20 January 2015

Books: Golden Son By Pierce Brown (2015)

With Golden Son, author Pierce Brown's second novel in his Red Rising Trilogy, he's able to forgo the World Building that preoccupied the first book and rush pellmell into Darrow's emotional and very violent struggle to bring down the Gold society from within that dominates the worlds of Mars and Luna (the moon). 

The story picks up two years after the events of Red Rising, and we see Darrow au Andromedus on a training mission aboard his own starship for war-games -though these Academy days seem fairly over, as this is about all we see of that time. Still, as Darrow navigates his way, he worries about the fact that in that time, he's heard nothing from the Sons of Ares, the secret rebellion group that started him on this journey. In the end though, this shift away from the Institute opens the book to a wider and more complex arena, even if the reader is forced to believe that Darrow had the ability, the agility to keep up his deceptive appearance amongst the duplicitous Golds for all those years without hearing from the Sons of Ares. Anyways, Darrow’s reach has expand exponentially, and story leaves Mars behind (for now) which helps with the action, as things move swifter than a nail driven through concrete out into the galaxy. Brown, however, is not afraid to take his hero Darrow down a few pegs, but like any true defender of the downtrodden, he gets back up to continue. But this can also be a bit of contrivance, Brown ultimately explains it that the reason Darrow does not let things defeat him is because the real tragedy of this struggle is the massive loss of life -something not done by his hand, of course, but more so the effect of what he's become. So he's driven more by guilt so he must always get back up on his two feet. And that maybe one of the very few flaws with the book; Brown's over reliance on this story structure. Darrow encounter's some horrible situation, then comes up with a magical (it seems) solution then suddenly stumbles into another setback. 

Unfortunately, this had the tendency to take me out of the narrative. But the book does rocket along and (hopefully) it'll break out of the box that some seem to want to put it in, that this is just another dystopian novel in the vein of The Hunger Games. By far, these books (especially this second one) are better written, with more complex characters and with higher stakes, so those thoughts should be set aside. 

Again, there is no clear explanation to how Earth fell, but Brown makes some veiled references. History, they say, repeats itself and Golden Son could be defined as a retelling of the Roman Empire during its glory years. And while Homer and Sophocles survived, apparently Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire did not. And this colored based society has no historian (probably suppressed by the Golds), but to be honest, I'm not sure they would even admit that the original Roman tumbled under its own importance. 

I'm curious if, in the end, all this series is really is about, a science fiction retelling of Roman Empire and it's eventual (in book III) fall. 

But for me, who devoured this in a few days, I have a long wait for 2016 and that final book.

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