Review: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Spoilers)

Posted February 29, 2024 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Fantasy/High Fantasy / 0 Comments

Review:  Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Spoilers)Iron Flame (The Empyrean, #2) by Rebecca Yarros
Series: The Empyrean #2
Published by Entangled: Red Tower Books on November 7, 2023
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 624
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
amazon b-n

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“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.


I am loving this series!  Romance, magic and DRAGONS!

I tried to limit spoilers, but there will be some spoilers from the first book. If you haven’t read Fourth Wing, stop now —





Iron Flame begins with Violet beginning her second year.  Her first job is assisting as the new first year’s attempts at Parapet. Knowing the death toll of first years, we see that Violet in trying very hard not to get to know any of the first year cadets with the exception of Liam’s sister, Sloane, who hates Violet on sight, blaming Violet for everything that happened to Liam last year.

As a second year, one of the fun new trainings will include torture.  Yes, torture.  The leaders want to be certain that you will not spill all your secrets if you are captured behind enemy lines.  So after flying maneuvers and battle brief, you and your squad might just get pulled out for a few days of torture. Lovely. Especially when a new instructor, Vice Commandant Varrish is brought from the front lines to keep an eye on the cadets with rebellion relics tattoos and most especially on Violet Sorrengail.   Varrish so enjoys a good afternoon of torture.

While leadership can’t disprove Xaden and Violet’s story about what happened during the War Games, they want to keep a close eye on them.    Violet and the others now know that deadly secrets are being kept from the general population and even from some of their own flyers and infantry.  With several new attacks on her life and the others who were at Athebyne, Violet fears that leadership believes it is easier to kill off a portion of their trained riders than risk their secrets being released.   Violet tries to talk with her sister, Mira, about what is happening beyond the wards and Mira fears that the pressure and lack of sleep are getting to Violet.   Can she trust her own sister or is Mira part of the cover up?

And while Violet is still angry that Xaden is still keeping secrets from her, she is starting to understand the pressure he has been under.  Violet now needs to keep secrets from all her friends.  She refuses to drag her new friends into danger by confessing what actually happened to her, Xaden and the others who were sent beyond the wards during the War Games but keeping those secrets is driving a wedge between Violet and the friends she counts on most.

Xaden has graduated and has been sent to a post on the front lines but since his dragon and Violet’s dragon are mates they cannot be separated for long period of time.   Xaden and Violet take turns traveling between Xaden’s posting and Basgaith War College so their dragons get some time together.  Again, the dragons probably could have made the trip alone but that would keep us from enjoying any Xaden/Violet time so we’ll pretend they need their rider to get there.

Violet has more than just class work on her mind.   Violet’s signet of lightning wielder is the first in a century.  No pressure, right? Except she can’t aim so that makes her as much a danger to her squad as to her enemy.  It also appears her instructor was too afraid of her to help her control it and was more interested in how much power she could yield.  A new teacher provides instruction on how to control that much power but how much time has she lost in training and how much more will it take before she can safely wield during a battle?

Violet is also determined to figure out how to strengthen and extend the wards around Navarre, even going so far as having her scribe friend sneak out some of the rarer books so Violet can research the wards.  Accessing confidential tomes is something that could get both of them killed.

Meanwhile Violet is bombarded with nightmares of Venin where she cannot escape and she is threatened that her love for Xaden will be used against her unless she turns and joins them.

And we thought surviving first year and winning a dragon was all we needed to finally be safe?

This book is 624 pages and takes us all over the kingdom from Basgaith to the supposedly destroyed city of Aretia and along the coast and it is not just geographically that has this story changing so much.  Violet starts out her 2nd year at Basgaith as a simple student and ends up trying to solve all the issues with the Kingdom’s wards and battling the venin.   As I mentioned in my Fourth Wing review, I am concerned what might happen with this story with three more full-length novels.  No one is safe, and while Violet can’t die (she’s our narrator) but what kind of torture will the author put the characters through before this ends.  I  can’t help wondering if Violet is the only flyer who bonded two dragons because one will eventually die on her.  When flyer’s dragon dies, the bond kills the rider too.  With two dragons bonded, I can presume Violet might live if one dies but which one will the author sacrifice for a good crying session? I am already stressed about it and I don’t even know if that will happen but if the author has no qualms about killing off many, many secondary characters, what’s to stop her from murdering major characters.

Varrish is one of those characters that is simply added as a threat to Violet.  Her new signet makes her dangerous, as well as having the biggest, baddest dragon so the other cadets aren’t really bothering her and the instructors know and respect Violet.   In order to bring back that threat to Violet’s safety that we had in Fourth Wing, we have to bring in a violet, angry, I-don’t-take-orders threat like Varrish.   And he does a good job at raising that threat level.

While Violet is still angry at Xaden for keeping secrets, she eventually stops saying “No. I loved you,” and admits that she isn’t a fickle person.  Of course she still loves Xaden but when things calm down, they are going to have one hell of a fight about keeping secrets from someone you love.   This made me happy that we weren’t going to have to toss away the romance for the whole book.

I don’t want to give away too much of the tension so I can’t talk about my real favorite scene in the middle of the story which was pretty brutal and violent as well as sweet and touching.   I cried a little bit.  Overall, we have more battles and lose more friends and comrades.    We also lose the open, friendly Violet when she becomes a little overwhelmed by all the death.  Again, she tries not to get to know any of the first years because they don’t last.  She begins to understand why the upper classman didn’t bother with them last year either.   Part of what we like about Violet is her kind heartedness and freezing out her friends and not getting attached to the new cadets is very un-Violet-like.  Thankfully,  like being mad at Xaden, it also doesn’t last for long.

I loved the Graphic Audio production but Iron Flame won’t be available in full until July, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.  After reading back to back books, I am very sad to walk away from this world for probably another year until book 3 hits the shelf but I will definitely be picking up the  Graphic Audio version once Iron Flame is released so I can do a re-listen before the next book is out.

I’m officially a fan and will wear my flight leathers proudly.

Favorite Scene:

“I know what I am doing. Now, run.” I take the alloy-hilted blade from Brennan and turn away from them both.

What the fuck are you doing, Violence?” Xaden demands.

Shh. I’m concentrating.” I slam my shields up, blocking him out as the venin pivots.

The asshole smiles wider when he sees me.

“You’ll be quite the prize,” he calls out over the rain, striding toward me as if we have all the time in the world. “And to think, you’ll bring a dragon with you! You can’t be parted for long, can you?”

I grasp an alloy-hilted dagger in each hand and wait.

If I lose my temper, I’m dead.

Charge him and lose? I’m dead.

Wait too long and let him get his hands on me? Yep, dead.

The female I killed on Tairn’s back watched my fighting style and instantly adapted, which means I have to wait until the last possible second to show my hand.

Rain sizzles as it hits my heated skin. If I reach for much more, I’ll lose the ability to control it and burn out, so I hover on that edge as I hear another sound overpowering the rain.


“I don’t need to stress the importance of timing, do I?”  Tairn asks.

“My timing will be perfect.” The pounding of my heart steadies with each step the venin takes, sure of my course. There’s no room for error. I glance right just long enough to see that Mira and Brennan made it off the field.

“I expect nothing less.”

The dark wielder is only feet away, his gaze raking over me, no doubt looking for my weaknesses, when I feel the gust of wind from Tairn’s wings at my back.

Now. I throw the daggers at the venin simultaneously, this time calculating for the force of the rain. The instant I see them slice through his boots, pinning his feet to the ground, I whip my arms out to the side, releasing all my power in a scalding torrent of lightning.

I stiffen my arms and lock every muscle.

Tairn’s talons wrap over my shoulders and grasp tight exactly as lightning strikes behind the enraged venin, lighting up the sky in a brilliant flash–and charging the water that covers the arena and the venin’s feet with lethal energy.

The dark wielder shrieks in agony, then falls dead, splashing into the field as we fly overhead.

I did it. Dunne be blessed, I did it.

“You cut it close.”

I roll my eyes and breath deeply despite the rain that runs down my face as Tairn banks left, taking us along the curve of the arena, back to the palace.

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