Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Calamity (The Reckoners)

“Perseus had his magic horse, Aladdin had his lamp, and Old Testament David had his blessing from Jehovah. You want to fight a god? You’d better have one on your side too.” 

Calamity, the third installment in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy, continues a compelling
story of power, human nature, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and an impressive array of super (and not so super) heroes.

In Calamity, we see David and the others face their greatest challenge yet: to restore rather than destroy someone who is evil. They have figured out how to take down Epics: find their fear – they all have one that will neutralize their power - and go for the kill. But when Prof gives in to the evil side of his Epic nature, they have to change their game plan. They need Prof - the 'god' referenced in the opening quote - to take down Calamity, the monstrous Epic who started this chaos. In order to have any confidence in this plan, they need to believe Prof can be freed of the calamitous evil that has consumed him.

This restoration will be monumentally hard. Calamity claims  “people are evil to the core.” If this is true, than those in whom Calamity’s power has manifested are doomed –as is the rest of the world. The Epics aren’t just supersized people; they are all immensely powerful villains. The more they use their power, the more they succumb to evil, and it always happens. Always.

Yet David sees hope. He does not believe people are doomed to failure, determined by their evil nature to succumb to Calamity’s poisoned power. He believes people are good. He's seen worlds in which good has prevailed even in the most fallen of the Epics. Granted, he is overly optimistic. He believes people are inherently good when the story makes clear that they aren’t (Calamity’s power doesn’t introduce evil to its victims; it merely makes the worst part of their nature overwhelming). Still, David’s hope is not unfounded. People change; why not Prof? It’s an obvious truth to him.

“I would watch the sun rise, and wish I could capture the moment. I never could. Pictures didn’t work—the sunrises never looked as spectacular on film. And eventually I realized, a sunrise isn’t a moment. It’s an event. You can’t capture a sunrise because it changes constantly—between eyeblinks the sun moves, the clouds swirl. It’s continually something new. “We’re not moments, Megan, you and me. We’re events. You say you might not be the same person you were a year ago? Well, who is? I’m sure not. We change, like swirling clouds and a rising sun. The cells in me have died, and new ones were born. My mind has changed… I’m not the same David. Yet I am.”
The ending will not surprise you, but the manner in which the journey unfolds is clever, compelling and insightful, as is always the case with Brandon Sanderson.  This is a series I have pushed my sons to read. The protagonist, David, is brave, loyal, and kind. His character is solid, and he longs for peace even as he enters a war that cannot be avoided. In the face of calamity, he clings to the hope of restoration and new life.

If he is going to lead the ones who bring about a reckoning, I’m in.

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