Writing a sequel isn’t easy. First off, the spark of novelty is gone. Secondly, there is the challenge of meeting expectations. Trying to do something new, something better, and yet still retaining the themes and traits that made the original great is no simple task. Yet Pierce Brown does it in Golden Son. He builds upon the story and characters from Red Rising, enriching them to new heights, and pulling off a sequel that is at the very least equal to its predecessor. It’s an exploration of hope, despair, celebration, pain, trust and tragedy. By capturing the most powerful human emotions, the book is a concert of the human spirit. Suffice to say, this is a hell of a novel.
Building upon Darrow’s legend, the miner turned revolutionary goes from the primitive culling ground of the Institute to the hi-tech slaughterhouse called the Academy. He faces new enemies, makes new friends, visits new worlds, and is pushed farther and harder than before. Yet how will he balance the friends he’s made with his ultimate goal of destroying their society? How will he deal with the solar system’s most deadly killers? The book answers that and more as Darrow transitions from a schoolyard champion to a national celebrity.
To top Red Rising, Golden Son raises the stakes. People learn of Darrow’s secret. The Sons of Ares are threatened with annihilation. Instead of fighting for a valley on Mars, they fight for entire planets. Ground skirmishes become space battles. Primitive weapons are traded for sophisticated, futuristic weaponry. Plus, this time around, all of the colors come into play.
Yet at the heart of the story, the characters remain the focus. Darrow and his circle of friends and enemies are the driving force of the novel. Their relationships pull at the heartstrings of the reader. Throughout the book, Pierce Brown keeps you guessing at who will live and will die, who will stay true, and who will betray. Every challenge lies on the brink of success or failure with unpredictable twists and turns. Unlike most main characters, Darrow does not win every battle. And with one more book to go, we don’t know if he’ll win the war.
Without a doubt, Golden Son is a book any sci-fi/fantasy fan should check out. It has action, drama, a meaty plot, intriguing twists, and rich characters. One can easily get lost in the story. If you’re looking for immersive escapism, this is it. I give it an outstanding five out of five metal bikinis.