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Hail Darrow

Pierce Brown deserves all the laurels for not falling prey to the dreaded sequel doldrums with his second novel in the Red Rising trilogy, Golden Son.

Hail Darrow

BOOK REPORT for Golden Son (The Red Rising Trilogy #2) by Pierce Brown

Cover Story: Fiery Laurels
BFF Charm: O Captain! My Captain!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: War! Good God, Y’all.
Bonus Factors: No Bridge Book Blues, Just Deserts
Relationship Status: Fellow Soldiers

Danger, Will Robinson! Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising trilogy. If you have not read the first book—Red Rising—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first book, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the story.

Cover Story: Fiery Laurels

I dig the simplicity of the Red Rising trilogy covers. The black background, sturdy text and bold graphics. The first was ominous, this second even more so. Historically, laurels have been given to the victors of battles and wars, but the fact that this crown is on fire certainly is foreboding. I do wish the fire meshed better with the style of the laurels, however. I think it would have worked better without that element.

The Deal:

After infiltrating Gold society and pushing his way to the top of his class at the elite Institute—both figuratively and literally—Darrow must continue to play the role of one of humanity’s highest class, even if that comes at an unfathomably high price. His machinations, and those of the people surrounding him, push the boundaries of morality and ethics, and set in motion a series of events that will irrevocably change the solar system.

For better or for worse, however, remains to be seen.

BFF Charm: O Captain! My Captain!

In Red Rising, Darrow grew from a boy into a man. He proved his worth as a person, regardless of color, and inspired many men and women to follow his lead. He continues that leadership in Golden Son, even though it’s very hard at times. He also is forced to make a lot of really tough decisions, which I don’t envy at all.

In Darrow, Pierce Brown has created a main character who’s lauded as a hero and a near-god, but is, truly, just a man. Reading the story from his perspective makes it clear that he’s not infallible. He makes mistakes, and is at times an idiot. And yet, I can see why his friends and followers continue to follow him regardless. I think, were I in their shoes, I’d feel much the same way.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

When you’re busy making (and breaking) political alliances, and waging war, it’s hard to find time for romance. There’s a little bit of relationship drama running through Golden Son, but it’s a very small part of an otherwise very involved novel.

Talky Talk: War! Good God, Y’all.

War is not a pretty thing. Even when it’s fought in space, between giant ships. Pierce Brown, however, knows how to make it interesting and intriguing without it becoming too much to handle. Unlike Red Rising, in which the worst of humanity was front and center, thanks to the action at the Institute, Golden Son is less about the violence and more about politics and space battles; although there are some good hand-to-hand duels. It’s an interesting growth, and a realistic one (as far as books about the distant future can be realistic, of course). If Red Rising was like Game of Thrones/Hunger Games, Golden Son feels more like Ender’s Game.

Bonus Factor: No Bridge Book Blues

We all know how often the second book in a trilogy can fall prey to the Bridge Book Blues (i.e., feel like nothing happens and is merely a time-killer between books 1 and 3). Thankfully, the action that ramped up in Red Rising continues in Golden Son, and—dare I say it—even surpasses it. Although there are mentions of the larger battle/solar system in Red Rising, you really get to see how large Darrow’s task is in Golden Son.

Bonus Factor: Just Deserts

This might make me a bad person, but sometimes it’s so nice to see/read about the bad guys getting their comeuppance. Even when said comeuppance is a gruesome maiming or death.

Casting Call:

I cast Theo James as Darrow in my review of the first book in this series, and will add:

Gillian Jacobs as Mustang

A young Jackie Earle Haley as Sevro

Relationship Status: Fellow Soldiers

Regardless of how brutal you can be at times, Book, I would follow you into battle again and again. Our adventures are legendary. I would just prefer if we could avoid danger a little bit more in the future. My bravery only stretches so far.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Random House. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Golden Son is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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