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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Red Rising by Pierce Brown summary

    The book begins by showing the classification of colors regarding the human race.  Golds and Silvers are the highest, considered almost immortal by the other classes,  then the Obsidians- Gold bodyguards who are like ninja assassin protectors, then Grays-those who serve the Golds and watch over workers to make sure their jobs are being done, and finally the Reds- lowest of the low, consisting of miners whose jobs are to farm for Helium3, an element needed to make life sustainable on Mars' surface.  There are other colors for other jobs, such as Orange for technicians, but these are all still technically Red classifications and since these don't come into play very much in the book I will skip over them.
     Darrow is a Helldiver, which means he is a miner equipped with an awesome drilling suit (I picture it as a Big Daddy from Bioshock if anyone recognizes that) and the leader of his mining clan, the Lambdas.  
     The Lambdas are competing with another clan called the Gammas to produce the most Helium3 quota to win that month's Laurel, which is a prize that allows for much larger food rations and other added benefits for the clan.
     Even though Darrow wins the Laurel for Lambda, it is given to the Gammas, and no one can say anything because they know they'll be killed for protesting (Darrow's father was killed for trying to initiate a strike for more rations so they all know from experience).  It is all just a show of power that the Gold's, Gray's and Copper's can give the Laurel to whomever they want and it's not a fair competition.
     To try to calm Darrow down, Eo (Darrow's wife) takes him to a small green field she has found through the vent shafts and they spend the evening talking and looking at the stars (there's nowhere else in the underground compound where the stars can be seen and the Reds have been taught that above ground is currently uninhabitable).  Eo tries to convince Darrow that HE could start the rebellion his father couldn't since although his father wanted change he didn't fight hard enough.  Darrow blows off her suggestion.
     On their way back home they are captured by guards while coming from the shaft and taken to the town square to be whipped for going somewhere that is only to be used by higher colors.  Darrow is first and takes his lashes, but when Eo is beaten, as an act of rebellion she begins to sing a forbidden song, knowing that her coming death due to this will finally anger Darrow enough to fight for a rebellion against the Golds.  She is put to death and Darrow is forced to hold her legs due to the low gravity while her neck is snapped.
     Darrow's rebellion begins when he does an act punishable by death, which is to take Eo's body from the hanging spot and bury it.  Darrow is hanged and his Uncle Narol pulls his feet as Darrow did to Eo, but  Darrow awakens in a shallow grave and is told that a man named Dancer who is the leader of a rebellion called the Sons of Ares has a mission for him and has saved him from death.  Darrow realizes his Uncle was in on this and didn't pull hard enough to break his neck but has drugged him to make him appear dead until he could be saved.
     When he meets Dancer, the man tells him that Mars above ground has been inhabitable for years and yet they are still kept as slaves, so an uprising is beginning and Darrow has been picked as a spy due to his strength and desire.  He is to be turned into a Gold....literally, and infiltrate the enemy to get information to bring them down. He is to have a ton of surgeries which makes him faster, prettier, Gold-er.  Darrow agrees, and after many surgeries and training he is snuck in to be one of the new Gold recruits.
     The first thing the Gold recruits are forced to do is that they are placed in groups of two in a room and are forced to fight to the death to weed out the weakest of the bunch.  Darrow is placed in a room with one of the few Golds he actually liked in their previous training, Julian.  He had made friends with he and his brother Cassius during that time. Darrow of course hides the fact that he kills Julian from Cassius later on.
     After this test the students are separated and divided up between 12 separate castles, all of which has been named after the Gods (of Roman mythology, such as Pluto, Minerva, etc). Darrow's house is Mars. The students are given a branding tool and told that they are to take over the other houses by any means necessary and brand those captured to use as slaves in their army, and whoever wins will earn the right to become Peerless Scarred, highest of the Golds with the best jobs in society.  Seems like not much of a thing to fight over, but it's hard for me to describe just how shallow the Golds are:  they value beauty, strength and status above all else in life so for them this is very important.
     Darrow forms close bonds with a few of the students in his house, namely Cassius, Sevro, Roque, and Lea.  He becomes house (castle) leader, but it is a house divided since there's another student who has started his own ragtag group named Titus.  Let's just think of him as the supervillain of the story for the moment.
     Titus captures Cassius girlfriend Quinn thinking she is Darrow's girl, and Darrow's group vows to get her back.  On their way to attack Titus they are attacked by another house whose leader is a girl named Mustang.  Darrow met her once in training and couldn't help but like her since she seemed more Red than Gold.  Darrow and Cassius run from the Minvervans who come to the rescue of Mustang and manage to escape from them with the help of Sevro (Goblin he's now called) and Sevro tells them that since Minerva has found their castle the best way to keep them from winning will be to steal their branding staff so that no Mars people can be made slaves by the Minervans.
     Darrow agrees and they take the Minervans by surprise and steal their staff and their cook, since no one in Mars knows how to cook and they've been so hungry that that's part of the reason the whole castle was going bonkers.
     They return to castle Mars to find that Mustang has taken it with her group, but Darrow offers her a deal that she can take her people back to castle Minerva with her without anyone being branded if they go peacefully.  Minerva says she wants to take Titus for what his group has done (raping the imprisoned Minerva girls), but Darrow tells her no and that if she doesn't go there will be war.  Minerva knows they will lose if all of house Mars attacks them so she agrees.
     I don't remember the exact point in the book, but somewhere around this time Titus tells Cassius that HE is the one who killed Julian, just so he can get a rise out of him, and of course Darrow goes along with it.  Cassius tells Darrow that he has to be the one to kill Titus if the time ever comes.
     Everyone is wondering why the Proctor's (Peerless who are overseeing all this from the sky like the Gods the houses are named for) don't come in and stop this, and as Mustang leaves Darrow tells her it is because for now they are all Reds, and they will be Reds until one of them gets enough power.  Then they will get rights, and they'll make their own law. He tells her that's the point of all this: to make them terrified of a world where Gold's don't rule, and security and justice aren't given but must be earned and make them into better leaders. 
     Mustang tells him she hopes that's not true because there is another named Jackal who is said to be smarter, crueler, and stronger than Darrow and will make them all his slaves if Darrow does not evolve from Red to Gold.
     When Darrow questions Titus, Darrow realizes all the anger and hatred, the rape, cruelty to other Gold's etc, is because Titus is just like him, a Red turned to Gold who has been planted, but Titus has let his need for revenge get in the way of the mission that has been planned for them.  Darrow realizes he must put Titus to death so that he will not ruin what Dancer is trying to build in the revolution.  
     He sentences him to death in front of the Proctors watching from above and house Mars, but does not forget his promise to Cassius that he would allow him to kill Titus.  Cassius easily overtakes Titus in a duel and Darrow sees that his was not just punishment; that Cassius need for revenge has overtaken him and Titus is carved away little by little as Cassius taunts him. Afterwards, Darrow sees that no one in the house trusts he nor Cassius anymore and have lost respect for them after that poor excuse for justice.
     Darrow begins asking their Mars Proctor (Flitchner) questions about why they've just watched from the sky this whole time but never done anything, and it's as Darrow had figured: it's all about teaching them what it would be like if they weren't Gold, therefore giving them more initiative to never let the Golds fall from power. 
     Flitchner also tells Darrow that the Jackal is the ArchGovernor's (this is like the king of the country) son.  Hearing this, Darrow realizes that since each house can't take down the other due to the pretty much impenetrable walls, they must make allies of one of the other houses to take the biggest threats out and make them slaves to join in an even larger army.  
     Darrow senses that Mustang is their biggest threat at the moment, and he and Sevro ride to meet with the leader of House Diana to get them to join Mars.  Darrow tells their leader, Tamara, that if she will help take Minerva he will help her take Ceres and they can go their seperate ways and fight against each other again afterwards.  Knowing Ceres has bread they do not have, she barely wastes any time saying yes.
     They attack and take Minerva easily but Tamara tries to betray Mars by closing the gates and branding the Minervans with the Diana brand first. Darrow is prepared for this, expects it actually, and has already had Sevros and his band who wear wolf skins (The Howlers) slip inside the gates. They burn all the food supplies and eventually House Diana tries to flee in the night and is captured along with Minerva.
     A girl shows up saying that she wishes to speak to Cassius and that if he will turn in the Reaper (Darrows nickname since his weapon of choice is a slingblade) that Jackal will give Mars 50 ion blades. Cassius denies her request and then she gives him a pouch and states that what's in it may change his mind.
     It turns out it's a holo tape from where Darrow killed Julian and Cassius leads Darrow out into a field by stating that Sevros has found Roque and that he needs help. They battle and Cassius overtakes Darrow and leaves him to die in the field.
      Mustang saves Darrow and they live in the woods for a while since neither has a house at the moment.  Some Oathbreakers (people who were taken as slaves but ran away) try to rape Mustang while Darrow is away hunting but he comes back in time and saves her.  She tells him to let them live and he ties them to a tree and lights a fire so that a house clan will come find them.
     Darrow gets the idea to start an army out of the Oathbreakers they can find.  They gather 10 together and free them of any bonds (Mustang still has the Minerva standard so she's able to clear the previous slave mark from their head), and since they are free the Oathbreakers gratefully follow them.  They then track members of house Mars and the slaves they have from Minerva and sneak up and free the Minerva slaves, who of course are more than willing to go with their former leader Mustang.  Even Pax, a boy who is described to be like Goliath that Darrow previously fought and managed to beat, is excited that Darrow is now on their side.
     They next overtake Ceres and all slaves inside there join their army as well for freedom while the rest are made slaves until they see what's being accomplished and why they should fight as well.  Next they head south to begin to try to take down the Jackal before he gets more powerful.
     Apollo is first in the south.  Darrow knows the Apollo and Jupiter Proctors are his greatest threat in stopping his band from winning due to the bribery from the ArchGovernor for his son Jackal to win, so his army takes down Apollo by sneaking in through their sewage holes.  Flitchner told Darrow before that if a house is completely taken the Proctor of that house must leave "Olympus" where the Proctors are watching from.  Darrow's army realizes when he mocks the Apollo Proctor after taking the house that their war isn't about taking the houses anymore; it's about taking down the corrupt Proctors, and this makes them happy to follow Darrow even more.
    Darrow comes up with a plan to fool the Proctors, knowing they are listening to them through microphones in their house rings since Flitchner told him that at their meeting earlier.  He tells Mustang they are going to take Jupiter's castle now and wait for the rest of Jupiter's army to come back.  When they arrive there it is very thinly guarded since most of Jupiter is away fighting other battles and a boy named Lucian comes out to meet them waving a white flag.
     He tells them the remaining guards inside will allow them to take the castle if they just do not make them slaves and give them some food as they haven't had much in weeks.  Darrow agrees, but this is all part of his plan too.
     He tells his army to enjoy themselves for once since there won't be an attack anytime soon and they get drunk on wine.  Darrow begins making conversation with Lucian.  After talking and laughing a while he sees Lucian finally opening up a bit and he tells him to give him his hand so he can show him something.  Warily Lucian does and Darrow immediately stabs it into the table trapping him.
     Darrow tells him he knows he is Jackal, and when Jackal asks how he tells him it's because he knew the Proctors would try to set a trap for him, and A)his Ceres house ring doesn't fit and B)no one would ever give up a castle that easily.
     Not thinking he will do it, Darrow tells him if he will free himself he is free to go, meaning if he cuts his hand off that is held down by the knife.  Unbelievably, Jackal does it.  Darrow knows he can't let someone this crazy go, but as he's about to stop him the Proctor's step in and give Jackal a sonic detonator (I guess it's a type of sword? not even sure myself) and he immediately attacks Pax.  He then lunges for Darrow, but Pax throws himself on top of Darrow to protect him as he dies and Jackal stabs him over and over trying to get to Darrow.
     By this time the rest of Darrow's army in the room is recovering and start to come after Jackal so he runs away before he can get a chance to kill Darrow. They pursue him but Proctor Apollo has not left Olympus like he was supposed to and he confronts Darrow, tells them that the Proctor's have Mustang and if he doesn't stop pursuing Jackal that they will kill her.
     Darrow has a surprise for Apollo though.  When Apollo takes him up in the air to drop him and kill him, as he lets go Darrow remains in the air as he stole Flitchner's GravBoots.  He kills Apollo and comes back to the ground and tells the Howlers and Sevro that they must take Olympus.  This army of assassins is half crazy so they readily agree.  Sevro asks where Darrow got the boots and he tells him "from Daddy".  Sevro laughs, realizing Darrow has figured out Flitchner is his father.  After their last meeting Darrow had figured it out and he knocked out Flitchner and stole his stuff while leaving him in a cell at the castle.
     Darrow takes Apollo's armor and they head for Olympus, with the Howlers being attached to Darrow by belts as they make the flight.
     They take Olympus pretty easily since everyone is unprepared, and Darrow sends Mustang to capture Jackal in the mountains (not before they do some hanky panky though) so that they can finally end this and go on with their lives and gain their new apprenticeships for winning.
     Flitchner has been released and he tells Darrow that there might be a small problem with his plan with a smile on his face.  Darrow asks what it is and Flitchner tells him he just sent half his army and Jackal's sister away.  Darrow freaks out and takes off from Olympus with what remains of his people, goes back to house Mars with them and takes everyone back as slaves there to try to fight Jackal and Mustang.  Mustang however doesn't betray Darrow and brings back Jackal naked and bound.
     Later, Sevro tells Darrow that when he was editing the feed from their rings to let the Council members (would be kind of like the US Congress who are there to make sure the President does everything right) hear what they wanted them to hear, the conversation between Darrow and Apollo was jumbled near the end so he edited it out. One of Darrow's last words to Apollo in the heat of revenge was "bloodydamn", which only Reds say.  Darrow doesn't know if Sevro knows he is Red and is covering it up or if he really just couldn't understand what was said.
     When the Council members come (by now they've seen the edited holotapes Sevro sent and know Darrow's house is the winner), ArchGovernor is there and he takes Darrow aside and tells him that as long as he will not say anything about his involvement in trying to help Jackal win that he will take him under his wing as a member of his house and he will train with the best in the Academy, have the best position near him and won't ever have to want for anything in his life.  Darrow tells him no one but a few in his army knew of the ArchGovernor's bribes and they won't say anything because of their loyalty to him.  The Proctor's won't say anything either because of course they don't want to be stripped of their titles for taking the bribes.
     Although he hates the ArchGovernor more than anything, Darrow knows this is his reason for being here at all; to get close to those in highest power to help the Sons of Ares bring down the Council and make everyone equal whether they be Red, Pink, Gold, Brown, etc., so he agrees and accepts ArchGovernor's offer.


  1. This summary was very useless. THey leave out very important scenes in the book like when Darrow whipped Tactus and Darrow made Pax whip him also, they also left out very important Severo scenes. Overall very disappointed with this summary.

    1. Having read the 2nd novel and not found the sections mentioned to be pertinent to where the novels were going at their conclusion I chose to omit them, as I did many other bits and pieces, since this is only a summary as a refresher for those who have already read the books and I knew that readers would remember those items upon seeing the key words mentioned in this summary. Thank you for the feedback though and please check out my other reviews. I hope they will be more to your liking.

  2. Thanks for the thorough synopsis but dude...don't abuse apostrophes! (I.e. Protors, not Proctor's) :)

  3. Thanks for taking the time to write this and then share it! It was exactly what I needed to review before digging in to the third book!

  4. Agreed. Thanks for taking so much time! This helped me as I was reading the book to understand what was going on.

  5. Thanks for this summary! I am just about to start morning star and this helps a great deal to catch up once again

  6. This summary was terrible! you missed many key events and messed up on details.

  7. See previous responses to statements like this. I know it’s the internet and you are “anonymous” but when someone is doing something to try to help people and not to get any kind of monetary gain you should say thank you rather than tearing into them about how useless it was. If you don’t like my page go read the book again yourself instead of whining about how terribly I did.