Fourth Wing (The Empyrean, #1)

Fourth Wing (The Empyrean, #1)
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Release Date
May 02, 2023
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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.

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1 review
absolutely stunning fantasy romance
(Updated: April 23, 2023)
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FOURTH WING is an incredible and lush fantasy with a touch of romance. Violet Sorrengail has spent her life preparing to enter the Scribe Quadrant, understanding books and written history well. However, following the deaths of her brother and father, she has been left with the verdict of her disappointed mother that she follow in her mother and sibling's steps, enlisting in the Riders Quadrant. The dragon riders are the most elite form of protection and weapon against the nearby invading kingdom, but the quadrant also carries the highest death risk with only a fraction of those who enlist making it to graduation. Given that her mother is General Sorrengail, Violet is walking into training with a target on her back.

As she begins as a first-year, she sees firsthand the brutality and trials she will face in her three years of training - if she even survives that long. Given her condition of weakened muscles and ligaments plus the fact that her training for riding only began a year earlier (as she had been raised for the scribes), her survival seems anything but assured - even less so when she finds out that the children of the rebellion leaders who her mother executed have been forcibly enlisted into the riders as well. As she trains, Violet will learn more about herself, what she wants, and the people around her than she ever could have expected, opening her eyes to the broader politics and ethics of the country to which she has sworn loyalty.

This is such an incredible read, and the hype is well-deserved. Definitely a story that will keep you up at night, the story manages to feel steadily and quickly paced while also providing immense world-building, mythology, and character development. I was absolutely consumed by Violet's journey and found it quite unputdownable - even though it is quite a lengthy book, I was eagerly reading through to the end, and still wishing I had the next book already! The writing is fantastic between the pacing, plot, and content, and it absolutely hooks the reader from the start and never lets them go.

Violet herself is an interesting character, dealing with a disability for which she does not receive any guaranteed aid. However, as the story continues, she finds ways to make accommodations along with those who care for her, to prevent further injury and to allow her to thrive. Her personality shone through every page from her willingness to trust others, but also to manage to guard her feelings and secrets dearly. She experiences a great deal of personal growth throughout the story and begins to define herself as she desires, rather than the expectations forced on her by her parents and other students/teachers. Other characters were equally as compelling, and she evaluates the friendships she forges - as well as the enemies, some of whom deserve reconsideration as the story continues. Her name has already given others an impression of her, but Violet breaks this mold as others get to know her.

Of course, one of the most intriguing characters is her romantic interest and nemesis, Xaden Riorson, whose past is filled with trauma that readers begin to understand as he opens up to Violet. He has been visibly marked for the sins of his father, but he is crafting his own path and making his own decisions. Another interesting character is Dain, her childhood best friend in his second year, who has placed her in a box and represents much of her past. Readers are sure to have some strong feelings about him as the story progresses. Liam and Rhiannon are also really compelling characters, friends of a sort for Violet who we get to know as time passes. While there are too many characters to name, there are so many that readers will bond with through the story and that really standout as three-dimensional and complex as well as quite intriguing - no one is fully black-and-white good or bad, which is always a great story quality. Importantly, the nature of their enlistment is brutal, so beloved characters are lost in the story, making it quite emotional at times.

The world-building was quite masterful with so much mythology, history, and political information about this country interwoven seamlessly in the plot. The reader attends classes with Violet, which were infinitely intriguing, as well as everything else. Readers who love really immersing themselves into the story's world and lives will definitely appreciate this one. Additionally, the magical elements of the dragons were beautifully crafted, and really made this something special and unique.

FOURTH WING will be your new book obsession - this is an absolutely must-read for lovers of intricately woven and unforgettable fantasy! I cannot recommend this book enough!

As a note, I would add warnings for younger readers that the book includes death (murder, war) and sexual situations, which are described, so this may not be appropriate for young YA audiences.
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