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September 23, 2023

Light Bringer by Pierce Brown ~ a Review

by MK French

While the Reaper is a legend, Darrow has suffered because of this title. He wants to return to Mars and his family, while leading a rebellion against the Core Worlds even though he and his men suffered a devastating defeat at Mercury. Lysander is maneuvering to destroy the Rising and restore the Gold, all too willing to destroy worlds for his ambitions. To defend the Republic, Darrow must return home and collect allies, setting new alliances and conflicts on the battlefield.

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book cover of science fiction novel Light Bringer by Pierce Brown
July 2023; Recorded Books
audio (30h 8m), ebook, print; space opera

Light Bringer
is the sixth book of the Red Rising series, and I haven’t read or listened to the first five. I listened to this one, and it was read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, who is able to change inflection and accents throughout the reading. This world feels more like the Roman Republic but taken to the scale of the solar system, with each planet either belonging to the Core or Rim world designation, with fourteen different colors indicating class and job within this far-reaching Republic. Those who have seen shows like Spartacus or Domina will be familiar with some of the terms and positions within the military and political factions’ terms. For all that this is space opera, warriors depend on old-school weapons and phalanx tactics for battle. Creatures of myth have been created here, and Roman names and gods and goddesses are the mainstay of the ruling class.

Understanding that took a bit, but we’re in the thick of the action from the start. After months of recuperating and essentially being stuck in place after the defeat at Mercury, Darrow and his remaining men receive word of his friend and ally Sevros being captured and up for sale. The Venus dockyards is another location where he had fought, and it’s too tempting a target to ignore. A contingent of three goes for Sevros, and it’s indeed a trap, and Lysander continues with his machinations as he tries to repurpose one of Darrow’s old warships into his own, named Light Bringer. He walks a fine line himself; he’s betrothed to the leader of the Republic but resents how little she trusts him. There are wheels within wheels within wheels as leaders of various worlds are pulled into the conflict, and another branch of rebellion that remained hidden is now starting to come to light.

Even without reading earlier books, I was drawn into the plot of this one. I missed some nuances in the relationships, I’m sure, but I had enough going on in this book for me to understand what they were going through. There is a lot of action, and we go from Darrow's escape to Lysander's bid for power to Virginia attempting to save Phobos from attack... all within the first third of the book! The sheer amount of death and destruction is mind-boggling, and as much as Virginia and Darrow are upset about that loss, they still leverage their knowledge and connections to try to save Mars and their people. It's an epic tale, with so many characters campaigning for mastery, and there are few characters who are clearly "the bad guy." Each has their motives, and it's a question of leveraging those motives to get to the final result they want. The higher classes are better at it than the rank-and-file soldier, of course, and that's what keeps our attention throughout the book. It's a great read/listen and clearly sets up a conclusion to the series.

Buy Light Bringer at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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