Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

September 18, 2013 5 stars, Book Review 37 ★★★★★


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 but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then 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.


What a fitting title, Steelheart, for that is some of what you’ll need when reading the opening scenes of this book. With the advent of Calamity, a strange red light in the sky, ordinary men and women began to change. Some of them are now “Epics,” imbued with amazing and terrifying powers much like the classic comic book super heroes. But instead where you would hope to see heroes – these Epics are the worst kind of villains.

With no regard for human life, there doesn’t seem to be a good one in existence. They take what they want and murder indiscriminately. They rule now, and few dare challenge them.

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The government eventually declared men such as Steelheart to be natural forces, like hurricanes or earthquakes. Trying to tell Steelheart that he can’t take what he wants would be as vain as trying to pass a bill that forbids the wind to blow. – pg 10
Young 8 year old David witnesses a mass murder by one Epic who calls himself Steelheart and that day haunts him for the next ten years. He is the only survivor and carries powerful knowledge…Steelheart can bleed. He has spent all this time finding out everything there is to know about Epics so he can one day see Steelheart bleed again.

This is the perfect marriage of super hero and post-apocalyptic fiction. The atmosphere that is created in what was once Chicago but now called Newcago is excellent! It is perpetual night there and I could almost feel the darkness pressing in on me and see every surface being made of steel. Sanderson is a master of taking you out of yourself and putting you right inside the book along with the characters.

And, O what characters they are! This was such a quirky crew and so easy to picture each one. They each had distinctive voices and personalities. There would be no mixing one for the other. My favorite was definitely Cody, he was so silly with his constant babble about the oddest things…

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“Ear demons are totally real,” Cody said. “They’re what make microphones like these ones work. They’re also what tell you to eat the last slice of pie when you know Tia wanted it.” – pg 193
David is the perspective the story is told from and he has a big thing for metaphors. Metaphors seemed to be a running theme through the book because it was completely packed full of them, not only from David. I found it endearing. I like this kid but what is more important is that I like all of the characters.

Ultimately, Steelheart manages to be both a fun read and a serious one. I have always had a huge thing for villains in fiction, – so for me, reading this was like eating ice cream. I couldn’t get enough and I’m foaming at the mouth for more.


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• An advanced uncorrected copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes come from an advanced uncorrected edition and are subject to change. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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37 Responses to “Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I agree with you. Sometimes when you see a cover and read the blurb you just know that book was meant for you. I love it when this happens. VILLAINS VICTORIOUS!!!!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Definitely! He is a fantasy writer, high / epic fantasy usually. His work is amazing! If you want to get a taste for it without diving too deep read his Novella The Emperor’s Soul which he won a HUGO award for this year (hehe I was at the awards he even let me hold it after…and George RR Martin too!)

      Anyways to describe the feel of this one I’d say it was closer to urban fantasy with super heroes…except they aren’t heroes they are the villains. The heroes being a small group of humans who make it their business to kill the Epics. He is a master of worldbuilding!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Jennifer – seriously this one blows The Rithmatist out of the water! Have you read any of his other books? If you liked The Rithmatist you will love his other stuff. Personally, I enjoyed The Rithmatist as well but I thought it was one of his weaker works to date.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I hope you decide to pick this one up – it is amazing. The world building was exquisite and the fun urban fantasy feel meets comic book errr not hero is ….hehe superb!

  1. Chuthor

    Ugh you keep making my book pile bigger, I’m glad you rated this so highly though. I’ve been a fan of his previous works and really look forward to this one!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Sorry! …but not really. Reading is the blood of life!! But hey! I only con you into reading the good good ones right? Have I steered you wrong yet? *evil laughter*

  2. Jaime Lester

    The cover of this one drew me in, and the synopsis sealed the deal. I would love to read this story. I have a feeling I will love it as much as you did!!

  3. amel armeliana

    I would love to read this book. The story sounds really interesting and loved the cover. Can’t wait to read it, must put it on my TBR list 🙂

  4. simonet

    You always review or post books I never have heard of but are awesome. I’m in love with this blog ^_^

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      haha thanks! Really you haven’t heard of this one? But it’s written by such a popular Fantasy author. But he does mostly write fantasy. This is his first foray into urban fantasy/post apocalyptic genre.

  5. sarah c.

    great review!!! I ran across this book about a week or so ago and it sounded interesting.. i ususally like reading books that contains characters having extraordinary powers so this might be a winner for me!!!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      See – I have a backlog too – but what it boils down to…if I don’t read what I WANT to read then I read slower and I get even more behind. So you need to just take a break from the “review” books from time to time and read what you want – or it gets to feel like a job and then you will burn out and start to resent the book blogging. Seriously give yourself a few pleasure books!

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          At some point or another I want or wanted to read all of the books I’ve requested. Sometimes though the fervor for them dies down or I no longer feel like it, or they don’t fit my mood. Trying to force myself to read them will leave me with a bad experience and the review might suffer because of it – so I don’t do it.

          So sounds like your backlog problem is completely different than mine. Normally I stay pretty well caught up. This year I’m behind because of all the BEA books I picked up and have been fitting in more of.

          • Mogsy

            Yeah, I generally don’t even pick books I have little interest in (because I never DNF books, I’ve learned to be very picky and try not to take on more than I can chew) so all of those that come my way for review are “high priority” I guess you can say. It’s more a matter of OH CRAP I’M SURROUNDED WITH TOO MUCH AWESOMENESS and a wish I could clone myself to read them all at once, rather than a true back log. I also want to jump on while my enthusiasm is high too, so I totally get the fervor thing.
            Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Seven Forges by James A. MooreMy Profile

  6. Lynn K.

    This month seems to be the month of epics adventures and heroes with this, The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas and Vicious by VE Schwab. 🙂 Having read Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, I have high hopes for Steelheart! Glad it was an awesome read.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      That’s true isn’t it! I still need to read The Burning sky and Vicious. Maybe I’ll read either one of those next. I’m in need of another FABULOUS book.

  7. rogier *roro*

    A couple of his books are on my wish list. Because if you only get ahold of books trough winning cash or a book, it is pretty hard choosing what book to buy. Hah my wish list is nearing 300. IM only counting first in some series and sequels in others. I have known about steelheart for a bout a month. I really want it. Hoping to win cash soon thx for the review

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I absolutely LOVE Brandon Sanderson. I greatly enjoyed the Mistborn books as well! I haven’t finished the Wheel of Time books yet because I’m stuck on book ten which absolutely SUCKS in my opinion. Because I had been doing a reread. I think I might just skip the rest of 10 and read the wiki cliff notes. Which I have never done before but its just rediculous how bad it is. I’ve loved everything I’ve read written by Sanderson. Have you read his Warbreaker, Elantris, The Emperor’s Soul? Those are the others I’ve read and loved. I have yet to read his Way of Kings..I’m waiting for there to be at least three books before I do. Thanks for visiting!

      • The_Wanderer

        Yeah Crossroads of Twilight is not good. I would consider just reading the last chapter and then a synopsis of the whole book and moving on from there. 10 was definitely the worst Wheel of Time book. I have not read Warbreaker, Elantris, or Emperor’s Soul, or Way of Kings, but I do want to read them. I do own Way of Kings so I probably will read that right before the second book comes out next year. Good luck finishing WoT.