Sunday, November 19, 2023

Iron Flame (The Empyrean, #2) by Rebecca Yarros
Narrated by Rebecca Soler & Teddy Hamilton

Synopsis (via Goodreads): “The first year is when some of us lose our lives. The second year is when the rest of us lose our humanity.” —Xaden Riorson

Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries a
t Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

I still haven't reviewed Fourth Wing, but decided to go ahead and write this one while the story was still fresh on my mind. I was already late to the game with this series, but I put myself on the waiting list for an audiobook at my library as soon as I was able to after falling in love with these characters during Fourth Wing. Additionally, Rebecca Soler is one of my absolute favorite narrators and she does an amazing job with this series. 

Yarros not only makes me fall in love with Violet and Xaden, but every secondary character is beloved as well. Losing any of them would be devasting to my heart, so that final battle in Iron Flame had my pulse racing right along with Violet's. I was already worried about finishing the book since everyone said they literally stared at a wall for 20 minutes afterwards, but I still wasn't expecting the cliffhanger we're left with. Haven't we been through enough by now?

I will say that I didn't like how long it took Violent and Xaden to work through their issues. A lack of communication between characters is a huge turn off for me in books, especially when they're romantically involved. Violet knew who he was before she fell in love with him, yet she made demands and put expectations on him that were a bit unfair. She didn't completely trust him because he wouldn't tell her everything, but everyone in this series has secrets, including her. She kept demanding total honesty and full disclosure despite other lives being at risk if she knew. Yarros managed to address these issues in a way that wasn't cringeworthy, so at least that aspect of the book was tolerable and didn't ruin everything else for me. 

The dragons are still my favorite part of these books. I love their sarcasm and menacing attitudes, especially when directed towards their own riders. Their personalities are perfection. Adolescent Adarna is an absolute delight to read about, and her getting on Tairn's nerves never fails to make me smile. I'm really happy we learned more about them in Iron Flame because so much is still a mystery. 

Love, betrayal, unexpected plot twists, new friends and frenemies, dragons and gryphons, riders and flyers, war, loss - Iron Flame has all that and more. I highly recommend this series if you enjoy fantasy and fast-paced adventure stories. (★★★★★)

1 comment:

  1. I think the dragons would be my favorite part of this book too.


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