Optioned for television by Amazon Studios.
Fourth Wing by Rachel Yarros remains one of the most popular books in the country right now, after a spectacular debut this summer. It likes to camp out in the Amazon Top 10, and has of course spent time at Number 1.
Yarros is a New York Times best selling romance author, and this is her first stab at fantasy. It is well-appreciated by her many fans. Whereas many top selling books in the genre may have 10,000 or so ratings on Amazon, Fourth Wing is currently sitting on about 150,000 ratings, with an astonishing 4.8/5 stars. That’s about as good as a genre book can get these days.
So what is it about this fantasy novel that has caught the literary world by storm? I downloaded a copy to find out.
First, Yarros is an excellent writer. She can develop a rich world filled with imagery and make dynamic characters that readers will love or hate. This world is constantly at war. Dragons have moved their nesting grounds to the safety of one kingdom, and choose riders to do battle with their enemies beyond the wards of the land.
Most young people are conscripted into one of four branches of the military, the dragon riders being the smallest and toughest of the quadrants. Our story begins with the youngest daughter of the resident general being forced to join the dragon corps because the general, her mother, was a rider. All her siblings were, too.
Her father was a scribe, though. Now dead, he hinted that scribes hold the secrets of the past. Our heroine Violet is too small to ride dragons, and suffers from some debilitating weaknesses such as brittle bones. But off she goes anyway to learn how to fight and ride dragons.
Hogwarts this is not. We are reminded constantly how fleeting life is for these cadets as their numbers continue to be brutally whittled down. Slowly it dawns on Violet that things are not as they seem from her initial impressions of the world. Meanwhile an enemy-to-lovers romance is brewing.
The book is very well written and ends on an excellent note. I’m currently on Book 2 and will be waiting for the author to continue The Empyrean series after that. And that’s high praise. If you enjoy fantasy, you will love this book.
Now for the quibbles. I’m reading along and it’s a PG-13 rated novel, with lots of violence and death but nothing too over the top. Then we’re hit with multiple graphic sex scenes. Granted, this is really a romance novel, although a fantasy romance novel. But if you’re used to typical high fantasy, the explicit sex may be a bit jarring.
Second, a couple of things seemed out of place. For instance, Yarros created a pantheon of gods for her world loosely modeled on Olympus, although not so varied. But then for months and days of the week she uses our own, which are often named after gods of old from our history. Thursday, for instance is Thor’s Day, Wednesday is Woden’s, and so on. Some of our months are named after the Caesars of old like Julius, Augustus, and so forth. One would think a fantasy world would not use the names of months and days from our world. But like I said, this is just a quibble.
Finally, a minor bi character is understandable and discussion of her sexual exploits don’t disrupt the narrative flow. But a trans character complete with alternative pronouns seems to have been added solely for political correctness, and really adds nothing to the story. It’s very awkward and seems forced. If the author wanted to include a trans character, perhaps she could have done better incorporating their storyline into the narrative so that it doesn’t appear to be pandering.
On the profanity meter, I rank the book a 4 out of 10, with occasional F-bombs, but not to the point of distraction.
On the whole, this is an excellent book. Look for a movie or TV series to be made out of it sometime in the future as Amazon Studios has already optioned it.