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Iron Flame Theory: Did Naolin really die saving Brennan?

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Written by: Cory

Naolin imbuing energy into Brennan - Empyrean Series by Rebecca Yarros

I am here with a new Iron Flame theory. This one concerns Naolin and Brennan, and yes, I have more questions than answers. Sadly, we didn’t learn much about Naolin in Iron Flame. Nevertheless, we did learn more about his signet, thanks to Sloane Mairi, who is Liam Mairi’s sister.

I’ve been pondering this theory for a while now because something doesn’t quite add up. Alright, come down the rabbit hole with me, and as always, please comment, dissect the theory, and share your thoughts.

What do we know so far about Naolin?

We know the following bits of information: According to Professor Kaori, Naolin died trying to save Brennan.

We know that Naolin was Tairn’s previous rider, and his death nearly killed Tairn.

We know that Brennan didn’t die; he’s very much alive, so we can infer that Naolin, though he died, somehow managed to save Brennan.

Naolin was a siphon, possessing a unique magical ability to absorb or draw energy from other riders, dragons or sources. We know Sloane Mairi, like Naolin, is also a siphon. (Stay with me, this is relevant.)

We don’t know much about siphons. Like at all. How do they operate? As far as we’re concerned, they don’t actually siphon signets, but power. Right? With that logic, Naolin (and Sloane) is a power distribution system. Note: power distribution and NOT signet. Which means Naolin could drain the enemy from their power and distribute it to someone else in the process to enhance someone’s signet.

We know from Iron Flame, when Mira punches Brennan and breaks his nose, that it’s much more difficult for menders to mend themselves than others.

The last thing we know is that Brennan has a rune-shaped scar on his hand. This detail is mentioned in the same paragraph when he discusses Naolin and says, ‘Naolin didn’t fail, but it cost him everything.’

Alright, now you’re up to speed with all the info. It’s not much, I know, but it’s enough to fuel this theory.

Naolin didn’t die from burnout. Did he?

Naolin’s death while saving Brennan indeed raises some intriguing questions. Let’s delve into the available information to develop a theory.

Naolin’s Signet Ability: Naolin had a siphoning signet, which enabled him to absorb power from various sources, including other dragons and riders, and then use or redistribute it. This ability is significant because it suggests Naolin had the capacity to draw energy from somewhere and distribute it to Brennan so he can gain enough power to mend himself.

The Circumstances of Naolin’s Death: Naolin reportedly died while trying to save Brennan. Consider Brennan’s condition for a moment. According to battlefield reports, Fen Riorson shot an arrow into Brennan’s chest. Thus, he was severely injured and likely nearly depleted of energy. Any time someone is severely injured (look at Sawyer at the end of Iron Flame), they don’t appear capable of using their signet.

Naolin had to siphon enough energy from somewhere, “power up” Brennan enough for him to be able to mend himself.

Now, Naolin couldn’t have siphoned energy from Brennan, as Brennan was in a weakened state. And this wouldn’t make any sense anyway. You don’t take energy from the almost dead to give it back to them. So where did Naolin siphoned all the energy from?

Three options here:

  1. Naolin simply tried to distribute his own energy to Brennan. Tairn is a powerful dragon with lots to offer. Naolin didn’t siphon from a source first, but simply imbued Brennan with his own energy. In this case, all stands, Naolin burnt out.
  2. Naolin reached for the ground and siphoned some energy from there. Then he distributed some of that power to Brennan. So many questions now. If the energy from the ground was distributed to Brennan does that mean that not just Naolin but Brennan turned venin too?
  3. Naolin was burning out, Brennan didn’t want that to happen and reached for the ground himself. Could it be that he killed Naolin because Naolin was too close to Brennan? You know how venin basically drain everything within their path?

But either way, why did Naolin burn out?

Let’s look at Iron Flame a bit. When Sloane manifests her signet, Cat screams that Sloane is draining her power. When Jack (already venin) touches Dain, he drains him. In general, venin seem to drain the land. It’s interesting that siphons and venin appear to have very similar abilities. But that’s not the point.

At the end of Iron Flame, Sloane is essentially draining Mama Lilith to imbue that stone. And quite literally, Lilith is drained of everything, including life. But what’s odd? Sloane wasn’t burning out. She was just using her signet. Yet, she depleted a whole super powerful storm wielder and killed her while siphoning.

By that logic, Naolin wouldn’t burn out…if he siphoned energy from various sources. Not just himself. Right?

One thing is certain: According to Brennan, Naolin did die. In Iron Flame, Brennan states in front of The Assembly that Naolin’s death nearly killed Tairn. We can assume that he is indeed dead. Of course, with the Empyrean Series we never quite know. He could very well be alive somewhere, living his best venin life.

Given Brennan’s depleted state, is it plausible that Naolin actually drew energy from another source simultaneously or alternatively, which might not have been as stable or safe? Could this alternative source have led to Naolin’s demise?

Unhinged Iron Flame Theory: Tairn killed Naolin

In one of the comments below, you will see talk that maybe Tairn himself killed Naolin the moment he turned. Which is why Tairn almost die himself in the process. I can only imagine that killing one’s rider and severing the bond this way would take a HUGE toll. We know that a dragon killing another dragon takes a huge toll on the soul (Andarna killing Solas). We can only imagine what would mean killing your own rider. And btw, could it be that this is WHY Tairn is so respected and riveted by the elders, because he stood out for dragonkind and was stronger than others (Andarna’s words)? Is this why Sgaeyl hates Brennan?

Or another qay to look at it. Tairn killed his own rider and broke a sacred law in the Empyrean. If you pay heed to the books, you realise that riders die all the time. Some riders who have been bonded for decades. and their dragons? Survive. Sure, they are probably devastated but none seem to almost die… So what makes Tairn so special? Well, we assume that it’s his powerful bond to rider that almost killed Tairn. But could it be that he almost died because the Empyrean wanted to initially execute him for killing his own rider? Seems like a fair assumption. Especially because Tairn himself said inFourth Wing:

“I’m sorry. I just didn’t think I’d make it this far.”

A loud sigh resonates through my mind. “I didn’t think I would, either, so we have that in common.”

What does Tairn really mean by that? I feel like Tairn knows a lot more and he is hiding so, so much.

What do you think? We have some small clues from the books, but still not enough to draw a definitive conclusion. What did Brennan mean when he said, ‘Naolin didn’t fail, but he lost everything’? Did Naolin himself draw from the ground and imbue Brennan with ‘venin energy’?

The question remains… why did Naolin really die? Because I really don’t think it was from burnout.

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42 responses to “Iron Flame Theory: Did Naolin really die saving Brennan?”

  1. Love this new thread. Is it at all possible in this world if Naolin channeled from the ground and used this energy to heal Brennan, thus Naolin becoming venin? Would Tairn have been able to break his bond with Naolin even if he wasn’t dead and Naolin is now general venin? Perhaps crazy just putting it out there.

    1. Right, I have a new theory for this as well. What if, Naolin took Brennan closer to the caves but Brennan, dying, reached for the ground, took enough energy and in the process killed Naolin who was very very close to Brennan? You know how venin basically kill everyone that’s on the ground next to them? Or something…

      1. This doesn’t fit with this thread entirely but something bothers me about Jack Barlow becoming venin while in Basgiath. Although he no doubt did, given he didn’t die with the blast on the mountain. When he first is on the mat with Violet and she feels him channeling powers— I thought venin couldn’t channel within the wards of Basgiath?

        1. This is it: “Before his challenge against me,” I answer when Jack refuses to. “He forced power into my body. I just didn’t recognize it for what it is. How? The wards—”
          “Do not block all power like the dragons want you to think they do! We can still feed from the ground, still channel enough to survive. Enough to fool them. We might not be at full strength, capable of wielding greater magic under your protections, but make no mistake: we are already among you, and now we’re free.”

    2. I was also thinking this! That Naolin is General Venin and Tairn almost died by removing his bond with Naolin for becoming Venin.

      1. YES! I mean, I get it that dragons bond with the best intentions, but humans inevitably…die. Right? If not war, old age. Dragons survive this. It seems to be more common than them dying, to be fair. At least based on what we’ve read so far. So…yeah, that’s the question. Why? Why did Tairn almost die? Because it feels to me like it was about breaking his bond with Naolin. And not sad feelings.

        1. Exactly! And maybe removing a bond is a very painful almost deathly experience for a dragon. Maybe it had never been done before. Maybe that’s why it took so long for Tairn to trust and bond again. Maybe we will find out more in book 3 🧐

          1. I do wonder if we will explore more of this in Book 3 or RY will leave it for book 4 or something. Something tells me that we won’t find out about Naolin for a while. And I do suspect that Brennan has something weird going with that rune of his. So…

        2. “Dragons bond with the best intentions” THIS but first: (then a new theory at the bottom)

          1) In IF, Violet had a fleeting thought that perhaps Naolin and Brennan were more than friends.

          2) We’ve read that sometimes people with an immense amount of power, change.

          3) Maybe for Noalin, it was a bit of both. Love and arrogance led him to reach for more power than was possible through his dragon. I don’t think siphoning would have killed Noalin, as mentioned, Sloanne didn’t even break a sweat while draining Lilith. However, the power through his dragon wouldn’t have been enough, since reincarnation isn’t within the power of a signet.

          4) I think Brennan being saved and Noalin turning Venin was what opened Brennans eyes to the lies he’s been fed his whole life.

          I think what almost killed Tairn was not only betrayal but his wounded pride. He was…..wrong and that likely ended in a a severed bond or at the very least, turning his back on Naolin. Which was perhaps, more painful than the death of a rider.

          Maybe I am reaching here but I am also wondering if perhaps, the “bond” with Noalin isn’t truly severed because he isn’t dead. Just like Xaden and Sgaeyl bond is still intact. Hear me out- somewhere in the first book I think Dain had wondered why a Dragon has never bonded two riders, as that seems to be the sensical thing to do. I don’t think Rebecca has filler in her books, I think every.single.line. Is there for a reason.

          Tairn is powerful, maybe he’s shielding Noalin. However, Jack showed us that a Venin can influence a dragon. I think Tairn is too powerful to be influenced like Baide was but that doesn’t mean a very strong Venin couldn’t sneak around the shields during sleep… you know… to manipulate dreams for both Violet and Xaden. If Naolin is the Venin general, alive without a true sever to his bond but instead shielded, he would have access to both Xaden and Violet through their dragons.

          So why did Tairn think he was surprised he had made it this far? Because he had to watch Naolin change, his soul slip away with every choice he made. It became too much when Naolin was no longer Naolin so Tairn turned his back and went back to the vale….

          1. Hi Amanda, thank you for your comment.

            I’m with you on this. I honestly think that’s what happened to Tairn..and Naolin. Althon I need to know where is Naolin now?
            You are 10000% right. There is literally no filler in the books. Everything RY has a very good reason. And yes, I also think that reference was to do with Tairn. Because let’s face it…it’s all about how his bond with Violet could kill the four of them. But we all know (now) that it’s just not what really happened. I mean we don’t know for sure. But I’m sensing that we’re on the same page.

            So your theory is that Naolin is still somewhat connected to Tairn? That would be insane. I think Tairn severed his own bond at a very great cost. But I think you could also be right. It would be such a crazy twist in the story.

  2. I also agree Brennan has some connection to venin forged at the moment he was saved. After all he didn’t want violet to research the ward stone and didn’t give her the book on abut venin given by Tacaurus?

    1. Dude seems sketchy a little. It feels like we he’s almost the opposite of Dain. Dain needed a redemption ARC. I feel like Brennan requires his villain ARC very very soon.

      1. Ahhhh you are so right!!! I think he will be going dark!!

        1. He’s already quite grumpy and moody!

  3. I always wondered how Naolin died, if he truly died. Brennan tells Violet that he woke up on a cliff side, so we can’t even take his word that Naolin did die as a fact. He may think he’s dead, but can her verify it? I also think that there’s a connection with Naolin and the ruin on his palm, which we will most likely find out in the next book. Obviously Violet knew nothing about ruins at first, but hopefully now that she has been learning about them, we will find out what Brennan’s ruin means.
    Tairn also didn’t wish to speak about Naolin, which has me guessing that maybe Naolin may have drawn power from the ground to help Brennan in his mending. Could be that Tairn had to kill his own rider before turning full Venin, as it seems that venin can control/influence their dragons. Jack Barlow was controlling his dragon when he broke down the ward. Varish (I think he was also venin, along with his best friend Aetos), said he influences his dragon. Tairn was pissed that his dragon didn’t stop Varish from pestering violet to bring out Andarna, knowing that dragon protect their young and Varish just kept pushing. Which also has me thinking that maybe that’s why Xaden can’t communicate with Sgaeyl. She’s cut him, firstly because she pissed at him, secondly so he can’t control him.
    Brennan could heal himself if injured, but he does say it’s a lot harder to mend oneself than others. I think he says that to Mira after she punches his face. Which would explain why Naolin had to draw power, not from Brennan, but another source (the ground) to give to Brennan so he can mend himself.

    1. Hi Kat, you are right. We just know that Naolin’s death almost killed Tairn. We can assume he’s dead but of course, there’s always an if now in Empyrean world. That rune is going to be something BIG. I can honestly already see it being a huge reveal. But I have to say, everyone in Tyrrendor knows runes very well. So if he were some sort of venin, The Assembly would know right? So why keep him close?
      Is it because Brennan is a strategist and they get some info from venin (because hive mind?).

      I often wonder if Tairn did have something to do with killing Naolin. But I just cannot imagine it. I wonder if Sgaeyl killed him when he turned. Now that would be a fun plot twist. Sgaeyl killed Naolin when he turned venin or something and now Sgaeyl knows it’s Tairn turn to kill Xaden (but he can’t because Violet would never forgive him). Would love this drama to be fair.
      Btw, I also think Varrish was venin and I will die on that hill. I wanted to write a whole theory about it. And I’m not sure Aetos is venin. That would be mad, but there’s something going on with Cat (Dain’s dragon) and her horrible mouth. So maybe daddy is venin? But what would that have to do with Cat?

      YES! So I was thinking yesterday after writing the theory, that we don’t actually know how siphions work. As far as we’re concerned, they draw energy from various sources and distribute it. But they do not actually take signets. Just energy. Think of them like “good vampires” whereas venin are “bad vampires”. I say good vampires simply because they can also distribute energy and they are manifesting via dragon. But their signet is very similar to that of a venin…to take. But nobody ever said anything about taking signets. So indeed, he couldn’t have siphoned Brennan’s signet technically right? He could have only siphoned energy from Brennan. Which would have been pointless. Which means that Naolin siphoned from all sort of sources around and gave all that to Brennan. But still, Sloane didn’t die or was near burn out when she literally took ALL the power from Lilith and put it in the stone. The way I see it is that siphons are like conductors. So I wonder if he didn’t have a source of power apart from Tairn and 1) died of burn out by trying to produce the energy needed for Brennan himself 2) reached for the ground (oh uh)

  4. Hi Cory,

    Love this topic.
    When Lilith died, Sloane siphoned her energy and Aimsir’s.
    Violet said that Brennan was killed by a Fen Riorson’s arrow in his chest, according to battlefield reports.

    It could be false, but if that really happened, Brennan really died, and he was really resurrected from the dead—Colonel Aisereigh, Tyrrish for resurrected.

    I think Tairn can’t stop or deny the access of power to Violet, he just can decide when to start channeling. Since that moment, he can’t close, pause, or control the flow; that’s up to Violet.

    So maybe Naolin used his full energy and a lot of Tairn’s to resurrect Brennan—so maybe this is the reason why Sgaeyl hates him. Think of it like a heart transplant; Brennan now has Naolin and Tairn’s life energy in himself, and Tairn surely didn’t agree at the moment.

    The rune in his hand, one capable of resurrecting a person, I just can connect this with Colonel Mairi, someone who died with the same goal that now Brennan has—the revolution, and the one who made protection stone runes for the 107 marked ones.

    Kaori said to Violet in FW Chapter 8:
    “Sometimes it’s hard for a rider with a signet that powerful to accept his limits. After all, bonding makes you a rider, but resurrecting from the dead? Now, that makes you a god.”

    Tairn said to Violet in FW Chapter 37:
    “I will not watch another rider die because they do not know their own limitations.”
    Then Violet said, “I know exactly what I’m capable of; I’m not Naolin.”

    This is also in IF Chapter 44:
    Violet: “You know I can’t wield with one hand, right?”
    Tairn: “You don’t need me to tell you your limits.”
    I think this is a sign that Tairn trusts Violet in that field—he trusts his rider. (although she almost killed herself in the end.)

    There’s also this in IF Chapter 64:
    “You shouldn’t have to lose two riders this way.”
    Forcing my eyes open, I satre at the pattern of rock beneath my fingers, and I get it. I finally understand why someone would turn to stealing magic. All of the power in the world is beneath my fingertips, and if I channel, if I take from the earth instead of from Tairn, I’ll have enough power to save—
    “You must save yourself,” Tairn demands. “I chose you not as my next, but as my last, and should you fall, then I will follow.”


    Let’s analyze that last scene.

    Violet was imbuing the wardstone and she didn’t want to use Tairn’s power to save everyone—her family, Basgiath, Navarre. She wanted a way to save sacrifice only herself, to prevent the death chain: Tairn-Sgaeyl-Xaden, so she looked to the ground and almost become venin.

    BUT then, Tairn agreed to die with her, something that he didn’t do with Naolin. He wanted to resurrect his friend—or lover, and she wanted to save all —Navarre, Dragonkind, the Emperyan. He interrupted that train of ideas just by saying that.

    And the last thing that prevented Violet becoming venin or dying was General Sorrengail’s boot in her shoulder to kick her.


    So now I’d like to analyze the resurrection of the wardstone and Brennan.

    So both of them have runes—he has one in his hand.
    Both of them need it to be imbued:

    For the wardstone, it took Lilith and Aimsir’s power—a rider and her dragon.
    For Brennan, it only took Naolin’s power—life?

    This is what Lilith says to Violet in that chapter:
    “As soon as my power—Aimsir’s power—lives within the stone, fire it.”

    Tairn is alive, and that’s one of two proofs to say that Naolin didn’t did the my-life-for-your-life. So I agree with the theory that he reached to the ground and channeled energy to Brennan, maybe having the same pressure as Violet in the IF final.

    Maybe that’s the real reason why Brennan is fighting against venin —or maybe he’s supporting boy-friend?

    (I’d insert the theory of the 3 siblings on the fable: the dragon rider who commanded the sky, the gryphon flier and the jealous venin.

    Dragon rider is Violet.
    Gryphon flier could be Mira, there’s a hint of Captain Drake Cordella, a dragon flier, being a future lover in the next book. He’s on the front line, and Mira can now use her signet outside the wards.
    So there’s only Brennan and the venin.)

    There’s another of my long comments, haha sorry for that, where I say that Markham could be a venin or the real final boss. In Violet’s dreams, the Sage seems to talk to her as a disappointed mentor, something that reflects with Markham.
    —Markham became her mentor after Violet’s dad died.
    —Lilith said that Markham wanted to control her.
    —The most powerful person in Navarre, according to Violet, is the one with all the information. Not the king, not the commander of all Navarre’s forces, but the Curator of the Scribes, the man in charge of the Archives, the most complete library.
    —Violet in IF Chapter 25: “Suddenly, I feel fifteen again, my self-worth determined by this man’s opinion of my intellect and control.” “You think only riders can be vicious? Words are just as capable of eviscerating someone as a blade, and he’s a master.”
    —There’s the detail that even scribes could be the General of the Armies until hundred years ago with the second Krovlan upring—mentioned as the subject of Violet’s dad unfinished investigation by Aetos. [He seems to had said something related with feathertails, who never leave the Vale due to the reason that they’re really hatchlings. Krovlan is in the border, so maybe it was something for the alloy that kills venin, which is made by dragon eggshells. And maybe this is the reason why he was probably killed.]

    My point is that Brennan took “Markham’s position” in Brief. Violet said it in IF Chapter 38.


    The second proof:

    Violet said this to Mira in FW Chapter 23:

    (Talking about Sgaeyl) “Her last rider died almost fifty years ago, and far as I know, she flew wherever and whenever she wanted to be near Tairn before Naolin died in Tyrrendor.”

    So she was probably present in Aretia during the battle where Brennan died and the moment Naolin resurrected him. And if she wasn’t present, she surely saw everything through the bond.

    In the last chapter of Iron Flame,
    Sgaeyl recognized the moment he was about to turn:
    “The slush beneath my palm melts, and I feel… There’s something beneath me. A steady flow of unmistakable… power.
    “You cannot!” Sgaeyl shrieks. “I chose you!””

    She detected the moment, like Tairn, but he said more words to Violet. Sgaeyl even demanded that he hold the general, but he didn’t have the power. Wyberns were tearing at Sgaeyl and Tairn was picking them off; MOM was BUSY.

    Never mind, Sgaeyl detected the moment, as if she had seen a bonded rider turning venin—Naolin? Xaden said that after he turned, Sgaeyl became eerily silent. Maybe like Tairn not showing himself after 5 years, also not getting out of the Vale?

    You, Cory, said something that gave me goosebumps in a previous comment reply!

    “Sgaeyl killed Naolin when he turned venin or something and now Sgaeyl knows it’s Tairn turn to kill Xaden.”

    I’ll always think that the dragons are the dragonifications of the parents that they needed.

    Violet needed a parent who could’ve believed in her to do great things—his father said that her path was to become a scribe when she was little, not a dragon rider when she asked him, and a parent capable of making her feel proud of herself—enough, not a disappointment or a risk for their sterling reputation—her mom in both books?

    Both Tairn and Andarna are proud of Violet, and they believe in her.

    Xaden had an absent father; he was always into revolution matters, and his mother left him when he was 10 years old.

    Sgaeyl is a present soul in his life; we haven’t interacted with her a lot, and she hasn’t had lots of dialogues like the other characters. But Xaden talks to Tairn with confidence, breaking the dragon cardinal rule, so this could mean that he feels secure that Sgaeyl won’t let him kill him. [Violet knows her limitations and avoids talking with Sgaeyl.]

    I’m sure that she will defend his rider like a good mother—with claws.

    Xaden to Violet talking about the manifestation of the inntinnsic signet in IF Chapter 58:
    “She (Sgaeyl) made me promise not to tell anyone. She thinks anyone who knows will have me killed—or use me as a weapon.”

    And she didn’t even tell her mate; she betrayed Tairn.

    So what I can see is that Tairn will want to kill Xaden, knowing that he could demonize Sgaeyl and kill her, just like Barlowe killed Baide to take down the wards.

    Sgaeyl and Violet will oppose; they’ll try to find a cure using the serum and ask him time. But Xaden would eventually lose control, turning venin. And if Tairn can’t scorch him after that…

    Well, it will be Andarna’s time to shine and scorch him to the ground.

    1. Hi Diana, I’m a bit behind with replying to a couple of your comments. So here I am!

      Let’s dive it.

      >> I agree, the rider is in control. As we learn from the mountain when Violet is almost burning out. He tells her to close the connection mentally. Tairn cannot do it. But that also means that Aimsir didn’t die, right? Just Lilith.
      Interesting thought about the rune. I think it’s something sinister.

      >> Tairn does trust Violet is quite clear. I love that energy between the two of them.

      He interrupted that train of ideas just by saying that.
      >> I think he played on Violet’s weakness. Because he knew, that Violet would not accept him dying…

      “As soon as my power—Aimsir’s power—lives within the stone, fire it.”
      >> Ok, so we do think Aimsir is dead then. And he indeed sacrificed himself. But Tairn didn’t in which case he would have needed “more” hence why he would have reached for the ground…

      Dragon rider is Violet.
      Gryphon flier could be Mira, there’s a hint of Captain Drake Cordella, a dragon flier, being a future lover in the next book. He’s on the front line, and Mira can now use her signet outside the wards.
      So there’s only Brennan and the venin.)
      >> Altho there is a new theory flying here somewhere that maybe Mira is someone else’s daughter. Brennan and Violet are siblings. But maybe Mira is just a half sibling…

      There’s another of my long comments, haha sorry for that, where I say that Markham could be a venin or the real final boss.
      >> Oh I am so glad you said this. I’m half way through my theory that Markham is actually the big venin boss!!! Becuase of the parallells.

      My point is that Brennan took “Markham’s position” in Brief. Violet said it in IF Chapter 38.
      >> he did, but hopefully for the “good” of the people.

      And if she wasn’t present, she surely saw everything through the bond.
      >> Def! I think Sgaeyl didn’t like Brennan from the start. But it feels like Sgaeyl is a fairly good judge of character. Especially when it comes to Violet. So we ought to trust her that Brennan is somehow not…great.

      “Sgaeyl killed Naolin when he turned venin or something and now Sgaeyl knows it’s Tairn turn to kill Xaden.”
      >> Ha, I said that Tairn killed his own rider. Or maybe indeed, Sgaeyl killed Naolin before draining Tairn entirely, you know…

      And she didn’t even tell her mate; she betrayed Tairn.
      >> And I think it’s going to be so difficult now, that Xaden puts everyone in danger.

      So what I can see is that Tairn will want to kill Xaden, knowing that he could demonize Sgaeyl and kill her, just like Barlowe killed Baide to take down the wards.
      >> I think so too. Especially to protect his babies…

      1. I think there is a connection between the Brannan and his father that saved his life. As we know, Brenna was shot with an arrow to the chest and his father’s heart troubles began after Brennan’s “death”. It cannot be coincidence and maybe the rune on his hand mixed in with the unknown of how did he actually survived, has something to do with it.

        1. Oh I like where you are going with this one!

    2. It would be a true heartbreaker / conundrum should Xaden’s mother turn up as General Venin. I have my suspicions…

  5. I didn’t know where to put this theory. But seeing as it concerns Brennan, I’ve opted for here!

    Where did the wyvern come from though ? We know they obviously existed before the great war and beyond, but no one had heard or seen of wyvern for centuries pre Resson? (I think im right, please me let me know if this is a mistake). Here we go Pg 12 of Iron Flame ‘And the wyvern?’ [Violet asks Brennan] ‘We’ve known about them for a few months, but none of the cadets did’.

    So where were they for the last 600 years? We know they are animated by an onyx rune, and we assume that body is completely created by the dark weilder.

    But what if they are reanimating dragon carcasses ? We know there are different ‘breeds’ so to speak. With the different colour of flames. What if it depends on what dragon its been created from? Like maybe they’ve taken over the old hatching grounds from pre unification? Or maybe even gryphons. Maybe that’s why they went for Zolya.

    When Violet and Xaden face the hoard just after the first attempt to raise the wards in Aretia, Violet points out some have holes in their wings, like they havnt even finished forming yet. What if these are old battle wounds ? Or maybe they are just trying to create wyvern so quickly theyre messing up the runes a little ? Pg 525 of IF ‘ their scales dull and gray, holes peppered throughout their wings as though they hadnt quite finished forming’.

    Here’s where I go out on a limb a little.

    Brennan dies during the rebellion. Crossbow bolt to the chest. Okay. And he’s saved. Maybe by Naolin turning venin, maybe not. But what if when he saved him, Brennan couldn’t return to his body because his soul had left it? And the body had died. And the only way to allow Brennan to return to his body was to ‘reanimate’ it as it were, with the help of a rune…. the rune that now marks him palm.

    A rune which im thinking, is the same one we are now seeing carved in onyx left behind inside the bodies of dead wyvern.

    And who do we know that was good with Runes ? Liam and Sloanes mother. Who we know was still around when Brennan was healed/ died because she made the protection runes for the rebellions leaders children ?

    What if she is the one who ‘leaked’ for want of a better word, the knowledge of how to crate wyvern? It seemed like it was a lost knowledge, that has now very much been reclaimed. How the Dark Weilders found out about it I dont know. Depending on how much you trust Brennan, maybe the knowledge even went through him, or if Noalin did turn venin… maybe that? Or even a corrupted dragon. But either way. Wyvern weren’t a thing – Brennan dies and returns to hid body, gains a lovely new relic on his palm, and wyvern return.

    Heres where my theory flounders a bit, and im hoping someone might be able to explain this bit away for me, and save it.

    If the wyvern can’t survive inside the wards (unlike dark weilders/ venin which we now know can) how did Brennan survive the shoddy wards at Aretia, when the inital wyvern didn’t survive but collapsed just inside the ward line, and then again when the wards are restored at Basgiath?

    He refused to fly for Basgiath when the wards were up, and I just thought he was being selfish, but then I thought, was it because he knew he’d die as soon as he entered the wards ? But the wards went back up and he’s still alive/animated.

    [Oooh, pg 525 of IF, when the first Wyvern goes through the wards ‘the wyverns wings and head sag, and its body follows suit – as though someone plucked out its life force’. Tairn then says ‘it’s hearbeat ceased’ so we can assume, yes it died or ran out of magic.

    BUT then pg 540, when Violet and Mira go to investigate the carcassss after returning from Cordyn, ‘ oh shit, is this why wyvern have suddenly reappeared? Did someone give the venin runes? As if the stone has called to its partner, the carcass twenty feet away shudders, and our heads whip towards the giant, golden eye that blinks open’.

    So maybe the reason Brennan is okay behind the wards is because it just takes someone alive, or who maybe who has magic, to sort of, power up, the runes and then he’s fine after that? Its a bit of a leap but, maybe something like that.

    (Also, I thought the point about the wyvern having golden eyes is very interesting. Dont dragons have golden eyes ?) Maybe they really are reanimated dragons.

    Anyway, maybe his rune is slightly different then the wyverns ? Maybe Mummy Mairi is better at runes and somehow Brennans is capable of keeping him alive within the wards ? Or because he was already inside the wards natural boundary when they went up?

    But we know from Pg 15 of Iron Flame, when he tells Violet there is a second wardstone, and she starts talking about finding the evidence to create the wards, he really strongly discourages her, inisting that creating enough daggers is the only way to win the war. But what harm would there be in looking for a way to raise the wards ? Especially if it could protect so many people? Unless he already thinks he wont be able to stay in Aretia if the wards go up?

    Anyway – sorry if this is a repeat theory ! This site is so popular im struggling to keep up with all the amazing comments and theories !

    Im looking forward to your view on this !

    1. I didn’t know where to put this theory. But seeing as it concerns Brennan, I’ve opted for here!

      Where did the wyvern come from though ?
      >> That is correct. They existed in the past because they were in the Fables. At Resson, nobody knew. Tairn said he suspected but didn’t know for sure. Violet told them about wyvern but nobody knew. Mira said she could have sworn there was a riot of dragons across the borders. So yeah, new fabrications. My understanding is that something killed off venin 600 years ago during the Great War. Including the wyvern. After the Great War there was a shift in power, division of the continent and eventually the unification of all provinces.
      In IF we learn that much was lost because of this unification. Lost languages, traditions (like runes).
      We also have reason to believe that venin came back 200 years after the Great War. At least this is my understanding? Poromiel and Navarre have been at war for the last 400 years. Why else would fliers need to attack Navarre if not for weapons? So this leads me to believe that venin returned after around 200 years? (maybe?) But runes have been lost. Books have been altered. Only some Tyrrish people kept them and continued to use them. But indeed…not venin, which is strange. It feels like a relatively “new addition” for them.

      Edit to add: The first known gryphon attack occurred in 1 AU (After Unification) near what is now the trading post of Resson. At the edge of the dragon-protected border, the post has always been vulnerable to attack and, over the course of the past six centuries, has changed hands no less than eleven times in what has become a never-ending war to secure our borders from our power-hungry enemies.
      Did venin ever disappear? Given that fliers attacked for weapons pretty much…immediately after they closed their borders?

      But what if they are reanimating dragon carcasses?
      >> I see what you mean. So they are not new wyvern. They are old, reanimated. I like the idea. But where did the carcasses come from? Where did they take them from? Found them? Are we thinking they found them like fossils?
      I do love this theory btw. Would you mind if I put it together as a new theory in a new article? With credit to you, of course!

      [..] his body was to ‘reanimate’ it as it were, with the help of a rune…. the rune that now marks him palm.
      >> Bloody hell, Anna this is freaking genius! It’s a crazy good theory!

      >> Re Colonel Mairi. It feels like she was so so good with runes. Indeed, it seems like she might have played a role in this. I think we will learn more about Xaden’s mum and Colonel Mairi in the coming books. And yes you are right, the timing is super suspicious. We get Brennan and wyvern? Both thought dead, both with runes…

      >> About your theory and why Brennan is still alive.
      So we know that wyverns are not fully dead inside Aretia’s wards. But you are right, how come that Brennan still is inside Navarre? Those are proper wards now, and wyvern were dropping dead.
      Could it be that Brennan didn’t lose his soul? Yet? So he still has his soul, and the rune is keeping his soul from leaving his body? Venin are souless, right? The magic corrupts them and eventually, it’s a trade off. Could wyvern be souless, long gone dragons? And indeed with the onyx rune reanimated into what Tairn called them “abominations”?
      It does feel like there is a parallel, but not fully the same between Brennan and Wyvern.

      You are right about the eyes. Corrupted dragons have hazy/opaque eyes. So why would wyvern have golden eyes?

      You are also very right about Brennan discouraging her. I remember while reading Iron Flame that he’s giving me Dain vibes. A wall of no to her growth. I get it that he is the big brother but I also felt there is more to it. And why did he change his mind in the last second for Navarre? What did he do that he could come to Navarre to survive the wards? What changed?

      I would love to put this as a main theory out there! I think it’s brilliant actually. <3

  6. Side tracked thought…

    Why did Fen kill Brennan in the first place? At what point did Brennan find out the truth and then decide to fight with the revolution? Did Fen actually kill him? They are fighting for the same side… or they are now at least.

    1. Those are all such valid questions. Basically, I understand it that Brennan was fighting for Navarre thus against Fen and his rebellion. It just happens that Fen shot Brennan. According to battle reports, we just know that Fen put an arrow in Brennan’s chest. Whether is true or not, we don’t know for sure.
      According to Brennan, he had a change of heart, right? When he saw all the venin and who is really the enemy. I believe this is what he implied in Iron Flame. So I guess, he decided to fight for the rebellion too!

      1. A change of … heart?? Right after being shot in the chest? Hmm.

        1. Powerful words RIGHT THERE. And we just know Rebecca Yarros is not messing with her words ever. So carefully chosen!

      2. Maybe he saw Naolin becoming a venin, and because of that he understood that he was fighting on the wrong side?

        1. Or that! That’s also possible!

  7. Hi there, great thread! I definitely think you will probably be right on one of these theories. I definitely think Naolin might have become venin and Tairn maybeeee killed him? But by that logic then would Sgaeyl want to try to kill Xaden?

    Side note, there are a few grammar errors in this article, if possible I would recommend fixing those 🙂

    1. Hi Kayla, thank you for your message. While I live in England, I’m not a native speaker. I strive to do my best with grammar and I use a Chrome extension for it, but sometimes…

  8. So…a thought came to me after reading this thread. We are told that siphons can drain the rider and dragon. Sloan drained General Sorrengale AND her dragon. What IF Naolin grabbed Tairn because he didn’t have anyone else to siphon and he almost drained Tairn to save Brennan. That would be the reason for Tairn saying he didn’t think he would make it too. Them maybe because Tairn was so weak that is why Naolin died?

    1. Oh wow, I haven’t considered this option! That is a very good observation!

  9. Varrish was venin. He controlled solas and was training Jack. And probably Caroline Ashton, too.

    If Naolin is the”sage/general” it explains being able to use the Tairn/sgagel xaden/violet bond to enter their tethered dreams.

    1. Varrish was venin 10000%

      1. Wasn’t it that Varrish was telling Violet that she is just a means to get Xyden, and Sage, conversely, that Xaden is a means to get Violet? Isn’t it more like there are two groups of ‘bad boys’ – one commanding the school and the other venomous?”

        1. I think we have venin everywhere. We have them in the school, leadership, but also beyond the borders!

  10. So I’ve been thinking about this theory a lot. I came up with something that has been intriguing me so let me know your thoughts. I’m wondering if Naolin was siphoning power from Tairn? We know he was a powerful siphon and Tairn has a ton of power to give. So Naolin could have been siphoning power from Tairn which was causing burnout because it was too much power at once.

    Perhaps him siphoning that much power was also starting to drain/kill Tairn. They always say that Naolin’s death almost killed Tairn. We always assume it’s because of the bond Tairn has with his rider but perhaps it’s more literal and Tairn’s power was being siphoned away. Does this mean Tairn killed Naolin to stop from dying himself? Or maybe Naolin took too much energy and burnt out and died before it could also claim Tairn’s life.

    Let me know what you think!

    1. OMG sorry for the delay, the comment got lost in the sea of comments waiting for approval. You had to wait for so long. Sorry sorry sorry.
      I do think Tairn killed his own rider actually. I also think (a reader proposed this) that maybe since Naolin saved Brennan, it could be that Brennan will die to save Xaden…

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Hello! This site is dedicated to the Empyrean Series by Rebecca Yarros. I’ve made this place to explore the rich world of Empyrean, full of characters, theories, and places. Each post is carefully researched and updated with the newest details from the series. This site is also a great spot for discussing theories about the Empyrean Series. 🐉
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