In Red Rising the children of the Golds are tested for acceptance into the institute at the age of 17.

Presumably many of these children have been preparing for this for a significant part of their lives.

Darrow spends the first 16 years of his life malnourished and then, in the matter of one year, he is able to compete peer to peer with the others based on the work of a carver.

Given the stakes of the competition it seems odd to me that 'natural Golds' wouldn't also augment their children.

Is any explanation given why 'natural Golds' wouldn't also do this?

I also want to point out that a common saying among the golds in the book is "Cheat or be Cheated" meaning they are not above bending the rules.


The closest we have is the indication that Gold values nature and survival of the fittest. They assume that the natural state is superior to the Carved, and probably would not respect results that they knew were from Carving. The Board of Quality Control expects and enforces this:

"...Except for the Obsidians, only we wait nine months to be born. Our mothers receive no catalysts, no sedatives, no nucleics. Have you asked yourself why?"

"So the product can be pure."

"And so that nature is given a chance to kill us. The Board of Quality Control is firmly convinced that 13.6213 percent of all Gold children should die before one year of age. Sometimes they make reality fit this number." He splays out his thin hands. "Why? Because they believe civilization weakens natural selection..."

Despite what we see with Mickey and Darrow, it is not assumed that Carving is superior to the natural product:

"The golden ancestors. They call them the iron Golds.... What creatures they were." [Mickey's] eyes go distant. "It took generations of eugenics and biological tampering to make them. Forced Darwinism."

He's quiet for a moment, and then it seems an anger builds in him.

"They say Carvers will never duplicate the beauty of the Golden Man. The Board of Quality Control taunts us."

Fitchner clearly shows how poorly Gold thinks of Carving:

"You are ugly and you eat like a pig, Fitchner, but you chew metabolizers when you could just go to a Carver and fix yourself to look like the others. They could take care of that paunch in a second."

Fitchner's jaw muscle flickers. Is it anger?

"Why should I have to visit a Carver?" he hisses suddenly. "I can kill an Obsidian with my bare hands. An Obsidian.... Why should I make myself look any different?"

"Because it holds you back."

"Despite my low birth, I am of note. I am important." His hatchet face dares me to contradict. "I am Gold. I am a king of man. I do not change to suit others."

The most thorough example comes from Mustang talking about her Mother, and her Father's choices:

..."When I was six, my mother was pregnant with a little girl. The doctor said that there would be complications with the birth and recommended intervening medically. But my father said that if the child was not fit to survive birth, it did not deserve life. We can fly between the stars. Mold the planets, but my father let my sister die in my mother's womb.

"The hell?" Holiday mutters. "Why not give her cell therapy? You got the money."

"Purity in the product," Mustang says.

As for why Gold's wouldn't do this, given the other cheating that we see go on... In-universe, the Board of Quality Control would probably be the roadblock. Just as they check for cheating, if they felt Carving was a realistic threat to Gold "purity", they'd be testing for that as well. (The fact that Darrow's carving was so spectacularly successful surprises everyone; it's implied in a few places that Carving is viewed as a toy rather than a tool - as cosmetic surgery).

Out-of-universe, there are many aspects of the culling and selection of peerless scarred that are ludicrous on the face of it. It starts with a 50% death rate, with no warning given to the entrants? What are the chances that something in society would have a 50%+ mortality rate and it never gets talked about where future entrants might hear about it? It takes in a class that is half exceptional and half fodder and nobody raises concerns that it's a cattle drive? It's a secret, but aspects of Darrow's victory are public knowledge? It's not the most coherent part of the books.

Quotes are from Red Rising chapter 20, Red Rising chapter 12, Red Rising chapter 29, and Morning Star chapter 28. All bolded text is my emphasis.


There are at least two answers for your question:

  1. Golds said that they are best of the best. They are using ancient history as a example, see their speeches.

It means using greek aristocracy as a model. It means using aristoi arete (virtue of the best) as a guideline. From this it follows that after Aristoteles, what is the best is natural. Hence Golds should be natural born and natural nurtured.

  1. Author did not think through. He created universe with classes, augmented biology. In my opinion, he used augmentation only as a tool to show how Darrow could make through change.
  • Hi there! :) this answer could be improved by providing a quote from the works, for instance, maybe you could edit in your answer one of said speeches and emphase the parts that point to 'the best is natural'? Things like this, to make for a greater answer. Cheers! – Jenayah Aug 22 '18 at 17:46
  • Yes, you are right, but I've read mentioned novel translated into Polish. So I can not add. But noted and remembered :) – J.Hummel Aug 22 '18 at 18:37
  • Ah, sorry! Maybe you can still try to find excerpts online though, even on this site there are a lot of quotes already provided sometimes. To be honest I'm not familiar with Red Rising, so I wouldn't know if it's actually easy to find. Just the general guidelines :p – Jenayah Aug 22 '18 at 18:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.