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Book Review: Iron Flame

by | Dec 16, 2023 | Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fantasy, New Adult

Rating: 4/5 stars
Age Rating: New Adult
Spice Level: 2/3 chili pepper rating

Just six months after Fourth Wing (review here) hit the shelves, Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros is here! It’s surprising how fast this sequel came out. Sometimes, when a new book comes out so soon after a great predecessor, it might feel hasty or lack depth. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here, with a rich tapestry of over 600 pages filled with fresh storylines, intriguing new characters, romance, and abundant engaging details. Yarros proves that a quick turnaround doesn’t have to mean a compromise in quality.

Let’s talk about it more, shall we?

Tropes in this Book

  • Found family
  • Miscommunication
  • Who did this to you

Iron Flame Summary

Iron Flame plunges us back into the action-packed world of Basgiath War College, where Violet Sorrengail faces her most challenging tests yet. This gripping sequel is split into two thrilling parts: the first at the war college, where Violet grapples with brutal training and a vice commandant bent on proving her powerless, and the second part, which dives into the heart of the Revolution. The book feels like two stories packed into one, brimming with excitement and challenges at every turn.

Violet’s journey this year is not just about physical trials but also a mental and emotional struggle as she uncovers a centuries-old secret within the college walls. As the story unfolds, she realizes that dangers beyond her wildest imagination might still test her bravery and intelligence.

My Review

Iron Flame builds on everything that Fourth Wing started. Yarros’ storytelling is still engaging as she builds upon her created world. That said, the beginning of the book could be faster. The first couple of hundred pages are densely packed with world-building and politics, which, while informative, slow the pace considerably. It was jarring from how fast-moving Fourth Wing was, especially after jumping back in after that cliffhanger.

But stick with it! It picks up the pace and brings back the excitement we loved in Fourth Wing. The narrative moves past the initial heavy exposition and dives back into the story’s heart, recapturing the thrill.

I was very excited for Iron Flame to explore the evolving dynamic between Violet and Xaden, especially after the revelations at the end of Fourth Wing. I expected a period of groveling and trust rebuilding, but the actual unfolding was somewhat disappointing. Violet sometimes seemed less mature than in the first book. Xaden’s insistence on only answering direct questions was also frustrating, as opposed to being more open with Violet.

While Violet and Xaden’s relationship has its frustrating moments, it also has really intense and deep parts. Their story shows what it’s like for a couple to endure tough times, making the fantasy world feel more real. I wish they had more shared time within the book to deepen their relationship. Knowing that Yarros has planns for Xaden to have his own POV once his secrets are out makes me excited for what’s to come in future books.

The introduction of new characters in Iron Flame is a double-edged sword. While it’s great to see the cast expanding, it also means that only some get the spotlight they deserve. Characters like Tarin and Andarna, who are fun to read about, get less time in the spotlight than I would have liked. Additionally, the subplot involving Xaden’s past and a character named Cat sometimes veers into cliché territory.

The action in Iron Flame is thrilling, especially as the plot progresses. Yarros is excellent at creating a fantasy world that feels real because of the characters’ emotions and struggles. The book also takes us to new places, like an abandoned palace and distant settlements, a nice change from the college setting.

In the end, Iron Flame is a solid follow-up to Fourth Wing. It didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but it sets up more adventures in the series, and I can’t wait to see where Yarros takes the story next. The Empyrean series promises a rich, complex world of mystery, action, and deep feelings.

I’m looking forward to the next book, hoping it brings together all the best parts of the first two and takes them even further!

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!