Cover art for Rebecca Yarrow's "Iron Flame"

So What Happened With the Ending of ‘Iron Flame’?

Iron Flame ended in a TWIST!? What does it all mean? Dragons? Venin? Spicy hook-up chapters? It all went by in a blur! What does the shocker finale mean for the next book in the Empyrean series? Read on.

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First, a recap

Alright, so the first book of the Fourth Wing series introduced us to Violet Sorrengail, who was thrown to the wolves (dragons) and made to join the Riders Quadrant of Basgiath War College. Instead of being surrounded by safe objects like books (that was her original goal, to become a scribe), she is now embroiled among unsafe objects (flying reptiles) and deadly (but hot) people. In a stunning enemies-to-lovers arc, she ends up falling for wingleader Xaden Riorson.

The beginning of Iron Flame sets up a brand new threat for Violet and company: the venin. Venin, once thought to be fairytale boogeymen of myth, are in fact a very real threat to the kingdoms of Navarre and Poromiel—a threat that only dragon riders and griffon riders can stop.

Right. But can you please explain how THAT happened at the end?

In due time. First we need a little lesson on the magic of the world of the Empyrean series. There are two ways that a person can access magic—a good way and a bad way, if you will. The good way is through the use of a dragon, which acts as a conduit and damper for the raw magic of the Earth. By forming a connection with a dragon, a dragon rider may absorb magical power through their scaly companion and use that power accordingly. Why is it good? Because it’s safe. Unfettered access to massive quantities of raw magic can only spell disaster, and disaster is was awaits anyone who tries to absorb magic the bad way. How does one suck up magic the bad way? By making direct contact with it through the Earth.

Channeling magic from a dragon is dangerous enough. If a dragon rider overdoes it, they can exhaust themselves or just straight up die. Channeling magic from the Earth? An even worse fate is in store. A magic user pulling directly from the Earth will become intoxicated with raw magic. Their lust for power will warp them from a human being into something far more sinister: a venin. A venin is a perversion of a dragon rider, an evil other side of the coin.

Then why did Xaden do it!?

During the final battle in Iron Flame, Xaden pulled magical power directly from the Earth for a pretty good reason: to save the life of his love, Violet. After Violet’s mother sacrificed herself to return power to the wardstone, the burned-out Violet was completely vulnerable. Xaden’s gesture was necessary to save her. And guess what? IT WORKED. But now the price has been paid. Xaden now sports the eerie red eyes of the venin, but lacks the “rivers of red veins” covering the bodies of other venin. It’s possible that Xaden isn’t a full venin, but only partially corrupted. After all, taking a hit from Earth magic doesn’t exactly have a dosage. Maybe one hit is all it takes to transform? Maybe it takes multiple? We just don’t know. What we do know is that Xaden now has more of a bad boy aura than before.

Okay but what about Violet’s dragon? A new type of dragon? What’s the deal?

Andarna was built different since day one. Sure, she looked like a black dragon, but remember all those moments when Violet swore that Anadarna’s scales changed color? It turns out that Andarna was only disguising herself as a black dragon in order to fly under the radar, so to speak. After the dragon expended too much magic, she was forced to revert back to a younger form—a form where her scales change colors, never before seen in all of dragon kind! Andarna finally revealed that she was indeed a type of dragon outside of the usual six, exceedingly rare, and that she was attempting to protect her identity with the disguise.

What’s this all mean for the future of the series?

Onyx Storm is certain to get interesting. Naturally, Xaden’s new venin identity will be explored in full, with Xaden now part of the “f*cked up family according to fellow venin Jack Barlowe. Whether Xaden will join in the venin plot, whatever it may be, or work from the inside to thwart it remains to be seen. Andarna will be exploring her identity as well, with the “seventh breed” of dragon’s powers revealed to her rider, Violet. And of course, spicy stuff. That’s gonna happen regardless.


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.