Fantasy, New Adult Romance

My Review: Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1): by Rebecca Yarros

Publish Date: May 2nd, 2023
Number of Pages: 512 Pages
Publisher: RedTower Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

A dragon without its rider is a tragedy.
A rider without their dragon is dead.

Rebecca Yarros, “Fourth Wing”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

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.


I absolutely love it when a book, at least in my opinion, gets as much hype as this one did AND it actually lives up to it all! It may not be the most poetic, or the next literary masterpiece…hell, it may not even be the most original concept to some, BUT there’s no doubt that Fourth Wing will go down as one of the most popular books of the year AT THE VERY LEAST!

I can already sense the Goodreads award being polished for this one!

This had to be the most fun fantasy I’d read in awhile! So many things just worked for this story; all the characters together made a great cast, the vast array of dragons, the forbidden romance, the war college, the four different quadrants people could join for the cause, the bits of history we get of the war….it all just comes together to form such an engaging and addictive story that you won’t be able to put down!

The story revolves around Violet Sorrengail, youngest daughter to General Sorrengail, who’s been raised her whole life to be a Scribe; a historian, a record keeper, librarian, keeper of books and records, etc. She has a chronic illness that made her content to never be a rider like her mother and older siblings, but PLOT TWIST……

Her mom makes her sign up and go for the riders quadrant of the college! and no, that’s not a spoiler…

It’s there where she also meets Xaden Riorson, son of a rebel leader who killed Violet’s older brother, and then his father was executed by Violet’s mother….so yeah, things are about as smooth as the edge of a dagger’s blade on that whole relationship…

This book gave me Eragon meets Divergent meets Hunger Games vibes and it was so much fun overall!

The beginning started off a little slow for me as fantasy books usually do…for some reason I’m just terrible at getting to know the world and the characters, I much prefer when you’re halfway through the story and already familiar with it all. For me, I just thought the book felt very YA, and despite my reading history, I’m just really veering away from YA fantasy as of late. It’s just not doing it for me like it used too. I mean, it’s totally normal for your reading preferences to change over time and as you get older.

BUT, the danger of this war college becomes apparent even in chapter one, and plenty more happens throughout that draws your attention and gets you excited because there are people dying left and right, and they’re not even in the actual war yet!

Once the dragons became a bigger presence in the book, that’s when things became so much more interesting for me! The magic system the author created puts the dragons at the center stage, and is truly a major highlight. It’s definitely one of the most unique concepts of this world by far.

The romance was also a highlight of the book, although that doesn’t really take off until much later than I’m sure a lot of us were hoping…but at least that means no insta-love! Things also got a little spicy, but not as spicy as I personally felt the book was advertised as. “Spicy AF” it was not….but what you got was pretty good I will say! There wasn’t as much as a “Spicy AF” hype term made me think there’d be! Hopefully this means there much more in the next books.

The last chunk of the book………..whoah my gods……so much happens. SO much all at once. Major twists revealed, feelings are shared, and of course there are epic battles in the skies! Your heart will absolutely wrench for some of it too, don’t you worry! You ain’t getting off that easy!

And the final sequence……

Oh look! A picture of me at 1am when I finished the book! I’m fine….everything is fine…


There is nothing more sacred than the Archives. Even temples can be rebuilt, but books cannot be rewritten.

– Rebecca Yarros, “Fourth Wing”


What I Liked:

  1. Dragons! And New Dragon Lore! I loooooove dragons, I never tire of the giant lizards with wings in fantasy books. I mean, they’re the apex predators of any food chain, the top of the pyramid of any mythological creature biome in any fantasy setting. I liked that they had their own set of rules too in this world. Different Colors also meant different personalities and like cats, THEY choose their humans (if they even want to be matched with a human). They’re intelligent and have their own voices and personalities! There’s more to this, but that goes into spoiler territory and I don’t want to do that, but I love that the dragons are so integral to the magic system of this book!
  2. Danger at Every Turn! There’s literally death in chapter 1, and there’s plenty more throughout. You felt the danger that anyone at the college could die, and some really did just as you met them too! It was like Game of Thrones, the stakes just feel so raised and elevated and makes it for a much more exciting book!
  3. Several Twists That Shocked Me! Either I wasn’t paying close enough attention or these really came out of nowhere, but I didn’t see some of these twists the author threw in, and ooooooooooofda did they add so much to the story!!
  4. Forbidden Romance! Like I mentioned earlier, I loved the whole “enemies-to-lovers/forbidden romance” tropes at play here!
  5. I Actually Chuckled At a Few Parts! The author managed to sneak in a few comedic moments, kind of similar to Game of Thrones dark sense of humor, but also with the modern-esque dialogue in a few places too.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Spicy AF?…..I mean, yeah there was SOME spice to this, but “Spicy AF” seems a bit of an over exaggeration here when it came to advertising this book. Well…maybe it is spicy to someone who’s never ventured over to the sexier side of reading? Honestly I’d rate this book 2.5 peppers on the spice scale. BUT at the same time, it was also a slow-burn romance. Maybe there’ll be more in the later books (which there will be 5 as of right now as confirmed by the author herself in a TikTok video)
  2. Felt Kinda YA at the Beginning…The beginning was just slow for me to get into at first. Luckily that quickly changes once the dragons become more prominent.
  3. The Question of Why Violet Becomes a Rider is Unanswered….part of me wonders why her mother had her switch from being a scribe to a rider last minute, and maybe that was explained in the book and I missed it, but surely this may have a bigger answer to give us from her mother later on?


Overall, Fourth Wing was a book that came with a LOT of expectations and hype, and in my honest opinion, it was all lived up to. Surpassed? Perhaps not. but that’s A-Okay in my book! If the first book in a series starts off this strong, that means we’re in for a WILD RIDE as the plot thickens and everything changes and arcs develop!

I absolutely cannot wait for Iron Flame to come out later this year!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell