Oh, Calamity!

CalamityWithout a doubt, the supervillains in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series are all evil. They have a penchant for turning entire metropolitan areas into steel and submerging them in water. One particular nasty fellow liked to obliterate cities while quoting wonky Biblical passages. You might even call them mega evil.

But more than anything, they are a screwy bunch. That’s because these Epics all suffered from super intense phobias and anxiety disorders. And as it turns out that was the only way to defeat them. You couldn’t punch them into submission. You had to figure out a way to make them confront their darkest psychoses. Forget about Superman. What the world needed was a super psychotherapist.

It’s a weird twist, we admit. But it gives the author a chance to ruminate on human nature and teleology. If you were given superhuman powers what would you do? Would you apply for membership to the Justice League? Or would you hook up with the League of Assassins? “You see the truth of man manifest in those first moments when they become new Epics,” says Larcener, the calamitous villain in this particular novel. “They murder, they destroy, they show what every man would do if his inhibitions were removed. Give a man some powers and he’ll abuse them.”

Larcener the Accuser is the biggest most cosmic villain in Sanderson’s trilogy (read our reviews of the first two books here and here). But when we first meet him he’s just a lazy guy who talks like he belongs in a high fantasy novel (“Impudent peon!” he likes to say). Only later, after his novel-ending soliloquy, do we see his ulterior motivation. And, yes, the spunky Reckoner crew finds a way to somehow defeat him. “The world’s gone mad,” says Megan. “We need a crazy plan.”

Like the two previous novels in the series, it’s hard to put down Calamity. It’s a brisk and enjoyable read with a generous amount of twists and turns sprinkled about. Plus, the author makes sure to include a hook (or a cliffhanger) at the end of each chapter. Admittedly, some of these hooks are less “hook-y” than others. But Sanderson is clearly baiting his readers to keep reading late into the night. Mission accomplished.

[Calamity / By Brandon Sanderson / First Printing: February 2016 / ISBN: 9780385743600]

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