A slave is thrust into the upper society of a civilization in order to bring the entire empire to is knees. Set in a far distant future, mankind is spread across a number of worlds. Society has remade itself in a way in which each person is assigned a color, which denotes their place in society. Golds are the elite, the ruler of the worlds. While the Reds are the worker slaves, the lowest of the lows. Darrow is a Red who works in the underground mines of Mars. He and all of his kind are told the surface of mars remains too dangerous for humans. But when his young wife is executed for singing an illegal song, Darrow vows to bring down the world. He is recruited by a group of like-minded rebels who have a plan they believe will change everything.
Darrow learns that he has been lied to and that the surface of Mars is actually filled with cities and parks, all run by the Golds. He is surgically altered to look like a gold and is given several months of brutal training to remake everything about him. The goal is to get Darrow into the elite Gold training center, and eventually get him into a position of power where he can change things for the better.
He manages to get into the academy, only to learn that it is a brutal and violent place. His first task is to kill one of his fellow students. He and the survivors are then drafted by one of twelve bands and thrown into a wooded landscape to fend for themselves. The goal is to find out who is the strongest and the best potential leader. It's like a combination West Point and Thunderdome.
As Darrow builds his power, he learns that some of the proctors (the ones who run the various bands) are cheating so that a favored student may win. Through a series of tricks and sacrifices, Darrow defeats the favorite, kills one of the proctors and his band assault the proctor's headquarters. The imprison the proctors, reveal their plan to the Golds who run each world and their test is completed. Darrow is then selected to be the right-hand person of one of society's most prestigious Gold families, moving him one step closer to his ultimate goal.
Best part of story, including ending:
While it took a few pages to set the stage, I liked the novel twist of a society that is organized by colors. Each group had its flaws, and it was interesting to see how Darrow adjusted his attitudes as he became a Gold.
Best scene in story:
The scene in which Darrow learns that even though his soon-to-be wife Mustang is the sister of his rival Jackal, she remained loyal to him. The family connection was a surprise and it wasn't until the end that we realized Mustang wasn't going to turn on Darrow and support her family.
Opinion about the main character:
Darrow begins his journey with a need for revenge. But as the story unfolds, he learns that nothing is as clear cut as he thought. It made his journey seem very realistic and believable.