Morning Star by Pierce Brown

morning star

The basics

Title: Morning Star

Author:

Series: Red Rising #3

- Red Rising (2014)
- Golden Son (2015)
- Morning Star (2016)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

This recap was submitted anonymously

in short

After the Academy, where Darrow pledged himself to House Mars and Nero au Augustus, he spends a year in the main city on Luna. Then he goes and spends a year at the institute. He comes in second place to Kronus Bellona in disgrace and House Augustus is going to sell his contract to another family. Everyone suspects it will be Bellona who buys it – so they can kill him. More on that below. Right now he is protected because to outright kill Darrow would be an act of war on House Augustus, and Bellona doesn’t want that. He is back in town for the Gala. The Bellonas jump him in the relaxation pool and broadcast it on the holocams for all to see. Darrow is really a disgrace now. Mustang has pretended to switch her alliance to the Lunar court and Cassisus (romantically) in order to get intel for her family.

what went down

  • All the great houses are in Luna for this once in ten years gala. A lot of stuff happens but basically the main point is Darrow reconnects with the Sons of Ares as led by Harmony, who has changed the Sons’ agenda to terrorist bombings that end up killing just as many lowColors as Golds.
  • Harmony convinces Darrow to blow up all of the Golds at the Gala. Before he goes, because he cares so much for his friend Roque, he tranqs him so he won’t go and get killed. (This basically ends their friendship because Roque doesn’t understand and now doesn’t trust Darrow.)
  • While at the Gala, Darrow sees his old friend Cassius, who has become famous on the Luna dueling circuits and has just been named one of the 12 Olympic Knights. They were as close as brothers at the Academy, but once he found out that Darrow killed his brother Julian during the entrance exam (2 Golds are put into a room on Day 1 – and only the Gold who survives moves on) – now it’s a blood feud. Darrow realizes that the only way to change society is to create chaos and civil war. (He later finds out that Ares is on board with this.)
  • So he challenges Cassius to a duel right there in the Gala. Presumably this is to bring glory to his House – and Nero au Augustas obliges Darrow.
  • Darrow pretends to be losing, but then whips out his skills from being trained by Lorna (more on that below) and is going to kill Cassius when the Lunar Queen steps in and clearly plays favorites. This pisses people off.
  • Everybody is murdering everybody.
  • The Lunar queen captures Darrow and he pretends to join her because he caught her out in a lie – she was planning to execute House Augustus during the 6th course of the Gala dinner – but Darrow’s duel got in the way. Mustang is in the room at this point and she is shocked – but then pretends again that he allegiance is with Luna.
  • Darrow is locked in a room at the Lunar palace. Then Mustang busts him out by sending the Howlers and they go to save anyone at the House Augustas pavilion – there are few. They have to fight their way out. Mustang has commandeered an old ship for the rescue.
  • Dramatic space battle ensues. Darrow takes on the biggest ship in the Lunar fleet by space rocketing into the bridge and taking control – but inciting the lowColors working on the ship to rise up. And House Augustus survives another day.
  • Servo corners Darrow in his stateroom after he’s captured the largest ship. He says trust goes both ways and it’s time for Darrow to come clean.
  • Darrow panics, makes a few wrong guesses, Servo says you only get one more guess, and Darrow fesses up to what he really is – a Red that has been carved up into a Gold.
  • Servo reveals that when Mustang originally called him back from Pluto to be at Luna in time for the gala that is only held once every 10 years (Pluto is where her father had Servo and his Howlers overseeing a mining operation) he had a layover on Neptune where he tells Darrow Ares of the Sons of Ares paid him a visit and told him (Servo) the truth.
  • Servo pledges he is always behind Darrow. More on who Ares is below.
  • Darrow corners Lorna into joining the war on the side of Augustas.
  • Lorna is the old Rage Knight who sponsored something for Darrow during the Academy in Red Rising, and then between books took on Darrow as a student and taught him how to fight better than any other Gold – and he hadn’t taken on a student in like 30 years since Aja.
  • Aja is the Lunar Queen’s devoted bodyguard and killed Quinn (one of the Wolfhowlers who both Roque and Servo love but she loved Roque) when the Augustas bunch was escaping the Augustas pavilion (after the Lunar Gala) after the Lunar Queen tried to have all of House Augustus slaughtered.
  • At the end of the battle for Mars between House Augustus and House Bellona, Darrow realizes that he is out of position and that the Lunar queen is going to escape when Mustang deactivates the power shield around the city, so he has to slug it to the other side of the Citadel and nearly kills himself falling into the escaping spacecraft with the queen on board, who he was originally supposed to kidnap.
  • He comes face to face with Aja, the Lunar Queen, Kronus Bellona, and Fitchner, who has been named one of the 12 Olympic Knights of the Lunar Queen – the Morning Knight – based totally on merit. Darrow had felt betrayed by Fitchner, who was the House Mars Proctor during the Academy in Red Rising and was a sort of mentor to him. Fitchner is Servo’s dad. Darrow manages to finally kill Kronus.
  • Lunar Queen orders Fitchner to cut off Darrows head. He tries to stay their hand, but in the end he must save Darrow and in doing so reveals himself as Ares to Darrow, saying he had everything in hand (implying why did you do this boyo!)
  • Fitchner later explains he started the Sons of Ares because the Golds murdered his wife for being a red – this makes Servo half red and explains his small stature among the gigantic Golds.
  • Also, Roque captained the space attack and took like 100 Bellona ships, so by rights he gets to keep 30 of those for himself – Augustus gets the other 70.
  • Darrow wakes up after a week of recovery with Mustang sitting there. Things are good and it looks like they can more forward together.
  • Darrow finds out that the Jackal (Adrius, Mustang’s sister and Darrow’s tentative “ally” – Mustang and Jackal are the surviving children of Nero au Augustas, head of House Augustas) has imprisoned many of the lowColors rumored to be part of the Sons of Ares.
  • Darrow & Ares & Co hatch a plan. Darrow will go to visit the Jackal in Atticus, the seaside city he has taken for his own.
  • Darrow brings Victra, his pal from the Institute who has remained steadfastly loyal to him despite her family’s shifting loyalties, goes along. Darrow goes under the guise of giving gifts to cement his friendships and alliances and commitments.
  • When Jackal opens his, the Sons of Ares come in and strafe the place, pretending to knockout Darrow and then pretending to shoot at each other.
  • They rescue the imprisoned lowColors who were being tortured. Among them is Mickey who Carved Darrow, who says he didn’t say a word under torture. Darrow acts like he’s all put out because Jackal didn’t confide in him that he was holding the Sons hostage. Darrow thinks his scapegoat and cover have worked.

how did it end?

Darrow then takes Mustang down to Lykos Township, the Red mining town where he grew up, because he is tired of telling lies. They walk around and he gives her a holo cam video outside of his boyhood home and says that she should watch it first, and then come inside if she’s ready. He goes in and catches up with his Mom. He sees on his arm thingy that Mustang has vamoosed. Turns out she’s lying in wait for him in one of the mines where he goes to feel the deep mine winds. She has a space gun pointed directly at him and starts asking questions. Then Ragnar, the gigantic Obsidian who is completely loyal to Darrow (because Darrow asked him to choose to be his own man and follow Darrow, who Darrow gave a golden whip – reserved only for the golds – so that he could open the gate at the city wall during the great battle for Mars) walks in and says you have 10 breaths to live. Snappy comments ensue – Mustang says come see what the Obsidians live for – to rise up against their Gold overlords! Darrow de-weapons and kneels in front of her. Very dramatic. Says if Mustang can’t change, then all hope is lost and she may as well end it here. Then Ragnar de weapons and says what he lives for – his sisters his mother his daughters etc. Darrow and Ragnar close their eyes. Mustang stalks off.

Darrow is thrown a lavish parade to celebrate his great victory, mainly for the benefit of the lowColors. He is crowned with the celebratory Laurels – only for those who have “called down the rain” on Mars and won the day. (This was everybody shooting down from space to Mars in star shells – basically one man rocket launchers.) After this, Nero au Augustus walks with Darrow and asks him to be his son. He expresses concern over Darrow’s young ideas – like giving Gold whips to Obsidians and having lowly Blue dockers man the ships instead of trained Blues – because he feels he is a steward of mankind and needs to preserve man for eternity and populate outer space even further – and the order of the color system is required to do this. This is why he is so bone chillingly cruel.) Augustus says Darrow will marry Mustang ideally, and also that the Jackal approved making Darrow the heir to House Augustus. Augustus had made platitudes to the “Reformers” during the war to gain their support, and even convinced Mustang of this, but reveals to Darrow that he will nix this agenda once Darrow/Mustang have been married for a couple years.

Then, they move onto the banquet/dinner which is meant just for the Golds. Mustang isn’t anywhere to be found because she is obviously still way P.O.’d and confused. Darrow can’t find Fitchner and sends Servo (with Ragnar) to find him. Darrow gets a crown at this ceremony. Lorna is supposed to crown him, but Roque asks for the honor. Darrow thinks this is a good idea, public displays of friendship to mend the rift between them. When Roque opens the box with the crown and shows Darrow what’s inside – it’s Fitchners head!!!! All chaos breaks loose. Antonia, that bitch from the Academy who is the half sister of Victra (and who during the great battle turned on Bellona to fight for Augustas) murders her sister. Aja – who had been disguised – kills Lorna. The Jackal kills his father – Aja is pissed because they needed Nero au Augustas alive to talk down the outer planets, but the Jackal just snapped after he said Adirus (the jackal) was no son of his. Cassius is also there, disguised. He asks where Jackal’s sister is – because she was obviously supposed to die too. Roque poisoned Darrow when he was “crowning” him and says that in this world, the power of Gold will never wane. Aja says that the Queen wants him alive for dissection. It seems like Roque has called down his 30 new ships to rain hell on the city. Jackal says Darrow gave himself away at Attica.

 

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