Last week, the months-long wait for Rebecca Yarros’s "Iron Flame," the sequel to this summer's literary phenomenon "Fourth Wing" and the second installment of the Empyrean series, was finally over.
The adult fantasy sequel follows Violet Sorrengail, a powerful dragon rider, as she reconfigures her world of Navarre and her war college, Basgiath, in the aftermath of the first book. "Fourth Wing" ended with an uncertain fate for the romance between Violet and her enemy-turned-lover Xaden Riorson, among many other shocks and tragedies, so the wait for "Iron Flame" was a cruel, uncertain purgatory.
The sequel is a dense read, more than 600 pages. I took my time reading because I knew I would be left an empty shell in the wake of its whirlwind events and emotions, but the book was just as crushing as it was enthralling. Even as I sobbed through the last 40 pages, its plot twists were some of the most riveting I've ever read.
However, the publication of this book posed some problems. "Fourth Wing" quickly sold out everywhere and, even before its publication date, had received an Amazon TV series deal . Because of this, Yarros and publishing house Red Tower Books rushed to publish the sequel to sustain the momentum of the series.
The rushed timeline made parts of the dialogue — especially Violet's — feel juvenile in this book. There were uses of extremely colloquial slang, like calling something an “era” and going so meta as to directly mention the “love triangle” featured in the first book.
I hated this.
Navarre is a fantasy world full of dragons, magic and war, so the characters should not be speaking like they’re going to see Taylor Swift between their violent battles.
The hurried publication might have also led to misprints in the special edition copies of both books, which many readers preordered months in advance. Book communities on TikTok and Instagram have been flooded with people showing mistitled copies of "Iron Flame," upside down pages and chapter headings missing their uniform icons.
"Iron Flame" is split into two parts, and each had me in hypertensive shock. My Apple Watch practically had to check in on me as I finished the novel. Before I read "Fourth Wing," I could never get into the high fantasy genre. But after this series, I've been converted, and my body is taking the toll.