RED RISING has been compared to a lot of things: THE HUNGER GAMES and ENDER'S GAME most frequently, it seems to me.
GOLDEN SON, on the other hand, reminded me of A GAME OF THRONES.
Seriously. As violent as RED RISING was, GOLDEN SON was even more so. Characters died left and right. There were betrayals on top of betrayals. Politics is the most dangerous arena of all.
When we left Darrow at the end of RED RISING, he had joined Nero au Augustus - the man who condemned his wife, Eo, to death - as a lancer. GOLDEN SON picks up two years later, as Darrow is finishing his military training, aided by his friends and opposed by House Bellona.
Things quickly go downhill, inevitably. Darrow, who altered the paradigm in winning the Institute, is unprepared for others to do the same.
GOLDEN SON seemed immensely more violent than RED RISING. It was also more pulse-poundingly intense. There was no breathing room - I had to know what happened next - so it was a lot harder to put down than RED RISING, too. Even when I was getting sick of all the death I couldn't stop reading.
And then that cliffhanger ending...holy crap.
GOLDEN SON definitely surpassed RED RISING in pretty much every way - an impressive feat. While it was more violent than I normally enjoy, it was an intense, absorbing read, and I am dying to see how it all ends.