The war has spread and it now consumes the entire solar system. Blood and violence are pervasive as the fledgling Republic tries to hang against those who oppose it. Many want to return to the old color based society while others view this conflict as an opportunity to rise to power, so there is no shortage of combatants available. Like the last book, Iron Gold, this story is told from the perspectives of the same PoV characters (plus Mustang this time) and each of them experiences this conflict from a different location within the solar system. With such a complicated set of battles it will take you some time to get your bearings, especially if it has been a while since you read the last book, but once you get everything sorted out this is another wild ride in a series that remains surprisingly compelling.
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.
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.
Pierce Brown creates a dystopian future where mankind has populated the solar system and created a hierarchical caste system of colors. Strict rules and roles are assigned to each color, some of which are: Reds who provide the manual labor, Pinks who master the arts of pleasure, Blues who pilot the starships, Obsidians who fight the wars, Silvers who run the businesses, and Golds who rule society. Darrow is born into this society at the bottom of the totem pole as a Red who works in the mines of Mars. As a Helldiver he risks his life manning a drill in the dangerous helium-3 mines but he accepts his role without question. He knows that mankind has ruined the Earth and helium-3 is needed to terraform Mars to provide humanity with a new home. He is proud of his work and understands that the Reds are sacrificing themselves to save humanity. There is only one problem - it is all a lie....