Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson


Goodreads: Steelheart
Series: The Reckoners #1
Source: Library


Ten years ago Calamity appeared in the sky and gave men superpowers.  Called Epics, they quickly used their powers to claim dominion over the Earth.  Dave watched an Epic named Steelheart kill his father.  And now he will do anything to end Steelheart’s rule.  His plan: to join the Reckoners, a group of ordinary men and women who dare to fight back.  Because he thinks he can give them the one thing they need.  A clue to Steelheart’s weakness.


One of Brandon Sanderson’s great strengths is building a unique and intricate world, one where the rules of magic both seem to be surprising and to be perfectly natural.  In Steelheart, he begins a trilogy that seems to flip the superhero genre on its head.  What if, it asks, super powers did not lead to superheroes, but to supervillains?  What if ultimate power seemingly leads only to ultimate corruption?  Around these questions he creates a world where anything seems possible and yet where Epics still fall into scientific categories.  Each has a set of strengths, but each also has a weakness.  Comparing the Epics’ powers might just be the answer to stopping them.

Steelheart differs from some of Sanderson’s other fantasies in that it reads very much like the script for an action film.  Indeed, it begins with a high speech car chase, a beautiful yet deadly woman, and a whole lot of bullets.  It is difficult not to picture Sanderson cackling madly to himself as he writes in all the tropes–and makes it good.  I don’t even like action films and I was on the edge of my seat.

This momentum carries through the book as the Reckoners try increasingly dangerous and desperate means to stop the Epic who dominates the city of Newcago.  Along the way, however, they also ponder the philosophical and ethical consequences of what they are doing.  Why stop Steelheart if his city, if terrible, is at least better than most?  Are they responsible for chaos that will ensue after his fall?  Can they still believe that one day an Epic will come who will use their powers for good rather than for evil?  These questions help to ground the story, making it more than an empty book full of explosions.

Fans of Sanderson will likely enjoy the skill and action he brings to the this book.  But it will also appeal to those who like action, those who like superheroes, and those who like fantasy.  And it just  might make a lifelong Sanderson fan out of its new readers.

5 stars


17 thoughts on “Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

  1. saraletourneau says:

    I’ve been meaning to read Sanderson’s books for AGES. Elantris is in my TBR pile somewhere, but basically I’d love to read just about anything he’s written. And since I’m experiencing “superhero genre” fatigue, I wonder if Steelheart might be an antidote for my feelings, based on your review. (Great review, btw!)


    • Krysta says:

      I’ve probably only read five Sanderson books. I don’t know how he manages to write faster than I can read. 😉

      I think it might be the antidote! It really plays up action film in tropes, which makes it ridiculously fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau says:

        “I don’t know how he manages to write faster than I can read.”

        He’s incredibly prolific, isn’t he? I remember watching a YouTube video a year or so ago where George R.R. Martin and Stephen King (another speed-demon author) had a conversation about writing. At one point GRRM asked King, “How the **** do you write so fast?” I bet he’d ask Sanderson the same question!


        • Krysta says:

          That’s too funny. Sanderson makes me feel like my life is so unproductive. I wish I could say that GRRM made me feel better, but at least he’s written an acclaimed and incredibly popular series, no matter how slowly he goes about it! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve heard about the greatness of this book from some friends too. Definitely will have to check this one out! But yes, how does he write so fast!?


  3. Valerie says:

    I have yet to read Steelheart but I have read some of Sanderson’s books, and I know how well-developed the world-building is. I’m glad I actually have a copy of this book that I can one day get to! Also I don’t think I knew until your review that this was about overthrowing people with superpowers? It kind of reminds me of his other book, Mistborn.


    • Krysta says:

      Mistborn is great, too! This one is more of a play on superhero tropes. There are car chases and sharpshooting and all sorts of crazy stuff. But the world-building in both is superb!


  4. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Agree with you about the world building and the action in this. Sadly all that made me a bit disconnected from the characters for some reason, so I didn’t enjoy it as much, but I’m glad you did 🙂 Great review!


  5. DoingDewey says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve loved a lot of Sanderson’s books, but even though my husband has recommended this one, I haven’t picked it up yet. Definitely a book I should get too 🙂


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