Thursday, June 18, 2015

Golden Son

Golden Son starts shortly after Red Rising. Darrow au Andromedus has accepted a position with Augustus, Archgovernor of Mars, after his rule breaking stint at the Academy. Things aren't going well. Darrow makes some miscalculation and other insidious people spread mostly untrue rumors about him to discredit him. It doesn't help that the Bellona family still wants him dead and it has escalated to a house war. All of this is why Augustus is on the verge of abandoning Darrow despite his potential. Darrow allies with an old enemy and exploits injustice he sees in their Sovereign to descend Gold society into chaos. Now it's Augustus and their few allies against the Sovereign and most other Golds. To win the war, he must convert Golds to his side and crush the rest while keeping his true aim, to destroy the hierarchy their society depends upon, a secret.

Like Red Rising, Golden Son starts a bit slow. I read the first book a year and a half ago, so I don't remember every character with great clarity. The book just throws the reader into the world with no recap to speak of. About a hundred pages in, I felt solid with the characters and the story really takes off. Darrow faces hell in this installment. First, he's disgraced and almost gives up on his mission altogether. He is totally unprepared for the indirect backstabbing and cattiness of Gold society and just flounders. After everything looks hopeless, he almost succumbs to a senselessly violent plan that would do nothing but make Gold vengeance swift and terrible. Throughout the novel, plans are formulated and things seem like they looking up, but then nothing ever turns out as it should. When the Sovereign throws out their society's laws for her own political gains, Darrow sees where he can create chaos and start a war with the highest and most corrupt level of the Golds. He quickly rises to power with the backing of Augustus and Golds follow in his wake to glom onto his success.

My favorite part of Golden Son is Darrow's consistent efforts to treat other colors the same as he treats Golds. He never forgets that deep down he is Red and what his true mission is: to overthrow the caste system and make everyone equal. Although it angers his allies, he puts this into practice by allowing a Blue to command his ship, allowing an Obsidian to wield a weapon made exclusively for Gold, and striving to keep the other colors out of the crossfire of the Gold war. He even causes a whole enemy ship of Lowcolors to follow him by treating them as people and valuing their lives and talents. The best instance of this Darrow's conversation with Ragnar the Obsidian. Darrow reveals his true origins and throws Ragnar's world into chaos. Obsidians are taught that they are slaves to the Golds, who are nothing short of gods. Darrow forces Ragnar to decide for himself if he wants to follow Darrow or go along with Gold propaganda. Little by little, Darrow undermines the status quo and breaks down at least a little of the brainwashing the Golds work so hard to maintain.

Golden Son is an addicting read. War in earnest comes to the Golds and it's not as glorious as they were expecting. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I was surprised by the plot's twist and turns. It doesn't fall into the second book of a trilogy trap. The story is compelling and interesting in its own right while still setting up for the big finale. The ending is so insane and does end on a cliffhanger. I usually hate that, but I didn't mind it. I can't wait to read the final book, Morning Star.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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