You will need to read the first book in this series, Red Rising, in order to understand this book, world and what is at stake for Darrow. Also it is one of the best debuts that I have read, so really you should just pick the book up for that reason :)
Pierce Brown is back with the next novel in his Red Rising series and if Darrow thought the games of the school were shocking, nothing has prepared them for what real Gold life will be like:
Darrow has infiltrated the Gold’s life and culture. He is highly regarded by many of his peers, friends and those at the top of this ruling class. But Darrow knows that everything still hangs in the balance, that he is still on a life or death mission that with each day that passes becomes more crucial to complete but also the lines become blurred to more he gets to know some Golds. Darrow is used to the battlefields of the school and the academy neither of which has properly prepared him for the political games that he needs to play. Darrow needs to learn quick who he can trust, if the rebellion is still on and that betrayal is ever common in the Gold lifestyle as he tries to bring down this elitist society from within.
After reading Red Rising I was hooked, and knew that I would be reading this book, however, I purposely denied reading this book right away as I knew that book three was not coming out till 2016. I think I am still in shock about how this book ended (bumped this book up to 4.5 stars for me as Brown totally changed the game) that I find that I am speechless, breathless and wanting more as in NOW. I cannot believe how long some people have waited for book three; I would not have wanted to wait as long as others have.
I liked that Brown took a more political stance with this book, which I think was very important in this stage of the game as not everything can be accomplished through war (though at times it does help). This is not to say that this book lacks in the action points from the first, there are still several battles and fight scenes for readers to enjoy, but it is the backroom conversations and plays that the reader needs to pay attention to in this book. I personally love any book that can combine political intrigue and action and Brown does it extremely well in this book.
While I did miss finding out what Darrow has been up to for the first two year of the school, I do not miss them at the same time. I wanted to see Darrow would grow as a character but I think that writing a book about his time at the academy would have just been Red Rising all over again. It was interesting to see Darrow a few years down the road to see how he had developed as a character and as a Gold, but I hate to say it but I found that Darrow had not really changed or learned some important lesson.
Darrow is the Sword not the Pen and the more you read Golden Son, the more you realize that Darrow has some very valuable lessons that he still needs to learn, especially on the Pen side of things. He thinks he can read people, he thinks he can play the political game and while he is a quick thinker when thrown into a deadly situation, he still seems to lack the ability to see the whole picture or the long game. I was just hoping for more overall character growth in this book (as the book does pick up 2 years later) and with the events of how this novel ends, it will be interesting to see where Brown takes Darrow as a character and if he is able to push him further.
So happy that Servo is back, as he is one of my favourite characters from Red Rising and Darrow needs all the friends that he can get and Servo is someone who has never wavered in loyalty to Darrow. Servo may be crude, rude and sadistic at times, but I think he is a good sounding board for Darrow and sees things as they are more than Darrow does. Servo's ideas may seem extreme at times, but he was raised a Gold and they are known to have no mercy.
One of the things that I truly appreciate about Brown's writing in this series is that he does not take sci-fi to the point where I no longer understand what is going on. I do not need a degree in physics to understand some of the concepts and I do not have to been reading sci-fi my entire life to understand the world that Brown has created. The world being placed in our solar system probably helps as well though as I know the planets and where they are located. Brown is extremely smart for doing this as it opens his books up too non-sci-fi readers (like me) to now only enjoy but relish in a genre that I do not read very often.
This is a fantastic series; I’m hooked, I want more, and I am really looking forward to the third book, which comes out early next year (as I said still in shock how the book ended). I highly recommend it to those who read sci-fi and those who don't as I think Brown was able to find some common middle ground that both can appreciate. You need to check out this series.