This article contains spoilers from Part 1 of Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold. Read no further if you’re not caught up on the book through Chapter 21!
Man, Part 1 really does end with a gut-punch. And I have a feeling we’re just getting started.
Starting with Darrow, it’s a classic case of good intentions gone wrong. But as he said, what did he think was going to happen when he picked a fight with Wulfgar in an effort to escape imprisonment? He’s been an outsider before, but after the unintentional death of Wulfgar, he’s put himself on the outside of many of his allies and potentially (likely?) his wife and son. How does he come back from this?
His plan is to assassinate the Ash Lord, believing the rest of the resisting Golds will unravel after that. He’s probably right about the Ash Lord’s inevitable trap being sprung, but even if that’s the case, he has a lot to redeem, and more will undoubtedly be lost before that can happen.
Also, the promise he made to Victra about bringing Sevro back in one piece gives me chills. I’m not prepared for him to fail at that, so he better not. #TeamVictra
On an optimistic note, while I’m doubtful that his plan for assassination will actually work out as he hopes it will, if he’s right about a potential trap being sprung during or after the peace accords, he’ll hopefully be better positioned away from whatever happens in the event he’s needed to help fix the situation.
Moving on, Ephraim is in a tough spot, having been strong-armed into taking a job to steal something — or someone? I get the feeling this valuable asset is a person. Mustang, maybe?
Sidenote: I love Volga more and more with every adorable thing she says. Pierce Brown’s brutal world is never short of need for someone pure of heart. I’m especially glad that Volga is in Ephraim’s life, and I love that he seems to recognize the good in her, even if it appears to be his instinct to close himself off.
Lyria’s story is devastating from the start, but it feels necessary to the bigger picture. Right now, she represents the very thing Darrow and the Rising were trying to protect, and that protection failed her dismally. Her whole family, save one nephew is now dead at the hands (heh, sorry) of the Red Hand’s assault.
Sidenote: God bless you, Kavax. I love that, despite his responsibilities, his compassion is as easy to capture as he is. Lyria and Liam have joined his group, and I really hope this is the start of a brighter future for them. Though I can’t imagine it’ll be an easy one, regardless.
And then there’s Cassius and Lysander, who have found themselves captured and appearing to be Rim-bound.
I’m loving the conflict we’re seeing inside of Lysander. The guilt he experienced over the lost lowColors, mixed with his determination to save a gold is an interesting insight into his mindset. Despite what Lorn may have believed about his grandson, Lysander hasn’t been completely brainwashed by his grandmother, who likely wouldn’t have thought twice about reds and other lowColors being lost in exchange for the life of one Gold. Maybe Cassius’s influence undid some of those teachings, or maybe Lysander just has a good heart. Probably a little bit of both.
Part 1 left me feeling uncomfortable, but that’s a good thing for this series. To repeat Red Rising would’ve meant setting Darrow as the underdog, and in a way, he is. But he messed up, and he’s going to be on the outside in a big way. And being driven by good intentions isn’t going to be enough this time around. The series has evolved enough that I feel like we have to see Darrow make bigger mistakes, and hope that he survives long enough to redeem himself. My fear is that one or more of his closest friends will be the price of that.