It was phenomenally handled, and I applaud both your bravery and finesse in this continuation of a series that has already left its mark on the sci-fi world.
It’s always a bit nerve-wracking to revisit a series that you thought was ended well. Some authors don’t know how to let a world go and move onto another, and sometimes a world revisited but revisited poorly can sour a reader’s memories of a story they loved. I think that was a legitimate concern when Pierce Brown announced that the Red Rising trilogy would not remain a trilogy, but would instead evolve into a saga. Iron Gold, the fourth book and the one that would begin the new strand of the saga, would take place ten years after the events in Morning Star.
There are other authors who have expanded a world they created, and have done it well. But generally, these expansions take place either before the plot of the original story, or more than a generation later, after the main characters of the original plot have passed on. I though Pierce’s plan for the Red Rising saga was ballsy from the moment I heard about it, but thankfully the man followed through brilliantly.
With every book I’ve read from him, I’ve been more and more impressed with Pierce’s writing. His prose is incredible, and I would put it on par with the majority of authors in the genre of literary fiction. Most of the time, science fiction and fantasy are about the characters, the setting, and the story. Rarely does the writing itself shine, but Pierce’s does. I’m beginning to view him as the Patrick Rothfuss of the sci-fi genre in terms of prose, and there’s no greater compliment I can give in regards to the sheer beauty of someone’s writing.
I will love you until the sun dies. And when it does, I will love you in the darkness.
An aspect of this book that I was nervous about but ended up appreciating greatly was the use of multiple points of view. One of the things that made the original trilogy stand out in my mind was the fact that it was told in a limited first-person perspective. I’m not usually the biggest fan of first-person, but I thought it was used brilliantly in Red Rising. In the continuation of the series, however, we have four perspectives, all presented in first-person. I thought this would be difficult to follow, but each point of view character had a completely different voice and way of thinking than their counterparts, and all four of them were compelling, fallible characters. All four of them had some wonderful character traits, but all four of them made some terrible mistakes.
They all want a part of it. A part of the pain that's not theirs. Nod their heads. Wrinkle their foreheads. Now they want to pity it, gorge on my pain. And when they're done or bored or too sad, they whisk themselves away to stare at a screen or stuff their fat faces, thinking 'How lucky am I to be me.' And they they forget the pain and say we should be good citizens. Get a job. Assimilate..
They planted us in stones, watered us with pain, and now marvel how we have thorns.
One of the reasons that Darrow worked so well as a main character in the original trilogy was his fallibility. Is he noble? Yes, he certainly can be. Is he honorable? Yes. Is he a hero? That depends on who you ask. Is he a perfect? Definitely not. And each of the other three point of view characters share that last trait with Darrow. They are far from perfect. They make mistakes. But they are beautifully, achingly human, no matter what Color they are.
A new wound can take a body. Opening an old one can claim a soul.
We have Darrow, the hero of the the Rising. We have Lyria, a Red of Mars whose life has been made infinitely harder by that hero. We have Ephraim, a Gray who has been embittered by the Rising and has turned to a life of crime. And we have Lysander, a young Gold of the old order, whose loyalties have never been tested and are as displaced as he is himself. Four widely varied characters. Four points of view of the same struggles that have ripped apart the solar system. Four sides of what appeared to be a two-sided struggle.
I know it may be impossible to believe now, when everything is dark and broken, but you will survive this pain, little one. Pain is a memory. You will live and you will struggle and you will find joy. And you will remember your family from this breath to your dying days, because love does not fade. Love is the stars, and its light carries on long after death.
Getting to revisit characters from the original trilogy, and to see how they have changed over ten years, was wonderful. It was an ode to the Howlers, both the literary characters and the readers who have loved Pierce’s work since they opened the first book. But what I really loved was the expansion offered by the other point of view characters, an expansion that allows readers to experience far more of the world Pierce has created. We see that nature abhors a vacuum, and that whenever power is removed from a despot, another tyrant will rise up to take their place. We see that friendship covers a multitude of sins, but even it can only be stretched so far. We see love in all of its forms, and betrayal in just as many. We see that war touches everyone, and that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. We see that an uprising is never truly finished. We see victory and defeat, pain and passion, dreams and despair. We see life in all of its beautiful chaos and horrendous patterns.
War eats the victors last.
I thought that my favorite sci-fi-fi series would always and forever be Ender’s Saga by Orson Scott Card. While Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow will indeed always remain among my favorite books, I can unequivocally say that Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga has become my favorite science fiction series, and I can’t wait to read future installments.
Change isn’t made by mobs that envy, but by men who dare.