Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

The basics

Title: Steelheart


Series: Reckoners #1

- Steelheart (September 2013)
- Firefight (January 2015)
- Calamity (February 2016)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Read a full summary of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson below. If you can’t remember what happened in Steelheart and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

In short

All his life since the Calamity, David’s been dead-set on avenging his father’s death at the hands of Steelheart. He manages to find the Reckoners while they’re taking down a High Epic and helps them. They reluctantly take him in seeing all the work he’s done on Epics. The Reckoners work together to take down a power plant, take Conflux hostage and draw Steelheart out by Prof disguising as an Epic calling himself Limelight. Megan dies during one of the take outs and the team leaves her behind. However, she reincarnates as she’s Firefight. On the day of the face off with Steelheart, after much fighting and gunfire, David manages to find out Steelheart’s weakness and kills him. Prof is actually a gifter Epic. Megan is disoriented after reincarnating and have lost chunks of her memories. David tries to take her with him but she refuses. Successful in their plan to kill Steelheart, the Reckoners leave Newcago.

What happened in Steelheart?

  • In the prologue, David is at the bank with his father when an Epic by the name of Deathpoint (srsly) comes in and starts turning people to ash for fun. Steelheart arrives, stuff happens and David’s father shoots Deathpoint wounding Steelheart’s cheek in the process and he bleeds. In a fury, Steelheart kills David’s father and burns the whole building down, but David manages to get away.
  • And oh, he’s the only one alive who knows that Steelheart can bleed.
  • 10 years later, David goes out at night to catch the Reckoners in action and join them. They’re in Newcago to kill Fortuity. The whole plan is about to fail when David interferes. They succeed in killing Fortuity and take David with them.
  • In the steel catacombs under Newcago, David informs Prof and the rest of the Reckoners that he has a decade worth of information on Epics back at his apartment. With the help of Megan and Cody, David succeeds in getting the information after taking out Enforcement soldiers and another Epic.
  • Back in the tunnels under Newcago, David convinces the Reckoners to go after the High Epics. They reluctantly agree to upend Enforcement by taking out Conflux and then going after Firefight, Nightwielder and finally, Steelheart himself.
  • And oh, since Steelheart’s impossible to find, even in the palace, the plan is to lure Steelheart out by convincing him that there’s a rival Epic in town.
  • But not before they figure out what Steelheart’s weakness is.
  • Uhhh.
  • David starts training with a tensor and it’s hard stuff, man.
  • Prof sends Abraham, Megan and David to Diamond, the weapons dealer, before Steelheart can get to him and buy all the shiny armaments first.
  • They come upon a gauss gun developed through experimentation on Epics which can change the bullet into a charged explosive. They buy it despite the fact that it needs several thousand standard fuel cells of energy.
  • In the middle of it all, David smells phosphorus which means that Nightwielder has arrived. In a panic, they hide out at the end of the corridor while Abraham makes their way out with the help of a tensor. When Nightwielder gets suspicious about there being someone, David ends up having to act as Diamond’s assistant.
  • It’s all very good though, because David is a clever bastard as he manages to shine UV light onto Nightwielder for a split second using the UV fingerprint scanner while pretending to fiddle with it and then takes out the data chip.
  • David excuses himself to ‘continue working on the inventory’ and gets back to Megan and Abraham, where they find out that UV light does make Nightwielder corporeal.
  • Megan isn’t impressed.
  • Abraham is.
  • David goes to see Prof in his sanctum at the steel catacombs to tell him about the discovery when Prof tells him that they need Epics on their side and not just to simply kill them. And also that they’d imitate an Epic to draw Steelheart out but, people have to know that it was actually the work of the Reckoners.
  • The realigned plan is to strike the power station with the gauss gun to make Steelheart think that a new rival has arrived.
  • Still, the discovery about Nightwielder forces Prof to warn David not to be impulsive and endanger everyone around him in a haste.
  • Whoops.
  • A week after the visit to Diamond, the Reckoners are successful in bringing down one of the power plants of Newcago.
  • David improvised, though. Yet again.
  • They openly challenge Steelheart through the disguise of an Epic by the name of Limelight who can manipulate energy that’s in the form of green sparks of light.
  • Five days after the attack, Tia’s research on Steelheart’s weakness leads the Reckoners to the bank room in perfect condition (as much perfect as it can be after ten years) underground. It’s the room where Steelheart killed David’s father but they are, unfortunately, no closer to figuring out his weakness.
  • They take the unaffected gold they find in the bank vaults for trading purposes.
  • Also, David tells the crew about how Firefight doesn’t really exist because his powers aren’t about fire but that of creating illusions of Firefight while remaining anonymous himself.
  • And oh, Steelheart has been looking for a group of rivals, not just Limelight, so the Reckoners decide to take out Conflux next and throw the Enforcement into chaos.
  • *rubs hands in glee*
  • The plan is to hit Conflux at night while he’s being transported but expecting an attack, the Enforcement is already prepared.
  • The plan goes awry when they seen it’s a trap and they split.
  • Abraham manages to get away to the bolt-hole after getting hit.
  • Tia’s safe in the hideout.
  • Cody goes after the unguarded limo carrying Conflux, but finds a cuffed and gagged Epic inside the trunk instead. They decide to take him to the bolt-hole.
  • Megan is badly hit and barely alive when Prof rescues David and Megan wearing tensors.
  • He takes out armor units, stops bullets, and melts the ground with a wave of his hand. Wow, Prof.
  • Lastly, he tells the Enforcement solders that he’s Limelight and is going to take away Newcago piece by piece if Steelheart doesn’t appear soon.
  • Back at the hideout, Tia treats an injured Megan (since harmsway and tensors have never worked well on her) but is unable to save her.
  • Megan dies.
  • In a haste, the Reckoners burn their hideout with Megan inside and arrives at the bolt-hole where Cody’s holding Conflux captive.
  • They decide to deal with the Epic in the morning.
  • David cries himself to sleep.
  • About 16 hours later in the blot-hole, Cody informs that Steelheart has left this message on hundreds of channels in his network: PICK A TIME AND LOCATION. I WILL COME.
  • The Epic being held captive turns out to be a sixty years old Indian with the name of Edmund Sense aka Conflux.
  • A slave of Steelheart used only as a battery, Conflux isn’t really in charge of Enforcement.
  • Well, sparks!
  • Prof asks him to draw his power back or die and he pretty much just shuts down Newcago.
  • The Reckoners plan of action is to fight Steelheart in the Soldier Field in three days time.
  • Diamond’s been in custody ever since David, Abraham and Megan visited him.
  • David lines the roof of the field with explosives to help them when they face Steelheart.
  • On the day of the face off, the plan starts unraveling at a rapid pace almost as if Steelheart and the Enforcement know their plan.
  • They know because Megan is Firefight with the power of reincarnation but using her power aggravates her and she forgets pieces of memory.
  • Inside the tunnels, David is being chased by Nightwielder and see glimpses of Megan. Not sure about who’s who, David finally fires at Firefight and Nightwielder disguised as Firefight (aka Megan) and the real Nightwielder dies.
  • Megan is clearly disoriented about who David is exactly and runs away.
  • Meanwhile, Prof is fighting off Steelheart with extreme proficiency.
  • David arrives on the field to shoot with the gun his father wounded Steelheart with.
  • Cody gets badly injured.
  • Tia orders to abort the plan.
  • Abraham takes Cody to Tia waiting with in the getaway copter outside the stadium.
  • David shoots Steelheart three times.
  • Nothing happens.
  • Prof hits Steelheart from the back which angers Steelheart and he punches Prof a few times.
  • Fearing that Prof is dead and he’s next, David tells the team to leave.
  • The sun rises meaning Nightwielder really is dead.

How did it end?

As Steelheart raises his hand to kill David, David realizes that his father wasn’t afraid of Steelheart and that’s why he was able to wound Steelheart. And that, everyone, is his weakness. David puts the pen detonator, connected to the explosives beneath the field, inside the gun and raises it at Steelheart. Steelheart crushes David’s hand, takes the gun and turns it on David. He pulls the trigger. Pulling the trigger makes the bullet strike the detonator trigger inside. Explosion unfolds and Steelheart dies in the process. Prof creates an energy shield to protect David and himself from the explosion. Prof’s a gifter Epic. They hurry to get away before Enforcement can arrive. David goes back to find Megan who’s playing David’s profession of love over and over. David asks her to come with them, but she gets strangely agitated and starts to shoot him. David runs. The Reckoners leave Newcago in the copter with Steelheart’s skull that has turned into steel.

Anything else?

Dowser – A device for testing if someone is an Epic or not.
Harmsway – A device that accelerates a body’s healing abilities.
Imager – A 3-D imaging device that transmits anything that a basic spynet watches or listens to inside a room.
Prime invincibility – An Epic power that renders conventional methods of assassination useless such as regeneration, impervious skin, precognition, and self-reincarnation.
Tensors – Devices in the form of gloves that create vibrations to disrupt solid objects by turning them to dust.

Other recaps for this series:


  • Satou Johns says:

    This was incredible! I am retacking the series after 7 months and I had so many gaps!! This is awesome!!! Thank you for making this refresher haha 😂

  • Becca says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read something this hilarious and still helpful on the internet before. Thank you for this piece of gold. 😂

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