Red Rising is the first book within the series of the same name. It was written by Pierce Brown and published by Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House. Red Rising is followed by Golden Son.

It was published in 2014 and contains a map by Joel Daniel Phillips. The cover design was by Charles Brock from Faceout Studio, with the illustration provided by Sail.

Overview Edit

Sixteen-year-old 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 and someday make it habitable. But when he discovers the treachery of the ruling class known as the Golds, Darrow is galvanized to action by his beloved wife Eo's sacrifice and put to use by the shadowy organization called the Sons of Ares. His appearance changed and his body enhanced, Darrow is tasked to infiltrate the world of the Golds, rise to a position of power and destroy the Society from within. But as challenging as it is to gain entrance to the training academy for elite Golds, Darrow soon finds that their war games are far more brutal and deadly than he could have imagined.

Official SynopsisEdit

"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, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future.  Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.  Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed.  Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago.  Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet.  Darrow - and Reds like him - are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class.  There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies...even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. 


*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.

Darrow is the Helldiver of Lykos, a mining colony of Reds under the surface of Mars, where they mine helium-3 to terraform Mars for the other colors. After being cheated of the Laurel, a prize for productivity, he witnessed his wife Eo sing an illegal song as protest against what she called their slavery, and get hanged to death for it by Mars's ArchGovernor, Nero au Augustus. Burying the hanged body is also illegal, but Darrow does it for Eo's body, and also gets hanged soon after.

It is revealed that Darrow's Uncle Narol drugged Darrow and buried him with the aid of the Sons of Ares, a terrorist group of Reds fighting against oppression and responsible for the bombings of various mining operations. They take Darrow above-ground, and only then realizes that he and his fellow lowReds were deceived into being the slaves of the Society. He 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 him the abilities and appearance of a Gold, and he is accepted into the Golds' elite Institute after passing the test with only 1 question missed, out of hundreds. There, he is drafted by House Mars and their Proctor, Fitchner, who selects him first, out of thousands of other students. Darrow meets some of his housemates -- kind Julian au Bellona, his stronger twin Cassius, Antonia au Severus, the perfect Priam, Titus au Ladros, Roque au Fabii and Sevro au Barca, among others.

In order to continue to the second stage of the Institute, Darrow has to complete The Passage, a test in which the top 50 students from each house are forced to kill the bottom 50 of the same house, or be killed by them. It is designed to get rid of the weakest of the Golds, but some of the 'weaker' students prevailed, including the lowest place Sevro, who was revealed later in the story to have killed the highest place Priam. Darrow is pitted against and kills Julian much to his regret, and Cassius becomes enraged at the loss of his brother. However, not knowing it was Darrow who killed Julian, Cassius befriends him.

The House is told that they are given a fortress to go to war with the other eleven houses, and to capture slaves at all cost by pressing the tip of an iron standard given to each house to another's forehead, making them forced to obey all orders or be shamed. They are not to kill unless it is inevitable or accidental. Mars fractures into 4 'tribes': one led by Titus, one by Antonia, one by Darrow and Cassius, and the last composed of Sevro alone, who is the only one who knows how to start fire without the matches that Darrow possesses. Meanwhile, Darrow becomes good friends with Cassius and Roque, and also Lea and Quinn.

In order to remove the tyrannous Titus from power, Darrow allies with Antonia, and reveals their castle's location to House Minerva, led by Virginia "Mustang" au Augustus, although her true identity was unknown at the time. Mustang and her troops, mounted and equipped, take Mars's castle, imprisoning Titus. However, Sevro rescues Darrow and Cassius, and helps them take Minerva's standard, to trade back for their fortress. Sevro becomes Darrow's most loyal troop, and leads the "Howlers", a group of lowDrafts who dress in wolfskins. Mustang reveals the existence of a great enemy, The Jackal (later known to be Adrius au Augustus, the ArchGovernor's son and Mustang's twin brother, for whom the Proctors are cheating for.) Darrow becomes House Mars's leader.

While talking to the captive Titus, Darrow discovers he is another 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 warrior Pax au Telemanus and enslaving House Diana after their betrayal. However, Tamara, Diana's Primus (leader) is killed by her housemate Tactus au Rath, and Darrow lets Mustang go rather than giving her up to Vixus au Sarna, a sadistic former ally of Titus.

Antonia, along with Vixus and Cassandra (another former ally of Titus), betrays Darrow and tries to kill him for the Jackal, but is foiled when Darrow discovers their plan. They kill Lea in the process. Cassius finds out from the Jackal's lieutenant Lilath 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. However, Darrow is 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 be shamed, to their army and free them, with the aim of building an army of loyal friends instead of slaves. They begin by showing House Mars, and Sevro, that Darrow is still alive by freeing some of their slaves (including Pax) and taking 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). Fitchner reveals the Proctors' involvement in the Jackal's success and Darrow continues on to take House Apollo's fortress.

The army then takes House Jupiter's fortress with little resistance due to their siege at Mars, and meets Lucian, who is revealed quickly to be the Jackal in disguise. Darrow finds out and tests him to see whether he would cut off his hand to leave (from the fact that he would eat his housemates to survive), and he does, but kills Pax afterwards with the help of the corrupt Proctors. During the chase, Darrow kills Proctor Apollo, and upon learning that they had kidnapped Mustang, whom he had started to have feelings for, Darrow storms the floating residence of the Proctors, Mount Olympus, with his army and captures all of them, defeating Proctor Jupiter in the process. He sends Mustang to capture the escaped Jackal, but learns from Fitchner that she is actually his twin sister. Expecting a betrayal, Darrow returns to House Mars with advanced weaponry from Olympus's armory to prepare to fight the combined might of the Augustus twins. However, Mustang returns with the captured Jackal, remaining loyal to Darrow, and Darrow wins. Cassius declares a blood feud with Darrow over Julian's death.

Darrow is required to choose a patron to sponsor his future, and becomes a lancer for House Augustus and the ArchGovernor, in order to attend the Academy for starship fleet command and to become closer to his enemy.



  • Darrow - A Helldiver, and the main protagonist who infiltrates his way into Gold society after a tragic event happens.
  • Eo - Darrow's wife, who's the catalyst for Darrow's journey
  • 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

Institute Students (All Golds) Edit

  • Cassius au Bellona - A member of House Mars. He initially befriends Darrow, but turns on him when he discovers that Darrow killed his brother
  • Julian au Bellona - Cassius's twin, killed by Darrow in the Passage
  • Mustang (Virginia au Augustus) - Primus of House Minerva. She later becomes Darrow's lieutenant and love interest
  • Roque au Fabii - Darrow's good friend, a self-styled poet in House Mars
  • Sevro au Barca- nicknamed "Goblin" because of his short stature. Highly loyal, he becomes Darrow's most trusted friend 
  • Titus au Ladros - Another Red disguised as a Gold. A member of House Mars, Titus is shown to be highly brutal and bent on harming as many Golds as possible. 
  • Pax au Telemanus - a massive warrior of House Minerva. Loyal to Mustang, he becomes one of Darrow's lieutenants 
  • Tactus au Rath - of House Diana, one of Darrow's lieutenants 
  • Milia - an Oathbreaker from House Juno, one of Darrow's lieutenants 
  • 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
  • The Jackal - Primus of House Pluto, Mustang's twin and the ArchGovernor's son. He earned his name after he was forced to cannibalize members of his own House early in the game.
  • Vixus au Sarna - Titus's lieutenant. Enjoys cutting off ears.
  • The Howlers - lowDrafts of House Mars who become lieutenants to Sevro and Darrow. Thistle, Weed, Clown, Screwface and Pebble are all members.

Notable Proctors Edit

  • Fitchner au Barca - House Mars Proctor. Although he discourages Darrow from trying to defeat the Proctors, he remains the most sympathetic. Later revealed to be Sevro's father.
  • Apollo
  • Jupiter
  • Mercury
  • Minerva
  • Venus

Other Golds Edit

  • Nero au Augustus - the ArchGovernor of Mars, and the man who ordered Eo's death. Father of Mustang and the Jackal
  • Lorn au Arcos - Formerly held the post of the Rage Knight for 60 years. A House Mars drafter who is highly respected by the society
  • Tiberius au Bellona - an Imperator and the head of House Bellona, one of the most powerful families on Mars. Cassius and Julian's father.

Others Edit

  • Mickey - A Violet Carver who turns Darrow into a Gold
  • Evey - A Pink owned by Mickey. She has had a pair of wings carved (against her will) into her back.


Part One: Slave

  1. Helldiver
  2. The Township
  3. The Laurel
  4. The Gift
  5. The First Song
  6. The Martyr

Part Two: Reborn

  1. Lazarus
  2. Dancer
  3. The Lie
  4. The Carver
  5. Mad
  6. The Carving
  7. Bad Things
  8. Andromedus
  9. The Testing
  10. The Institute
  11. The Draft
  12. Classmates
  13. The Passage

Part Three: Gold

  1. The House Mars
  2. Our Dominion
  3. The Tribes
  4. Fracture
  5. Titus's War
  6. Tribal War
  7. Mustang
  8. The House of Rage
  9. My Brother
  10. Unity
  11. House Diana
  12. The Fall of Mustang
  13. Antonia
  14. Apologies

Part Four: Reaper

  1. The Northwoods
  2. Oathbreakers
  3. A Second Test
  4. South
  5. The Fall of Apollo
  6. The Proctor's Bounty
  7. Paradigm
  8. The Jackal
  9. War on Heaven
  10. The Last Test
  11. Rise


Praise for Red Rising


"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-writtenthe 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.”—

“[A] great debut... The author gathers a spread of elements together in much the same way George R. R. Martin does.”—

“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.

Inception Edit

Red Rising was the seventh novel that Pierce Brown wrote[Official 1], and he completed it in early 2012, so it basically took three years to publish.[Official 2] The first draft was written in about two months.[Official 3]

Reception Edit

Errors/Alterations Edit

  • 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

Trivia Edit

  • The first sentence of Red Rising that Brown ever wrote was about the haemanthus. Amazingly, it was not altered.[Official 3]

See Also Edit

References Edit

  3. 3.0 3.1