Book Review

Dark Age

Dark Age

  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publication Date: July 30, 2019
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Series: Red Rising Saga #5

CONTENT WARNING: violence, gore, death, torture, mention of slavery, mention of rape, cursing, substance use/addiction, death of children, animal sacrifice, cannibalism, incest, child marriage, genocide

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury.

But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.

On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him?

Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.

Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation — and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.

As alliances shift, break, and re-form — and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed — every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.

While I flew through the other books in this series in a day or two, it took me quite a while to get through this one. The book was a little slower moving at first than the previous ones, and the points of view were handled a little differently. Rather than bouncing back and forth between all of the characters, it was broken up between the sections, so that we only see a little bit of the picture at a time. It left me feeling as though I was always missing out on what was happening to other characters.

There was a LOT of stuff going on, all at the same time. All of the main characters have their own story line, and it didn’t really become clear how they interconnected until late in the book. The story is brutal, gory, and tense all throughout the book. There is no shortage of battles, and the pervading feeling I carried throughout my reading was “oh man, this is bad, how much worse can it get?” But of course, whenever I thought that, it got worse, every bloodydamn time. Not a single character escaped unscathed. 

There was something so fundamentally off about reading Darrow’s chapters without Sevro by his side. It shows how much he really leans on him, and values the support he provides.

“A life of war is catching up with me. She doesn’t know the weight I carry. How much I relied on Sevro to help carry it.” 

We get to see a lot more from Virginia’s POV than usual, and I really love her character. She’s brilliant, level-headed, and logical, but this book showcases more of her emotional side. Her loyalty, her passion, and her fears are on display for the first time, and it makes her so much more relatable.

“What good is being smarter than everyone if no one listens? Is this how my father felt? My brother? Is evil born of pure frustration?” 

Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Lysander grow up. He didn’t have an easy go of things in the last 2 books, but I just struggled so much with him in this book. He learned a lot about life in this book, and was exposed to new experiences when he went to war for the first time. But I grew to like him a lot less over the course of this book.

“From a distance, death seems the end of a story. But when you are near, when you can smell the burning skin, see the entrails, you see death for what it is. A traumatic cauterization of a life thread. No purpose. No conclusion. Just snip.”

Sevro isn’t a huge part of the story in this book, and I was so disappointed not to see him as much as usual, since he’s one of my favorite characters in the entire series. He’s always been a little off, but he serves an important purpose in the Republic. Even if people don’t always agree with his methods, everyone knows that they’re effective:

“I’ll never get used to seeing the fear Sevro wakes in people. Deep down they know Darrow is operating on a framework of logic. No one, not even me, believes that Sevro is completely sane.”

As has become my custom when reading this series, I always consider changing my “gasp factor” to something else, because I don’t just gasp, I actually start exclaiming “HOLY SHIT!” Yeah, it’s serious. Once I got past the slow moving part, it just felt like the action start coming faster and faster and never stopped. The ending didn’t feel like an ending as much as a cliffhanger/to be continued, and I honestly wish that the next book had a release date so I’m not just left pining for a book without even having a clue when it is going to be available. The struggle is so real y’all. But I’m 10000% sure it’s going to break my heart into tiny little pieces, because this one already did. But I have no regrets because it’s amazing.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 36

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