I think it goes without saying that because this article is a recap of Fourth Wing, there will be spoilers. If you have not read Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros and want to, stop reading now. Or, if you want to spoil yourself by reading this review, go nuts! I can’t tell you what to do. But just know, reading the book is definitely worth it for the high-stakes plot and the romance between Violet and Xaden.
For the sake of time, I’m going to split this recap into three main parts: beginning, middle, and end (original, I know). We’re going to stick to only the most vital information as our time should be consumed with much more important tasks (like school or stalking Rebecca Yarros’ Instagram feed for the slightest hint of a teaser for Iron Flame).
Now, onto the recap!
- The Beginning
Fourth Wing starts with our girl Violet Sorrengail, a physically weak protagonist who wants to be a scribe. Unfortunately, her mom thinks that idea is terrible ever since her father (who was an actual scribe) died. Now she’s to become a dragon rider in the elite Basgiath College. Basgiath is divided into three sections; the Healers, the Scribes, and the Riders. Riders have the largest death rate but the most prestige in society as they battle Gryphon riders trying to infiltrate their homeland of Navarre.
Violet ends up getting into the Riders’ Quadrant after passing her first obstacle: crossing the Parapet. This is where she meets her BFF Rhiannon and they stick together throughout the rest of the book.
This is also where she meets Xaden, the handsome man with the dark tattoos signifying his family’s history in the Tyrrish Rebellion against Navarre. He hates Violet’s guts since her mom killed his father and she hates his cause his father killed her brother.
Now, we meet Dain who frankly should’ve died but doesn’t. He’s been the insufferable ex-best friend of Violet since they were kids. His main dialogue points include but are not limited to: “Go home, you’re weak and I want to protect you,” “You can’t handle this, you’ll die,” and “I’m in love with you but we can’t be together because I’m older and in a higher position at Basgiath than you but I’m going to c*ckblock anyone else who tries to talk to you.” (Annoying as hell, I know.)
But take note: Dain has the power to go through people’s memories so long as he touches the person. As Mickey Mouse would say, this clue will be important for later.
Anywho, Violet stays alive by poisoning her opponents in Challenges, sneakily spies on Xaden to find out he’s in communications with other rebels, and ends up beating the Gauntlet (an obstacle course designed to mimic the struggles of Dragon riding).
- The Middle
By now, Violet and Xaden have this witty banter going on between them and Dain is still being a brat, but now a brat who hates Xaden’s guts. However, Threshing (the day when dragons scope out and choose their riders) is upon them and Violet is terrified.
During the process, no dragon is paying any attention to her and just as she starts to get nervous she notices another enemy she has made, Jack Barlowe, trying to kill a small golden dragon with two of his friends. Violet knows this is not only against the rules of Threshing but also against the rules between dragons and riders. So, she goes to save the small golden dragon and they all end up in a heated battle. Meanwhile, Xaden, who cannot interfere due to this being a first-year event only, watches with his dragon Sgaeyl as Violet takes them down and Jack runs off. While Violet’s been fighting, the largest dragon to grace the school stops by to protect the small golden one and watches the fight between Violet and Jack and his cronies. He notices her inner strength and bonds with her. His name is Tairn and because they’re a package deal, Andarna, the small golden one, also chooses to bond with Violet.
This bonding causes much chaos among the teachers and students of the college since it has never happened before. But Violet doesn’t particularly care, because they’re her dragons and they’ll stay that way.
But there’s a catch: Tairn and Sgaeyl (Xaden’s dragon) are bonded mates so they can’t be apart for more than a couple of days and if Violet dies, then so does Xaden. This issue forces Xaden to send Liam (one of the rebels) to protect Violet and become her bodyguard. This leads to Violet getting close to almost all of the rebels and Dain getting even more suspicious of Xaden.
We later learn, when Violet gets attacked for her dragons, that Andarna, as a hatchling, has the power to stop time (this later goes away but will be useful to Violet throughout the rest of the book). Violet starts her training with Xaden one-on-one and romantic tension ensues.
Violet also finally discovers her signet power or the power that dragons allow riders to possess through their bond and magic. It’s meant to serve as a recognition of what is inside the rider and varies from rider to rider. Violet’s is lightning, Xaden’s is shadow, and Liam has Farsight (he can see things that are super far away).
- The end
By this point, it has become clear that Violet and Xaden actually make a good team. They even have a love-hate kiss which Xaden refuses to acknowledge for a while, but later does when Violet finally tells him about her feelings.
They become a couple and because the school is currently engaging in an act of festivities called The War Games, they are sent to protect an outpost outside the borders of Navarre and another one inside.
Xaden, because he is the squad leader, is sent to the outside outpost and chooses a team to bring with him. He obviously chooses Violet even though her signet power isn’t fully developed yet.
Once they reach the outpost, however, Xaden reveals that he has been conspiring with the Gryphon riders, and Violet’s dragons have been in on the whole thing without telling her. Violet feels a sense of betrayal but she is overcome by surprise when she learns the creatures from the myths she read as a kid, Venin and Wyvern, are actually real.
All of Xaden’s team end up defending the small village close to their outpost where they have been sent to die by Dain, who has been touching Violet in small gestures, and reading her memories, and telling the higher-ups of the college.
They defeat the Venin and Wyvern at the village only with the loss of a few people (including Liam sadly,) and Violet learns about the new rebellion Xaden has started with the other children of the original rebellion. She also learns that her brother, Brennan, who was supposed to have been killed, is very much alive and part of this rebellion as a mender.
Xaden is trying to grovel for Violet’s forgiveness for lying to her by omission, Andarna is now a teenager and has lost her time-stopping abilities, and Violet is going to enter her second year at Basgiath as a new warrior with the power of lightning.
So, that’s a brief recap of Fourth Wing. Hopefully, Xaden’s groveling is good because he has a lot of emotional damage to make up for. Dain better get what’s coming to him, too. There was no reason for him to violate Violet like that but now she can see him for what he really is: a rule abider to the end, even at the cost of his friendships. And lastly, Violet better go through a heck of a lot of growth, especially with this new information. How will her relationship with Brennan form? Will she learn why he has been in hiding? How will she cope without being with Xaden at Basgiath, at least for the couple of days they can’t be together?
Iron Flame comes out Nov. 7 and if you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to get your hands on it and get the answers to these questions and more.