If you haven’t read my review of ‘Golden Son’, the second installment of the ‘Red Rising’ trilogy, go and check that out now – it’s also spoiler free!
“Why would I care what you were? I care about what people do. I care about truth. If you have told me, I wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. I would have protected you.”
The only spoiler I’m going to put in this review is something that happens at the end of ‘Golden Son’, so if you haven’t read the second book in the series you should seriously LEAVE, LEAVE RIGHT NOW, GO AND READ IT.
LEAVE, I TELL YOU.
Phew! Now that outburst is over, I shall continue with the spoiler: you have been warned…
At the end of ‘Golden Son’, shit went down. A whole bunch of bloodydamn shit. But the biggest thing that went down? Darrow was outed as a Red.
Yep, you remember: our intrepid infiltrator was outed and captured by the Jackal, leaving the future of the Sons of Ares uprising in danger. I was shocked, dismayed, panicked… I basically went into fully blown meltdown mode, so it was a good job that I waited an entire year after the book published before I finally read it because I was waiting for ‘Morning Star’ to be here so I could read it straight afterwards.
And, in a surprising twist of events, I actually received an advanced copy of ‘Morning Star’ through bookbridgr and Hodderscape! It’s still taken me ages to read it (it’s over 500 pages, which is one of the longest books I’ve read in a long while…) but it was so exciting to be able to start it a couple of days early and dive straight back in on Darrow’s adventures.
I’m not going to give any spoilers in this review, because I don’t want to ruin this series ender for anyone – at least not yet, when it’s been out less than two weeks… – but I might write a spoilery review in a couple of weeks, because I know I’m still going to be thinking about everything that went down in this novel.
All I can really say: this is a satisfying conclusion. Being a novel set in the midst of a space war, there are casualties – this means you will get your heart broken at multiple points, so be prepared! But that just meant that it was much more effective, because it wouldn’t have been realistic at all if there hadn’t been any losses of characters we cared about.
But the war isn’t the only thing going on. We get lots of character development from characters we’re already well acquainted with. In fact, there are only a few new additions to the cast, and they’re all meaningful and necessary – there aren’t any throwaway cannon fodder characters in this world! If you already love the characters from the first two books, you’ll love this book purely because of the developmental arcs that they go through: they’re all realistic, and no one has a random, unexplained change of heart purely for shock value. Everything is very natural, and that’s brilliant.
I’ve been making an effort to finish series this year, and all of the series enders that I’ve read so far have been utterly disappointing. The authors haven’t seemed to know where they were going, they’ve been too focused on wrapping up all of the loose ends, and they’ve all needed their characters to have a picture perfect happy ending. While the ending of ‘Morning Star’ is a happy one, it’s also extremely bittersweet (you can’t count that as a spoiler, anything could constitute a happy ending – I’m sure you won’t guess exactly what happens!) and it’s also very open: Darrow’s story ends, and the plot that gets established in ‘Red Rising’ is finished, but it’s only part of what is a much larger and wider story. We don’t have a cliched “10 YEARS LATER” flash forward, but with the news that Pierce Brown is writing a new trilogy based in the ‘Red Rising’ universe (read more about that here, but the article does contain a couple of spoilers!) there’s a lot of potential for what will be going on in the future.
I’m very, very happy with how this panned out. Getting to explore more of the universe (finally setting foot on Jupiter and Earth) was exactly what I’d wanted, but it wasn’t over the top – there weren’t random flights out to Pluto or Mercury just to show off the space-themed writing, so it made a lot of sense. I was torn between four and five stars for this final installment, because some of the political digressions and subterfuge went a bit over my head (betrayals in betrayals in betrayals, death begets death begets death) and it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s going on… But compared with some of the final series books that I’ve read this year that I’ve had SO MANY problems with, I needed to reflect the fact that I only have one or two minuscule complaints – it would probably be closer to 4.5 stars, though.
If you haven’t read the ‘Red Rising’ trilogy yet, I don’t know what I can do to persuade you that it’s necessary. There’s a jellybean eating fox, goddammit! I can’t recommend this series any more highly.