It’s no cakewalk to write one of the biggest books of the year, but somehow, first-time fantasy author Rebecca Yarros wrote two. Her mega-popular romantasy series, Empyrean, debuted in May of this year with Fourth Wing, and readers didn’t have to wait long for the next book to arrive. Iron Flame hit bookshelves in November, but not for long—it sold out instantly as did her highly anticipated book tour.
Public libraries saw instant demand for the digital versions as well. In the first week of its release, Iron Flame was on fire—racking up the most checkouts in the first 7 days in the Libby app’s history.
Readers can’t get enough of the main character, Violet Sorrengail, a 20-year-old who’s just been thrust into the world of elite dragon rider training at Basgiath War College—where you either graduate or die. With high-stakes adventure and spicy romance, this epic series is already on its way to a TV adaptation.
With both books currently topping the New York Times bestseller list and wrangling in rave reviews from everyone from Publisher’s Weekly to the entire BookTok community, Yarros is kind of a big deal. And while we all stand starstruck, Yarros stays humble, saying she’s just a writer, cranking out books in her basement. Luckily for her many fans, she was still somehow able to write 851,000 words in a 12-month period (PHEW!) and bring us the first books in the planned five-book, dragon-filled series.
And also luckily for us, Emma from the Professional Book Nerds podcast was able to spend an hour chatting (and fangirling) with Rebecca about what it's like to write the Empyrean series, work-life balance, the biggest obstacles facing Xaden and Violet, Rebecca’s favorite dragon and go-to coffee order, being a Dain apologist, and lots more.
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.
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.
But that’s not all she writes. Known previously for her romance novels, check out more books by Rebecca Yarros.
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