Hodder & Stoughton | 2018 (16 January) | 624p | Gifted copy | Buy the book
Iron Gold marks the beginning of a new trilogy by Pierce Brown but it follows on from the Red Rising trilogy. You can read Iron Gold on its own but you will find in it revelations about what has happened before, as well as a return to many familiar characters. For the full impact of events, I’d definitely recommend that you read the Red Rising trilogy first. This review assumes you’ve had the pleasure.
Ten years have passed since the Rising, a revolution that transformed our solar system, levelling the caste system that saw so many enslaved to the Golds. Darrow, a man of Red, turned the worlds upside down, liberating his fellow slaves, rising to the very pinnacle of this new society. But these ten years have not brought peace. The solar system continues to be divided, old prejudices remain, the caste system of colours survives, and war has brought violence and grief to the worlds and it will not end.
Three lives have such different experiences in this new world gone bad – there is Darrow himself, more determined than ever to win the war once and for all, whatever the personal cost; there are two Golds, travelling between planets and moons, striving to do right for the oppressed, but now caught at the very centre of the solar system’s pain; and a young freed Red woman who learns the hard way that slavery is not the worst state to befall a human being. All three stories thread their way through Iron Gold, each with the force and power to spellbind the reader. Countless lives are caught up in each, countless emotions and struggles, desperate battles to survive, to love and to do the right thing, or to hate and to kill, to tear down walls.
Pierce Brown is quite possibly the finest writer of tension and dramatic crisis that I have read. All of his books are epic, in the true sense of the word, their stories heroic, their characters gods and slaves. Morning Star, the third of the Red Rising novels was an extraordinary feat, almost exhausting to read due to the intensity and stress of its situations and characters. How could that book be outdone? The answer is with Iron Gold.
Iron Gold presents a new phase in this epic adventure. Time has exerted its pressure on everyone found in these pages. The ten years since the Rising have been difficult. The strain is about to snap. Pierce Brown is once more a hugely confident and gifted storyteller, putting drama and significance onto almost every page. And the story he tells here is fantastic, to put it very mildly indeed. It is richly layered, complex and engrossing and, above all else, it is full of colour and emotion, conflicting beliefs and perspectives. There are a host of characters here and yet every one of them has a believable past, a fully-rounded personality and a significance for the story. We move between them and look forward to the chapters in which we will return to each one. And the storylines are full of surprises. They come together at times but blink and you might miss the clues.
Pierce Brown is a master of worldbuilding. Whatever planet, moon, city or spaceship we find ourselves on, it feels real. Each is so vividly described. At times we’re presented with scenes of especial drama and action, and they are riveting.
Iron Gold is also a novel with big themes – about one form of government pitted against another, good versus evil, the responsibility of leadership, the duty of the citizen, independence and control, the tragedy of man, the hope of innocence. This is science fiction that has relevance to the present day and our own world, as perhaps the best science fiction should. Iron Gold is an exhilarating and immensely rich read. Its tension is extraordinary, the pain it inflicts at times on characters and readers is real. Pierce Brown has done something remarkable – he has surpassed Morning Star and set an incredibly high standard for his new trilogy. I am in awe of this author. We’re lucky to have him and Darrow’s world.