Steelheart is the first Brandon Sanderson book I have ever read. I know, that’s terrible of me. He’s one of the fantasy greats, I read fantasy, and I still haven’t read his books. But now I am venturing into them, so you’ll see a lot more Sanderson reviews coming. Not to mention I’ve got a signed copy of The Way of Kings to giveaway here in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled.
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
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My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Steelheart was written by Brandon Sanderson and is the first book in the Reckoners Trilogy. There is also a short story called Mitosis which fits in between books 1 and 2. I’ll be reading that one next.
This review is spoiler free.
Steelheart is a backwards superhero book. Instead of the good guys having powers and stopping petty thieves before some super villain comes along, in Steelheart, we have only the bad guys having super powers. There are no superheroes, only super villains. Steelheart is one such villain. David is the name of our hero. He’s 18. It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that Steelheart kills David’s father, because it happens in chapter 1 and is in the book blurb.
David wants to kill Steelheart, so he is trying to join the Reckoners. They are a rebel-type group whose sole purpose is finding and killing Epics, the people with super powers. This all came about one day because suddenly Calamity, this mysterious celestial body, showed up in the sky and people started changing. This story is set in modern days, which makes this an urban fantasy. I don’t typically read urban fantasy, but this was an enjoyable read.
Despite being a full-length novel, this story has a surprisingly low cast. We’ve got David, our main character, plus the Reckoners: Prof, Abraham, Megan, Cody, and Tia. Then there’s the enemies: Steelheart, Firefight, Nightwielder, and Conflux. There’s a few minor characters like Diamond, Curveball, Fortuity, and a slew of other odd names that pertain to Epics.
The main cast is just 10 people strong. This isn’t an epic fantasy, so it’s not expected to have a lot, but it does make the book overly simple in some aspects. This does not detract from the story, though. It’s merely not as large in scope as many of Sanderson’s other books.
The world of Steelheart is not much different from our own. The Epics have destroyed most of what we would know of our world today. For instance, in Chicago, where the story takes place, Steelheart turned the entire city to steel. So literally everything is steel. Sanderson throws in a few little details about how they cut out the steel where windows once were and replaced them with windows yet again, but anything that used to be a brick is now a brick that is made of steel. Anything not living was turned to steel.
Most of the people live underground as only the rich or the epics live on the surface. But living underground or on the surface makes little difference because, in Chicago, Nightwielder makes it eternally nighttime and the sun never rises.
This is a standard revenge plot. David doesn’t have any powers, and he’s not rich. So this is also the farmboy archetype. Every since Steelheart killed his father, he’s planned the death of Steelheart. Unfortunately, Steelheart, who is a type of Superman (Man of Steel), can’t be hurt by bullets or anything for that matter. Except the day David’s father died, David saw Steelheart bleed.
Only David holds the key to killing Steelheart locked away somewhere in his memory of that day. He’s spent his whole life trying to figure it out and he hopes that the Reckoners will help him.
This book was hard to get into at first for me, I mentioned I don’t normally like urban fantasy right? And the first chapter was kind of bland. David’s in a bank, he’s a bored kid, and, to be honest, the scene is as boring as the kid feels. But after Deathpoint arrives and starts pointing at people, you can guess what happens next.
The story picked up quite a bit after that. Some of the twists I could see coming from a mile away, and yet many other details, like how Steelheart can actually be harmed, is something Sanderson strings along until the next to last chapter.
The pacing is pretty good and, after the initial bank scene, moves along rather quickly. Even if I hadn’t had to return this book to the library 4 days later, I probably still would have read this in 2 days, it was that riveting. I can’t wait to begin the next book, but alas the library system has a backlog, so it will be a few days.
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