Fourth wing by Rebecca Yarros

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Violet Sorrengail has been trained as a scribe and is happy to work in the Archive s like her father before her, but her mother General Sorrengail, demands that she join the war academy, training to become a dragon rider. The training is deadly, many cadets do not survive and die during the course, and it is even harder for Violet, as she has a frail physique and little previous training. Cadets who are the children of rebels, and led by wing commander, Xaden Riorson, the son of the separatists’ leader, also hate her and want her deadbecause her mother ordered their parents to be executed. Violet knows that the odds are stacked against her from the beginning.

Yarros is an experienced romance writer, and her expertise in writing engaging characters, an enemy-to-lover trope and building up suspense is obvious in Fourth Wing. Although her prose is sometimes jarring, with modern teen language (‘So. Freaking. Beautiful.’) feeling inappropriate for a high fantasy, she sweeps the reader along building up suspense as Violet faces dangerous trials and death threats. Violet is a very likeable character who uses her intelligence and knowledge that she has learnt as a scribe to compensate for her lack of physical ability. She never loses her compassion and willingness to help others. She gradually learns to trust herself, and not to give in, even though her friend Dain is desperate for her stay alive by leaving the academy. And her growing feelings for Xaden will keep romance lovers glued to the page. There are many breathless moments as the suspense grows, and the action is relentless as the reader follows Violet, desperately hoping that she will make it as a dragon rider.

This was an enjoyable escapist read, with a surprise ending that leaves the reader wanting to grab the next in the series. Those who enjoyed Fourth Wing, may want to read more complex fantasy by authors like Robin Hobb, Lois McMaster Bujold and Juliet Marillier. Fourth wing may not be suitable for younger YA readers as it contains explicit sexual scenes, murder without consequences and some swearing.

Themes: Fantasy, Romance, Dragons.

Pat Pledger