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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) | Food for thought

About the book:

As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.


Genre:

Dystopia, Science Fiction, Space, Action


Other info:

Male Protagonist, 2nd book of Red Rising (from Red Rising Saga)


Author:

Pierce Brown


** spoiler alert **


Spoilers of the story within this post. These are my thoughts about the novel.


GOLDEN SON



I don't normally write long reviews, I just like to say the stuff that I enjoyed whilst reading the book. But this book just had a frustrating ending. I want to pick up book 3 for my bloody goblin. But I can't until I vent this out.


I've recently read Red Rising and because it had a pretty good set of characters I'd like to follow, I picked up book 2 after reading three other short books to freshen up for the next long read of Golden Son.


I'll discuss some characters and then some plots I either liked or hated. Beware of minor spoiler!!!


Darrow au Andromedus / Darrow.
"Enough friends have paid for my war. This one’s on me."

There's always opposed opinions and always been issues with how MCs are written here and there, and while I agree Darrow's tactical expertise and decision making has tremendously improved since his carving in Book 1 (in a speedrun way), and I think long and hard how someone like him (uneducated, uncultured, outdated with everything going on can match a Gold's superiority). Given that he underwent training and studying and such, it's a short span of time to still be at the top. When Darrow Red doesn't exactly have the personality that Darrow Gold has now. It feels as though Darrow Red and Darrow au Andromedus (Gold) are entirely different people.

I let it slide because there are other characters I can enjoy and care about than him.


There is a part where he loses another game in the beginning (of the second book) and getting ambushed in the middle of a hot bath is supposed to show he can be defeated, he is not perfect (or something), that he's not OP. Okay noted. I will consider it.


As it went on, some of his usual monologue felt repetitive. There are instances I can tolerate but capturing an entire paragraph or so for a refresher of his previous thoughts, not so fun anymore.


[He's a helldiver, he survived the carving because of pitvipers or something, he loves Eo but he also loves Mustang but Mustang is in love with a lie so we go back talking about Eo and her dreams.]


It's his thoughts and I'm just following, I get it but he doesn't have to keep saying it (or thinking it). Moving on.


Darrow kind of got in the middle of Golds and Reds, he sees both sides and he no longer treats the Golds as just enemies to kill but some actually his friends. Time and time again, he's forced to choose sides between the Sons and Jackal, his mission as a Red and the Golds, Eo and Mustang (although yeah Eo is gone but you get the point). So in a way he's not entirely OP, he has flaws too, like how he failed to make amends with Roque and how he kept Tactus at arm's length that caused the betrayal to happen. Those mistakes makes him human.


What makes him seem OP is that he's got these out-of-nowhere plot-twist-plans that turns the tide. Like getting trained by Lorn or knowing the Sovereign was in Agea. There were no crumbs for me to follow that led there. No. It just like dropped out of nowhere for his convenience. Overall I think that's the only thing I don't like about his character.


Darrow x Mustang
“Why do you do this?” she asks. “Why do you pull me back if you’re just going to push me away?” Her fists ball like she wants to strike me. “It’s not fair. Do you understand that? I’m not like you … I can’t just … I can’t just shut off like you do.”

I don't need to talk about Mustang, I liked her character since Book 1 and she's still in my top ten favorite characters. What I felt a bit frustrating is that her relationship with Darrow felt like it's a romance book now. Romance books are cringey and repetitive so in a way, it bores me.


In Book 1 Darrow and Mustang's scenes together are cute, humorous, playful and sweet even. But three years later they've grown and now it's gotten dramatic. Too dramatic for the genree. I get it Darrow has this dilemma that "its a lie and it'll just break her heart" and Mustang wants to be "let in" because she knows there's something more than what Darrow shows.


So maybe they can start with setting a foundation for their relationship; Are they or are they not together in the first place?


In the Institute maybe it felt that way, but three years later after they parted ways, are they still together or did they skip the fact that three years they're separated and within those years Mustang has been with Cassius? I don't know. They talked. Mustang clarified why she did what she did. Darrow as usual doesn't open up.


But during the timeline of Book 1 and Book 2, was there even really a moment of declaration that "I love you, I love you too, we're together now" or it was just implied they "love each other" and had been in an ongoing relationship, no pause, no breaks, it's been there all along? The implication is strong and it felt like they're awfully struggling. There is nothing wrong with Mustang's character, I just don't like how her relationship with Darrow had been ongoing scenes of teen drama.


I guess it's all part of the plan for a better future, maybe. I never know. Reading it from here didn't seem so fun.


Darrow and Victra
“Sister? Sister?” She laughs dismissively as I leave. It takes her a moment, but she calls to me. “Is it because you think me wicked?”

Shipping between characters has been one of the most toxic forums and discussions I've seen in any fandom, movie or book. I'm not here to raise my banner talking about probable budding romance here. I just want to vent my thoughts.


Victra surprised me with her loyalty to Darrow and his gang really. Ever since Antonia's betrayal in Book 1, it's hard to trust someone of the same house. Victra proved me wrong. She's cold on the outside but her advances on Darrow showed a part of her she doesn't show to others. She shows she can be vulnerable, she can be loyal and she doesn't prioritize family culture/side or fights. She does and is part of whatever she believes she wants to be in. In this case, she is on Darrow's side. She trusts him.


I think the scene where Darrow initiated to reintroduce themselves was nice and sweet. Victra's feelings are as true as Mustang's but our MC Darrow gives a vibe that he just does all this because he needs their loyalty. Hard reality maybe, but I just thought a possibility of an alternate universe of this happening may be kind of cute.


On a side note, women are kind of clingy to Darrow and he's shut them girls off thinking about Eo. What do they see in Darrow anyways?


Sevro and the Howlers.
"Sevro, summon the Telemanuses. I want them in the … Sevro?” I look around for him. He’s loitering around Pliny’s eyeball some twenty meters back. We turn to look at him and he shuffles his feet awkwardly. “Can I …” He gestures to it. “What?” Mustang asks. “Can I have it?” Mustang squints at him. “Oh! Uh. All yours.” He scoops it up and jams it in his pocket, grinning merrily. He runs to catch up. “Collecting the set, hopefully.”

Gosh how I missed them joining the action. Mostly Sevro obviously. Partly because finally there's someone I know I can trust and partly because duh, it's Sevro. The bloody goblin needs to be there. It's why I read Golden Son.


I will save you the trouble and not rant on Sevro here. Perhaps on a separate blog instead.


Victra au Julii.
“What’s wrong with Victra?” “Aside from the fact that she flirts with everything that moves? Nothing.”

I first mentioned her above, discussing about her relationship with Darrow.


She's newly introduced in this book and I already like her character. Now that is a good impression coming from a new character. It's a good start. She's not flat-out cardboard character with no personality or boring. Yes, oftentimes her few scenes have been more on flirting with Darrow (I don't remember her flirting with other men), often aggressive with her advances but she's got a latent girly side that would probably be nice to see in the future.


Unlike others who takes time to develop. I mean the Howlers and Quinn had read time since Book 1 and they're not as interesting as Victra is. So she's earned points to actually made it to my top favorites.


WARNING SPOILERS BELOW!!!


YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!


AGAIN, WARNED!


WARNED!


Scenes I'm confused how to feel.


Tactus' death.

“I’m not lying.” I did not put my faith in Tactus once, and I lost him. Now I will. I’ll take the same leap I ask him to take. I step forward. “I know there’s good in you. I saw your face when those children were killed at the gala. You’re not a monster. Come back to me."

While the betrayal definitely didn't feel good because there's already pressure of escaping, and then Tactus decides to take the leverage and save himself. It's frustrating. This scene is frustrating. It makes you hate Tactus. Feel like he deserves to die for what he did but take note of the scene of Tactus and Darrow's reunion.


The part where Darrow was inviting Tactus back and Tactus also wants to, there's some bloody real character development hanging in the air.


I never liked Tactus since Book 1 but I appreciate his skills, he's a talented son of gun that's given.


When finally I thought he'll get a taste of character development, so his fighting skill matches his supposed new good personality, Arcos just pulled an All-of-us-are-dead stunt and kills the blooming development. I mean yes Tactus did wrong, no grandchildren were harmed except some the Grays and Obsidians (probably guards) that were killed. But I disagree to kill him when he's surrendered arms. For whatever reason it was done, for Arcos' development or whatnot, I've confused feelings about this. Especially when Victra or Jackal revealed that Tactus never sold the violin and has been secretly practicing for Darrow to see. Kindness is a stranger to him, is why he reacts the way he does. There could be something more here!


Anyways moving on.


Ragnar.
“Weird as you are, wicked as you were. I know you want to be better. You want to live for more. We all do. And there’s not a place they could take one of my friends that I would ever abandon them.”

This quote was meant for Mickey but I forgot to highlight some Ragnar moments. Apologies.


Just like at the Institute, what made Darrow win was because he raised his army by loyalty and not slavery. About friendship not dictatorship.


With an Obsidian like Ragnar, Darrow didn't treat him as culture taught everyone. Darrow is trying to break the tradition and culture everyone was educated with. I think it's nice that he's done this for Ragnar. For Orion. For giving swords to Obsidians back at the Mud scene. This gives him character fill to redirect my attention from his OPness.


But the thing is, Darrow's plate is getting full with all the food he has to eat. There's this unspoken chore for Darrow to always keep his friends in a loop or make sure to keep them close or he'll lose them like he lost Tactus and Roque. That part kinda makes it seem like his attempt to equalize the Colors is unsuccecssful. Because if it was, he shouldn't lose his trusty friends.


Fichtner's identity revealed.
“Most call me Bronzie. Students call me Proctor. Some call me Rage Knight. The Sovereign calls me traitor. My son calls me shithead …” “You’re a shithead,” Sevro chimes in. “… My wife called me Fitchner. But the Golds made me Ares.”

This one was a shocker and in a good kind of way.

“It is me,” he says. “It’s always been me, boyo.”

When he said this line, I felt the goosebumps. It was executed well. He hid his secret well and I respect the secrecy. Normally I wouldn't find it logical to keep secrets a secret (in some books and movies) but Fichtner's part was written bloody well done.


Book 1 Darrow wouldn't be trustworthy of the secret just yet. I already liked Fichtner halfway of Book 1 and most especially when it was revealed he's Sevro's father. He's earned more love from me learning that he is Ares. It was a shocker BUT there are breadcrumbs to follow that actually led to THIS plot twist unlike the other twists in the book, this one was well-crafted.


Fichtner is described ugly, Cassius described handsome, but in the inside, Fichtner and Sevro have more heart than any of the Golds introduced. Sad reality here.


Roque's betrayal.
“Friendships take minutes to make, moments to break, years to repair,”

He's been there since Book 1 and I respected him being a loyal and true friend to Darrow. I agree that it's unfair how Darrow keeps him at arm's length most of the time, but after the betrayal maybe Darrow was right to do it. Maybe if Roque found out earlier he's a Red then he'd already been against our MC and he wouldn't be the trusted friend he had been.


I hoped Roque and Quinn would have had better reactions to Darrow's confession as a Red, that they'd be more open to accepting him. But I'm wrong about Roque. For him, the hierarchy of Colors is still division who's higher and who's below him.


It was disappointing because he's the one everyone ought to believe would accept Darrow. (Maybe it's a plot twist! But bloody danged plot twist, it is unacceptable, then that makes it good? No. It angers me.) There are so many moments in this book I didn't like but this has to be one of the top.




The ending.

AGAIN SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU FORGOT

"If I don’t pull the trigger, millions will die.” “If you pull it, you accept that billions should live as slaves."

(The quote is not related lol. Just felt like it should be here.)


I didn't mention the Jackal at all because while I appreciate him killing Leto and being Darrow's media man, but we all know it's for a price or an investment for himself. And now he's come to withdraw his savings.


There it is. Darrow will be adopted as discussed. Marrying Mustang will make him an Augustus. But it doesn't end with Happily Ever After. No. Brown isn't a fan of Happy Endings.


Mustang is missing since Darrow's confession of being a Red. Fichtner couldn't be contacted. And tada! We see Lilath. We see Vixus (or is that how his name is spelled), there's Antonia... It's wolf in sheep's clothing. It was an ambush! For some reason, Lilath just defeated the legend Arcos (he's old yes, but I find it surprising how easy to kill such legend). Antonia also betrays her mother and sister. It was another carnage. Cassius is there. Roque is in it. Aja is there. Jackal is the mastermind. There's probably an explanation in book 3 (maybe not). What in the bloody gore just happened (I mean this in the negative way).


But all I care is Sevro isn't there to magically be defeated and killed. Oh and did I mention that Fichtner's also dead? His head was in a box. DEAD. For some bloody gore reason he's dead conveniently AFTER his Ares identity is revealed.


So let's rewind. Fichtner, who so cautiously, carefully and perfectly kept his identity since Book 1, revealing it in the last moments of war to Darrow, gets killed offscreen for some dramatic flair for a cliffhanging ending. Makes me think Darrow is better off not knowing really. Maybe Darrow SHOULDN'T REALLY HAVE KNOWN.


Like all the positive things I found with this book was thrown right to my face, telling me; "you loved the wrong things!"


So yes there's my thoughts. I'm frustrated with the ending. It's a big bang yes, but it's all so convenient for the Jackal, the deaths were tragic and I'm still in denial that it happened. The only thing that made me read 'til the end is because I want to know if somehow Victra had survived. She didn't.


I've vented now I'm ready for book 3.


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