Learning from ‘Steelheart: The Reckoners Book One’

Author Brandon Sanderson

No spoilers.

Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

00_steelheart_usThe best way to learn your craft is to study others who excel at the genre. What better book to review and learn from than a YA fantasy by Brandon Sanderson, a master of fantasy?

Steelheart is the first book in a trilogy. Since I hope my first novel will be the first in a series, I like to see how authors introduce their characters, how much backstory and world building is revealed and when.

Book Blurb –  How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father? If someone destroyed your city? If everything you ever loved was taken from you?

I find the book blurb effective in generating interest. It brings the reader directly into the story because you imagine what you would do in the situation.  It also creates sympathy for the main character, David, a young man of 18.

First line – I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.

The first line is taken from the Prologue.  I like the line because it made me ask, ‘What is so special about Steelheart bleeding? Everyone bleeds, don’t they?’ This made me want to read on. So far, so good.

I found the prologue and the last 5 chapters of the book to be worthwhile reading. The last 5 chapters were excellent. Everything came together and a few great twists were revealed, one of a which I did see coming, the others I didn’t.

Sanderson also does a great job of slowing the action down when a pivotal moment occurs. Reviewers have made comments about certain parts of my book where I’ve been told that I shouldn’t let the action happen too quickly. Set it up so the reader anticipates something is going to happen, but slow it down so they can catch up with the characters. Sanderson did this at a life and death moment by having the main character think about how he’d always wanted to do something significant with his life, and now it didn’t look like he’d be able to do it. These are the things that I need to incorporate into my writing.

Unfortunately, most of the book felt like all the characters did was plan and prepare. Where did it go wrong? One of my favourite books of all time is The Way of Kings by Sanderson. How did this book fall flat when The Way of Kings was so amazing?

Could it be that the stakes weren’t high enough? Or that the main character was driven by vengeance instead of survival or saving someone? I still can’t put my finger on it. It might have been that the supporting characters felt like I’ve seen them too many times. They were stale. Two were the typical wise cracking macho types (at least they weren’t sexist or constantly coming on to the female characters). The head honcho was, of course, an older man. The two women characters were capable, if a little boring.

I was disappointed.  I doubt I’ll read the next books in the series. I’ll probably pick up another book by Sanderson instead. He is an amazing world builder and his hard magic systems blow me away.

I have to say, if this was written by anyone else, I’d probably rate it a 3 out of 5, but because it is by Sanderson, I expected so much more so I can only give it a 2.

RECOMMENDATION RATING: 2 OUT OF 5

2 Book Star Review

6 thoughts on “Learning from ‘Steelheart: The Reckoners Book One’

  1. Tadeu Aratel says:

    Really, you didn’t like it? That’s sad to read. I love Steelheart.
    I’m at a loss to why you felt all they did was plan. This series is the most action packed of all of Sanderson’s works.

    He specifically made it that way because he hopes to turn it into a movie some day.

    But well, some works just don’t sit well with people, even when we like the author. I personally couldn’t even finish Elantris.

    Liked by 1 person

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