was an easy read for me, because I have read Beyond Redemption so I understood the terminology used for the types of powers contained in the novel, I also stumbled upon this; Beyond Redemption Wiki which helped a lot with understanding what all the German words meant. It's a stand alone novel but it is still set in the same world of Manifest Delusions, so you can read this novel without reading the authors other works. There was a few mentions of the characters from Beyond Redemption which I loved, but there was no major spoilers for the other series.In a world where Sanity is a delusion, reality a myth. We follow our main protagonist Zerfall who has woken up in an alley with her head smashed in and no recollection of her past all she knows is that she is in danger and must get as far away from the Tauschung as possible, the Tauschung is a mad religion with its own private hell called swarm. Upon escaping the city she makes her way into the desert where she runs into a naive boy named Jateko who has accidentally killed a warrior from his tribe. Jateko has an unhealthy obsession with eating people because he believes that he will take their powers from consuming their brains. I had one minor con and that was it took a while to get exciting and I also read a PDF version which was quite painful as I'm blind as a bat and couldn't zoom in on the words, but that couldn't be helped and I'm so grateful the author offered me the ARC. I loved the humor so much, "The priestess grunted and strained and farted and Jateko wondered what kind of horrendous diet led to such effort for a simple crap. If all the people of the civilized city-states shat like these priests, the cities would be even fouler than he thought. It's a much lighter read then Beyond Redemption & it has made me so much more excited for The Mirrors Truth. This author is definitely a favourite and I cannot wait to read all of his fucked up shite.Definitely a fantastic novel that all grimdark fans should read. Another highly rated book which has wormed its way straight onto my favourites shelf. This novel definitely isn't for everyone, some scenes were quite confronting and it did contain child abuse, so if your a soft teddy bear, you should stay far away from this authors workYou can find this review and my other reviews at Booksprens.
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  • Scott Hitchcock
    January 1, 1970
    If you haven't read the first two books of this world Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth you really should especially if you're a fan of Grimdark. A lot of what I'm about to write is going to seem contradictory. First let's state this is flat out a 5* effort. Then we start comparing to the first two books. This is inevitable as with any series within the same world. Even one such as this where characters from the first two books are merely mentioned as references. You can clearly see how o If you haven't read the first two books of this world Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth you really should especially if you're a fan of Grimdark. A lot of what I'm about to write is going to seem contradictory. First let's state this is flat out a 5* effort. Then we start comparing to the first two books. This is inevitable as with any series within the same world. Even one such as this where characters from the first two books are merely mentioned as references. You can clearly see how once again MRF has grown as a writer. His words flow even better than the earlier works. The story is more complexed and that last 25% is pure cannot put this down action. About halfway through I thought there's only one way he's going to end this and not to give anything away it's not happily ever after. Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth are on my beyond 5* shelf where only ten books reside. It's sort of like Book of the Fallen where House of Chains while great compared to everything else out there can't make the shelf because it isn't as good as books from that series which did. A victim of your own success. I think the biggest difference is the characters. While the characters in this book were interesting they weren't Wichtig, Stehlen, Bedeckt, Konig, Morgen...those characters are simply iconic. While I cracked up during this book those characters made me laugh so hard I was sweating time and time again. MRF made the right call in developing new characters and not trying to recreate the old ones with new names. This is a brilliant piece that can stand on it's own. It's a must read for a fan of MRF and Grimdark in general.
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  • Petros Tr
    January 1, 1970
    Fletcher's new stand-alone novel in the world of Manifest Delusions is, simply said, mind-blowing. Literally. Zerfall, a powerful Gefahrgeist, is the leader of the Täuschung; a mad religion with its own private hell called Swarm. She had been ruling this religion for hundreds of years, up until the moment that she was struck in the head. Now she hasn't only lost her memories, but her powers as well. And when she is mortally wounded, she doesn't know that she must die. So she doesn't. Jateko is a Fletcher's new stand-alone novel in the world of Manifest Delusions is, simply said, mind-blowing. Literally. Zerfall, a powerful Gefahrgeist, is the leader of the Täuschung; a mad religion with its own private hell called Swarm. She had been ruling this religion for hundreds of years, up until the moment that she was struck in the head. Now she hasn't only lost her memories, but her powers as well. And when she is mortally wounded, she doesn't know that she must die. So she doesn't. Jateko is a young, naive barbarian. He somehow got the impression that if he eats the brains and internal organs of his enemies, he will absorb their power and wisdom. So he does. In a world where everything you believe is true, where belief shapes reality, Zerfall and Jateko will start an arduous and seemingly impossible quest that should, by all accounts, fail. But who really dares to stand in their way? "Harea, God of the Sands, backed by the belief and worship of thousands of Basamortuan tribes, towered above him. The god bent his will against him, tried to erase him from reality, tried to undo the knot of his story, remake reality as if he had never been. But a few thousands deranged souls incapable of working in concert were nothing; he was millions. He was reality. I am Legion."Fletcher's intricate and ingenuitive work results in a mesmerizing story that deserves to be praised. From eloquent and lucid prose to thought-provoking and humorous dialogues, from exciting action sequences to shocking plot-twists, and from compelling characters to an exceptionally developed magic system, Swarm and Steel has it all.If you liked Beyond Redemption and loved The Mirror's Truth, then Swarm and Steel is the book you are looking for *Jedi hand gesture*. If, on the other hand, you are new to the world of Manifest Delusions, then you have nothing to be afraid of; the book is a standalone with new characters and a re-explained world/magic system. All in all, Swarm and Steel is a book to be savored. You can find more of my reviews over at http://BookNest.eu/
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  • Michael Fletcher
    January 1, 1970
    Just made Barnes and Noble's "Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in August" list!: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/s...Publishers Weekly has give SWARM AND STEEL a starred review! Woo!"Fletcher’s twisty and continuously surprising plot piles spectacle upon spectacle in an amazingly ambitious structure, while his consistently three-dimensional characters lend depth and heart to the narrative."
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/08/24/...You know the saying, “That’s so crazy, it might just work?” Well, this is definitely true of Michael R. Fletcher’s latest Manifest Delusions novel. Featuring a new standalone tale, Swarm and Steel brings readers back to this world in which magic is insanity and the more deranged you are the more powerful you get. This, my lovelies, is the realm of the Geisteskranken, home to those whose delusions are made real.The protagon 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/08/24/...You know the saying, “That’s so crazy, it might just work?” Well, this is definitely true of Michael R. Fletcher’s latest Manifest Delusions novel. Featuring a new standalone tale, Swarm and Steel brings readers back to this world in which magic is insanity and the more deranged you are the more powerful you get. This, my lovelies, is the realm of the Geisteskranken, home to those whose delusions are made real.The protagonist of this story is a woman named Zerfall, whose abilities are unique even in a world full of strange and uncanny Geisteskranken. Upon waking up in a dark alley, she does not remember how she got there, or anything about her past, for that matter. All she knows is that someone has sent an assassin on her trail, leading to a harrowing chase which ultimately ends in the desert with Zerfall gravely wounded and fighting for her life. But in her struggles to survive, she’s also starting to overcome her amnesia, with snippets of memories coming back slowly but surely. She remembers almost killing her sister Hölle by putting a blade through her belly, though she cannot exactly recall why she wanted to kill the other woman (and trust me when I say that finding out the answer to this question is the fun part).Meanwhile, somewhere else in the desert, a young man named Jateko is fleeing for his life after accidentally killing another member of his own tribe. Mad from hunger and thirst after being hunted across the wastes by the victim’s vengeful kin, Jateko chances to stumble upon Zerfall, thus kicking off one of the most bizarre and eerie relationships I’ve ever come across in a fantasy novel. Teaming up, they decide to travel back to the city on a dead horse (yes, I said a dead horse) to confront Hölle, who currently oversees the Täuschung, a religious sect founded by the two sisters. Zerfall believes she must completely destroy the Täuschung in order to undermine Hölle’s power, and Jateko is all too willing to help. Completely smitten with Zerfall, he vows he will defeat and cannibalize their enemies in order to grow stronger, the better to fight by her side.If you read that last bit and thought to yourself, “What the fuck?”…well, I don’t blame you. I have to hand it to Fletcher. His ability to come up with the most crazy and messed up scenarios never ceases to amaze me, and I genuinely mean that as a compliment! Having read his other Manifest Delusions novels, I thought I had seen it all, but somehow Fletcher always manages to raise the bar on himself and surpass it with every new book. If you’re a fan though, you probably know this already. Swarm and Steel is certainly not for the squeamish, even for readers accustomed to the grimdarkest of grimdark, but if you enjoyed Beyond Redemption and The Mirror’s Truth, then returning to this world will likely be as enjoyable for you as it was for me.Still, since we follow a new cast of characters in this story, if you’re a newcomer to the world, there’s no need to read the other Manifest Delusions novels before jumping in—though prior experience with the setting will probably make things a little less overwhelming and disorienting, especially given the little references to the previous books you’ll find here and there. Learning about the different types of delusions and picking up the terminology will come in time though, as the narrative sets up backstories for both Zerfall and Jateko. Admittedly, the two of them are no Bedeckt, Stehlen, and Wichtig—our new protagonists don’t have quite the same amount of synergy in their dynamic as the original trio from Beyond Redemption—but their interplay was fascinating to watch all the same. Fletcher is flexing his writing muscles here, trying out new characters and developing new forms of relationships, and I also loved how this allowed for more unique circumstances and opportunities for action and dark humor. In time, I found myself gradually warming up to Zerfall and Jateko in spite of their unusual bond.As always, Michael R. Fletcher’s talent for characterization makes his work stand out from everything else this genre has to offer, not to mention the sheer depth of his imagination—which is as formidable as it can be frightening sometimes! All this makes him one of my must-read authors, and I would enthusiastically recommend Manifest Delusions to all avid readers of grimdark or dark fantasy, with a guarantee that they’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
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  • Anna Spark
    January 1, 1970
    Dedicated readers of Mr Fletcher’s oeuvre may be aware that I’m something of a fan of his books. In fact, I blurbed the last two for him. Dedicated readers of my ownoeuvre may be aware that we’re friends. In fact, he kindly sent me the copy of Swarm and Steel I’m about to review. It’s with joy and relief , therefore, that I can only say:Swarm and Steel is Mike’s best book yet. Even darker. Even madder. Even more disgusting. Even more extraordinary. Even more moving.Actually, I kind of hate the b Dedicated readers of Mr Fletcher’s oeuvre may be aware that I’m something of a fan of his books. In fact, I blurbed the last two for him. Dedicated readers of my ownoeuvre may be aware that we’re friends. In fact, he kindly sent me the copy of Swarm and Steel I’m about to review. It’s with joy and relief , therefore, that I can only say:Swarm and Steel is Mike’s best book yet. Even darker. Even madder. Even more disgusting. Even more extraordinary. Even more moving.Actually, I kind of hate the bastard for writing it, because he pulls off things I hadn’t even dreamed about.Mike’s got a (fully justified) reputation as the ultimate grimdark author, darker, grosser, more outrageous than pretty well anyone else. And, yes, I really wouldn’t recommend reading Swarm and Steel immediately before carving your Sunday roast. He’s … graphic about things. Sees through things to what’s actually there underneath them, all our illusions stripped away. ‘Your civilization stinks of shite’, one of the characters tells another at one point. Oh yeah. Everything does. We all do. Julia Kristieva says that we’re all dying one bowel movement at a time. Mike sees that, writes that. Literally and metaphorically, life’s just a pile of shiteThat last sentence would read way better if the original quote ended ‘shit’, by the way. Damn you, Fletcher! Think about these things! I killed you off in my last short story, you know. Three times. Ha!Ahem. Anyway.Mike’s reputation as God of Grimdark is fully legitimate. This book cements it. Mortars it in blood. Some great fight scenes. A delicious lot of entirely gratuitous ultraviolence. Loving descriptions of wounds and pain and rot and sex.But. It’s not just a splatter gore shock tits fest. Anyone can write one of those, and most of them are really pretty depressingly dull. Swarm and Steel isn’t like that.One, it’s extremely funny.Two, it’s extremely moving.Three, it’s very intelligent and self-aware.Four, it’s profoundly and totally about the power of love.I fell a bit in love with Zerfall, the High Priestess of a religion of despair. I warmed to her and hoped for her. Unlike so many characters in literature, she’s completely real. She’s got neuroses, she’s insecure, she’s totally self-confident, she’s clever and strong and sexy and messed up and desperate, desperate, desperate for people to like her. She could be that girl I admired so much at sixth form college. She’s an antihero, but she’s not a villain. She’s what happens to people when they’re alive. (She totally justifies that amazing arse.)I fell a bit in love with Jateko, the naive tribal boy, who has … interesting things happen to him. He’s your geeky embarrassing kid brother. He’s that sweet first-year boy who had a crush on me when I was doing my MA. He’s a murderer. He’s a cannibal. I rooted so, so strongly for him. I cared so much about him.I use the word ‘human’ a lot talking about Mike’s books. Also ‘hope’. Which seems somewhat problematic at first glance, given what goes on in them. Given they’re basically about how shite life is (that final ‘e’ is still bugging me). But the world of Manifest Delusions is a world of insanity made manifest. We see, as through a glass brightly, the insecurities and neuroses and inner torments that haunt us all. Mike’s a clever guy. A husband and a father. He knows what the world is. What we all are. And he knows that it’s only by accepting it that we can ever hope to rise above it, at least for a little while. Understand ourselves to be flawed and filthy. Understand those around us to be the same. Love them anyway. Try to make life slightly more bearable for them. He shows us the madness, how vile and fucked-up the world is. Children die. People suffer. Lovers hurt each other and abandon each other and can’t even really say why. But he also shows how how life’s not about good and evil and some simple easy thing. We’re all monsters. We’re all worth loving. We’re all human and alive and full of potential, and that’s a wonderful terrible thing.A hopeful book. Oh yeah.
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  • Twerking To Beethoven
    January 1, 1970
    Hiiiiiii! This is Rebecca, I like kittens and I'm a huge fantasy lover. My favourite books are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Eragon, The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn. So I was wondering if one you peeps could recommend a good fantasy book I might like. Thank you! Oi there, Becca! This is ole Twerks. I've gone through all the books you've mentioned so I know where you're coming from. That said, you want to try this book by this charming Canadian author, it's fantasy all right. And i Hiiiiiii! This is Rebecca, I like kittens and I'm a huge fantasy lover. My favourite books are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Eragon, The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn. So I was wondering if one you peeps could recommend a good fantasy book I might like. Thank you! Oi there, Becca! This is ole Twerks. I've gone through all the books you've mentioned so I know where you're coming from. That said, you want to try this book by this charming Canadian author, it's fantasy all right. And it's got magic, puppets and a love story. I'm sure you're going to absolutely love it. It's called "Swarm and Steel". Give it a go, you won't regret it. Have a wonderful day. Thankee, Twerks! I'll be definitely checking that one out! As usual...
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  • Eric Woods
    January 1, 1970
    This is Michael Fletcher’s 4th book – Beyond Redemption, The Mirror’s Truth, and The Ghosts of Tomorrow (which I’ve read but not yet reviewed) being the first 3 – and he keeps getting better. Over each one the narratives have gotten tighter. Less dead space. Not that there was much to begin with. This book is the finest example of that. There is nothing wasted. Not time nor scenes nor characters. Everything moves and weaves in a steady beat that picks up speed till it reaches a brutal climax tha This is Michael Fletcher’s 4th book – Beyond Redemption, The Mirror’s Truth, and The Ghosts of Tomorrow (which I’ve read but not yet reviewed) being the first 3 – and he keeps getting better. Over each one the narratives have gotten tighter. Less dead space. Not that there was much to begin with. This book is the finest example of that. There is nothing wasted. Not time nor scenes nor characters. Everything moves and weaves in a steady beat that picks up speed till it reaches a brutal climax that brings it all together. Characters feed into each other. Scenes feed into each other. The setting feeds the story. Everything works together so well.For a more indepth look visit my blog post below.http://lostinthewoods.blog/2017/08/31...
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  • Jon Adams
    January 1, 1970
    To tell what is essentially a love story, set in a world where the insane manifest all of their numerous delusions, takes some serious writing skills. Well done, sir. Oh, and I'm pretty sure this book has the highest body count of any book I've ever read. Enjoy!
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    And with that, Fletcher's epic series of the weirdest and most despicable set of characters in fantasy comes to a close.It's no surprise that the cast in this novel included three personalities of one person fighting for domination among themselves, a love affair between a cannibal (think the original Hellraiser) and a zombie being front and center, and throw in a were-condor assassin for good measure.Yet Fletcher has a knack to thread a great story amongst all this bizarreness. I appreciate his And with that, Fletcher's epic series of the weirdest and most despicable set of characters in fantasy comes to a close.It's no surprise that the cast in this novel included three personalities of one person fighting for domination among themselves, a love affair between a cannibal (think the original Hellraiser) and a zombie being front and center, and throw in a were-condor assassin for good measure.Yet Fletcher has a knack to thread a great story amongst all this bizarreness. I appreciate his originality as it is certainly a breath of fresh air, and the unpredictability of where all this is going keeps the pages turning.I can say I did not enjoy this one as much as the first two, Beyond Redemption and The Mirror's Truth. It's a lot less epic in scale (until the very end) and there was a smaller cast of characters that led to more introspection and less action. But kudos to Fletcher to creating something very imaginative and uncompromising in his world, embracing all the grotesqueness along the way. He deserves a louder voice in fantasy than he receives.
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  • Anna Stephens
    January 1, 1970
    A corpse and a cannibal fall in love... I was fortunate enough to get a review copy of Mike Fletcher's new novel, Swarm and Steel, which I devoured with as much enthusiasm as one of the characters eats raw heart. As this was my first foray into the universe of the manifest delusions, I did struggle initially to separate out the myriad different delusions characters suffered from, as well as their complicated names! I imagine if Mike ever did a reading of this he'd have a sore throat at the the e A corpse and a cannibal fall in love... I was fortunate enough to get a review copy of Mike Fletcher's new novel, Swarm and Steel, which I devoured with as much enthusiasm as one of the characters eats raw heart. As this was my first foray into the universe of the manifest delusions, I did struggle initially to separate out the myriad different delusions characters suffered from, as well as their complicated names! I imagine if Mike ever did a reading of this he'd have a sore throat at the the end from all the pronunciation! Maybe it was because of my lack of familiarity with the world, but I found the first third of the book a little bit slow. After that the writing really came into its own, the pace rocketed and this book raced along its insane arc to an extremely satisfying conclusion, even while it did leave me a little green around the gills at times. And I'm not easily squeamish, so that should tell you a lot. I have no doubt this novel fits in supremely well with the other manifest delusion novels. Mike Fletcher puts the grim in grimdark.
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  • James allen Razor
    January 1, 1970
    this is fletchers most human work and possibly the most disturbing piece of literature he has ever written it's a love story ran through a amp turned up to 11 while blasting hammer smashed face .I'm just going to make this short this book is awesome read it.
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  • Joseph Vanucchi
    January 1, 1970
    Does it againSo this author has been blowing me away. Love the entire concept, though I think it takes a special brain to fully explore it. Don't know if anyone besides Fletcher could do this so well. Just kept getting better and was certainly never predictable. And as usual the characters were awesome. Tod had me smiling regularly. Then feeling unclean about said feeling shortly thereafter. HAHAHA GREAT book from a great author. Probably the first author and second book I'd recommend out of ev Does it againSo this author has been blowing me away. Love the entire concept, though I think it takes a special brain to fully explore it. Don't know if anyone besides Fletcher could do this so well. Just kept getting better and was certainly never predictable. And as usual the characters were awesome. Tod had me smiling regularly. Then feeling unclean about said feeling shortly thereafter. HAHAHA GREAT book from a great author. Probably the first author and second book I'd recommend out of everything I've read. Hopefully he'll stick with this system, the mental aspect is killer
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  • Benny Hinrichs
    January 1, 1970
    I would describe this book as "pretty darn cool" and "not recommended for my mother."My favorite thing about Swarm and Steel was the concepts. God within a god. Hell within a hell. Fragment within a fragment. Romance between a cannibal and a corpse (from which we conclude that Fletcher listens to Cannibal Corpse). The All Consuming. Whole boatloads of cool concepts (beyond the world that's already been established in other books).Side note: I know he has Dysmorphics, but I'd like to see someone, I would describe this book as "pretty darn cool" and "not recommended for my mother."My favorite thing about Swarm and Steel was the concepts. God within a god. Hell within a hell. Fragment within a fragment. Romance between a cannibal and a corpse (from which we conclude that Fletcher listens to Cannibal Corpse). The All Consuming. Whole boatloads of cool concepts (beyond the world that's already been established in other books).Side note: I know he has Dysmorphics, but I'd like to see someone, or perhaps an eremite group of, giants. Twenty-plus foot tall Geisteskranken.I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I ended up giving it four stars primarily because I felt like the first half of the Hölle/Aas/Pharsäer parts weren't very engaging. I just wanted it to go back to the desert crew. For me, there was an uptick in quality (story-wise) for the Geld crew around page 200.Ah, that was another thing that annoyed me. So Pharsäer sends Aas on a little mission. He gets there and encounters a mystery. Instead of letting us try to solve this mystery with Aas, Fletcher had a scene in the middle of the mystery where Pharsäer goes to Hölle and explains the mystery. Then it goes back to Aas and he eventually figures it out, but it wasn't as exciting/fulfilling because it was just given to us beforehand.The finger cutting off scene! Neither I nor Fletcher have ever cut off a digit, but after reading that I feel like I have. He made that come to life. He seems to have a knack for making you feel things are real when he has no right to be that good at writing. The first time Jateko is stopping and smelling the roses out of the desert, you really feel what it's like to be a desert dweller experiencing humidity and plant life for the first time. There are lots of other examples.I had to laugh when (view spoiler)[Aas finally succeeded in transferring his soul to Hexenwerk only to have Jateko smash it. It felt like a bit of a waste (all those pages spent building it up), but I was okay because it was funny. (hide spoiler)]Man, the All Consuming. I just loved that concept once it had matured. You could write some cool short stories from the perspective of priests or what-have-you who've heard of him and try to escape his coming, but he arrives anyway.A few things I didn't understand: (view spoiler)[why did Zerfall not die like a normal Cotardist? Did she lose her Gefahrgeist powers? If so, how did she get them back? (hide spoiler)]I could probably go on. I probably will if I think of something else specific later. For now, it's good enough to say this was a great book.
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  • deep
    January 1, 1970
    PW Starred: Fletcher’s third novel set in his Manifest Delusions universe (after Beyond Redemption), a world where anything a person truly believes will become reality, is a tour de force of dark fantasy shot through with wonder and black humor. Zerfall, the charismatic leader of a religious sect, awakens with partial amnesia in an alley to learn that she has attempted to murder her sister and coleader, Hölle. Hölle survives, but neither of them has any idea why Zerfall made the attempt. As chil PW Starred: Fletcher’s third novel set in his Manifest Delusions universe (after Beyond Redemption), a world where anything a person truly believes will become reality, is a tour de force of dark fantasy shot through with wonder and black humor. Zerfall, the charismatic leader of a religious sect, awakens with partial amnesia in an alley to learn that she has attempted to murder her sister and coleader, Hölle. Hölle survives, but neither of them has any idea why Zerfall made the attempt. As children, the two of them received what they believed to be a message from the divine creator and as a result they created Swarm, a hell in which souls of dead people are locked away with only one another for company forever; the sisters’ church, which preaches eternal salvation on its surface, is a funnel to direct souls into Swarm. But Zerfall finds out that she has begun to doubt whether Swarm was divinely inspired and whether Hölle has been working with Zerfall’s best interests at heart, and even whether her sister is really her sister after all. Fletcher’s twisty and continuously surprising plot piles spectacle upon spectacle in an amazingly ambitious structure, while his consistently three-dimensional characters lend depth and heart to the narrative. Some clumsiness at the beginning in explaining the world and its concepts gives way to a smoother style, without unduly marring the overall effect. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Aug.)
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  • Bishopza
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, it is not often that I really like a book, but would not recommend it. This was impressive and awesome.
  • Mert
    January 1, 1970
    Putrid, disgusting and a brilliant book. 5/5
  • Thuan
    January 1, 1970
    First off, the story and twists are amazing. I would really give this a 5-star rating if not for two pet peeve that took off 2 stars. First, I hate shifting POVs that do nothing meaningful to the story. I think Aas' POV is poorly done because a lot of it is just repeating the same message that adds nothing interesting. Second, the amount of POVs dedicated between the protagonists and antagonists are very unbalanced in the first half of the book. There's so much attention focused on the antagoni First off, the story and twists are amazing. I would really give this a 5-star rating if not for two pet peeve that took off 2 stars. First, I hate shifting POVs that do nothing meaningful to the story. I think Aas' POV is poorly done because a lot of it is just repeating the same message that adds nothing interesting. Second, the amount of POVs dedicated between the protagonists and antagonists are very unbalanced in the first half of the book. There's so much attention focused on the antagonists (Pharisäer, Hölle, and Aas) in the beginning that it feels like the protagonists have a minor role in the plot. When you finished the book, you'll realized all those writing spent on the first half of the book dedicated to the antagonists bear little significance to the true twist in the plot. However, the second half of the book truly shines. The characters are more fleshed and the world is revealed in a meaningful way to the plot. It is a plot of insanity and a lot of it does not make sense until past 50% of the book. It really didn't help that the first half of the book was spent on what feels like tangents. Overall, I really liked this book and its craziness but I wished the book cut off a lot of the unnecessary POVs. Site note: While the book cover is beautiful, it is misleading. If you're new to the author and were attracted to this book by the cover, you'll think that this is an adventure with a fighting and sword ass kicking heroine...but...no.
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  • Ann Theis
    January 1, 1970
    PW
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