Review: Iron Flame

Posted November 13, 2023 / Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Iron FlameIron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
Series: The Empyrean #2
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Fantasy
Published by Entangled Publishing on November 7, 2023
Also by this author: Fourth Wing
Format: Audio/Physical (623 pages) • Source: Libby, Purchased
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three-half-stars

“The first year is when some of us lose our lives. The second year is when the rest of us lose our humanity.” —Xaden Riorson

Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: Dragon riders make their own rules.
But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

Usually I do review round-ups at this point in my blogging life but because this book took me longer to read and I assumed I’d have more to say about it, I thought I would do an old-fashioned single book review here.

It’s no secret that I did not love FOURTH WING as much as everyone else did. I ended up rating it higher than it probably deserved at 3.5 stars because of how addicting it was and how intriguing the ending was as well. I was curious to read IRON FLAME for sure and even preordered a copy to partake in the nonsense of release week with everyone else. I didn’t like the cringe-worthy romance and cheesy writing of the first book.  I really thought it was like a mash-up of every fantasy book written before. I can totally see why people read it and got similar nostalgic vibes of some early YA paranormal/fantasy books, but that didn’t make it a five-star read for me.

The…interesting…writing was still very much present in this book. The conversations sounded so weird sometimes and language felt out of place. For example, she says at one point that her heart is beating like a hummingbird’s wings (or something like that). Are there hummingbirds in this world somehow? Just out there flying around with the dragons? Are there dogs and other normal animals too? The world-building here is so weird! Another moment that stuck out was when her and Rhiannon were chatting before class and when the teacher comes in, Violet says something like “Let’s take our seats.” It sounded so out of place! Maybe I just got to a point where everything annoyed me in this book and I’m nitpicking, but I can’t think of a time where a teenager or twenty-something would have ever said that in normal conversation to a friend lol.

The romance was still just as cringe-worthy and I skimmed over every single sex scene between the main characters. Just no interest in reading their nonsense. Luckily I do enjoy the other relationships and friendships between the main squad. There are SO many characters and I rarely remember who is who, but the main group of people is a good time overall.

On top of that, Yarros has like every single ~magic system~ element in this world. When I say it’s a mash-up of every other fantasy book ever written, it truly is, because it has anything you could think of squished together. I didn’t even try to understand it or keep up while I was reading. It wasn’t worth it lol. I won’t get into specifics in case there are spoilers involved but it’s just very weird. I’m enjoying hearing everyone’s theories on Tiktok though because some people could definitely be on to something. I got toward the end of this one and thought it really felt like a finale of a duology. I didn’t know how she was going to keep the series going… and then the ending happened.

I have to say, the one thing that keeps me going are the twists. Yarros really gives you a lot of them throughout and at the end of each book. The writing is not good but it’s just addicting. It’s so easy to read. Fantasy books usually take me a long time but I read this one relatively quickly given its size. Yes, it’s addicting like a Colleen Hoover book. The twists are REALLY fun and intriguing. I definitely want to keep reading these. But they’re just not *good.*

In summary:

Things that are bad: cheesy writing, cringe-worthy romance, trillion characters you can’t keep track of, mash-up of every magical element possible, and poor world-building.
Things that are good: twists to keep you reading and our main squad of characters.

I enjoyed the ride of this one (arguably more than its predecessor) but rating this any higher than 3.5 stars feels like an insult to fantasy books I’ve given four stars to. I will give her credit that she really knows how to keep and entertain an audience but good lord, at what cost? My brain is mush.

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