[Book review] Firefight by Brandon Sanderson.

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From the #1 “New York Times” bestselling author of Words of Radiance coauthor of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson presents the second book in the Reckoners series: Firefight, the sequel to the #1 bestseller Steelheart.

They told David it was impossible–that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart–invincible, immortal, unconquerable–is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic–Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Goodreads

Brandon Sanderson is by far my favourite currently active author but I wasn’t a fan of Steelheart when I first read it. It wasn’t terrible by any standards – it is BSand after all – but it did feel formulaic and not very memorable. That turned out to be a terrible assessment.

For months after completing the book, Steelheart’s plots and characters popped into mind first every time I thought about superhero fiction. There was just something about it that refused to let itself get dislodged from my brain. That is how I found myself waiting with bated breath for Firefight, after the satisfying but tiny nugget that was Mitosis to whet my superhero-loving appetite.

Firefight is very obviously the middle in a trilogy (or, at least, not the first or last in the series). It starts off with the premise having already been established and leaves bigger plot points hanging, waiting for the inevitable BSand Big Bang that will come in the next book.

It does, however, circumvent some problems that middle books usually face. While a read of the first book is recommended to appreciate the full context that the story takes place in, BSand explains has adequate (organic) explanation that this can stand alone decently.

Also, even though it obviously ends in a cliffhanger to precipitate the next book, Firefight avoids the middle book syndrome by actually having its own story to tell, rather than plodding the minutest of progressions and filler to make the trilogy quota. It is part of a larger series, of course, but it has a unique storyline of its own, like a superhero show chapter that pushes the series towards its finale while wrapping up pretty cleanly at the end of the episode. Sure, it does leave many questions unanswered, but the story is told well enough that it doesn’t matter.

One of BSand’s strengths has always been in writing action scenes that are exhilarating and addictive without being overloaded with excessive details and that is exemplified repeatedly here. His numerous action sequences are breathtaking and incredibly engaging.

His other strength – that of setting up more mysteries with every answer he provides, is also out in full force, the story chock full of little gems here and there about Epic powers and glimpses of the overarching plot that are just enough to satiate the reader while posing even larger questions.

At the end of the day, Firefight is still the bridge between an exciting start and an explosive end and, in and of itself, will not count among BSand’s finest. Still, it tells a great, somewhat self-contained story to keep readers clamoring for the final instalment and, based on that alone *glares at Catching Fire*, makes for a good buy.

Rating: buy/borrow/bin

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