One of the great joys to me of reading Pierce Brown is the gif-heavy conversations I have throughout with Alec about my feeeeeeelings. Because Mr Brown gives me so many feelings, tho this book, I admit, was a little less superlative than the original Red Rising trilogy. It’s hard, of course, to scale the same epic heights reached in the original, which is a tale of rebellion and rage against an oppressive regime that has genetically and socially engineered its citizens to comply in a system designed to enrich the highest echelons at the expense of the lowest. And now that Darrow, our hero of the original trilogy, has broken the chains of oppression, he finds that the burden of building a just society in lieu of what he destroyed is far more difficult than he ever imagined.
Beginning ten years after the close of the first trilogy, Darrow is a warrior exhausted by war who needs to stay on the offensive. The Senate representing the demokracy his wife established is even more weary, and tells him in no uncertain terms that they will no longer give him the manpower or funding to continue. But Darrow cannot listen, so a full quarter of this book is about his rage and despair.
Unlike its predecessors, Iron Gold is told from multiple perspectives, so instead of just Darrow, we also see the stories of Ephraim, a jaded Grey who has become a freelance thief; Lyria, a Red doing her best to eke out a decent living in a refugee camp, and Lysander, the most obnoxious dipshit I’ve ever had to read about. For real, three times he’s told not to do an important thing and three times he convinces himself that said thing is exactly what he should do. He’s the BIGGEST idiot.
Despite my ongoing annoyance with Lysander, the varied storylines are quite entertaining, his included, but I felt that the most meaningful was Lyria’s. The persecution of her people by the Red Hand has all too many uncomfortable parallels with what happens to groups seen as “collaborators” in the aftermath of violent regime change. That said, there was never one climactic moment where I felt “Mr Brown has done it again!” as I did with the previous books. Of course, this one is less self-contained than the others, so I imagine we’re building to those moments in future installments. I can’t wait to read them (and gif my emotions to Alec, of course.)