ARC Review: Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release date: March 6, 2018

In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red? See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares!

Written by author Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Trilogy) and Rik Hoskin (Heroes of Skyrealm, Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand), with art by Eli Powell (Yakuza Demon Killers, The 13th Artifact), comes the in-continuity story of revolution and Red Rising!

Warnings: violence, gore

Sons of Ares is a gritty prequel to the Red Rising series. It tells us the story of Ares, the leader of the rebels and the time before Darrow ever came into the picture (it’s been a while since I read the Red Rising book so I may be a little wrong here). Ares was born as a Gold, top of the class pyramid but considered a runt among his people. He has to fight continuously for any footing in his life, even his very survival. If you’ve read Red Rising, you know about the brutal rite of passage they have called the Reaping, and the subsequent games to determine the Peerless Scarred among them. Going through all that, especially as a member of House Ares would warp anybody, especially an underdog for whom the only way to get on top is violence and violence.

After receiving his status as a Peerless Scarred, the rest of his life is determined by a series of choices that keep pushing on him. First his friend (or master, more like) turns his back on him. Then he is employed to oversee operations on a distant mom, Triton, where he thinks he’ll get away from the rigid caste system but again only sees a more extreme version of it. He falls in love with a Red during his time there, and marries her. Their relationship has to remain a secret, especially when they get back to Agea, and have a baby with the aid of a black market Carver.

The story starts out in a retrospectivev way, and we piece together the events that lead to the start, and then carry on forward. While initially it’s only a rescue operation, soon we see how their small rebel group came together. The story continuously calls out the brutal culture of the Golds and the terrible system that keeps the different colors apart from each other. It’s also a story about a relatively privileged person learning about how much he is not different from the people he has been taught all his life to consider inferior. The power gap between Golds and Reds is almost akin to masters and slaves, and he finds that he prefers the community of Reds and the ‘lower’ colors than the backstabbing and bloodthirsty class of the Golds.

The artwork of the book definitely has that dark, gritty atmosphere to it. Most of the scenes seem bleak and have a redish color scheme owing to all the violence depicted. Fans might be happy to see some things of the books imagined in a visual format. I, however, felt the artwork, when it came to the core of it, the lineart itself, was not that impressive. Half the time I couldn’t even distinguish characters from one another and the size differences in between characters was not consistent. (The Golds are supposedly much larger than the Reds)

Overall though, it’s a wonderful addition to the series, and recommended for fans and new readers alike. But be warned, though, that this book doesn’t provide much of the exposition needed to understand this world, and it would be better to at least read Red Rising before this one.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Diamond Books, via Edelweiss.

Note: This is not YA. Not suitable for younger teens.

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