Now that I’ve let everything sink in a little and the tears have finally stopped flowing, I believe that I can finally review Morning Star. Morning Star is a perfect ending to a series that completely stole my heart. Morning Star takes you through a journey in which Darrow and the Sons of Ares have to learn to live more more. They have to learn to build. They have to learn that despite all the change they want, it can not build in a day, but they have to be willing and brave enough to set forth on a path that will not be easy. They have to break the chains of a world to let more happen. As one character in the novel notes, the Golds have caused society to stagnate and not progress. It represses and wallows in what it has created, lifting only what they know up. Morning Star is the journey seeking change the the losses one can face when going for that.
Wait sorry about that, I’m still a bit choked up. Let’s be clear, my tears are a mixture of both happiness and sadness. Pierce Brown has created a series that has effected me to the core. It has cemented itself as one of my all-time forever favorites because of all the various things that we encountered throughout this story. It’s a story about the little dog, but it’s also a story about how every person no matter how idyllic their life seems faces their own struggles. It’s about pride. It’s about having the strength to do what is right. It’s about embracing people. It’s about living for more.
Morning Star picks up right where we left off in the prologue. We are immediately reminded of the terrible betrayal that Darrow has just experienced. However within minutes we are thrust into the instability that being tortured leads to. I cried as we saw how he was broken, but that allowed us to see how he built himself back up. He needed to be broken down to his lowest. He needed to hit rock bottom.
Sevro also had an interesting journey to go through as well. For him learning about the Sons of Ares and stepping into his new position was a sense of pride. Sevro was raised Gold, but he has this deep connection to Red, seeing he is part Red. We see this connection grow in many ways. Sevro is more willing to help the Reds than a Gold. He literally has part of a Red put inside him. He seeks their validation and unlike Golds, Red give it to him. Reds embrace in in a way that Golds never did. That drives Sevro and makes him more eager to please and avenge. However, Sevro is not the man with a plan, he’s a man of violence and taking orders from those he respects. He is a dagger in the back. Yet he ends up in a position where he can’t be who he truly is. Pressure was crushing the very Sevro I had come to love more than any other character. It was heartbreaking and he felt like a stranger. This wasn’t the Sevro that I knew and it frustrated me as I read, because I could feel the change in his character. Then When things finally came to a head and there was a transition we got to see Sevro return to the man he was. His experience made him grow, but with the pressure relieved we saw the true Sevro again. I’m bloodydamn glad we got our slagging Sevro back.
Much of Sevro’s growth came about because of Darrow. The early transition and uncertainty we see with Darrow is heart breaking. Much like Sevro, this isn’t the Darrow we know. Yes, we had seen him beaten down before. We’d seen him close to giving up, but we never saw a Darrow like we had at the early part of this book. This was a Darrow that was almost unrecognizable even as the fire slowly seeped back into him. It made him all the more triumphant when he had his return to form. Yet, with Darrow one of the most endearing things about is is that while he is the sword ready to strike who stands unflinching against his enemies, we know there is so much vulnerability and uncertainty to his character. All of this comes to play out in the story as Darrow grows and learns what it means to be a leader who can do more than just strike, but to build.
Largely what kept Darrow going and not turning away afraid and always striving to be better was Mustang. Mustang who does of course reappear in this story proves to be the character that drives Darrow. I hate to boil Mustang down to her relationship with Darrow because she is such a strong character on her own, but none of anything that happened would have been possible without their relationship. Darrow needed her as a sort of moral compass and something to strive for. Yes, Darrow had other desires and wanted justice regardless of whether Mustang was in the picture, but it was Mustang who kept him on a path where achieving that could be possible. Mustang was his war counsel. She guided him. She let him know if he was going too far or making a mistake. All the while Mustang had her own motives. She was doing it not just because it was right, but because she needed Darrow to prove himself. That he wasn’t just someone who could break things.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk about my other favorite character, Victra. The Julii woman was fierce. She was a force that refused to be stopped. More importantly, Victra proved that more than anyone that she was loyal. There were times that she taunted that she wouldn’t be, but when it came down to the actions she took they were always there to support Darrow and the people she cared about. She didn’t always agree and that was what made her loyalty even more impressive. Still she showed herself as a fierce warrior, one to be feared. However in this book unlike the prior, we really got to see her vulnerable. Honestly I just came to love her even more. Especially when she finally settled down in a way with probably the only character who could handle her and vice versa.
Throughout this series we’ve seen the relationship between Darrow and Cassius build and then crumble. We were forced to see these once brothers turn against each other. It broke my heart then. It broke my heart through Golden Son. The same in Morning Star. Cassius was never a bad guy. He always felt like he was a result of is upbringing. He was a man who respected honor. Which is why I feel he always felt so conflicted about what he did to Darrow. We see that play out through this novel until it comes to an ultimate conclusion. It was satisfying in a way that really worked, but not without it really twisting at my heart. It forced me to feel and believe things that I didn’t want. Only for that to be uprooted. I was only spared by my inability to accept what was happening.
Overall as far as the actual story going, Pierce Brown repeatedly proves that he knows how to tell a good story. He knows how to raise his characters and also drop them to depths in which you don’t know how they will get out of it. Those highs an lows are coupled with the uncertainty. What Pierce has always done well was not sit around and let his characters plan. You know that they have, but you never get to hear it. So when they are thrust into a mission, it’s never fully clear whether the tragic unfortunate things that are happening are part of the plan and the paradigm will shift or if things really are just going terribly awry. That inability to know which is happening meant that the tension was always high. This ability to tell a story so well makes for a plot that is constantly interesting and shifting power.
However what really makes Morning Star so wonderful was the ability to mix both the wonderful thrilling plot with the excellent character development. These people are fully fleshed out and unique. They each have their own struggles. Despite the dense plot we get to see these characters grow. The ability to balance this novel is fantastic. It is also a feat that i find myself loving the action sequences that build the plot as much as the small character moments. It’s impressive and deserves merit.
The ending of this novel felt like it was right. It felt earned. There was so much loss that when this ending came around it felt perfectly in balance with the rest of the story. That didn’t mean it still didn’t rip out my heart a little. This was the ending that this story needed. It’s rare that I agree so completely with an ending. Spoiler.Seriously, it was the perfect full circle that Darrow now has a child (little Pax), with the woman who kept him on the right path, after the opening of the story saw this taken away from him. It was a bittersweet cycle that we saw come to a close and was fitting in every way. It also left me crying tears of happiness, while trying to stay strong at the memory of Pax. End of Spoiler.
At the end of the day, Morning Star proved to be yet another superior novel. This is not a series where it gets better and worse. With each novel the story and got better. Morning Star somehow managed to be even better than Golden Son. It provided a solid thrilling ending to a series that will now and forever be one of my all time favorites. Now I’ll just go cry over the fact that it’s over.
Spoiler. I seriously need to know why the Sovereign wanted only Daxo alive. Why did she want Daxo? Why? I must know. End of Spoiler.
Per Aspera Ad Astra.