Golden Son by Pierce BrownGolden Son by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #2
on January 6th, 2015
Genres: Science-Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 430
Goodreads

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

4.5 Stars

Red Rising was a fascinating start to a sci-fi that could be described as The Hunger Games meets Rome, yet I remember struggling with the dense writing. The plot had me curious for its sequel Golden Son, though, and so I continued my journey with my favourite buddy reader Simona. And boy, we were in for a surprise.

Golden Son was absolutely golden, so to speak. Pierce Brown moves the plot away from a feisty children’s playground and turns the heat up a notch. Golden Son equals fireworks of character development, epic plot twists, and a gut-wrenching cliffhanger ending that will rip your heart out and leave it there to dry. It is a multi-layered cake with politics, scheming, rebellion, alliances, friendship, and a sprinkle of romance. The word ‘Second Book Syndrome’ does not seem to exist in Brown’s vocabulary. 

“I’ll be Odysseus. You be Achilles.”
“Achilles dies in the end.”
“Then learn from his mistakes.”

Golden Son was one of those sequels I struggled to get into because there are so many characters and I had forgotten about half of them since the first instalment. I somehow wormed myself through the first couple of chapters and soon regained my orientation within the cast and the world. It was a pure joyride from there on.

I simply adore the male lead of this series. He’s been the underdog from the start, yet has successfully made a name for himself. Darrow is this wonderfully fleshed out, determined, resilient, and flawed characters with a good-natured core. He’s the guy you’ll sometimes yell at because he’s being stupid, yet you’re secretly rooting for even when you’re mad. I loved being inside his head again. His character hardens as he faces new threats, new challenges, new highs, and new lows. The Red Rising series focuses on themes such as friendship and trust a great deal. Though everything is witnessed through Darrow’s eyes and mind, the supporting cast is just as prominent and important to the storyline as the main character. Have you met Sevro, that adorable little shithead? I like to think of Sevro as the fictional, male version of myself in space. Small in size, Sevro has a heart of gold, a loyalty of iron, and a dirty mouth that spouts cuss words like a fountain. I’m so in love with this character and the friendship he shares with Darrow. The two of them make the dream team. Not even Mustang, the woman of Darrow’s dreams, could get between these two. I thought Mustang’s character – or Virginia, as she’s called – hadn’t been explored enough in Red Rising, and I was glad that Golden Son was quick to correct that. Mustang is the epitome of a strong female lead. She’s head over heart. She doesn’t wait to be rescued or protected but takes matters into her own hands. She can be annoying, just like Darrow, but this only made her more realistic to me. In spite of her flaws and weaknesses, or perhaps because of those, she makes for a fascinating character, and I’m excited to see her role in the last book.

“Audentes fortuna juvat,” Sevro chuckles.
“Fortune favors the bold? You deserve to die if that’s really going to be the last thing you say in this life.”
“Yes? Well, you may suck my––”
My heart sticks to its downward beat.

Golden Son is a tense, gripping ride which will impress you with twist after twist, clever politics, and adrenaline-inducing action. I love me some good politics, and Golden Son delivers on every level – from concealed threats to exciting duels to the art of war councils to open battle, you receive a little bit of everything. The alliances shift and shift and shift in this book. Every single character pursues their own goals, which creates the most incredible web of power, and intrigue, and lies, and mistrust, and backstabbing. It seldomly happens that I am equally intrested by the main storyline and the subplots. Brown has so much going on beneath the surface, and though it’s overwhelming sometimes, it is storytelling at its best. Enmities and friendships run along close, narrow lines in this book. The romance is subtle and well-balanced between the characters as individuals and their resurfacing feelings for each other. Within the romance, there is so much angst due to Darrow’s hidden identity, and it creates a great amount of tension and conflict. Seriously, I cannot tell you which subplot I craved the most, because they were all well-conceived and utterly engaging.

These Peerless thump their chests in salute to me. The monsters. They go with the wind, chasing power. But they don’t realize power doesn’t shift. Power is resolute. It is themountain, not the wind. To shift so easily is to lose trust. And trust is what kept me alive. Trust in my friends, and their trust in me.

The world-building is expanded as Golden Son takes us to other geographical points within the sci-fi realm on Mars. Red Rising had a very Greco-Roman feel, and read more like a semi-historical novel than a sci-fi. Golden Son is a sci-fi to its core with its advanced technology and its space battles. Many sci-fi and fantasy series have picked up the theme of disparities in a divided society, but Brown’s take on the lower vs. the upper classes is simply phenomenal. The writing still feels dense, descriptive, and distanced, but it worked much better for me this time around, hardly dampening my enjoyment of the book.

The ending, though. Oh, that gut-wrenching ending. It has been a long time since a cliffhanger had last caught me off guard like this. I had been expecting a heart-stopping ending but it exceeded my worst fears. Cliffhangers are Brown’s thing and he loves to torture his readers, because this cliffhanger was pure agony. I’m going into the third instalment with so much anxiety, you have no idea.

Golden Son is the epic sequel to an impressive sci-fi series. If you couldn’t become friends with the first instalment, I wouldn’t give up on this series yet, because Golden Son is a game changer. The stakes were high in the previous book, but the sequel raises them another inch. With its engaging characters, strong plot, and fascinating world-building, this second-in-series has my expectations for the final instalment skyrocketting. Judging by the praise for Morning Star, Pierce Brown delivers a trilogy of pure and utter enjoyment.