Iron gold, p.1
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       Iron Gold, p.1

         Part #4 of Red Rising Saga series by Pierce Brown
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Iron Gold

  Iron Gold is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2018 by Pierce Brown

  Map copyright © 2018 by Joel Daniel Phillips

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  DEL REY and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.


  Names: Brown, Pierce, author.

  Title: Iron gold / Pierce Brown.

  Description: First edition. | New York : Del Rey, [2018] | Series: Red rising saga ; 4

  Identifiers: LCCN 2017046612

  Subjects: | BISAC: FICTION / Science Fiction / Adventure. | FICTION / Action and Adventure. | GSAFD: Science fiction. | Adventure fiction. | Dystopias.

  Classification: LCC PS3602.R7226 I76 2018 | DDC 813/.6—dc23

  LC record available at​2017046612

  Hardback ISBN 9780425285916

  International edition ISBN 9781524796938

  Ebook ISBN 9780425285923

  Cover design and illustration: Faceout Studio/Jeff Miller





  Title Page



  Dramatis Personae

  The Fall of Mercury

  Part I: Wind

  Chapter 1: Darrow

  Chapter 2: Darrow

  Chapter 3: Darrow

  Chapter 4: Lyria

  Chapter 5: Lyria

  Chapter 6: Ephraim

  Chapter 7: Ephraim

  Chapter 8: Lysander

  Chapter 9: Lysander

  Chapter 10: Darrow

  Chapter 11: Darrow

  Chapter 12: Lyria

  Chapter 13: Lyria

  Chapter 14: Ephraim

  Chapter 15: Lysander

  Chapter 16: Darrow

  Chapter 17: Lyria

  Chapter 18: Ephraim

  Chapter 19: Ephraim

  Chapter 20: Lysander

  Chapter 21: Darrow

  Part II: Shadow

  Chapter 22: Lysander

  Chapter 23: Lyria

  Chapter 24: Ephraim

  Chapter 25: Lysander

  Chapter 26: Lysander

  Chapter 27: Darrow

  Chapter 28: Darrow

  Chapter 29: Lyria

  Chapter 30: Darrow

  Chapter 31: Ephraim

  Chapter 32: Lysander

  Chapter 33: Lysander

  Chapter 34: Darrow

  Chapter 35: Lyria

  Chapter 36: Lysander

  Chapter 37: Lysander

  Chapter 38: Lysander

  Chapter 39: Ephraim

  Part III: Dust

  Chapter 40: Lysander

  Chapter 41: Lysander

  Chapter 42: Ephraim

  Chapter 43: Lyria

  Chapter 44: Lyria

  Chapter 45: Darrow

  Chapter 46: Darrow

  Chapter 47: Lysander

  Chapter 48: Lysander

  Chapter 49: Lyria

  Chapter 50: Lyria

  Chapter 51: Ephraim

  Chapter 52: Darrow

  Chapter 53: Darrow

  Chapter 54: Darrow

  Chapter 55: Lysander

  Chapter 56: Lysander

  Chapter 57: Ephraim

  Chapter 58: Ephraim

  Chapter 59: Lyria

  Chapter 60: Darrow

  Chapter 61: Lysander

  Chapter 62: Lysander

  Chapter 63: Lysander

  Chapter 64: Ephraim

  Chapter 65: Darrow



  By Pierce Brown

  About the Author


  DARROW OF LYKOS/THE REAPER ArchImperator of the Republic, husband to Virginia

  RHONNA Niece of Darrow


  DANCER, SENATOR O’FARAN Senator of the Republic, Ares lieutenant

  DANO Colleague of Ephraim


  VIRGINIA AU AUGUSTUS/MUSTANG Reigning Sovereign of the Republic, wife to Darrow, mother to Pax

  PAX Son of Darrow and Virginia

  MAGNUS AU GRIMMUS/THE ASH LORD Former ArchImperator to Octavia

  ATALANTIA AU GRIMMUS Daughter of the Ash Lord

  CASSIUS AU BELLONA Former Morning Knight, guardian to Lysander

  LYSANDER AU LUNE Grandson of former Sovereign Octavia, heir to House Lune

  SEVRO AU BARCA/THE GOBLIN Howler, husband to Victra

  VICTRA AU BARCA Wife to Sevro, née Victra au Julii

  ELECTRA AU BARCA Daughter of Sevro and Victra

  KAVAX AU TELEMANUS Head of House Telemanus, father to Daxo


  DAXO AU TELEMANUS Heir and son of Kavax

  THRAXA AU TELEMANUS Daughter of Kavax and Niobe

  ROMULUS AU RAA Head of House Raa, Lord of the Dust, Sovereign of the Rim Dominion

  DIDO AU RAA Wife to Romulus, née Dido au Saud

  SERAPHINA AU RAA Daughter of Romulus and Dido


  MARIUS AU RAA Quaestor, son of Romulus and Dido


  THARSUS AU VALII-RATH Brother to Apollonius

  ALEXANDAR AU ARCOS Eldest grandson of Lorn, a Howler

  VANDROS a Howler

  CLOWN a Howler

  PEBBLE a Howler


  HOLIDAY TI NAKAMURA Legionnaire, sister to Trigg, a Gray

  EPHRAIM TI HORN Freelancer, former Son of Ares

  SEFI Queen of the Valkyrie, sister to Ragnar, an Obsidian

  WULFGAR THE WHITETOOTH ArchWarden of the Republic, an Obsidian

  VOLGA FJORGAN Colleague of Ephraim, an Obsidian

  QUICKSILVER/REGULUS AG SUN Richest man in the Republic, a Silver

  PYTHA Blue pilot, companion to Cassius and Lysander

  CYRA SI LAMENSIS Locksmith, colleague of Ephraim, a Green

  PUBLIUS CU CARAVAL The Copper Tribune, leader of the Copper bloc, a Copper

  MICKEY Carver, a Violet


  SILENT, SHE WAITS FOR the sky to fall, standing upon an island of volcanic rock amidst a black sea. The long moonless night yawns before her. The only sounds, a flapping banner of war held in her lover’s hand and the warm waves that kiss her steel boots. Her heart is heavy. Her spirit wild. Peerless knights tower behind her. Salt spray beads on their family crests—emerald centaurs, screaming eagles, gold sphinxes, and the crowned skull of her father’s grim house. Her Golden eyes look to the heavens. Waiting. The water heaves in. Out. The heartbeat of her silence.


  Tyche, the jewel of Mercury, hunches in fear between the mountains and the sun. Her famed glass and limestone spires are dark. The Ancestor Bridge is empty. Here, Lorn au Arcos wept as a young man when he saw the messenger planet at sunset for the first time. Now, trash rolls through her streets, pushed by salty summer wind. Gone are the calls of the fishmongers at the wharf. Gone are the patter of pedestrian feet on the cobbles and the rumble of aircars and the laughter of the lowColor children who jump from the bridges into the waves on scorching summer days when the Trasmian sea winds are still. The city is quiet, its wealthy already gone to desert mountain retreats or government bunkers, its soldiers on its rooftops wat
ching the sky, its poor having left for the desert or upon cramped boats destined for the Ismere Islands.

  But the city is not empty.

  Huddled masses fill the public transit systems that wend beneath the waves. And in the upstairs window of a tenement complex on the ugly fringes of the city, far from the water, where the working poor are kept, a little girl with Orange eyes fogs the window with her breath. The night sky sparks. Flashing and flaring with spurts of light like the fireworks her brother sometimes buys at the corner shop. She’s been told there is a battle between big fleets high up there. She has never seen a starship. Her mother lies sick in the bedroom, unable to travel. Her father, who builds parts for engines, sits at the little plastic dinner table with his sons, knowing he cannot protect them. The holoCan washes them in pale light. Government news programs tell them to seek shelter. In her pocket the girl carries a folded piece of paper that she found in the gutter. On it is a little curved sword. She’s seen it before on the cube. Her teachers at the government school say it brings chaos. War. It has set the spheres on fire. But now she secretly draws the blade in the fog her breath has made on the window, and she feels brave.

  Then the bombs begin to fall.


  They come from high-orbit Thor-class bombers piloted by farmboys from Earth and miners from Mars of the Twelfth Sunshine Squadron. Curses and prayers and tribal dragons and curved scythes have been sprayed upon them in aerosol paint. They dip through the clouds and fall over the sea, outracing their own sound. Their guidance chips are made by freeColors on Phobos. Their steel is mined and smelted by entrepreneurs in the Belt. Their ion propulsion engines are stamped with the winged heel of a company that makes consumer electronics and toiletries and weapons. Down and down they go to race shadowless over the desert, then the sea, carrying the weight of the newest empire under the sun.

  The first bomb destroys the Hall of Justice on Tyche’s Vespasian Island. Then it burrows a hundred meters into the earth before detonating against the bunker buried there, killing all inside. The second lands in the sea, fifteen kilometers from a fleet of refugees, where it sinks a Society warship, hiding under the chop. The third races over a spine of mountains north of Tyche when it is struck with a railgun round fired from a defense installation by a Gray teenager with acne scars and the charm of a sweetheart around his neck. It careens off its course and sputters across the sky before falling to the earth.

  It detonates on the fringes of the city, far from the water, where it turns four blocks of tenement housing to dust.


  Silent, he lies encased in mankilling metal in the belly of a starship called the Morning Star. The fear swallows him now as it has done time and time before. The only sound is the whir of his armor’s air filtration unit and the radio chatter of distant men and women. Around him lie his friends, they too cocooned in metal. Waiting. Eyes Red and Gold and Gray and Obsidian. Wolfheads mark their pauldrons. Tattoos their necks and arms. Wild empire breakers from Mars and Luna and Earth. Beyond them fly ships with names like Spirit of Lykos, Hope of Tinos, and Echo of Ragnar. They are painted white and led by a woman with onyx-dark skin. The Lion Sovereign said the white was for spring. For a new beginning. But the ships are stained. Smeared with char and patched wounds and mismatched panels. They broke the Sword Armada and the martyr Fabii. They conquered the heart of the Gold empire. They battled back the Ash Lord to the Core and have kept the dragons of the Rim at bay.

  How could they ever stay clean?

  Alone in his armor, waiting to fall from the sky, he remembers the girl who began it all. He remembers how her Red hair fell over her eyes. How her mouth danced with laughter. How she breathed as she lay atop him, so warm and fragile in a world far too cold. She has been dead longer than she was ever alive. And now that her dream has spread, he wonders if she would recognize it. And he wonders too if he were to die today, would he recognize the echo of his own life? What sort of man would his son become in this world he has made? He thinks of his son’s face and how soon he will become a man. And he thinks of his Golden wife. How she stood on the landing pad, looking up at him, wondering if he’d ever return home again.

  More than anything, he wants this to end.

  Then the machine takes hold.

  He feels the tug on his body. The pounding of his heart. The mad cackling of the Goblin and the howls of his friends as they try to forget their children, their loves, and be brave. Nausea in his gut rises as the magnetic rails charge behind him. With a shudder of metal, they fire him forward through the launch tube out into silent space at six times the speed of sound.

  Men call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy.

  It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.

  There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,

  Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel,

  Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,

  And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,

  Till the vast Temple of our liberties

  A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.


  WEARY, I WALK UPON FLOWERS at the head of an army. Petals carpet the last of the stone road before me. Thrown by children from windows, they twirl lazily down from the steel towers that grow to either side of the Luna boulevard. In the sky, the sun dies its slow, weeklong death, staining the tattered clouds and gathered crowd in bloody hues. Waves of humanity lap against security barricades, pressing inward on our parade as Hyperion City Watchmen in gray uniforms and cyan berets guard the route, shoving drunken revelers back into the crowd. Behind them, antiterrorism units prowl up and down the pavement, their fly-eyed goggles scanning irises, hands resting on energy weapons.

  My own eyes rove the crowd.

  After ten years of war, I no longer believe in moments of peace.

  It’s a sea of Colors that line the twelve-kilometer Via Triumphia. Built by my people, the Red slaves of the Golds, hundreds of years ago, the Triumphia is the avenue by which the Conquerors who tamed Earth held their own processions as they claimed continent after continent. Iron-spined murderers with eyes of gold and haughty menace once consecrated these same stones. Now, nearly a millennium later, we sully the Triumphia’s sacred white marble by honoring Liberators with eyes of jet and ash and rust and soil.

  Once, this would have filled me with pride. Jubilant crowds celebrating the Free Legions returned from vanquishing yet another threat to our fledgling Republic. But today I see holosigns of my head with a bloody crown atop it, hear the jeers from the Vox Populi as they wave banners emblazoned with their upside-down pyramid, and feel nothing but the weight of an endless war and a desperate longing to be once again in the embrace of my family. It has been a year since I’ve seen my wife and son. After the long voyage back from Mercury, all I want is to be with them, to fall into a bed, and to sleep for a dreamless month.

  The last of my journey home lies before me. As the Triumphia widens and abuts the stairs that lead up to the New Forum, I face one final summit.

  Faces drunk on jubilation and new commercial spirits gape up at me as I reach the stairs. Hands sticky with sweets wave in the air. And tongues, loose from those same commercial spirits and delights, cry out, shouting my name, or cursing it. Not the name my mother gave me, but the name my deeds have built. The name the fallen Peerless Scarred now whisper as a curse.

  “Reaper, Reaper, Reaper,” they cry, not in unison, but in frenzy. The clamor suffocates, squeezing with a billion-fingered hand: all the hopes, all the dreams, all the pain constricting around me. But so close to the end, I can put one foot after the other. I begin to climb the stairs.


  My metal boots grind on stone with the weight of loss: Eo, Ragnar, Fitchner, and all the others who’ve fought and fallen at my side while somehow I have remained alive.
r />
  I am tall and broad. Thicker at my age of thirty-three than I was in my youth. Stronger and more brutal in my build and movement. Born Red, made Gold, I have kept what Mickey the Carver gave me. These Gold eyes and hair feel more my own than those of that boy who lived in the mines of Lykos. That boy grew, loved, and dug the earth, but he lost so much it often feels like it happened to another soul.

  Clunk. Another step.

  Sometimes I fear that this war is killing that boy inside. I ache to remember him, his raw, pure heart. To forget this city moon, this Solar War, and return to the bosom of the planet that gave birth to me before the boy inside is dead forever. Before my son loses the chance to ever know him. But the worlds, it seems, have plans of their own.


  I feel the weight of the chaos I’ve unleashed: famines and genocide on Mars, Obsidian piracy in the Belt, terrorism, radiation sickness and disease spreading through the lower reaches of Luna, and the two hundred million lives lost in my war.

  I force a smile. Today is our fourth Liberation Day. After two years of siege, Mercury has joined the free worlds of Luna, Earth, and Mars. Bars stand open. War-weary citizens rove the streets, looking for reason to celebrate. Fireworks crackle and blaze across the sky, shot from the roofs of skyscraper and tenement complex alike.


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  • Red Rising Saga