Review: Iron Gold
I remember picking up GOLDEN SON for the first time and being surprised at where the author started the story. RED RISING had finished in such a way that, given the thousands of other books I’d read, I fully expected GOLDEN SON to be about Battle School. If any other author had written it, that book just might have been about Battle School instead of starting at the end of those two vicious years of Darrow’s training. And that single fact made not only that book, but the entire series, rise up above so many of those others and give a mighty shout that it would be heard. Thus, it was no surprise to me to learn that after writing three solid books about Darrow’s rise to power, that Mr. Brown should choose to begin the next book in his series after ten years of hard-fought war later. Ten. Years. From what I can tell, Pierce Brown is not only asking himself “What is the next story in this world that I could tell?” when he sits down to write the next book, but “What is the most brilliant next story in this world that I could tell?”. And people, when an author does that for their readers — when he goes all out to deliver a knockout punch every single time — THAT is the kind of author that you want to pay attention to. THAT is the kind of author that you want to give you money to. Because THAT author deserves his coveted title. The title of “Favorite Author”.
IRON GOLD (Amazon) is the fourth book in the Red Rising series, but the first of a great new story following the original trilogy, written by Pierce Brown. And yes, I have no inhibitions whatsoever is saying that he’s one of my favorite authors of all time. Top five easy. He just brings the goods, people. If you haven’t read any of his books at this point, you seriously need to stop reading this right now and just go get Red Rising at Amazon right now. It is absolutely that good. But IRON GOLD is even better.
Unlike the previous three books in this series, IRON GOLD is told from the perspective of four different characters, but stays true to the channel of first-person delivery. This can be kind of a scary concept for some books, what with the tendency of lazy authors to write their characters too similarly. No such issues here though. Each of IRON GOLD’s characters are distinct and unique and bring to the table an important part of the larger story to be told this time around.
We start with Darrow; as if there could have been any other choice. Ten years of war and battle now sit behind him. He never though it would go on for so long. But, with the help of his wife, Virginia au Augustus, they have built the Republic that they have fought so hard for. It is as he had hoped, and it is not. For the people grow weary of constant war, and there are those in the senate that want to take Darrow’s teeth away. They want him to stop warring against those that will never cease to crush the Republic in whole. Darrow knows what needs to be done, but he can only disregard the senate so many times before he will step too far. And when he does, it is a dangerous and bloody game that he must play to hold the Republic up while going against everything it stands for if he is to finish this war for good.
Lyria is a red and eighteen, and her view of the last ten years has been crushing at best. She has heard the voice of the Sovereign declare her world and her people free of the oppression of the Golds. But Lyria has only experienced the bombs and the violence of those that take what they want while living beneath the attention of the mighty Republic. She has lost much in these last ten years, but she will lose more yet, and find herself pulled ever deeper into the world of the Republic. She must only find some way to first survive.
Ephraim is one of those living beneath the attention of the Republic. He’s a gray and a freelance thief. He has a connection to Trigg and Holiday, if you remember them from the previous books. At one time, he fought for the Republic, but has become disillusioned with their cause. The war has gone on too long and become too costly, and what are they winning, really? Ephraim has assembled a small team around him, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They pull off a big hit, but instead of being one of his last, his actions catch the attention of some very unsavory people. They want him for a job. And they won’t exactly take no for an answer.
The last is Lysander. Heir to the gold throne that was destroyed by Darrow. Only when the time came to kill Lysander, Darrow couldn’t do it. And so instead, Lysander is traveling the far reaches of the galaxy with Darrow’s friend, Cassius au Bellona. They’ve come to the aid of a cargo hauler transmitting a distress signal. Lysander is hesitant to reply, for there are many in the reaches of space and far from the arms of the Republic, that make their own rules and lives out there. But Cassius makes the call. And so, these two take the first steps down a path that will lead them to the very doorstep of the mightiest foes the Republic has yet to face.
I absolutely loved this book, and of course that means that the characterization had to be on point. Brown’s development of each of these characters show just how great he is at doing this job. Darrow’s sorrow and pain at doing what he must. Lyria’s struggle and passion for life. Lysander’s noble upbringing and his desire for more. Ephraim’s resilience and strength, despite having his hand forced to play against crushing odds. Each of these characters was drawn with incredible ability and fine nuance. There were so many instances of passion and emotion that drove me from one exhilarating scene to the next. I can’t remember another time in my life when reading a book gave me more cases of “the chills” than this one. So powerful. Not only for what was occurring but for what those scenes meant for the world at large.
I really enjoyed the pacing of the book as well. It started a little slow, but with good reason. The time of this story is full of despair, no matter which way the characters turn. The contemplation and introspection that such an overwhelming weight brings with it, can’t exactly be accomplished at break neck speed, yeah? For me, it was incredibly well done. I can always tell when I’m enjoying a book, because not only do I not think about where the story is going next, but I also lose myself in the experience of the characters. And this felt like that every page on the way.
Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of the book was the dichotomy of internal and external struggle. The world that these characters are living is dark and dire indeed, and Brown paints it in vivid fashion. Unlike those characters written by some of my other favorite authors though…cough, Abercrombie, cough…Brown’s characters aren’t beaten down by the world they’re living in. They exhibit strength of will and nobility and aren’t punished for it. This isn’t to say that they don’t have their flaws. All of them have their flaws and their weaknesses, and they show those in thought, and word, and action. But it is the moments of greatness that shine through for me.
This is easily going to be one of the best books of the year. The only issue it might have with keeping that spot is that the next book in the series, DARK AGE, has been announced with a release date in September. Brother against brother, so it shall be. The Red Rising series is one of the best science fiction series being written today. Do not miss this one.
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: Strong and pretty frequent
- Violence: Quite a bit, detailed and personal
- Sex: Quite a few casual references
*** Win a copy from EBR HERE