Published: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Series: Red Rising Saga #5
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 757 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?
Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury.
But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.
On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him?
Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.
Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.
As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.
This may be the first book I’ve ever read that I was genuinely nervous to start reading. I kept thinking to myself “What if I just don’t like it? What if it’s not as good as the previous books? What if, what if, what if”. I think this was largely because while I really like Iron Gold, I was still somewhat jarred by all the new characters, all the changes, and how the decades between series had frayed some of my most beloved characters in fiction. I downloaded the audiobook (because Tim Gerard Reynolds is a joy to listen to) not long after it’s release and braced myself.
I need not have worried myself in the least. While the new characters were still growing on me after the first book, in Dark Age they were solid, stable, and wouldn’t let go of my imagination. Lyria, Ephraim, Pax, Lysander and the others were old friends to me now, though by no means are they all on the same side. Pierce Brown has written such complex characters that practically each chapter unveiled some new layer of their being. And boy, are they dangerous and not in the braggadocious, all bark and no bite way either – this is the casual, predatory sort of violence that curdles the blood. And Brown himself… well, I listened in horror as he slew characters left and right – appalling and brilliant and never a wasted death.
Dark Age is aptly named, for it is rather dark and every time a ray of hope glimmers, it seems to be snuffed out. Darrow is on Mercury with little hope for victory against Atalantia au Grimmace and the dread inducing Fear Knight. Our beloved Virginia struggles to hold together the Republic all the while her only child is missing along with Sevro’s eldest daughter Electra. Lysander, still a staunch supporter of the idea of the Society is travelling towards Mercury to reveal that he is alive and hopefully form an alliance between the Society and the Moon Lords to crush the Republic once and for all. At every turn our characters are facing the direst of circumstances and at times I was sure that all hope was lost. This book really got the adrenaline pumping and the emotions in an uproar. This book was absolutely on par with the epicness that I read in Golden Son, which still has one of the most incredible cliff-hangers I’ve ever read in my life.
It’s been several weeks since I finished Dark Age and typing this review is making me want to read it again just so I can appreciate the finer details I probably missed the first time through. The number of emotions this book compelled from me was staggering – I was horrified, elated, crushed – it was literally one extreme to another. I’ve never read anything quite like Pierce Brown’s writing and I’m nervous to read the next book because I just KNOW it’s going to be just as incredible as this one and he’s probably going to kill off at least one of my favorite characters, it’s just a matter of which one at this point. If you’ve never picked up Red Rising because you heard it was YA or kind of like the Hunger Games, get your head out of your butt and go buy it. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading it because it’s one of the most incredible series I’ve ever read. Also, as a disclaimer, it’s not YA and is saying it’s like the Hunger Games is a cheap way to describe it.
*There was one part of the book that I thought was a little dumb – someone who was thoroughly dead from the first arc is back and I definitely rolled my eyes. Overall it was handled deftly enough and it didn’t detract enough for me to lessen my rating.