About the Book

Title: Golden Son (Red Rising Saga #2)
Published: 2015
Series: Red Rising Saga
Swoonworthy Scale: 3

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

Spoiler Alert: 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 GamesGolden Son feels more like Ender’s Game.

Bonus Factor: No Bridge Book Blues

A stone bridge over water with a big red X marking it out

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 Desserts

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.

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 (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.