The Red Rising trilogy continues! Here’s a brief reminder of where we left off in Red Rising:
Darrow has won the Institute’s game and gets selected to become a Lancer for the house Augustus (the house of his girlfriend, Mustang, conveniently). A lot of people have died between him starting and then winning, including Jullian au Bellona, who is the younger brother of Cassius au Bellona, the Augustus rival family. Many others have died as well, which I did not think would come up again, but it may do you some good to re-read the first book as a refresher.
Golden Son takes place two years after the Institute, Darrow is about to win victory for House Augustus in a space-battle-training-thing (I’m not entirely sure what he’s doing, but it’s probably like the college equivalent if the Institute was high school). He fails. And Augustus is going to give up Darrow and trade him to another house (after working so hard to get to a position to break down the golds — he’s still on his mission with the Sons of Ares). Most likely the Bellona House would have taken him in just to kill him in revenge for killing Julian.
Instead he duels with Cassius and ignites a fight between the Houses Bellona and Augustus (His actual mission with Sons of Ares was to blow up everyone, but Darrow didn’t want to play that game). This upsets the devious plot of the Sovereign, who was planning on killing off House Augustus that day anyway. And so starts the beginning of a civil war.
Darrow is a natural leader. He is smart and extremely talented at survival. He takes his training and builds a group of people around him as his trusted advisers. The whole system of his inter-workings is built on trust, including having the trust of the lower colors like Obsidians, Blues, and Oranges. This is a bit of a tension spot for Golds, who see anyone raised above their station as a threat. But Darrow’s trusted adviser are Golds so everyone goes along with it. But naturally, there are those who betray him. This gets into the plot and major cliffhanger of Book #2, so I encourage everyone to hurry up and read so we can hurry up and wait for the third novel.
There are a few silver linings to all this death, destruction, betrayal, and manipulation. My favorite parts were not times of battle, but times when Darrow acts like a human. One of the people he trusts comes forward as a member of the Sons of Ares and they hug it out like you wouldn’t believe! “Relief washed over me,” type of sentiment. Darrow gets so tightly wound up with guilt and being tough that a moment like this makes him seem real. The second scene that was important to me was when Darrow returns home one last time with Mustang to explain who he is (as a Red) (no spoilers on her reaction!). The scene with his mother is so sweet and powerful. The human moments (and there were not enough of them) made the book more than what it amps itself up to be — a book about war and destruction.
But goryhell, what a cliffhanger.
This series keeps readers on the edge and leaves no time for any happiness. Worth the read.