Series: Red Rising (#4)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Grimdark SF
Publication Date: 2018
Darrow has broken the tyranny of the Golds, but the war is not yet over. On Venus, the Ash Lord still reigns, and even the people Darrow fought to free are a danger to the new order he has established . . .
Iron Gold essentially launches a new three-book series set in the same world as Red Rising. However, this second trilogy doesn’t appear to have any proper name, and given that it’s a fairly direct continuation, I”ll be calling Iron Gold book 4 of the Red Rising series, rather than book 1 of a new series.
Iron Gold picks up ten years after the last book, with Darrow having just liberated Mercury from the Ash Lord’s grip. So far, more of the same. But this time around it’s not just Darrow’s perspective we get. We also get three new characters to follow. Thief Ephraim, Gold Lysander, and Red Lyria. All of these perspectives are delivered through the same first-person, present tense style, and this is similarity is where my problems begin.
Brown’s writing style has remained constant throughout these four books, and it’s equally consistent across the four PoVs shown here. The effect of this is that each of the characters feels the same. These four individuals come from very different walks of life, but they all talk and think the same way. Everyone in this book is a brooding mess of a person, occasionally teetering into full-blown edginess.
Full-blown edginess is very much the name of the game here in Iron Gold. From the outset, these books have been very dark. Iron Gold continues to push deeper into grimdark territory. The problem with grimdark, however, is that shock value decays rapidly. Sure, the first hanging is brutal, but after Darrow kills yet another friend in a misunderstanding, you’re numb to it. Iron Gold has darkness, but it has no depth. When every interaction is based around violence and mayhem, without any pause, it grows tedious. You can’t just sprinkle rape and murder into a book to spice things up. Rather than hitting hard and making an impact, Iron Gold comes across as incredibly superficial.
Yet beneath all of this, there is still the kernel of a good story. You have to dig through a lot of wasted brutality to get there, but at the bottom of Iron Gold is a solid space opera. The solar-system spanning war and all the political machinations pulled me back every time I wanted to put the book down. Perhaps Brown had focused on these aspects, I’d be more enthusiastic about the book overall. Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely an audience for the book brown has written, but I’m not a member of it. Were it not for the fact that I bought the first five books as a bundle, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. As it stands, while I still plan to read Dark Age to remove it from my TBR, I’m unlikely to pursue the series beyond that point. Unless Brown pulls of a miracle, that is.
If you’re looking for grimdark violence that flies by faster than a near-600 page book has any right to, Iron Gold is the book for you. But if you’re looking for something that will stick in your mind, you might want to look elsewhere.