Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Middle books in trilogies are generally tough, with Brandon Sanderson himself falling into the trap somewhat in the rather plodding middle book in the Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension. Sanderson has clearly learnt however, with Firefight standing as a great follow-up to the supremely enjoyable Steelheart and left me chomping at the bit for the final book in the Reckoner Trilogy, Calamity.
Firefight picks up a few months after David Charleston, Reckoner, took down Steelheart, the tyrannical ruler of Newcago. Several Epics have come after David, now known as Steelslayer with David and the Reckoners putting them all down. The Reckoners discover that all the Epics have been sent from Babilar, a city located in what was formally Manhattan, ruled by the High Epic known as Regalia, who has a mysterious connection to Prof, aka Jon Phaedrus, the head of the Reckoners and secret High Epic himself. Prof, Tia and David head to Babilar, meeting up with the Reckoners there to take down Regalia. That group of Reckoners are mourning the loss of their point-man Sam, who has been killed by Firefight, the undercover Epic David knows as Megan, the girl he may have fallen in love with.
This book is just a whole lot of fun. I didn’t so much read this book as consume it. The plot is twisty without being convoluted with a genuine raising of the stakes throughout the story and a good balance between fun action stuff and the more emotional bits. It also has some killer revelations about the overall nature of Calamity and the true nature of the Epics, leaving the series in a very interesting place for the next book.
Its ridiculous how consistently good Sanderson is. Most authors as prolific as this, even the great ones, churn out their fair share of misses. Look at Stephen King, for every masterpiece like the Dark Tower books or The Stand we get a fair bit of dross like Cell. Considering that Sanderson regularly publishes up to three books a year there haven’t really been any stinkers. Sure, some are better than others, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book of his that wasn’t at least a 7/10. He’s not flashy in how he writes, but it’s clear and simple and oh-so readable.
David is a breath of fresh air in YA fiction. In a genre where the default setting is often with phasers set to brood, David is refreshingly energetic and enthusiastic without being obnoxious. I also like that Sanderson gave him one, big character trait which is constantly referred back to; e.g, his inability to use metaphors. It may be a bit silly, but even with good YA protagonists like Katniss Everdeen, it can be difficult to find traits beyond basic things like ‘kind’, ‘heroic’ and ‘caring.’ Firefight may not necessarily be Sanderson’s most memorable book, but I’ll always remember David as the guy with the bad metaphors. The supporting cast are good too, with Megan being a solid love interest with an actual personality. My favourite character is Prof, head of the Reckoners and undercover Epic, with a good range of villains better developed than the intentionally enigmatic Steelheart.
Firefight is just a really good book, plain and simple. It ticks all of the right boxes and I can’t wait to see where Sanderson goes with the series from here. In the time being I have the next Wax & Wayne Mistborn book to look forward to!