Another book review, another Brandon Sanderson book I fell in love with. I wanted to finish The Reckoners though I was a bit hesitant after Firefight. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Firefight but it had introduced story elements that had me concerned how it would all come to an end. Thankfully Calamity finished The Reckoners series in a great and satisfying way.
It really is the darkest timeline as David Charleston has to confront his most difficult challenge as an epic hunter. With Prof having turned evil from the darkness of his powers, David is put into an uncomfortable position as leader of the Reckoners. How he acts as the leader, how similar yet different he is from Prof really shows growth from the David of book one. Despite how dark the story feels there’s always this hopeful feeling in the background of David’s decisions. How infectious it is to the supporting cast is also something I enjoyed because it’s not just blind loyalty but earned trust. While they follow David and his optimism, they still question his decisions and motives. They question whether or not his goal, his mission for them, actually makes sense considering the backfoot they’re on. But David’s logic is sound both by his extensive knowledge of Epics and how careful he is when planning their missions.
My favorite dynamic is the relationship between David and Megan. I love stories where couples are put into stressful situations, but act as couples in a healthy relationship would. There are moments of questions, of debates and arguments but also moments of tenderness, support and love. The character development for each of them was still very much their own and seeing them grow both individually and together was fantastic. They are each their own character and their arcs feel great from beginning to end.
The story of Calamity takes place primarily in Atlanta, known now as Ildithia. I don’t want to spoil the coolness of what Ildithia is, but it’s definitely worth imagining yourself as a reader as it’s pretty cool. Sanderson takes some time to describe what the city is, how it functions physically, economically and socially. It’s pretty cool world building wise but feels like it’s not explored to the same depth that Babilar was in Firefight. Ildithia ends up feeling like any other run down post apocalypse city. Not to say that its boring or lazily written, but it’s hard not to compare it to the wonderful weirdness of Babilar.
The way the story unfolds is so full of tension and satisfying plot development that it was a blast to read. Every twist and turn pulls you in, wanting you to keep reading for hours. As usual, the story is primarily character driven which helps to make it feel more authentic. There’s always the question of whether or not David will succeed, if he’s too naïve or if he’s too reckless with his plans. There are so many plotlines that take place alongside the main storyline and they’re all fantastic. Each one has an element of tension that builds off what was established in Firefight and some even from Steelheart which had me smiling as I realized it.
What I thought made the story end perfectly was how Megan’s powers didn’t end up just becoming a Deus Ex Machina. It was my biggest fear after reading Firefight because of how incredibly powerful yet somewhat ambiguous those powers could have been. But Sanderson takes the time to really flesh out her powers and her struggle with controlling them. I ended up loving it and how it helped to finish off the series.
As always, Brandon Sanderson is a master of writing stories that don’t overtax the reader and leave you wanting more with every chapter. It feels quick to read, easy to understand, and enjoyable at every point. Just as with Firefight and Steelheart, the writing is spliced with the random and weird metaphors and similes that David keeps making. It adds a nice and genuine feel since it never feels off-putting. It adds to David’s likability as a protagonist.
What Writers Can Learn From This Book
I think the best thing about Calamity is how it ends off the Reckoners series in a perfect way. I can rant about how I think David and Megan’s relationship is one of the best examples of a healthy relationship, how the tense pain David feels confronting Prof is heartbreaking at times, or how all of the side characters feel like their own developed characters that could have their own storylines. But when I really think about the best lesson for other authors, its how everything came to a proper close. Firefight asked so many questions and brought so many strange and really “out there” concepts that I felt worried if Calamity could end it answering those questions. It’s really something to appreciate after investing the time in reading the series from start to finish. It’s funny that as I write this, this is something I’ve been struggling with as I write the sequel to my own book. To see how Sanderson takes the time to really flesh out ideas brought up not just in Firefight but also in Steelheart, is really inspiring and helps with any author struggling with writing a series. This is a great example of how to conclude a series leaving the reader feeling happy with the end.
P.S: I swear I’ll read a book by another author other than Brandon Sanderson. I just love the guy’s work a lot.