G.K. Chesterton once said:
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
At this very moment, the love behind me comes in the form of novel. The fight in front of me, finding a way to expression my passion for it without sounding like a crazed lunatic.
A year ago I read a book that made others cower in its shadow. Its plot dominated spaces in my mind I failed to even recognize, and it’s characters ignited in me a passion I thought long dead. It was unconventional, brutal even, but it was also beautiful. It made me think about the people around me, no…it made me SEE the people around me. Not just for their station in life, but for their worth. For the pieces of humanity they brought to the table.
That book was Red Rising by Pierce Brown, and it still is one of the best books I’ve read in over 20 years.
Yesterday it’s sequel hit shelves. And though I read the book a few weeks ago (and have since written numerous reviews for it…all deleted, obviously) I still find that I am struggling to explain the depths of reverence I feel towards it.
A successful sequel is rare and lovely bird. More often than not, sequels tend to fall horribly flat in the face of their predecessors. Why this is, I will never fully understand, but it’s true. However, once in a while…when the planets align and the wind blows just right something magical happens. A sequel out maneuvers its parent. That is the case with “Golden Son.”
If I’m to be honest, I was afraid to read “Golden Son” when it was first sent to me, resolute in my thinking that I could never be as impressed as I was the first go around. Thankfully, at the end of the day, I found my fears woefully unwarranted. Laughable in fact. “Golden Son” was not the red-headed step-child I feared it would be, but a book so full of action, heart, and treachery that I would happily warrant it additional stars, if only they existed. But…I digress, let me instead point out a few of the things that have me convinced Pierce Brown is a literary genius.
Like I said above, it’s been a while since I had the pleasure of reading “Red Rising” and while I remember the story, I realized early in (to Golden Son) that I forgot some of the characters. This is not uncommon, especially for a person who reads as avidly as I do. BUT…forgetting characters meant that I also forgot the animosity, the fear, the angst and anger I FELT while reading Red Rising. Though vivid in their description, the first few chapters of Golden Son lacked the emotion I so desperately craved. The words were simply that…words. Daunting situations in disconnected scenarios brought on (in my case) solely by time.
Then it happened. Two words.
Two words at the beginning of chapter 10 and it ALL came back to me. The pain. The passion. It all made sense again because of these two tiny words.
And then…I broke.
My thirst for this remarkable story became a living thing, and I could no longer control my own actions. I became a slave to Brown’s words. They were my water and I needed to drink them in to stay alive. Until I reached the end, the novel never left my hands. I was so enraptured by the war and fear mongering bleeding from page to page that I almost failed to notice something spectacular happening to my most beloved characters.
More specifically Darrow.
Darrow’s unconventionalism, lunacy, vulnerability and brilliance is something to be marveled. But not in the way you’d expect. A character, that was so breathtakingly developed and nurtured to the point of awe in Red Rising was not only expanded upon in Golden Son, but reborn. He was no longer the boy we met in The Institute, but a man who roamed a harsh world with TWO lives.
But he was not the only transformation. Those around him, his closest friends and his battle sworn enemies also morphed into what I can only describe as a cacophony of qualities, some of which are sure to cause you (the reader) pain.
The book (as a whole) is 465 pages of unchecked anger. The battles start in page one and end with a startling blow on page 465. Slow is not a word I would ever use to describe it. Twisted though…that’s a words I can get behind. In point of fact: when I was asked the other day (by a friend) for a blurb, I called it Game of Thrones in space. An odd moniker, I know, but an accurate one.
I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could elaborate on the characters and their struggles, but no amount of artfully crafted anti-spoiler rhetoric is going to do it justice. This book demands to be read. So read it.
But first…let me give you some advice.
Get attached to no one, but love everyone.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “In a world of killers, it takes more to be hind than to be wicked.” – Darrow
Read my review of Red Rising