Review: Steelheart

Cover of "Steelheart," featuring a man with his back to the viewer standing in a gap between two torn pieces of steel
Image from The Nerdlink

Title: Steelheart

Series: Reckoners #1

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Back cover:

Ten years ago, Calamity came – a burst in the sky that gave ordinary people extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But the epics are no friends of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. Now, in what was once Chicago, an astonishingly powerful Epic called Steelheart has installed himself as emperor. He is invincible, and nobody fights back…except the Reckoners. The Reckoners, a group of ordinary humans, spend their lives finding Epics’ weaknesses and assassinating them. And David wants in. Years ago, Steelheart killed David’s father. Like the Reckoners, David has been studying and planning, but he has something they need. He has seen Steelheart bleed. And he will see it again.


After Brandon Sanderson’s super-fun middle grade Alcatraz series and the awesome high fantasy Mistborn, I had high hopes for Steelheart. And it didn’t disappoint. I should know better than to start one of his books before bed, because if I do, I never get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

I enjoyed David. He was super smart – brilliant, even – but not so great with people. Or metaphors, which was just fun. But he frequently said the wrong thing, or goofed up, and made people angry. He was angry inside, too, but I liked him in spite of that. He was seriously awesome.

I want to mention other characters, but that would make this review far too long. Every member of the Reckoners was fantastic – they all had their quirks and unique personalities, and I loved each and every one of them (especially Cody, with his habit of changing accents and making up a family history to support the change).

As I expected of a Brandon Sanderson book, the plot was the if-I-stop-reading-before-the-end-I’m-going-to-die-of-not-knowing-what-happens-next kind. A clandestine group of people – a legend in their own right – trying to kill almost unkillable super-powered Epics. It was amazing: a dark, suspenseful, action-packed, emotionally tense not-exactly-superhero story with an urban vibe.

By about halfway through the book, I had everything figured out. I knew what was going on, what Steelheart’s weakness was, and how it would all play out. And I was completely wrong. Every single revealed secret caught me by surprise. Any book that can make me draw wrong conclusions is impressive, but a book that can trample them as fantastically as Steelheart did earns definite bonus points.

Steelheart was epic (pun somewhat intended). I thought it was a standalone, but by the end, I realized it couldn’t be. There’s more Epics to kill, a few loose ends that need tying up, and the fact that I would love to spend another book in Steelheart‘s gritty urban world. I can’t wait to read the next book, Firefight – which doesn’t come out until next year, dang it!

I received a free advance reader copy of Steelheart from the publisher. Their generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Reckoners series:

  1. Steelheart (September 2013)
  2. Firefight (January 2015)
  3. Calamity (February 2016)

4 thoughts on “Review: Steelheart”

    1. I definitely wouldn’t say he’s “just” a fantasy author, but every one of his books I’ve read have had some sort of fantasy-style element. I like how he manages to branch out while still keeping continuity between all his works.

      1. I’ve had trouble breaking into his books. I know that he’s a good writer, but, for instance, his Mistborn novels did not grab me. Considering my Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Joe Hill preferences perhaps Steelheart will?

      2. I think it will. Mistborn focuses a lot on political intrigue and learning the magic system; Steelheart, on the other hand, is more action-oriented and has a more upper-YA tone. Can’t guarantee it, but I think you would probably enjoy it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s