Also finished firefight. It felt a bit better than Steelheart, if only because less of the book was devoted to solving an obvious mystery. It was still fairly predictable in direction, though, and weirdly inconsistent in where it seemed to be going. Given Brandon's tendencies, I knew it was going to delve more into the basis of epic-ness and the origin/weakness of powers. It seemed really disjointed though, as if Sanderson changed where he wanted the story to go multiple times and never had it properly edited. It's odd, because I think this is the first time I've finished a Sanderson book and felt so equivocal about it. So the big reveal is that Epics have weaknesses based on their fears, and if they face and overcome that fear then they don't turn evil when they use their powers (or that they can reject said power outright). That the second book hinges on fear again, after that was the key revelation of book one was a bit of a disappointment, but it's a secondary issue to the bigger problems with the plot. Regalia is another city ruling epic who is Evil but not super duper Evil, and her city has some working infrastructure, similar to Steelheart. And she keeps trying to draw Prof to the city by trying to kill our plucky heroes, but explicitly doesn't try to attack Prof himself. What a mysterious situation! So we head to Manhattan to figure things out, and, coincidentally, the Love Interest is there. At the start it looks like Regalia is at the least conflicted about killing, and clearly there are non-destructive powers being used in the city. Regalia repeatedly refuses to kill our heroes for some reason which is never really explained. There are all sorts of hints about the people in Manhattan being oddly passive in the face of danger, and new/changing Epic powers that I thought would be related to power-gifting or something related (and possible constructive uses of powers). Or that the emotional state or intention when using powers might influence the effect on character, and that was something Regalia was trying to manipulate in Prof, or control in herself. But no, it's all a weird ploy to make Prof use too much power and turn evil, even though that already almost happened in book 1, and straight up attacking him regardless of locale might achieve the same result. Megan was specifically sought out to seduce David for handwavey reasons that are never developed, and aren't just contrivances to bring them into proximity. The conflict is also devoid of reasonable motive - if she's dying, why on earth would she care about making him evil? Why not try and steal his healing power, since she's shown she can apparently manipulate and transplant epic powers? Or why not just kill all his buddies, then make him use his powers when he doesn't have help that might prevent her diabolical scheme from working? If the idea is that she wants a successor to rule her city, its especially hokey given the reveal that she's goatee-strokingly evil when she tries to Epic-ise David. By now I think most of us are used to Sanderson trying to put a redemptive spin on the major villains in his stories, and this might be his lead in to retroactive redemption of Regalia when this all ends up vital to defeating Calamity. I just feel like if that's the direction he's taking things there are just way too many weird plot holes and misdirections. I'm not used to this from Sanderson at all, and I'm honestly quite curious as to what happened when he was (re-?) writing the book, because it is really feels like significant changes were made to the direction of the story without cleaning up the dangling plot pieces.