5 out of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this work.
So, this is the start of the next instalment in the Red Rising world. Time has passed and we are looking at the aftermath of the breaking out of a dystopian society, a nice topic since most books get to the direct aftermath of the revolution and leave it right there. But there is the issue of picking up the pieces and trying to build a new social order and that is what this book gives us. We are ten years in and, despite the colours not being a formal thing anymore, there is still a ton of institutional prejudice and ingrained beliefs and behaviours. This is especially topical right now, looking at the racism still existing in the United States. Sure, they are not technically slaves anymore, but was the wealth immediately redistributed or are the whites/golds still rich and the blacks/reds still poorer? Can they get into the exclusive schools and get the better jobs? How do you dismantle an oppressive system when the oppressors are the ones with all the weapons and all the wealth? It is a good question to explore.
This work also brings up the conflict between democracy and efficiency. One of the characters (no spoilers though) recognizes that a society under wise and good golds will be more efficient than a democracy. When you don’t have to put everything to a vote, things get done faster. The revolution came because the golds in charge were petty and spoiled and weak. But, he asks, wouldn’t it be better to put golds that exemplify wisdom be a better choice than democracy? The new democracy is especially slow because many of the horrible, spoiled people still have a lot of clout because of their wealth and the lower colours have a lot of anger, so all of politics is a tug-of-war between conflicting interests, with neither side getting what they ultimately want.
Pierce Brown breaks from his normal writing style and has done a multiple POV book, with chapters skipping between Darrow, Lysander, Ephraim (a thief and general pessimist) and Lyria (a red refugee in the aftermath of the revolution). I generally liked the inclusion of other viewpoints, especially since Brown is a skilled enough writer to really make the character voices distinct. Those that like the Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch are definitely going to love Ephraim and the sense of wry humour and tension that character brings.
Darrow grows as a man, and is now a husband and father. This really gives him a perspective on his actions that he did not have as a boy with nothing to lose and that is echoed in Sevro as well. We get to know, more and more closely, the real cost of conflicts and wars and see the characters change and evolve. Not every problem can be solved with violence, but there some that may need bombs and guns and lost lives. Darrow, Mustang and Sevro have to find the balance between the two and learn to live with the consequences.
This is a completely fantastic addition to an already strong series. I loved the growth we get to see in the characters as well as new additions to the cast. There is, as always, an excellent balance between the action and the politics and everything is nuanced and fun. This is a must-read.