Red Rising

What happened in Red Rising

By Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown is a sci-fi dystopian novel that follows the journey of Darrow, a teenage miner living in the rigid color-based social hierarchy of the future solar system. Darrow and the Reds are the lowest caste, forced to toil underground on Mars mining helium-3 to terraform the planet. After Darrow's wife Eo is executed by the ruling Golds for civil disobedience, Darrow agrees to undergo dangerous surgical transformations by the rebel Sons of Ares to disguise himself as a Gold and infiltrate their exclusive society. Darrow endures the grueling trials of the Institute, a training academy for the Gold's elite youth. Through cunning political alliances and military strategies, Darrow conquers rival student Houses and wins the competition, becoming the Institute's Primus. However, Darrow discovers the games were rigged by ArchGovernor Augustus for his son the Jackal to win. At the graduation ceremony, Augustus offers Darrow power in exchange for secrecy and loyalty. Darrow accepts, betraying his principles to advance his long-term mission of overthrowing the Color hierarchy that took his wife. The book follows Darrow's evolution from a miner into a brilliant and ruthless revolutionary determined to bring justice to his people, no matter the cost.

Red Rising Chapter Summary

Chapter 1

The chapter introduces Darrow, a teenage Helldiver who works in the mines on Mars. Darrow reflects on his father's execution and his own stoicism during it, contrasting his composure with his siblings' emotional reactions. Darrow works alone, drilling deep underground while the other miners work above him. His crew chief Narol interrupts Darrow's work due to concerns about a gas pocket, insisting on stopping to scan it, but Darrow is impatient and jumps down to scan it himself, risking his life. Darrow reflects on his dreams of winning the Laurel for his clan, his resentment of the ruling Golds, and his wife Eo, who he worries goes hungry. The chapter depicts Darrow's boldness, skill, and frustration with the status quo.

Chapter 2

In chapter 2, Darrow narrowly escapes injury while working alone in the mines. He competes with rival clan Gamma to mine the most helium-3. After work, Darrow reflects on his love for his wife Eo and her kindness and resilience despite their harsh life as Red miners on Mars. Eo tends to Darrow's hand injury from the mines and asks him not to enter their bedroom as she has a surprise for him. They banter playfully about gifts and rewards if their clan wins the Laurel mining competition. The chapter depicts the difficult life of the Reds but also their spirit and humanity.

Chapter 3

In chapter 3, Darrow and the other Reds from his township walk through the tunnelroads to the Common for the Laureltide dance and celebration. A broadcast plays blaming terrorist attacks on the Sons of Ares and showing graphic injuries. At the celebration, Darrow's uncle Narol plays music as the Reds drink, dance, and celebrate. Darrow reflects on his childhood lessons from Narol about dancing and his father's execution. Eo seems uneasy about Darrow's excitement over winning the Laurel mining competition. The Copper magistrate Timony cu Podginus arrives to announce the Laurel winner. Despite Darrow's clan Lambda winning the most helium-3, the Laurel is awarded to rival clan Gamma instead. Darrow expected to win but is shocked when Gamma gets the Laurel instead.

Chapter 4

Darrow reflects on the injustice of Gamma clan winning the Laurel mining competition despite Lambda clan mining the most helium-3. His wife Eo leads him through tunnels to a hidden biodome forest as a surprise gift. Darrow is awestruck by experiencing trees, grass, animals and the night sky for the first time. Eo argues Darrow should lead a rebellion against the ruling Golds for freedom. Darrow insists dying for a cause is pointless and wants to live for his family, but Eo believes Darrow is capable of more. As they leave, a voice reveals their presence in the restricted area.

Chapter 5

In this chapter, Darrow and Eo are punished for their unauthorized trip outside the colony. Darrow is publicly flogged, enduring 48 lashes. When it is Eo's turn, she sings a forbidden folk song as an act of defiance against the cruel Gold rulers. The ArchGovernor is present and orders her executed for the illegal song. Darrow begs for mercy but is helpless to stop Eo's sacrifice. The chapter depicts Eo's bravery and the injustice of the Color hierarchy.

Chapter 6

In this chapter, Darrow sneaks out of his home to join his wife Eo, who was recently executed. His uncle Narol intercepts him, trying unsuccessfully to talk him out of suicide. Narol accompanies Darrow to the gallows where Eo's body hangs, giving him alcohol that makes Darrow feel dizzy and ill. Darrow takes down Eo's body and secretly buries her in the biodome where they spent their last moments together. In the morning, Darrow is also sentenced to hang for his crimes. Feeling disoriented, he questions Eo's sister Dio about Eo's last words, but does not get a clear answer. As the noose tightens around his neck, Darrow regrets his rash decision to die and realizes Eo wanted him to live on and fight. But it is too late, and Darrow's neck is broken by his uncle to end his suffering.

Chapter 7

Darrow awakens buried alive in an abandoned mine, having survived his hanging. Two masked members of the rebel group Sons of Ares rescue him in a vehicle and bring him to their hideout. Darrow recognizes them as Reds but does not trust them fully. The woman, Harmony, has a disfigured face but is strikingly beautiful on one side. The man, Ralph, is meek and nervous. Darrow feels depressed about his wife Eo's death but realizes she wanted him to live on and fight the Color hierarchy. At the Sons of Ares hideout, Harmony says it is time for Darrow to meet someone named Dancer and carry out Ares' mission, likely involving violence against the ruling Golds.

Chapter 8

In this chapter, Darrow meets Dancer, the leader of the rebel group Sons of Ares. Dancer tests Darrow's intelligence with a rigged card game, which Darrow sees through and wins. Dancer explains the origins of the name Sons of Ares, referring to the violent Greek god of war. He tells Darrow about his wife Eo becoming a martyr called Persephone by the lowReds. Darrow insists on avenging his wife's death by killing the ArchGovernor Augustus.

Dancer takes Darrow in an elevator up towards the surface of Mars. Dancer explains his goal is not just vengeance on one man, but justice for all lowReds oppressed by the Golds. At the surface, Darrow walks into a room with wood floors, carpets, and a piano playing itself. Looking out the window, Darrow sees a city sprawling outside and realizes the lowReds have been deceived about life on Mars. Dancer brought Darrow to the surface to show him the truth about the world beyond the mines.

Chapter 9

Darrow is brought to the surface of Mars by Dancer and shown an advanced city built by the Golds, revealing the Reds have been deceived about life on Mars. Darrow learns the Golds colonized the solar system and instituted the Color hierarchy hundreds of years ago, with Reds as the lowest slaves. Darrow grapples with the injustice and ponders the conviction of the Sons of Ares. He reflects on Eo's sacrifice and decides he must fight back violently against the Golds, asking Dancer what his mission will be.

Chapter 10

In this chapter, Darrow is brought by Dancer and Harmony to the surface city of Yorkton. He struggles to adjust to the vast open spaces, strange technologies, and crowds after a lifetime in the underground mines. Darrow is disguised as a highRed to avoid suspicion. They pass through the high-tech upper city sectors and then down to the chaotic Bazaar marketplace. Dancer explains how the Golds manipulate the lower Colors with entertainment, money, and goods to keep them compliant.

They arrive at a seedy bar run by a gang to meet Mickey the Carver, a reclusive Violet artist. Mickey has used surgical carving to modify humans into fantastical creatures with wings and animal features. Dancer proposes that Mickey transform Darrow into a Gold so he can infiltrate their society. Mickey is shocked when shown two stolen Gold sigils but eventually agrees to do the carving after negotiating a deal. The risky procedure, known as the Carving, will be excruciatingly painful but offers the only chance for Darrow to blend in with the ruling Golds and take down their society from within.

Chapter 11

Darrow meets with Dancer, Harmony, and a Violet artist named Mickey to propose surgically altering Darrow's body to disguise him as a Gold. Mickey insists the plan is impossible due to biological differences and security measures tracking the Golds. Darrow proves his intelligence by quickly solving Mickey's puzzle cube. Impressed, Mickey agrees to do the painful procedure known as the Carving to transform Darrow into a Gold. The goal is for Darrow to infiltrate Gold society and advance into a position of power to aid the rebel cause. Mickey warns that the Institute training is extremely dangerous, but Darrow is determined to endure it to get justice for his wife Eo's death.

Chapter 12

In this chapter, Darrow undergoes a painful surgical procedure known as the Carving to transform his body into that of a Gold so he can infiltrate their society. The Violet artist Mickey performs the surgery, altering Darrow's skeleton, muscles, skin, eyes and more to match the superior Gold physiology. Darrow endures agonizing pain during his recovery as his altered nerves and tissues learn to function together.

Mickey and the rebel Harmony argue over pushing Darrow too hard in training, but Darrow is determined to gain the strength needed to survive the Institute. He resents being treated as a tool by the rebels. In concentraction machines, Darrow builds muscle and speed through simulated environments. His body transforms and grows vastly stronger than before. Darrow also receives learning enhancements to quickly gain knowledge in history, literature and law.

After the transformation, Darrow confronts Mickey about the twisted ways he treats his carved "angels." Darrow threatens to harm Mickey if he does not treat the winged girl Evey better. The chapter depicts Darrow becoming physically and mentally prepared to infiltrate Gold society, while grappling with his lost humanity and identity.

Chapter 13

Darrow undergoes physical and cultural training to blend in as a Gold. He endures painful procedures to remove his body hair and alter his features. His tutor, Matteo, drills Darrow in etiquette, speech, and manners. Darrow struggles to shed his Red identity and adapt to the arrogant Gold persona he must adopt. He spars verbally with Matteo, who slaps Darrow when he slips into crude mineslang. Dancer tries renaming Darrow "Caius au Andromedus" but allows him to keep his real name. Darrow practices a haughty Gold accent and mannerisms. Dancer reminds him that he must fully embrace his disguise to infiltrate Gold society and advance the rebel cause. Darrow grapples with hating his Gold appearance but knows he must control himself to avoid detection at the Institute.

Chapter 14

Darrow demonstrates his skill at the five Aureate dances to his tutor Matteo, including the Polemides war dance. Matteo questions if Darrow was really born a Red, as his skill seems innate. Darrow convinces Matteo of his identity and later realizes the Polemides' similarity to illegal Red dances betrayed his origins. Darrow watches videos of Golds fighting gracefully and feels afraid of his task to infiltrate them.

Dancer informs Darrow they hacked records to change his identity to Darrow au Andromedus. At a stable, Matteo teaches Darrow to ride horses, starting with a pony which bolts, humiliating Darrow. A girl on a stallion laughs at Darrow, calling him "Pixie." Darrow resolves to improve his riding skills to avoid embarrassment at the Institute.

Chapter 15

In this chapter, Darrow undergoes testing to gain admission to the Institute, a prestigious Gold academy. He demonstrates his intelligence by cheating on a test and impressing the examiners. Darrow meets Cassius, a arrogant but friendly Gold student. Cassius tries befriending Darrow, unaware of his true Red identity. In the locker room after physical tests, Darrow sees the girl who called him "Pixie" earlier, but flees in embarrassment at seeing her naked.

On the shuttle ride home, Darrow's tutor Matteo reveals graduates of the Institute are ranked - the top Peerless can ascend Gold society, average Graduates have limited prospects, and failures are exiled. Matteo encourages Darrow to excel at the Institute and gain an apprenticeship with a powerful patron like a Praetor, which could aid the rebel cause in the future. Darrow imagines the possibilities but knows the Institute will be challenging for him as a Red imposter.

Chapter 16

In chapter 16, Darrow travels by shuttle to the Institute, an elite Gold academy, with a group of Gold students including the friendly Julian and antagonistic Sevro. Darrow struggles to fit in, pretending to be a highborn Gold. The shuttle lands in Agea, the capital of Mars, where Darrow is awestruck seeing the advanced city and space fleets for the first time after a lifetime in the mines.

At the Institute, ArchGovernor Nero au Augustus gives a speech to the new students about Gold supremacy, warning against decadence. Darrow seethes with rage seeing Augustus, his wife Eo's murderer. Augustus mentions the martyr Persephone, Eo's alias. Darrow nearly attacks Augustus but controls his anger to maintain his disguise. Augustus refers ominously to a final test called the Passage which Sevro had mentioned earlier. Darrow worries about his lack of knowledge but remains determined to infiltrate Gold society to bring it down from within.

Chapter 17

In chapter 17, Darrow undergoes the Draft, a process where the top students at the Institute are selected by representatives of the various Houses. Darrow is interviewed by several Proctors, including one named Fitchner who punches him as a test. During the Draft ceremony, Darrow and 99 other top students are displayed in boxes on a large grid. Below them, masked Drafters representing the 12 Houses float in chairs, selecting students one by one.

Darrow is passed over initially, but Fitchner advocates for him and he is selected 10th overall by Lorn au Arcos of House Mars. Darrow is proud to be chosen so highly, which will allow him to infiltrate and undermine Gold society. The chapter depicts the pomp and competitiveness of the Drafters vying for the top students to join their Houses.

Chapter 18

Darrow attends his first dinner at the Institute and struggles to fit in with the Gold students. He meets the arrogant Cassius and beautiful Antonia, insulting Cassius by implying he didn't need to study for the entrance exam. Darrow repairs the rift by claiming it was a joke. He befriends the kind Priam and brute Titus. Darrow's lavish dormitory and amenities feel alien after his harsh upbringing as a Red. He remembers his wife Eo's sacrifice and commitment to the rebel cause, grappling with his own complicated emotions.

Chapter 19

Darrow is abducted in the night by men posing as Crows, the Institute's security force. They brutally beat him as part of a test known as the Passage. Darrow is flown to an unknown location and locked in a room with another student, Julian. Their proctor Fitchner explains that only one of them can graduate - the other must die. Julian pleads for his life, but Darrow knows he must pass the test to advance his mission. With great regret, Darrow violently beats Julian to death in hand-to-hand combat.

Chapter 20

In chapter 20, Darrow processes the guilt and horror he feels after being forced to kill Julian in the Passage test. He meets the other survivors including Roque, who tries to comfort him by rationalizing the Society's cruelty as necessary. At a feast, proctor Fitchner explains they are now House Mars, one of 12 Houses competing at the Institute. Only one student can be Primus and lead the House. Fitchner reveals the Houses will soon go to war in the valley to gain control. The winner gains glory and access to powerful patrons. Darrow is determined to become Primus to advance his mission. Cassius angrily demands the killers confess, but no one does. Darrow grapples with his own guilt over killing Julian, Cassius's unknown brother. He explores the castle but cannot find where the Passage murders happened, as if the castle swallowed the sins.

Chapter 21

In this chapter, Darrow and the other students of House Mars are woken up early by their proctor Fitchner for a run through their territory. They survey the land from a high vantage point, with Fitchner pointing out landmarks like their castle, the rivers that form boundaries, and towers that mark the extent of their territory. An enemy House called Ceres has left them a lavish breakfast spread out on the plains as bait for an ambush. Hungry Cassius convinces Darrow to race him to the food. Darrow senses the trap but they rush in anyway, fighting and defeating five members of House Ceres hiding in the grass.
Fitchner and the proctor of House Ceres, who are lovers, watch from above and discuss the battle. Darrow keeps a farmer's grain reaping tool he took as a weapon. Members of House Ceres then attack on horseback, capturing some of Darrow's comrades. Back at the castle, the rules of engagement are unclear to the students. Fitchner clarifies that the goal is not to kill each other but to conquer the other Houses by taking slaves. Darrow suggests this strategy and Fitchner seems impressed, calling him a contender for Primus, the top student leader. Fitchner shows them their House standard which they must protect.

Chapter 22

In Chapter 22, the students of House Mars are divided into factions led by Cassius, Darrow, Titus, and Antonia. Darrow and Cassius scout the surrounding territory and see smoke rising from another House's camp. They realize the Houses will soon be at war but Mars is fractured and unable to mount an attack.

Titus's followers steal tools and food from the other students. Darrow and Cassius consider killing Titus to unite the House but decide against it. They try to think of another way to bind the House together.

Meanwhile, Roque speculates the Institute is designed to simulate pre-Society humanity and teach lessons about factionalism. Just then one of Titus's men returns with the first slave captured from another House. Darrow is jealous he did not capture the slave himself, as this boosts Titus's standing in House Mars.

Chapter 23

The House of Mars fractures into four tribes led by Darrow, Cassius, Titus, and Antonia. Darrow's tribe has fire and secretly cooks food, giving them an advantage. Titus's followers grow savage without fire or food, attacking Darrow's ally Lea. Roque urges Darrow to share resources to heal divisions, but Darrow refuses to empower Titus. Darrow tries turning Titus's captain Vixus against him, but is caught. Titus realizes Darrow has fire and confronts him with Vixus and Pollux. Vixus taunts and threatens Darrow, who violently attacks in response. Darrow flees down the halls after neutralizing Vixus.

Chapter 24

Darrow flees after attacking Vixus, sparking civil war within House Mars. Darrow's faction retreats to their northern fort. Titus raids House Ceres, taking slaves and destroying crops. Darrow watches the brutality but the Proctors do not intervene. Titus fails to conquer House Ceres. With no more slaves to take, Titus turns his violence inward toward his own House.

Chapter 25

Darrow and Cassius spy on House Mars, seeing the slaves being mistreated by Titus and his men. They hear screams from the castle tower and realize Titus is abusing female slaves. Cassius is outraged but Darrow says it's war. Their proctor Fitchner claims it's not his concern unless Titus starts murdering them.

Darrow hatches a plan to defeat Titus by apologizing and allying with rival Antonia. But the plan goes awry when Quinn fails to return from requesting an alliance. Titus captured Quinn and sent her severed ear to Darrow's fort. Enraged, Cassius challenges Titus alone but is captured and beaten. Darrow decides to proceed with his plan to take down Titus.

Chapter 26

In this chapter, Darrow and Cassius venture east into enemy territory to scout and gather information. They encounter a girl from House Minerva called Mustang, who taunts and outwits them. Darrow tries to pull Mustang from her horse to capture her, but she whistles and summons reinforcements. Darrow and Cassius flee into a lake, where they tread water for hours while being guarded by Minerva soldiers.

Sevro arrives disguised in a wolfskin and rescues Darrow and Cassius under the cover of night. They realize Roque has signaled their castle with smoke as part of their plan. Sevro stole their House standard to prevent the enemy from capturing it. They decide to infiltrate House Minerva's fortress and steal their standard for leverage. Darrow wreaks havoc inside Minerva's castle while Cassius starts fires as distractions. They abduct Minerva's cook June and escape with their stolen horses and standard, completing their plan.

Chapter 27

In this chapter, Darrow negotiates with Mustang after his faction captures her soldiers. Darrow took Minerva's standard and used it to trick and scatter their forces. Darrow was injured in a fight with the massive Pax but prevailed. After the battle, Darrow's group holds eleven Minerva soldiers captive.

Darrow, Antonia and Roque meet Mustang at the castle gate to negotiate terms. Mustang is disturbed by the brutality and sexual violence committed by Titus against female slaves. She argues there are moral limits, but Darrow insists power is the only law. Darrow threatens to enslave Mustang's soldiers unless she surrenders the castle. Mustang insists on keeping rival House Ceres's slaves and wants Titus turned over for punishment. Darrow refuses and asserts his dominance.

Mustang warns Darrow that the adults judging them want leaders, not monsters. She mentions a cunning student called the Jackal who will win if the rest behave like animals. Darrow argues justice is made by the powerful, not given. Mustang implores Darrow to evolve beyond cruelty. Darrow's cold pragmatism prevails and Mustang agrees to surrender the castle to end the brutal conflict.

Chapter 28

In this chapter, Darrow goes to the cellar to confront Titus, who he has captured and imprisoned. Darrow asserts his new leadership over House Mars, but Titus mocks him as a coward for outsourcing the capture to House Minerva. Darrow questions why Titus killed members of rival Houses during raids instead of capturing them as slaves. Titus implies the other students are monsters and cannibals. He refers cryptically to "her" being raped in front of him, and now the rapists' daughters will face the same fate.

Darrow realizes from Titus's use of the terms "bloodydamn" and "slingBlade" that Titus is secretly a Red, not a Gold. This explains his extreme violence against the other Houses. Darrow is shocked and horrified by this revelation about Titus's true identity and motives. He stumbles away, realizing the situation at the Institute is far more complex than he realized.

Chapter 29

In this chapter, Darrow grapples with the revelation that Titus is secretly a Red who was carved into a Gold like himself. Darrow realizes Titus' instability and violence puts all carved Reds at risk of exposure. He resolves that Titus must be killed, though it pains him to kill a fellow Red. Darrow sentences Titus to death, but allows Cassius to carry out the execution as vengeance for his brother Julian's murder. Cassius brutally kills Titus, who does not fight back.

Darrow regrets letting Cassius take revenge instead of killing Titus himself impartially. Roque criticizes Darrow for not serving true justice. Darrow buries Titus and mourns the loss of his Red brother. He is troubled that there may be other carved Reds at the Institute.

Darrow speaks with his proctor Fitchner, who implies the Institute is designed to teach political and psychological lessons through tests and simulated scenarios. Fitchner refers ominously to a cunning student called the Jackal. Darrow claims horses and weapons from Fitchner as a reward for capturing House Minerva's standard. He realizes the Institute games are more complex than he anticipated, with many players and agendas hidden beneath the surface.

Chapter 30

In this chapter, Darrow continues leading House Mars at the Institute. A month has passed since Titus's death unified the fractured House. Darrow trains with Cassius to improve his swordfighting skills and learn to defend against the straight blade. He gives command of the "dregs" soldiers to Sevro, who trains them as stealthy "Howlers."

Darrow grows impatient with the stalemate against House Minerva and decides they must eliminate Mustang's forces to advance. He takes only Sevro on a secret mission to propose an alliance with House Diana against Minerva. In the Greatwoods, they are intercepted by members of House Diana, led by a girl named Tamara. One named Tactus taunts Darrow and Sevro. Tamara questions Darrow's intentions but agrees to an alliance against House Minerva in exchange for help conquering House Ceres. Darrow senses the political dynamics at play and manipulates each House for his own ends.

Chapter 31

In this chapter, Darrow leads House Mars in an attack against House Minerva, seeking to conquer their fortress and capture their slaves. Darrow first challenges Minerva's champion Pax to a duel, which he wins through cunning after initially being overpowered. This was a distraction while Sevro and the Howlers infiltrated the fortress inside dead horses and opened the gates from within. House Diana also aids in the attack as part of Darrow's alliance. The fortress quickly falls, though Mustang flees on horseback. Darrow pursues her alone into the woods with Vixus, who makes vile threats against her. Darrow protects Mustang, hiding her location from Vixus. The chapter depicts Darrow's bold military strategy in conquering rival houses, while grappling with moral dilemmas amidst the brutality of war.

Chapter 32

Darrow solidifies control over rival Houses after conquering House Minerva. He plans to take down House Ceres next. But rival Antonia secretly plots against him, falsely claiming Roque is injured to lure Darrow into an ambush. Darrow narrowly escapes. Antonia kills Lea when Darrow refuses to show himself.

Darrow reunites with Cassius and Sevro, telling them what happened. They are unable to find Roque and fear he is dead. Darrow's army searches but finds no sign of Roque.

Darrow and his allies meet to discuss battling the Jackal, who likely aided Antonia. Sevro advocates assassinating the Jackal, but Darrow and Cassius reject dishonorable tactics. After arguing over methods, Sevro leaves angrily. Darrow grapples with more loss and death.

Chapter 33

Darrow is lured into a trap by Cassius, who reveals he knows Darrow killed his brother Julian in the Passage test. Cassius forces Darrow into a duel to avenge his brother's death. Though Darrow tries to reason with Cassius, Cassius refuses to listen and they fight. Darrow is the better swordsman, but Cassius fatally stabs him in the stomach with his ionBlade. Darrow is devastated by the excruciating pain and betrayal. As he lays dying, he reflects on all he is losing - the hopes of Dancer and his father, and his wife Eo's dream. Darrow regrets his actions and wishes for death to end his suffering.

Chapter 34

Darrow wakes up injured and delirious, imagining his caretaker is his late wife Eo. He recovers slowly with help from Mustang, a rival student. They survive together in the northern woods through winter. Darrow realizes Mustang's decentralized leadership strategy is better than the Society's rigid hierarchy. When Mustang falls ill, Darrow seeks medicine from their proctor Fitchner. Fitchner reveals the Jackal was predestined to win the Institute games due to his father's influence. Fitchner warns Darrow not to threaten the Jackal. But Darrow vows to defeat the Jackal by destroying the Houses protecting him, despite the danger. Darrow obtains medicine for Mustang and reassurance from Fitchner that powerful patrons still support Darrow.

Chapter 35

Darrow reflects on a mysterious message left with his Pegasus necklace, wondering who his secret supporter is. He realizes he needs loyal followers, not slaves, to win the Institute games. Darrow and Mustang recruit former slaves called Oathbreakers to their army. They ambush House Mars to convert their slaves, depleting their ranks. Darrow sneaks into the Mars fortress, leaving his slingBlade symbol to create fear. He sees the signal fire lit by his allies, knowing Sevro may now seek to join him. Darrow aims to build his reputation to mythic levels to quickly rise in power at the Institute.

Chapter 36

In this chapter, Darrow leads an assault on House Ceres to capture their fortress and ovens. He has assembled a ragtag army of former slaves called Oathbreakers. Darrow's plan involves using a makeshift ramp to scale the walls, allowing Pax and the other soldiers to storm the gates. After a brutal melee, Darrow's forces prevail and take control of the fortress.

Later, Darrow is disturbed to learn one of his soldiers, Tactus, attempted to rape a Ceres slave named Nyla during the night. Darrow consults with Mustang on how to handle this violation. She advises treading carefully to avoid alienating parts of the army. Darrow confronts Tactus publicly and has him whipped as punishment, against protests from Tactus's supporters.

In a surprising move, Darrow takes the whip himself and endures even harsher lashes to make the point that the army's evils are shared. He urges that anyone who commits such acts will have to whip him as well. Darrow hugs Tactus afterwards, calling them blood brothers and preaching unity. Through leading by example, Darrow aims to reform the behavior of his soldiers and bind them together in a common cause.

Chapter 37

Darrow continues leading his army south towards House Apollo's stronghold. Without horses, they are vulnerable, so Darrow sticks to the woods instead of the open plains. Rival scout Lilath watches them but does not engage. Darrow meets the Apollo Primus Novas, who insults and threatens him. Darrow pretends to be weak to lure Novas into a false sense of security.

That night, all of Darrow's horses are stolen by the proctors to impede his progress. His cookware is also sabotaged. Darrow presses on despite the setbacks. He tells Mustang how he betrayed and killed Julian, Cassius's brother. In the woods, Darrow hears Mustang's voice luring him into a trap. He realizes it's the Proctor mimicking her. The Proctor reveals himself and shoves Darrow from the tree into the snow before a large beast roars.

Chapter 38

Darrow's army camps near House Apollo's castle. Proctor Apollo visits their camp, warning Darrow's army to retreat. Darrow implies he knows the Proctors are rigging the Institute games for the ArchGovernor's son to win. Sevro secretly leaves and attacks Apollo's castle as a distraction. Darrow provokes Apollo into leaving. Sevro and the Howlers infiltrate and seize Apollo's castle using the latrines. Darrow's army storms the castle, defeating Apollo's forces. Darrow personally defeats Apollo's champion Novas. House Apollo falls completely except for one member who escapes. Darrow's army chants his name and throws weapons at the watching Proctors Jupiter, Venus and Apollo. Darrow declares Jupiter will fall next.

Chapter 39

Darrow and his army have conquered House Apollo. Proctor Fitchner visits Darrow and warns him that continuing to defy the Proctors and ArchGovernor will get him killed. Darrow realizes Fitchner is Sevro's father. Darrow asks Fitchner to join him in fighting the rigged Institute games, but Fitchner refuses to risk his career. Fitchner cryptically warns Darrow that Mustang has set a trap for him. Darrow dismisses this, trusting his army completely. After Fitchner wishes Darrow luck and leaves, Darrow sneak attacks and knocks out Fitchner, determined to keep fighting the injustice of the Institute games.

Chapter 40

In this chapter, Darrow confronts Mustang about whether she will betray him, but she insists they trust each other. Darrow decides to attack House Jupiter's castle despite bad weather and Mustang's protests. His army marches through a blizzard but the weather suddenly clears, confirming Darrow's suspicion that the Proctors are manipulating conditions. Darrow's forces besiege Jupiter's castle and quickly penetrate the outer walls. A defender named Lucian surrenders the fortress in exchange for not being enslaved.

Darrow throws a feast for his army and the surrendered Jupitareans. He pretends to get drunk and argues with Pax as a ruse to send him away. Darrow earns Lucian's trust through conversation. When Mustang returns, Darrow makes her leave so he can be alone with Lucian. Darrow reveals he has collected the sigil rings of dead students, looking for Lucian's House Pluto ring. Lucian realizes Darrow knows his true identity. The chapter depicts Darrow's shrewdness in battle tactics and political manipulation as he continues advancing at the Institute.

Chapter 41

Darrow confronts the Jackal, who has infiltrated their ranks by posing as a student named Lucian. Darrow realizes the Jackal is the ArchGovernor's son and pins his hand to the table. The Jackal offers Darrow power in exchange for letting him go, but Darrow refuses. Darrow forces the Jackal to cut off his own hand to escape. But the Jackal uses a sonic device and kills Pax before fleeing.

Darrow and the Howlers hunt the Jackal into the mountains. Proctor Apollo ambushes them to stop Darrow from killing the Jackal. Apollo reveals he has captured Mustang and will kill her if Darrow does not lose to the Jackal. Enraged, Darrow kills Apollo using gravBoots he stole. Darrow tells the Howlers they will now take Olympus to rescue Mustang.

Chapter 42

Darrow and his Howlers invade Olympus to rescue Mustang. They ambush and capture several Proctors, including Venus and Mercury. Darrow confronts Jupiter and they battle, falling from Olympus into the snow. Darrow reveals he knows the ArchGovernor is rigging the Institute games and threatens to expose Jupiter's corruption. Sevro helps Darrow defeat Jupiter. Darrow's army finds the armory and shifts the tide of battle. They rescue Mustang and gain control of Olympus.

Chapter 43

In chapter 43, Darrow finds Mustang drugged and realizes she is the daughter of ArchGovernor Augustus. He feels betrayed that she did not disclose this earlier. Darrow sends Mustang to find the Jackal, not knowing they are twins. Darrow takes Olympus and conquers the remaining Houses. He reunites with Roque, who survived and rallied House Mars. Darrow returns to Mars and finds Cassius a broken man after months under siege. Cassius declares a blood feud against Darrow for killing his brother Julian. Darrow wins the Institute games, becoming Primus. He prepares for a final battle against the combined forces of the Jackal and Mustang.

Chapter 44

Darrow prepares for battle against the forces of Mustang and the Jackal. He has the high ground with 300 soldiers. When Mustang arrives, she surprisingly brings the Jackal as a prisoner, proving her loyalty. At the Institute graduation ceremony, Darrow impresses the Director and is courted by powerful families. ArchGovernor Augustus takes Darrow aside and admits he rigged the Institute for his son the Jackal to win. Augustus offers Darrow power and patronage in exchange for becoming his protege and keeping his involvement secret. Darrow hates Augustus for killing his wife Eo, but accepts to infiltrate and gain power. He kneels and swears loyalty to House Augustus as part of his deep cover. Darrow grapples with betraying his principles but believes it is necessary to advance the greater cause of overthrowing the Color hierarchy.