Victoria recommends! Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros.
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.
She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
By Rebecca Yarros. Hardcover. 512 pages. Published by Entangled: Red Tower, 2023.
Victoria's thoughts: With "Fourth Wing," adult fantasy readers finally get what they're really looking for. Yarros masterfully constructs a high fantasy world that feels modern and relatable in some ways, and absolutely unworldly and terrifying in others. Between the constant life-or-death action and the steamy tension of the romantic subplot, putting this book down is nearly impossible. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment, and cannot wait to see how the dystopian elements of the book begin to unfold further.
As a bookseller, I want to see so much more of this in the adult fantasy category. The characters, though on the younger side, are adults--they're emotionally mature while still being flawed and complicated. The sexual encounters in this book are not timid, soft dalliances of inexperienced adolescents, which is an utter relief compared to much of the canon of fantasy romance. Best of all, as a person with chronic pain, I cannot tell you the joy I got from seeing a disabled main character (Violet's condition reads as Ehlers Danlos or another similar connective tissue disorder) absolutely kick ass. Her disability doesn't go away with a magical cure; she is just that much tougher *because* of having lived with pain for so long.
Because "Fourth Wing" is so incredibly immersive and immaculately paced, I am going to complain about two things that pulled me out of the story. 1) It needed one more pass with a fine-tooth comb--jaws "tick" far too often and there's some stray wording like "upperclassmen" that are only used once and feel too much of our world. 2) The delicious, sharp banter between the characters that made me root for them so much evaporates almost entirely during the sex scenes, and the silvertongued love interest devolves into dialogue that can be found in any--and nearly all--AO3 fanfic. I complain only because in contrast to the *utter excellence* of the rest of the book, these misses stood out clearly.
If you're craving a snarkier, steamier version of Tamora Pierce with significantly more dragons, "Fourth Wing" is exactly what you're looking for.