Red Rising is the first installation of the eponymous series. Written by Pierce Brown, the novel was first published in January of 2014 and was well received, reaching number 20 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Red Rising is followed by Golden Son, published less than a year later.
The print contains a map by Joel Daniel Phillips, cover design by Charles Brock of Faceout Studio, with the illustration provided by Sail.
"I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."
"I live for you," I say sadly.
Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."
Darrow is a Red, one of the miners who toil beneath the surface of Mars as part of humanity's effort to terraform the planet in hopes it will one day be habitable for the rest of the human population stuck on the dying Earth. Subterranean life is simple, Darrow spends most of his days mining Helium-3, and any free time he may have with the love of his life, his wife Eo.
But Darrow and his fellow Reds have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity tamed the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wild forests spread across the planet. Darrow - and everyone he has ever known - are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class enjoying every luxury available while he struggles to fend off starvation.
Inspired by the actions of those close to him, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow leaves his Red life behind and joins the shadowy organization known as the Sons of Ares. With his appearance changed, his body and mind enhanced, and his rage harnessed, Darrow is tasked with infiltrating the world of the Golds and rising to a position of power within their strict hierarchy so that he may destroy the Society from within.
*warning* This is a spoiler-filled section. It is meant to be used more as a reference for those who have already read the book and need the information for possible projects or a refresher on the story line. By no means is this meant to be an alternative to reading the book. The book is excellent. Go read it.
Part One: Slave
Darrow is the Helldiver of Lykos, a mining colony of Reds under the surface of Mars, where they mine helium-3 as a fuel source to terraform Mars for the other colors. After being cheated of the Laurel, a prize of food and goods awarded to the most productive Reds, he witnesses his wife Eo sing an illegal song as protest against what she sees as an enslavement of her people. Darrow is forced to watch as Eo is sentenced to death by hanging by Mars's ArchGovernor, Nero au Augustus. Darrow cuts down and buries his young wife, a crime he pays for with his life.
Part Two: Reborn
However, when Darrow awakens later, it is revealed that his Uncle Narol faked Darrow's death and delivered him to Dancer and Harmony from the Sons of Ares, a so-called terrorist group of Reds waging a guerrilla war on the Society. The Sons take Darrow above-ground, allowing him to see for himself the lies that he and all other lowReds have been fed for Generations; They are not readying Mars for the rest of Humanity to one day join them, but instead only blind slaves toiling away for the society. Promised vengeance and a realization of his wife's dream, Darrow joins the Sons of Ares.
Darrow is sent to masquerade as a Gold and infiltrate the highest ranks of the Society in order to bring it down from within. A Violet Carver, Mickey, gives Darrow the physical abilities and appearance of a Gold, while the Pink Matteo teaches him the culture and customs of the Golds. Darrow also befriends a Pink Evey. Darrow's first test, which turns out to be a literal test, is an entrance exam to one of the Gold's most prestigious schools, The Institute. Darrow misses only one question. However, the Helldiver quickly comes to realize his previously unbounded hatred of all Golds may be misplaced when on his way to the Institute he meets Julian au Bellona, a seemingly good and kind young man with whom Darrow finds himself quickly befriending and Sevro au Barca, a small and antagonizing boy who reminds Darrow of his brother Kieran. Once at the Institute, he is the first drafted into House Mars, ninth overall out of 1200 of the best sons and daughters Gold has to offer. Darrow meets some of his housemates -- his new friends from the bus, Julian and Sevro, Julian's stronger brother Cassius, Antonia au Severus–Julii, Priam au Caan, Titus au Ladros, and Roque au Fabii, among many others. In all, each of the 12 houses have 100 members.
In order to continue to the second stage of the Institute, Darrow has to complete the Passage, a test in which students are forced into a room with another from their house. Only one may leave the room. Darrow is matched with his new friend, Julian.
Part Three: Gold
The kids later come to the realization that the passage matches the top 50 kids from every class with the bottom 50, in hopes of keeping the strongest in the game. Of course, there are always some upsets. Darrow notices Sevro, drafted 99th into House Mars as well as many other low drafts have made it through. Cassius becomes enraged with grief at the loss of his brother, however, Cassius befriends Darrow, not knowing it was he who killed Julian.
The remaining 50 members meet their house's proctor, Fitchner au Barca. The House is told that they are given a fortress to go to war with the other eleven houses, and to win, they must make one House out of many, usually done by capturing slaves with the use of the standard each house is given. However, slaves are only honor bound, if they so wish they may rebel or disregard orders with the only consequence bringing dishonor on themselves. They are not to kill unless it is inevitable or accidental. In an early encounter with another house, Darrow takes possession of a scythe, leading to his nickname "The Reaper." House Mars quickly fractures into 4 'tribes': one led by Titus, one by Antonia, one by Darrow and Cassius, and the last composed of Sevro alone, who seems to be the only one who has the necessary skills required by the institute, including starting fires and hunting. Meanwhile, Darrow becomes good friends with Cassius and Roque, as well as Lea and Quinn, and plants the idea in Cassius' head that Titus killed Jullian.
Relations in house Mars break down even further as violence breaks out between Darrow's faction and Titus's. Titus's tribe, with no access to fire or food starts brutal raids and sieges on nearby House Ceres. Darrow's men, now evicted from their castle, witness the brutal tactics Titus uses such as torture, rape, and murder.
Unable to defeat Titus with only the fraction of House Mars he controls, Darrow tricks Mustang of House Minerva, and her mounted, fed, and well equipped army into taking Mars's castle, imprisoning Titus and his men in the process. However, during the ruse, Darrow and Cassius are trapped in a freezing lake. Sevro, who has been missing for some time, rescues the two and is crucial in stealing House Minerva's banner and cook. Sevro quickly becomes Darrow's most loyal lieutenant, and leads the "Howlers", a group of lowDrafts who dress in wolfskins. With Mustang now trapped in Mars's castle, Darrow wins a small skirmish with the Minervans and uses his new captives and captured standard to trade for his castle and all members of house Mars, solidifying himself as the undisputed leader of house Mars. Mustang mentions a boy much harder, smarter, and more brutal than Darrow, wreaking havoc in the south, The Jackal.
While talking to the now captive Titus, through the prisoner's odd mannerisms, namely the use of "bloody," Darrow discovers he is also Red disguised as a Gold, and is forced to allow Cassius to kill him, leading to his troops' image of him as a flawed leader. He makes an alliance with House Diana to capture House Minerva's castle and troops, simultaneously defeating Minerva's monster of a warrior Pax au Telemanus and enslaving House Diana after their betrayal. During the cleaning up of Diana, their Primus is killed by her own housemate Tactus au Valii-Rath. Mustang escapes capture with her house's standard. Darrow joins the search, ultimately finding the girl. Knowing what the remainder of Titus's tribe, namely the brutal Vixus au Sarna will do to her, Darrow lets her escape.
Bribed by the Jackal, Antonia, along with Vixus and Cassandra (another former ally of Titus) betray Darrow and try to kill him, however, Darrow catches on to their plan. They kill Lea in an attempt to lure Darrow out. Later, Cassius finds out from the Jackal's lieutenant Lilath au Faran that Darrow was the one to kill Julian, and challenges him to a duel. He defeats Darrow easily and leaves him to die, taking over as Primus of House Mars.
Part Four: Reaper
Darrow is found rescued and nursed back to health by Mustang, who has been in hiding since the fall of House Minerva. The two form an alliance and recruit wandering Oathbreakers, slaves who chose to disobey orders and face the shame it will lead to outside of the Institute, to their army. However, they do not recruit the Oathbreakers as slaves, but as free people, with the aim of building an army of loyal friends instead of slaves. During this time Darrow pieces together that the Jackal's real name is Adrius au Augustus, the son of the Archgoverner of Mars, Nero au augustus, the man who ordered the death of Eo. The entire "game" is rigged in favor of Adrius, and has many corrupt proctors defending and protecting him to ensure his success.
With now a few soldiers standing alongside them, the duo start their rise in earnest by showing House Mars, and by extension Sevro, that Darrow is still alive. They free some of House Mars' slaves (including Pax) and take others (such as Tactus), and then proceed to take House Ceres's fortress and all of their troops as slaves (to be freed upon proving their loyalty). That night, Darrow is awakened by the news that Tactus was caught attempting to rape a House Ceres girl. Learning from the mistake he made with Titus, Darrow first lashes Tactus, then has Pax lash Darrow's own back, saying that whatever crimes any member of the army commits are shared by all of them, instilling fanatic like loyalty in all of his troops.
Fitchner reveals that some of the Proctors have considerable stake in the Jackal winning, and will gladly kill Darrow if he gets in the way and recommends Darrow keep his head down and just make it out alive. Fitchner also lets slip that if a house is eliminated, the proctor must leave. Darrow also takes this chance to attack Fitchner, locking him in one of Apollo's cells. Hoping to force the most dangerous proctors out, Darrow sets his sights on Apollo and Jupiter. Despite the proctors' attempts at stopping him, including poisoning food, releasing horses, setting a carved Bear onto Darrow, and finally threatening his friends, the Reaper of Mars takes house Apollo in a blitz attack lasting less than an hour.
The army moves to take House Jupiter, with the hopes of then being able to focus fully on the Jackal with no proctors to sway the fight. They find little resistance at Jupiter's castle due to the bulk of the house's forces currently laying siege to Mars, and meet Lucian the garrison leader. After Darrow's men pretend to get drunk and pass out, Darrow reveals he knows that Lucian is in fact the Jackal. The reaper reveals that his men are not in fact drunk and that he has Pax and Mustang elsewhere in the Castle cleaning up whatever troops the Jackal has hidden. Hoping to prove Golds are self centered, weak creatures, Darrow tests him to see whether he would cut off his hand to leave in the same vein to how the Archgoverner's son had no problem eating his housemates to survive. To everyone's dismay, he actually does and with the help of the corrupt Proctors who evidently did not leave, kills Pax and escapes.
During the chase, Darrow kills Proctor Apollo, and upon learning that they had kidnapped Mustang, whom he now fully recognizes he has feelings for, Darrow storms the floating residence of the Proctors, Mount Olympus, with his army and the Howlers and captures all of them, defeating Proctor Jupiter in the process. He sets Sevro to editing the tape that is broadcast to the rest of outside world and sends Mustang to capture the escaped Jackal, but learns from Fitchner that Mustang is actually Virginia au Augustus, twin sister to the Jackal. Expecting Mustang's betrayal, Darrow returns to House Mars with advanced weaponry from Olympus's armory to prepare to fight the combined might of the Augustus twins. The members of House Jupiter besieging Mars are easily defeated and the members of House Mars flock to Darrow, including his friend Roque who he had previously thought dead. Cassius declares a blood feud with Darrow over Julian's death and swears the next time they meet, only one will leave. Mustang returns with a bound and naked Jackal, making Darrow au Andromedus, the Reaper of Mars, winner and proving her loyalty to Darrow.
Despite knowing that it was Lorn au Arcos, the renowned Rage Knight, that was responsible for the gifts Darrow received and that one could ask for no better mentor than Arcos, Darrow accepts a position as a lancer for House Augustus and the ArchGovernor, knowing it will provide him with a better opportunity for his ultimate goal.
End of Book One
- Darrow - A Helldiver, and the main protagonist who infiltrates his way into Gold society
- Eo - Darrow's wife
- Uncle Narol - Darrow's uncle, and headTalk of Darrow's drilling team
- Barlow - part of Darrow's drilling team
- Loran - part of Darrow's drilling team, and Narol's son
- Kieran - Darrow's brother
- Leanna - Darrow's sister
- Liam - Eo's brother
- Dio - Eo's sister
- Deanna - Darrow, Leanna and Kieran's mother
- Dancer - member of the Sons of Ares
- Harmony - member of the Sons of Ares
- Cassius au Bellona - A member of House Mars, Julian's twin
- Julian au Bellona - Cassius's twin, befriends Darrow before the passage
- Sevro au Barca- Nicknamed "Goblin" because of his short stature. Highly loyal, he becomes Darrow's most trusted friend
- Titus au Ladros - A brutal and ruthless member of House Mars
- Roque au Fabii - Darrow's good friend, a self-styled poet in House Mars
- Quinn - a well-liked midDraft girl in House Mars.
- Lea - of House Mars, Roque's lover
- Antonia au Severus-Julii - a beautiful but ruthless member of House Mars who opposes Darrow's ascension to Primus
- Vixus au Sarna - Titus's lieutenant. Enjoys cutting off ears.
- Virginia au Augustus (Mustang) - Primus of House Minerva.
- Pax au Telemanus - A massive warrior of House Minerva. Loyal to Mustang
- Tactus au ValiiRath - Of House Diana, one of Darrow's lieutenants
- Milia au Trachus - an Oathbreaker from House Juno, one of Darrow's lieutenants
- Adrius au Augustus (The Jackal) - Primus of House Pluto, ArchGovernor's son. He earned his name after he was forced to cannibalize members of his own House early in the game.
- Lilath au Faran - Second in command to Adrius au Augustus
- The Township
- The Laurel
- The Gift
- The First Song
- The Martyr
- The Lie
- The Carver
- The Carving
- Bad Things
- The Testing
- The Institute
- The Draft
- The Passage
- The House Mars
- Our Dominion
- The Tribes
- Titus's War
- Tribal War
- The House of Rage
- My Brother
- House Diana
- The Fall of Mustang
- The Northwoods
- A Second Test
- The Fall of Apollo
- The Proctor's Bounty
- The Jackal
- War on Heaven
- The Last Test
RED RISING BOOK TRAILER
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Praise for Red Rising
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, AND SHELF AWARENESS
"Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow."—Scott Sigler
Pierce Brown's relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.
“[A] spectacular adventure ... one heart-pounding ride ... Pierce Brown's dizzyingly good debut novel evokes The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Ender's Game... [Red Rising] has everything it needs to become meteoric.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[A] top-notch debut novel... Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field.”—USA Today
“Red Rising is a sophisticated vision... Brown will find a devoted audience.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power... reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fast-paced, gripping, well-written—the sort of book you cannot put down. I am already on the lookout for the next one.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of The Sword of Shannara
“Pierce Brown has done an astounding job at delivering a powerful piece of literature that will definitely make a mark in the minds of readers.”—The Huffington Post
“Compulsively readable and exceedingly entertaining... a must for both fans of classic sci-fi and fervent followers of new school dystopian epics.”—Examiner.com
“[A] great debut... The author gathers a spread of elements together in much the same way George R. R. Martin does.”—Tor.com
“Pierce Brown's empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision.”—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Pierce Brown's Golden Son.
Red Rising was the seventh novel that Pierce Brown wrote, and he completed it in early 2012, so it basically took three years to publish. The first draft was written in about two months.
- Some parts of Darrow's carving was removed or glossed over due to their graphic nature
- The word "caldarium" was misspelled as "calderium" in Chapter 42
- The head of House Bellona was referred to as Demetrius au Bellona instead of Tiberius au Bellona
- The first sentence of Red Rising that Brown ever wrote was about the haemanthus. Amazingly, it was not altered.