Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Of Note:  Hello my fellow beautiful Howlers! Happy Iron Gold Release Day! I hope you are all snuggling up to this action packed fourth installment in the Red Rising series.  You can check out my spoiler free review for the advanced review copy here. In this post you’ll find a spoiler free overview, followed up by spoiler laden additional insights, in which you’ll find some of my favorite quotes.  Wrapping up my post you’ll find my Vocabulary Builder section. You’ll find that Brown must consist entirely on a strict diet of dictionaries and perhaps a thesaurus now and again for good measure. I would hate to play him in Scrabble, although I might take him in UpWords.

Rate: 4.5/5

Medium: Book

Overview (No Spoilers): I was so bloodydamn excited to get an advanced review copy of Iron Gold that I couldn’t even bring myself to read it the first day. I just carried it around with me, even sleeping with the hefty book next to my pillow. As any reader who frequents my blog knows, I’m an adoring Howler! Whenever anyone asks me for a book recommendation, my first question is if they’d read Red Rising yet. As such, I’ve had a hovering level of apprehension ever since finding out Brown was continuing the series because despite being enamored with the original trilogy, I couldn’t imagine the series getting any better. With that being said, I savored Iron Gold, restricting myself to reading only a few chapters a day, a far cry from the binging that occurred when reading the first three installments. I fully anticipate a wide range of reactions to Iron Gold because personally I’ve been stewing on this review for a week, percolating my thoughts and mulling over the events of this new novel while attempting to solidify my final opinions. I finally came to the conclusion that it is not fair to compare Iron Gold to its predecessors, as it is different in so many ways. When treated as a stand alone book, Iron Gold is a beautifully written novel, whose eloquent prose contains a much darker thread than we had previously been exposed to by Brown. Taking place approximately ten years after the conclusion of Morning Star, I loved that it introduced several new POVs instead of Darrow’s sole vantage point. While this change drastically altered the smooth flow that was a trademark of Brown’s previous writing style, it served to significantly deepen this unique literary realm. Other than Darrow, we are given the perspective of a Grey, a Red, and a fugitive Gold that takes us into the unique realm of the Rim. Action packed throughout, Iron Gold reunites us with familiar characters that draw forth waves of nostalgia, while simultaneously debuting new key individuals from the other colors, allowing the reader to begin to develop an image of their lives and the changes that have been wrought post revolution. I’m excited to see where Brown will take these new characters and what new POVs we might be introduced to in the following novels. Is it too much to hope for a Mustang perspective? Overall, having now set the stage of the political and social climates a decade after the Rising, Brown has all of the tools at hand to take the reader on yet another adventure filled with unpredictable twists and turns in the subsequent installments.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • First and foremost, please bear with me as I talk about Brown’s eloquent prose and beautiful quotes that were interspersed throughout this text.  Early on in Iron Gold, Darrow describes his love for Mustang in the following heart melting way.

“But my wife is not as fickle as a flame. She is an ocean. I knew from the first that I cannot own her, cannot tame her, but I am the only storm that moves her depths and stirs her tides. That is more than enough.”

  • There was a shadowy character alluded to throughout this book who emerged to be an influential puppet master. Who is the Syndicate Queen? It seems rather obvious too obvious for stereotypical Brown that it is Darrow’s buddy Sefi? Or perhaps Dancer or Harmony are the mysterious character? Dancer seemed to disappear after the beginning of the book.
  • What role will Harmony play in the future books. Her only appearance in this book wasn’t actually acknowledged but her description as the head of the Red Hands who killed Lyria’a family was fairly clear. What about the Red Hands? Are they apart of the Syndicate?
  • Despite not knowing Romulus well, his deliberate sacrifice/death was one of the most heart wrenching death scenes I’ve read in recent memory. His beautiful quote to his scheming wife was another classic by Brown that is now one of my favorites.
  • “This is not the end. I loved you before I ever met you. I will love you until the sun dies. And when it does I will love you in the darkness.”

  • My wedding readings were love quotes from literature. This one definitely would have made the cut! It really captures the essence of the legends that Dido and Romulus encapsulated regard to their love story. Alas, the couple we witnessed had grown estranged from each other, poisoned by plots against the other. How tragically Dido’s subversions had gone astray. Will it humble the proud ruler?
  • Is Cassius really dead? We never saw his body. Did Diomedes somehow hide him away? Cassius fighting the duels was almost like an awakening for him back to the old character we’d so enjoyed early on in the series. However as Dido continued to stack the odds against him the unjustness and hopelessness of his situation sunk in.
  • Adding the to the unfair situation that Cassius and Lysander found themselves in was that they were picked up on their own side of the border while they were saving Seraphina. Who was after Seraphina in the ships that were pursuing Cassius and Lysander? Did they know what information she was carrying?
  • I truly want to like Lysander’s character, however was he being immature by rejecting Cassius’ opinions? I worry that he has been too sheltered and is making a huge mistake. What would have happened if Lysander had gone along with Gaia plots? How will her Stained, Goroth take his revenge? I’m still a little murky as to why Lysander betrayed her.
  • Another new character was Trigg’s bitter fiancé, Ephraim. Trigg was Holiday’s brother who was killed rescuing Darrow in Morning Star. We see into Ephraim’s tortured mind where we see the pull between good and evil. He is the key orchestrator behind kidnapping Pax and Sevro’s little girl, whereas after captured he has a change of heart after a relatively short talk by Lyria and a threat on Volga’s life. Would he really have had this turnaround so quickly after so many years of angry resentment?
  • Lyria is a character that continued to grow on me throughout this story. She doesn’t really have a valuable skill set. What role will she play in the remainder of the series? Will she continue delivering insightful
  • “The planted us in stones, watered us with pain, and now marvel we have thorns. Slag them. Slag the lot of them.”

  • Or perhaps her role is over after the brown stabbed her with a poisonous needle in one of the major cliffhangers? I feel like Mustang had to be monitoring her for potential foul play because they knew a spy was in the house. Hopefully she saved Lyria!
  • It was so easy to dislike the Gammas in Red Rising, however their abuse and murder post being liberated from the mines through the eyes of Lyra adds new depth to their dreadful situation.
  • Will Pax, Electra, and Ephraim survive the hunt by the Syndicate?
  • Isn’t Victra such a badass! Love her! ❤
  • Through Lysander we are introduced to the Pink, Aurae who appears to be more than meets the eye? What is her relationship with Diomedes?
  • I’ve avoided talking about Darrow thus far. Surprisingly, his chapters were by far my least favorite. They were still good but I grew frustrated with his self-sacrificing tunnel vision. Even Sevro failed to pull the veil from his eyes. When will Darrow hit rock bottom? Will Darrow prove to be correct in his philosophy?
  • Who is Toungeless? Why do Darrow and his crew not seem to care why he was in prison? Why do they trust him so much?
  • A fascinatingly strange and crazy character, I feel like Darrow will rue the day he set Apollonius free. His personality seems like a wild card, far too smart and crazy to be trusted.
  • The political faction Vox Populi was a reoccurring presence throughout Iron Gold. What havoc will they create for Mustang and Darrow.
  • What game is Quicksilver playing? Did he know about the kidnapping? Is he playing both sides?
  • We were introduce to Darrow’s spirited niece Rhonda who is struggling to make step outside of Darrow’s shadow and make a name for herself. It was so predictable which is uncharacteristic of Brown that she would sneak onto the ship bound for Venus. As a whole, her character was less than inspiring.
  • Sweet, wonderful Karvax! This character continued to grow in my heart! I was devastated when he was shot but relieved he was still living by the end of this book. Will he survive? His character was another the flourished under Brown’s pen. One example of this was the following charming quote.

“Sometimes, little one, it’s best if the worlds think you a little mad.” He winks. “Amazing what they will let you get away with.”

  • There was an interesting scene where Lysander remembered he could play the piano. What other memories are locked away in Lysander?
  • I loved Mustang’s character in the Red Rising series, however she seemed to take a back seat in Iron Gold. She uncomplainingly sacrificed for Darrow, allowing him to do whatever he wanted, despite the consequences making her life as Sovereign hell.   When she tries to rein him in he blatantly defies her, tragically killing Wulfgar, making the situation significantly worse. After it is revealed Pax was kidnapped, Darrow chose to continue his war instead of saving his son. How far Darrow has fallen from where he started. How will the war progress?
  • Lastly, Sevro and the Howlers engaged in some good natured bantering recalling out beloved Ragnar.

“Ragnar could lift a mountain with his gorydamn pinkie, Clown replies. “And drink an ocean without needing to piss a drop, so powerful was his bladder.”

“What is the quickest way to a Peerless Scarred’s heart?” Pebble asks. “Ragnar’s fist.”

Sevro cackles. “Unlike mortal men, Ragnar didn’t sleep. He merely waited.”

Does it sound familiar at all? I literally laughed out loud as I drew conclusions between Ragnar and Chuck Norris!

Latin Phrases:

The original Red Rising series was packed full of delightful latin phrases. This time around I decided to mark each one to specifically look up the meaning instead of glancing over them as I had previously.

Merrywater ad portas: Merrywater at the gates

Lux ex tenebris: Light in darkness

Ave Regina: Hail O’ Queen

Alea iacta est: The die is cast.

Semper fratres: Always brothers. 

Qualis rex, talis grex: Like King, Like People.

Pulvis et umbra sumus: We are dust and shadow.

Alis aquilae: On eagle’s wings.

Vocabulary Builder: When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, relatively new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed that either had to look up the definition or a word I do not currently utilize on a regular basis in my everyday repertoire. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. You’ll find that Brown must consist entirely on a strict diet of dictionaries and perhaps a thesaurus now and again for good measure. I would hate to play him in Scrabble, although I might take him in UpWords.

Equivocate: to avoid committing oneself in what one says

Carafe: a bottle with a flaring lip used to hold beverages and especially wine

Egregiously: conspicuous

Vermilion: a vivid reddish orange

Rejoinder: the defendant’s answer to the plaintiff’s replication

Scree: an accumulation of loose stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff

Redolent: full of a specified fragrance

Diaspora: people settled far from their ancestral homelands

Viscera: an internal organ of the body

Bifurcates: to cause to divide into two branches or parts

Aegis: a shield or breastplate emblematic of majesty that was associated with Zeus and Athena

Reconnoiter: to make a reconnaissance of

Porphyry: a rock consisting of feldspar crystals embedded in a compact dark red or purple groundmass

Loamy: a soil consisting of a friable mixture of varying proportions of clay, silt, and sand

Perspicacity: of acute mental vision or discernment

Maxims: a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct

Fetid: having a heavy offensive smell

Insentience: lacking perception, consciousness, or animation

Miscellany: a collection of writings on various subjects

Laconic: using or involving the use of a minimum of words

Cretins: a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person

Absconded: to depart secretly and hide oneself

Garrote: a method of execution by strangulation

Onus: a disagreeable necessity

Hedonist the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life

Parsimonious frugal to the point of stinginess

Prelate: an ecclesiastic (such as a bishop or abbot) of superior rank

Pearlescent: having a pearly luster

Hominids any of a family (Hominidae) of erect bipedal primate mammals that includes recent humans together with extinct ancestral and related forms and in some recent classifications the gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan

Skatole: a foul-smelling compound C9H9N found in the intestines and feces, in civet, and in several plants or made synthetically and used in perfumes as a fixative

Insidious: awaiting a chance to entrap

Bartizan: a small structure (such as a turret) projecting from a building and serving especially for lookout or defense

Coterie: an intimate and often exclusive group of persons with a unifying common interest or purpose

Perruques: wig

Laconic: using or involving the use of a minimum of words

Riven: to wrench open or tear apart or to pieces

Sundering: to break apart or in two separate by or as if by violence or by intervening time or space

Mesentery: a support or partition in an invertebrate like the vertebrate mesentery

Accouterment: an identifying and often superficial characteristic or device

Nihilistic: a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless

Somnolent: of a kind likely to induce sleep

Pugilistic: boxing

Punctilious: marked by or concerned about precise accordance with the details of codes or conventions

Latifundia: a great landed estate with primitive agriculture and labor often in a state of partial servitude

Hierophant: a priest in ancient Greece

Facile easily accomplished or attained

Superciliousness: coolly and patronizingly haughty

Denizens: inhabitant

Vitriol: a sulfate of any of various metals (such as copper, iron, or zinc)

Pedantic: narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned

Pleonasm: the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense

Peremptory putting an end to or precluding a right of action, debate, or delay

Parricide: one that murders his or her father, mother, or a close relative

Vivisect: minute or pitiless examination or criticism

Efficacious: having the power to produce a desired effect

Proselytization to induce someone to convert to one’s faith

Hypocaust: an ancient Roman central heating system with underground furnace and tile flues to distribute the heat

Necropolis: cemetery

Truculent: aggressively self-assertive

Pachelbel: Johann 1653–1706 German composer and organist

Insensate: lacking sense or understanding

Astral: of, relating to, or coming from the stars

Pizzicato: a note or passage played by plucking strings

Arpeggios: production of the tones of a chord in succession and not simultaneously

Troglodytes: a member of any of various peoples (as in antiquity) who lived or were reputed to live chiefly in caves

Gestalt: something that is made of many parts and yet is somehow more than or different from the combination of its parts

Replete: fully or abundantly provided or filled

Sagacious: keen in sense perception

Verdant: unripe in experience or judgment

Assiduously: showing great care, attention, and effort

Avarice: excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain

Psychoses: a serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions

Escarpment: a steep slope in front of a fortification

Harridan: shrew

Eviscerating: to deprive of vital content or force

Fops: a foolish or silly person

Visages: the face, countenance, or appearance of a person or sometimes an animal

Flit: to pass quickly or abruptly from one place or condition to another

Venal: capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration

Intransigence: characterized by refusal to compromise or to abandon an often extreme position or attitude

Precocious: exceptionally early in development or occurrence

Torpor: a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility

Edification to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge

Diadems: crown

Modus: the immediate manner in which property may be acquired (as by occupation or prescription) or the particular tenure by which it is held

Incongruous: inconsistent within itself

Fete: a lavish often outdoor entertainment

Libertine: a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality

Ignominy: deep personal humiliation and disgrace

Wroth: intensely angry

Protean: displaying great diversity or variety

Exsanguination: the action or process of draining or losing blood

Bulwarks a solid wall-like structure raised for defense

Mete: to give out by measure

Proletariat: the laboring class

Jetsam: the part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore

Riposte: a retaliatory verbal sally

Tawdry: cheap and gaudy in appearance or quality

Egress: the action or right of going or coming out

Zither: a stringed instrument having usually 30 to 40 strings over a shallow horizontal soundboard and played with pick and fingers

Veracity: devotion to the truth

Dirigible: capable of being steered


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