Realms Podcast
Realms Reviews: Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Realms Reviews: Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Red Rising should be on every sci-fi lover's list.

Hello and Welcome to Realms Reviews, a new offering from my publication. 

Whether you’re new or not, I’m

, and I’m the writer and reader of Realms (formerly Realms of Roush). Realms is a sci-fi and fantasy newsletter. As such, I consume tons of sci-fi and fantasy media that I think everyone should know about. In these two genres, I’ll be reviewing books, video games, podcasts, films, and TV shows.

I’ve wanted to write something besides stories for awhile - and I think I have the review format I want to work with. 

Just like Realms’ short stories, you’ll get reviews once a month. Never on the same week as a short story. 

And here’s what I offer with my reviews:

  • A short, spoiler-free summary with supporting media.

  • My take and thoughts, and whether or not the reviewed media is worth your time. 

  • Notable quotes or moments. 

  • And finally, a rating based on a system of my own design. 

Speaking of…I’m stealing my rating system from fighting video games. From best to worst, it goes: Z, S, A, B, C, D. 

Z means whatever I reviewed is the absolute best of its kind and will leave you wishing you had more.

S is for media that is excellent, but not quite earth-shattering. 

A is for very good. Something that is worth your time. 

B is good. Just good. 

C is best summed up as “Meh” - it will make no difference in your life and is probably worth skipping.

D is a definite no. Skip it. Avoid it. 

That said, this rating system is subjective. Any of my reviews should be taken with a grain of salt and whatever I review should be the subject of your own consumption and consideration.  

And without further ado, my first review is for my favorite sci-fi book series, Red Rising, by Pierce Brown. 

cover of the book red rising by pierce brown, featuring a feathered wing in red
the first book in the series


The Red Rising universe is set in humanity’s far future. We’ve mastered the solar system and have spread civilization to every planet and moon and even the asteroid belt. But we have not built a free society. It has a rigid pyramidal structure called the Hierarchy, and your place in this Society is determined by your color. There are 13 colors with Gold being the at the top and Red at the bottom. Here’s a Red Rising Wiki link to check it out. This Society was created by spacefaring humans who, believing humanity was destroying itself, turned to conquering Earth. These humans were also Romanophiles and rebuilt society to reflect neoclassical values. 

The story starts with Darrow, a “Red” at the bottom of the Society pyramid. He’s an enslaved helium-3 miner who knows he’s at the bottom. His work is supposedly meaningful - the work he and all Reds are doing is terraforming Mars. That’s what the Golds tell him. Funny enough, most everything they say is untrue. 

What comes of these lies? Darrow becomes a world-breaking warlord. That might sound like a spoiler, but it’s not. 

My Take

At first glance, Red Rising might appear to be your typical society rebellion novel like The Hunger Games. But this series has a huge cast of incredible characters that I love. It’s not all sci-fi action for nerds, either. There’re touching moments, romance, hilarity, and the stakes always feel high.

I’ve heard it said that Red Rising is like Game of Thrones in space. The comparison only goes as far as the high intelligence of the characters and the quality of the writing (thankfully, there’s no incest or rampant, gratuitous sex in Red Rising). Every character is sharp as a scalpel and is always hiding their motivations and goals, and Darrow has to be sharper to survive. Red Rising is a space epic with all the ships, guns, and battles you could ask for - but they all come with a lot of nuance. The Society and its Hierarchy aren’t just deemed “bad cause it’s bad”, but both Darrow and the reader wrestle with what makes a society function. Is strict order so bad? Is democracy all it’s cracked up to be?

The original trilogy, when you read it, is a complete package. You will get a full storyline. But the 4th book Iron Gold, 5th book, Dark Age, and recently released 6th book, Light Bringer, are next-level novels. The fifth book, Dark Age, is my favorite novel of all time. It’s deliciously dark and tense and you don’t know who’s going to die. The series isn’t done yet, but you have six novels to binge, which is a great place to be. I wish I could read them again for the first time. 

To wrap this up, if you enjoy sci-fi, whether epic stuff like Dune by Frank Herbert, or more realistic work like The Martian by Andy Weir, and even Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you’ll love Red Rising.

My rating for the whole series is Z. This is the best sci-fi series of its kind and will leave you craving more.

And here are my favorite quotes from each novel:

“She is something new, something hopeful. Like spring to my deep winter.” - Red Rising

“Her braids were laced with teeth.” - Red Rising

“You would never guess that beneath that sea of twinkling jewels lurks a second city of filth and poverty. Worlds within worlds.” - Golden Son

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” - Golden Son

“Oy, boyo, you look like you slithered out of a skeleton’s rickety cooch.” - Morning Star

“I will acquaint you with ruin.” - Morning Star

“I no longer trust stillness. Stillness is the enemy taking careful aim.” - Dark Age

“But you don't get the wolf by the tongue without reaching through its teeth.” - Dark Age

“His eyes are dark jewels set in a gaunt philosopher’s face. I read in them paragraphs of disappointment.” - Light Bringer

“We smash through great spits of meat and over drunken braves, like lions fighting in the midst of startled oxen.” - Light Bringer

And that’s the first Realms review! Go buy Red Rising from the link or borrow from your library.

Buy Red Rising - This is an affiliate link. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Next month, I’ll be reviewing the video game, Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

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That’s all for now - until you next time.

Realms Podcast
Escape the real world for a better one. Realms produces original sci-fi and fantasy short stories and reviews - releasing once a month. Follow this podcast to get updates or subscribe at to get episodes directly in your inbox.