The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson is a novel series about a world filled with super heroes. But not the Marvel-story kind, where the good guys win.
Epics and Reckoners
David was born in a world like our own, in Chicago. When he was a few ears old, the red star Calamity appeared in the night sky. People like you and me suddenly gained super powers. They came to be known as Epics. At first, the nations of the world tried to keep them in line.
One day, David and his father were at a bank, begging for a loan, when two Epics showed up, the first killing indiscriminately, the second stopping the first. David’s father tried to help the second Epic, called Steelheart. He accidentally wounded Steelheart, who was supposedly indestructible. Every Epic had a weakness, though, and David’s father had accidentally triggered Steelheart’s. Steelheart retaliated by killing everybody in the bank, including the rescue workers, then burying the bank underground and turning half the city to steel. All but David, who escaped, and dedicated the next ten years of his life to vengeance.
It wasn’t long before the Epics broke the nations of the world. Epics became untouchable tyrants; forces of nature who could do what they wanted. The result was that the world became a patchwork of warring city states, ruled by the most powerful Epics. Only a handful of groups tried to resist.
When a group of Epic-slayers called ‘The Reckoners’ comes to Chicago, David sees his chance to enact his vengeance.
The Reckoners series follows the adventures of David as he battles the Epics. It is in some ways like The Boys, and the Watchmen comics, in that the stories don’t assume Super Heroes are forces of good. The Reckoners, like The Boys, shows a world where the super powers turn the heroes to narcissistic demi-gods. Unlike the Boys, Sanderson took that idea and ran with it, arriving at a post-apocalyptic world. The world of the Reckoners is a dystopia, where humanity crumbles under the tyranny of super-powerful maniacs.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Sanderson book if it didn’t follow rules. Sanderson’s magic systems are usually pretty rigid, and he likes to revolve the plots around loopholes and consequences of those systems. The same is true for the Reckoners. Epics have a number of powers that the main character David has spent his life categorizing, and the Epics all have a weakness. As the series progresses, we learn more of the rules, and how they can be bent and abused.
And, of course, Sanderson finds cool things to do with those powers. I won’t spoil things, but his vision of the epic-ruled cities like New York, Atlanta, and others are very cool. As is Newcago, the setting of the first novel, post-apocalyptic Chicago turned to steel and covered by perpetual night.
One thing I should mention is that this is a ‘young adult’ novel. I personally don’t care about the whole segmenting between adult and young adult. In this case, I like it, because young adult is usually shorter; Sanderson’s books can be tomes.
I love Sanderson’s writings. His Mistborn novels are good — although I like the second trilogy better than the first. Way of Kings is a different kind of Epic Fantasy, but very well done — it reminds me of Game of Thrones, but without me hating all the characters. Skyward is a very entertaining scifi series, and I can’t wait for the next instalment.
So, if you enjoy super hero comic books and want to read a novel, you might like these books. If you don’t mind it being post-apocalyptic and young-adult, of course.