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Morning Star (The Red Rising Series, Book 3) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 546 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite conquering the dreaded "sophomore slump" with style, the finale was always going to be the most difficult thing to pull off. I had low expectations going into RED RISING and with GOLDEN SON my expectations were high but not astronomical. Going into MORNING STAR my expectations couldn't have been higher. Unsurprisingly Pierce delivers -- and in a way that was equally refreshing and satisfying.
Pierce's imagination is a wonderful, beautiful, bastard of a thing. He started with what could have easily been a typical YA novel premise with society being segregated into a hierarchy of colors with Gold at the top and Red at the bottom. He introduces a rebellion when a Red told to "break the chains" and "live for more." Honestly the reason I was so reticent to begin this series is that it sounded like another cookie cutter YA novel. It's even been hailed as the next HUNGER GAMES. The RED RISING series is so much more than that. There's some HUNGER GAMES in its DNA but you can also find ENDER'S GAME, DUNE, STAR WARS, WARHAMMER 40,000, GAME OF THRONES, and (according to a recent interview with Pierce Brown) even the video game RED FACTION. The space opera universe that Pierce brings to life is so vivid and imaginative. He borrows from history and mythology and acknowledges it in his writing.
As impressive is the world building is, none of it would mean a thing if Pierce didn't populate it with a colorful cast of amazing characters. There are so many powerful personalities at play in MORNING STAR. Pierce gives you villains you love to hate and villains you can almost respect. He gives you heroes that you can root for in triumph and suffer with in defeat. And boyo does he make them suffer. The way GOLDEN SON leaves off left me clutching my chest, unsure how I could go on with life. It's a bit of an exaggeration but for real -- I finished reading it right before class one day and it was extremely difficult to concentrate for the rest of the day. Darrow is as dynamic a character as I've ever known. His character arc isn't linear. He learns and loves, he makes mistakes and takes hits. He is always growing, even if it's not necessarily always in the direction he needs to be growing in. His pride and arrogance are often his greatest weaknesses. As for his greatest strengths? His friends. And the greatest of his friends? Obviously it's fan favorite Sevro au Barca, Goblin King and leader of the Howlers. Seriously, Pierce Brown deserves an award for the creation of Sevro. He's the Han Solo to Darrow's Luke Skywalker...if Han Solo was a brash, crude, vulgar, dangerous, hilarious, loyal, lovable, blood-soaked maniac.
Sevro might steal the show in every scene he's in but that's not to say the cast of MORNING STAR wouldn't be fantastic without him. In addition to the returning favorites (some quite unexpectedly), Pierce introduces some new characters. I'm particularly fond of new characters Holiday and Quicksilver. It's important to remember that as with GAME OF THRONES no one is safe. My wife actually told me she tried not to like a character too much because she was afraid it might seal their fate.
It's a legitimate fear because MORNING STAR is filled with bombastic, explosive, high-speed, kinetic action. From space battles to boarding actions to ambushes and duels, MORNING STAR features the stylistic hyper violence that fans of the series have come to expect. Just when you think that there's no possible way Pierce could raise the stakes and ramp up the action he does. I know that there's a RED RISING movie in development but I'd love to see what the right developer could do with a RED RISING video game. I think the property would lend itself well to that medium.
But the violence isn't all there is to MORNING STAR. The cinematic battles are thrilling but its the ideas and philosophy that Pierce explores that will cement the place of the series as a true sf/f classic. Each book deals with the issues of morality, revenge and justice, leadership, and more. MORNING STAR examines the difference between terrorism and fighting for freedom. The Golds aren't all bad, even the ones in opposition to Darrow's rebellion, and the Reds fighting for their freedom aren't all good. Some of the things that Darrow himself does for the sake of his people and the Rising aren't what could be considered moral. He is forced to make strategic decisions and sometimes that results in the death of innocents. It's all very thought-provoking and prevents MORNING STAR from being simple "popcorn" fiction.
And given the morally ambiguous nature of the story told by the trilogy I was curious/anxious to see how MORNING STAR would end. Much of the series has felt like a proper Greek tragedy and I couldn't help but wonder if Pierce would end it like one. Potential pitfalls dotted the battlefield in ending on too high a note or too low of one. Like the master he is Pierce deftly maneuvers to bring the trilogy to a close on his own terms.
VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD. BE WARNED. TURN BACK NOW OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.
The ending is nearly perfect. Considerable progress is made but not without a cost. Compromises have to be made in order to reach the endgame and I can see where it might leave an opening for future novels set in the RED RISING universe (perhaps told from different perspectives). In any case I read the final page of MORNING STAR with teary eyes and a smile on my face. It's a satisfying conclusion to what has become my favorite book series in years. I thank Pierce Brown for taking readers on such an incredible journey and I cannot wait to see what Pierce has in store for us in the future. I'll buy whatever he writes, I'll tell you that much.
So this is where we are at the beginning of Morning Star. Darrow is captured by Adrius at the end of Golden Son. We fast forward a year into his imprisonment and torture. He gets rescued of course, but not without suffering serious damage physically, psychologically, and emotionally. In the time that Darrow has been held captive, Sevro, has taken control over the Sons of Ares now that his father is dead. With Darrow out of the limelight and not leading the rising, the Sons have to deal with Sevro, and needless to say, he's a completely different type of leader. He's insane and it shows.
I admit the first and last parts of Morning Star were my favorite, because I started it as soon as I finished Golden Son. The middle had a very serious slump. I stopped and re-started where I left off multiple times. I maybe got 2-20 pages in at a time before I was able to seriously get back into the pace of the story. Pierce Brown is that author that you love and hate because he drags your heart through angst alley, followed by a long trip down despair drive. There are character deaths, revivals, plot twists. And many, many swears in surprise, and Big No moments. He teases you in the beginning and coaxes you with the details post the immediate ending of Golden Son, and then he just tosses you into a world of crazy for the next 58+ chapters.
We see a lot of character growth in Darrow, at least from my perspective. I love how ambiguously moral some of these characters are. They are very logical and rational, which seems unsympathetic or unemphatic, but that is not the case. There are a very shocking, yet drastically pleasing relationship development for my favorite characters and a just deserts-ending for a character you want so much to feel your wrath while you read.
Pierce Brown tells a story that truly engages you because I was seriously shouting and cursing as I read this book. Those are signs of a good story - when you can emotionally invest yourself and come out battered, but pleased you've read a good story. A good one for masochistic readers.
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