The Red Rising series is full of sharp twists and turns. Betrayals and shocking falls from grace crowd every chapter of the books. Midway through book 2, I was reaching my limit for these traumatic upsets in plot momentum. They seemed like the snowflake method played with shuriken. So when I got to the end of Morning Star and encountered Cassius betraying Darrow yet again, I was more than frustrated. Then the (plot spoiler) turnabout is revealed in the next chapter that the betrayal was a scam. I groused as I read through the rest of the chapter, but it rankled me for days. But why? It's fine to exploit reader expectations. In this case, I expected Brown to go back to the well one more time with an extreme fall from grace, and he exploited it by turning the fall into a rise. All's fair in love and prose, right? But I felt betrayed in a deeper way and reread the chapter in question. And I found several instances where Brown uses not just dialogue and events to set the hook of believing the fall from grace but also Darrow's inner thoughts and feelings. The betrayal had to be acted out in order for an uninvolved third party to affirm Darrow's really been captured and Sevro really is dead. And the externals of dialogue and actions could have been sufficient to sell the reader on the scenario too. But Brown went the next step of giving the reader false signals of Darrow's despairing thoughts, as though he really had been captured and his best friend really was dead. This seems to me like cheating on POV and kind of a cheap trick at the end of such a great saga. I don't think he needed to give Darrow's emotions and thoughts, and he could have sold readers without them. I don't think I'd have had the same whiplash. My pleasure might have been heightened by seeing my conditioned expectations turned against me so effectively. But the POV cheating made me feel aggrieved instead, and I lost the pleasure of the scene.

Did anyone else react like this? He's a celebrated writer and he certainly earned this moment of license with POV. I can't fault him for it, and he must have felt it was necessary in order to gull his most careful readers who might not have bit on the hook of yet another betrayal.