Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
Even though I always read prologues—I’m paranoid I’m going to miss something—I do give a little groan when I see a book starting with one. So when I opened Steelheart, I sighed, but started reading anyway. It blew me away. It was packed with the unexpected. Surprise after surprise after surprise. The only downside to that was the level that the rest of the book had to live up to, but inevitably couldn’t. I don’t think any book could have.
Chapter 1 is pretty action-packed as well, which was great. Then it starts to fall off. It can’t be full speed for 400 pages. When would we ever catch our breath? And where would the story’s foundation be laid?
There’s a lot of preparation to be done by our heroes, and a lot of excellent character development by Mr. Sanderson. It does run dangerously close to being too slow. But the pacing was done well, bringing in just enough suspense to keep me turning pages.
It’s a slow build, but at the end of ‘part 3’ (there are four parts total) the book kicks itself into overdrive and continues at that break-neck speed until the end. In fact, the final scene in part three is probably my favorite scene in the whole book. It seems like it came straight out of a Marvel movie. It’s the kind of scene that makes you put the book down (just for a moment) to process and catch your breath.
The characters are fun, yet remain a little mysterious throughout. Some in serious ways, like hidden secrets from the past that might come back into play. While others are mysterious in ways not nearly as serious, like why does Cody use Scottish nomenclature with his southern accent?
My only picadillo had to do with the dialogue. Besides the Scottish-Southerner Cody, everyone was written the same way. Not only that, they all used fairly unnatural dialogue. To be honest, it really didn’t take away from the story.
Although this book has extra appeal to fans of comic books (and superheroes in general) I still think it has something for everyone. The main characters are in an extraordinary situation, but they themselves are very ordinary and relatable.
This was my first Brandon Sanderson novel, but I’ll be looking to read another very soon. Not sure whether that next one will be the sequel to Steelheart, or another book from one of his other series, but I’m not done with Mr. Sanderson by a long shot!
At the very least, give the prologue a read. If you feel like putting it down after that, it’s probably for the best. But I have a feeling you won’t.