Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, # 3)
By: Pierce Brown
Published: February 9th 2016 by Del Rey
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--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 honor 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 guys, I'm so sad that this series is over. This series has been so much more and so much better than I ever dreamed it would be. I never would have imagined that "a book about living on Mars" would have sucked me in so completely. I love the evolution of Darrow and the other characters over this series as well.
Spoilers for prior books ahead:
Darrow starts out the series as a lowRed--the lowest caste possible. The lowReds work in the mines of Mars harvesting helium3 which is essential for teraformation. They've been told that the surface of Mars is uninhabitable and they're worked to death to achieve a lie. Mars is not only inhabitable, but is teaming with a large population as well as other planets. Darrow's wife dies when she dares to dream of a different world. She's basically a martyr and starts Darrow down the path of rebellion. He starts his journey with an intense desire for revenge. He wants to bring low the Golds (the highest caste) for murdering his wife and enslaving his people. Darrow goes through an intense transformation process which Carves him into a Gold. He's sent off to the Institute where he and other Golds battle it out for domination. At the Institute, as unlikely as it may seem, Darrow actually makes friends with some of the Golds that he's surrounded with. Some are just as awful as the man who sentenced his wife to hang, but others aren't. Some are even...nice. But Darrow can't be honest with them about who he is. After winning Primus at the Institute, Darrow goes on to the Academy and works in the household of the ArchGovernor of Mars--the very man who killed his wife. What Darrow really doesn't expect is to find love again. Especially not in the daughter of the ArchGovernor. And can it be real when she doesn't know the truth about who Darrow is? Darrow incites war between the ArchGovernor's house and another major Gold house of Mars. This war is really just a cover for his main purpose of rebellion against the Society as a whole. At the end of Golden Son Darrow ends up captured by the enemy. And that's essentially where we being with Morning Star.
Because he was captured and tortured by the enemy for essentially a year, Darrow has been humbled. His Carved, superior body is once again weak. But he's learned a lot in the process too. Even though Eo inspired his fight against Society, he's learned that he has to fight for more than revenge and for more than one girl. That isn't what inspires him anymore. His true identity has been revealed, but this just means that Darrow no longer has to hide who he is anymore. And in truth this fact makes him stronger. He's Red deep down and therefore connects to the lower colors, but his body is Gold and he's lived in a Gold world and dominated and therefore connects to the higher colors too. But now it's much easier to see who's loyal because they stay knowing the truth. Yet it seems like not everyone is as sure of his supporters as Darrow is.
Darrow faces former friends turned enemies. These are either people that he once betrayed or that betrayed him. And that isn't an easy task. It's almost as if the Darkness has softened him. Darrow of all people is conscious of the cost of war--death. But this war needs to be fought--not for revenge, for the past but for the future. It breaks his heart when his friends and those around him die, but thankfully he no longer fights alone. He's surrounded by thousands of people who believe in him, who believe in the mission, who believe in the world that Eo once dared to dream of. And even though his crazy missions cause a lot of death, Darrow doesn't bear that lightly.
The other characters are just as diverse and complex as Darrow. Sevro, even though he has a potty mouth, is one of my absolute favorite characters. His loyalty and devotion to Darrow is beyond what any hero could ask for. Yet he's got his own things going on. He's dealing with the loss of his father. He's taken on a huge responsibility in becoming Ares--the leader of the rebellion. And he's starting to see what his life could be after the war. There's Victra who is rough around the edges. She's all violence and tough girl. But deep down there's so much heart and bravery. There's Ragnar who was once enslaved and freed by Darrow. He's become as much of the heart of this mission as Darrow himself. He's also become extremely wise. As weird as it is to say, I'm so proud of him. And Mustang...sometimes it was really hard to read her--how she felt about Darrow. Which side of the lines does she fall on? I was rooting for those two. I wish there had been a bit more romance there, but I will say that it makes sense when you're fighting a war to be a bit preoccupied. And there were plenty of others as well.
Even Darrow's enemies are complex. And he has to face down with every single one of them. Cassius...I loved how this storyline was worked into Morning Star and worked out in the end. Rogue. Antonia. Adrius--the Jackal. Aja. The Sovereign. Every single person who has battled against Darrow that still lives was addressed and had a role to play in this book. And I loved that.
Pierce Brown offered me no less quoteable moments in Morning Star than any of his other books. Here are my favorite non-spoiler quotes:
-"This is always how the story would end...Not with your screams. Not with your rage. But with your silence."
-...I feel the rage burn across the dark hollow he has carved in my soul. I am not alone. I am not his victim. So let him do his worst. I am the Reaper.
-Pity is not forgiveness, nor is gratitude absolution.
-"I'd applaud a mouse that managed to kill an eagle, wouldn't you?"
-"Don't ask me to be different because you need validation, please. It's beneath the both of us."
-This is more a part of war than trumpets or starships. Quiet, unremembered moments of cruelty.
-I know death well enough to hear it gather its breath.
-I know friends can lie just as well as enemies.
-Death'll have to earn its bounty.
-"If your heart beats like a drum, and your leg's a little wet, it's because the Reaper's come to collect a little debt."
-When I looked up at my father as a boy, I thought being a man was having control. Being the master and commander of your own destiny. How could any boy know that freedom is lost the moment you become a man. Things start to count. To press in. Constricting slowly, inevitably, creating a cage of inconveniences and duties and deadlines and failed plans and lost friends.
-If this is the cost of honor, give me a shameful murder.
-Few men truly like seeing beauty burn.
One of the best things about Pierce Brown's work and this series is that the twists and turns are rarely predictable. You might have a clue that something's coming, but there's just not enough information to predict exactly what's going to happen. He had me thinking one thing and then changing my mind and then back again only to find out something totally different was going on altogether. That's the mark of great writing.
The ending...man I dreaded the ending. Not just because I didn't want the series to end, but because my fear for these characters that I'd come to love was palpable. But this is war, and rarely does everyone survive war. I won't tell you how things ended. I can't spoil it for you, but I will say that I was really happy with how Pierce Brown worked everything in the end.
I truly feel like this review has not done this book or this series justice. It's a hefty series in both length and the emotional toll that it took on me. I was heartbroken, angry, saddened, appalled, frustrated, anxious as all get out, and proud along with a variety of many more emotions. Pierce Brown's writing is such that I'll definitely check out his future work no question. Morning Star gets 5 Stars from me. Have you read Morning Star? What did you think? Let me know!