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Audiobook Review: ‘Light Bringer: A Red Rising Novel’ by Pierce Brown

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As nerds continue to take over the world, it feels like there’s been a bigger shift in the landscape of media on fantasy, science fiction, and comic books. Not that you’ll hear me complaining. With so much focus on nerd culture, the market has become inundated with many new series, films, and books to catch the attention of consumers. To stand out among the rest, there needs to be a distinct voice, one that Pierce Brown works hard to have in his Red Rising series. His newest novel, Light Bringer, is the sixth book in his science fiction series and has recently been released.

For this review, I didn’t read the physical novel but instead was provided a copy of the audiobook, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds. Reynolds narrates the other novels in the Red Rising series, as well as a plethora of other fantasy and science fiction novels. Light Bringer clocks in at just over 30 hours of story, told in four parts with multiple narrators. Does Light Bringer lend itself well to the audiobook format? Let’s see what Tim Gerard Reynolds has in store for us during his telling of Pierce Brown’s Light Bringer.

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me for the purpose of this review. Warning: Slight spoilers and impressions from Light Bringer are below!]

Recovering from War

Light Bringer picks up the threads from Dark Age, which saw one of our narrators on the blowing end of some heavy losses. Darrow, who is the first of four narrators for which Light Bringer begins, is licking his wounds after the events on Mercury in the previous novel. He’s marooned on a ship not far from the Sun, stuck in a war that has separated him from his family. His strongest desire is to return home and see his family. 

After Lysander’s decimation of Darrow’s troops, the warrior has a choice to make; The Republic or his family. It’s not an easy choice for anyone, but for an individual like Darrow, there’s only one path forward. Safety for all, even though that takes him right into the path of certain destruction and death.

Spliced throughout the first part, titled Circus, and breaking up Darrow’s point-of-view is Lysander’s story. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Lysander’s story is how much of an antithesis he is to Darrow. Where Darrow’s environment is claustrophobic and dark, Lysander lives in a utopia, which is bright and full of light. Lysander’s greed and ambition loom over his story, as he works endlessly to achieve the the world he wants for himself.

Life on Mars and beyond in Light Bringer

This crazed desire leads Lysander to Mars. Having removed Darrow as the planet’s protector, his goal is to eradicate The Republic and everything it stands for. However, Mars isn’t completely defenseless, as our third narrator, Virginia, is still present on the planet and refusing to give up without a fight. Her story revolves around protecting Mars from an onslaught from Lysander’s armies, which begins to feel like a neverending task for her to do. 

Light Bringer by Pierce Brown cover

Last but not least, we have our final narrator, Lyria, who could be the change in tides for the war on Mars. She’s sent on a mission by Virginia, with the simple task of getting reinforcements by any means necessary. Can Lyria succeed? Can Virginia save Mars from complete and utter destruction? Will Lysander pull Alexander Hamilton and blow them (the Republic) away? But most importantly is there a reality where Darrow can end this war and return to his family? Some of these questions are answered, but more are teed up for what’s to come in the next novel, Red God.

The positives and negatives of Light Bringer’s audiobook

While Light Bringer shifts perspectives between four characters, this novel is truly Darrow’s story through and through. Not only does he seem to carry most of the chapters throughout the novel, but it feels like the narratives of Lysander, Lyria, and Virginia are put into Light Bringer to enhance Darrow’s journey more so than for another necessity. For someone who hasn’t read or listened to any of the other works in this series by Pierce Brown, I thought it made a ton of sense. Although, I’m sure there are some fans wishing for more of the other narratives stories to help balance it out.

While some of the stories are more interesting than others, part of what makes the entire journey of Light Bringer so enjoyable is the impressively written characters and world that Pierce Brown created. Almost every character is relatable and three-dimensional, even the supportive characters that usually don’t have that level of depth. I loved learning more about this world, especially through the eyes of Darrow, so much so that listening along to Light Bringer has made me want to go back and read the entire series.

Light Bringer also acts like part one of a bigger story, one that feels like it’s heading toward a climax rather quickly. In my head, I thought of this novel as the Infinity War to Red God’s Endgame. Light Bringer’s story has two distinct sections; the slow burn and unraveling of the greater story, before it switches to that fast-paced battle near the end of the novel. All of which is just setting the scene for what’s to come in future novels. For some, the setup might be slow or boring, and parts of it are definitely slow. However, that doesn’t detract from the home run of which the end of the novel delivers.

For the audio part of this book, Tim Gerard Reynolds does a pretty good job of recounting the epic tale of Brown’s spoken words. I can’t imagine that 700 pages and 30 hours of recording was an easy accomplishment, and yet there is never a moment that Reynolds waivers in his presentation of Light Bringer. Personally, at times, Reynolds reads rather slowly, although the denseness of the material might dictate the slower pace. I personally listened to large chunks of it at 1.25x speed, which allowed me to get through some of the pacing issues, but still understand the material.

Will you try Light Bringer by Pierce Brown in audiobook form?

At 30 hours, Light Bringer is a huge undertaking, however, if you drive a lot like me, and looking for another well-written science-fiction/fantasy novel on audio, then Light Bringer should definitely be on your list.

My Rating: 7/10

Light Bringer by Pierce Brown and read by Tim Gerard Reynolds is available now! Will you try this audiobook or read it? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 364 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson