Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
My ridiculous Sanderson binge has come to an end, as had the Reckoners series. Of course, Brandon Sanderson being Brandon Sanderson he’s announced a new three book spin-off picking up some of the loose ends. Calamity, as with the two proceeding books, is a lot of fun and comes to a satisfyingly huge and (ahem) epic conclusion.
Calamity picks up not long after Firefight left off. After Prof used his powers to absorb Obliteration’s bomb in Babilar, he has turned and has become one of the most dangerous High Epics in the country. David Charleston now knows the secret of Epic’s weakness and aims to bring Prof back from his madness and take the battle to Calamity itself. The battleground is Idilthia, once the city of Atlanta and turned to salt. It creeps across the land and has been ruled by Larcener, an Epic who can drain powers from others and it is here that Prof first seeks to conquer.
Calamity fits into the pattern established in this series, with each taking place in a transformed American city and focusing on taking down the primary Epic. Although there was wider worldbuilding, Steelheart and Firefight were quite focused, but with so many loose ends to tie up Calamity has to stretch itself a bit thinner. The quick pace is a strength of this series, but Calamity feels a bit rushed, lurching towards it’s conclusion. The satisfying sense of watching a plan come together isn’t really present, but the action scenes are as strong as ever. That said, Sanderson makes up for it with wider world building. Somewhat hilariously, Sanderson appears to be building a second multiverse. Most authors can’t pull off one, but here’s Sanderson building up a second. The sense of scale is extremely exciting, but Calamity does suffer somewhat by biting off slightly more than it can chew.
All said though, the core of humour and action that define this series is still there. The action scenes are really exciting and, at times, surprisingly grisly. Considering that this is a YA book, Calamity contains the most stomach churningly violent scene in any of his books. Sanderson approached the Reckoners in a different way to his Cosmere books, with a more chatty, informal tone which is a lot of fun to read.
David is still a likable protagonist and it’s nice seeing him and Megan together, if only to end the relationship drama. Both characters are only enhanced by their pairing. Sadly, my biggest disappointment here is the lack of development of Prof. Seeing him turn at the end of Firefight was heartbreaking, but we don’t quite see enough of him for this to have as much impact as it should. He’s usually raging and attacking everyone, with the connection he holds to the Reckoners not explored quite as much as it should.
Calamity is a satisfying conclusion to the Reckoners series. It isn’t quite as successful by it’s own right as Steelheart and Firefight, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It leaves a few loose ends hanging which will hopefully be picked up in the Apocalypse Guard, Sanderson’s upcoming spin-off.