Honestly, it's not often that I find myself with much hope for continuations of series that have concluded. Many times it's easy to see when new material is... uninspired. Money/deals/obligations have the potential to create sticky situations. I loved the first three Red Rising books & I was worried that this new addition may be unnecessary, even if the prospect of continuing on with such an amazing tale was exciting.
But let me just say, Iron Gold is purely additive.
Pierce Brown doesn't write like he's in it for the wrong reasons. He writes like he has a story to tell, and he's gonna tell us the bloodydamn story the way it's meant to be told. Period.
10 years after the events of the original trilogy, the social & political structure of this world is balanced on a knife's edge. Rebellions, criminal organizations, and the looming threat of the Ash Lord plague the visions of peace & prosperity Darrow once held for the future.
Given the time gap, there's a healthy amount of nostalgia present here with many old faces making a meaningful return & the next generation taking up the mantel to make their own way in this world ravaged by war. Resulting consequences of actions from the past ripple through the story, touching every corner in a way that feels realistic & plausible.
The new characters whose perspectives we follow are all excellent compliments to Darrow. Together they create a complex circle of interconnection that forces the reader to be on constant swivel when deciding who to support & who to condemn. As situations pan out, it becomes clear that characters on many sides of this conflict are represented, and that many of them are justified in their opposing points of view.
A set up like this is only improved by the choice of sticking with First Person POV for each character, which is probably the last thing I thought I'd ever hear myself say. But truly one of the biggest strengths of Brown's series is how he forges the bonds between the readers & his characters, and I believe he is aided by giving readers a glimpse into the minds of his central cast.
Speaking of characters, many people seem to dislike Darrow but for me it's exactly how flawed he is that makes him such a magnificent character. In fact, I can't think of any other character who upsets me repeatedly, does literally everything I'm screaming for him not to do, and yet somehow still manages to gain my sympathy & wrangle my emotions into knots. Darrow is his own man, slag what I or anyone else thinks. And that's why I love him, even when I want to throttle him.
Brown's talent as a writer is on full display here. Not only does he beautifully capture the rage & brutality that fuels a war driven society such as this, but he creates situations that resonate deeply with his audience. Scenes of blood & gore that are not there for simple shock value, not there for purpose of a momentary gasp or a whispered "Ouch."
Moments of clarity, friendship, passion, defeat, anger, understanding.
The the juxtaposition of cruelty & elegance stands starkly unique against the backdrop of this violent world he has called forth. Each scene is penned with such an individual significance that they will surely be replaying over & over again in your mind.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is how Brown finds interesting ways to paint a detailed picture of a high-tech society without boring me to tears. I've personally struggled a lot with Hard Science Fiction as a written genre because I tend to get bogged down in its densely worded walls of unnecessary sci-fi jargon. Red Rising as a series is not Hard Science Fiction, but the advanced tech of the era is critical to the story being told & I appreciate that it is communicated in a way that gives me clear imagery without assuming I'm in need of a physics lesson.
The only reason I knocked off half a star (more like a quarter of a star if I'm being honest but I don't normally divide my ratings down that far) is because I felt myself being just a little less interested in Ephraim's point of view when compared with Lysander, Lyria, and Darrow. His arc definitely paid off in the end but if I absolutely had to pick a least favorite POV, it'd be his. He's still a great character with a solid presence in the book, but he stood a little shorter in the shadows of the others.
This truly one of my absolute favorite series. It's taken the concepts & formulas we've seen before & breathed new life into them. These are the ideas that resonate with humanity or else we wouldn't see them told over & over in so many different ways. Iron Gold is just the newest masterpiece to devour in the Red Rising series, and it's exactly what I needed to read at this moment in my life.
If you haven't gotten your hands on this series by now, what the gory hell are you waiting for?