Summary and Review: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

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Book review and synopsis for Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, a romantasy about a young woman who enrolls to become an elite dragon rider at a brutal war college.

Synopsis

In Fourth Wing, Violet Sorrengail is a young woman who is forced by her mother, a military general, to give up her goal of becoming a scribe and to instead enroll to be trained as an elite dragon rider.


The training of dragon riders is brutal and competitive, with only a fraction of the cadets making it through the first year of their training. Their goal is to bond with a dragon so they can be bestowed with the powers that bond holds … or to die trying.


Meanwhile, uprisings and attacks upon their kingdom and its borders have steadily increased and Violet’s training will soon plunge her into a political and military landscape that is complex and potentially deadly.

(The Full Plot Summary is also available, below)

Book Review

By Jenn Marie on Mar 16th, 2024 (Last Updated Mar 16th, 2024)

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros came out last year, and the second book in the series, Iron Flame, was published a brisk seven months later.

My sister has been enthusiastic about this book series, known as the The Empyrean series. She and I have pretty different tastes in books, but occasionally we manage to overlap a little. She definitely has more of an appetite for fantasy and YA novels than I do, but she seemed to think I might like this, so I was curious to check it out.

I went into Fourth Wing already having a decent idea of what I was getting into and, more importantly, the gripes others had about this book. I’ve seen the long diatribes about how terrible the writing is and whatnot, so my expectations weren’t that high.

The verdict? I have to say, I don’t think it’s that bad. There are definitely aspects of the writing that occasionally feels clunky and maybe there’s a fan-fiction-y quality to some of the dialogue, but overall I found it very readable.

I also went into it knowing that I was mostly in it for the story and not really looking to be wowed by the writing anyway, and the story interested me. I would say I was on the fence about it for most of the first half of the book, which is a lot of sort of generic kids-training-at-a-magical-school type stuff, but when the political dynamics of this world start to take shape and I got a feeling for where the story was heading, I got much more on board with the storyline.

The general gist of it is that Violet, our protagonist, is forced by her mother to join an elite and dangerous military squadron called the Dragon Riders, where the cadets will either get through training and bond with a Dragon to develop special powers … or they’ll die trying. Meanwhile, their kingdom has been under increasingly frequent attacks by a neighboring kingdom, which is why their military training is important and needed.

So, most of it is them going through training and Violet’s character growth because of it (and of course there’s a romance that develops in the meantime). But then, towards the middle and end of the book, it starts dropping more clues about the political machinations that are going on. It starts hinting that there’s perhaps more to the folktales Violet has heard of and that maybe the “official version” of the events of a rebellion that took place five years ago don’t entirely paint the full picture.

By the end of the book, the story has a clear direction that it’s headed in, involving a lot of political revelations, and it’s one I’m curious to find out more about.

Read it or Skip it?

In some ways, Fourth Wing is very much a typical young adult fantasy set in a dragon riding school with attractive protagonists who want to sleep with each other. Our main protagonist is likeable and talented and unchallenging, and they go through ups and downs, but mostly ups. At the same time, there is an engaging and inventive story there, and I can see why people are interested in it.

Also, it looks like by the end of the book, there’ll be more of a departure from the basic magic school setup as the story broadens its scope, so I’m interested to see where that goes. The Fourth Wing is just the first book in a planned five-book series, according to its author.

I definitely think that outcries about this series being so terrible are really overblown. I do think that some of the popularity probably has to do with the whole mob mentality of tiktok (or “booktok”) and the hype associated with that. But I can also see why people are having fun with this book series, and I’m down to keep following the series because it was entertaining enough and I know other people who are reading it.

See Fourth Wing on Amazon.

Fourth Wing Audiobook Review

Narrator: Rebecca Soler & Teddy Hamilton
Length: 21 hours 22 minutes

Hear a sample of the Fourth Wing audiobook on Libro.fm.



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