REVIEW: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

Posted November 13th, 2023 by in Blog, Fantasy, Review / 7 comments

In Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros, Violet Sorrengail learned many things during her first year in the Rider Quadrant at Basgiath War College. The least of which was how to survive when the odds are stacked against you–something she was very familiar with considering her physical frailness compared to others around her. But with her quick wits, her squad members’ support, and the love of Xaden Riorson, Violet thought she was on solid footing. Then she and a few of her closest allies got knocked sideways in a brutal attack. They became all too aware of lies that have been told to Navarrian citizens for decades. And now Violet, feeling betrayed by way too many people in her life, is stuck between wanting to do the right thing and keeping those she loves safe.

“Fascinating. I’d heard you were too fragile to survive a year in the quadrant.”
“My presence would suggest otherwise.”

Research has always been Violet’s strong suit thanks to the tutelage of her father, who was a Scribe in Basgiath’s library archives. If she can find a way to solve their issue with the help of old texts, she might not have to put herself and others in danger. But as a new Second Year cadet, Violet also has to face down an evil adversary who’s out to break her. She knows she can withstand a lot of pain after a lifetime of injuries from her health condition. However, it’s a whole different thing when it is pain being inflicted by a so-called leader at Basgiath. Then there’s Xaden. The man Violet thought was the love of her life. Secrets of omission and overprotectiveness damaged their relationship. And she’s not so sure she can trust him again as she did before. But it will take Xaden in Violet’s corner, along with their peers and professors, to defeat an enemy hellbent on wiping out Navarre.

“You’re capable of hurting me in ways I’m not sure you’ve even begun to fathom, Violet. I might be skilled enough to land a death blow, but you alone have the power to fucking destroy me.”

The uber popular Empyrean series by Rebecca Yarros continued with IRON FLAME, a book that doled out some much-needed answers, rehashed the main characters’ issues, and gave us plot twists that should lead to some interesting changes in the next installment.

“I love you. The world does not exist for me beyond you.”

CW: View Spoiler »

After the phenomenon that was Fourth Wing, I (like so many other readers) couldn’t wait to get my hands on IRON FLAME. I was admittedly a little daunted by it being eight hundred and seventy-eight pages (I read the ebook), but that seemed like a good thing–think of all that time we get to spend with the dragons! And of course, with Violet, Xaden, Rhiannon, and the rest of the crew as well. However. It was a LOT. There were a whole lot of threads to the storyline happening in this second book and it honestly felt overwhelming at times. There was also so much that could have been pared down to streamline IRON FLAME. I think that alone, making it more cohesive, would have turned this into a very different reading experience.

I realized going into this that the second book in many series is considered to be transitional in nature. So sometimes the conflict(s) take center stage as opposed to the romance. But this wasn’t really that. Yes, the relationship between Violet and Xaden did take a backseat and wasn’t truly explored any further than going over their previous issues–repeatedly–until after the halfway mark. When they did finally have some moments to talk it out (and have some sexy times) that connection Xaden and Violet had in Fourth Wing was still there. Thankfully. Particularly as they rushed toward a final battle that took place at the end of this book.

But honestly, the secondary cast carried the story: Tairn (although he’s my favorite character, anyway!), Andarna, Rhiannon, Sawyer, Ridoc, Jesinia, and Maren, among others. And as this was primarily written from Violet’s POV, it made it somewhat awkward where she wasn’t the huge source of strength here as she was previously–until the ending. That was where the writing felt more familiar and similar to Fourth Wing. That was also where some huge revelations and changes took place which will have an impact on book three. So even though I wasn’t wowed like I was with book one, I’m invested in the storyline and characters enough that I will soldier on with the series.

QOTD: If you’re a fantasy reader, do you have any favorite creatures to read about: dragons, mermaids, witches, phoenixes, etc.?

Note: Please avoid any author or book bashing. Thanks 

Book Info:

Published: November 7th, 2023 | Red Tower Books | The Empyrean #2

“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 at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.



7 Responses to “REVIEW: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros”

  1. Amy R

    QOTD: If you’re a fantasy reader, do you have any favorite creatures to read about: dragons, mermaids, witches, phoenixes, etc.? NO, I’m more about the story. I did love Fourth Wing and Iron Flame

  2. Glenda M

    I’m very much a mood reader but I generally enjoy reading about all the creatures. There have been stretches of time where I avoided certain ones because I just was not in the mood.

  3. Latesha B.

    I’m just getting into fantasy reading so I don’t have any favorite creature characters. Thank you for the review of this story.

  4. erahime

    Dragons, especially after reading some Dragonriders of Pern books.

    I heard some tidbits about the IF book that could touch my pet peeve list, so for now I may just wait for the whole series to be completed before reading it.

    Thanks for the informative review, Team HJ!

  5. Hooked By That Book

    I am impatiently waiting for my library hold to become available. As for your question, that’s a tough one. I like shifters most, like Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.