Review: Steelheart

“Many of you probably know about that Scar on Steelheart’s cheek. Well, as far as I can determine, I’m the only living person who knows how he got it.” – Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
384 pages
Published by Ember, 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Re-readability: I probably won’t revisit this one
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


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.

From the publisher

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

I’m not sure why, but superhero stories have never been my thing. I enjoy magic in fantasy novels, especially when it’s something that everyone has access to—but when the main character is a hero who is more powerful than the villains, I’m not that interested to watch them use their powers for good.

As a result, this book had me hooked when I realized that the superheroes (called “Epics”) were actually just villains, and that no one with powers is on the right side. The setting—a decrepit Chicago that has been mostly turned into steel by the book’s villain, Steelheart—was not what I expected, and as usual Sanderson’s worldbuilding was well done.

My main struggle was with David, a protagonist defined mostly by his hatred of Epics and his casual sexism. He came off to me as naive and unempathetic, treating Megan (the only female character with more than a few lines) as a conquest. 

The plot was repetitive and sluggish, and the characters were too shallow to create any sense of a dynamic ensemble cast. Most of all, I’m just surprised Sanderson wrote such a poor female character in Megan and such a simplistic teenage boy character in David. Sadly, I’m not interested in continuing this series.

3 thoughts on “Review: Steelheart

Add yours

  1. I love Sanderson, so it’s a pity you didn’t like this book. Though, I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of the superhero genre either. I have so many Sanderson books I want to read, so I’ll probably just skip this one. Thanks for the great review, especially since I’ve never heard of this book!


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