I reviewed Red Rising as soon as it came out, and because I loved it so much I was so happy when Golden Son followed so quickly. Then I reread both of them in anticipation of Morning Star, the final book in the trilogy, and then basically stalked my library until my request was fulfilled.
I can’t really think of a time when I’ve been this satisfied by the conclusion of a trilogy/series. Robin Hobb’s books have transported me, certainly, but Fitz’s story isn’t over yet. I only hope I feel the same way I felt when I finished Morning Star. I literally hugged the book, I was so happy with the deeply satisfying resolution to the very complicated story told by Pierce Brown.
Set in the future, where the Moon, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter have been terraformed and colonized. Genetic engineering and technology have created a stratified society where Golds (godlike in appearance and abilities) rule over the lesser colors, the lowest of which are the Reds. Darrow is a Red and a Helldiver of Lykos. He spends his life underground mining helium, which he is told will lead to the eventual terraforming of his planet. Thanks to his hard work, one day the surface will be habitable. When Darrow’s wife Eo stages a rebellion and is executed, Darrow follows her to the grave. He is resurrected by his uncle, who shows him the lie–the surface is already habitable. The Reds are slaves. Through surgery, Darrow is reshaped into a Gold and the Sons of Ares train him to become the leader of the revolution that will overthrow society.
In Book 1, Darrow goes through the Institute in a classic training/coming-of-age story. Book 2 takes him out into the “real world,” and Book 3 picks up after everything Darrow has ever believed in is taken away from him. Pretty classic progression–and there’s nothing wrong with that when it’s done as well as it’s done here. The genre trappings are pitch perfect, but the book soars because the characters are so Shakespearean in their conception, and the action sequences as big as anything that’s ever been imagined even in the biggest action movie. I never lost the thread during any of the action scenes because Brown uses the character conflicts to take us through. That’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s like Macbeth meets Battlestar Galactica meets Game of Thrones and it’s all at the highest level of storytelling imaginable. Did I mention all the allusions to classical Greek and Roman mythology–and the Norse, too? Plus I cried at the end.
What truly blew me away was seeing that the seeds for the final scenes of the trilogy were planted in the first chapters of the first book. I always say that storytelling is mathematic, and in the Red Rising trilogy Pierce Brown does the most advanced calculus I’ve ever seen–and in the end it all comes out correct. Awesome.