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Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) by Rebecca Yarros Spoiler Review: an action-packed romantasy with a unique dragon magic

Read Time: 11 minutes
Published On: June 17, 2023
Fourth Wing

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros is the new sensation on social media. But does it have the capability to define the fantasy genre of this decade?

About 'Fourth Wing'

Author: Rebecca Yarros

Series: The Empyrean #1

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance

Page Number: 528 pages

Audible Listening Time: 20 hours 47 mins

Goodreads Rating: 4.7/5

My Rating: 4/5

Plot - 5/5

Violet Sorrengail, a trainee for the Scribe quadrant, is unexpectedly admitted into the Rider Quadrant at the last minute by her mother, General Sorrengail of the Navarre army. Scribes are the protector of the knowledge and history of Neverre which offered Violet a calm life doing what she loves. But Riders Quadrant, on the other hand, is where she has no chance of survival, partly because of her delicate body and not being trained for it like her elder sister.

The selection process for the Riders Quadrant proves to be a ruthless bloodbath, with half of the applicants perishing before being chosen and another half not surviving until graduation. With each passing hour, the competition intensifies, leaving Violet with the daunting task of carving out a place for herself within the Rider Quadrant. At Basgioth War College, she is left with only two options: to graduate or face certain death.


Personally, I found the plot of "Fourth Wing" enthralling and action-packed. The book wastes no time in immersing readers in the gripping storyline, maintaining intrigue and anticipation at the end of every chapter. Its structure is well-suited for a fantasy romance, although there are certainly some plot holes that detract from the overall experience.

For example: in Fourth Wing, it is clearly indicated that people applying to join the riders quadrant are getting less and less. but the college doesn’t seem to care for the lives of people who are voluntarily applying. I understand they are trying to test the fearlessness and brutality of the riders but I see no reason for them to die by falling into their deaths from a parapet when there are other magic wielders who can safely retrieve the fallen applicants after the trial.

Another notable aspect is the predictability of the plot, which I believe is a deliberate choice by the author. By emphasizing the thrill and fast-paced nature of the story, the author successfully captures readers' attention, even if some events can be anticipated. Personally, I didn't mind the predictability in Fourth Wing, as it did not diminish my enjoyment. For instance, I could discern which dragon would choose Violet as a rider and which character would meet their demise..

Characters - 3/5

Violet is a great main character in Fourth Wing

Violet shines as a compelling protagonist in "Fourth Wing." Initially, she appears to be an ideal candidate for the Scribe Quadrant, aligning perfectly with her passions. However, her sudden switch to the Riders Quadrant, which contrasts her previous aspirations, adds an unexpected twist to her life. With a lower pain tolerance and slower recovery time due to a physical ailment, her journey to secure her place in the Riders Quadrant becomes a thrilling and engaging read.


One aspect I truly enjoyed was witnessing Violet's determination to prove herself to those who doubt her due to her perceived weakness. The stakes are even higher for her, given her physical condition, which adds an extra layer of tension and excitement to her journey.

Xaden Riorson is a good love interest that we have seen too many times before

Personally, I find the name "Xaden" unappealing, as it seems to strive for a tough hero image but falls short in my opinion. Furthermore, Xaden's character fits the mold of a common trope seen in the fantasy romance genre. He has shadow magic with golden eyes and dark hair. Sound like someone we romantasy readers already know right?

He lacks the unique qualities that would set him apart from the numerous similar-looking love interests we encounter in this genre. While there is potential for his character development in future books, he currently lacks the memorable qualities that will make him famous like Rhysand from A Court of Thorns & Roses series.

Supporting characters are non-existent at best

Unfortunately, the supporting characters in "Fourth Wing" leave much to be desired. They are generally negligible, with Lian and Dain being the most notable. Personally, I didn't care for Dain from the moment he was introduced. On the other hand, Liam is a likable character, but his limited interaction with Violet leaves much to be desired. Despite this, I did appreciate the moments of sweet banter between them.

Worldbuilding - 2/5

Fourth Wing's worldbuilding feels a bit choppy, to be honest. If you're someone who loves immersive worldbuilding in fantasy books, this might not be the one for you. And the reason I say that is because of the way the dialogues contribute to the world-building.

You see, our main character, Violet, recites stuff from the encyclopedia and codex when she's freaking out during those intense, life-threatening trials. This is how they try to establish things like the political situation, geography, war college rules, and overall code of conduct. But here's the thing—it's just Violet reciting them. And that kind of makes the worldbuilding feel more like a quick blurb you'd find in a textbook, rather than something that sparks your imagination.

Honestly, the worldbuilding in Fourth Wing is its weakest aspect. If they had approached it in a more captivating and immersive way, Fourth Wing could have been a real gem. Unfortunately, relying on Violet's recitations to convey crucial aspects of the world just doesn't do justice to the potential of the story.

Magic System - 5/5


Fourth Wing’s magic system is surprisingly unique. The magic is tied to the majestic dragons. Dragons are one of the most used creatures in fantasy books. It’s hard for authors to come up with a unique magic system that leaves the reader surprised.

Fourth Wing does this exceptionally well. Dragons choose their riders and the bond produces unique gifts for the riders to wield. Some powers are common such as elemental powers but some bonds create never before seen powers like mind reading, shadow manipulation, and many more.

The magic system truly impressed me. It is one of the standout qualities of Fourth Wing.

Pacing - 5/5

The pacing in Fourth Wing is absolutely spot on. From start to finish, there's never a dull moment. The story moves at a lightning-fast speed, and I was completely engrossed. The key scenes are consistently action-packed, and they never failed to keep me entertained.

That being said, I have to admit that the action scenes can be a bit challenging to follow and visualize. The rapid pace of the plot means that a lot is happening all at once, and it can be overwhelming for the reader. With so many events unfolding simultaneously, it can be a struggle to fully grasp and picture everything that's going on.

Despite this minor drawback, the overall pacing of Fourth Wing remains excellent. If you're someone who enjoys a fast-paced and action-filled narrative, this book will definitely deliver. Just be prepared for some moments where the rapid-fire action might require a bit of extra focus to fully comprehend.

Enjoyment - 5/5

I have to say, I really enjoyed Fourth Wing. Despite the hype surrounding it, I made sure to manage my expectations and approached it purely as a reader. I had a great time with it.

For me, a clear sign that I'm not enjoying a book is when I find myself putting it aside to do something else midway through. It's usually a sign that the story is failing to hold my attention. But with Fourth Wing, I never once felt the urge to set it aside, which was quite surprising.

Final Verdict - 4/5

Fourth Wing, despite being a hyped book, doesn’t completely fall flat. It is actually quite good. The plot certainly has elements that sometimes don’t make sense. But it’s a thrilling read that makes you enjoy your time and forget about everything. Fourth Wing successfully grabs your attention and holds it throughout. Personally, I loved reading it.


Violet's character is well-established and well-written. I enjoyed her as the protagonist, but Xaden falls into a common character archetype that we've seen too many times in fantasy romance books. I have read too many Rhysands. I was hoping for something more unique. Additionally, the supporting characters don't receive enough development, making it difficult to form an attachment to any of them. They simply exist in the background.

The worldbuilding in "Fourth Wing" is its weakest aspect. I believe the author could have done a much better job than having Violet recite information for the worldbuilding. If it had been written and delivered differently, it could have been a truly great book.

However, the magic system in "Fourth Wing" stands out as a highlight. The concept of dragons choosing their riders and granting them unique gifts is impressive and showcases inventive and diverse powers. The flexibility of the magic system allows for potential complexities and unique challenges in future books.

The pacing of the story is spot on, never dragging unnecessarily. Although the rapid pace of the action scenes can make them a bit difficult to fully grasp, it doesn't detract from the overall action-packed plot or significantly impact the enjoyment of the book. Approaching "Fourth Wing" without the lens of a reviewer allows for a fulfilling reading experience.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with "Fourth Wing" and would definitely recommend giving it a read.

Favorite Quotes

“There’s nowhere in existence you could go that I wouldn’t find you, Violence.”

“Hope is a fickle, dangerous thing. It steals your focus and aims it toward the possibilities instead of keeping it where it belongs—on the probabilities.”

“Lies are comforting. Truth is painful.”

“There is nothing more sacred than the Archives. Even temples can be rebuilt, but books cannot be rewritten.”

“Oh, gods.” “Which one are you calling out for? Because it’s just you and me in this room, Vi, and I don’t share.”

“But I will not run. I wouldn't be standing here if I'd quit every time something seemed impossible to overcome. I will not die today.”

“The right way isn’t the only way.”

“It’s hard to love a second home as much as the first.” I swallow. “It’s easy when the second home is the right one.”

I’ll take being lucky over being good any day,” Rhiannon counters.

“I fucking hate you.” The words are past my lips before I can shut my mouth. “That doesn’t make you special.”

“One generation to change the text. One generation chooses to teach that text. The next grows, and the lie becomes history.”

Amazon Blurb

Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros

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

Buy 'Fourth Wing'

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