Major Iron Gold spoilers ahead!
Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold is out, and after finishing the book, I’m still trying to organize my thoughts. There’s a lot to sift through as this start of the sequel trilogy took some major steps in expanding the world Pierce Brown created with the Red Rising trilogy. With that in mind, I’ve broken down a few of the questions I’m still mulling over as I try to figure out where this trilogy is headed. And I’ve included some ramblings of thoughts and theories to go with them.
(Note: I do my best to pay attention to details. With that said, it’s entirely possible I’ve overlooked something in the books that could contradict my theories. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to sound off in the comments and correct me!)
What is Darrow thinking?
This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’m really trying to make sense of what’s going on in his head. Looking at where things left off at the end of Iron Gold, with Darrow choosing not to return to Luna, but to push on with the war, I’m reminded of something he considered at the end of Morning Star, when we got the explanation for why Mustang didn’t tell Darrow about Pax sooner. “The people needed a sword, not a father,” was the reason. At the time, it seemed like maybe he could finally be both. But Iron Gold ended with Darrow apparently deciding that’s not the case. As he tucked Pax’s key away, he’s clearly chosen to be a sword again. I’m excited to see angry-Darrow returned, but I can’t help but feel devastated for him that he doesn’t get to be the husband and father right now. Hasn’t he earned that by now?
The question that follows is…
What does this mean for Darrow and Sevro?
Darrow and Sevro left things off in an uneasy place, having argued over whether or not to carry out the plan to find and kill the Ash Lord, and then later, parting ways when Darrow decided he needed to continue the fight, while Sevro headed home to Victra and the girls. It’s probably a mark of the difference in their priorities. Sevro needs to be with his family so much so that he’s willing to leave Darrow’s side to do it. The fact that Darrow is trudging forward speaks volumes about his own mindset. I’m trying not to interpret this to mean he’s decided that war is more important than his family. It seems more likely that he sees war as the burden he must carry in order to protect his family.
Still, I need to see Sevro and Darrow reunited and in their element at some point. That has to happen, right?
Who’s actually behind Pax and Electra’s kidnapping?
This seems to be the biggest mystery in Iron Gold. I can’t decide if I want to theorize that it’s an isolated decision by one person or group, or if it’s one of a number of things one puppet-master is trying to pull off. After all, some major strings were pulled throughout this book. Someone provided the evidence of Darrow’s involvement in the destruction of the docks to the Rim. Someone paid to have Ephraim steal the Lightbringer’s razor from that museum. And someone arranged to have Pax and Electra kidnapped. Is that someone the same person, or separate people/groups taking shady steps as a means to their respective end-games?
It’s entirely possible that the Syndicate (and the mysterious Queen) is behind everything, but I’m inclined to assume that the Syndicate is more of a tool being used to get stuff done.
Atalantia is another option, now that we know she’s been leading in the Ash Lord’s absence. Darrow left off believing that the Ash Lord was just baiting him and Sevro when he told them one of their own was behind the kidnapping, but is that really the case? It’s certainly possible, but it’s also just as possible that there’s a traitor in their ranks, or someone who believes they’re doing the right thing by trying to unseat Virginia.
If we’re looking inside the Republic, Dancer or someone on the Senate could be responsible, but I’m not sure that makes sense. For one thing, if kidnapping Pax and Electra were the Senate’s doing, wouldn’t it have gone public? What’s the point of showing that Virginia’s been compromised if you don’t actually show it? Plus, as much as Dancer seems willing to do whatever it takes to protect his people, I can’t believe he’d put Darrow and Sevro’s kids in danger.
We could go full-on conspiracy theory and start throwing names like Theodora out there as a possible culprit (or Queen candidate?). She would have the connections and access to information to make things happen. Then again, she’s stated that she would do anything to protect Darrow’s family. I’ve always liked Theodora, so I want to believe that’s true. So that’s about as far down that conspiracy rabbit hole as I want to go. The point is, inside information got out. Even if the traitor isn’t someone close to Darrow, and even if they’re not at or near the top of the pyramid of their organization, it’s possible someone is talking.
Hopefully Darrow’s right and the Ash Lord was just baiting him. But we probably need to be prepared to learn that someone on Darrow’s side might not be as loyal as they’ve presented themselves to be.
Is Cassius really dead?
Come on. He fights off a bunch of Raas and survives only to quietly die later and we never see a body?
I can’t believe it. Or I refuse to because I want Cassius to have a better death than that. Had he died during that epic series of duels, I could accept it as a death, but quietly after? My brain keeps rejecting the idea.
Cassius did need to be out of the way. In fairness to the story, Lysander needed to be on his own in order to start making decisions for himself, for better or worse. Maybe the Raas decided Lysander was of better use to them without Cassius in his ear and either killed him or faked his death. After all, they’re probably going to need Lysander if they’re hoping to seek out allies in the Core. And Cassius likely would’ve been a hindrance to that.
It’s also possible Cassius escaped. I’m leaning toward that theory. If he escaped, it’s also possible it’s been covered up, either by Dido, or by whoever let him get away on their watch.
Am I grasping at straws here? Maybe. But I just can’t believe Cassius is done yet, or that he would die on a table somewhere. And anytime a character in a series like this dies “off screen,” I’m going to question it until we see a body.
What else does Lysander not remember?
Lysander suddenly realizing he knows how to play the piano seems like a pretty big deal tucked away in a smaller moment in Iron Gold. Seriously, WTF. He says he remembers everything, but somehow his fingers managed to unlock a memory he didn’t even know he had.
Fair to think Octavia did some kind of memory wipe on her grandson? It could’ve been someone else who messed with Lysander’s memories, but Octavia seems like the likeliest culprit. If that’s the case, maybe it was just a general effort to reset the boy so she could raise him as she saw fit without any lingering influence from Lorn or his parents. But considering I’m convinced there’s more to the story of Octavia’s potential involvement in and supposed grief over the deaths of Lysander’s parents, I’m going to drop the theory that Lysander had some memories Octavia really didn’t want him to have. If that’s the case, what else is he going to eventually learn about himself?
What does Victra have planned for Lyria?
Hell hath no fury like a Julii scorned.
When last we saw Lyria, she was being stabbed by a Brown with a large hypodermic needle, courtesy of the Barca family. As bad as I feel for Lyria, who doesn’t deserve more pain (and potential torture), I can’t say it’s out of character for Victra to take things into her own hands. We’ve only ever seen her through Darrow’s eyes, and Darrow had a pretty strong bond with Victra. But Darrow’s not around, and Mustang may not have been as upfront with Victra as she needed to be to ease the situation on the Barca side. As close as Darrow and Victra are, it’s almost easy to forget that Victra and Mustang were never exactly BFFs, and it’s entirely possible they didn’t grow closer over the last ten years. Also, motherhood certainly doesn’t seem to have softened Victra. If anything, she’s grown more fiercely protective of the people she loves, and unstoppable when she feels she or her family’s been wronged. Never forget what she did to Antonia’s face, people.
But what of Lyria? Does Victra not know that Lyria was an activate participant in finding the children and (hopefully) getting them home? Or does she just not care. Is she out for vengeance alone, or does she have other motives?
What will happen to Ephraim, Pax and Electra?
Ephraim is at death’s door, and sure, plenty of characters in this story have had a toe inside the veil and somehow managed to survive, so it’s entirely possible Ephraim will make it through this. But my guess is that he’ll continue to put his own life on the line to save those kids and get Volga her immunity. If he doesn’t get to a Yellow soon, he’s done for. But maybe Holiday is right in that Ephraim will continue to survive no matter what he does.
As for Pax and Electra, I wonder if Dark Age will have them on the run (with or without Ephraim) for the bulk of the story. As hard as that would be on Sevro, Victra and Mustang, I’d kind of love it to see what those two kids are able to do together, especially if they manage to avoid the Syndicate’s clutches. They’re young, but they’re very smart and capable.
Who’s against who?
This is probably too big to get into right now, but one of the things that stood out to me in Iron Gold was that, except for the Ash Lord and now Atalantia, there are a lot of unnamed antagonists in this world, with groups seeming to represent opposition more so than a single person is, at least for now. There’s The Red Hand, which arms itself with slingBlades and is wreaking (or reaping) havoc on Mars. The Syndicate, which is organizing a lot of crime, including theft and kidnapping. The Rim, which is determined to go to war with the Republic. Given the bad blood between the Rim and the Core, that’s bound to be a complicated endeavor, and I’m guessing Lysander’s involvement will be crucial to forging alliances with Golds. And finally, the Senate can’t seem to get on the same page with Darrow and the Sovereign. There are a lot of layers here, and I’m curious to see how it all mixes together in the next book.
Will Tongueless ever get a real name?
I’m not opposed to Tongueless as his Howler name, should he earn himself a wolf cloak. But the man’s probably got an actual given name he might actually want to be called… right? Maybe Mickey can carve him a tongue and he can actually tell us what his name is.
Updating to add this question from Twitter user xBornx, who exactly is Tongueless? I was so caught up on him needing an actual name, that it didn’t even occur to me to wonder if there’s a bigger story behind this Obsidian.
Who is the Queen?
Apart from wild conspiracy theories about it being someone close to Darrow, or maybe Harmony, I have no idea. Maybe it’s someone we’ve never even met before.
Update: One theory that’s floating around out there is that Sefi might actually be the Queen. It’s not impossible, but if that’s the case, what are her motives?