by Brandon Sanderson
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Delacorte Books for Young Readers Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780385743563
Date: 24 September 2013 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
I've seen Steelheart bleed. It is a new opening line to remember. Steelheart is one of the most powerful epics created when the Calamity came and started the Great Transformation. He has the strength of ten men, is impervious to weapons, but has no morals. He controls the city formerly known as Chicago. Every Epic has a weakness, something that can bring down even the most powerful.
As the world descended into chaos, some believed that Epics would rise and would be the superheroes the world needed. David was with his father when Steelheart's weakness was revealed. Left an orphan in the aftermath, David dedicates his life to bringing Steelheart down. He studies Epics in a manner that has never been done before. He wants to link up with the one group of normals still fighting against the Epics. The Reckoners have been killing Epics for years, but never a target as strong as Steelheart. This is an opportunity to give hope to those who have been practically enslaved by powerful Epics.
In most stories where people develop superpowers, those affected retain their basic humanity and strive to aid others. A few are corrupted by their new powers, but some always stand for the weak. Not so in this new universe created by Brandon Sanderson. The absolute power of Epics, corrupts absolutely. Those Epics that are not protected serve the stronger Epics to gain protection. They serve until they see an opportunity to take over, and they always see an opportunity.
One aspect that people may find difficult is that the hero is a rebel terrorist. Sure it is terrorism against inhuman control, but it is a fight against the recognized authority. Not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes we need to be reminded that there are things worth fighting for and that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. I don't think that this is what the author is trying to do, but some might draw that conclusion. Not everything is a reaction to the world we live in today.
I enjoy a good superhero story and this new series is one for the ages. Although there are some similarities to other works, it breaks new ground in superpower fiction. Sanderson broke ground in magical fantasy with Mistborn, Stormlight, and Warbreaker. In those he created new and interesting magic systems. Here he creates a new set of super villains.
This is the first novel in a new series, one that should take its place among the new classics. People who enjoy Wild Cards, X-men, and Shadow Ops will definitely find something here to enjoy.
I have enjoyed most of the novels by Sanderson, but I couldn't put this book down. The interplay between humans and Epics was highly entertaining. I have seen Steelheart bleed and I look forward to the return of hope.