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Red Rising Summary & Study Guide

Pierce Brown
This Study Guide consists of approximately 47 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Red Rising.
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Red Rising Summary & Study Guide Description

Red Rising Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Red Rising is the first novel in the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown. This novel follows Darrow, a Helldiver in the mines below Mars. Darrow's wife is put to death for singing a forbidden song while being punished for going into a forbidden section of their underground home. Devastated by her death, Darrow commits another act punishable by death. He buries his wife. Darrow is saved in death by a group of rebels, the Sons of Ares. Darrow, a Red by birth, is turned into a Gold. Darrow is then sent to attend a special school for Golds were leaders are made. The only question is, is Darrow strong enough to survive against, and in companionship, with his enemies?

Darrow is a Helldiver, the operator of the huge machines that drill into the depths of Mars to mine Helium 3, a product necessary for the terra forming of planets. Darrow is one of the best and he fights to be the most productive in order to earn his tribe the coveted Laurel. The Laurel guarantees the winners extra food and supplies. However, despite clearly out producing the elite tribe, the Gammas, the award is not given to Darrow and his tribe, the Lambdas.

Darrow is angry, but allows his wife to soothe his emotions with a gift. Eo takes Darrow to a hidden garden she found. Inside the Webbery, Eo has discovered a broken vent shaft that leads into a large garden that has a domed ceiling that looks up on the stars. Eo and Darrow, who have lived all their lives underground, have never seen the stars. As they lounge in the grass and enjoy one another, Eo encourages Darrow to be more like his father. Darrow’s father was put to death at the age of twenty-five for rebellion. Eo thinks of Darrow’s father as a hero. Darrow thinks of him as a fool.

When Darrow and Eo leave the garden, they are caught by the Tinpots, the government guards. They are taken away and separated. Darrow knows they will be punished by a lashing, but he thinks they are both strong enough to take it. Darrow is surprised, however, that on the day of their punishment the ArchGovernor of Mars, Nero au Augustus, has come to witness the punishment. It is not every day a Helldiver is punished. Darrow takes his lashes well. However, when Eo begins to accept her lashes, she catches his eye and he knows she is planning something dangerous. Eo begins to sing a song that is forbidden. After mocking Eo, the ArchGovernor has her executed. Darrow is forced to pull on her legs to counteract the weak gravity to break her neck.

Darrow is so despondent over Eo’s death that he cannot see how he can live without her. For Eo, Darrow cuts down her body and buries it even though the punishment for this crime is death. Darrow is hung that same day. However, Darrow wakes in a shallow grave. Members of the rebellion group, Sons of Ares, come and take Darrow to one of their camps. There Darrow meets Dancer, a HighRed who has severe nerve damage in an arm and leg. Dancer tests Darrow and then shows him the lies that the LowReds have been told. They are not mining helium 3 in order to terraform Mars and bring the higher Colors there so that they can be brought out of the mines and given the luxury they are fighting for. Mars has already been terraformed and there are hundreds of cities all across her surface.

Darrow is angry, but even in his anger he cannot help but laugh at what Dancer wants him to do. Darrow wants Dancer to become a Gold, to go to their school and earn a place in their government so that when the rebellion is ready to rise, they will have well-placed support. However, it stops being a joke when Dancer takes Darrow to a Carver who changes his body, from his bone structure and density to his muscles and his teeth and his eyes. In time, Darrow no longer recognizes himself. Darrow has become the very enemy he despises.

Darrow learns quickly and passes the tests to get into the elite Institute where Golds go to become leaders, where men like the ArchGovenor, the Peerless Scarred, are created. Darrow does not know what to expect when he enters the Institute. However, what he experiences is nothing like what he thought it would be.

Within twenty-four hours of entering the Institute, Darrow is kidnapped in the night, beaten, and then left alone in a room with another student. They are given a ring and told only one may leave with the ring. Darrow knows the boy he is left with. The boy is Julian, a kind boy who befriended him on the flight to the Institute and who is the brother of Darrow’s only other acquaintance among the Golds, Cassius. Darrow does not want to kill Julian, but knows he has no choice.

Darrow hides the truth of what he did to Julian during the test called the Passage even as Cassius pushes the survivors to admit who they killed. The group is then taken to a castle where they are told they must defend their castle against the other houses of the Institute. The one castle left standing will be the group of students who will graduate as the Peerless Scarred, the students who will get the best apprenticeships and jobs in the government.

Darrow knows he must win. However, his house quickly divides. Darrow and Cassius team up together, building their own tribe. They eventually combine with another group and together overthrow the ruling tribe in the castle. Darrow then becomes the unofficial leader of his group, House Mars. Darrow then systematically begins enslaving the other houses. However, Cassius learns that Darrow is the one who killed Julian when the leader of Pluto house, a boy nicknamed the Jackal who happens to be the son of the ArchGovernor, gives Cassius a holovideo of Darrow’s test during the Passage. Cassius stabs Darrow in the stomach and leaves him to die.

Darrow is rescued by the leader of the House of Minerva whom he allowed to escape to save her from one of his ruthless house members. This girl, Virginia, or Mustang, nurses Darrow until he recovers from his injuries. Together they begin building a new army out of the slaves who have escaped their bonds and wander free in the wilderness. Mustang and Darrow free them and treat them well, earning their loyalty. Then they begin to conquer the houses one by one. By this time, Darrow has learned that the Proctors, the teachers from each house, are illegally helping the Jackal win this test. For this reason, Darrow targets the Proctors’ houses that have the most to lose if the Jackal does not win.

Darrow eventually conquers several houses and his hard on the trail of the Jackal. Darrow uses trickery to fool the Proctors and force Jackal out in the open. Darrow meets the Jackal face to face and captures him, only the Jackal gets away. When Darrow faces Apollo, one of the Proctors who helped this happen, he learns they have kidnapped Mustang. Darrow kills him. Darrow then attacks Olympus where the Proctors live and watch over the test, in order to save Mustang. Darrow then sends Mustang after Jackal while he goes to recover his role as leader of Mars and finish the game. Unfortunately, Darrow learns that Mustang is the Jackal’s twin sister. He believes she will betray him so he builds his army up and positions them to fight. Mustang, however, does not betray him.

With the game over and Darrow the clear winner, the Drafters and the ArchGovernor arrive on the playing field. The ArchGovernor, aware Darrow knows her cheated, asks Darrow to disown his own family and become a surrogate son of the ArchGovernor so that he might earn a high position in government. Darrow, despite his deep hatred of the ArchGovernor, agrees.

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