Break The Chains: hic sunt leones (Here Be Lions)

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By Elaine Vasquez

If you’re looking for a new sci-fi read, a book that exceeds the action of The Hunger Games and is as entertaining and full of wisdom as Ender’s Game, then you should certainly pick up The Red Rising trilogy by debut author, Pierce Brown.

Pierce Brown is a young writer and Red Rising is his first series. He turned to writing fiction after working as a peon on the Disney lot of ABCs studios, and as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign. The books in the trilogy were published quickly: Red Rising in 2014, Golden Son in 2015, and Morning Star in 2016, keeping fans in suspense and growing the books’ readership and becoming a New York Times bestseller.

The premise of the series becomes clear in the first book (Red Rising): after many years of war, the upper class decides that all humans are not equal and must be divided by working class in a hierarchy for labor made up of 14 colors. Enter 16-year-old Darrow, who is a miner with his wife, Eo, both reds, the lowest class in this society. Miners work beneath the surface of Mars and are divided in clans by their positions, competing against each other to see who can mine the most helium-3 for the month. They work under the Greys, who police them because they have bigger builds; the Reds are small with skinny frames. They mine Mars with the goal of colonization, wanting to advance Earth’s civilization to outer space, or so they believe. Darrow’s life turns upside down when he’s discovered in a secret garden meant only for the Greys. Because it is illegal, Darrow is forced to hang his wife as punishment. He buries his wife (which is also illegal) and for that act he is sentenced to hang. But Darrow doesn’t die. His death is faked by Sons of Ares who want him to join the rebellion.

Frustrated because they didn’t save his wife, Darrow is reluctant to trust the Sons of Ares, but when they show him the surface of Mars through a secret passageway, he sees the advance the higher factions have already made: the planet is replete with gardens, cities, and water. Darrow realizes that he and his like were being used to mine the fuel for Mars so that the higher factions could go on living their lifestyle. Darrow joins the rebellion and transforms himself with their help to become a Gold, the highest class, to shake the foundation of their society from the top down. In order to succeed, he has to be accepted to the Institute, a school for Gold to become the elite of the elite or crumple under the pressure. And that’s just the first book.

From there, the story becomes a tale of rebellion in which Darrow grows up and faces many trials that make him question the nature of both his allies and his enemies. The characters in this book are memorable and through Pierce’s fantastic writing, come to life on the page. Brown keeps you guessing in this page-turner, whether the rebellion of the Sons of Ares will ever succeed or something entirely different will happen, one just doesn’t know. And for the fans that have already read this trilogy, they can look forward to the movie, which is in the works. Brown himself is working on the adaptation of the books into the screenplay.

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