No spoilers in this rapid review of Dark Age. I give it 4.5 stars. Thank you for this masterpiece of a series, Pierce Brown. He describes it as high tech Rome meets space Vikings in the acknowledgements, and this explanation makes me smile. It’s the easiest way to sum up the series for those who haven’t read it.
Age’s plot summary might go something like this: Who’s good? Who’s evil? Is anyone purely one or the other? And who will ally with who to face off in what’s sure to be a giant, definitive battle in the finale? Age explores these themes over and over as well as family, true friendship, and loyalty to self versus to loyalty a cause. Oh yeah, and there are some epic battles and one-on-one altercations, too.
What else can I say to advertise for the Red Rising Saga? Brown’s books feature a crazy amount of action, demonstrate unforgettable relationships, and showcase his amazing storytelling ability, which is full of twists and turns. While his insights and writing have always been impressive, Brown has grown with his characters. He’s gained wisdom through experience right along with Darrow, as evidenced by the continued improvement of his brutal yet poetic prose and his musings about humanity.
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Age might be the most complex book—and the Red Rising series might have the most epic scope—of any I’ve ever read. This is a compliment to Brown, but it also caused some issues as I read. I had to check the character list at the beginning of the book again and again to remind myself who many characters were. I need a flow chart to truly appreciate (and remember) everything Brown has dreamed up, how events and families are tied together, and everyone who’s been killed off (and how and by whom). The large cast of characters and the plethora of events in the first four books is hard to keep straight.
My most common way to consume books is in audio form, but I had to read at least part of this one in Kindle to get my footing. When I did listen instead of read, I had to slow down my narration pace from my normal 1.25x to 1x to allow myself more time to think while I listened. But I can’t reiterate enough that the effort was worth it! In the last quarter of the book, Brown drops some bombshells, and it gets very exciting.
After all the upheaval and discontent Brown has created, I can’t help but wonder what the eventual victors can possibly do to establish a society that works and a government that’s fair and permanent. So far he’s shown us that in the Red Rising universe, even those with the best intentions fall short of creating a strong and lasting nation. Thus I can’t wait to read the finale to see what type of society and government he constructs!
I highly recommend this book and this series. I read and review a lot of YA series, so I need to let our readers know that this one’s adult for sure. The first book had a YA, Hunger Games-ish tone, but the other installments cover mature themes beyond that of the YA genre. If you like adult sci-fi and aren’t put off by violence, then you will likely love the Red Rising Saga like I do. Brown is one of the best authors out there, in my opinion, and I hope more and more readers discover his books.
P.S. I hate to disappoint Red Rising fans who haven’t picked up Dark Age yet, but there was not nearly enough Sevro in this book. And if I’m being honest, even though he had much more page time than Sevro, there wasn’t enough Darrow either. Their portion of the story is told, yet there are so many points of view that I was sad to not spend more time with them. I just wanted to warn fellow Darrow and Sevro fans ahead of time. 😉
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