Golden Son by Pierce Brown is book two in the Red Rising Trilogy and though most book twos have a tendency to be filler or set up for the final book of a trilogy; Golden Son is oh my m*f*ing God good!
Years have past since Darrow has survived and won the trials of the Academy. He has killed and stormed the castle of Olympus, until he and his team stood alone atop the mountain.
“…Once upon a time, a man came from the sky and killed my wife. Beside him now, I walk on a mountain that floats over our world…”
“…Take a last look,’ he tells me as we near his shuttle. ‘All that came before was but a whisper of our world. When you leave this mountain, all bonds are broken, all oaths are dust. You are not prepared. No one ever is…”
But Darrow has secrets of his own. Secrets that no one can learn. In a class society, each human is a color and their color depicts who they are. All classes are enslaved by the Golds. Darrow was born a Red, working deep in the mines of Mars, working to build a better world for the Golds. Until one day he and his wife break a rule, and Eo; his wife, his love, pays for it with her life. In grief he disobeys the laws of the Golds and buries her. For this he too is sentenced to death.
“…They took her from me. They hanged her. They made me pull her feet so that her neck would break and she would not suffer. I killed myself after that, burying her, letting them win. Letting them hang me. Drowning in my grief…”
But Darrow doesn’t die, he is saved by the Sons of Ares, a revolutionary group bent on destroying the yoke of the Golds. Darrow undergoes a surgical and cultural transformation; as he is turned from a Red into a Gold and given a new identity and mission. To infiltrate and destroy the class society of the Golds from within.
“…So it’s pride.”
“It’s always pride.”
“Pride is just a shout into the wind.”
He shakes his head, voice deepening. “I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind-how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.” He leans forward. “So you see, pride is the only thing…”
Now, not only considered one of them, but one of their elite. Darrow must carefully sow the seeds of rebellion as he battles to send the ruling class into a bloody civil war.
As a Gold, Darrow finds himself lost among those who think he is their friend and unsure if they are his. But how would they feel is they knew how much he really was not like them. That he was just a lowly Red. New love comes into his life but can he trust it? Can he dare to let anyone know who he truly is?
“…I turn to the sea of Gold faces.
This race-what a beautiful monster. They carry all of humanity’s strengths, except one. Empathy. They cannot change. I know that. Perhaps not now, perhaps not in four generations. But it begins today, the end of their Golden Age. Shatter the Bellona, weaken Gold. Drive the civil war to Luna itself and destroy the Sovereign. Then Ares will rise.
I don’t want to be here. I want to be home, with her, with my child who never was.
But can’t be. I feel the tide inside me go out, baring old wounds. This is for you, I tell her. For the world you should have lived in…”
As Darrow finds himself in the rich but treacherous world of the Golds’, he must struggle to never lose sight of himself and the dream Eo had of a better world for his people.
With Golden Son, Brown takes the saga of Red Rising and amps it up. Darrow is a powerful warrior, no longer the frightened boy just trying to survive. He weaves himself in and out of the politics of the ruling class as well as the bloody and violent feuds of the powerful families. This is very much like a feudal Japanese dynasty set against the backdrop of the Universe. Intrigue. Bloody battles. Massive destruction on a warlike scale. The courage of a writer to kill and maim major characters without fear, knowing it will only drive the story further. Brown displays and masters all of these. Making Golden Son not only a sequel but a step up in the story of Darrow and Red Rising.
But don’t think Golden Son is all blades flashing and blood spilling, Brown attacks some very real social issues in this novel. Much as he did in the first and he doesn’t shy away at all. Socialism. Slavery. Rape. Poverty. Class society. Golden Son, like Red Rising before it, will make you think hard on your societal views. The balls to separate the classes by color speaks to the simple courage of a honest writer. This is even more revealing when you understand the Red Rising is his first foray into the field. It is grand and immense in scope.
Perhaps Pierce Brown has the advantage of not knowing he shouldn’t be this good. This fast.
But thank God he is.
Do you need to read Red Rising before you read Golden Son? No. But you should. You really should. Seriously.
Golden Son. Its going to be very big in 2015.
An excellent read!