Exclusive Excerpt: Rebecca Yarros’s Fourth Wing Takes Us Inside a War College for Dragon Riders

Books Features Rebecca Yarros
Exclusive Excerpt: Rebecca Yarros’s Fourth Wing Takes Us Inside a War College for Dragon Riders

Dragon stories are all the rage right now Samantha Shannon’s epic Roots of Chaos series to Naomi Novik’s genre-bending Temeraire books, we apparently can’t get enough of these magical creatures. And now bestselling author Rebecca Yarros—known for books like The Last Letter and The Things We Leave Unfinished enters the proverbial arena with Fourth Wing, an epic fantasy romance about an elite war college for dragon riders.

The story follows Violet, a twentysomething young woman whose goal was always to live a quiet life as a scholar studying books and history. But when her commander general mother orders her into the academy to fight for a coveted spot as a dragon rider, she’s left with little choice, despite the fact that her disability means her bones and ligaments are weaker than her classmates and she’s more easily injured. (And in a world where any weakness carries the threat of death or rejection by the dragons the candidates are meant to ride, this condition is doubly dangerous for her.)

Here’s how the publisher describes the story.

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.

Fourth Wing is one of the first titles from Red Tower Books, a new adult fiction imprint from Entangled Publishing that focuses on the romantic fantasy and science-fiction genres. (And we love to see it!)

And though the novel won’t officially hit shelves until May, but we’ve got an exclusive excerpt from the story for you right now!


To approach a green dragon, lower your eyes in supplication and wait for their approval. That’s what I read, right?

I drop my gaze as one chuffs another breath at me. It’s hot and appallingly wet, but I’m not dead yet, so that’s a plus.

The one on the right chortles deep in its throat. Wait, is that the sound of approval I’m looking for? Shit, I wish I’d asked Mira.

Mira. She’s going to be devastated when she reads the rolls.

I lift my head and suck in a sharp breath. They’re even closer. The one on the left nudges my hands with its giant nose, but I somehow stand my ground, rocking back on my heels to keep from falling over.

Greens are the most reasonable.

“I cut my hands climbing the obstacle course.” I lift my palms, like they can see through the black fabric binding my wounds.

The one on the right sets its nose right at my breasts and chuffs again.

What. The. Hell.

It inhales, making that noise in its throat, and the other shoves its nose into my ribs, making me raise my arms just in case they feel like taking a little nibble.

“Violet!” Rhiannon whisper-shouts.

“I’m all right!” I call back, then wince, hoping I didn’t just seal my fate by screaming in their ears.
Another chuff. Another chortle, like they’re talking to each other as they sniff me.

The one under my arm moves its nostrils to my back and sniffs again.

Realization hits and I choke out a tight, surreal laugh. “You smell Teine, don’t you?” I ask quietly.

They both draw back, just far enough for me to look them in their golden eyes, but they keep their jaws shut, giving me the courage to keep talking.

“I’m Mira’s sister, Violet.” Slowly lowering my arms, I run my hands over my snot-covered vest and the armor carefully sewn into it. “She collected Teine’s scales after he shed them last year and had them shrunk down so she could sew them into the vest to help keep me safe.”

The one on the right blinks.

The one on the left sticks its nose in again, sniffing loudly.

“The scales have saved me a few times,” I whisper. “But no one else knows they’re in there. Just Mira and Teine.”

They both blink at me, and I lower my gaze, bowing my head because it feels like the thing to do. Professor Kaori taught us every way to approach a dragon and exactly zero ways to disengage one.

Step by step, they retreat until I see them take up their places in line in my peripherals, and I finally raise my head.

Taking several deep breaths, I try to lock my muscles to keep from trembling.

“Violet.” Rhiannon is only a few feet away, a look of terror in her eyes. She must have been right behind their heads.

“I’m fine.” I force a smile and nod. “I have dragon-scale armor under the vest,” I whisper. “They smell my sister’s dragon.” If she wants trust, there it is. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t,” she whispers. “You’re all right?”

“Other than having a few years of my life shaved off.” I laugh. The sound is shaky, bordering on hysteria.

“Let’s get out of here.” She swallows, her gaze darting toward the line of dragons.

“Good idea.”

She turns and walks back to her place, and once there’s fifteen feet between us, I follow.

“I think I just shat myself,” Ridoc says, and my laughter only pitches higher as we move through the field.

“Honestly, I thought they were going to eat you,” Luca remarks.

“Me too,” I admit.

“I wouldn’t have blamed them,” she continues.

“You’re insufferable,” Ridoc calls back.

I focus on the path and keep walking.

“What? She’s obviously our weakest link after Pryor, and I don’t blame them for snuffing him out,” she argues. “He could never make a decision, and no one wants someone like that as their rider—”

A blast of heat singes my back and I halt.

Don’t be Ridoc. Don’t be—

“Guess the dragons think she’s insufferable, too,” Ridoc mutters.

Our squad is down to six first-years.

Fourth Wing is available on May 2, 2023, but you can pre-order it right now.

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.

Share Tweet Submit Pin