It takes a team to create a successful graphic novel. Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons of Ares is the compilation of six comics packaged into one book used as a prequel to the Red Rising Trilogy. Collaborated with Rick Hoskin and illustrated by Eli Powell, the story of Fitchner Au Barca’s survival as a Gold, despite his abnormally small stature, provides a backdrop to the motivations which lead him to become a violent killer yet loving father.
Admission: Since I have not read the SF Red Rising Trilogy (although I’m aware it’s a popular series) I am not handicapped by preconceptions. Some of the colorful illustrations were awe inspiring and while the features of the male characters were vague (although the masks they wore were intricate), the females were more articulately drawn. There was a lot, perhaps an excessive amount of brutality, but Brown has created a volatile world where society is strictly divided into castes which legally cannot intermingle. Unfortunately for our “golden” hero, he falls in love with Brynn, a service Red. On the sparsely populated Titan it isn’t much of an issue, but when he’s called back to Mars they must keep their illegal marriage a secret which is complicated by the birth of their son, Sevro. Brynn’s sister Ryanna, who has accompanied the couple, is caught in the middle as they try to survive an untenable situation which leads to even more bloodshed as a hodgepodge team of misfits try to rescue one of their own. Best friend Arturius, who betrays Fitchner, is a reminder that it’s almost impossible to go against your upbringing or understand those who are able to break away from the norms. The philosophy of safeguarding your own dominion by regarding others as dispensable commodities and not fellow “humans” is a foundation for the start of a revolution.
There were a few times I got “lost” and had to reread pages to figure out the motivations behind what was happening and to whom, but I expect readers of the books who know what comes next won’t have this problem.
Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This review also appears on Goodreads.