Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson – book review

Cover of Brandon Sanderson's "Steelheart" novel.
Cover of Brandon Sanderson’s “Steelheart” novel.
Steelheart is the first book in a new series by Brandon Sanderson, and it starts off with a superhero-style punch. After the punch, it keeps on running, and you don’t want to put it down.

Eight-year-old David is an orphan, made that way when the Steelheart, one of the strongest Epics, kills his father after his father accidentally wounded Steelheart while saving Steelheart’s life. Epics, humans gifted with a wide variety of superpowers after Calamity appeared in the sky (Sanderson doesn’t really explain what Calamity is in the book, so I won’t even try), are basically super villains, and they treat regular humans as if they were mere playthings. After his father is killed by Steelheart, David spends the next ten years researching Epics and plotting how to destroy Steelheart.

After being kicked out of The Factory, an orphanage where minors are allowed to work and earn money so they will have something to get them started when they turn 18, David is reluctantly allowed to become a member of the Reckoners, a human group which assassinates Epics. There he finds like-minded people who are mostly amazed at the extent of his research and notes, the notes being the main reason they allow him to join their ranks.

Sanderson does an excellent job creating the setting for the novel, and he continues his tradition of creating believable and interesting characters thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Megan’s interactions with David are well done, though a bit confusing at first. Gradually learning about the Prof throughout the story and dealing with Cody’s bizarre personal reality make the story more interesting, too.

The only unfortunate thing in Steelheart is that Sanderson didn’t have time to flesh out all the characters, so some of them are only half-baked. Tia and Abraham suffer most from this, and we really never learn anything about the main antagonist in the story. Since this is the first in a series of books, I expect we will see more character building in the following books.

The pacing of the story is very good, and the plot is woven masterfully. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending of the book, and Sanderson left me guessing right up to the reveal. He has a certain knack for creating a story tapestry, where all the various the plot threads bob and weave all over the place, sometimes requiring a second read to make sure you followed all of them completely. At the end, a beautiful picture has emerged, and it leaves you wanting even more.

Until I got to the end of Steelheart, I’d forgotten reading this was the first of a series, so I was pleasantly surprised by the page advertising the next book coming out later this fall. I know I’m not the only reader waiting impatiently for Firefight to be released. Go pick up Steelheart and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Release Date: September 24, 2013 (USA)
ISBNs: 0385743564 (9780385743563)
Publisher: Delacorte Books

MySF Rating: Four point five stars
Family Friendliness: 95%


Alcohol/Drugs: 0
Language: 1 (minor harsh language)
Sexuality: 1 (hormones and imagination, nothing graphic)
Violence: 3 (firefights, fisticuffs, Epic executions)

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