Very little actually happens, despite the book having more pages than the preceeding book in the series. The writer wasted too much time on complex dialogues between fast-developing characters he could have done so much with in the first half of the book. Luckily, the story picked up pace in the second half. There's lots a betrayals, as usual. The battles are a bit too high-tech for my liking as they omit much of the bloody, action-packed grimness of the fighting, that made me enjoy Red Rising.
The characters are superb. The rise of Darrow au Andromedus from a weak-willed Red to an all conquering Gold is a remarkable one. His relationship with friends makes for an intriguing sub plot, as the author carefully examines the themes of love and friendship.
This is not a happy story where the hero conquers all and wins back his maiden fair. It's a tale of treachery, of betrayal and ultimately the cost of power. It depicts the struggles of the rungs of a hierarchy as each faction struggles beneath the boots of the other. It reflects our own contemporary society in many ways.
I eagerly anticipate the adaptation of this series into motion picture. I have a feeling it'll be cooler than Hunger Games and Divergent.