Pierce Brown

American writer

Pierce Brown (born January 28, 1988) is an American science fiction author and screenwriter known best for his Red Rising series.


  • "Death isn't empty like you say it is. Emptiness is life without freedom, Darrow. Emptiness is living chained by fear, fear of loss, fear of death.I say we break those chains.Break the chains of fear and you break the chains that bind us to the Golds, to the Society. Could you imagine it?"
    • Ch. 4: The Gift; Eo
  • "What do you live for?" I ask her suddenly. "Is it for me?Is it for family and love? Or is it for some dream?"
    "It's not just some dream, Darrow. I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like.That they will own land their father gave them."
    "I live for you," I say sadly.
    She kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."
    • Ch. 4: The Gift; Eo and Darrow
  • I am alone with my sin. This is why they rule. The Peerless Scarred know that dark deeds are carried through life. They cannot be outrun. They must be worn if one is to rule. This is their first lesson. Or was it that the weak do not deserve life?
    • Ch. 20: The House Mars
  • All my people sing of are memories. And so I will remember this death. It will burden me as it does not burden my fellow students - I must not let that change. I must not become like them. I'll remember that every sin, every death, every sacrifice, is for freedom.
    • Ch. 20: The House Mars
  • Humans are always negotiating. That's what conversation is. Someone has something, knows something. Someone wants something.
    • Ch. 41: The Jackal
  • "You have everything, Karnus. Wealth. Power. Seven brothers and sisters. How many cousins? Nieces? Nephews? A father and mother who love you, yet...you are here, drinking alone, killing my friends. Setting the purpose of your life to ending me. Why?"
    "Because you wronged my family. No one wrongs the Bellona and lives."
    "So it's pride."
    "It's always pride."
    "Pride is just a shout into the wind."
    He shakes his head, voice deepening. "I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind - how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall." He leans forward. "So you see, pride is the only thing."
    • Ch. 11: Red; Karnus and Darrow
  • "Lies are rust on iron. A blemish on power."
    • Ch. 15: Truth; Aja
  • "You are a worm who thought himself a serpent just because you slither. But your power was not real, Pliny. It was all a dream. Time now to wake."
    • Ch. 35: Teatime; Darrow
  • These Peerless thump their chests in salute to me. The monsters. They go with the wind, chasing power. But they don't realize power doesn't shift. Power is resolute. It is the mountain, not the wind. To shift so easily is to lose trust. And trust is what has kept me alive. Trust in my friends, and their trust in me.
    • Ch. 35: Teatime
  • War is chaos. It always has been. But technology makes it worse. It changes the fear. At the Institute, I feared men. I feared what Titus and the Jackal could do to me. You see death coming there and can at least struggle against it. Here, you don't have such luxury. Modern war is fearing the air, the shadows, fearing the silence. Death will come and I won't even see it.
    • Ch. 38: The Iron Rain
  • Tradition is the crown of the tyrant.
    • Ch. 51: Golden Son
  • Yes. I'm alone.
    I would have thought there to be worse fates than this, but now I know there are none. Man is no island. We need those who love us. We need those who hate us. We need others to tether us to life, to give us a reason to live, to feel.
    • Ch. 1: Only the Dark
  • "No. I am not an anarchist, a communist, a fascist, a plutocrat, or even a demokrat, for that matter. My boys, don't believe what they tell you in school. Government is never the solution, but it is almost always the problem. I'm a capitalist. And I believe in effort and progress and the ingenuity of our species. The continuing evolution and advancement of our kind based on fair competition. Fact of the matter is, Gold does not want man to continue to evolve. Since the conquering, they have routinely stifled advancement to maintain their heaven. They've wrapped themselves in myth. Filled their grand oceans with monsters to hunt. Cultivated private Mirkwoods and Olympuses of their very own. They have suits of armor to make them flying gods. And they preserve that ridiculous fairy tale by keeping mankind frozen in time. Curbing invention, curiosity, social mobility. Change threatens that."
    • Ch. 21: Quicksilver
  • In war, men lose what makes them great. Their creativity. Their wisdom. Their joy. All that's left is their utility. War is not monstrous for making corpses of men so much as it is for making machines of them. And woe to those who have no use in war except to feed the machines.
    • Ch. 25: Exodus
  • When I looked up at my father as a boy, I thought being a man was having control. Being the master and commander of your own destiny. How could any boy know that freedom is lost the moment you become a man. Things start to count. To press in. Constricting slowly, inevitably, creating a cage of inconveniences and duties and deadlines and failed plans and lost friends. I'm tired of people doubting. Of people choosing to believe they know what is possible because of what has happened before.
    • Ch. 31: The Pale Queen
  • How can I feel so melancholy for so terrible a past? Maybe it's just the nature of us, ever wishing for things that were and could be rather than things that are and will be.
    • Ch. 39: The Heart
  • "What kind of parent would want their children to have servants?" he asks, disgusted by the idea. "The moment a child thinks it is entitled to anything, they think they deserve everything. Why do you think the Core is such a Babylon? Because it's never been told no.
    "Look at the Institute you attended. Sexual slavery, murder, cannibalism of fellow Golds?" He shakes his head. "Barbaric. It's not what the Ancestors intended. But the Coreworlders are so desensitized to violence they've forgotten it's to have a purpose. Violence is a tool. It is meant to shock. To change. Instead, they normalize and celebrate it. And create a culture of exploitation where they are so entitled to sex and power that when they are told no, they pull a sword and do as they like."
    • Ch. 41: The Moon Lord
  • "It's hard for me to speak to you as if you were not a tyrant," I say. "You sit here and think you are more civilized than Luna because you obey your creed of honor, because you show restraint." I gesture to the simple house. "But you're not more civilized," I say. You're just more disciplined."
    "Isn't that civilization? Order? Denying animal impulses for stability?"
    • Ch. 41: The Moon Lord
  • "What is pride without honor? What is honor without truth? Honor is not what you say. It is not what you read." Romulus thumps his chest. "Honor is what you do."
    • Ch. 42: The Poet
  • I breathe in the full scent of her. If it ends tomorrow or in eighty years, I could breathe her for the rest of my life. But I want more. I need more. I tilt her slender jaw up with my hand so that she's looking at me. I was going to say something important. Something memorable. But I've forgotten it in her eyes. That gulf that divided us is still there, filled with questions and recrimination and guilt, but that's only part of love, part of being human. Everything is cracked, everything is stained except the fragile moments that hang crystalline in time and make life worth living.
    • Ch. 56: In Time
  • If pain is the weight of being, love is the purpose.
    • Ch. 65: The Vale
  • They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.
  • A moving mind is always fed. At rest, mine eats itself.
    • Prologue; Darrow
  • I once thought the greatest sin of war was violence. It isn't. The greatest sin is it requires good men to become practical.
    • Ch. 1: Till the Vale; Darrow
  • I do not feel brave. I am not the center of this symphony. No one even cares if I am here.
    Where is the immortal majesty the poets promised me? Where is the stern will my ancestors preached to their children?
    It was just an illusion conjured by fools who never left their libraries, or by agents of necessity.
    This is the Noble Lie.
    • Ch. 10: The Ash Rain; Lysander
  • Is a man a coward if he realizes that bravery is just a myth the old tell the young so they line up for the meatgrinder?
    • Ch. 10: The Ash Rain; Lysander
  • Only humanity could grasp the stars and then let them slip through its fingers for the pettiness in its heart.
    • Ch. 10: The Ash Rain; Lysander
  • From a distance, death seems the end of a story. But when you are near, when you can smell the burning skin, see the entrails, you see death for what it is. A traumatic cauterization of a life thread. No purpose. No conclusion. Just snip.
    I knew war was dreadful, but I did not expect to fear it.
    How can anyone not, when death is just a blind giant with scissors?
    • Ch. 16: Rider of the Storm; Lysander
  • Nothing beautiful survives the mob.
    • Ch. 16: Rider of the Storm; Rhone
  • Life is meant to be felt. Else why live? Valleys make the mountains.
    • Ch. 23: Queen; Sefi
  • To see them from above: the roving herds of beasts, the rivers carving stone, the rituals of man in all their varied panoply, to see the clouds roil over the patchwork latifundia of Asian plains, to see the mines of our home, is to remember the patterns of the world, and the majesty and complication and impermeable obscurity of distant lands. It is to remember how few people you know. How many do not know you. How many will soon forget you. How many praise you today to offer contempt tomorrow. Permanence of fame, power, dominion of the individual, are illusions. All that will be measured, all that will last, is your mastery of yourself.
    That is what my father told me. It was his warning about power, though he sought it to his end. I've never understood how a man so wise could be so undone by himself. Perhaps I never will, and that is what has always frightened me. Not that I cannot control my own fate - that is impossible - but that I cannot control myself.
    • Ch. 30: Ocular Sphere; Virginia
  • What devious designs freedom requires. One must worry about the strength of a principle when it must compromise itself so often to survive.
    • Ch. 33: The Devil's Deal; Atalantia
  • Don't you find it peculiar? The human conviction that we are the heirs of history instead of paragraphs that are almost over. A survival mechanism, no doubt.
    • Ch. 33: The Devil's Deal; Atalantia
  • The tragedy of the gifted is the belief they are entitled to greatness, Lysander. As a human, you are entitled only to death.
    • Ch. 34: Shadows of War; Octavia
  • You know I believe we all begin equal parts light and dark. I fear you think your strength lies in your darkness. But the measure of a man is not the fear he sows in his enemies. It is the hope he gives his friends.
    • Ch. 35: Endure; Virginia, in a recorded message to Darrow
  • He has little appetite for banter. He knows the dangers of the path I have chosen to walk, and he doubts me because the old do not remember the necessities of youth. They see only the years on our horizon to which they think we are entitled. But we are entitled only to the moment, and owe nothing to the future except that we follow our convictions.
    • Ch. 78: A Visitor; Lysander
  • "You know the curse of this world?" I ask, looking at the body the Carver made for me. "The greatest gifts were given to the worst of us."
    "Not realizing they are gifts is what makes them the worst," he replies.
    • Ch. 86: Legion's End; Darrow and Harnassus
  • I kept looking for hope in the world. Expecting the world to supply deliverance if I p[lucked the right chords. Demanding that it supply validation to my labor if I just gave enough effort. But that is not the nature of the world. Its nature is to consume. In time, it will consume us all, and the spheres will spin until they too are consumed when our sun dies.
    Maybe that is the point of it. Knowing that ine day darkness will cover all, at least your eyes were open to moments of light.
    • Ch. 86: Legion's End; Darrow
  • The legends of our age die one by one, like autumn leaves; and when they are gone, will we be lesser for their absence?
    It seems cheap.
    With his death imminent, the worlds feel emptier. Almost as cavernous as they did when Cassius fell. One by one, the titans of my youth disappear, and freed from their shadow, I do not feel liberated. I feel bereft.
    Nothing is permanent. No one escapes.
    "The bill comes at the end," I whisper.
    • Ch. 87: Ghost; Lysander
  • I think, as with all things, honor is best appreciated in moderation. As is cruelty.
    • Ch. 92: Graveyard of Tyrants; Lysander
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