BOOK REVIEW: Fourth Wing {The Empyrean, Book 1} by Rebecca Yarros

"Hope is a fickle, dangerous thing. It steals your focus and aims it toward the possibilities instead of keeping it where it belongs—on the probabilities."

Let me just say, if I had realized there were dragons as a huge focal point of Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing I would have read it far, far sooner because ...me and dragons vibe like that. But I digress...as they say, better late than never; and I am so glad I joined the Empyrean party sooner rather than later because it. is. magnificent.

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail has trained to enter the Scribe Quadrant at Basgiath War College her entire life. As someone who is more fragile than her peers, a quiet life spent surrounded by books and history seems an ideal placement for her. Not to mention she'll be following in her father's footsteps. But her world is quite...upended when, weeks before entry, Commanding General Lilith Sorrengail {aka Violet's mother} orders Violet to forego her Scribe dreams to instead join the hordes of Navarre candidates striving to become part of the elite Riders Quadrant. What is the Riders Quadrant, you ask? Oh, just dragon riders. NBD.

Dragon riders are known for their strength, their brutality, and their desire to bond with an elusive dragon. The former two, Violet is lacking in every sense of the word; the latter...let's just say that dragons don't bond with those who are weak, small, or fragile - rather, they incinerate them. Violet is convinced that she's walking headlong into the dragon's mouth...literally; but dragons are the last thing she should be fearing, for prior to encountering them, she'll have to survive the bloodthirsty humans surrounding her. You see, less and less dragons are choosing to bond with humans with each passing year, making competition to find a bond more cutthroat than ever before. Most cadets within the Riders Quadrant would gladly take Violet out merely to increase the odds of a bond; the rest would murder her just for having the last name Sorrengail. Case in point, Xaden Riorson. The most powerful, feared, and ruthless wingleader in all of the Riders Quadrant, Xaden loathes Violet with a fiery passion for what her mother did to his father, and would do anything to see her fail. But she's determined not to.

Years of training as a Scribe have given Violet a leg-up over her fellow cadets. While they may outweigh her, she is armed with wits, knowledge, and reasoning - three necessities that may just help her to rise with each new morning. But things aren't right within Navarre. The war is raging; wards established to protect the kingdom fail almost daily; and people are losing their lives at a record rate. Worse, however, is Violet's suspicion that leadership {yes, her own mother} is hiding something in the vein of a secret that could prove deadly to everyone involved - regardless of strength or weakness. But Violet understands what she signed up for. She is also aware that there are only two ways to exit Basgiath War College: die or graduate. Given the current circumstances, however, Violet isn't sure which ending is more appealing.

NGL here, the moment I began reading Fourth Wing, I spotted the similarities to Veronica Roth's Divergent. The main difference, however, {aside from the dragons, of course} was the characters. I never liked the characters in Divergent - not a single one. Fourth Wing though? The characters drive everything - both the humans and dragons. Like I would literally die for Andarna and Tairn. True story. But the rest of the characters? Kind of incredible too.

Violet shows that Who's Afraid of Little Old Me? growth in personality, strength, and confidence as the story progresses {and yes, I did just reference Taylor Swift's The Tortured Poets Department #sorrynotsorry}; and the disability representation displayed in her character {she appears to have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome} is such incredible inclusion - especially when you take into consideration the fact that Violet is frail but has to master such difficult physical capabilities. Then you have Xaden and Liam and Rhiannon and Mira, and this assemblage of brilliant, highly lovable supporting characters {not a fan of Dain tbh} that just ties the whole story together in a way that is just...masterful. The cliffhanger, ngl, kinda killed me; but only made me want to get my hands on Iron Flame sooner rather than later because I know it's going to be insane. Plus, I'm in need of another helping of Andarna and Tairn.

Star Rating: *****



R's Rue said...

Now I’m off to read

Caitlin&Megan said...

Glad you are enjoying Taylor's new music too. Thanks for the great review.

ellie said...

Such a beautiful review. Thanks so much for the info!

ivy said...

Oh, so great to see this! Very intriguing! Great to know about this one!

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