Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson – book review

Introduction

Here is a book review that I have also posted on amazon.co.uk and goodreads.com.
The reason I have decided to include it here is because this story is structured very much in-line with the nine points presented in earlier blog posts. It is, or at least appears to be, “engineered”.
It is perhaps no surprise that Brandon Sanderson also teaches creative writing. This time, I am not going to outline the nine points because it would spoil the plot.  Instead, I’ll invite fans of fantasy and sci-fi to get themselves a copy and comment here if you think you agree or not, that it follows the nine points.
Personally I found the mid-point either very subtle or missing.  It may be when David stops chasing after Megan and she starts to take more of an interest in him.  This may be the point David’s attitude changes all over, I would need to re-read to be sure.

 

The five-star review

A well-crafted plot with good characterisation from a story engineering perspective with more or less all the right ingredients in the right place. Coupled with Brandon’s vivid imagination, it succeeds in keeping you turning the pages and building dramatic tension. The prologue is a great hook for the story that you can read for free, so if that appeals to you jump on board for the ride.
Written in the first person from the perspective of the eighteen year old David with ambitions to join the Reckoners, a group dedicated to fighting the evil “Epic’s” in possession of a variety of super powers following on from an event known as the “Calamity”. The narrative does feel like it comes from an eighteen year old man with David’s background which naturally places certain limitations on style and content. I quite enjoyed the humour introduced by David’s assessment of his ability to produce fitting metaphors during the telling. Coming from the mind of an eighteen year old character I suppose you do lose a little depth in the telling, but I’m not going to criticise Brandon for that. He’s decided that is how he is telling the tale, in some ways it works better this way as it is logical certain revelations come later in the story when only seen from David’s perspective.
This is an easier faster to consume novel than many heavyweights in the fantasy genre which is what I was in the mood for. I needed a break after reading Tad William’s Dragon Bone Chair before I pick up the sequel to this one. Anyone who has read the Tad Williams’ Memory Sorrow and Thorn series will know it is heavier going and slower moving but ultimately probably more rewarding that a shorter tale like Steelheart. But there is a place on my bookshelf and in my Kindle for both kinds of a novel.
Five stars because I think Brandon succeeded in what he was aiming to do, it was clever enough, with a thought provoking enough theme and a genuine page turner. Falls only a little short of the perhaps mythical perfect book.

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