Golden Son by Pierce Brown book review

Our verdict on Pierce Brown’s follow-up to Red Rising

Golden Son continues the story of interstellar revolution stoked in last year’s surprise hit, Red Rising. In a future where humanity has expanded, but is ruled by a brutal elite, our hero is Darrow, a Martian Spartacus plotting to overthrow it.

After discovering that his people don’t toil in mines to terraform Mars as pioneers, but to fuel an empire as slaves, Darrow joined the Brothers of Ares, a liberation front waging war on the master race, the Golds. Disguised as a Gold and having proven himself in the bloody battle royal of the Gold training school in book one, Golden Son immerses Darrow among the ruling class. But all of his military training has not prepared him for the political scheming that is the norm amongst the elite. As the Gold’s in-fighting gives way to civil war between planets, the story returns to familiar territory, moving from one action set piece to the next, with Darrow leading armies into battle while always exploiting the situation for the revolution.

Pierce Brown proves that his vivid writing style can just as easily conjure an enthralling space opera as he could the close-quarters killing of Red Rising. But as the saga has expanded, there’s a danger the central character has been lost.

Darrow pays lip service to the horrors of committing so many to die, though is never called on it. Equally, his soapy romance with Gold love interest Mustang tos-and-fros, ultimately remaining unresolved. Hopefully this is only symptomatic of it being the in-between book in a series, and we’ll see more character development in the final instalment.