Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Book 3)

“You and I keep looking for light in the darkness, expecting it to appear. But it already has.” I touch his shoulder. “We’re it, boyo. Broken and cracked and stupid as we are, we’re the light, and we’re spreading.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have been dreading reading this book. It’s a trilogy so it should be in three books that all the passion ends and all the games stop. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Darrow. I’ve come to love this character from Mars, a boy remodelled to look like the elite of a solar system. I don’t want to say goodbye to a man who reminded me so much of the Kingkiller. A man who can inspire and lead and move the masses. Thank you Mr. Brown. Thank you.

The other thing that really stands out is the fact that the books are unpredictable without being irritating or disappointing. I’m pretty good at anticipating where a story is going to go, and these books constantly zigged when I expected them to zag. But (and this is a really important note) while the ziggs the book took were surprising, they were always sensible and fit smoothly into the overall narrative and world.

Patrick Rothfuss (the man! Writer of The Name of The Wind)

“The Reaper has come. And he’s brought hell with him.”

The plot:

”The greatest weapon a rebellion has is its spiritus. The spirit of change. That little seed that finds a hope in the mind and flourishes and spreads. But the ability to plant that idea, and even the idea itself has been taken from us. The message stolen. We are voiceless.”

The plot remains true to the direction from Golden Son, which means it’s still done with the genre of Sci-Fi and Space Opera in mind compared to Red Rising which was Sci-Fi & Dystopia. The plot is unpredictable, still full of great action scenes, betrayal, politics, and bloodbath.  The story starts off with Darrow who we find locked up in a box and tortured by Jackal after the ending in the previous book.He was left broken and helpless, a husk of the mighty warlord he once was. He survived, and emerged wiser and more understanding, ready to wreck havoc to the Society, to bring war to their homes. Assisted by his band of oathbreakers and misfits, like the Morning Star, he led the Valkyries away from their cold and unfriendly land, from darkness to light. He bent the will of fearsome lords to his own and fought against his former friends and allies, he crossed the galaxy, he convinced thousands to follow him, but this time, he did it as Red.

The main theme of the series itself as Pierce Brown himself said had always been about gaining the strength to fight what you can’t control, to overcome oppression but to never lose sight of the most important aspect of our life which is loyalty, friendship, family, and love. There isn’t a better way really to describe the theme of the book rather than hearing it from the author himself. Here is an excerpt from his interview:

“Whatever you’re told, being an adult doesn’t mean you have control. No matter the power you have, the money you make, the age you become, we all feel a little bit at the mercy of something else — the government, banks, chance, illness, our bosses etc. That’s what Darrow is dealing with in RED RISING, the fact that any control he thinks he has over his own life is a mirage. But he does not despair. Instead he decides to break the chains and live for more. He sets out to create his own future.

The fact is, we don’t have complete control over our lives. Never have, never will. That’s ok. The point is, rather, to take control over the parts of our life that we can and live those parts in precisely the way we want. That is living for more and that is what Darrow is fighting for. What’s more, writing inspired me to find my own strength.” 

And personally, this is why I can connect with Darrow’s story and struggle in the trilogy easily. Another theme that had been there since the 1st book is friendship and that’s really evident here.

“A man thinks he can fly, but he is afraid to jump. A poor friend pushes him from behind.” He looks up at me. “A good friend jumps with.”

Darrow and Sevro remain my favorite characters for the whole series, I find their friendship an absolute pleasure to read and it’s really clear how strong Pierce Brown dives into the theme of friendship in this book from these character with their relationship towards each other and every other important character, friends or foes.

The wide variety of characters, their development, and their story are delightful to read. Darrow was 16 years old in Red Rising and he’s 23 in Morning Star, the whole story took 7 years and you bet there’s a lot of developments happening to all the characters. Personally, I prefer Darrow’s personality in Golden Son but how he is in Morning Star really fits the story.

For the superbly written protagonists and antagonists, their journey finds closure here, some will live, some will die and that imo is a great thing. Look, no matter how much I love a character, I need them to have a sense of urgency in what they’re fighting for. I want and need to feel that they’re not protected by “author’s immortality barrier” like a lot of manga and movies did(I’m looking at you, all Marvel movies). I need to feel that what they’re fighting for could truly cost their lives and their actions will always have repercussions, especially in stories that deal with war and vengeance.

“Shit escalates” –Sevro au Barca

It’s war for fuck sake, no matter how kind or great a character is, that shouldn’t mean they’re safe from death. If a character died for a good cause and I feel sad or angry about it, that’s bloodydamn good. It means the author succeeded in making me emotionally invested in the characters, not to mention it makes the story more unpredictable. Pierce Brown is not afraid to kill off his characters if necessary and I personally find that a really great trait every story writer should have, not only in books but in all form of medium. (Game of Thrones fans will be used to it by now)

Other than the first 50 pages of book 1 where there’s a lot of info dump, World-building improves consistently until the end of Morning Star. There are a lot of beautiful planets, culture, dystopian hierarchy, unique devices and weapons to this universe. However, I strongly recommend to binge read this series or at least don’t wait too long between each instalment. I’m not kidding it will improve your experience a lot more. There are a LOT of names and terminology to remember, even as I binge read the trilogy, I have to think hard sometimes on some of the terms used since there are so many to remember.

Writing remained impeccable since the beginning until the end. Poignant, poetic, dark, full of love, humor (yeah, there are some super funny scenes), beauty, rage, violence, hatred, etc.

“I’m a bloodydamn Helldiver with an army of giant, mildly psychotic women behind me and a fleet of state-of-the-art warships crewed by pissed-off pirates, engineers, techs, and former slaves.”

These made every scene vivid and connectable plus the epic climax sequences were really well done. From the epic Space Warfare, the plot twists and the beautiful conclusion, everything is written suitably and it’s what makes the trilogy really work for my taste. It’s safe to say Pierce Brown really satisfied my Sci-Fi urges with his writings and stories.

“I thought being a man was having control. Being the master and commander of your own destiny. How could any boy know that freedom is lost the moment you become a man. Things start to count. To press in. Constricting slowly, inevitably, creating a cage of inconveniences and duties and deadlines and failed plans and lost friends.”

This trilogy is formed with Red Rising as its foundation, Golden Son as its climax and Morning Star as its conclusion. Morning Star managed to conclude the trilogy beautifully and everything I wanted to happen in the end did happen in this book, some are done even beyond my expectation.

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