Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson - REVIEW

If you plan to read this book and know nothing about the story, skip the synopsis, skip the review, and just read the book.  The opening pages are much better if you don't know what the synopsis tells you.  

NOTE:  Comments to this post may contain spoilers

On a side note - this is post number 50 for me.  /cheer.

Synopsis (per Goodreads):
There are no heroes.

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 wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...  nobody by the Reckoners.  A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and 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.  

Who really created Spider-Man?  Was it the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker?  Was it Peter Parker?  Or, was it Uncle Ben?  Because it was Uncle Ben's wisdom and with Uncle Ben's death that Peter becomes more than a man in a mask...  with super powers.  He becomes a hero.  Well, what if there were no Uncle Ben?  What if there was no one to tell all the super humans that "with great power there must also come -- great responsibility"?  

John Emerich Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, was quoted as saying "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men." Steelheart explores this concept with a world where man is given super powers, and man corrupt man is corrupt.  

I was surprised to find Steelheart amongst the YA novels in the library.  Perhaps it is known that this was to be a YA novel, but I had always thought of Sanderson as an adult fantasy writer, and I didn't do much research into the novel, so it was a mild surprise to find it there.  A few pages into the story, and yes, it is a YA novel.  The protagonist is 18, has no parents, and has all the answers.  The profanity is limited to "sparks!" or "Calamity!" or "slontze," etc.  This is not to say there is anything wrong with YA novels.  I just wasn't expecting it.

This is another revenge story (amazing how I come back to revenge stories over and over again), but set in a dystopian future of super powers and advanced technology.  It's the world after Magneto takes the homo-superior race to reign over the homo-sapien.  It's the story of mankind's fight back against the super powered oppressors.

I had been trying to find a good novelization of something with a comic book feel to it.  This is the best I have seen so far.  The setting is dark, but the characters still have a sense of humor.  David, our protagonist becomes known as the guy who cannot make a good metaphor.  The supporting cast is mostly one-dimensional having one significant quirk that makes them stand out from the others.  Regardless, the story is intriguing as the crew try to figure out how to get through Enforcement and super powered body guards to Steelheart, a man considered indestructible.  

The novel was a lot of fun, excellently fast-paced, and contains its share of unexpected twists.  

Well worth the read.  I give it...  Stan Lee and Kevin Smith...  web-slinging!  

We can't stop here, this is SPOILER country
(Seriously...  major spoilers will be "discussed" below)

Twist #1 - Prof and Megan are Epics.  I'll admit that at first, I didn't quite see this coming.  I had a suspicion about Megan, but was completely thrown off by her death.  But once Conflux was "captured" and it was determined that gifters couldn't gift to other Epics...  my thoughts went right to a) Megan was/is an Epic (since she couldn't use the tensors) and b) Prof is an Epic and the tensors are based on his powers.  So maybe Sanderson played the cards just a little too early.  That last clue was maybe just a little too big.  

Therefore I was not the least bit surprised to see Megan again at Soldier Field.

However, Twist #2 - Megan is Firefight.  Mind blown.  Did not see that coming.  A Brent Weeks-ian twist of "Epic" proportions.  And with book two of the series to be titled Firefight...  


  1. Great review, and happy 50th post :)

    I loved Steelheart - I too was surprised to see him doing YA, but I really enjoyed it. I now have Rithmatist on my shelves by Sanderson waiting to be read. I do love Sanderson's stuff!

    Firefight twist was an awesome idea - can't wait for the next.

    1. Thanks!

      I was debating on grabbing the Rithmatist too. I also picked up Seraphina with Steelheart, but I'm not sure I want to read it right now. Maybe I'll see if the library has The Rithmatist in. Or just give in and buy the first of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series.