Golden Son is an excellent follow-up to Red Rising. A bloody, gory, brutal, excellent follow-up. The kind that makes Darrow remember fondly his days at the Institute. You know, back when only a dozen or so people died because of decisions he made. Oh, the carefree days of youth!
One of the things I love about this series is that Darrow is not a Gary Stu. He could so easily go that way, but like the rest of us average schmucks, his successes are vastly outnumbered by by his screw-ups. And this makes total sense in the context of the story because, let's face it, the Sons of Ares suck at the whole planning a revolution thing. What can Darrow do but screw up over and over when he was dressed up like a viper and thrown into the viper pit with only minimal instruction on how to appear viper-like and even more minimal instruction on how to overthrow the vipers? He's been playing a suicidal guessing game for two whole books now, and more often than not he guesses wrong. He learns more when he makes mistakes, as he pointed out in the first book, but the stakes are much higher now and his continuing education is costly in the extreme.
Darrow may look like a Gold, and he may even think he's more Gold than Red now, but he still has little idea what being Gold even means. So it shouldn't be a surprise when he's out-foxed, out-maneuvered, out-classed. And sometimes it isn't a surprise, but sometimes . . . well, it's books with endings like Golden Son's that taught me it's better to collect a whole series before I start reading.
For my fellow pedants, I found numerous typos and a few continuity issues which I hope were corrected in later editions (I have a 2015 UK trade paperback). Some were minor and may only be issues in my own mind, but I hope at the very least they fixed Victra being in two places at once.