Title: Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1)
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Release Date: May 2nd, 2023
Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy – Romance
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.
She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“A dragon without its rider is a tragedy.
A rider without their dragon is dead.”
There has been no escaping Fourth Wing these past couple of weeks. The brutal fantasy romance featuring dragons has been EVERYWHERE. The hype has been intense and I finally dove in myself. Hype or no hype, I probably would have anyway because even though I haven’t read any Rebecca Yarros before, everything about the blurb spoke to me. Probably because it said dragons. But that said, I was still hesitant to dive in because that much hype is an intimidating thing.
Luckily for me, the hype was worth it. This may be my new favorite read of the year! I was obsessed with reading it in a way I’ve only ever been with a few classic favorites like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Throne of Glass and ACOTAR. My love for this book definitely has a very nostalgic vibe to it.
So many reviews for this book have already been written that I’m not sure if I have anything new to add to the conversation, but nevertheless I just need to rave for a little bit. So let’s do an overview of everything I loved about Fourth Wing:
Violet Sorrengail – I just love a good underdog and Violet is definitely the underdog here. Born with a condition where her bones and joints are fragile and breakable, Violet has trained her entire life to become a scribe like her father. So when her mother, the commanding general, forces her to enter the brutal and deadly training to become a dragon rider instead, Violet starts off with a big disadvantage. Not only can she not show any weakness, she’s also surrounded by students whose family her mother had executed for rebellion and as such are aching to take out their vengeance on Violet instead.
With the odds so immensely stacked against her, Violet has to rely on her brain and her resilience to stay alive. Which she does so stunningly. She’s well aware of her strengths and her weaknesses and uses her creativity to make it through the deadly and brutal challenges that await her. She’s also super kind and loyal and I love that even though she changes a lot throughout the book, that aspect of her personality never waivers.
The worldbuilding – I thought the worldbuilding was perfectly built up, we learn a lot but it’s never overwhelming. The focus on this book is mostly about Basgiath War College, the magic system and the trials the students go through and it was all fascinating. Though we also slowly learn more about the politics and the war going on outside of the college walls, and I felt like this was paced perfectly to ease us into the world – enough worldbuilding to keep us satisfied, but not too much to be intimidating.
The romance – I love a good slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance and this book delivered! We have such an intriguing male love interest in Xaden Riorson, one of the most powerful wingleaders in Basgiath College and Violet’s enemy from day 1 as he is also the son of the former rebel leader. Seeing these two go from enemies to begrudging respect to crush to lovers was just the best. Slow-burn at it’s finest!
The friendships – Of course Violet does not have to go through it all alone. Though she may have a target on her back because of her body and her mother, she also finds some real friendships in her squad mates. I loved how these friendships slowly grew over time and how this squad (Rhiannon, Liam, Riddick and Sawyer) became like a family near the end. These friendships gave me so many emotional tears as well as the laughter with all of their jokes and banter.
The dragons – Naturally, I have to mention the dragons! I love how we get to meet so many different types of dragons and how they all have these big personalities as well: from brutal to adorable and from grumpy to fierce. I also love how strong the bonds between dragons and their riders are and how they can communicate with each other telepathically. They really are the standout characters of the story, definitely not just there as a side character at all.
Overall, I can only jump on the hype train and highly recommend this book to anyone who likes slow-burn fantasy romance with deadly schools, grumpy dragons, underdog heroines, amazing friendships and powerful magic. I’m already impatiently awaiting book two, coming out in November.
“Fascinating. You look all frail and breakable, but you’re really a violent little thing, aren’t you?”
“I would rather lose this entire war than live without you, and if that means I have to prove myself over and over, then I’ll do it. You gave me your heart, and I’m keeping it.”
“But I will not run. I wouldn’t be standing here if I’d quit every time something seemed impossible to overcome. I will not die today.”
“Dragon relationships are absolutely incomprehensible.”
“Yeah? You should try a human one sometime. Just as vicious, but less fire.”