Pierce Brown returns to the world of his amazing debut trilogy, Red Rising. I feel that there are so many examples of this both working out and not working out, that it’s impossible to advise an author on the subject. Regardless, we are back amongst the Reds and Golds and Darrow’s fight for a new state.
It’s not going great.
Forgoing the solo perspective this time around, Brown follows four main characters. First is our hero Darrow, fresh off of conquering Mercury from the Ash Lord (and losing a million soldiers in the process). Darrow finds that since he has installed a Demokracy, the senators aren’t exactly thrilled with him acting like a warlord and ignoring their orders to not invade Mercury. When it is discovered they he ignored an entreaty for peace, a warrant is put out for his arrest. Darrow knows that the only way he can end this is to kill the Ash Lord and finish it.
Next up: Lysander au Lune. The grandson of the Sovereign, spared by Darrow and whisked away by Cassius. He’s spent his life hating the Rising and wishing for the old ways. A chance encounter and a journey to the Rim worlds might just reveal one of Darrow’s hidden secrets and an opportunity to reclaim his life.
Moving away from Golds, there’s Ephraim the gray, fiance of the formerly alive Trigg, who has the most interesting “heist” portions of the book. And Lyria of Lagalos, whose plot line is pretty depressing all things considered so I don’t want to summarize it.
Iron Gold is a fine book. It’s quite expansive and I applaud the shift to highlight some other characters, especially one that is clearly going to be an enemy later on. But it’s been so long since I read the last book I had a really hard time following all the names, especially those with nicknames. Sevro au Barca, Romulus au Raa, Julia au Bellona. We get it, they love Roman names. Doesn’t mean it’s easy for the reader to follow.
Also, Brown falls into the odd trap of ruining a previous ending. Morning Star ended with such hope. This book starts with such failure and depression. It’s been ten years and they just conquered Mercury. And their new government is pulling apart at the seams! Way to sell the dream there. Was it all for nothing? As Darrow makes poor choice after poor choice you have to wonder.
I’m holding out hope that the next book will be better and help me get back into the excitement the original Red Rising instilled in me. For now, Iron Gold is not the welcome return I imagined, but I haven’t given up the fight yet.
2.5 out of 4 stars.