|Audio read by|
|Publisher||Del Rey Books (US)|
|January 16, 2018|
|Preceded by||Morning Star|
|Followed by||Dark Age|
Iron Gold is a 2018 science fiction novel by American author Pierce Brown, the first of a trilogy which continues the story of his Red Rising trilogy (2014–2016). Iron Gold takes place ten years after the events of Morning Star (2016), with Darrow "The Reaper" of Lykos and Virginia "Mustang" au Augustus leading the new Solar Republic. It is followed by Dark Age.
Ten years after their victory over the Golds of the Core Worlds, a new Solar Republic has replaced the tyrannical Society. Darrow of Lykos serves as ArchImperator of the Republic's forces, which are still at war with the Ash Lord, Magnus au Grimmus, and his allies. Darrow's wife Virginia au Augustus governs as the elected Sovereign, but a faction called Vox Populi, led by Dancer, has risen to power in the Senate. Ignoring the Senate's orders, Darrow launches a massive assault on Mercury, wresting the planet from the Ash Lord but with great casualties. When the Senate learns from Darrow's enemy, Julia au Bellona, that he rejected an overture of peace from the Ash Lord, they issue a warrant for Darrow's arrest. Darrow, knowing that the potential truce is a ploy by the Ash Lord that will never come to fruition, escapes with his closest allies on a dangerous mission to assassinate Magnus. Darrow and the Howlers set off to Earth, where they free Apollonius au Valii-Rath and set off to Venus to kill the Ash Lord. They invade his fortress, but find him bedridden. He reveals that his daughter Atalantia is heading to retake Mercury, which is not fully protected.
Meanwhile, Cassius au Bellona and his ward Lysander au Lune become embroiled in the political upheaval happening in the Outer Rim, as Dido au Raa deposes her husband, Romulus, the Sovereign of the Rim Dominion. Cassius is challenged by multiple Golds for his past "crimes" against the Raa; he kills one after the other but is gravely wounded, and ultimately dies. Dido shows the Moon Lords evidence that their Ganymede shipyards were destroyed by Darrow and not by the former Sovereign Octavia au Lune as they had been led to believe. They decide to go to war against the Republic, and Lysander joins them.
Lyria is a Red who lives in Camp 121 on Mars after her people are freed from the mines. The terrorist organization known as the Red Hand attacks the camp, killing nearly everyone, and Lyria and her nephew Liam are the only members of her family to survive. Republic forces eventually arrive to intervene, and Lyria saves Kavax au Telemanus from drowning. He takes her into his household. On Luna, Lyria befriends a veteran named Philippe, who is actually the criminal Ephraim ti Horn in disguise. He uses her in his plan to bring down a Telemanus transport ship and kidnap Pax, the son of Darrow and Virginia, and Electra, the daughter of Sevro and Victra, at the request of the crime lord known as the Duke of Hands. Caught after the fact, Ephraim agrees to help his former sister-in-law, Darrow's deputy Holiday ti Nakamura, retrieve the children. Ephraim flees the Duke's compound with Pax and Electra, but the Duke's boss, the Syndicate Queen, seizes control of his stolen ship.
Brown announced a sequel trilogy to Red Rising in February 2016. He later noted, "I didn't think I would write more but I started seeing so many plots, particularly with the Ash Lord and the chaos that happens when an empire falls." Brown said of his inspiration to write the sequel trilogy:
To be honest, I was curious. Not just about what happens to an empire once it has been broken, but what rises from the ashes. What happens to rebels once they take on the mantle of rule. Authority is a pressure cooker of responsibility that twists and hardens. Darrow and Mustang will learn it was easier to throw proverbial Molotov cocktails than it is to govern ten billion souls.
Brown said that while the first trilogy followed Darrow's quest, the new series explores the consequences of Darrow's rebellion, asking "Have they unleashed dark ages or a renaissance? I think you can pretty much bet it'll be dark ages for a little while." He cited the primary theme as "What is better, rule and order or chaos and freedom?", and later explained, "What this new book is about ... is seeing the people that are affected negatively by the positive actions of Darrow, and seeing the negative repercussions of them." Before publication, Brown noted that both Darrow and Mustang would be "integral characters" in the novel, which would be told from four viewpoints: Darrow, another familiar character, and two new ones. Though Brown considered several characters, including Mustang and Sevro, he wanted a more even representation of colors, and chose Darrow, the Red-turned-Gold protagonist of the first trilogy; Lysander, a Gold disenfranchised by the events of the previous novels; and two new characters with a grudge against Darrow and the Rebellion: Lyria, a Red freed from slavery in the mines, and Ephraim, a Gray whose husband was killed rescuing Darrow. Brown said, "I want to expand the universe and also see how others perceive Darrow." Besides introducing new characters, the new trilogy will explore planets and elements only briefly touched on in the previous series. Brown called the scope of the new trilogy "huge" and "far more ambitious than Red Rising", noting: "It spans the solar system, weaves in disparate cultures and moons and planets—most of which had to be created from scratch. It has been an exercise not only in world-building but in understanding how the world would affect these diverse characters." Comparing the new trilogy to the previous, Brown said, "It has the firefights and midnight duels and blood feuds, but many of the characters are not wrecking balls like Darrow. They must use other means to achieve their goals." He explained that the novel's title "refers to the original Gold conquerors; the founders of Society who were infinitely tougher, smarter, and more brutal than their descendants would become after 700 years of rule. It is an ideal that many of the former ruling class wish to bring back in their fight against the Rising."
Brown also noted, "Several of the main characters in the next one will be gay. Darrow's heteronormative outlook has been changing after leaving the mines. He began embracing sexual fluidity and gay characters like Tactus." He discussed the popularity of his novels among the LGBT community, adding "It's amazing that they have found a home in these books ... All these lost souls in my books have connected with people and I find it incredibly moving."