Brandon Sanderson is one of the most gifted authors I know currently writing. Each book he writes, it seems, consistently has stunning twists, great action, and an interesting world. Here, we’ll take a look at the conclusion to his “The Reckoners” series, Calamity. We will be exploring it from a worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS below for the whole series.
Face Your Fears
A theme that continues throughout the entire series is the notion of facing your fears. In Calamity, this is shown to be the way for Epics to gain control of their powers without going dark. Yet what does it mean to face our fears? For some epics, it is a literal sense, such as Firefight simply plunging an arm into fire–her weakness. For others, facing fear is facing failure, or a different kind of weakness.
As Calamity continues, however, we discover that these weaknesses are from Calamity himself–the things that Calamity is afraid of. Part of me wonders whether this cheapens the impact of this theme, for it makes the weaknesses of the Epics something that is imported to them rather than something intrinsic in themselves. Another part of me sees this as somewhat consistent–for as humans we are social, and we can all too easily take on the fears of others and turn them into something far greater than they are in fact.
The Nature of Humanity
In the climactic encounter between David and Calamity, Calamity is brought to a different, alternate reality in which he left the humans he’d gifted to their own devices. There, those with the powers are effectively superheroes, having had no darkness to face down, nothing from the outside to impinge upon their own reality. David challenges Calamity:
“Do you fear that?” I asked him softly. “That we aren’t what you’ve thought? Does it terrify you to know that deep down, men are not monsters? That we are, instead, inherently good?” (411)
Such a viewpoint is quite popular in our world. Humans are inherently good, right? Well, it seems that such a viewpoint is not the biblical one, which argues that humans are sinful from birth–even from conception (Psalm 51:5); that no one is good, not even one (Romans 3:10) and the like. There is some debate over this in Christian circles, but it seems quite difficult to square these (and other statements) with the notion that humans are inherently good.
Indeed, although this climactic challenge from David ultimately defeats Calamity, once Calamity is gone, not everyone suddenly turns good. Obliteration, for example, continues to seek the extermination of humanity (possibly?). The open-endedness of this makes it difficult to pin down where Sanderson was going with it, but it seems that even alleged “inherent goodness” does not guarantee goodness.
Calamity is one of those rare books that combines intense plot with serious discussion of worldview. Sanderson continues to weave these tales which force us to look at humanity and contemplate what it is that we are.
The “Mistborn Trilogy” by Brandon Sanderson- Religion(s), Intrigue, and a Messiah– I look at another trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, the wildly creative “Mistborn Trilogy.”
Popular Books– Read through my other posts on popular books–science fiction, fantasy, and more! (Scroll down for more.)
Brandon Sanderson, Calamity (New York: Delacorte Press, 2016).
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.
Another week, another slew of posts for you to add some extra reading to your plate! This time around, we have a comic about self-deception, a quiz for you to test yourself, some young adult literature, and more! Let me know what you thought of the posts, and if you liked them, let the authors know on their blogs!
How to Spot a VBS Volunteer (Comic)– I found this hilarious because it speaks so well of my time as a VBS Volunteer many moons ago. I had an absolute blast though, which is something left off the comic. There’s a reason we keep going back: we love the kids, we love what we got to do, despite our eyes twitching from the caffeine (my preferred stimulant was Mountain Dew). Do you have a fun VBS Story? Share it below!
[Not your Sunday School’s] Biblical Literacy Quiz– Speaking of VBS, how about brushing up on some Bible literacy questions? Warning: this won’t be as easy as just answering “Jesus!” every time. Post your grade here! Let’s have some fun with this and maybe motivate ourselves to read more.
Why Neil deGrasse Tyson should stick to science– The host of “Cosmos” has attempted ironic philosophical critiques of philosophy, metaphysics, and more. Here’s a post arguing he should stick to science–if that.
Common Routes to Self-Deception (Comic)– Do you catch yourself following one of these common paths to pulling the wool over your own eyes? How might we work to prevent self-deception? Check out this thought-provoking comic.
Steelheart: Helping Heroes Along– Brandon Sanderson’s latest YA literature has people abuzz. For good reason? Check out this analysis from a worldview perspective by Anthony Weber.
Darwin’s Finches Show Rule Constrained Variation in Beak Shape– Here’s some heavy reading for you. Could it be that variation operates through certain constraints? What might this imply for evolution? What do you think?