Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
"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."
Fourth Wing is the first novel in The Empyrean, a fantasy series by Rebecca Yarrow.
If you spend even a minute on Booktok, you will know that this book made its rounds on social media. Everyone and their mother was talking about this book and, naturally, I got curious and my library happened to have a copy so I decided to pick it up. I didn't know what to expect going into this because, as it is with overly hyped books on TikTok, things go either one of two ways. Either it lived up to the hype or you end up questioning what is wrong with people's tastes.
Surprisingly, it ended up being the former for me because I ended up enjoying reading this. Did I think it was a particularly exemplary piece of fantasy, no, but this gives me Sarah J. Maas vibes, and I do enjoy a good SJM book. I can see why people wouldn't enjoy this, especially if they also don't like SJM, but I had a good time.
This has dragons which, of course, is a major bonus and one of the more interesting aspects of the book. Admittedly, a downside of the book was the characters. Violet's character wasn't horrible or annoying (thankfully), but I did find that in the beginning, she did many things that went against who she was trying to be. Xanden was exactly who he was meant to be, the alpha male character and love interest. Not necessarily bad though their romance made for some cringey moments. The book did focus too much on the romance over the actual plot though.
The weakest aspect of the novel though was the world-building. As the first book in a series, this was missing some very necessary context to help set up the world. While the world and politics will probably be explored more in the second book, it did create a bit of a plot hole for now.
All that said, the way the story ended (which I did end up predicting) did end up making me look forward to what will happen next. And though most of the commentary so far has been negative, as it usually is when I review books, I still did enjoy myself. Again, this is the perfect book for SJM lovers and probably SJM lovers alone.