Series: The Empyrean #1
on May 2, 2023
Genres: Romantasy, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 500 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
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
Is it a bold claim to already have my favorite book of the year picked out in July? Definitely.
Do I think Fourth Wing might really be that girl? Absolutely.
When I tell you I ordered this book on an absolute WHIM, I am not exaggerating. Long story short, I basically had a credit to use on a book and nothing was really calling out to me that I felt the urge to own a physical copy of, but I had heard of the hype surrounding this one and decided to give it a shot. I assumed it was going to be a pale imitation of a TOG/ACOTAR type book, as so many romantasy titles that are super hyped tend to be, but I am SO happy I was proven wrong!
Despite many comparisons I’ve seen of this book to existing titles, I found it personally to be quite unique! Set in a COLLEGE (yes, college settings FTW!), Violet is basically forced by her mother (the headmaster) to go out for the dragon riding section of the school instead of what’s basically Ravenclaw (the Scribe quarter, I think?) Anywho, this is quite the scandal because Violet is has constant and chronic health issues. However, much to everyone’s surprise she makes it through initiation and basically becomes a badass (surprising no one because she is the protagonist, after all) and often uses her wits and cunning to thrive when her physical limits would normally put her at a disadvantage.
I LOVED Violet. I think this is the first time in a fantasy novel I’ve seen a protagonist with chronic health issues and I think that rep is SO important. I liked how she was sassy and unique without feeling too much like a ~special snowflake~. I like how she was sort of grimly accepting of the crappy situations she’s put in (usually at a disadvantage) but constantly tries her best anyways. I love how she slowly starts to trust people and gain friends even in their Hunger Games setting of a school (and her friend group! So wholesome…well as wholesome as can be expected in this situation.)
OK, time for me to gush about the dragons. Admittedly, I haven’t really read/watched much with dragons (GOT is not my thing) but I was fascinated by them in this world! The way they selected their riders, were able to have a mental dialogue with them, had their own governing system, etc. was really interesting to read about. The rider dragon bond is so cool and I ADORED Violet’s relationship with her dragons. Honestly, I came to Fourth Wing for the romance but I was so entranced by the fantasy elements that I think it could have been a 5 star read even without the romance.
However, I still loved the romance! I am a sucker for a good hate-to-love situation and that’s definitely what Xaden and Violet are (especially given their parents leading opposing political sides). I found there relationship to be supportive (once they get over the whole mutual hatred/is the other person going to kill me thing) without feeling overly cringey (we all know what happened to Rhysand over the course of the ACOTAR novels…) They are definitely one of my new top fave fictional pairings!
Other Things I Loved:
- Ummm excuse me that ending! I had an inkling about the twist but was surprised it actually ended up happening!
- Everyone manifesting unique powers through channeling their dragon’s energy
- The protagonist NOT choosing the boring, childhood friend as a love interest
- The college/boarding school type setting
- I think this might be New Adult and I pray it is because it would really give some validity to the genre!
- Really strong found family vibes
Already have the sequel pre-ordered, and I will gladly take any and all future books from this author 🙂