Iron Gold by Pierce Brown book review – WITH SPOILERS

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They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

 

I actually finished reading the day before the signing in NYC, January 23. It’s taken me a while to find the time to write a review and also think of what to say without spoilers. Well, there is no way for me to say what I feel without them, so here it goes.

Lysander was my favorite POV. I loved the world building of the Moon Lords, the differences of the Rim culture compared to Luna, and the political games in House Raa. It really broadens the RR world and it’s something to think about when reading the first trilogy from only Darrow’s POV.

Lysander is very controversial within the fandom. He’s become the new Roque. (I, for the record, don’t hate Roque. But that’s another discussion.)

Honestly, Lysander is exactly who I thought he would become. Of course he would having conflicting feelings with Cassius. He’s grateful to him for sparing his life and raising him, but is also bitter because the future he was promised was robbed. I liked when he expressed that he felt wronged that he would never earn his scar at the Institute.

He’s also the only POV from a pure Gold that we have read. Even though his thoughts are twisted as he tries to justify enslavement, it’s also what I expected from him being raised and brainwashed by Octavia. (More on that below). Darrow and the Rising let the grandson of the Sovereign survive (well Sevro wanted to kill him) and as we know from every ancient story, he has grown up and is coming for revenge. I am so looking forward to his teaming up with the Moon Lords to come for Darrow. I always knew that business in Morning Star with the shipyards would come back to bite Darrow in the ass. Lysander is the antagonist the new trilogy needs.

So, some people in the fandom have some theories about Lysander because of his lost memories of his dead parents. I think it is obvious that there was some memory tampering / brain washing going on, thanks to his grandmother. Some fans think he is a clone because only he and the fox clone, Sophocles, were affected by the birds in the citadel. Something is up with the birds for sure, but I don’t think Lysander is a clone.

Cassius. I don’t believe he is dead. No body – not dead. A beloved and original character like him cannot get an off page death. However, I don’t know what would top the one he got – the perseverance to fight like that over and over! How does one get a more honorable death? So we will see.

Lyria was my second favorite POV. I like that we got to see the side of the lowest caste who has not benefitted from being liberated, yet, because the new system has still not gotten it together. I loved the scene when she confronts Mustang and the Sovereign humbly apologizes.

Two more notes on Lyria: I cried so hard when she found her sister, nieces and nephew dead.
I think in Dark Age she’ll be our POV into the Barca family.

Ephraim – sigh… This is a tough one for me. It took me a while to appreciate his POV and how it shows the character of a soldier with PTSD. He is so f-ed up and many of his actions are so despicable. At first I only liked his chapters for Volga. I love her and her love of animals. Volga is a new favorite character. But Ephraim is such a POS. He treats everyone like shit. He numbs his pain and it’s so infuriating how he won’t deal with issues.

I didn’t really start to like him until he saved Pax and Electra because his dynamic with the kids is pure GOLD. Pun intended. Especially with Electra, who is an apple that didn’t fall far from Sevro’s tree.

Which brings me to Darrow. Oh, I am so torn with him. On the one hand Dancer (who really annoyed me as a Senator) made Darrow into what he is. He took a child and turned him into a war machine – and now he’s upset he can’t control Darrow. Darrow is right that the war is not really over. Their enemies are still out there, but they also have not addressed the issues at home. Like all the liberated Reds who are still living in refugee camps.

Also, Darrow is becoming what he sought to destroy. He helped create this new Democracy and now he can’t follow its rules and proceedings. Some of his decisions made me just want to slap his forehead – killing Wulfgar, putting his wife’s position in jeopardy, liberating Apollonius, letting Apollonius live. Not to mention the fragile and weak relationship he has with his son. So depressing.

I think Mustang is so done with being Sovereign. She stated she won’t go for reelection, and when she mentioned how Sevro and Victra are going to populate Pluto on their own, I think that was a nod to Darrow that she wants more children.

I get how Sevro is so fed up with war and fighting. Yes, the crazy part of him still loves the adrenaline rush and glory of it, but I think he craves the quiet life with his wife and daughters more. He is so done and tired of Darrow believing in his own myth. Which I totally get. Even though Darrow and Sevro’s separation at the end broke my heart, some fans think it is a rue/a set up to root out the Howler who snitched on them. It’s possible, but I do think Sevro is genuinely angry with Darrow. Especially after finding out that his daughter was kidnapped and that Darrow has no plans to go back and find his son.

And I get Darrow feeling that Mustang is resourceful and powerful enough to get Pax back, but that’s not the point. How will Pax feel when he learns that instead of coming back to Luna after learning he was taken his father went to war on Mercury?

Apollonius – I hate his brother Tactus and always will. I was glad when Lorn killed him. But Apollonius is a deliciously entertaining villain. I don’t think he should have been allowed to live, but also we need a villain like him to stick around for the trilogy and make things interesting. As long as he dies in the end. So Darrow and Co, will have war coming from both sides: Venus and the Moon Lords.

There were some things I predicted. Once Ephram became “friends” with Lyria I knew he’d use her. It wasn’t until Lyria’s necklace activated that I knew Ephraim was kidnapping Pax and Electra. I also knew early on that the Ash Lord was incapacitated. What I couldn’t predict was who the Howlers were breaking out of Deep Grave. Deep Grave was a great action part. I also loved the Easter Egg from The Big Lebowski with the rug that “really ties the room together”.

Tongueless – I like him but I am also suspicious.

Other Easter eggs I caught that I can remember at the moment:

When Lysander is shinning the light into the dark canon of the asteroid – totally The Empire Strikes Back.
“The First Law of Robotics states-“, shout out to Isaac Asimov. And immediately after that line a shout out to Battlestar Galactica calling the robot a “toaster.”

I am not sure if this is a Three’s Company shout out. “A holo comedy about a Red moving in with a Violet and Grey… – hijinks ensue.”

The Queen of the Syndicate suspects:
My first thought was Sefi because she is sOOooOOOOO angry with Darrow and didn’t go with the Howlers on their rogue mission. If the Ash Lord wasn’t lying about it being a friend, then it could be her. Even if she is not the Queen – she is up to something with Obsidians.
Other suspects: Cassius’ mother and the Ash Lord’s daughter.
I don’t think Harmony is the Queen. She wouldnt’t have as much power from Mars and she has resorted to Guerrilla Warfare. She can’t be the head of a mafia family.
Some other suspects fans suggested:
Dido – she is too far away.
Niobe – she would not risk the life of her husband, Kavax.
Darrow’s mother – she would not risk her grandson’s life.
Victra – that would be quite the twist, but also she would not endanger her daughter’s life.

Oh, how badass is Victra?! She is 8 months pregnant and taking no prisoners! Maternity armor!

I am going to listen to the audiobook when I do my reread before Dark Age comes out in the fall. I have heard mixed reviews about the new voices. Some say that Lysander’s voice is too low and that he doesn’t do different voices for different characters speaking. Some say Lyria’s is too whiny and others say she has great emotion. I also read that TGR, who has done the audiobooks for the first trilogy, mispronounced Sevro’s name a least twice saying “Servo” and like others I wonder how he can mess it up after three books?! Even if the typo is in the final print. Which some said they caught! I did not catch the “Servo” typo in the nook ebook version.

I will write up my own audiobook review this fall.

Golden Son still my favorite of the series. Iron Gold is a set up for Dark Age, but it comes with incredible expanded world building, compelling politics, questionable ethics, and intense action. It takes a bit more time to get through because we have 3 new POVs, but I love that it has expanded the world outside of Darrow’s experiences.

4.5 out of 5 Vaults.

 

 

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