I can't explain how much I adored this book. It broke my heart, glued it back together and then broke it again. What an absolute rollercoaster.
Honestly, that's as much as I can say without spoiling anything. I gave this 5/5 obvs...when have I ever given a Pierce Brown novel less than that.
Now onto intense spoilers, I'm serious. If you haven't read this walk away now...
You have been warned...spoilers everywhere...
I was incredibly surprised that Tongueless, the Obsidian, had such a quick entrance and exit into the series. Within about the first twenty pages of Dark Age, he'd been killed off and we only met him in Iron Gold. I wish we’d known more about him, I feel like he could've been just as integral as Ragnar. There was definitely layers to his character and I do wonder if this was the work of Pierce's death hat again.
Feuds certainly run deep in this...the reunion of Diomedes and Ajax was...interesting to say the least. I'm not sure how I would've dealt with someone urinating on my cloak. Likewise, the reunion of Lysander and Ajax reunion was also very interesting. I wasn't sure when they first met how it was going to play out as he seemed reserved then overly familiar. He certainly didn't like how Atalantia greeted Lysander with that kiss... Might be why he latterly tried to kill him, multiple times. That or Ajax didn't want Lysander to take over Atalantia's rule. Either way, the politics always have you on the edge of your set, whether they're familiar or not.
The family has always been a massive theme throughout the Red Rising Saga and I felt as though in the last two books it was explored so much further. Not only in this sense of what you will do for family but at what point does family no longer come into play. For example with Rhonna acting as Darrow's fail-safe to flip the switch on Orion, she guaranteed her place at his side on the front lines. War has the ultimate cost, even if it's your niece.
This book had perhaps the best battle scenes yet. We see another Iron Rain and this time with Lysander in it. Then straight into the use of the Storm Gods which was absolutely devasting. I mean Seraphina got ripped in half! And Orion oh my god. It was too much. She wasn’t ready for this kind of battle after being subjected to the torture she received, or she was too ready to cleanse the planet. Her death was horrifying to start with but Colloway finding her corpse in the ocean was such a kick in the gut.
When Darrow rode the storm I lost all chill.
Then...Lysander lost an eye. The description of that turned my stomach, it was so just euuughh. Kalindora lost her arm and reading how she cauterised her own wound and carried on. My god that woman was made of stern stuff.
I'm so happy with the part that Virginia played. She is so intensely intelligent, her mind is as sharp ad a razor and she knows how to wield both scarily effectively. The minute the news broke that Boneriders were on earth my first thought jumped to Sevro and his safety. He'd been MIA for the first bit of this novel and finally seeing him was like being able to breathe again. Only for him to disappear. Then Dancer dies and everyone turns on Virginia! It’s a coup concocted by the Syndicate Queen and her lackey, Publius cu Caraval. I lost it again here, because WHY DAXO. I cried so much reading that scene from Virginia's perspective. reading how humiliated and violated she was and had to watch her childhood friend be beheaded in front of her. I couldn't. I put the book down for the rest of the night.
Then when I picked it back up it was revealed that Lilath is the Syndicate Queen and has also been rather busy. She has produced a cloned version of Adrius, the Jackal. He left her his DNA and she was a surrogate for this clone. It's so messed up. After Virginia escaped we aren't sure who survived. She used her poison flowers on Clone Adrius and Lilath before escaping herself. Sevro and the other Howlers are still trapped.
Faith was somewhat restored in humanity when Harnassus voted against Atlantis’s offer to submit. Which was immediately rewarded by Virginia as she'd sent ahead aid. Those words lo, husband😭 Darrow had no idea that Virginia was captured at the time. Then Pax and Electra think Virginia is dead too. So many emotions.
One of my favourite scenes, despite Lysander not being my favourite character, was when he meets Apollonius. At first, you aren't sure if there is someone there or if Lysander is hallucinating. We then find out that Ajax sent back Seneca to kill Lysander, but it doesn't go as he thought it would. Instead, Lysander manages to defeat Seneca using the Mind's Eye. A truly amazing fight scene.
It took a while but we finally got a Lyria POV and as it turns out Lyria is a prisoner of Victra and Volga is in the cell next to her...They strike up a conversation by rather morosely writing in blood on small scraps of their jumpsuits.
I really loved Ephraim's role in this book. How he trained the Obsidian's under Sefi's rule in the arts of espionage etc. Their obsidians play to take over the mine, in particular, I really enjoyed. Mainly as it cemented Ephraim as an ally of them. He placed a bet in a ritual that his plan will work and if it doesn't his life is forfeit. He was mocked at the time by all but Sefi who put the lowest 'bet' in.
Lysander gets kidnapped by Gorgons and meets Alexander, WHO IS STILL ALIVE - though minus all teeth. We thought he perished in his attempt to save one of the cities from drowning under Orion's wrath. Where Darrow clipped his cloak onto Alexandeer's mec making him a Howler, no longer a pup.
Nooooo! Not Freihild! Were my exact words when Ephraim and Ozgard went to find her. Closely followed by oh holy s*** the Ascomanni are real! In his grief over Freihild, Valdir butchered Sefi’s Griffin after being drugged. Ozgard did the drugging, I think... But heartbreakingly Sefi has a poison that infects anything it touches hence why she grew cold to Valdir and allowed Friehild and Valdir to continue with their not so secret relationship. Oh, and Ragnar is Volga’s father.
Speaking of... Lyria and Volga have met and now have just had to fight off a hoard of what look like genetically manipulated Ascomanni. They crash-landed and are now with Victra hiding from the red hand aaaand the Ascomanni. Which didn't last for long. The Red hand got Volga and Victra. Horrifyingly they killed the hours-old baby Ulysses. Sevro and Victra's first and only son. Lyria comes up with a plan to get into the compound where once free Victra rampages killing everyone in her path. Finally, Harmony gets her just desserts and dies by Pit Viper. Which could not have happened if Ephraim hadn't led an army to save them. Then went back to alltribe to out Xenophon as the betrayer. Only to witness Sefi die at the hands of the Volsung Fa, Ozgard blinds his second eye, Fa is on the throne and Ephraim was killed. Though we don't find that out until Volga goes to collect his body.
Meanwhile Lysander got himself trapped by the Fear Knights men, has assumed a fake identity, plotted with the Fear Knight who knows his real name to get into the stronghold of Darrow and the army. Which he does. Then his old pal Glirastes recognises his alias as it was the one Lysander used to use to see him. Together they plot to foil Darrow's plan. Only too late does he realise who Lysander is by the words he used, then a match against one of Sevro's grim mementoes.
Lysander shoots Alexander in the head. That was when my hatred for his character truly blossomed. Again I cried and put the book down.
Picking it back up we enter a bloody battle, led by Darrow on one side and Lysander on the other. The only reason Darrow and his crew got out was thanks to a man sent down. Cassius au Bellona to be precise. I KNEW HE WASN'T DEAD. I screaaaaamed when I read that.
Uylsses is buried on Mars in Victra's ancestral home. Volga and Lyria plan to go to earth to bury Ephraim but are interrupted by Kieran, Darrow's brother. Who asks to take Volga to the Volsung Fa, her grandfather and Ragnar's Father. This is the only way to save Mars from a war with the Obsidians as well as Atalantia's forces and now Lysanders. Volga bravely agrees. She makes Lyria promise to take Ephraim to earth and bury him. But not before uttering my favourite words of the book. I have never had a friend so small be so big. I'm tearing up again now writing this.
Kalindora dies of a poisoned wound and Lysander marries Atalantia and earns his scar. But not before he finds out that both Kalindora and Atalantia were instrumental in his mother's death as she was a defector. On Octavia's order, they placed a bomb on her ship. Then Octavia wiped all of Lysander's memories of his mother.
The reunion of Pax, Electra and Virginia was beautiful. So heartfelt. But what truly ripped me apart was seeing Victra nearly attack Virginia for leaving Sevro. That is until Virginia strips and shows her just how many injuries she received throughout that time and how she tried to get him back. The love between the two of them is so strong.
There is no way I can ever truly convey how amazing these books are without giving some moments like these a full discussion. Every character Pierce creates is so nuanced and fully formed that you feel like you know them. The plot is a work of art and it frightens me that he's a pantser (as in doesn't plan his books arcs fully).. That man could take over the world... I needed to word vomit all of my OMG moments with this book because there was a tonne of them.
Another astounding book.
Name: Dark Age
Author(s): Pierce Brown
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Have you read Dark Age?
What did you think?
Thank you for reading,