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2.0 out of 5 starsVery disappointing
Reviewed in Canada on August 10, 2019
The first three books of this series are among the best SF of the decade. It should have been wrapped up as a trilogy. As others have pointed out, the story has become very dark and all the gory violence is excessive and gratuitous. Pierce Brown is an amazing writer and I enjoy the classical references on which this fascinating world has been built but I feel the passion of the characters and the arc of the characters as their world was turned upside down by the rising has become lacking in the fifth book. I was lost in the endless characters and tired of the constant need to refer to the “dramatis personae”. I have to say I feel the 5 star reviews are trying hard to make excuses for this book out of loyalty to the brilliant first three. Beware! Book 5 is 750 pages of verbosity and little enjoyment.
I love this series and remain invested, but this one, while gripping, had a number of issues.
First, there is a disappointing flow between the various perspectives. The 4th book seemed much more fluid with this whereas I found this clunky.
The worst issue though is that the author is far too committed to the characters previously developed- resorting to deus ex machinas (yes plural) to keep them in the story while sacrificing new, potentially interesting characters.
It hasn't quite reached "matrix level" in terms of "you should have quit while you were ahead" but i am hoping that the next book can clean things up. Like others, I'd say it's probably time to wrap this world up.
Up to this point red rising has been an amazing mix of strong plots and characters. This book was just battle after battle described in great detail. Not enough focus on the key characters we have followed from day 1 Sevro is barely included. Return of the Jackal is weak. I will read the last book to get closure and the first books again to remind me why I have followed Darrow’s journey.
The world of Red Rising is one of my favorite universe's to go back to time and time again. Dark age is a wonderful addition. To call the book a rollercoaster is an understatement. Throughout the novel with each new battle or massive point of intrigue I though "ok so from here it's gonna start to wind down". I was frankly wrong. There are so many parts on the book where it could have gone wrong and made it a confusing mess, but Pierce Brown is Ana mazing author who managed to balance a million plates at once and to not break a single one.
Pierce Brown is fabulous, if you like the Red Rising series don’t hesitate to continue on with Dark Age. If you’ve read the first books in the series you really don’t need to be told to read this one too, you already know it’s going to be great so just do it.
Dark age is book 5 in the red rising series and book 2 in the 2nd trilogy, needless to say this isn’t the place to start if you haven’t already been reading the series.
Pierce brown is my favorite author he had been in the top three or four anyway but with Dark age he cements his place at the top, it’s not just that he is a great writer and a amazing storyteller, which is not always a given in a author even a successful one, but it’s the consistency of the series he writes that make me think that make me laugh, that they trill me, and yes at times break my heart, 5 books on and not one I would judge less then 5 stars.
Dark age is about consequences and as with the series as a whole it is about chains a frequent motifs in the series where it mean freedom from slavery in the books it hides a deeper meaning in the chains our own nature impose our greed our lusts our avarice and cycles of violence and behavior we are doomed to repeat and above all about the legacy, good and bad, that our parents leave us.
Like the other books it what the author describes as science fantasy, or I would as extremely well written space opera, so Space ships and robots abound mankind has been segregated and bred into castes defined by color with gold at the top and red at the bottom. Despite the advances most conflicts are resolved by hand to hand combat , and there’s an actual cavalry charge at one stage why I call it space opera, though often lyrical in its prose and possessing a intelligence and wit often lacking in that sub genre though rather them aimed at the science or how everything works it’s spent on observations about human nature. essentially this is a Greek myth come to life Demi gods and all both if the first trilogy was Homers Iliad a paen to the glory of war then this is Virgil’s Aeneid with a sting in the tail.
Like iron gold this book contains multiple points of view if the first trilogy was about throwing off the chains of oppression then the 2nd is about happens when the consequences of our actions come home when we pay the price for youthful hubris. So ephraim, Darrow , Lyra, Lysander are again the major POV characters with Virginia being a another view point character the strength of the novel is again it’s villains both expected and unexpected its weakness few save that I wish the author would expound a bit more on the differences between the different strains of man when he does it’s more for the strains we don’t have a POV character such as the whites through Xenophon and the blues through Orion and colloaway also I am a bit ambiavielent about how the Syndicate story resolved lots to love in one way with a character I adore returning but it seems a bit forced? And possibly disconnected from the main storyline however that said there are more then a few hints that a different game is being played in the shadows.
The secondary cast grows again with the unsworn, the fear knight and Faa being a particular highlight, also pax and Electra come into there own here as Demi gods in training.
I would love to go onall I want to do is discuss this book to death but since I don’t want to spoil and it’s hard to discuss any of the ongoing storylines which are continued from iron gold without doing so all I will say is bloodydamn this is a fantastic read.
An extremely frustrating read focused on delivering continual twists, turns, shocks and surprises instead of developing characters or building a coherent narrative. Earlier books with smaller casts of characters were much more affecting and interesting. Several events in the book seemed to quite literally come from nowhere and ultimately lead to frustration being the overwhelming emotion when reading the book. On a technical level, Brown's inept use of descriptive similes also contributed to rising frustration with the book.
Obviously, Brown wants to depict the negative and chaotic consequences of societal upheaval, but for me this desire simply results in an almost unendingly depressing and dispiriting read - while previous books managed to skilfully intertwine hope and despair, book 5 has an unbalanced focus on pain, anguish and torment.
Overall, a disappointing follow-up to the previous books as Brown's use of continuous and illogical narrative twists creates frustration, antipathy and distrust in the reader.
5.0 out of 5 starsBrown's writing continues to force you on
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 21, 2020
I toyed with giving this only 4 stars - still a respectable rating! The overall plot themes remain the same; plans, politics, epic battles, betrayals-upon-betrayals, brinksmanship, last minute salvation... all of which Brown executed perfectly in the first trilogy. So what's different here? Simple. Brown's storytelling and writing have grown along with the theatre of characters we now follow. Yes, the themes and objectives are the same. But it's a delight to see new goodmen and women take the limelight away from Darrow and his neverending quest for equality in a solar system of Romanic tyrants. And what tyrants we are treated to here! Obscene and grotesque dance with nimble and sly. If you are at all a fan of Brown's earlier books, it is safe to say you won't be disappointed with this latest entry.
And to anyone still considering the Red Rising series? Well, if you like science fiction, space opera, Roman history, Vikings and political thrillers, these books are for you.
5.0 out of 5 starsAmazing; better than all of the previous combined
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2019
I had trepidation before starting this book; the previous (Iron Gold) has a lot of potential, but felt like it was setting the stage throughout.
Within 2 chapters, I was hooked again. This book is fantastic. There’s a lot of description on characters and their thoughts and doubts, but where this book goes is amazing. I can sympathise even with the “enemies”, they are written so well.
I loved reading it and I normally struggle to stay enthused through a book. I am genuinely impressed and look forward to reading this again.
4.0 out of 5 starsA worthy continuation of the saga
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 8, 2020
Definietly much better than book 4. The plot thickens further with many twists and several of the main characters end up paying the bill for their earlier actions be it softness or bad choices. The first qtr of the book is somewhat slow with a lot of fillers, to be honest i put the book down for a while, then to return later due to curiosity. Several of the later scenes are epic, others are just brutal (truly a society in the dark ages). Can't wait for the conclusion of the story in book 6. Bringing this story to the silver screen/tv will be no small feat.