Review: Brandon Sanderson – Steelheart (N)

David knows Epics, guns, and that he sucks at metaphors. He wants to take down one Epic in particular, Steelheart. Now that the Reckoners are in town he has a shot, if he can convince them he’s right.

Interesting flip on super-powers on earth. The maxim power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely comes to mind. An event known as Calamity results in super-powered humans, without any humanity. These people, called Epics, do as they please regardless, when they please. Combining a twist on superheros as villians with a manufactured dystopian future. David is a fact-smart but people-dumb protagonist who’s point of view we follow through the completion of David’s vendetta against the Epic, Steelheart.

On the surface the story is straight-forward battle against the big bad, revenge for lost family, and freeing people from tyrannical rule. It goes deeper than this given the underlying theme of what happens when you create a power vacuum by removing a semi-benevolent dictator. Which Steelheart is if only because he considers all ordinary people his property to do with as he wishes, after all you cannot rule without subjects. There are also themes of choice, revenge, the belief of good vs evil, tall-tales, and a lively argument on the pros and cons of rifles vs handguns. Beyond that there are excellent characters in David and the Reckoner team. Each bringing a different viewpoint on the situation and the plans they develop to topple Steelheart. Creating enough conflict that it is not just a clear system of kill and move on for the Reckoners. And everything is planned out to the nth degree.

I’ll say this for the story as a whole it keeps you guessing up to the end on if the Reckoners will be successful. The ending was a shock but also made a weird level of sense, having been in Davids point of view from start to finish allows us to follow the logic of his realisations as well. The final twist shows the 3 McGuffins that allow the Reckoners to be even the slightest bit successful at assassinating Epics are more than they seem. Makes for a nice twist at the end without compromising the enjoyment of rereading the book later.
A few loose ends for the story, but expected ones since this is the first book of a series.

Great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. And I will come back to read it again in the future, since this is where my happy lives. And, given it was the first of many Sanderson novels I read, as an introduction to Sanderson’s writing style I’d highly recommend.