I would suggest reading my review of Red Rising or other reviews to get the background for the world and characters of Golden Son.
At the beginning of the book Darrow is participating in war games to prove he is the best warrior and win a fleet of his own. It's only him and Karnus, his arch enemy, left, and Darrow has the upper hand. But things take a turn, Karnus wins, and in the process many lives are lost. This happens in the first few pages, so this isn't really a spoiler.
I didn't understand why so many lives were lost if this was supposed to be a game. And why does Darrow get blamed for it all, when Karnus is the one who killed everyone? But, this episode changes everything for Darrow and so the stage is set.
If you haven't read Red Rising, Golden Son won't make much sense. As a matter of fact, it took me a while to remember what happened and get back into the world that Pierce has created. There's no summary of the previous book, although some reminders are given.
Darrow loses everything. Augustus takes everything away from him and plans to sell him at auction. With no protection, he will surely be murdered by Karnus' family. But an unlikely benefactor offers to help Darrow if he joins up with this man. Darrow doesn't have much choice so, even though he distrusts the man, he agrees.
Things NEVER turn out as expected. No one is to be trusted. There are more twists than you can possibly imagine. And, just like Red Rising, Golden Son is non-stop action. Battle after battle. Each time barely coming out of it alive, but never giving up.
There are a lot of characters, and everyone, every place, and everything has weird foreign names. It's hard to keep track of the characters, their race, and what family they are associated with. I know this book has been compared to The Hunger Games but Golden Son is much more complex and harder to read. I'm not even sure this should be categorized as young adult (I think it is, though, isn't it?)
Golden Son is long (over 450 pages). But, it's not just long in pages, it takes your full attention, and I had to read it much slower than your average YA book. I do think it could have been culled a bit, but I did think it's pacing was better than Red Rising, even though it's longer.
Now that those negatives are out of the way, I want to make it clear that I loved this book. It keeps your attention. Each character is unique, and portrayed with enough detail to make you care about them (or hate them, as the case may be.) Wow, and the world. Down to the tiniest detail, the world is vivid. The politics are complex and totally unique. Golden Son is a dystopian, but it's so far in the future that there are a lot of fantasy elements. Those who enjoy adventure, fearsome battles, and fantastical worlds and creatures will not want to miss the Red Rising Trilogy.
Published by Del Ray, January 6, 2015
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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