Brown is back with Book 4 of his Red Rising series (Morning Star, 2016, etc.) and explores familiar themes of rebellion, revenge, and political instability.
This novel examines the ramifications and pitfalls of trying to build a new world out of the ashes of the old. The events here take place 10 years after the conclusion of Morning Star, which ended on a seemingly positive note. Darrow, aka Reaper, and his lover, Virginia au Augustus, aka Mustang, had vanquished the Golds, the elite ruling class, so hope was held out that a new order would arise. But in the new book it becomes clear that the concept of political order is tenuous at best, for Darrow’s first thoughts are on the forces of violence and chaos he has unleashed: “famines and genocide...piracy...terrorism, radiation sickness and disease...and the one hundred million lives lost in my [nuclear] war.” Readers familiar with the previous trilogy—and you'll have to be if you want to understand the current novel—will welcome a familiar cast of characters, including Mustang, Sevro (Darrow’s friend and fellow warrior), and Lysander (grandson of the Sovereign). Readers will also find familiarity in Brown’s idiosyncratic naming system (Cassius au Bellona, Octavia au Lune) and even in his vocabulary for cursing (“Goryhell,” “Bloodydamn,” “Slag that”). Brown introduces a number of new characters, including 18-year-old Lyria, a survivor of the initial Rising who gives a fresh perspective on the violence of the new war—and violence is indeed never far away from the world Brown creates. (He includes one particularly gruesome gladiatorial combat between Cassius and a host of enemies.) Brown imparts an epic quality to the events in part by his use of names. It’s impossible to ignore the weighty connotations of characters when they sport names like Bellerephon, Diomedes, Dido, and Apollonius.
For those who like their science fiction dense, monumental, and a bit overwrought.