ITW THRILLER AWARD FINALIST
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.
Praise for Morning Star
“There is no one writing today who does shameless, Michael Bay–style action set pieces the way Brown does. The battle scenes are kinetic, bloody, breathless, crazy. Everything is on fire all the time.”—NPR
“Morning Star is this trilogy’s Return of the Jedi. . . . The impactful battles that make up most of Morning Star are damn near operatic. . . . It absolutely satisfies.”—Tordotcom
“Excellent . . . Brown’s vivid, first-person prose puts the reader right at the forefront of impassioned speeches, broken families, and engaging battle scenes . . . as this interstellar civil war comes to a most satisfying conclusion.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A page-turning epic filled with twists and turns . . . The conclusion to Brown’s saga is simply stellar.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Multilayered and seething with characters who exist in a shadow world between history and myth, much as in Frank Herbert’s Dune . . . an ambitious and satisfying conclusion to a monumental saga.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Only the Dark
Deep in darkness, far from warmth and sun and moons, I lie, quiet as the stone that surrounds me, imprisoning my hunched body in a dreadful womb. I cannot stand. Cannot stretch. I can only curl in a ball, a withered fossil of the man that was. Hands cuffed behind my back. Naked on cold rock.
All alone with the dark.
It seems months, years, millennia since my knees have unbent, since my spine has straightened from its crooked pose. The ache is madness. My joints fuse like rusted iron. How much time has passed since I saw my Golden friends bleeding out into the grass? Since I felt gentle Roque kiss my cheek as he broke my heart?
Time is no river.
In this tomb, time is the stone. It is the darkness, permanent and unyielding, its only measure the twin pendulums of life—breath and the beating of my heart.
In. Buh . . . bump. Buh . . . bump.
Out. Buh . . . bump. Buh . . . bump.
In. Buh . . . bump. Buh . . . bump.
And forever it repeats. Until . . . Until when? Until I die of old age? Until I crush my skull against the stone? Until I gnaw out the tubes the Yellows threaded into my lower gut to force nutrients in and wastes out?
Or until you go mad?
“No.” I grind my teeth.
“It’s only the dark.” I breathe in. Calm myself. Touch the walls in my soothing pattern. Back, fingers, tailbone, heels, toes, knees, head. Repeat. A dozen times. A hundred. Why not be sure? Make it a thousand.
Yes. I’m alone.
I would have thought there to be worse fates than this, but now I know there are none. Man is no island. We need those who love us. We need those who hate us. We need others to tether us to life, to give us a reason to live, to feel. All I have is the darkness. Sometimes I scream. Sometimes I laugh during the night, during the day. Who knows now? I laugh to pass the time, to exhaust the calories the Jackal gives me and make my body shiver into sleep.
I weep too. I hum. I whistle.
I listen to voices above. Coming to me from the endless sea of darkness. And attending them is the maddening clatter of chains and bones, vibrating through my prison walls. All so close, yet a thousand kilometers away, as if a whole world existed just beyond the darkness and I cannot see it, cannot touch it, taste it, feel it, or pierce that veil to belong to the world once again. I am imprisoned in solitude.
I hear the voices now. The chains and bones trickling through my prison.
Are the voices mine?
I laugh at the idea.
I plot. Kill.
Slaughter. Gouge. Rip. Burn.
I beg. I hallucinate. I bargain.
I whimper prayers to Eo, happy she was spared a fate like this.
She’s not listening.
I sing childhood ballads and recite Dying Earth, The Lamplighter, the Ramayana, The Odyssey in Greek and Latin, then in the lost languages of Arabic, English, Chinese, and German, pulling from memories of dataDrops Matteo gave me when I was barely more than a boy. Seeking strength from the wayward Argive who only wished to find his way home.
You forget what he did.
Odysseus was a hero. He broke the walls of Troy with his wooden horse. Like I broke the Bellona armies in the Iron Rain over Mars.
And then . . .
“No,” I snap. “Quiet.”
. . . men entered Troy. Found mothers. Found children. Guess what they did?
You know what they did. Bone. Sweat. Flesh. Ash. Weeping. Blood.
The darkness cackles with glee.
Reaper, Reaper, Reaper . . . All deeds that last are painted in blood.
Am I asleep? Am I awake? I’ve lost my way. Everything bleeding together, drowning me in visions and whispers and sounds. Again and again I jerk Eo’s fragile little ankles. Break Julian’s face. Hear Pax and Quinn and Tactus and Lorn and Victra sigh their last. So much pain. And for what? To fail my wife. To fail my people.
And fail Ares. Fail your friends.
How many are even left?
Mustang. What if she knows you’re here . . . What if she doesn’t care . . . And why would she? You who betrayed. You who lied. You who used her mind. Her body. Her blood. You showed her your true face and she ran. What if it was her? What if she betrayed you? Could you love her then?
“Shut up!” I scream at myself, at the darkness.
Don’t think of her. Don’t think of her.
Why ever not? You miss her.
A vision of her is spawned in the darkness like so many before it—a girl riding away from me across a field of green, twisting in her saddle and laughing for me to follow. Hair rippling as would summer hay fluttering from a farmer’s wagon.
You crave her. You love her. The Golden girl. Forget that Red bitch.
“No.” I slam my head against the wall. “It’s only the dark,” I whisper. Only the dark playing tricks on my mind. But still I try to forget Mustang, Eo. There is no world beyond this place. I cannot miss what does not exist.
Warm blood trickles down my forehead from old scabs, now freshly broken. It drips off my nose. I extend my tongue, probing the cold stone till I find the drops. Savor the salt, the Martian iron. Slowly. Slowly. Let the novelty of sensation last. Let the flavor linger and remind me I am a man. A Red of Lykos. A Helldiver.
No. You are not. You are nothing. Your wife abandoned you and stole your child. Your whore turned from you. You were not good enough. You were too proud. Too stupid. Too wicked. Now, you are forgotten.
When last I saw the Golden girl, I was on my knees beside Ragnar in the tunnels of Lykos, asking Mustang to betray her own people and live for more. I knew that if she chose to join us, Eo’s dream would blossom. A better world was at our fingertips. Instead, she left. Could she forget me? Has her love for me left her?
She only loved your mask.
“It’s only the dark. Only the dark. Only the dark,” I mumble faster and faster.
I should not be here.
I should be dead. After the death of Lorn, I was to be given to Octavia so her Carvers could dissect me to discover the secrets of how I became Gold. To see if there could be others like me. But the Jackal made a bargain. Kept me for his own. He tortured me in his Attica estate, asking about the Sons of Ares, about Lykos and my family. Never telling me how he discovered my secret. I begged him to end my life.
In the end, he gave me stone.
“When all is lost, honor demands death,” Roque once told me. “It is a noble end.” But what would a rich poet know of death? The poor know death. Slaves know death. But even as I yearn for it, I fear it. Because the more I see of this cruel world, the less I believe it ends in some pleasant fiction.
The Vale is not real.
It’s a lie told by mothers and fathers to give their starving children a reason for the horror. There is no reason. Eo is gone. She never watched me fight for her dream. She did not care what fate I made at the Institute or if I loved Mustang, because the day she died, she became nothing. There is nothing but this world. It is our beginning and our end. Our one chance at joy before the dark.
Yes. But you don’t have to end. You can escape this place, the darkness whispers to me. Say the words. Say them. You know the way.
It is right. I do.
“All you must say is ‘I am broken,’ and this will all end,” the Jackal said long ago, before he lowered me into this hell. “I will put you in a lovely estate for the rest of your days and send you warm, beautiful Pinks and food enough to make you fatter than the Ash Lord. But the words carry a price.”
Worth it. Save yourself. No one else will.
“That price, dear Reaper, is your family.”
The family he seized from Lykos with his lurchers and now keeps in his prison in the bowels of his Attica fortress. Never letting me see them. Never letting me tell them I love them, and that I’m sorry I was not strong enough to protect them.
“I will feed them to the prisoners of this fortress,” he said. “These men and women you think should rule instead of Gold. Once you see the animal in man, you will know that I am right and you are wrong. Gold must rule.”
Let them go, the darkness says. The sacrifice is practical. It is wise.
“No . . . I won’t . . .”
Your mother would want you to live.
Not at that price.
What man could grasp a mother’s love? Live. For her. For Eo.
Could she want that? Is the darkness right? After all, I’m important. Eo said so. Ares said so; he chose me. Me of all the Reds. I can break the chains. I can live for more. It’s not selfish for me to escape this prison. In the grand scheme of things, it is selfless.
Yes. Selfless, really . . .
Mother would beg me to make this sacrifice. Kieran would understand. So would my sister. I can save our people. Eo’s dream must be made real, no matter the cost. It’s my responsibility to persevere. It is my right.
Say the words.
I slam my head into the stone and scream at the darkness to go away. It cannot trick me. It cannot break me.
Didn’t you know? All men break.
Its high cackle mocks me, stretching forever.
And I know it is right. All men break. I did already under his torture. I told him that I was from Lykos. Where he could find my family. But there is a way out, to honor what I am. What Eo loved. To silence the voices.
“Roque, you were right,” I whisper. “You were right.” I just want to be home. To be gone from here. But I can’t have that. All that’s left, the only honorable path for me, is death. Before I betray even more of who I am.
Death is the way out.
Don’t be a fool. Stop. Stop.
I lurch my head forward into the wall harder than before. Not to punish, but to kill. To end myself. If there is no pleasant end to this world, then nothingness will suffice. But if there is a Vale beyond this plane, I will find it. I’m coming, Eo. At last, I am on my way. “I love you.”
No. No. No. No. No.
I crash my skull again into stone. Heat pours down my face. Sparks of pain dance in the black. The darkness wails at me, but I do not stop.
If this is the end, I will rage toward it.
But as I pull back my head to deliver one last great blow, existence groans. Rumbling like an earthquake. Not the darkness. Something beyond. Something in the stone itself, growing louder and deeper above me, till the darkness cracks and a blazing sword of light slashes down.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The first book captured my imagination and fascination. An advanced Romanesque society, with Greek mixing as well. Darrow's rage burned bright and hot. Golden Son was enjoyable, and took a second read to get the same enjoyment as Red Rising. Perhaps this book will take another read to get everything from it. I was excited with the first few chapters. Dark, gritty, and full of that fire from the first two. As the book progressed, it became verbose and dragged me through hundreds of pages of focus on meandering. The battles lacked the excitement and depth the first two books had. The ending was what I had hoped to happen, as I read the final pages. I had to read the acknowledgements, to finally understand why things played out this way. Then I agreed it could be no other way. A fitting finish, even if it lacked the things that captivated me originally. I almost stopped at some points, but I had to see how it finished.
This series pulled me in with Red Rising, held my attention with Golden Son, and left me feeling like I was on an emotional Roller coaster with Morning Star. I highly recommend it. There were times that I had to put this book down and step away. It speaks volumes to the writers skills that I was so emotionally invested in the characters and actually felt their losses. It will require a second read soon. I admit to skimming at parts just so I could figure out what happened next. I'm glad I stuck it through, the ending wraps everything up well and left me content as the reader despite (or due to) all of the ups and downs.
First book (Red Rising) is great. Second book (Golden Son) is awesome. This third book (Morning Star) is EPIC! Need I say more?
I read red rising when it first came out and loved it. I loved golden son just as much as the first. I just finished morning star and I am so sad now that it is over. These books are amazing. I tell everyone I know that loves to read to please give these books a chance. You will not be disappointed. The story and the characters are fantastic. Thank you pierce brown for giving us darrow and of course my favorite sevro.
If you've read then previous 2 in this series then this is a must read. I like the writing style and enjoyed the plot.
Morning Star is a fantastic end to an amazing trilogy. I cannot recommend these books enough. They should be on everyone's must read list.
It was around this time last year when I had asked Piera Forde (Booktuber/Maximum Ride Mini Web series creator) what she recommend me to read cause I was in a book slump. She told me that I would love Red Rising and Golden Son, and boy was she right. Morning Star definitely did not disappoint in the slightess. I can't wait to "see" what Pierce Brown has next in store.
I absolutely love this series and can't wait to dive into the fourth book!
Loving this series
Words cannot express how much I have loved Darrows story.
Second read through the series and it was as good as reading it for the first time
Action packed and full of surprises. A page turner that kept me up way too late many evenings because I just could not put it down! I'm looking forward to reading his next book in the series.
Best ending to a trilogy, ever.
I really enjoy this series. Especially how each character matures over time and the dynamics of friendship versus politics. The only gripe I have with Pierce Brown's style is that I sometimes wish I could better guess what Mustang, Darrow, or Sevro's thoughts and plans were before they occurred. But on the other hand, that would steal the surprise I got when even their most daring plans, that led them into vulnerable and dire circumstances, ended up succeeding. I cannot wait to read "Iron Gold" when it is released.
I loved the first book, liked the second one but unfortunately I am not over the moon for this one. But somehow I knew I won’t love it just by how Golden son ended. There were a ton of things in it that I absolutely loved but my overall impression wasn’t as good as I hoped for. I took almost a year break between reading the second and third book. Why? Because I was kind of dreading it, I saw where things are heading and it was not the way I wanted it. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and when I see the suffering of one of my fave characters coming it doesn’t fill me with butterflies and rainbows. Also before I start I need to admit that before I even started the first page I cheated and read the last chapter first just for my peace of mind. However looking back it was a mistake because I think it took away some of the intensity of the story for me. Well, whatever. I absolutely love the world building of this series, Pierce Brown created an amazing and really detailed place for his tale. The way the different colors work and just the colonization of the planets and moons, it such a colorful and vivid picture that it kinda impossible not to like. However at this point, alas the third book, I think it’s too big, if there is such a thing that too big world. As you know if you read Golden son the universe explodes in that one, not literally but yes. Everything broadens as the story gets into outer space, but in this book its gets even better because the characters travel even farther and interact with even more colors and I think its stretches, scatters the story a bit because there is no way you can describe so much in one single book without losing something along the way and for me that something was the necessary focus. I still like the story and think that the whole idea behind the world building is brilliant also this thing was just a miniscule part of my problem with it but I also think that it would have benefited more if things got tighten duo a bit. There were two things that amazed me the most and one was the way how the storyline went in a way that we saw practically every side of the war/rebellion. There were losses, wins, helplessness we see our heroes in defensive and offensive position as well, we see them strategize and change their prerogatives. We see the edges of the society and the combining force of a common goal. I really liked how this whole storyline was build up and I think it’s phenomenal and so beautifully complex. It doesn’t just make the plot exciting, engaging and powerful but also makes it so incredibly unpredictable that you hardly can wrap your head around it and you definitely became emotionally invested into it. The other thing that first I though I’m going to hate but ended up loving it is Darrow transformation. Let’s be honest who likes when the hero from an advantageous position from one minute to the next falls into rock bottom? Nobody, but in this case the events and the experiences just made Darrow a better leader and taught him things he needed to know to reach his goal and create a better civilization. His character is one of the most complex, multilayered one I ever read about. He starts out as an immature, unstable boy who need the learn one or two things about the world but as things go along he became a strong and smart individual, however in this book he step backs a bit and his horrible captivity not just humbles him but gives him an insight and makes him even more observant. His ever present
Didn't want it to end
I am not a person that gives a book a long time to captivate my interest. This trilogy I could not get enough of from the very beginning. I would love to see this series as a movie.
Well written and exciting to the last page* It has drama,love,honor of values we hold dear. In it there was betrayal and friends become enemies, and enemies become friends. It had several surprises and twists with a great ending of this series. I can not wait to read Pierce Browns next books including his forecoming "Iron Gold".
Thrilling from start to finish. One of the best sagas out there.
Fantastic read. Loved every second of this story.
Excellwnt end to a great series.
Just when you think all is lost the Rising turns it all around. Dense plots, complex characters make this a "couldn't put it down" book. Once I finished I was disheartened that it was over. Cannot wait for Iron Gold!!