I’ve been pretty enthusiastic about this book for over a month now. I went to the signing the week of the release and read the book in about half the time I’d scheduled for it. So far, it’s taken me longer to read The Slow Regard of Silent Things than it did to read this book, and it’s nearly four times the size of Rothfuss’s novella.
But, that’s not really a fair comparison. The books are complete opposites, as you’ll find out when it’s the novella’s turn for a review.
Firefight picks up not long after Mitosis. We’re thrown immediately into the action as David and the other Reckoners execute a mission against an Epic named Sourcefield. She’s pretty powerful, with teleportation and electricity powers she wields sort of like Ryu’s Hadoken from Street Fighter.
In Mitosis, David discovers that the title Epic’s weakness was related to his past. Both Tia and Prof think it’s a coincidence, but it turns out that Sourcefield’s weakness is also related to her past. Her grandparents tried to poison her when she was a child, using Kool-Aid to mask the flavor. Thusly, when she’s doused in gallons of red Kool-Aid her electricity flickers and fades.
She bolts, but the Reckoners were prepared, and she’s cornered. In her final moment David was struck at how afraid she was. How normal. But he still pulled the trigger. He tells himself it was the right thing, and he believes it, mostly. But he can’t shake his concern for Megan, who we discovered is actually the High Epic Firefight at the end of Steelheart.
David theorizes that Epics who forgo using their powers, or gift them away, retain their normal personalities. That’s why Megan could infiltrate the Reckoners, and that’s why he fell in love with her. And it’s why Prof can lead them. He gifts his abilities, leaving his personality intact.
Back to Sourcefield.
After her death, David discovers flower petals in her hand. They’re a message for Prof, from Regalia. She’s the badass Epic that flooded all of Manhattan and now rules over the renamed city of Babylon Restored.
Mitosis, Sourcefield, and an Epic called Instabam, who we didn’t get to see in scene, have all attacked Newcago. And they were all sent by Regalia.
So, Prof and Tia drag David to Babylon Restored, where David quickly discovers he’s terrified of water. Did I mention that the entire city is flooded? The people live in and on top of skyscrapers, only now only a few floors protrude from the water.
Regalia has power over water. She can manipulate it, use it to project herself, and can use it like a television screen. She can watch you anywhere there’s water, even if it’s just a puddle that’s dripped off of you.
And she’s not alone. Obliteration, a powerful Fire Epic has arrived, and that’s big time bad news. He melted Houston, San Diego, and Albuquerque. Melted. And he’s wreaking havoc through Babylon Restored.
Add Newton, a mysterious Epic working like a thuggish police force, and rumors of Firefight, and there’s almost too many powers and potential weaknesses to keep straight.
As the story builds and the plan is made, David runs into Firefight, and begs her to stop using her powers, just to see if he’s right about his theory. She’s reluctant, but agrees. They continue to meet in secret, and Prof is suspicious. Twice he asks David to be honest with him, and twice David lies.
And he should have known better. Just like any good parent, Prof knew more than he was letting on.
David tries to convince Prof and the other Reckoners that Epics can be saved. That, instead of killing Epics, they should use their weaknesses to incapacitate them, that way they can return to their normal selves.
That doesn’t go over well, but Prof is intrigued by David’s talk of good Epics. Of finding a way to negate the morality sap of his powers. He starts experimenting with his abilities again, and even manages to run across the bottom of the Babylon Sea to save a burning building.
And it doesn’t work.
Prof finds out about David’s betrayal, about his clandestine meetings with Megan. And he suspends David from missions. He takes his gun, and leaves him alone at the base. But not before admitting that was the whole reason he brought David in the first place. To lure Megan out. And now that David’s on lock down, the Reckoners are moving forward with a plan to kill Megan.
This is the part where David takes more incredible risks. On lock down, without his gun, he has to find a way out. Prof put up a force field, keeping David in the large meeting room of their base. There’s Tia’s desk, and an entire glass wall that looks out into the ocean.
Oh yeah, their base is underwater.
David finds a small gun in Tia’s desk, and shoots at the glass. It’s not nearly enough to shatter the window, but it’s enough to spring a leak. And a leak is enough for Regalia.
They strike a deal, and she uses the water to shatter the window, and then surges David up to the surface. And then up. And up. And up. Until he’s face to face with Calamity itself.
Side note, Calamity is the red star that hangs in the sky, the Harbinger of all Epics. And turns out, it’s an Epic itself. An Epic that bestows powers. The creator of Epics! And guess who’s next in line?
David can feel the power coursing through him, begging to be used. Calamity sets him back down on a rooftop with Regalia’s projection. And the water calls to him. His powers beg for it, promising that he’ll never have to fear it again.
And that’s when he knows.
He throws himself into the water, confronting his fear, and he denies the powers. He’s no Epic. But now he knows that fears are the key to Epic’s powers. And their weaknesses.
He rushes to find Prof while avoiding Regalia. But, he’s too late to save Megan. And even Prof is crushed by her death, even though it was at his hands. But, David refuses to believe she’s dead. Her main power is regeneration after all, and Prof realizes that he hopes David is right. He gifts a substantial amount of healing and shield to David, and wishes him luck.
And though David finds Megan’s body, he also finds her fail safe. The fire, her weakness, didn’t kill her. The remote activated gun she set up in the building across the way did. She’ll regenerate in a few hours.
Which mean David has just enough time to find Regalia.
He does, and he kills her, with a katana, which is badass, but not before her plan works. She lured Prof to Babylon Restored, not to put her down, but to set him up in her footsteps. She was dying of cancer, and only had a few weeks left. And he fell for the trap.
To prevent Obliteration’s detonation, Prof used his shielding powers. And he used way too much. He loses it, and kills the other two Reckoners with him. And then he comes for David.
Now, this is the moment where we see Prof’s powers unleashed, and man is he strong. And he is going to kill David. And David stands up to him, tries to talk him down, but freshly snapped Epics tend to go on murdering sprees, killing those closest to them. There’s no talking Jonathan Phaedrus down.
And then Firefight regenerates. And she’s even stronger. And, using her projection abilities, she whisks David to safety. And she doesn’t want to murder him.
And here’s the key: Epic powers and weaknesses are born of fears. And when an Epic confronts and survives that fear, they get to use their powers with out deteriorating their morality.
And that’s how it ends. So much is left for the final book, Calamity, due out next year.
Obviously, I really enjoyed this book. I just spent over 1,200 words detailing the story to you. There’s so much to love. I love the characters, they’re all individuals, and fully fleshed out. Plus, David’s bad metaphors make me giggle on the regular. I love the complex twisty-turny nature of the plot lines and weaknesses. Each Epic is a new puzzle, and each city has something innovative and so enjoyable about it.