Dark Age by Pierce Brown


Rate: 5/5

Medium: Book – ARC

Overview (No Spoilers):

Happy Release Day for Dark Age!

Just when I think a series can’t get any better Brown proved me wrong in spectacular fashion, with Dark Age, which is likely one of my favorite novels of this phenomenal literary world. To be completely up front, I had a lingering trepidation with regard to picking up Dark Age due to in large part to the title Brown had bestowed upon this fifth installment of the Red Rising series. As excited (which was exponentially proportional in comparison to any worries I was fostering) as I was for this read, I could not see how a book with the title Dark Age would be a feel good, happy-go-lucky read, and to be honest, I wouldn’t expect anything in this literary realm to fall under those categories. After completing this read, my heart is still in anguish over the devastation wrought by Brown’s blood soaked pen. As has becoming a regular occurrence, much to my delight, in the Red Rising series, I was surprised by key plot twists over and over again, though this time I was aware enough to recognize when a character’s schemes were going a bit too smoothly, thereby anticipating the ensuing chaos that didn’t disappoint. I realize I’m gushing in the post read glow of less than an hour ago, and perhaps toeing, if not crossing the line into fangirling, however it must be said that I struggled for the first 150 pages of this novel to acclimate and become engrossed. Specifically, I found I could easily put down Dark Age between  these early chapters as the action, action, action was emotionally exhausting from the readers perspective. That being said, all the initial turmoil was critical for setting the stage for the remainder  of this whirlwind read. And if I thought the beginning was draining, my poor heart didn’t have an inkling as to what Brown had in store within this hefty book. Ruthless as Atlas au Raa. Well that might be an over exaggeration, but keep in mind the post glow hangover I’m currently experiencing. Overall, Dark Age was a highly interwoven web of delicately balanced plots that flourish within Brown’s elegant writing style, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat throughout this dark read. With the foundation now established for the concluding book in the series, I find myself torn between eager anticipation of the brilliant twists Brown has waiting in the wings, and dread as to which of our favorites will be next is in line for the literary chopping block as no character is truly safe.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):


Hear Izzy (Izzo) roar (aka yawn) as she attempts to distract me from reading Dark Age. Hic sunt leones!

  • Poor, poor tortured Orion. I enjoyed her conversation with Darrow where he told her she was dented. It reminded me of one of my favorite Stephen King quotes about hearts not breaking, just denting. Too bad Orion was actually critically broken leading to mass devistation.
  • I found it interesting that the Rim prefers young children as pilots. Was that a homage to Ender?
  • Speaking of correlations to other series, one of the characters uses the curse, Corespawn which is totally appropriate in this context but was a favorite expletive in Peter V. Brett’s The Core. Perhaps another Easter egg?
  • Tyche was a city of libraries! I couldn’t help but anticipate how this city might be portrayed in a TV show or movie.
  • Seriously though, what is going on in the Kuiper Belt? These Ascommanni are positively terrifying? Honestly, I suspected initially that Mickey was just carving the scary creatures. Where has Mickey disappeared to? Is Volsung Fa actually Rangar’s father? For that matter, I was shocked when Volga turned out to be Ragnar’s daughter. How will Volga exact revenge for Ephraim?
  • I’m a crier, but Dark Age surprisingly didn’t pull any tears from me. Kavax’s speech to Mustang was the closest I came to blubbering. Seriously one of my favorite characters!
  • Lysander’s eye/face melting was absolutely brutal to read! I’ve wanted to like him from the beginning but it felt like I was witnessing him go over to the dark side chapter by chapter during the past two books. It really started to solidify for me that he really might not be a good guy when we viewed Darrow’s army through his eyes, specifically Rhonda and how he looked down on her. I felt like him killing Alexander without honor was the solidifying factor, although now that he has found out what actually happened to his parents and that Cassius is still alive, is there hope for a redemption arc?
  • Seraphina’s death was so shocking! What will Diomedes do? Will the Rim really side with the Atalantia?
  • Sefi wasn’t the Syndicate Queen as I’d anticipated. Her death was another one that was beyond brutal to read. Xenophon’s betrayal was surprisingly predictable for being a Brown twist, however did he actually poison her or was he keeping her sick?
  • Ephraim flying into battle naked with a broom because accidentally got high was so unexpectedly amusing I couldn’t stop giggling. It was a bright spot in a dark read. I’d grown to like Ephraim’s character so much and was shocked with his death, which again proved difficult to read.
  • Another part that made me laugh out loud was Sevro’s booby traps that Darrow fell in while raiding his rooms.
  • Pax coming into his own light was another fulfilling aspect of Dark Age. He is only eleven, how will his star continue to rise? Will he be Lysander’s rival?
  • I truly didn’t see the Jackal getting cloned and coming back from the dead! Did Mustang kill him with the poisoned flower? Will Sevro survive? Reflecting back, so much happened in this read that it is hard to wrap my mind around all the big events that took place throughout.
  • Did Screwface survive? Why did he not warn Darrow earlier of the attack?
  • Cassius is alive!! I want to hear more of his story? How did he survive? How did he escape? Why is the Rim helping Atalantia?
  • What is the parasite that Fig gave Lyria? Who made it? What powers does it gift? How can she help Volga? Did Pax fix it?
  • Is Harmony actually dead? Ugh, the scenes with Lyria, Victra, and Volga are some of my favorites of this read, with Victra growing significantly in depth. I’m still not over the birth scene and poor Ulysses fate. I’m still in disbelief about how quickly that scene escalated and the subsequent outcome.
  • Did Validir escape?
  • How will Lysander and Apollonius’ alliance progress? Lysander is surrounding himself with some unpredictable characters.
  • The EMP creating a temporary dark age on Mercury with the subsequent horse battle was absolutely insane! One of the best (painful) battle scenes I can remember reading in a long, long time.

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.

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

Bedlam: a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion

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

Garrote: a method of execution by strangulation

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

Pedantic: narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned

Screed: a lengthy discourse

Atavistic: recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination

Profligate: wildly extravagant

Gravitas: high seriousness (as in a person’s bearing or in the treatment of a subject)

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

Immolated: to offer in sacrifice

Taciturn: temperamentally disinclined to talk

Mercurial: characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood

Precocious:  exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age

Sybarites: voluptuary, sensualist

Deputation: a group of people appointed to represent others

Phalera: a metal boss or disk (as of bronze or silver) worn in ancient times on the heads or breasts of horses or sometimes by men as signs of military rank

Truculent: scathingly harsh

Catamite: a boy kept by a pederast

Unctuous: having, revealing, or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

Specious: having a false look of truth or genuineness

Lupine: any of a genus (Lupinus) of leguminous herbs including some poisonous forms and others cultivated for their long showy racemes of usually blue, purple, white, or yellow flowers or for green manure, fodder, or their edible seeds

Imperium: supreme power or absolute dominion

Rectilinear: moving in or forming a straight line

Arroyo: a watercourse (such as a creek) in an arid region

Ephedra: any of a genus (Ephedra of the family Ephedraceae) of jointed nearly leafless shrubs of dry or desert regions with the leaves reduced to scales at the nodes

Accoutrements: an accessory item of clothing or equipment

Voluble: easily rolling or turning

Petrichor: a distinctive, earthy, usually pleasant odor that is associated with rainfall especially when following a warm, dry period and that arises from a combination of volatile plant oils and geosmin released from the soil into the air and by ozone carried by downdrafts

Reprobate: to condemn strongly as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil

Plenipotentiary: invested with full power

Hamartia: tragic flaw

Insouciant: lighthearted unconcern

Maudlin: drunk enough to be emotionally silly

Riposte: a retaliatory verbal sally

Atavistic: recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination

Opines: to express opinions

Aperitif:an alcoholic drink taken before a meal as an appetizer

Falchion: a broad-bladed slightly curved sword of medieval times

Ambulating: to move from place to place

Demarcations: the marking of the limits or boundaries of something

Omnicide:  the destruction of all life or all human life

Buboes: an inflammatory swelling of a lymph gland especially in the groin

Petard: a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall

Felicitations: made happy

Callow:  lacking adult sophistication

Emesis: an act or instance of vomiting

Blithe: lacking due thought or consideration

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

Enfeebling: deprive of strength



  1. I realize now in my own review that I spelled Vulga wrong – that’s what happens when you don’t review the literal text! I loved your spoilers discussion.

    Eph’s ending really pissed me off. I really loved his redemption in this book and especially how healing it was for him to be with Sefi and the kids. The whole Ascommanni part in this book felt unnecessary to me. It was like being stuck in a bad horror flick to listen to Lyria and Volga try to escape the disgusting beasts.

    You didn’t mention Ulysses or the Red girls. That entire part of the book I was horrorfied and so captivated. I absolutely loved all the symbolism as Viktra swam in the ocean and pledged to Lyria and Volga…

    There was a ton to love about this book. I could have done without Lysander and I felt sick at the whole marriage part. Like… is she his aunt? Like actual blood relative? Sometimes I get lost in all the prose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jessica!
      No worries at all. In my Iron Gold review I spelled Sevro wrong the entire post and had a troll totally call me out in the most condescending way. It happens to all of us!
      Ugh. I still find myself speechless over Ulysses and the Red Girls. Brown totally took that story far from the direction I’d anticipated, leaving me in a shocked horror. That being said, I’m excited to see what happens to Lyria in the upcoming book.
      I guess the Aunt part didn’t bug me as much as it would had this been written pre Game of Thrones, but when you put it like that I guess I shouldn’t be desensitized by Cersei. Ha
      This book ranks as one of my favorite of the series, despite the slow start. I can’t believe everything that happened!
      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my review! What are you reading next?


      • If it makes you feel better, I went to a book chat with brown and Andy Weir interviewed Brown and said Sevro as “Servo” the entire time, even when Brown corrected him. Then Weir wouldn’t sign my copy of The Martian (he was weird that night, maybe not in the best of moods) so I asked Brown to write in the book as Sevro and he drew a dick pic. It was hysterical.

        I really loved seeing Lyria become a bad ass too!

        Next on my plate is Skyweaver by Kristen Ciccarelli — it’s an ARC from Netgalley and I am so excited. If you haven’t read her books yet, you might enjoy them!! She’s a real vivid fantasy writer and has a great way of tying in dragons in a new way.

        I have a huge backlog of to be reads…! You have a lovely blog. Thank you for taking the time to comment on mine!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s