Series: Red Rising Saga #3
on February 9th, 2016
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.
We will howl and fight till our last breath, not just in the mines of Mars, but on the shores of Venus, on the dunes of Io’s sulfur seas, in the glacial valleys of Pluto. We will fight in the towers of Ganymede and the ghettos of Luna and the storm-stricken oceans of Europa. And if we fall, others will take our place, because we are the tide. And we are rising.
My review for Morning Star was a tough one to write – not due to the amount of criticism but perhaps the lack of it. When I started this series roughly a year ago, I’d have never thought that this whole Red Rising business was going to be so bloodydamn epic. This series took me completely by surprise, and I’m happy to share my praise of Pierce Brown’s work with you – even knowing that my word vomit can never truly do this incredible book justice (and yes, it took me over half a year to type up this semi-coherent review).
Morning Star was a real peach of a final instalment. I think I’ve already said this about the sequel but Morning Star was darker, grittier, and bloodier than the previous instalments. Ever the master of character dynamics, politics, battles, and heart-stopping plot twists, Brown brought his finely atuned concert to a crescendo in Morning Star, and I will gladly send him the medical bills for all the heart attacks I suffered during this series but specifically reading the final instalment.
Let’s talk about the things that are excellent about Morning Star, shall we? I was intrigued yet not super invested after the first instalment, but let me tell you that these characters grow on you like a fungus you can’t get rid of. Pierce Brown brought his characters, having started out as rough gems in the first book (his debut!), to perfection in this book. I do not use the word perfection lightly but it is what it is. The characterisations are well balanced between strengths and flaws, and their development is continuous throughout the series. In Morning Star, the characters who started off as youngsters in Red Rising are grown-ups which, in addition to having been through hell, brings about maturity. These characters feel so relatable, so real, and it makes you suffer alongside them, especially because Pierce Brown has a thing for scaring his characters as much as his readers.
From Red Rising to Morning Star, the storyline never ceases being compelling. The characters celebrate as many victories as they suffer defeats, which keeps the tension and the stakes high. Morning Star has a few slower parts which I welcomed as a chance to breathe inbetween action-packed scenes. There is not a single word, sentence, or scene in this book that doesn’t contribute massively to the overall plot, which is testimony to Pierce Brown’s tremendous plotting. While Red Rising reads like a scientifically advanced dystopian, Golden Son and especially Morning Star fully dive into the sci-fi genre. This, naturally, brings about a lot of “tech talk” which, at times, completely went over my head, but it only underpins how much thought and research went into the world-building. The Red Rising saga is a story of uprising and as all sides make ready for battle, Morning Star never fails to reveal ambivalent morals, flows of power, and the fine line between allies and enemies. The climax had me screeching like a banshee and the ending was everything I’d ever dreamed of.
How many mothers have prayed to see their sons, their daughters return from war only to realize the war has kept them, the world has poisoned them, and they’ll never be the same?
In the whole book, there is perhaps only one flaw I can point out, and it’s mental health-related. After the events that take place at the end of Golden Son and the beginning of Morning Star, Darrow shows signs of psychological damage (e.g., nightmares, occasional terror) but there is a wide range of posttraumatic reactions Brown did not include. Taking into consideration the massive trauma Darrow experienced, the overall lack of PTSD symptoms astonished me. Now, I’m sure an educated man such as Pierce Brown had his reasons for portraying post-trauma Darrow the way he did, but in my estimation, Darrow would’ve been more traumatised and thus incapacitated in war in a realistic scenario. This is, however, only a minor point of criticism, for everything else Pierce Brown wrote was absolutely spectacular.
Morning Star is a masterpiece of adult sci-fi literature, and it had me on the edge of my seat for every single chapter. The love for detail that went into this book is practically palpable; from the characters to the plot to the world, everything is brought to life on the page. The Red Rising saga commences with a soldi first book, only to be revealed as great in the second book, and then manages to completely blow your mind with the third book.