I loved Red Rising By Pierce Brown (Book 1) and as quick as I could I jumped on eBay and got book 2 & 3 of the trilogy. I was very excited to see that the amazing story of the Helldiver from Lycos on Mars is still flowing as swiftly and quickly as Book 1. I was telling the guys at work that I’ve never read such a book before: the characters are well defined, the interplanetary intrigues are worthy of Game of Thrones status and the war tales would make a German commander’s toes curl from excitement.
It’s not victory that makes a man. It’s his defeats.
“Hic sunt leones. Here be lions.”
Where do I start? Darrow’s story ended in book 1 with his winning the academy games with Jackal’s defeat and him becoming the most prized possession of the house of Augustus. But his troubles were only started as machinations and power struggles between adoptive sons, Jackal and Darrow to be named heir of the Augustus clan sees Darrow put in a perilous position.
He’s still an undercover agent for the Sons of Ares but no-one had contacted him since his ascension to power so he’s wondering whether it’s all OK back home. He finally gets word from Ares and he finds out that a division had been formed who, using the name of Ares started working like a terrorist group, killing Golds and civilians alike in a desperate attempt to fight oppression. Sounds like the IRA in Ireland.
“We are not our station in life. We are us – the sum of what we’ve done, what we want to do, and the people who we keep close.”
In the mean-time, Darrow forms a temporary alliance with Jackal who had been buying television networks and distribution channels across the galaxy. The Jackal knows that whoever holds the media can manipulate the masses who have nothing else to do but watch the Tube. Darrow realises that in order to defeat the Golds, terrorist attacks won’t work. What’s needed is a total change of mentality and re-structuring of the class system. Not an easy feat. And he needs friends like Roque on his side.
I didn’t mind that it was always about you, Darrow. That was what burned Tactus, but not me. I’m not in love with you like Mustang. I don’t worship you like Sevro or the Howlers. I was a true friend. I was someone who saw your light and your dark and accepted both without judgement, without agenda…”
While the book follows Darrow, it follows the psychology of warfare too – by seeing what Augustus believes, what the Jackal believe, what empress Octavia believes.
“Brutality.” Augustus lets the word hang in the air. “It is neither evil nor good. It is simply an adjective of a thing, an action in this case. What you must parse is the nature of the action.”
Darrow knows where he came from and knows not where he must go and what he must do, but he’ll try his best to change the world without killing everyone in it. After an unfortunate incident in the Academy his position is precarious, and Nero au Augustus is ready to renounce him and leave him unprotected against the Bellonas, the powerful family that wants his head on a silver platter. But then the Sons of Ares reemerge, giving him orders too cruel to follow, and Darrow realises that the way to make the Society fall apart is civil war.
As the story progressed, and Darrow had to make difficult decisions for the sake of his mission, I mourned him; I mourned every piece of his soul, of his conscience, of the past Darrow he had to sacrifice in order to make Eo’s dream come true, and give a future to those who were denied it. Sometimes he was lost beyond redemption, a cocky, brutal Gold that stabbed his friends in the back and led armadas and thousands of people to their death with a simple order. But some other times, those rare moments he chose to trust, to protect the weak, to arm a terrifying giant and make love to the girl who stole his heart, he was a fiery Red. In the end, Darrow is both. The amagalm of two cultures, the weapon to divide only to unite.
“Were I still the man Eo knew, I would have stood frozen in horror. But that man is gone. I mourn his passing every day. Forgetting more and more of who I was, what dreams I held, what things I loved. The sadness now is numb. And I carry on despite the shadow it casts over me.
I loved the unveiling of Ares, the story of Sevro’s mother who was a Red that was killed for having dared to give birth to a Gold, the fearless dedication of the Howlers and the funny songs they sang.
If your heart beats like a drum,
and your leg’s a little wet,
it’s ’cause the Reaper’s come
to collect a little debt.
The stakes are higher, the need for vengeance even greater, the balance of violence and the action was also a lot more even – with much more entertaining scenes of spaceship battles & combat with advanced weapons. We also find out a bit more about the Sons of Ares as well as the inner workings of the politics of the Golds, which I was pleased about.
So, generally, sounds great right?
Do you like bromances? I love them. True friendships that withstand anything and everything. Servo is the best friend a man like Darrow could have and he is even more crazy and fantastic in this book.
There are so many great characters in this book, some from the past and more introduced. Plus there was new interesting and exciting information on some of the other colors that we haven’t seen yet. I was drawn into the story and world even more this time around and it was bloodydamn great. New characters to love…RAGNAR and new characters to hate…______ (not telling).
And what blew me away – the ending was a coup. I was running around the house screaming “THAT CAN’T BE!” repeatedly while desperately trying not to cry and rage and scream some more.
PS: An excerpt.
“Do you ever feel lost?” The question hangs between us, intimate, awkward only on my end. He doesn’t scoff as Tactus and Fitchner would, or scratch his balls like Sevro, or chuckle like Cassius might have, or purr as Victra would.
I’m not sure what Mustang might have done. But Roque, despite his Color and all the things that make him different, slowly slides a marker into the book and sets it on the nightstand beside the four-poster, taking his time and allowing an answer to evolve between us. Movements thoughtful and organic, like Dancer’s were before he died. There’s a stillness in him, vast and majestic, the same stillness I remember in my father.
“Quinn once told me a story.” He waits for me to moan a grievance at the mention of a story, and when I don’t, his tone sinks into deeper gravity.
“Once, in the days of Old Earth, there were two pigeons who were greatly in love. In those days, they raised such animals to carry messages across great distances. These two were born in the same cage, raised by the same man, and sold on the same day to different men on the eve of a great war.
“The pigeons suffered apart from each other, each incomplete without their lover. Far and wide their masters took them, and the pigeons feared they would never again find each other, for they began to see how vast the world was, and how terrible the things in it. For months and months, they carried messages for their masters, flying over battle lines, through the air over men who killed one another for land. When the war ended, the pigeons were set free by their masters.
But neither knew where to go, neither knew what to do, so each flew home. And there they found each other again, as they were always destined to return home and find, instead of the past, their future.”