Book Review: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 4 of The Red Rising Saga
Publisher: Del Rey (January 16, 2018)
Length: 624 pages
The Red Rising saga continues in a new series starting with Iron Gold, which takes place approximately ten years after the end of Morning Star. Darrow, a Red who infiltrated the Golds and won the hearts of his peers, has led a revolution that has turned the entire solar system upside down. Together, he and his allies seek to change the old ways, forming a new government which would give everyone—no matter their color—a voice.
While theoretically you could jump into Iron Gold without having read the original trilogy, I would still highly recommend starting from the beginning. There’s simply too much history in the previous three books, and it’d be best to first familiarize yourself with the characters in order to gain the full impact of this novel. Darrow returns, for one thing; he’s a little older and wiser now, but still fighting, always fighting. The Rising may have ushered in a new system of governance, but peace remains elusive as old prejudices and bitter grudges have led to constant war. Now the man called Reaper must take matters in his own hands, or see everything he has fought for fall apart.
For this new beginning, Pierce Brown also introduces multiple POVs. First of these is Lyria, a Red girl who was freed in the Rising, only to end up in a refugee camp where the conditions aren’t much better. After tragedy takes away what little she has left, Lyria seizes a chance to get off-planet, unaware that she would soon become a pawn at the center of a long-standing feud.
Meanwhile, Ephraim is an ex-soldier, angry and bitter with grief. He’s turned his back on his old life as a Son of Ares, starting a new one as a thief instead. Soon, his reputation catches the attention of a ruthless and powerful Duke, who hires Ephraim and his team to help him steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy.
And finally, we have Lysander au Lune, a Gold in exile. As grandson of the late Octavia and heir to the Sovereign, this young man clearly has a lot to sort out about his heritage. Traveling across the solar system with his mentor, Cassius, the two of them are determined to do the right thing for the planets and peoples forever changed by Darrow’s revolution.
Not gonna lie, I shamelessly played favorites with the POVs. The chance to catch up with Darrow and his old companions like Mustang and Sevro again was probably the highlight for me in Iron Gold, and I think I liked his perspective best, though I suspect much of that has to do with my personal bias for his character. I forgave many of his personality flaws and blind spots where his desire for peace are concerned, not to mention some of his monumentally stupid decisions, but hey, that’s because he’s the Darrow I know and love, and some things never change.
The other characters did not have that advantage, however, and admittedly, I probably placed higher expectations on the author to convince me to care about them. Not too surprisingly, the results were hit and miss. Lyria and Ephraim both took their time to grow on me, with Lyria’s chapters capturing my interest first, since her story was just so heartbreaking. Ephraim’s story, on the other hand, took a while to build, but once things took off, his chapters continued to gain momentum until the very end when his arc actually took over my full attention.
Unfortunately, the one POV that did absolutely nothing for me was Lysander’s. I just never found his plot very interesting, and his chapters especially paled when compared to the complexity and intrigue of the others. While my interest in the rest of the characters’ POVs ebbed and flowed, for Lysander it remained flat and unaffected, and I often found his chapters unbearably tedious and had to fight the temptation to skim them.
That’s the problem with multi-POV books, I find—namely, if there’s one that you can’t stand, it can drag down the whole experience. And that is also why I couldn’t bring myself to give this one a higher rating, not when I struggled with roughly a quarter of this book. Yes, I blame Lysander. And I also think Brown might still be finding his rhythm when it comes to balancing multiple POVs. I could tell he tried to give his characters equal attention, even if it meant sometimes switching to their POV when there’s nothing really worth talking about. As a result, we had uneven action and interest, and the occasional chapter consisting of mostly filler. These are by no means insurmountable obstacles, obviously, but they did impact the flow of the story, however slightly.
That said, I still had a great time with Iron Gold and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I really only had one complaint, and it just so happened to be one that affected my enjoyment in a major way. I loved Darrow, Lyria, and Ephraim, but try as I might, I couldn’t get into Lysander’s chapters, though I have a feeling his role will be leading to something big. I hope that I will find his story more compelling in the next book, because I definitely plan on continuing with the series. I love this world Pierce Brown has created, and it was fascinating to see how the people and the places have evolved. If you are a fan of the Red Rising trilogy, this is one you absolutely will have to read.