Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros – Spoiler-Free Review

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“Secrets die with the people who keep them.”

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Nobody expected Violet Sorrengail to survive her first year at Basgiath War College – not even Violet. Threshing proved to only be the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak, in a series of impossible tests. 

However, now it’s Violet’s second year and this is where the real training begins. It’s not bad enough it is brutal, it is also grueling and designed to stretch the rider’s capacity for pain, far beyond endurance. 

A new commandant has made it his mission to break Violet unless she throws the man she loves to the wolves. 

While Violet’s body is weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she will prove just how strong a mind can be. And while Basgiath has forgotten the most important rule of all, Violet has not. That all dragon riders make their own rules. 

However, determination will not be enough to survive this year. Violet has uncovered the dark truth about Basgiath War College and nothing – not even dragon fire- may be enough to save them in the end. 

Thoughts on the plot

The pacing of this book felt so incredibly weird. Each chapter felt like the end of an episode where the problem is solved and the screen fades to black. I really, really disliked that aspect. 

Aside from the pacing, the plot itself is so action-packed, there is so much happening in this book. It is almost hard to keep up with. (Especially if you’re like me and you don’t annotate or take notes as you read.)

We start in Basigath War College in the first half and by the second half, are focused on the Revolution. 

There is a ton more world-building happening in this book, especially since a large chunk of the book is set outside of the college. 

There is so much and very little to say about the plot. It is very intense at times and the pacing needed a lot of work. 

But each chapter has a “fade to black” feel to it kept pulling me out of the book and was incredibly frustrating. Especially when it happened during a conversation or after an insult. 

There was also way too much information just dumped on us in this book. I don’t remember a lot of it and wish that the information had been more digestible. This book could have worked tremendously well as two books released within 6 months of each other. 

Thoughts on the Characters

As with Fourth Wing, the characters are the true stars. 

So let’s start with Violet. My girl has a whole regression in this book. I feel like a lot of readers felt annoyed with Violet because she came off as so childish and immature. 

But in all honesty, her whole world has been completely turned upside down, destroyed, burned to the ground, and then placed back in front of her like it was no big deal. 

Of course, she has regressed. 

Xaden is still a top-tier shadow daddy of a book boyfriend. And I still love him far more than I should a fictional character. 

Violet and Xaden in this book were incredibly frustrating. They just couldn’t/wouldn’t communicate openly with each other and for a book that’s over 600 pages, that got old real quick. 

We also get a ton of new side characters completely shoved down our throats in this book. It was insane trying to remember every single name and signet and ability and rank and jfc. 

One of the more despised side characters in this book was Cat. She felt like she was only there to create so much unnecessary and cringey “other woman” drama. Like even Xaden didn’t care, can we give Violet a break???

With everything else going on in this book, it felt like Rebecca Yarros trying to cling to her romance genre writing instead of fully embracing the fantasy romance beast she created. 

And Dain. Oh Dain, Dain, Dain. While he is less hated in this book, my guards are still up. I am hoping he ends up being more of a Jacob, than a Tamlin. 

(Because Jacob and Bella were able to have some sort of friendship, unlike Tamlin and Feyre.)

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There is also a scene with Liam that completely shattered my whole being. I cannot forgive Rebecca Yarros for that emotional damage. 

The whole Sorrengail clan needs therapy and that’s all I am willing to say about that. 

And going back to Violet and Xaden for a moment, the smut/romance just didn’t hit as hard as it did in Fourth Wing. With all of their issues and all of the chaos happening in this book, the romance just fell so so flat. 

And I hated that for us. 

That being said, there was hardly any character development in this book. Any semblance of character development happened far too late. 

But with everything happening in this book, I’m not too surprised the character development was lacking. The characters barely had time to sit and think let alone breath. 

But I will say, the dragons did NOT disappoint. Tairn and Andarna showed up and put on a show as per usual. Getting to see more of the other dragons and their riders/signets was very interesting. 

Overall Thoughts

This book was incredibly exhausting to read and sometimes painful to get through. The writing is not great and there is just way too much happening. 

Nothing really hit with this book the way it did with Fourth Wing and it was disappointing. 

Violet and Xaden wasted so much time being idiots. Way too much time

And please be warned, the ENDING IS ROUGH.

Like the last 20-ish pages are just, edge of your seat, eyeballs about to pop out of your head, no idea if you want to scream or vomit, or both types of rough. 

All in all, Fourth Wing may have been messy, but Iron Flame was an absolute disaster. It was far longer than it should have been and if you’re considering DNF-ing, consider just taking a break instead. 

While I am not happy with this book, I will (hesitantly) be continuing the series because there are still three more books and I am eager to see where all of this is going. 

So with that being said, this book gets 3 stars out of 5 stars. I wanted to love it, but instead only got exhaustion and a high therapy bill out of it. 

You Might Also Like: Fourth Wing Review // Belladonna Review

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