Iron Flame (The Empyrean Book #2)
There is an intriguing aspect of life that fascinates me to no end.
The fact that everything makes sense in hindsight.
Not while you are in the middle of the mish-mash muddle of confusion. Instead, it is always after when you are half-dead on the floor, having survived and crawled through the drama, and finally, you are on that more stable other side.
That is when you dizzily recall all that occurred, and suddenly, the pieces fall into place. When the heartbreaks, the disappoints, and the steep ascents into the mountains of dismal unknowing, suddenly, effortlessly, snap into a clear picture of the new you.
This is how I felt after finishing the Iron Flame, by Rebecca Yarros.
Because as I was reading, I was pretty pissed. My strong devious heroine, Violet, now felt petulant, forever complaining. While my hero, Xaden, who spent all of Fourth Wing, strengthening Violet and training her to be a badass, even with her limitations, was now being ridiculous and over protective.
My brain kept asking what the actual… focaccia was happening here. These two could not be the same two from Fourth Wing. For a while, it felt like madness.
Let me be clear here, though. None of this stopped me from reading the book, or enjoying all the world building tidbits and new characters introduced in Iron Flame. There were mesmerising new lands, to contrast and show the now second year cadets what life was like outside of Navarre. And the author still supplied us with those soul screaming moments that slammed into you out of nowhere. Good ones, ominous ones, and some morally grey ones to make you question what you would do if put in that situation.
(By the way, for the record, torture, maim, and destroy anyone who came after me and mine is always going to be my answer. But I digress.)
Looking back now, after tumbling head over wheels to that emotional thunder punch of an ending, I get it. I understand the reactions, the feelings, the shift for both Violet and Xaden. The author took us along the genuine path one travels after facing life shaping trauma.
She did not gloss over it.
She did not wish it away with love and gooey eyes.
She strapped us in and lead us step by bitter, painful step, through what real people deal with after someone you love dies in your arms, and when someone you love almost dies in your arms.
It is gut boiling. And to her credit, I felt it. That is the potency of Rebecca Yarros and her words.
Because a good book, for me, is one that disrupts me. It takes me out of my lane, steals my focus, and commands my attention. Yes, I was upset while reading, but she had me. And in hindsight, Iron Flame is the perfectly laid conduit to transition readers away from Basgiath War College into the deeply engulfing world of The Empyrean.
I am still shook.
Happily, we also experience the wondrous growth possible when you face the bad stuff head on. Those moments lightened the darkness and made some of my screams ones filled with joy.
Ahem and Tee Hee Hee!
This was a startling new book. One that raked over all of my senses, evoking a range of feelings and some riotous moods. (Need to make some apologies to my friends and family, it was not them; it was Violet lol) It was also a solid step in what is promised to be a tumultuous 5 book odyssey.
But that said, let me just say loud and proud.
Rhi is my girl! THAT is a best friend. As for that squad? Gang Gang! Those are the homies for life! My heart lived for those interactions, and cherished the moments of the hard fought for triumphs of all the cadets, even the ones we are supposed to hate ;). I may have loved these interactions the most simply because that was when old Violet, the one who was ingenious with a plan, would resurface. It was also when we saw everyone using their strengths to work together against the odds and their fears to find such a well-buried truth.
Ahhhh, what a book!
Be ready when you read it, for some tough moments. The villains are nastier. The stakes and consequences are deadly. However, prepare yourself to be utterly charmed by the found family’s relationship, and by the dragons. They express themselves more; they fight more, and their arrogance knows no bounds. It is delicious and delightful!
Iron Flame and Rebecca Yarros traumatised me. Drove me nuts, made me cuss. Taught me about safe places and safe people. I am still not okay. However, I cannot drum up a single regret about reading it.
If you are not entrenched as yet, get your boots and your flame gear on.
Cross that parapet… and let me be the first to welcome you to The Empyrean.
And oh yeah, try to remember, “We do not eat our allies.”