I feel bad for readers who started with the original Red Rising series who aren’t, let’s say, deep sci-fi fans. The originals were plenty fantastical, and quite violent. But they always held a quality of Young Adult escapism. It started out as a raw-er Hunger Games and then became it’s own beautiful series. And it ended on a largely high, hopeful note.
This new series is just war. Brutal, confusing, deadly war. And as deep into science fiction territory as you can get.
Darrow is still stuck on Mercury and enemy forces are closing in. Plans to save them go right and then go very wrong. Virginia is doing her best to rally the republic to go and save Darrow and his troops. But someone is working against her in the senate. I don’t really care about Lyria and Ephraim but they’re back and doing stuff too.
Honestly, there is SO much going on in this book. So many rivalries, so many battles on different planets. Too many. As soon as you get a handle on one, the book jumps you to another planet to show how someone else is messing all that up. And it’s not just one clever bad guy. There are like five introduced with different aims. It’s like playing Risk but you just found out you’re playing the entire dorm.
As always, Pierce Brown is pretty good with words. There are a lot of them. But god, as much as I loved these characters, for some reason I am having incredible difficulty remembering who the hell is who when they all have these Roman names. It’s like gargling marbles. Throw in a ton of technology that Brown fails to adequately explain and you have an unknown character climbing into a…table? and firing …. missiles… that explode gravity. And I doubt that sentence is too far from the truth.
BUT I enjoyed it. As little as I care about Lyria and Ephraim, I very much enjoyed my time with Virginia. It’s hard watching old characters get their asses kicked and die when they made it through the first trilogy. And warning, this book is messed up. It has all the bad things in it, so be wary. But hopefully, Brown can pull together all these threads into a satisfying conclusion. Because I do not need a third trilogy in this universe.
3 out of 4 stars.
P.S. SPOILER ALERT
When series start adding clones and bringing people back from the dead….you start to fear for the property as a whole.