Today I’m reviewing The Reckoners Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, which is comprised of Steelheart, Firefight, and Calamity. I’ve done individual reviews of each book, and you can find those on my blog. These are my overall thoughts on the trilogy as a whole, and the review will contain spoilers.
The worldbuilding is something I talk about for each of the books because each of them has a unique setting. It’s something I consistently liked throughout the trilogy. I’ve never seen settings like these before, and they are super unique and interesting. I also really like the overall concept of people getting superhuman powers and then becoming villains, and there being no superheroes to fight them. You just have ordinary people who have to be the heroes, which is super interesting. I particularly like the Epics’ weaknesses and how they’re tied into their fears. Similarly, Sanderson gives David a fear of water when they’re in New Babylon, and it’s a city full of water, which makes the story really compelling. I love that the story plays on fears so much because that’s something I think everyone has. Everyone’s afraid of something, and I like how Sanderson incorporates something so universal into this trilogy. People have to face their fears in order to have their Epic abilities and not be a villain, and that leads to one of my favorite plot twists—but I won’t spoil it.
With the characters, there are a lot of different things I like. There are individual characters I like such as David. I don’t usually like protagonists, but I really like following David. He’s smart, competent, and makes a lot of breakthroughs regarding the Epics and their powers. However, my favorite character is Prof. He fits my type, and I like what happens to him. In Firefight, he goes dark. I think that corruption arc is super fascinating because he loses the control he’s had over his powers, and I find that really compelling. I also like Larcener. I did not see the plot twist regarding him coming. I knew there was something off about him, but I was not expecting the truth. He’s an interesting character. I also like the quirkiness some of the characters have like Exel and Cody.
What I really love about the characters in this trilogy—and this is something I haven’t seen done anywhere near to this extent in any other series I’ve read—is the diversity of the cast. There are lots of men and women. I know we don’t have anything in between, and given some things I’ve heard about Brandon Sanderson, I’m not surprised that the LGBTQ+ community isn’t represented. That’s one area of diversity this book lacks. In terms of appearance, cultural background, and abilities, there is a lot of representation; and that’s a good start. We see characters who are African American and Asian, and there are characters with various cultural backgrounds. We see characters who are disabled like Knighthawk, who is physically paralyzed, and Dawnslight, who is in a coma. I did notice the majority of the diversity is represented by the Epics, which isn’t great because they’re the antagonists of the story, but we do have some good guys who are diverse as well. While the diversity isn’t perfect, it’s much better than what I’ve seen in other series where the authors don’t even try to have a diverse cast.
There are two things I don’t like about this trilogy. One is the plot’s predictability. I was able to predict a lot of the twists and reveals that happened, particularly in the first two books. The trilogy wasn’t as engaging because I saw the twists and reveals coming. Though, I have to say, there are two plot twists in Calamity that I definitely didn’t see coming, and I really enjoy both of those.
The other thing I don’t like is the ending. I found it very unsatisfying, and I can’t pinpoint exactly why I feel that way. I don’t like that David ends up with Epic powers. I like following him as an ordinary person taking down Epics, and when he becomes an Epic himself, I feel like we lose that awesome part of his character. I also feel like his father’s death is cheapened because now he has a dad in an alternate universe that Megan’s able to open up for him. I don’t feel like David’s dad really contributes anything to the plot at this point, and that part of the ending could go away and have no effect on the story. I think I would like the ending more if David’s dad weren’t a part of it. I love everything up until this point, and I’m a little disappointed that the ending doesn’t feel more satisfying.
That’s all I have on The Reckoners Trilogy. Overall, I think it was a great read. It’s definitely more science fiction than fantasy, and I’m not a huge fan of science fiction. I do like superhero stories like Marvel, so this was a good match despite being outside my primary genre. I definitely enjoyed it even though I wouldn’t put in in my top ten favorite books of all time or anything. I’m glad I finally read some of Brandon Sanderson’s work.
That leads me to a tangent because I have a fun story about Sanderson. I went to Salt Lake City in 2013 to meet Brandon Mull who at the time was my absolute favorite author. He wrote Fablehaven and Beyonders. In 2013, he had a launch party for the final Beyonders book, and he had some guest authors there including Christopher Paolini, Richard Paul Evans, and two others whose names I can’t remember. They had a bunch of comedy skits that we watched as part of the event, and for one of them, they had the five authors on stage. Then they brought out another guy whom they called The Other Brandon. He was supposed to be Christopher Paolini’s bodyguard or something as part of the skit. Because there were only five authors advertised as being part of this launch party, it never occurred to me that Other Brandon could be an author. So I met Brandon Sanderson in 2013 at this launch party, and I had no idea he was an author because I had never heard of him or his books and he wasn’t advertised as an author.
Fast forward to 2018 or 2019, and I was on YouTube looking for videos about worldbuilding. I found Brandon Sanderson’s lectures that he does at BYU, and he kindly posts them on YouTube for people to watch. I was watching one of his worldbuilding lectures, and I thought to myself, “This guy looks really familiar, and his name sounds really familiar. Why does he seem so familiar?” Then I found a lecture where Brandon Mull was a guest speaker in his class, and I realized why I recognized Sanderson. I recognized him from the launch party. So now I’m kind of horrified at the fact that I met Brandon Sanderson and didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know he is one of the top science-fiction/fantasy authors of all time. When I realized that, I told myself I have to read some of Sanderson’s books now. Then I have to go back to Salt Lake City and get them signed and actually meet Sanderson knowing he’s an author, so I don’t feel terrible about this missed opportunity I had when I was fourteen.
That’s why I’m glad I finally read some of Sanderson’s work. I was kind of torn between reading Steelheart or Mistborn first. I couldn’t find Mistborn at any of the libraries, but I was able to find Steelheart, which is why I read Steelheart first. I did end up finding Mistborn at the bookstore in the city where I’m going to grad school, and I got the whole trilogy for about $25, which is an amazing deal. I’m going to read those and take them to Salt Lake City to get them signed. Pandemic permitting, maybe he and Brandon Mull will have a joint signing when the final Dragonwatch book comes out in October. I need to get most of my Dragonwatch books autographed too. I haven’t been to Salt Lake City since the launch party for the first Dragonwatch book, so I’m due to go back.
Anyway, that’s my story about meeting Brandon Sanderson and not knowing who he is. It’s horrible. So that’s my tangent.
What are your thoughts on The Reckoners Trilogy? Have you read it? Do you like the ending? Would you go to Salt Lake City (or a closer location if available) to get them signed? Let me know in the comments. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.