David Charleston and the Reckoners are back for new adventures, and more is revealed about Epics, their origins, their powers and their weaknesses, in “Firefight,” the sequel to Brandon Sanderson’s No. 1 New York Times best-seller “Steelheart.”
Months have passed since David, now 19, and the Reckoners brought down the Epic called Steelheart, who, along with many other formerly ordinary humans, received powerful abilities after a red star called Calamity appeared in the sky.
The virtually indestructible Steelheart became the self-styled emperor of Newcago, formerly Chicago, which he transformed into steel with one of his abilities. His downfall became David’s lifelong dream after David witnessed his father’s murder at the hands of the Epic -- a confrontation that held the key to Steelheart’s weakness and helped David earn his place among the Reckoners, a group that seeks to overthrow and destroy the Epics.
Though Steelheart is now dead and David is revered by many who call him “Steelslayer,” he feels empty. Along with Steelheart’s demise came the discovery that Prof, leader of the Reckoners, is himself an Epic. Then there was the loss -- and return, and loss again -- of Megan, who is both an Epic known as Firefight and the woman David loves. What once seemed clear to David becomes less so as he tries to reconcile his former belief about Epics -- that all of them are evil and need to be destroyed -- with his newfound knowledge and feelings.
“Firefight” begins with the Reckoners at work bringing down an Epic who’s recently come to Newcago. Sourcefield, who has energy-transforming abilities, is one in a string of Epics who’ve been sent after the Reckoners, and she bears clues that point to a water-controlling Epic named Regalia, who rules over what was formerly Manhattan.
Prof, David and fellow Reckoner Tia make their way to Babylon Restored, or Babilar, which Regalia has placed mostly underwater. There they meet up with another cell of Reckoners -- Val, Exel and Mizzy -- who say one of their own, Sam, was killed by Firefight.
As the Reckoners try to stop Regalia and discover her ultimate goal -- why she is now set to destroy the city she spent the last few years improving -- David searches for Megan as well as evidence that Epics can control the evil tendencies that are brought on as they use their abilities.
New Epics introduced in “Firefight” amplify the action. Regalia is impressive, but more interesting is the destructive Epic called Obliteration, who believes himself to be a fulfillment of prophecy and forerunner of the Apocalypse. He is creepy as he frequently quotes Bible verses, teleports and can absorb and expel energy.
Then there’s Dawnslight, the mysterious source of power that makes fruit-filled jungles grow in buildings and causes spray paint to glow at night.
“Firefight” moves at a brisker pace than “Steelheart,” but David’s penchant for metaphors carries over from the previous book and, while often funny, sometimes kills the pacing of an intense scene.
With the exception of a kiss and David’s occasional observations about the women around him, “Firefight” is free of sexual content. The action and violence are less gruesome than in “Steelheart,” although several people are injured and killed. There are a few instances of mild language, but Sanderson mostly employs fictitious slang and epithets.
For fans of “Steelheart,” “Firefight” is an epic sequel.