Those of us who haven’t managed to snag an early copy of Dark Age have a very short wait before Red Rising Book 5 finally arrives. In an effort to prepare for whatever’s coming next, I did a full reread of Iron Gold. I fully recommend revisiting the book before diving into Dark Age, as so much transpires throughout the start of this new trilogy. The character development in Iron Gold‘s ten-years-later scenario is reason enough on its own to do a full reread. However, if you don’t have the time, or simply can’t wait to get to the next installment in Pierce Brown’s epic series, I thought I’d put together a bit of a refresher on where things left off in Iron Gold.
SPOILER ALERT And Some Notes:
This article contains major spoilers from Iron Gold.
However, this is not a full recap of Iron Gold. It’s just a rundown on where some of the main characters left off at the end of the book. If you haven’t actually read Iron Gold, I strongly suggest you skip this and do that. It’s pretty bloodydamn fantastic.
Also, I have not read Dark Age and have (fortunately) not been spoiled on any of its contents. Any speculation included below is based entirely on my impressions from Iron Gold.
Ok, let’s get to the good stuff.
The Truth About The Ash Lord
Darrow spent much of Iron Gold tracking down the Ash Lord, including releasing Apollonius from Deepgrave to help with the mission. Apollonius failed to mention to Darrow that he’d made a vengeful assassination attempt on the Ash Lord’s life a few years back. Apparently, it worked well enough to leave the Ash Lord weak and bedridden while his daughter Atalantia quietly filled his shoes at war. Atalantia’s the one behind the Ash Lord’s movements over the last few years, and it was her idea to arrange the peace talks, hoping Darrow would dissolve the Senate.
In a super grim(mus) move, Darrow consents to let Apollonius set the Ash Lord ablaze. Ashes to ashes and all that. So the Ash Lord is no more, but Atalantia is the real threat.
Atalantia Is Headed To Mercury (And So Is Darrow)
The Ash Lord revealed to Darrow that Atalantia is on her way to Mercury to attack his fleet, which is at half its strength after the Iron Rain. Also, they have no idea that she’s coming. Deciding that the war needs him more than Mustang does, Darrow makes the choice not to return to Luna to help rescue Pax and Electra.
Iron Gold left off with him setting off to rejoin his troops and help them fight off the impending attack (assuming he’s not too late).
Sevro is Headed Home
Upon learning from the Ash Lord that his daughter, Electra, was kidnapped, Sevro makes the choice to return to his family.
Sevro and Darrow do not leave off on good terms. Caught up in the fear over his daughter’s life, Sevro lashes out at Darrow for having trusted him through what proved to be a very dangerous and mostly failed mission. He’s also upset that Darrow isn’t returning to his family, but instead heading to join his army. So things are pretty strained between them, to say the least.
Ephraim, Pax and Electra Are Crash Landing
The last we saw of Ephraim, Pax and Electra, their ship was going down. They’re mid-escape when the Syndicate Queen puts their ship on autopilot, on course to return to her. Ephraim intentionally takes the ship down, rather than allowing them to be taken into her custody. Not only that, but Ephraim was shot during their escape, so he’s in especially bad shape. Something tells me they’re all going to need to see a Yellow very soon.
Lysander Is Returning To The Core
Atalantia au Grimmus isn’t the only threat Darrow has to face. When Iron Gold ended, Lysander asked Dido to send him to the Core with a cohort of her best so that he can let the Ash Lord know the Rim is on their way and looking to form an alliance. Of course, Lysander doesn’t know that his godfather is dead, but Atalantia may be willing to strike a deal with Dido and the Rim.
Lysander’s motives seem less about a need to avenge his grandmother’s death and more about honoring his bloodline in representing the Silenius side of a new alliance between Core and Rim, and — as Romulus put it — saving the worlds.
Lyria Is Taken
Iron Gold left off with Lyria accepting Mustang’s apology and choosing to honor her family’s memory by helping her in whatever way she could. And then one of Victra’s people showed up and took her from her room. It’ seems Victra is not quite as forgiving of Lyria’s (unintentional) involvement in Pax and Electra’s kidnapping as Mustang.
Jove knows what Victra has planned for Lyria.
Lyria is also very angry with the Red Hand for killing her family. Not sure if that will be relevant down the line, but it’s worth remembering. We don’t know much about who’s behind the Red Hand, but they’re another problem that’s likely to resurface at some point.
Apollonius Is Pissed
Darrow makes good on most of his deal with Apollonius in letting him go and deactivating the bomb in his head at the end of Iron Gold. But he doesn’t release the Carthii and Saud family members they were holding captive. He needs to keep them as leverage while they made their escape. Apollonius does not look happy about this.
Apollonius is a wild card in this game right now. He doesn’t seem to have much allegiance to Gold or the Society. He’s also not on great terms with Darrow. He likely wouldn’t be of much use to the Republic if it wasn’t made worth his while. So it’ll be interesting to see when he pops up again, which he undoubtedly will.
Cassius Is Dead…?
Cassius supposedly bled out after dueling a lot of Raas. However, we never actually see him die and his body is supposedly carried off to be desacrated. His absence has allowed Lysander to forge his own path without feeling bound to his mentor’s cause any further. Whether or not Cassius actually is dead remains to be seen, but for now, he’s out of the picture. And if he’s not dead, what happened to him?
Kavax Is in Bad Shape
Kavax was badly injured during Pax and Electra’s kidnapping. His condition sounded critical when Iron Gold wrapped up. Hopefully he’ll pull through. It’s hard to imagine the Red Rising series without Kavax’s positive energy filling any room he’s in. In the meantime, it does take him off the board at a time when his strength and leadership may be needed most.
Mustang Is Trying To Keep The Kidnapping Quiet
Mustang doesn’t want the Senate to find out that Pax and Electra were kidnapped. If words get out, they might rule that she’s unfit to lead while she deals with this mess.
Volga’s Not Free
In an effort to ensure Ephraim’s cooperation in helping to get Pax and Electra back, Mustang and Holiday are keeping his only friend, Volga, captive. They picked her up at a zoo, which is just heartbreaking. Hopefully she’s being treated well and will be set free at some point. Free Volga!
Iron Gold obviously leaves off in some very uncertain places, but there are also a few unanswered questions. Off the top of my head…
Who is the Syndicate Queen?
Is she a Red, an Obsidian, a White? No one seems to know the identity of the Syndicate Queen. The Ash Lord’s knowledge of the kidnapping would suggest that whoever she is, she’s in cahoots with him (and Atalantia). But it’s just as possible that they caught wind of the kidnapping some other way.
Whoever the Syndicate Queen is, there’s a chance she’s someone close to Darrow. But what are her true motives?
Who Offered the Docks Recording to the Rim?
With all of the drama on the Rim surrounding the recording of Darrow and Victra destroying the docks, we might forget to ask who got that recording and brokered it to the Rim in the first place? Was it the Ash Lord/Atalantia? The Syndicate Queen? Some other player in this game? It’s possible it doesn’t matter, but in the event that it does, I thought it was worth bringing up.
What’s The Deal With Lysander’s Memory?
During his scene with Romulus’ mother, Gaia, Lysander discovers he knows how to play the piano. The trace of a memory of his mother comes back to him, and he’s startled that he’d forgotten it up until now. Music certainly does have a way of triggering memories, but Lysander seems to feel it’s out of character for him to completely forget something like that, which begs to question, why did he forget? And what else does he not remember?
I don’t know if this will be relevant to the future books, but it seems unusual enough to stand out as something that could come up again.
There are likely to be other events from Iron Gold that are going to be relevant to Dark Age and the book that follows, but these are the key points that stood out to me during my reread.