Dark Age is the fifth book of the Red Rising Saga. It may also be referred to as the second book of the Iron Gold Trilogy, which takes place ten years after the third book, Morning Star, with Darrow as one of the four narrators in the series. The book title was announced by Pierce Brown on his Facebook page on December 15, 2017.
The book's original scheduled publication date was September 11, 2018, however, it had been pushed back to February 12, 2019, then to July 9, 2019.
The actual publication date was July 30, 2019.
Pierce announced on social media that he had completed and turned in the manuscript on April 19, 2019.
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Morning Star returns to the Red Rising universe with the thrilling sequel to Iron Gold.
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 hope 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, the children of Darrow and Mustang must trust in 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.
WARNING: This section reveals MAJOR SPOILERS from this and prior books. It is meant to be used as a reference for those who have already read the book and need the information or a refresher on the storyline. By no means is this meant to be an alternative to reading the book. Read at your own risk.
(Prior to the Prologue, there is a speech by Virginia, Sovereign of the Solar Republic. She address her people, to gain their trust and support for the upcoming battle on Mercury. Her last thoughts are for her husband, to endure, for she will come for him. The prologue takes place two months prior to this speech.)
With a skeleton crew, and Sevro having parted ways to go back to Luna to help find his daughter Electra from whomever kidnapped her, Darrow arrives at Mercury three weeks too late from the attack by Atalantia au Grimmus. However, he and those with him, including Thraxa au Telemanus, Alexandar au Arcos, Colloway xe Char, Tongueless, and his niece Rhonna, attempt a rescue of one of his most loyal, Orion xe Aquarii, from the ship the Blood Medusa. Though they are successful in rescuing Orion, it's obvious she has endured torture.
Part I: Mischief
Darrow is on Mercury looking at what's left of his army, over three thousand injured and no longer able to fight. He happens Dago of Gamma, the infamous Helldiver from a rival tribe of his. Dago is now blind and weakened and offers Darrow some soil from Lykos to keep with him.
There on Mercury, Darrow's set up his headquarters in the city of Tyche, where he's also had his flagship, the Morning Star, docked for repairs. When he goes to check on Orion, he already knows that despite her passing her psychiatric evaluation and completing her duties on schedule, she's different somehow.
They meet with Glirastes the Master Maker and start to uncover the Storm God machines that were hidden on the planet by Octavia. Darrow then gathers up the reliable veterans there and tells them of his plan of how to annihilate Atalantia and Atlas, and how they're his "insurance policy", under the name Operation Tartarus. But the plan falls through as soon as they realize that Atlas is not going where they had planned, and Darrow orders Orion to go to BlueReach One, a location off the coast of Tyche.
Before Darrow could arrive in the city of Angelia, where Atlas was said to be, he had already been lost to Alexandar and the rest of Darrow's men due to exhaustion and lack of sleep. By the time he arrived, the soldiers were already defeated, left dying and booby-trapped for anyone who dare try to rescue them. They also find realize the city's reactor is being overloaded to explode the city and any other city reactors connected to it. Darrow and his team make it out in time, but Angelia and several other cities are bombed. Darrow makes live Operation Tartarus.
As Atalantia begins her Iron Rain, Darrow loses many of his men in the atomic bombs that go off around their area. He has Colloway take what's left of the First Army to aid Thraxa and make their way to Tyche, while he takes his Second Army, the Helldiver Legion, with him to Tyche directly.
When the Storm God is activated, Darrow's army intercepts one of the enemy's divisions and are able to take down several legions, as well as Primus Scorpio au Votum.
When they finally arrive at Tyche, Darrow realizes that Orion defied his order to keep the Storm God level to a minimum and has already destroyed much of the city and killed millions, Golds and civilians alike. He is forced to use his master switch on her, killing her. Rhonna brings him an enemy in Fulminata uniform, but when they reveal his face, he knows it's Screwface, who was carved to go undercover in Atalantia's army. Screwface tells him of Ajax's legion going towards Heliopolis, and Darrow tells Rhonna to find the Morning Star and Thraxa and go to Heliopolis by way of the Waste of Ladon. He then allows Alexandar and his men to help the civilians of Tyche escape the destroyed city, after giving him status as a Howler by giving him his wolfcloak, temporarily.
Darrow and his men face off against Lysander and his group easily, taking them as "light resistance," on their way to Heliopolis. They arrive at Heliopolis only to find it being sieged by Ajax's men. Darrow is almost killed, but is saved by Colloway xe Char, Thraxa au Telemanus, and the First Army. They take back Heliopolis, but Ajax escapes, and Darrow suffers another heart attack.
Lysander travels with Diomedes au Raa and Seraphina au Raa to board the Annihilo orbiting Mercury and meet with Atalantia au Grimmus and Ajax au Grimmus. Once they land on the ship, the Fear Knight, Kalindora au San, who Lysander thought dead, and Ajax meet them skeptically. They test Lysander to see if it's really him, and once it's confirmed, Ajax makes an effort to show his dislike of Diomedes and Seraphina.
After he meets alone with Atalantia, she, along with Ajax and Kalindora, as well as the Primuses of House Carthii, House Votum, and House Falthe via hologram. Lysander tells him of how he had become a ward to Cassius, and of Cassius' death and the whereabouts of his body. When Diomedes and Seraphina are brought in, they explain Darrow's involvement in the Ganymede Dockyard destruction and of the death of their father, Romulus au Raa, and offer their aid to help in this war. Atalantia at first seems to reject having the Rim's help, but with some convincing, she agrees. When asked to join in the Iron Rain they have planned, Diomedes tells Atalantia he cannot join as that is not what he's there for, but Seraphina requests to join in his place, despite her brother's disapproval. Lysander, who had just been hit and berated by Ajax moments prior for allowing himself to be ward to Cassius, also states his desire to join the Iron Rain, alongside Ajax.
As Ajax prepares his legion, the Iron Leopards, for the battle, he lets them know they are not going to assist Scorpio au Votum to take Tyche as agreed upon by Atalantia, but they are going to take Heliopolis instead, much to Lysander's disappointment.
When the Iron Rain starts, Lysander and the rest of them shoot towards the ground while bombs are going off all over the planet. Though Lysander no longer feels comfortable about their attack on possible civilians, Kalindora reminds him they're in a war. As they get ready for their next plan, they are notified of a storm coming. Lysander then tells them of a Storm God, which only he in the group knows about. Lysander and Seraphina volunteer to go destroy the Storm God. Unfortunately, when they reach it in painstaking effort, even while being aided by Cicero au Votum's Scorpian Legion, Seraphina is killed by an flyaway rail slug.
They are finally able to destroy the Storm God, but when Darrow and his men reach them, they are beaten easily, with Kalindora losing an arm, and Lysander having part of his face burned.
Part II: Craft
Taking place after Darrow takes back Heliopolis, Virginia, from the dreadnought Echo of Ares, makes her first speech to the Solar Republic, telling them of the what has happened on Mercury and how they still need help, hoping it will help gain back support from the people. At the same time, the Twins of South Pacifica shoot out projectiles filled with supplies and medicine, along with a message for Darrow stating he has not been abandoned. After her speech, Dancer contacts her, voicing his disagreement about her intentions to send a fleet out to Mercury. She knows he fears death, and retaliation by the Vox Populi in the aftermath.
She meets with Daxo au Telemanus on his skyhook, where he is with Publius cu Caraval arguing his point, and states that he cannot side with Daxo if they allow Quicksilver to do as he wishes, basically. But Virginia's main purpose is to get the Optimate Party to convince enough voters to get her a Forum and the power over the defense fleets so she can aid Darrow.
Virginia, upon meeting with Regulus ag Sun, finds herself being extorted by the Silvers' common interest federation, the Zenith Ring, with Brittania ag Krieg voicing out the proposals. Despite Quicksilver's position and prior aid from his company, Virginia denies their proposals and she demands their votes instead.
She gets news that Sevro has killed the Duke of Heads, the chief assassin of the Syndicate, as Sevro has been on a killing spree on orders of his wife, Victra, due to their kidnapped daughter, Electra. Virginia's team is able to contain the Duke of Hands before Sevro can get to him. She uses psychospikes on him and uses the results to improve the technology she has been working on, which is refined from Octavia au Lune's Pandemonium Chair.
Sevro arrives ready to kill the Duke of Hands, but when Virginia theorizes correctly the whereabouts of Pax and Electra, that they're with Sefi and her Obsidians on Mars, and why Sevro and Victra kept Virginia out of it, she convinces Sevro to return to her command, along with the Howler First Cohort. To confirm his loyalty to her, she has Sevro question the Duke without killing him, he does so, with the Duke unwillingly revealing his secrets through holoimages, including several images of Dancer O'Faran and him being intimate, due to the psychospikes she used on him. After his secrets are revealed, the Duke loses his memories, not even remembering what his own eye color is. Virginia gives Theodora the order to turn him into a Splinter, Theodora's elite assassins.
Virginia and Sevro surprise Dancer when he comes to visit Deanna. They show him the images from the Duke of Hands' memory, and he's furious, thinking they're blackmailing him to keep his secret, since Reds are against homosexuality. They tell him the truth and that the children are with Sefi, and they want Dancer to convince the Reds to go in partnership with Sefi, which can only be done if his votes are for Virginia. They hypothesize that Publius is the one collaborating with the Syndicate Queen. Dancer agrees to side with Virginia.
On the day of the voting, Sevro leaves for Earth with fifty thousand of Virginia's men and Darrow's Seventh Legion, where they believe the Syndicate Queen to be, to kill her. Niobe is headed to Mars to rendezvous with their house fleets. Kavax, who is still healing, opts to go for a swim instead of going to the Citadel for the voting as he doesn't like to be there without Niobe. He gives Virginia words of encouragement before he leaves.
But things go awry as soon as the Forum begins. As Sevro tries to warn Virginia about Boneriders being in Old Tokyo, Dancer is giving his speech. As he's about to voice his vote for Virginia, he collapses, having been poisoned, and dies. Publius and the Vox Populi shout tyranny and it becomes a coup, with many people and senators killed. As Daxo tries to protect Virginia and give her a way to escape the Citadel, he is also killed. As Virginia is beaten and being hauled away, she sees it is Lilath au Faran who cuts off Daxo's head. Virginia realizes then that Lilath is the Syndicate Queen. This day has become known as the Day of Red Doves.
Ephraim wakes to find himself on Mars, along with Pax and Electra. They are now on Mars, and as Ephraim asks for zoladone when he awakes, Pax, who is there holding Trigg ti Nakamura's engagement ring, denies him the drug, knowing his addiction to it.
When he comes to again, he realizes that his injuries have been taken care of and his right leg has been replaced for a stronger one. He also realizes he's in the ruined city of Olympia on Eagle Rest, the old citadel of House Bellona. He's greeted by an Obsidian shaman named Ozgard who tells him that they killed the Syndicate men after them. When he tries to flee, he is caught by Valdir the Unshorn and flown back up to Eagle Rest by Godeater, Sefi's griffin.
He is brought to the training square, where he watches Electra in a sparring match between two groups of young Obsidians. She shows her skill as her team wins. But when it's Pax's group's turn, he doesn't play by their rules. After he wins his match, Sefi scolds him, but he digresses, instead attempting to guilt Sefi for not only taking them in as hostages/wards, but also for leaving Darrow before he left for Venus in Iron Gold.
Sefi proposes a deal with Ephraim. If he teaches Sefi's Skuggi how to be better in "freelancing," things that will be useful other than killing, she will rescue Volga and Lyria from Victra au Barca's hold, as that is who has them, and pay him a large sum of money. He asks for me, which Sefi agrees to, as he will also work on bringing Pax closer to the Alltribe.
He spends his first days teaching the Skuggi how to speak the common language as only half of them know it. And then teaches them how to lie by playing karachi, a card game which is presumably a game of skills and technique, much like poker. We learn that Pax has been allowed to work on an old gravBike, thanks to Ephraim's convincing. Ephraim hints at the possibility of helping Pax and Electra escape. Pax also lets him know that he believes Valdir, who is Sefi's concubine, and Freihild, a highly respected Skuggi, are lovers.
All three of them are sequestered onto a shuttle to fly them to an old cruise vessel called the Heart of Venus. On their way there, Pax tells them of the theory of a group of Obsidians who escaped the genocide and cultural reengineering of their people - the Ascomanni, and how there might be a central force who leads them named Volsung the Taker. He also tells them about how some ships went missing in the Kuiper Belt, and years later one of the Ascommani was seen. It wasn't until Octavia had sent Atlas au Raa on his mission to Pluto that the name Volsung was thought of again as Atlas had lost all but two ships early in the mission. When Atlas returned seven years later, it was the same time rumors of the Ascomanni uniting had begun. Pax guesses that Atlas might have helped the Volsung into power.
On the ship, they find that the Obsidians living there had come from Mercury, when Cadus Harnassus had released half the fleet back to Luna. Freihild brings them to see Sefi, where they witness Sefi's men kill Amel, Sefi's Pink servant, for treason and an assassination attempt against her. Valdir is angered by this, thinking it was Ozgard's doing, but Sefi tells him it was Xenophon, the logos who serves the Alltribe, who told her.
Sefi then tells them that Virginia was killed in the coup, as well as the archGovernor of Mars, and that Sevro has been captured on Earth. Pax leaves, and Electra yells at Sefi, blaming her for what has happened, and stalks off as well. Sefi then tells Ephraim that she plans on taking the Cimmeria mines and needs the Skuggi to be ready. Ephraim tells her they will be.
Ephraim is required to attend the Kjrdakan, a war ritual performed before important battles, as aefe, a planner, which means that Sefi has accepted his plan, and not that of Valdir. During the ritual, Valdir shows his displeasure and voices his anger, stating that Ephraim's plan will fail. Ephraim shows his confidence in his plan by making a blood wager. Sefi does the same, showing her confidence in Ephraim's plan as well.
When it's time for the attack on Cimmeria, Ephraim, high on eating some of Ozgard's spirit berries, joins in the fray, holding a mop he hallucinated as a rifle.
Colloway locates and retrieves Orion's body from the sea after six days of searching, having killed one-hundred ninety three of Atalantia's men during those days. He puts her body with all the other bodies that were retrieved from the water.
The Battle of the Ladon is over, but all the major cities of Helios are now lost and millions of Darrow's men are either dead or missing, along with millions of the citizens of Heliopolis. Darrow surmises that Atalantia is also suffering many casualties as there hasn't been another attack since. Alexandar has yet to appear from where Darrow left him, at Tyche, and presumes he's likely dead.
Harnassus, Thraxa, and Screwface discuss what to do next. Darrow knows there's no escape, and Harnassus suggests surrender, thinking that though they will be tortured to death at least some of the civilians will survive. Darrow tells them all that he will wait for the Republic and his wife to send aid, and orders that they share their supplies with the civilians, despite the fact that it won't last a week if they do, as per Thraxa's argument. After that's said, Rhonna tells Darrow that Atalantia requests an audience.
Atalantia knows she's at a disadvantage, but then she shows Darrow the Forum and he watches events of the Day of Red Doves. He realizes he can't rely on Virginia or the Republic coming to their aid, knowing that Virginia might be dead. Atalantia gives him twenty-four hours to surrender. While the recording is being shown to all of Heliopolis, he discusses with the high command what needs to be done next, and gives them the authority to decide their fate, with him accepting any decision they make.
Lysander and the other surviving soldiers were rescued by Kalindora and Rhone. Half of his face is melted and ruined from the battle, still in pain, though he uses the Mind's Eye at times to help him with the pain. Rhone is later taken by some of the Rising soldiers, but Cicero and some of his men find them. Only seven Golds and five Praetorian Grays survive the days in the desert. Cicero tells him about when Nero visited his father, and later sent Darrow, when he was a lancer for Nero, to gift him with a box of grapes as a veiled threat, a reference to how Nero had murdered Iona au Bellona.
That night, Cicero suggests killing the Grays since he's sure they'll run out of water before they reach the closest city, Erebos, but Lysander refuses.
As they continue on their path to Erebos, they stop near a hydra burrow, careful not to get too close for fear of a bush hydra coming out of the hole. Another sandstorm races towards them, and Lysander, in his weakened state, shelters himself inside the burrow.
Once the storm has passed, he comes out and realizes he is left alone. Seneca au Cern and six of Ajax's Iron Leopards find him. They attempt to kill him on Ajax's order. He uses the Mind's Eye kill them, including Seneca, and is injured even more.
Apollonius au Valii-Rath makes his presence known to Lysander, apparently having followed him for a while. Lysander doesn't have anything against him, but when Apollonius offers his help, Lysander refuses, not wanting to be indebted to him. He also doesn't wish to ruin any chances of Gold being victorious when all this is over, which he believes will happen if he takes Apollonius' offer.
Lyria is being held prisoner by Victra, even after telling Victra everything she had already told Virginia. Victra still keeps her imprisoned. She does not know for how long. Though Lyria almost gave up on living and tried to starve herself to death, her thoughts of family bring her the will to survive. It is then that she finds a message in blood on a torn cloth hidden in a vent. It is from Volga, who is also a prisoner there.
Part III: Treason
Lysander finds a farm and is able to clean himself and rest before heading out again. When he reaches Erebos, he finds the city underwater, totally destroyed. Upon going through what's left of the city, he shows mercy upon a dying Red, killing him as he asked, but then is injured by a mine. Gorgons find him and they take him with them.
He wakes tied up in a cave, with some of Darrow's men, including Alexandar au Arcos. He tells them he is Cato au Vetruvius, and Alexandar introduces the rest of them as the Knights of Elysium - Drusilla, Ignacius, Crastus, and Hadrian. Lysander lets them know that Heliopolis hasn't fallen and that Darrow is still alive.
They are all tortured by the Gorgons and have lost their hair from the radiation off the Ladon. Lysander finally meets Atlas au Raa upon his fifth time in the torture chains. He uses the Mind's Eye on Atlas, but Atlas knows, and identifies him by his true name. Atlas asks about the death of his brother, Romulus, among other things, including Atalantia's hate for Aja and the fact that Ajax and Atalantia are sleeping together.
Atlas lets him know Atalantia plans a chemical attack on Heliopolis. They form a plan in which Atlas will allow Lysander to indeed knock him out and attempt an escape. They fight and Lysander chokes him unconscious and puts a tacNet on him. He hides Cassius' blade, then frees Alexandar and the rest of them, and shows them what he did to Atlas, all while feigning lack of skill. They inject themselves with the stims they've found, and give Lysander one as well, immediately giving him relief from his burned face. He has earned their trust. They make their escape with Atlas in tow.
Alexandar and Lysander make it to Heliopolis. Glirastes welcomes Lysander under his alias, which he is familiar with and does not reveal it. In a secret meeting, Glirastes explains why he sided with Darrow and at first is not willing to help Lysander, but when Lysander lies to him about seeing Tyche go down, it convinces Glirastes to side with Lysander. Exeter and Glirastes' remaining lowColor staff pledge fealty to Lysander.
Glirastes is overseeing the building of a large scale electromagnetic pulse weapon, but it giving Darrow a hard time about it. Darrow asks Harnassus if Glirastes would cross them, but he and Thraxa don't think so.
It's noted that Sevro has a stateroom in the city. When Darrow enters it, he quickly realizes it's booby-trapped, as others have warned, but he's able to deactivate the rest of the traps. He observes the room and the items there, including Ragnar's razor, his own original slingBlade that he used in the Institute, and Fitchner's Ares armor and helmet. He sees that Sevro also adorned his room with holos of his daughters. Darrow now understands why Sevro went back, and he vows to himself to be the father and husband Pax and Virginia deserve.
Darrow arrives back in Heliopolis just when Alexandar and Lysander make it there, along with Atlas. Alexandar is brought to surgery for his multiple injuries. In his anger, Darrow almost cuts off Atlas' hands for the torture he inflicted, but backs down. He has Thraxa interrogate him. He also has her isolate Lysander (under Cato), verify his story, and get an analysis on him. Alexandar survives the surgery.
Glirastes demands to see Cato or threatens to stop working. Upon checking his story and with further analysis, Cato's story seems to check out and there is no major signs that he is lying about his identity, including not being a Peerless Scarred, and origins. His hands are too injured to show whether he's familiar with a razor. After further observation, they can't find any reason to not believe Cato's story, so they allow Glirastes and Cato to reunite. However, Darrow and Screwface are still skeptical of him and plan to keep an eye on both him and Glirastes.
Virginia is set on the Pandemonium Chair for extraction of information, though she fights it, by revealing false memories. They set a hologram in front of her to watch the execution of Theodora and Servilla au Arcos, as well as her Lionguard, and other people who were likely going to vote for her.
Publius gives explains himself to her, and says The Syndicate is being destroyed and that Quicksilver has fled. He plans to rebuild the world and tells her that she will be found guilty for high treason and be executed the next day.
During Virginia's trial, Lilath arrives with her Boneriders and reveals herself to Publius, whom he was secretly working with, but thought was a red. He and the rest of the tribunal are forced on their hands and knees and collared like dogs. Lilath calls out to her Emperor, a young boy who is a clone of Adrius au Augustus. The Abomination.
They bring in Sevro, Pebble, and Clown and before the Abomination. They've obviously been beaten. They find out that Adrius had left Lilath instructions and DNA samples so she can impregnate herself with the clone and raise him. He plans to use Publius to be the face of the Abomination's rule. Atlas and Atalantia also had allied with Lilath, but they don't know about the Abomination.
Gorgo brings out a giant iron statue of a howling wolf. Several Howlers, including Min-Min, are trapped inside, and are burned to death in the statue. The Abomination threatens to use the psychospikes on Sevro's mind before erasing it all together. Sevro tries to attack, but he's beaten into unconsciousness. Virginia, helpless, demands the Abomination just kill them, but he tells her he could never kill her.
Virginia is brought to a banquet for the jackals, seated next to the Abomination. They watch on a hologram the pending space battle between Niobe's fleets and the Vox fleet, which has blocked their entry to the planet. Virginia uses this time to strategize a way to manipulate the Abomination and turn him against Lilath. She is able to get him alone in her room, where she is able to trick him into grab one of the poisonous night lilies she has in her room.
The Abomination's scream brings Lilath back into the room, but Virginia is able to fight her off and escape through a secret hole. Virginia has lost her right ear, and a massive cut on her shoulder and her side are bleeding. She cauterizes what she can and has to amputate an index finger and part of her middle and ring fingers to prevent the poison from the night lily from spreading.
She is able to communicate to Kavax and he tells her to eject from the escape hatch, though she wants to get to Sevro, Pebble, and Clown, but Kavax tells her teams are on the way, so she ejects and is found by Holiday. They are able to bring her to the Reynard, Kavax's ship.
When Virginia awakes, she's comforted by Deanna, and then talks strategy with Kavax and Niobe. They tell her that they can't go back to help Sevro, but they did send teams to try to get them out. They also let her know that there's a secret alliance between The Rim and the Core. Kavax and Niobe believe they'll come to take Mars. Virginia agrees that it's best to go to Mars instead of Mercury, even though Darrow is on Mercury. Kavax tells her he sent someone to rescue Darrow if Heliopolis falls, the same person who told them about the alliance.
Lyria and Volga have been communicating with each other via torn pieces of cloth and blood, resigned to the lights and sound that have surrounded her in her cell constantly. Fig, the unusual Brown that took Lyria from Virginia's home escorts her out of the room one day, stating that Ephraim has arranged for her and Volga's release. They find out they're on the Pandora. As they're getting cleaned up, one of the Sol Guards tells Lyria that Virginia is dead.
A hole appears in a the metal bulkhead where she's getting cleaned up, and gravity is lost throughout the ship, slowing them down. Six monsters enter through the hole and start killing the Sol Guards. They come face to face with Volsung Fa, the leader of the Ascomanni that Volga described in one of her notes to Lyria.
Victra orders over the speakers for a total evacuation of the Pandora within ten minutes before she releases achlys-9 nerve agent throughout the ship. They catch Figment hiding and bring Fig with them to make their escape. Fig tells them there's a secret escape craft they can go to. It is Victra's personal escape craft and Victra is already in there when they enter.
The escape craft crashes in Cimmeria. Lyria finds Volga, then Figment. Fig's injuries are fatal, but she's able to transfer a squid-like parasite to Lyria. Fig then dies, and Lyria goes back to Volga. When Volga confirms Fig's death, she takes Fig's bag and a black orb that's inside. Lyria doesn't tell her about the squid. They find Victra, who's stuck under heavy branches. Victra seems to know about the parasite, but doesn't say anything to Volga. Lyria leaves Volga and Victra, but as she tries to make out on her own, she spots a ship of the Red Hand landing and goes back to warn Victra and Volga. Harmony is there, and even though they have an opportunity to kill her, they don't.
They come across a small fishing town, and while debating what to do, the very pregnant Victra's water bursts. They go to one of the houses, where a red, Cormac O'Vadros, lives with his daughter, Brea, and son, Alred. Volga makes sure all weapons of theirs are disassembled, and though Cormac is friendly, Lyria stays armed with a pistol. Her and Victra go into Brea's bedroom to get ready for the birth.
Cormac tells them the Red Hand was around earlier looking for Victra. Lyria is wary of him and let's Victra know, but says she doesn't fear him. When Lyria checks on Victra, Victra tells her about what happened to Harmony's clan and how it was House Julii's fault, the reason why Harmony hates her as well as Lyria, since Lyria's clan was also involved.
Victra gives birth with Lyria watching. It is a boy, and Victra names him Ulysses.
Victra lets Volga go to the transmitter in the town to send a message to Victra's troops to come get them. When Lyria goes to get some ice for Victra, Brea is able to warn her that Cormac and Alred are with the Red Hand. Brea is immediately assaulted by Cormac. Both Cormac and Alred are killed.
Victra, with Ulysses in hand, runs for the forest, but Lyria doesn't want to leave Brea, who's still breathing. By the time Brea dies, Victra is long gone. Lyria tries to find her, but loses track. When she makes her way back to town, she finds the dead body of Ulysses.
In the village, Lyria sees the Red Hand ship take off with Victra and Volga, and ends up taking shelter with a woman, Maeve, who is Brea's mother, and rest of her family. She tells Lyria of what happened in the village and how the Hand had taken many of the young girls there to be childwives, including Brea's younger sister, Mora. Lyria finds the orb that Fig kept with her at Cormac's now burned-down house. The orb opens when she accidentally cuts herself and bleeds on it. It shows the readout of the cortical implant in Lyria and states it is impaired.
With the help of Maeve, Lyria disguises herself as a young girl is able to get herself picked up by Picker's boys. Lyria is locked in with twenty other girls. She tells them of a way to kill the men so they can go back home, and all but two join her. One of the girls joining Lyria is Mora, Brea's younger sister, whose nicknamed Lion. They are then brought to one of the mines. They are fed and drugged to prepare them to be chosen as a wife. Harmony comes in and delivers a speech that's supposed to make the girls feel honored to be chosen.
During the choosing ritual, Duncan O'Cyros picks Lyria to be his wife. When all the girls are chosen, Lyria starts feeling the drug take effect on her during the ceremony and throughout the celebration. However, she's still able to manipulate Duncan into showing her where Volga is imprisoned, and later, gets the information about Victra's whereabouts before he dies from the poison she hid in one of her tooth implants.
She is caught immediately after due to Tails informing the men. When Harmony starts torturing and questioning her, other men start dying from the implants that Lyria's girls were also implanted with. Harmony goes off to find them, and Freckles, one of the girls, frees Lyria.
Lyria and Freckles find Harmony's room, where there are two razors, a Gold pulseArmor breastplate, a map, and a communications console. She sends out a broad spectrum signal for help, then gets herself imprisoned in Victra's cell, as she planned. After Harmony arrives, and finds out about the tooth implants, it's already too late as Lyria used her second tooth to free Victra from her cuffs and unlock the cell. The men there are no match, but Harmony is able to escape.
Lyria convinces Victra to help Volga and the young childwives as they're outnumbered, and Freckles comes to give her the razors and breastplate they found in Harmony's room. Victra and Lyria join in the fight against the Hand. They finally see Harmony again, and Victra catches up to her, Lyria watching. Victra finally gets a hold of Harmony, and Lyria shows her a pit viper nearby, where Harmony is thrown into where she'll die in a few days time.
Victra and Lyria make their way back to the Common, where Volga, the surviving childwives including Mora and Freckles, and the slaves, free from their cells, are. Harmony's torchShip is getting ready to bomb the mine, but Lyria's signal was successful in calling out for help.
Per his contract with Sefi, Ephraim is gifted with his own ship, which he names Snowball. The successful result of the mine heist has given Ephraim more honor and respect from the Obsidians, since he was able to survive the hunterkiller robots while many of them did not.
On a drake hunting celebration, Ephraim watches next to Xenophon and Valdir, as Pax rides with Sefi on her griffin Godeater, and Electra rides with Freihild, accompanied by the Valkyrie. When Sefi has her target on her sights, she aims to shoot, but can't pull back on the bowstring enough, and things go awry for the Valkyrie. Freihild injures it, but Ephraim uses one of the brave's rifles and shoots the Drake, killing it. Later, Ephraim asks Pax what happened, Pax says he forgot to keep the bow in its heat sheath, making the cord contract, but Ephraim speculates there's something wrong with Sefi.
Ephraim takes Ozgard and Freihild on his ship to drop the skull of the drake at a prepared site, then go in search of nightgaze. While waiting for Freihild, Ephraim goes to get another coat in his ship and stumbles across a field of nightgaze, near where the remains of Alia Snowsparrow's old throne is. When Ephraim detects they are not alone, they start to go back to the ship, but find that Freihild has been killed, by Volsung Fá. Ozgard tries to attack him, but Fá blinds him in his right eye. He gives Ephraim Freihild's heart and tells Ephraim to gift the heart to Sefi and to let her know he has come to contest her claim as Queen of All Volk.
During the feast held in Freihild's honor, Valdir voices his disbelief of the Ascomanni and Fá, even challenging Sefi before storming out. She questions Ephraim and Pax about the Ascomanni, finding confirmation from them about their existence. During their conversation, they are told the griffin have all been slaughtered, including Godeater. Valdir has killed them all, and when Sefi has him bound and taken away, Ephraim is suspicious and has Valdir's drink tested. It's found that Valdir's drink has been tainted and Ozgard is blamed.
Sefi lets Ozgard stay with the Alltribe, but he is to be ignored by all. Afterwards, Sefi reveals to Ephraim she had been poisoned by Atalantia au Grimmus, and is rotting from inside. Since then, which is why she has kept Valdir away, being cold to him, and why she didn't confront Valdir or Freihild about their affair. She then confirms that Ragnar is Volga's father after Victra had Volga's DNA tested. Of the Alltribe, only Valdir, Ozgard, and Xenophon know. Sefi wants Volga to takeover as Queen after she dies.
On his way back to Eagle Rest from a walk around the city, Ephraim sees on someone's datapad that the Pandora has been attacked. It shows Obsidian attacking the Pandora. Ephraim knows it's Volsung Fá's Ascomanni, but he knows others will think it's Sefi's Alltribe, and he knows it's time to leave.
Pax and Electra manage to escape Eagle Rest with Ephraim; Pax is flying Snowball, with Ephraim just barely surviving thanks to Electra. They don't go back to the Citadel, but go in search for Victra. Two weeks later, they hear Lyria's signal and boost it through all of Mars. With Pax still flying, they join the battle against Harmony's torchShip, while Ephraim takes command over the other ships that came. After they defeat the Red Hand and land to see the exodus of childwives from the Red Hand Headquarters, including Lyria, Victra, and Volga, Pax and Electra reunite with Victra, and Volga with Ephraim.
After Ephraim is seen by the Julii's medici, he and Volga tell each other's stories, but he doesn't tell her about her parentage. Pax comes to let him know that both his parents are still alive, though Virginia is being held captive, and Heliopolis, where Darrow is at, is about to be attacked. Pax gives him Trigg's ring, and a disc from Victra, a pass to get past the Republic patrols and off Mars, as a debt was owed to Trigg for saving her life from the Jackal. He's also handed a holodrop that reveals it was Xenophon was the intermediary for Fá, and Ozgard and Amel were framed. Pax asks him to go back to talk to Sefi, to let her know, and despite Volga's protests for going and then for going without her, he decides to go back.
Ephraim sneaks into to see Ozgard and shows him the holodrop. Knowing they can't get past the Valkyrie, and that Sefi only trusts Xenophon now, they decide to release Valdir. Ephraim then sneaks into Xenophon's room, where he watches as Xenophon plays a message from Atlas au Raa, stating that Volsun Fá will wait for their signal. Atlas reassures Xenophon of their reward after the mission is completed. When Ephraim confronts them, they introduce themselves as First Frumentarius, Legio Zeo Pavor Noctornus - a Gorgon and frumentarius, a special forces spy. He confirms Ozgard's innocence, but Amel was actually an assassin hired by Atalantia, which Xenophon exposed.
Xenophon stats that Atlas infiltrated the Ascomanni by having his best Gorgon, Volsung Fá, infiltrate the group. He is then knocked out by one of the Ascomanni that have surrounded him during conversation. When he wakes, Sefi is facing him, but he has a hard time speaking, and she sentences him and Ozgard to death. As Sefi is giving her speech first, Ozgard lets him know that most of the skuggi are now dead and he doesn't know if Valdir was able to escape. After Sefi finishes her speech, she orders Xenophon to open the Bellona Doors of the hall they're in. Once the doors open, a Republic diplomatic shuttle taxis for landing, and Xenophon announces the arrival of Volsung Fá.
Sefi at first denies him as her father, but as he continues to speak and reveal memories, as well as a broken amulet of a griffin, the Alltribe, especially the males, slowly start being convinced. She gives a silent apology to Ozgard and Ephraim before she goes into one-on-one combat with Fá. She is easily beaten and brutally killed. Those Valkyrie who sided with Sefi are also killed by the others, and the rest kneel to Fá, as he orders them to sack the city, and kill and rape the people.
Ephraim requests to speak to Fá, to get close enough to him. When he tells Fá that Volga is dead, Fá knows he is lying and orders him dead. But before Ephraim is led away, the heartspike that was formerly inside him, and altered into a bomb which was then placed into Xenophon's pocket, goes off. Xenophon and Ephraim die in the aftermath, but Volsung Fá survives.
Part IV: Pride
Atlas au Raa only speaks a poem in Latin when Darrow is there, but doesn't say anything else, yet Darrow feels there's something he's missing. Since Cato has arrived, he's been suspicious of him as well, but it's only when he hears Cato say something in his sleep from the surveillance camera Darrow set up does realize what's wrong. He knows that Glirastes has flipped sides and that the EMP will be used against them. He alerts all of them, including Alexandar and Rhonna through their cochlear implants, who are visiting with Cato. Darrow has just warned them that Cato is Lysander.
By the time Darrow and the other Howlers get to Lady Beatrice, Alexandar is already dead and Rhonna beaten. They chase him around the city, but Lysander is able to broadcast a message through all the holoscreens for a call to arms under his lead. The EMP goes off, and the city is in darkness, with the shield around it down, while Atalantia's ships in the sky all plummet.
The city revolts against Darrow and his men. After having dealt with some of Lysander's followers in the city, Darrow sets up a plan with the Howlers with him to protect his men, especially against the Iron Leopards and XX Fulminata that have been imprisoned. He expects to meet against Lysander at the Via Triumphia, so he and Thraxa will hold there.
At the Via Triumphia, they're met with Lysander and his men, who've arrived on sunblood horses. Many men are trampled, many horses slain with their riders falling. Darrow is trampled, but his armor protects him from death. Kalindora au San is able to cut into Darrow's leg, and he also is stabbed in the lung.
After he faces off against Lysander on sunbloods, he makes his way to the Mound of Votum, where all the other survivors have rendezvoused. He is injured, but alive. Lysander and his men on sunbloods take over at the Via Triumphia, trampling on any of Darrow's men and followers they could find. Screwface and Thraxa also make it back. Harnassus and Darrow have a heart-to-heart, knowing they will die. But Cassius au Bellona arrives, giving Darrow hope.
Virginia arrives on Mars via the Dejah Thoris. She knows that Cassius has offered his services to the Republic and is on his way to aid Darrow. Upon Kavax's suggestion, she performs the Iron Circle around Mars, and is greeted with lines of fire between the cities that form the shape of a giant slingBlade.
Though Pax's conversation with Holiday is not detailed, it's likely he told her of his deeds with the Alltribe and his sacrifice. The object he gives her is likely the wedding ring of her brother Trigg, which was with Ephraim.
Pax brings her to see the grave of Ulysses and tells her he sent Lyria after Volga. After, she goes to talk with Victra. Victra is angry with her for leaving Sevro behind, but Virginia shows her the scars she received during the coup, which outnumber Victra's. Victra now understands and they agree to try to save their husbands, or avenge them. Pax then rushes tells them that Earth has fallen to both the Rim and the Society Remnant, united.
The Julii military and aid ships did not arrive on Olympia until three days after Volsung Fá and the Obsidians had left. Volga had sneaked out twelve hours after Ephraim was supposed to return, and was found holding what was left of Ephraim's body. Ozgard, now blind, was the only one left alive there, protecting Sefi's body, but escaped as Sol Guards were bringing him to the medical shuttle.
Victra buries Ulysses, with Pax, Electra, Lyria, and Volga there to witness. After she takes on the mourning tradition of the Julii, when family blood is spilled on one's debt, and survives, Victra then promises that House Barca will always answer if any of those four need aid.
The next day, as Volga and Lyria prepare to take Ephraim's body to Earth, the archGovernor of Mars, Kieran O'Lykos, arrives with news that Heliopolis and the Free Legions have fallen, and that Darrow is dead, as they haven't heard from Cassius since he got there to aid Darrow.
Kieran tells them that Volsung Fá has offered to return the survivors he took from Olympia and leave Mars if they give him Volga. Volga agrees to go, leaving Lyria the task of bringing Ephraim's body to Earth.
After Volga has left, Pax lets Lyria know that his mother is still alive. Pax also offers his help with the parasite in her. She refuses, saying that she needs to go back to find her nephew, Liam, but Pax says he will help her find Liam if she does something for him, mentioning a city called Oculus.
As Lysander is preparing for a surprise attack on Darrow and his men, Alexandar and Rhonna visit him, still believing to be Cato. But after some time, Lysander realizes they know something and after probing them with the Mind's Eye, he attacks Rhonna to unconsciousness and kills Alexandar. He is soon chased all over the city, but when the EMP goes off, this gives him the advantage as he makes his way to the Hippodrome.
There, he is met with loyalists, including Kalindora and Rhone, and a herd of sunblood horses. He leads the charge riding the largest horse, named Blood of Empire, and blows the Horn of Helios, given to him by Glirastes, as they make their way out of the Hippodrome.
When he arrives at the Via Triumphia, he and his loyalists trample Darrow's men. He manages to get away from Thraxa in the melee, and finally gets a chance to face off against Darrow, both on horses. Lysander is able to stab Darrow through the lung in their joust, though Darrow is able to get away, while Lysander falls to the ground.
Atalantia's fleet finally arrives, killing off those trying to run. Ajax arrives, surprised, and angry, to see that Lysander is still alive. Lysander knows he did not beat Darrow fairly, but he is content to have him die at the Mound. Then he sees the Archimedes, and Cassius, as it takes off, with Darrow on it. Lysander finds that Thraxa, Harnassus, and the core of Howlers escaped alongside Darrow on the Archimedes, while those who were left behind are thrown into manual labor to rebuild the city after The Long Night.
It is revealed that although Kalindora exterior wounds were mended, she was poisoned by Darrow's blade, and she has days left to live. Atlas made it through the night, locked in a cell on the Morning Star, let loose by his Gorgons. Pytha is there at Lysander's Triumph, and plans to stay with him. Lysander then appoints Rhone as his Dux, a title that usually goes to a Gold.
Lysander's Triumph route is twelve kilometers long, with Atalantia's snipers shooting at him from rooftops, unable to penetrate the pulseShield that encapsulates the chariot. Atalantia, playing nice, greets him and Atlas at the top of the Mound of Votum, to give him his Peerless scar.
Atalantia and Lysander discuss how this will end, as it was she who sent Ajax's men to assassinate him. She plans on becoming the Sovereign, and plans to kill Lysander for it. However, Lysander surprises her with an offer of an alliance in marriage. She accepts. As the celebrations go on through the night, Atalantia and Lysander have sex in her meditation chamber in the Annihilo.
When Lysander visits Kalindora, she tells of her regret of taking her father's place as the Love Knight. Then she confesses to him that it was on Octavia's order that his mother, Octavia's daughter, be killed. Anastasia au Lune planned a coup with Revus au Raa and Nero au Augustus, but Octavia ordered Atalantia and Kalindora to plant a bomb in his mother and father's shuttle. She then explains that Octavia put him in the Pandemonium Chair to erase memories of his mother, something that Aja even knew about.
Kalindora tells him to trust Atlas and Rhone, but not to let Atalantia become Sovereign. She tells him to fix what is broken in their people. Later that night, Kalindora dies.
Lysander arranges a secret meeting in the Ladon with Apollonius au Valii-Rath. Around them, Lysander has the giant statues of Silenius au Lune and forty more Sovereign statues are placed in a giant circle, all pointing toward Mars. Lysander offers an alliance. Lysander offers to give Apollonius freedom from any fealty and rule, if he stands with him against all the worlds - particularly Darrow, Atlas, Atalantia, and Ajax.
- Darrow of Lykos/The Reaper - Former ArchImperator of the Republic, husband to Virginia, a Red
- Virginia au Augustus/Mustang - Reigning Sovereign of the Republic, wife to Darrow, Primus of House Augustus, sister to the Jackal of Mars, a Gold
- Pax - Son of Darrow and Virginia, a Gold
- Kieran O'Lykos - Brother to Darrow, Howler, a Red
- Rhonna - Niece of Darrow, daughter of Kieran, lancer, Pup Two, a Red
- Deanna - Mother to Darrow, a Red
- Sevro au Barca/The Goblin - Imperator of the Republic, husband to Victra, Howler, a Gold
- Victra au Barca - Wife to Sevro, née Victra au Julii, a Gold
- Electra au Barca - Daughter of Sevro and Victra, a Gold
- Dancer O'Faran/Senator O'Faran - Senator of the Republic, former Ares lieutenant, Tribune of the Red Bloc, a Red
- Kavax au Telemanus - Primus of House Telemanus, client of House Augustus, a Gold
- Niobe au Telemanus - Wife to Kavax, client of House Augustus, a Gold
- Daxo au Telemanus - Heir of House Telemanus, son of Kavax and Niobe, senator, Tribune of the Gold Bloc, a Gold
- Thraxa au Telemanus - Praetor of the Free Legions, daughter of Kavax and Niobe, Howler, a Gold
- Alexandar au Arcos - Eldest grandson of Lorn au Arcos, heir to House Arcos, allied to House Augustus, lancer, Pup One, a Gold
- Cadus Harnassus - Imperator of the Republic, second in command of the Free Legions, an Orange
- Orion xe Aquarii - Navarch of the Republic, Imperator of the White Fleet, a Blue
- Colloway xe Char - A pilot, reigning kill-leader of the Republic Navy, Howler, a Blue
- Glirastes The Master Maker - Architect and inventor, an Orange
- Holiday ti Nakamura - Dux of Virginia's Lionguard, sister to Trigg, client of House Augustus, Centurion of the Pegasus Legion, a Gray
- Quicksilver/Regulus ag Sun - Richest man in the Republic, head of Sun Industries, a Silver
- Publius cu Caraval - Tribune of the Copper Bloc, senator, a Copper
- Theodora - Leader of the Splinter Operatives, client of House Augustus, a Rose Pink
- Zan - ArchImperator of the Republic following Darrow's removal, commander of Luna's defense fleet, a Blue
- Clown - Howler, client of House Barca, a Gold
- Pebble - Howler, client of House Barca, a Gold
- Min-Min - Howler, sniper and munitions expert, client of House Barca, a Red
- Screwface - Howler, client of House Augustus, a Gold
- Marbles - Howler, hacker, a Green
- Tongueless - Former prisoner at Deepgrave, an Obsidian
- Felix au Daan - Bodyguard to Darrow, client of House Augustus, a Gold
Darrow | Blood Red
- Darrow | Till the Vale
- Lysander | Annihilo
- Darrow | Storm God
- Lysander | Ajax, Son of Aja
- Darrow | Voyager Cloak
- Lysander | Carnivores
- Darrow | The Calm
- Lysander | The Machine
- Darrow | Angelia
- Lysander | The Ash Rain
- Darrow | Red Beach
- Lysander | White Golems
- Darrow | Plains of Caduceus
- Lysander | Into the Storm
- Darrow | Tyche
- Lysander | Rider of the Storm
- Darrow | Heliopolis
- Virginia | Sovereign
- Virginia | Stiletto
- Virginia | Politicos
- Ephraim | Mauler, Brawler, Legacy Howler
- Ephraim | Unshorn
- Ephraim | Queen
- Ephraim | Skuggi
- Virginia | Oligarchs
- Virginia | The Goblin's Prey
- Virginia | Pack
- Ephraim | Karachi
- Virginia | The Dust of Reverie
- Virginia | Ocular Sphere
- Virginia | Day of Red Doves
- Darrow | In Wake
- Darrow | The Devil's Deal
- Lysander | Shadows of War
- Darrow | Endure
- Lyria | Victim
- Ephraim | Heart of Venus
- Lysander | The Horizon
- Lysander | The Mind's Eye
- Ephraim | Kjrdakan
- Ephraim | Obsidian Rising
- Lysander | A Chorus upon the Pale
- Lysander | The Enemy
- Ephraim | Hunt of the Last Light
- Ephraim | Nightgaze
- Ephraim | Whirlpool
- Lyria | They Are Sleeping
- Lyria | Monsters
- Lyria | Run
- Lyria | Parasite
- Lyria | Jade Witch
- Ephraim | Pale Rain
- Virginia | Pandemonium
- Virginia | Justice of the Meek
- Virginia | The Wolf and the Mother
- Virginia | A Maze with No Center
- Virginia | Black Cathedral
- Darrow | Sevro's Palace
- Lysander | The Impaler
- Lysander | Pup One
- Darrow | Hero of Tyche
- Lysander | The Warlord and the Libertine
- Darrow | Unremarkable
- Lysander | To Master a Maker
- Lyria | Ulysses
- Lyria | The Julii's Bill
- Lyria | Numb
- Lyria | Shh
- Lyria | The Childwives
- Lyria | Thunder Battle
- Ephraim | From the Static
- Lyria | One Last Tooth
- Lyria | At Last, She Screams
- Ephraim | Son of the Rising
- Ephraim | Grarnir
- Ephraim | He Who Walks the Void
- Ephraim | Worthy
- Lysander | A Visitor
- Darrow | Bad Blood
- Lysander | Heir of Arcos
- Darrow | Dark Age
- Lysander | This Summons Legions
- Darrow | Hazard Bedlam
- Darrow | Meat Straw
- Lysander | Lune Invictus
- Darrow | Legion's End
- Lysander | Ghost
- Lyria | Mercury Has Fallen
- Lysander | Triumph of the Long Night
- Lysander | The Love Knight
- Virginia | Salvation or Vengeance
- Lysander | Graveyard of Tyrants
- In a signing, Pierce had stated that listening to movie soundtracks can sometimes influence what he writes. For example, he was listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack when he wrote in a metaphor that involved velociraptors attacking a tyrannosaur, which is in Chapter 13. 
Book Cover Gallery
- Facebook, Pierce Brown, December 15, 2017
- Penguin Random House - Dark Age page
- Pierce Brown, Twitter - Beautiful baby - June 12, 2019
- Pierce Brown, Twitter - Spine sigil reveal - June 12, 2019
- Howler Life - Dark Age Official Description Teases Death, Destruction, Redemption And… A New POV? - May 9, 2018
- This was a Red Rising blog after all, Sons of Ares Vol. 2: Wrath signing, February 22, 2020.