Note: This review assumes you read Book One, so if you have not read it, you can skip to the Evaluation for my general recommendation. If you are familiar with the first book, however, this review contains no spoilers for this book, Book Two in the series.
How often do you encounter a second book in a series that is every bit as good as the first? This book is one of those happy exceptions to the second-book-letdown rule.
Golden Son is a continuation of the story in Red Rising, picking up a bit more than two years after the end of Book One.
Darrow is now 20, and a peerless Scarred, one of the elite Golds who rule mankind. He is attending the Academy, competing for House Augustus against House Bellona, and believes he is about to win. To his horror, Darrow finds that like the competition he previously experienced at the Institute, these games are also rigged. But say one thing about Darrow, he keeps on believing, each time. And keeps getting knocked over. He reminds me a bit of those smiling clown punching bags. Darrow perseveres because he wants to honor the vision of his dead wife Eo for a better world, and because he believes people are good at heart. Darrow thinks you can plant seeds of love and trust, and they will grow into trees.
You might think Darrow would be too annoying, but in fact, you find yourself loving him and rooting for him in spite of his naivety. In addition, it’s not as if this is predominantly an angsty story; rather, it is actually quite steeped in violence, and moreover, will have you on the edge of your seat.
The main action in this book is centered on Darrow’s position as a pawn between two warring houses, and on his strategy to resolve the conflict and turn it to his own purposes. He wants to dismantle the kingdom of lies and replace it with a world united by hope and equality. How far can he get with his utopian plan? How far could anyone get? And will his backers stay with him when they learn his intent? After all, Darrow’s somewhat “socialist” ideals do not have the widespread appeal that greed for money and power have. Or do they?
Evaluation: This is not a standalone, but I recommend the series, which is good enough to warrant all the attention it has gotten. There is a lot of action, romance, intrigue, tension, and philosophical reflection. Yes, I had to do a re-read of Book One, and will probably have to do a double re-read when Book Three appears, so you might want to wait, if you can! Obviously, I could not. . . .
Published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, 2015
I have a hold on the first book in the series – hope it comes soon. They both sound like great reads.
Mind you, I just checked and I’m no. 28 for four copies (I put a hold on the ebook version). So it might be a while before I get to read it!
Hummm. I may wait. I’m in the middle of so many series.
I struggle to stay invested in series like this so wonder if I should even start.
Oh gosh. I just don’t know where to go with this. Because I have so much to say about Darrow. Naive? Definitely at times. But the fact that I am so completely invested in this series say soooo much. How did that happen? I think because Brown so obviously has passion for what he is writing and the reader can not help but be drawn into it. I have YET to meet anyone who has read these and hasn’t been just sucked into it. They’re amazing books for such simple premises. Movie books? Oh yeah….big screen here. Schedule me for the re-reads in December, ‘k?
I bet my daughter would love this series. I’ll be telling her about it later. Thanks!
Jill. Loved Red Rising, so happy to hear book two doesn’t disappoint. Will get it and read when I get home. See – I commented.