Elaborating on my non-spoiler review:
Last Warning: SPOILERS!
When I saw on my nook that the last chapter was titled “The Vale”, the Red’s name for Heaven, I thought, “Oh crap! Does Darrow die or is it a metaphor for achieving a state of happiness?” Darrow lives and I am glad for it. He is too young to die and after all he fought for he deserves some peace with his family and friends.
The action was great and heart pounding. I found myself thumping my hand against my book along with the people listening to Darrow’s pep-rally speech in Chapter 23. It got me excited and revved up too, but some of my favorite moments were the quieter ones between Darrow and his friends. So much emotion is felt. Particularly between Darrow and Sevro in Chapter 22 and Darrow and Cassius in Chapter 50.
There was great character development. Darrow finally learns to let his friends in and trust them. To share the weight of the responsibilities. When he looks back at who he was as a Red he knows he was an idiot, content in his ignorance. At first he was fighting for Eo. It was her dream, but now it is dream too. He and his friends are not fighting for the dead but for the living and those not yet born. Live for more.
I also I liked the transformation Cassius made. He grew tired of the war and fighting for a Society doesn’t really care if he lives or dies. Despite everything I can’t hate Cassius and I liked that at the end he left it all behind and decided to raise Lysander.
Sevro made a big leap. I never would have guessed he’d get married, and to Victra!
I was rereading their scenes in Golden Son, like when she called him “a sinister little shit”. LOL
Besides that, Sevro without Darrow was a mess. Quicksilver was right when he said he was a “bad investment.” I felt bad when he called Sevro that, but it was true. Servo was behaving like a terrorist leader not a revolutionary one. He and Darrow were disagreeing. It was heartbreaking. Chapter 22 is the turn around. It evolves from Darrow and Sevro fighting and wrestling to talking it out and rekindling the bromance once again. (Sidenote: LOL and eww at Sevro getting Darrow’s old Red eyes. Ultimate fanboy. )
The part that really exhibited Sevro’s growth was when he hung himself to make a point, “I am Ares! I am a murderer too! And what do we do to murderers?”
He’s saved (thank goodness Sefi did the right thing) and his speech was empowering. It’s the moment he truly became Ares.
That was not the only false alarm on Sevro’s life that gave me a heart attack.
The second time I was so nervous I was swinging back and forth in my chair. I had to skip ahead to make sure he makes it, even though I suspected it was a trick because I remembered that he was drinking from a flask before releasing Cassius. I remembered Darrow was given a concoction before his hanging.
One critique was that I would have liked to see more scenes with a few minor characters from the previous novels. Particularly Matteo, Theodora, and Orion.
Theodora only gets a couple of scenes in the beginning so that’s something. She was more in the background.
Orion needs her own novella about being a pirate, and getting that parrot that Darrow promised her.
Poor Matteo gets beat up, but he’ll be ok. But we don’t even get a reunion scene with Matteo and Darrow. 😦 I know the book is long and you have to move the story along, but I want little novellas.
I’d love a novella about Matteo and Quicksilver. How they met, fell in love, their wedding, their involvement in Sons of Ares. Obviously marriages between classes is forbidden, but what does the Society think of same sex marriage?
I loved Quicksilver’s vision for the future and his capitalist speech. Sign me up.
“Government is never the solution, but it is almost always a problem. I’m a capitalist. And I believe in effort and progress and the ingenuity of our species.. The continuing evolution and advancement of our kind based on fair competition. Fact of the matter is, Gold does not want man to continue to evolve. Since the conquering, they have routinely stifled advancement to maintain their heaven…”
He goes on to describe that they should have robots do the work of the Reds in the mines and why have they stopped exploring space? They should expand outside their Solar System.
Here are some of my favorite descriptions because they are so poetic:
After seeing the devastation from a bomb on page 109 (nook) – “…a lone ribbon of smoke twirled and twirled up to the stars, the old soundless echo of war.”
It is so savage and traumatic, but really pretty to read.
Page 162: “Molten wounds still glow where the two nuclear bombs detonated. And I wonder, in my last moments, if the planet does not mind that we wound her surface or pillage her bounty, because she knows we silly warm things are not even a breath in her cosmic life.”
Page 451: “Mobs are soulless things that feed on fear and momentum and prejudice.”
Page 536: “This wild land is full of mystery. It holds secrets covetously behind arms of fog and views of pine needles. It’s pleasures, like its secrets, must be earned. It reminds me of my dreams of the Vale.” Phew- the title of the chapter was a metaphor!
Page 538: “I used to think the life strands of my friends frayed around me, because mine was too strong. Now I realize that when we are wound together, we make something unbreakable. Something that lasts long after this life ends. My friends have filled the hollow carved in by my wife’s death. They’ve made me whole again.”
Speaking of poetic. Roque’s suicide is exactly the way I thought the Poet’s life would end. It was heartbreaking, but we can’t win them all back.
Page 405: “…the Poet of Deimos takes his own life. Somewhere the wind howls and the darkness whispers that I am running out of friends, running out of life. The blood slithers away from his body towards my boots. A shard of my own reflection trapped in its red fingers.”
Ragnar’s death was so sad. I am going to miss that loyal, gentile giant.
My sister texted me this when Ragnar died:
“Does pierce hate big people? Why did he kill Ragnar?”
She was referring to Pax Au Telemanus dying in Red Rising.
I read some criticism about Mustang’s behavior. First for her treatment of Cassius. They were lovers, though she didn’t love him and was only trying to protect her family by getting close to Octavia and her court. In Morning Star she shoots Cassius in the neck with a bow and arrow, narrowly missing his jugular. She was aiming to kill. Some say that it was cold of her to play with his heart for her own agenda and then go as far as to kill him. I am not disagreeing with those statements, just that it’s part of what makes her flawed and interesting. Plus, though she is not a psychopath like her twin, it shows she exhibits some behavioral traits of her father and brother. Without the Telemanus family’s love and influence she would have become like them.
The second critique was she didn’t tell Darrow about their son because she was testing him. Like what would have happened if Darrow didn’t pass, would she have never told him about their son? I don’t believe that. She was scared.
Besides, it was better to keep their son, Pax, hidden and safe from kidnapping, execution or worse, experimentation. He is half-Gold and half-Red, like Sevro. (Will he be short like Sevro? Genetic don’t change, even though Darrow was able to conceive with Mustang. The universe knows Darrow is a Red, do they know Sevro is half-Red?)
Mustang’s test was about building trust between her and Darrow, and giving their love a second chance. He lied to her about who he was and then let the holovideo tell the truth for him. That’s a lot to take in. The relationship changes after that. Mustang had to be sure they were on the same side.
Mustang almost told Darrow about their son, after the crash at Ragnar’s home. She wanted to tell him at Tinos, but it was Darrow’s mother who advised her to wait. And mamma was right. He was not prepared to be a good father. He need to be there for his people first.
I like the Happily Ever After ending. It’s what they are fighting for. The future generations not yet born. The chance to live normal happy lives in peace. There is the sequel trilogy though where they have to rebuild the society that they destroyed. Pierce posted in his announcement “You break an empire, you bloodydamn buy it.”
I can’t wait.