Morning Star by Pierce Brown – REVIEW
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honour and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.
“You and I keep looking for light in the darkness, expecting it to appear. But it already has.” I touch his shoulder. “We’re it, boyo. Broken and cracked and stupid as we are, we’re the light, and we’re spreading.”
After the explosive ending of Golden Son, I couldn’t wait to start Morning Star as I needed to know what happened to my favourite characters. The story starts one year after those events, with loss and death echoing through the opening chapters. There’s a sense of battle fatigue permeating Darrow as he questions his future and the future of the rebellion. Darrow has been changed in the year since Golden Son and he now lacks confidence. Similarly, Sevro has been changed by the violence of war, except he’s now blinded by rage and hatred. What I love is how nuanced the characters are, for example, Sevro’s rage stems from a feeling of vulnerability, and Darrow’s hesitancy stems from fear. The friendship between Darrow, Sevro, and Ragnar is still one of my favourite aspects of this series. It’s an example of true friendship, acceptance, and loyalty.
“Man is no island. We need those who love us. We need those who hate us. We need others to tether us to life, to give us a reason to live, to feel.”
Cassius is one of the most intriguing characters for me as he’s an example of the damage caused by the Gold culture of toxic masculinity and war. He is essentially a good and honourable person twisted by societal expectations. I absolutely loved Mustang and Victra – they are amazing role models and so fierce. Mustang’s putdowns are cuttingly brilliant and Victra is truly honourable and a great friend to Darrow. The Jackal is coldly terrifying in his inhumanity. His ruthlessness, covetous nature, and absence of empathy make him one of the main villains of the trilogy. I want to mention another character so I’m going to put a SPOILER WARNING for those who have yet to read Golden Son. I was eager for Darrow to meet Roque again after his tragic betrayal. Roque was one of my favourite characters in Red Rising due to his gentle nature but I loved how Pierce Brown used him to show the resistance many Golds had to the dismantling of colour hierarchies. Roque’s inability to accept change was the true tragedy of his character.
“If your heart beats like a drum, and your legs a little wet, it’s because the Reaper’s come to collect a little debt.”
As always, the world-building is incredibly detailed. Pierce Brown ratchets up the tension until I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t have put down the book without a fight. One death scene, in particular, had me gasping out loud and left me heartbroken. There’s also a huge surprise for Darrow and the reader at the end of the book! The realism of the story is emphasised by the compromised victory Darrow manages to achieve – sacrifices have to be made before change can begin. There’s still work to be done and I can’t wait to see the changes wrought over ten years by Darrow and his friends in Iron Gold. This trilogy has been one of the best I’ve read in recent years, with memorably nuanced characters and an amazing setting. Don’t be put off by its sci-fi label. If you love books with surprises on every page, incredible world-building, thought-provoking social commentary, and violence, then this series is for you!
|About the Author
Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating from college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate campaign. Now he lives Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.