"Will the magic return?" is a question that has a dual meaning for me when it comes to this book as it applies to both the storyline and the series itself. Those who read the first book, Ice Forged, know that the main characters are on a quest to return magic to their homeland and this book follows through on the resolution of that storyline. However, for me the question also applies to the series itself as the first book started strong but did not maintain my interest level throughout. So I moved on to book two with the hope that the quest would be a successful one and that the magic of this series' strong start would return to my reading experience as well.
Tim Gerard Reynolds
Iron Gold, the latest book in the Red Rising series, shows us how the rebellion from Morning Star has resulted in a new age of peace and harmony for mankind. Ummm, no. In truth, the war is far from over and establishing a new Republic is a lot harder than just disposing of the old leaders. The old color-based system is entrenched in society and the concept of accepting everyone as an equal is far from a reality. This is just one reason of many that the newly formed Republic finds that the challenges of peace can be more difficult to overcome than those of all out war.
Velant is a penal colony hidden away in the frozen wastes of Edgeland, an inhospitable location on the edge of the world where the King of Donderath sends the convicted of his domain. Those banished to Velant never return, so it is a fate just short of death to be sent there, and for many it turns into a death sentence. The prison is ruled by an oppressive governor who uses his warden mages to keep the prisoners in line and ensure they continue working in the ruby mines. Those prisoners fortunate enough to survive their sentence of servitude in the mines still don't get to return home when they are done, instead they earn a ticket of leave which makes them a colonist in a small town near the prison that remains under the rule of the Governor. This town barely survives at the best of times and during the 6 month long dark season it must rely on the regular supply ships from Donderath to keep everyone alive. However, it seems that those ships have stopped arriving for an unknown reason, and the long dark is approaching...
I don't ordinarily review books available that are available only in audio format, but since this one is offered up free direct from the Michael J. Sullivan's website, it seems worthy of being mentioned. The Riyria series of books is great Fantasy story telling and the audiobook versions are even better than the written word because Tim Gerard Reynolds does the narration. This short story may only be an hour long but it will certainly give you a taste of what this combination of author and narrator is capable of.
Royce and Hadrian are back and this time Royce's past actions result in a unique opportunity for the duo that is sure to put them at odds. The wealthy merchant Gabriel Winter has tracked down Royce (no easy task) because many years ago he experienced the "Year of Fear" when Royce terrorized his home city of Colnora. He has sought out Royce because he believes that his daughter is dead at the hands of her noble husband and he seeks retribution. He wants those responsible to pay in blood and offers up coin for every body that Royce produces; however, if it it turns out that she is alive then he is also offering a fixed sum for her safe return.
The Silo Saga enters its final book set up for success. Wool painted a picture of a bleak future where a dystopian underground society is all that manages to keep humanity on the right side of extinction. Shift then revealed who was behind the building of the silos and their published plan for delivering mankind to a better future; however, it also exposed that the official plan intentionally leaves out that a key decision will eventually made about who will and won't survive. All of this makes for excellent backdrop as the characters from both books converge to determine the ultimate fate of mankind.
Author Hugh Howey does a masterful job slowly revealing how his unique dystopian world functions during the first book of the series, Wool, but he never touches on the subject of how society morphed into that state. Well that is exactly what he does in Shift, as some much needed context is added to explain why things are the way they are. Since he jumps back in time to our contemporary world he needs to introduce a whole new set of characters, which is initially off-putting, but it eventually all comes together and sets things up for an excellent finale to the series.
This book has many things to like about it, and some not to like, which might very well be appropriate as the story revolves around the combination of opposites. There are two main characters in this one - Prince Jalan Kendeth, a womanizer and self proclaimed coward, and Snorri, a Viking warrior out for revenge against those who attacked his homeland. Snorri and Jalan form an odd couple dynamic as fate thrusts them together and sends them out on a suicide mission where they must find a way to get along or they will both end up dead. With their opposing personalities playing off each other they both face obstacles in their own unique way while never really knowing the bigger picture of what is going on.
As this series has gone on I have found myself more and more invested in it. Red Rising was good but I felt that it contained a few standard YA tropes that forced me to keep my distance. Golden Son was better but as the middle story of the trilogy it was a bridge that went nowhere ending with a cliffhanger. That left Morning Star with a built in obligation to build upon the unfinished foundation laid before it and it does not fail to deliver. For me it was the best book of the series.
At the end of book one, Red Rising, Darrow's brutal experience at the Institute concluded with him firmly embedded in Gold society. Darrow, a lowly Red hidden with the ranks of Gold, was required to choose a patron to sponsor his future and he chose to become a Lancer for House Augustus. This means he now works for the ArchGoverner - the man who killed his wife. He did this in order to be close to his hated enemy as well as to be able to attend the Academy, where Gold prodigees learn starship fleet command. As a member of House Augustus, Darrow finds that life among the Peerless Scarred is not as straight forward as he hoped. It is often hard to tell the difference between his allies and his enemies which leaves Darrow pretty confused as to the best way to move forward with his hidden agenda.