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Swarm and Steel

(Manifest Delusions)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  59 reviews
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, b
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 22nd 2017 by Talos
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Michael Fletcher Damn. That's a good question. I'm gonna go with a firm "I dunno."

My intent is for it to be a standalone. I finished with an ending I really liked and …more
Damn. That's a good question. I'm gonna go with a firm "I dunno."

My intent is for it to be a standalone. I finished with an ending I really liked and to me the story is done. That said... No one should ever trust anything I say. Ever. I waffle. I change my mind. I plan nothing, so I don't really know what's gonna happen. Maybe Wichtig from Beyond Redemption will wander into this story line. Anything is possible!(less)

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Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark Fantasy fans
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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
The hell did I just read!

That was the most insanely, hilariously, gross book I think ........
I have ever read

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Mark Lawrence
Swarm and Steel is a standalone though technically part 3 of the Manifest Delusions series. I've not read the others.

This is a book full of long words that you won’t know. You won’t know them because they are made up. The glossary contains the names of 34 different types of delusionals (geistkranken) &/or related terms.

The words are long because they are either German or faux-German and Germany is a land of famously long words. Try these out for size:

Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen: speed limit.
Lady Luna. ✨
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This 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
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
My latest journey into the land of Manifest Delusions was not alone. My fellow Geisteskranken, Orient, was brave enough to enter into this insane world by my side. It was a thrilling, sickening, and maddening ride that was made even more exciting by our discussions. Thank you for joining me, my friend! I hope you are not permanently vegetarian now. Lol!

Swarm and Steel is a stand-a-lone novel that follows the same rules as its two predecessors, belief defines reality, and in this world ruled by
Scott  Hitchcock
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
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asap

It isn’t delusion that defines reality, it’s belief.

A fab BR with my fellow delusional, Jody! After liking “Beyond Redemption” and absolutely loving “Mirror’s truth” I had high expectations for “Swarm and Steel”. And it didn’t let down! Being a bit different story in style, “Swarm and Steel” was written to please the hungry eyes of a reader and make cringe with disgust!

To me, “Swarm and Steel” stands somewhere between the gritty grimdark fantasy with Abercrombie’s, Erikson’s series I
Petros Triantafyllou
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Michael Fletcher
Jul 31, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Just made Barnes and Noble's "Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in August" list!:

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."
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

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
Anna Spark
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
For real, a 5-star quality book took me this long to read? Wow. I can't blame the book though. Life and school and work and whatever else can take the blame, and that is my reality.

If I believe it, that will make it true, right?

insert doubt

Ahh well...

At any rate, this thing was awesome. Set in the same world as his Manifest Delusions series, this standalone certainly carries the same worldbuilding brilliance.

I guess the biggest question though is, how in the Swarm does Fletcher manage to tell a
Twerking To Beethoven
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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!

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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 ri
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-the-book
Fletcher his work really works for me! Its disgusting and sick and wonderful XD It helps that Ive already read 2 Manifest Delusions books to understand the world. Swarm and Steel can be read as a stand alone. But I personally think it works even better after reading Beyond Redemption and Mirror's Truth. I loved the detailed decay and how this world works on your smells and tastes UGH! XD...
Zerfall was cool and the growth of Jateko. Ohh so much gore! Aas (ass) was the most pervy disgusting creatu
Eric Woods
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jon Adams
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.

Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Swarm and Steel is a twisted and weirdly beautiful love story set in a world where the delusions of the insane literally shape reality. We follow the journey of Zerfall and Jateko, two Geisteskranken - those who suffer these delusions - as they attempt to dismantle the Täuschung, a religion that wrongfully imprisons the souls of the masses in a hell named Swarm. Zerfall has created this hell through her delusions and now a fragment of her mind rules over its administration. It is her goal to sto ...more
Anna Stephens
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Alejandro Maríñez
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Insanity made a book.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Okay...this book sets the new benchmark for grimdark. Swarm and Steel is the third book in the Manifest Delusions series, but could be considered a standalone. It shares only the world and the crazy world building with the first two (Beyond Redemption and The Mirror's Truth).

I'm terrible at recapping books, so let's just say that if you like your fantasy on the darkest side of dark, you'll like this. Also, Fletcher's a fairly talented wordsmith, meaning he can spin a pretty damned good tale. Som
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Metal as fuck. Pairs well with shitty beer and Cannibal Corpse. Abecrombie may be 'Lord Grimdark' but Fletcher deserves a title of his own if he doesn't yet have one. 'Lord Aas-Hölle' is all I got right now.

What strikes me about the Manifest Delusions series is the unique combination of delicate psychological nuance with extreme, unforgiving brutality. It's not pleasant. It's not fun. But it's always a mesmerizing and thought-provoking ride. Very much looking forward to the next installment.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Andrei Duduman
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two words: awesome book!
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most entertaining and batshit crazy book I've read all year.
Jenna Kathleen
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm really not sure what loving this book so much says about me. Swarm and Steel is by far the weirdest book I've read since...well...The Mirror's Truth.

We saw a different side of the world and more details of the magic system, but Fletcher also included a lot of frankly disgusting things in this one. I mean, the main characters are a live corpse whose body parts are decaying and falling off in the middle of the night, and a cannibal who hears the thoughts of the people he kills after he consume
Joseph Vanucchi
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Does it again

So 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
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Swarm and Steel is a worthy companion to the main series of Manifest Delusions books. I would however recommend reading Beyond Redemption and Mirrors Truth first as there are several nods to them throughout Swarm and Steel. The world in these novels is something truly unique and different than 99% of fantasy reads out there and shouldn't be passed up.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Dark, humorous, enthralling. Looking forward to the next in the manifest delusions world.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think this author is brilliant but I couldn’t get over the fact that it isn’t a direct continuation of the last 3 books. And it was brutal and so gross! I couldn’t continue. The world of delusions is still amazing but personally I couldn’t get into this or feel any attachment.
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Swarm and Steel [March 15, 2020] 2 20 Mar 06, 2020 09:40AM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Swarm and Steel [Nov 9, 2018] 28 50 Nov 14, 2018 11:27PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Swarm and Steel [May 10, 2018] 6 29 May 01, 2018 03:53PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Swarm and Steel [August 2017] 51 57 Aug 26, 2017 07:39AM  

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Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author, a grilled cheese aficionado, and a whiskey-swilling reprobate. He spends his days choreographing his forklift musical (titled "Get Forked"), and using caffeine as a substitute for sanity. Any suggestions that he is actually Dyrk Ashton in disguise are all lies.

Blog (kinda):


Other books in the series

Manifest Delusions (2 books)
  • Beyond Redemption (Manifest Delusions, #1)
  • The Mirror’s Truth (Manifest Delusions, #2)

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“All people need to make hell is more people.” 1 likes
“Show me the artist who is not insane
For all art is suffering, torture and pain
We dream in colors you can not find
For we are the artists, you are the blind."
-Halber Tod, Cotardist Poet”
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