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Monday, March 05, 2018

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Science fiction, dystopia
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: January 6th, 2015

Series:  Red Rising, #2

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.

A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.

He must live for more.

(I know Steph has covered this novel before, but this review adds some elements she didn't cover, so I thought I'd share!)

Golden Son starts with Darrow outside the small realm of the Institute and serving underneath the wing of his greatest enemy, ArchGovernor Nero au Augustus, and coincidentally alongside his former nemesis, the Jackal, or Adrius au Augustus. He's just finishing up his education at the Academy to learn to command starfleets. While Darrow might have been thrust amongst his peers in the Institute, he now must sway other Golds, non-Peerless Scarred, the politicos, and be a leader of them. His former band of followers has been split up and he's only left with Roque au Fabii and Tactus au Rath. Darrow's new ally is Victra au Julii, the older sister of Antonia au Severus-Julii, and of completely different caliber than her cutthroat sister. Darrow's bloodfeud with the Bellona has created problems for Nero, and when the Sovereign, unlawfully, supports the Bellona by secretly planning to murder the Augustans at a dinner party, Darrow spurs a civil war for Mars and in the Society. While he's been under Nero's (and Nero's politico Pliny's) thumb, he hasn't received any contact from the Sons of Ares. In the chaos of civil war, Darrow is given an opportunity to be different from other Golds, but he's also got to maintain his secret identity at large. Finally though, in this novel Darrow is able to open up to a few people about himself and the Sons of Ares. He's not yet ready to reveal himself fully because he worries of the people he'd lose, but in Sevro and new ally Ragnar, he finds true brothers to his wife's dream.

There are a lot of fabulous characters we're introduced to in this novel that I've loved:

1) Ragnar, the Stained Obsidian who is built like a giant and basically like the most elite warrior, is a slave and subject to the will of his masters. In Darrow, he finds an equal, a brother, as they are both searching for ways for their people to be free from slavery and lies. He is one of the few characters to ever see through Darrow past what he wants and instead what is good for him.

2) Orion, the Blue who pilots the Pax, is a brilliant pilot, bluntly honest, and unafraid to challenge even so intimidating a Gold as "the Reaper." I never feel as if I get enough of scenes with Orion. She doesn't have a big role, but she is a lasting character, and I'm so glad she's in Iron Gold.

3) Victra, the proud, fierce vixen amazon who has such a high sense of loyalty to Darrow, one that she seems to have from the beginning of the novel (and we never have this fully explained as to why). She's rather like a blade, all sharp edges, and it's hard not to love her for her inner character and her hatred of her vicious little sister.

4) Kavax and Daxo, the real Pax's father and brother, who are honorable and stalwart Golds to Mustang, and lend a bit of humor for their giant yet gentle ways (plus with Kavax's adoration of his pet fox, Sophocles).

The key relationship between Darrow and Mustang that was so prevalent in Red Rising is much changed. For some reason, she's been with Cassius au Bellona, and once witnessing the Sovereign's dishonesty, she turns from helping the Bellona to protecting her father and her house. This doesn't mean she's abandoned Darrow or the Bellona, but she's more impartial, and really only relies on House Telemanus. Mustang is, at times, a hard knot to unravel. I still love her, but I don't always know why she does what she does. She, possibly because we're in Darrow's narrow viewpoint, seems enigmatic and yet impossible for him to resist her magnetic pull.

Missing the fallout with Mustang, plus the relationship with Victra and Mustang's relationship to Roque etc. etc. show that the one omission from Red Rising to Golden Son is the gap in time and Darrow's lost experiences with other characters. We also don't really get to see how the Academy works, but maybe that's not as important. It's hard to notice the flaws since the book is super character driven, and if you're listening to the audiobook, you're probably hard pressed to put all the events of this book into a succinct summary. I certainly had trouble keeping it all straight! (If you listen to the audiobook, big bonus is hearing how to correctly pronounce the names!)

The final beauty of this novel is seeing some truths about Sevro and Fitchner (I have a deep abiding love for filthy, smart-mouthed Sevro. I don't understand it either.) and the sense of coming full circle as Darrow is able to visit his family on Mars. However, with this ending comes a shattering revelation that will leave you wondering how anything could possibly be hopeful in Morning Star. If you're a devotee of sci-fi, you don't want to miss out on this series if you haven't before. Epically brilliant.

Key quote in this novel? "Rise so high, in mud you lie."

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.


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