Enthralled by the enigma of Xaden Riorson, you find yourself adrift in a dream-like trance. Envision him, a silhouette tall and statuesque, carved with sharp contours that speak of a rugged, untamed grace. His lips, lush and full, whisper tales of silent audacity, a subtle rebellion against the mundane. His posture, a portrait of nonchalant arrogance, emanates an air of cool indifference, as if challenging the world with a single glance.
Imagine him there, an ethereal figure against the stoic backdrop of an ancient stone wall. His arms, a fortress unto themselves, are crossed in silent defiance. His gaze, intense and unwavering, is like a siren’s song, piercing through the veils of your soul, beckoning you into uncharted waters.
Shadows gather around him, a spectral dance of light and darkness, yet in their embrace, you find an unexpected solace, a sense of belonging in the chaos. His aura, enigmatic and elusive, is a call to the mysteries of the night. He is bonded, to the ruthless navy-blue dragon, defiant of all rules.
Xaden’s allure is akin to a forbidden fruit, a temptation wrapped in the allure of the unknown. You know the wisdom in keeping your distance, yet his beauty, so lethal and mesmerizing, draws you closer with each breath. He is clothed in the elegance of darkness, his muscular form adorned in sleek black flying leathers, the boots rising to mid-calf. His flight jacket, a guardian of secrets, only partially conceals the swirling mark of rebellion at his neck, a symbol of his unyielding spirit.
At this moment, the world fades away, leaving only the magnetic pull of Xaden Riorson, a figure both daunting and irresistible. He might be the wielder of shadows, but he is good, right?
Or is he?
Did I capture your imagination? Good, because this is how I envision Xaden every single time I come across his name in Fourth Wing and Iron Flame. He’s just so damn irresistible. But… and yes, there is a ‘but.’
I don’t actually think Xaden Riorson is a good guy. Ok, ok, before you jump, hear me out. I promise, I do have a point.
Xaden Riorson sounds good on paper.
Xaden Riorson sounds so good in theory. Let’s go back to Fourth Wing. He’s helping Violet. He wants Violet. He’s trying to protect Violet. He’s also asking his “brother” Liam to watch over her. He’s drawn to her in every possible way.
It’s clear by the end of Fourth Wing that Xaden really loves Violet. He’s in love with her in such a profound way; it makes our hearts swell. He wants to do anything to save her. He even puts the whole rebellion movement in danger by saving her instead of well… the whole world. Because Violet is his new gravity. It’s his universe. Sounds romantic, and it is. I love it. You love it. BUT…
Is Xaden Riorson a good guy?
Kinda. Sorta. Despite his promise to not keep secrets from Violet, he keeps secrets from Violet. Maybe he doesn’t know how to open up or how to approach this, but the result is all the same. He’s hurting Violet.
It’s ok, that doesn’t make him a bad guy, right? He’s a 23-year-old new adult who’s finding his feet, especially in love. It’s the first time he’s actually in love, so let’s give him credit.
Xaden Riorson is a morally grey character. Just like Lilith.
Xaden in Iron Flame
In Iron Flame, Xaden shows a lot more of his true colours. Let’s go right to the beginning when we learn from The Assembly that he does not want to negotiate with Tecarus if that puts Violet in danger in any way.
Fast-forward, Xaden almost kills Tecarus, not giving a bleep about potentially severing ties with a whole kingdom. Justice for Violet is far more important. This clearly jeopardizes a lot of alliances and politically is not a good move. But it is a good move romantically, for love.
He doesn’t care about raising the wards in Aretia, but he cares about raising the wards in a place where Violet is, and stays safe. He doesn’t care about the rebellion plans formed for years, but he hunts and drops wyvern carcasses to send a message and save Violet.
Wait. Wait. Isn’t it the same with Lilith? She kept her children safe. As long as her kids were fine and protected under the wards, she was fine to carry on with all the lies and sacrifice thousands of innocent lives.
What does this mean?
A few things, really. It means that Xaden Riorson is not a hero. He is Violet’s hero, but not the continent’s hero. Definitely not Empyrean’s hero given that he chose to become a venin, which is everything the dragons are fighting against.
Xaden Riorson is a type of antihero, just not in the most traditional way. And I’m here for it. I believe Xaden will not fight for what’s right, but he will fight for Violet. It’s for Violet to save the world and for Xaden to support her on her journey. And yes, I think along the way, he will make some terrible mistakes, but given the choice, if it ever comes to it, Xaden will burn the world if it means saving Violet.
BUT… I am afraid, not the same goes for Violet. I honestly believe Violet is pure. The true hero in the book, and the one who would pick the good of the world over her own heartache of losing Xaden. So Rebecca Yarros might have just spelled it out for us in the books:
Latest Iron Flame Theories
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- Iron Flame Theory: Bodhi is Xaden’s brother
- Predictions for Book 3 Empyrean Series
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- Iron Flame Theory: Violet’s second signet
- Iron Flame Theory: Mr Sorrengail is General Venin
- Iron Flame Theories – A complete collection
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