Titles: Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star
Author: Pierce Brown
Synopsis for Red Rising:
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
I debated starting the Red Rising trilogy for a long time. Not because I thought the plot sounded bad, as I’m all for a hero who has to fight the constraints of his society to be happy. I was just afraid I wouldn’t like it. Pretty much everyone online raved about these books, but a lot of the time, that makes me set my expectations too high. However, now that I’ve finally read the whole trilogy, I agree with every rave review. Every video on YouTube praising Pierce Brown’s writing, the world, the characters. It’s my favorite trilogy of all time, and I shall endeavor to explain why.
Red Rising is set on Mars, and follows a sixteen-year-old boy named Darrow. He lives in a society based on a caste system made up of Colors. Reds like Darrow are the bottom class, and Golds are the wealthy, godlike aristocracy. There are many Colors in-between, and each one is given specific jobs. For example, the Yellows are physicians, and the Obsidians are fighters. Reds like Darrow are miners.
The plot of book one follows Darrow as his wife dies(not a spoiler), and he learns that the Reds have been slaves to the Golds for centuries. He and his society have believed that as they mined Helium-3, they’ve been helping to make the terraforming of Mars possible. Little do they know, above their mines, Golds are living in a politically-charged, overly wealthy, brutal world where they gain everything at the cost of the other Colors. Upon learning these things, Darrow endures some seriously painful stuff to infiltrate Gold society. He goes off to what is called the Institute, which is a school where the top Gold warriors are trained to fight and become leaders, which involes quite a bit of political maneuvering and blood. It’s pretty brutal, with the students physically fighting against each other. THey’re divided into Houses, and the goal for each student is to become the Primus, or leader, of their House. Of course, you read about this school and immediately think “oh, it’s like the Hunger Games”. Which, when you look at it as students fighting each other, it is. However, it’s also very different. The students are learning to become warriors, and that involves not only strength, but also a bit of diplomacy. The book was fast-paced, and made for a great introduction to the series.
I won’t go into detail about either of the other two books. All I’ll say is, each book expands the world. Book one, Red Rising, is set on Mars. We learn about the Color system, and some history of the world. Book two, Golden Son, takes Darrow to the Earth moon of Luna, where he gets more into the politics of the Golds. In Morning Star, the world expands even more, because we see a bit of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, as well as the ice-covered home of the Obsidians. Also, Darrow really learns what it is to be a true leader. In all of these books, people die, we see the cost of war, and things grow darker and darker. Once I picked up book one, I had to continue onto the next, and the next.
Darrow is the main character, but he wouldn’t be what he is without the people surrounding him, both good and bad. I think my favorite side character in the whole series is Sevro, Darrow’s best and most loyal friend. Trust me, the loyalty thing becomes important later on in the series. Sevro says all the things everyone wants to say but won’t, because it’s considered impolite. I loved him. I also liked Mustang, who starts out as just a smart female character, and later grows into someone who will do whatever it takes to survive and protect the people she cares for. Cassius was an interesting member of this series’ cast. He represented what the Golds should have been, and my feelings varied wildly on whether I liked or hated him. Of course, these are just some of the people we meet in this trilogy. There are many more, but to keep this at a reasonable length, I chose those three to highlight.
If you pick up this trilogy, you’ll meet many characters. You’ll change your mind about all of them at least once. Darrow is an unreliable narrator, so Pierce Brown will trick you into thinking things that could be wrong. The world is pretty awful, yet fascinating. There are themes of love, politics, family, and war all throughout this series. Pierce Brown made what could easily have looked like a mishmash of popular books into something wholly original, and I think everyone should check it out if they even remotely like sci-fi, dystopians, or characters who develop and learn from their mistakes. This trilogy really is the best I’ve ever read, and I can’t wait to see what Pierce Brown writes next!
Here are links to my review of each book on GoodReads.
Red Rising, Book 1:
Golden Son, Book 2:
Morning Star, Book 3: