Fiction Reviews


Firefight

(2015) Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk, 416pp, ISBN 978-0-575-10421-1

 

After Steelheart comes another 'Reckoners' novel by Brandon Sanderson, author of the 'Mistborn' series and The Stormlight Archives and other standalone works.

The cover illustration by Sam Green is similar to the cover of Steelheart where a superhero was standing on a city rooftop with their back the reader, though this time while we are greeted with the back of another superhero, the city is a not as futuristic as the one Steelheart surveyed, and rather ominously, most of the buildings have been submerged by water that covers the city.

David is a member of the underground and rebellious group known as the Reckoners and he has done the impossible, he has managed to kill a High Epic, namely Steelheart who was the highest and mightiest of them all and earned himself the nickname 'Steelslayer'. In doing so he has revenged the death of his father, but what do you do after youíve achieved your mission? Even worse, the very act of killing Steelheart has half-opened the door marked 'Secrets' so does he close that door gently and walk away or pull it wide open and try and find some answers, especially when he has found out that his mentor, the Professor, and his girlfriend, Megan, actually have powers of their own? Previously everything to David was black and white, but now his world is grey and blurry. How can he trust anyone anymore? And can those who wield powers really be all bad? His head is troubled, his heart is troubled and heís not going to sort himself out by staying in Newcago, besides by killing Steelheart. Newcago has become the focus of the Epic's attention, so itís time to move on, but where?

Well, an obvious contender is New York, now known as Balibar and the part of it that was called Manhattan and is now known as Babylon Restored which is ruled by the mysterious High Epic called Regalia who controls water and has flooded the city to such an extent (and let's gloss over the slippery questions of where the heck did all the water needed to virtually submerge a city come from, and how does it stay there?) that people live in camps on the rooftops and worship another High Epic called Dawnlight who provides them with food and warmth, but is rarely seen. Balibar is an interesting and contrasting setting to Newcago, but be warned while this is book two in the series there was a book 1.5, namely Sandersonís novella 'Mitosis' which included some of this novel in it.

Told from David's viewpoint, we are on a need to know basis, or rather Davidís need to know as he moves to another city and has to integrate with another team of Reckoners who view him with a mixture of suspicion and awe, but David has become a force to be reckoned with and a potential figurehead and inspirational leader if only he had the people skills to be able to carry that off.

As before, this is a real page-turner with plot twists and sub-plots galore, and Sanderson to his credit has avoided the trap of repeating Steelheart by simply having David move to another city to kill the High Epic that rules it, although the plot isnít as precise as the first novel and feels as if it is hurtling to a hurried climax, and the new team of Reckoners isn't as memorable as the first one, but I was sufficiently hooked to enjoy this thrilling ride and look forward to the end of the adventure and revelations galore in the third book Calamity.

Ian Hunter

Also see Peter's review of Firefight.


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