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Top Shelf: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

My sister-in-law recently recommended Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. She knows I am a fan of Sarah J. Maas, Lord of the Rings and several other fantasy series. This was a great recommendation! It wasn't one I'd seen on Instagram or other readers' lists, and I was able to get it through my local library on Libby right away.

She described it as lots of dragons and a little bit steamy. It's a perfect description! Fourth Wing is the first in The Empyrean Series with the second novel, Iron Flame, coming out in November. (Just in case you're wondering, yes--I liked it enough to preorder the release!)

The strength of this book rests with the main character, Violet Sorrengail, a first-year student in the Riders Quadrant at Basgiath College. She's been raised by her mother, General Sorrengail, to believe she's the weakest of her three siblings, but the reader instantly knows she's strong in ways that are not obvious or physical.

Violet is entering Basgiath for training as a dragon rider, after years of planning to lead the life of a scribe like her late father. Since Violet's mother has determined she must follow in her older sibling's footsteps, she enters a high-stakes, dangerous year of training.

Other strong characters, including Rhiannon, her closest friend at Basgiath; Xaden, her wing leader; and Dain, her friend from childhood, round out the story. And then there are the dragons! I won't give away any of the well-executed plot by introducing them, but they are full of personality as well.

In addition to the character development is the intensity that comes from the constant risk of death that exists in the Riders Quadrant. Every day, a physical challenge or dragon ride results in the loss of classmates. Between this ever-present fear and the new revelations that surface in every chapter, the story moves quickly.

As an avid fantasy reader, I am sometimes too willing to read poorly written novels just for the exciting elements. However, this was a well-written, well-edited story that had me reaching for my Amazon cart immediately after completing. I can't wait until the next release in November!

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