Confession: I have a hard time writing traditional reviews. It’s a structure thing. But I realize that some of you may not have read Iron Gold yet and are looking for a spoiler-free reaction to Pierce Brown’s latest novel. So I’m just going to toss out some general impressions. But first, here are a few vague things to know about the plot and characters. Again, no major spoilers ahead. But if you want to go into this new story blind to characters and plot points, skip the bulleted list that follows this paragraph and jump to the bottom for general impressions.
- There are four different points of view this time around. In the original Red Rising trilogy, we saw everything from Darrow’s POV. In Iron Gold, Darrow is one of four narrators. Though he still feels very much at the center of the story, the book also offers the perspectives of: Lyria (a Red who grew up in a mine on Mars), Ephraim (a gray with a major chip on his shoulder) and Lysander (you may remember him from the original trilogy, he’s the now-grown grandson of Octavia au Lune and Lorn au Arcos).
- Darrow is still fighting the war he started. He’s trying to be a good husband and father, but he can’t seem to bring himself to put down the razor and settle down for the peaceful life he’s more-than earned. While there are still people of the former Society who are fighting against the post-Octavia reality, Darrow continues to oppose them, and he seems pretty exhausted doing it. We’ve seen Darrow unhappy and on a mission before, but Iron Gold takes that to the next level. In all honesty, he’s a frustrating narrator to follow this time around, but given everything that’s going on, it’s understandable.
- Lysander may be the most interesting perspective, but his story begins on the outskirts of the Core and only seems to grow more distant from everyone else as Iron Gold moves forward. That said, he’s a fascinating character, having been raised through childhood by his ruthless grandmother, and then through adolescence under the tutelage of Cassius au Bellona. This is a character brimming with story potential and I can’t wait to see where his story leads.
- Lyria’s an interesting protagonist. We learn early on that she’s had a rough life and it only gets rougher. What I love about her is that she’s not only a necessary perspective to this new reality, having endured major hardships in what’s supposed to be a better world for her, but she speaks her mind, which means we aren’t the only ones exposed to her perspective. Which is a good thing.
- Like Darrow, Ephraim is another frustrating perspective, as he’s an unhappy man who’s numbing his emotions with drugs. Iron Gold is paced well, but Ephraim’s chapters seemed to move a bit slower than the others for me. On the brighter side, he’s a bit of a criminal, which gives us a look into the underbelly of this new Society. Also, he scores points for associating with Volga, who is perhaps the only Obsidian (that we’ve met anyway) who can truly be described as absolutely adorable.
- As for opposition to Darrow and Virginia’s cause, there are still Golds resisting this new post-Society reality. A group called the Red Hand is terrorizing people on Mars. A mysterious leader called The Queen causes some major conflict. And then there’s the Raa family on the Rim, who have their own plans in mind.
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, which gives this new Red Rising sequel trilogy plenty of places to go.
Pierce Brown is taking a risk by reopening the book on Darrow’s story. Morning Star wrapped things up so well that I would’ve been more than satisfied with how the third book of the Red Rising trilogy left off. But it’s clear now that this story wasn’t actually over. More importantly, it’s a story that feels well worth being told.
Overall, I really liked Iron Gold. Pierce Brown has brought us back to his universe in the thick of things, and while we’re not in the happiest place and time, which can make this a bit of a stressful read, Iron Gold is a suspenseful ride with some great moments and real momentum leading up to its conclusion. Without a doubt, it left me immediately wanting Dark Age to come out as soon as possible.
This definitely feels like set-up for big things to come in the next two books. If Red Rising was about breaking the Society, Iron Gold could be the start of a path to truly rebuilding something better, which would mean resolving some of the revived or newly-introduced conflicts and figuring out what a better society really looks like.
Dark Age is expected to hit shelves this Fall (2018).
If you’re looking for spoilery reactions, here are the articles I wrote while reading Iron Gold.