Golden Son does not follow hot on the heels of Red Rising, instead skipping straight to the end “The Institute”, breezing over Darrow’s time there in a few sentences. Something I can appreciate, having had my fill of magical-or-otherwise schools for the gifted.
I’m happy to report that Golden Son goes quite a lot deeper into how the Society came to be, how it’s ruled and what political factions there are. Don’t expect any great philosophical explainations though, you don’t have to try very hard to go “deeper” into the world-building. I did enjoy those tidbits that are sprinkled throughout to more thoroughly understand the world, but as with the previous book, it’s not a requirement to enjoy this.
“The Society was created to instill order. Men were made to sacrifice so that humanity endured. They were given Colors, lives limited and ordered so that we could destroy the timeless cycle of our race—prosperity to greed to war. Gold was meant to shepherd the other Colors, not devour them. Now we are trapped again in that cycle, the very thing we endeavored to avoid. So the Society? The beautiful sum of all human enterprise? It’s been dead and rotting for hundreds of years, and those who fight over it are but vultures and maggots”
The story flows very much like Red Rising with major ups and downs, this time on a grander scale. It’s all very enjoyable and intriguing, and I blame my lack of a commute for going so slow. Luckily it isn’t hard to pick up the book again, ever after a week of non-reading.
We still only ever follow Darrow around, but his coterie of friends is really starting to grow on me. The ever amusing Sevro, taciturn yet eloquent Roque, dry and witty Mustang and ever-the-seductress Victra. Even that old turd Fitchner gets more fun by the end.
I did like how Darrow has all these psychological insights into how his friends operate, and why they act the way they do. He really goes through a nice growing arc as a person, and it drives much of the story forward.
The writing is still as solid as ever, I’ve gotten used to the writing style and the made up words and my eyes now flow over them. There’s still a lot of beauty in the writing, a lot of poetry and feeling. It manages to capture so much of the scene and the emotion in mere sentences, but sometimes I wonder if he’s not overselling it.
For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down. But then his daughter takes my hand, and I feel all the lies fall heavy on my shoulders. They say a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. They made no mention of the heart.
Purple, red, and green mosses climb the base of the great structure with vines of a thousand hues, wrapping the glass and stone like the fingers of greedy bachelors around the wrist of a rich widow.”
There’s plenty of crass humor from Sevro:
“You’re a sinister little shit, aren’t you?” Victra asks. “I’m Gold, bitch. What’d you expect? Warm milk and cookies just because I’m pocket-sized?”
And even “sophisticated” banter from Darrow himself!
“from Pliny, such insults are to be expected After all, I would be bitter too if my wife bent over backward to make sure so many of your young mercenaries learned how to properly sheathe their swords.
The story speaks for itself for the most part, and the over-ambitious writing may hurt it in the long run. So far it hasn’t though and I highlighted many a passage (again).
Golden Son is definitely not a book that suffers from the dreaded middle-book-syndrome. The story is grander than Red Rising and takes a lot of twists and turns. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely and am looking forward to an epic conclusion in Morning Star.