My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
So it’s safe to say I was not a big fan of Red Rising, the first book in this trilogy. I think I possibly described it as a rip off of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter (sorry Pierce Brown). It did have it’s moments but I just didn’t think it lived up to all of the hype that surrounded it. As a result it was probably at least a year before I talked myself into reading Golden Son and giving the trilogy another shot. I’m so glad I did.
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.
Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.
A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
For me Golden Son is a vast improvement on Red Rising. It’s absolutely crammed full of action from the very first page and the writing is incredible. I will admit to struggling a little at the start but I think that was mostly due to waiting so long to read it. I’d forgotten a lot of what happened in the first book so despite the helpful character list at the start was a little bit lost in terms of who was who and what their relationship to each other was.
Once I got around a third of the way through however, and most of the characters from the first book were reunited, I was hooked. While the first book is a lot like the Hunger Games this one feels a lot more like Game of Thrones (which I’ve watched rather than read). Different families and factions are competing to rule and are completely ruthless in their attempts to seize power. Alliances are formed and broken, enemies are forced to work together and anyone could be stabbed in the back at any opportunity.
Main character Darrow, a Red masquerading as a Gold is trying to navigate his way through it all. He’s got to protect his secret but somehow manoeuvre himself into a position where he can destabilise society and create a civil war.
I have to admit I liked him a lot more in this book. He definitely develops a lot and starts to take responsibility for his destiny. This is the book where he learns he’ll need to make sacrifices and betray those he cares about to reach his ultimate goal. It’s fascinating to read him questioning himself and his decisions but pressing ahead and taking action even if it leads to guilt and the loss of friends.
My favourite character however shall forever remain Darrow’s BFF Sevro. He’s rude, violent and bent on destruction but is so loyal to his friends and so funny I just want to adopt him.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story and more than a few shocks. There are also a lot of very violent scenes and all out war at one point leading to a lot of loss but those parts are probably my favourites. The action is well written and easy to follow despite a lot going on so you almost feel like you’re in among it all.
The one thing I struggle with, and this is a me thing, is some of the descriptions of places. I think I’m missing whatever it is you need to convert words on a page to pictures in my head of other planets, spaceships and technology. This results in me kind of skimming those bits which unfortunately there are quite a few of. I can appreciate the language and the world building, it’s incredible, I just can’t visualise it. I’m sure lovers of language, of which I know a few, will fare a lot better.
Overall therefore I’d definitely recommend this book even if like me you weren’t completely enamoured with Red Rising. The ending alone makes it worth it. Although be warned you will have to read the final book in the series too.