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Revisit 'Fourth Wing' Before Starting 'Iron Flame' (Fourth Wing Summary)

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Iron Wing Official Blurb

This was pulled directly from the Entangled Publishing website

“The first year is when some of us lose our lives. The second year is when the rest of us lose our humanity.”  —Xaden Riorson

Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

Fourth Wing Summary

Need a refresher on what happened during the first book? Look no further.

WARNING: There will be spoilers in the next section. So if you haven’t read it yet, abort the mission. Scroll back to the top. 

In the beginning of the story, Violet Sorrengail is 20 years old, the age when students are able to enter Basgiath War College. Ever since she was a little girl, she had dreams of entering the Scribe Quadrant like her late father. She feels at home around books and history, and due to her auto-immune disease, her bones are fragile; she’s not physically built for battle or dragon riding her sister, Mira, or her brother, Brennan, who was killed by the rebellion leader in battle. 

But the summer before she’s set to enter the Scribe Quadrant, Violet’s mother, Lilith Sorrengail, the commanding General of Basgiath War college, demands that she enter the Rider’s Quadrant - a dangerous and violent military training program where cadets learn to ride and fight atop flying dragons. She has no choice in the matter, and with the help of her sister Mira Sorrengail, a well-respected rider stationed with the Eastern Wing, Violet crosses the parapet and begins her first year as a cadet in the Rider’s Quadrant. 

Violet almost immediately runs into problems when she encounters Xaden Riorson, the child of a separatist that her mother oversaw the execution of during the rebellion. Along with the other separatist children bearing rebellion relics across their skin, he poses a deadly threat to Violet in an already deadly situation. On top of that, Jack Barlowe and his lackeys have it out for her. As one of the weaker cadets, and the daughter of the Commanding General, Violet definitely has a target on her back. Thankfully, she makes a friend in Rhiannon Matthias, and her childhood best friend Dain Aetos is there to help protect her. 

Violet makes it through the initial weeks somewhat unscathed. For reasons she doesn’t understand, Xaden Riorson has pretty much left her alone. Well, other than hurling insults and vague threats her way. But they seem to come to a sort of agreement when she accidently witnesses an illegal meeting of the separatist children and she agrees to keep it a secret. Instead of planning destruction to her Kindom, Xaden was helping the younger cadets to make sure they had the best chance to survive. It didn’t seem so bad to her. With her brother’s journal, she’s able to work behind the scenes to win in combat by sabotaging her opponents. 

Violet’s grit keeps her going, and she makes it to the Threshing, where the unthinkable happens. A rider can only bond with a dragon if they are chosen, and for the rider, it is a bond that’s cemented for life or death. If a rider’s bonded dragon dies, they too will die. In all the years of the dragon bond, no rider had ever bonded to two dragons…until Violet Sorrengail came along. After saving the life of a small golden dragon, unfit for riding, one of the most powerful unbonded black dragons comes to her defense and chooses her. His name is Tairneanach (Tairn for short), and to Violet’s surprise, the small golden dragon named Andarnaurram (Andarna for short) has decided to bond with her as well. 

After chaos ensues from both the dragons and the generals, it’s decided that Violet can keep both dragon bonds. But it doesn’t seem like such a great thing when she discovers that Tairn is mated with Xaden’s dragon, Sygael. That means if Violet dies, Tairn might die. And then Sygael might die, which could mean Xaden’s death. For better or worse, Violet now has two extremely powerful dragon bonds, and she’s indefinitely linked to her enemy. 

With Xaden’s newfound connection to Violet, he becomes increasingly invested in her wellbeing, to the point of placing one of the separatist’s children, Liam Mairi, in her squad to keep an eye on her. With her powerful dragon bond, she’s become a bigger threat to the remaining cadets, and the target on her back continues to grow. Xaden helps train her in hand-to-hand combat, wanting her to be able to defend herself. And the bond between their dragons also means they can speak to each other telepathically. They continue to become closer, until one night they share a kiss, until eventually their feels are too strong and they become lovers.

Xaden, though, is keeping secrets. Violet is beginning to trust him, but she doesn’t know where he disappears to at night with the other separatist’s children. Invasion attempts from Poromiel’s gryphon riders are increasing, and holes in the wards surrounding Navarre are becoming more frequent. The generals are hiding information from the cadets and riders in the Quadrant, and Violet wants to know why. Something isn’t right. 

When Violet accompanies Xaden on a training mission to Athebyne, located outside the wards, she gets the answers she was looking for. The generals had been lying all along, but so had Xaden. He’s been working against Navarre, providing weapons to Poromiel gryphon riders. Violet is furious that he’s been lying to her, but when she realizes that Dain used his signet to steal information from her mind and send Xaden and his friends to die, she realizes that Xaden is not the only bad guy in the situation. And she will do whatever it takes to save her friends. The wyvern, a strange creature she thought only existed in the stories her father told her, are very much real, and they are plaguing the Poromiel lands. The Navvarian generals give Xaden and his friends a choice - they can stay and fight the wyvern and venin, saving the Poromiel civilians, or they can ride back to Navarre and give up their goal of helping against the venin attacks. But the decision is easy - they will stay and fight, because they are fighting for what’s right. 

In the battle, Violet and Xaden are victorious, but their group is not unscathed. They lost Liam and his dragon to a venin attack, and Violet was severely injured. Xaden rushes her to his home beyond the wards, a safe haven for people who believe in the goal of the rebellion. Violet wakes up, still in shock by everything that happened. But she’s most shocked to learn that her brother, Brennan, is still alive. And he seems to be friends with Xaden. 

How many books will be in The Empyrean series?

Five. According to a TikTok post from Rebecca Yarros on May 5, the series is currently plotted for five full novels. This may change as she continues to develop the story. 

Empyrean Series Reading Order

  1. Fourth Wing

  2. Iron Flame


Ready to read? Get the book today!

Iron Flame

Rebecca Yarros

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