What to remember about 'Fourth Wing' before reading its sequel 'Iron Flame'

A side-by-side of "Fourth Wing" and Rebecca Yarros.
The sequel to Rebecca Yarros' "Fourth Wing" will be released on November 7.Rebecca Yarros/Red Tower Books
  • The sequel to Rebecca Yarros' "Fourth Wing" comes out on November 7.

  • Insider created a guide to the first book so you'll be ready to read "Iron Flame."

  • This article contains major spoilers for "Fourth Wing."

When "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros was released in April 2023, it became an immediate New York Times bestseller and TikTok sensation.

The book about unlikely dragon rider Violet Sorrengail has all the trappings of a delicious romantasy series, from intoxicating magic to enemies-to-lovers romance, and Yarros is set to continue Violet's journey through Basgiath War College in the novel's highly anticipated sequel "Iron Flame," which will be released on November 7.

But even if you loved "Fourth Wing," you may need a quick refresher before diving into "Iron Flame," so Insider created a guide to the major events in the first installment of "The Empyrean" series. The rest of this article contains major spoilers for the first book.

The key characters in 'Fourth Wing' include protagonist Violet Sorrengail and her enemy-turned-lover Xaden Riorson

"Fourth Wing" follows Violet Sorrengail, the 20-year-old daughter of General Lilith Sorrengail. As a powerful dragon rider with the power to control storms, Lilith is in charge of the Navarre army, and she led them to victory over a war against rebel forces five years before the events of the book.

Violet always intended to enter the Scribe Quadrant at Basgiath War College, where she could study and record history, but after the death of her brother Brennan and her father, Lilith forces Violet to join the Riders Quadrant on Conscription Day, where she will study to become a dragon rider — if she can survive.

The Riders Quadrant is dangerous in and of itself, with many students not surviving their training or even bonding with a dragon during a process called the Threshing.

But the school is even more of a threat to Violet both because her body is frail and because the quadrant is full of the children of rebels who were killed in the war. Lilith's role in their deaths makes Violet a target, particularly by Xaden Riorson, as his father was executed by Lilith after starting the uprising.

Violet's older sister Mira, who graduated from Basgiath as a rider, tries to prepare her before she goes, warning Violet about Xaden and encouraging her to find their childhood friend Dain Aetos for protection.

Violet bonds with two dragons during the Threshing

Despite the odds against her — and Dain's repeated requests for Violet to leave — Violet succeeds in the Riders Quadrant by using skills other riders don't have and getting support from her friends like Rhiannon Matthias.

She stands out during strategy lessons because of her keen mind, and she sneakily poisons opponents when she has to physically fight them — until Xaden catches her. But to her surprise, Xaden then teaches her how to fight for her body type, and he leaves her hints that allow her to complete a challenge called the Gauntlet, a high-stakes obstacle course that leaves some competitors dead.

During the Threshing, Violet's objective is to find a powerful dragon to bond with, but she intervenes to protect a small, golden dragon named Andarna when her nemesis Jack and his friends conspire to kill her.

Violet protects Andarna until Xaden, his dragon Sgaeyl, and her mate Tairn, a massive and powerful black dragon, appear. Tairn kills one of Jack's co-conspirators, and both Andarna and Tairn bond with Violet, an unprecedented event for riders.

"Iron Flame" by Rebecca Yarros.
Violet's story continues in "Iron Flame."Red Tower Publishing

Because their dragons are mated, Xaden and Violet's safety becomes linked, so he makes it his mission to protect her — particularly after a group of students tries to kill her because she bonded with two dragons — appointing his friend Liam as her bodyguard.

That connection makes Violet's preexisting attraction to Xaden nearly impossible to ignore, especially when she realizes Tairn and Sgaeyl's urges impact their own. The pair eventually give into it, becoming an item shortly before the end of the school year.

Violet again figures out how to be a dragon rider in a way that suits her body with the help of both Tairn and Xaden, and her signet power is revealed to be lighting wielding, which she uses to kill Jack in one of her final tests during her first year of school.

Violet and Xaden end up in a trap that puts their lives at risk

Dain can read people's minds when touching them, and at the end of the book, it is revealed that he has been reading Violet's mind without her knowledge since she got to Basgiath.

Through his skill, he sees that Xaden told Violet he has been secretly going to an outpost named Athebyne, and he and Navarre leadership arrange for Xaden's squad to go there during the final war games of the year.

Because of their dragons' connection, Violet goes with them. She discovers the rebels are still working against Navarre, and Xaden is among their members. Then, the group is attacked by venin and wyverns, evil creatures Navarre leadership has been saying don't exist for years. Violet must fight them while reeling from the realization that her government has betrayed her and left defenseless rebels to suffer.

Liam is killed during the battle, and Violet sustains injuries that must be treated in a rebel hospital.

While she's still coming to terms with Xaden's secret and the betrayal of her leadership, she also gets an even bigger shock: Her brother Brennan is alive and has been living among the rebels in secret for years.

"Iron Flame" is set to pick up where "Fourth Wing" left off, with Violet returning to Basgiath for her second year of school — with secrets she never expected to keep weighing her down.

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