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Iron Flame Theory: Smells are crucial clues (eyes too!)

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Written by: Cory

Iron Flame Theory: Smells are very important clues, the same as the colours of the eyes

Have you noticed how much emphasis there is on Violet smelling things? She is very olfactive, which is something I really appreciate in these books. It all starts cute and innocent with Violet telling us how much Xaden smells like mint, leather and soap. In Iron Flame, however, we’re upping this. She can smell…well everything! And I do honestly believe there is a huge significance to it.

There is the smell of sulfur which we all know is to do with dragon fire. Then she talks about smelling salts, simply because they were used to getting them ready for RSC.

Rhiannon says the water given to them smells like apple juice, whereas Violet can immediately tell that it smells the same way as the water they gave them before the land navigation exercise. Pungent, earthy and something floral she couldn’t place.

Again, she emphasizes that Xaden smells like mint and leather. And several times he smells like soap.

Then she points out that the Archives smell…”It smells like earth and metal and feels dank with humidity.” -> Please remember this because, as you will read further down, Baide’s mouth smells the same. Coincidence? Also, it’s odd because in Fourth Wing, the Archives smelled good to her “The Archives smell like parchment, book-binding glue, and ink. They smell like home.”

And then, a few pages later when they enter the Royal Archives: “The scent of damp earth is gone, and it’s considerably cooler in this room than the tunnel beyond the archway. I scour above me, but there are no windows for ventilation or any visible modifications I can see. It’s not just the wards. There’s magic in this room.”

The torture room: “It smells like wet moss and iron, and the air is cool but thick.” Odd, that is where Varrish was. But then, when Xaden appears: “Leather and mint overpower the iron-and-moss scent of the cell”.

But then we are in the library in Aretia: “We walk into the library, and I breathe in deeply. The scent in the two- story room is different than the Archives. Parchment and ink still smell the same, but there’s no earthy undertones because we’re aboveground, with light streaming in through the windows.” But is it because they are aboveground? Or is that dank smell from the Archives a clue that maybe some scribes are not…who we think they are?

Then they are in the caves, where Solas is. The same damp smell as Baide’s breath: “I rest my hand over my stomach as if that will help the instant rise of nausea from the smell of earth around us. At least it’s missing that damp scent from the interrogation chamber, but it’s close enough to make me pause.”

As they descend the the spiral staircase in the northwest turret, her breath catches at the scent of earth. “It smells like the interrogation chamber.” Interesting, that it smells like that just before meeting Jack Barlowe, who is there.

She really does have an acute sense of smell: “And I assume you’ve brought us out here to see me wield before you open yourself to discussion?” I ask as the thick, rain-scented wind blows my hair back. We’re minutes, if not less, from a downpour.

Not sure this is relevant. But good smells seem to evoke safety: “The house has the same scent as most of the barracks in Riorson House—newly cut wood and a faint hint of stain.” […]“Thanks.” I take the mug and lift it to my face, breathing in the comforting scent before drinking.

Another place that smells like Varrish and interestingly enough, is where Brennan is. I do have a theory about Brennan
“Taking the spiral steps at breakneck speed has me dizzy when I reach the bottom of the southwest tower, and I don’t waste my gasped breaths on our first-years standing guard at the doorway as I sprint through, into the tunnel that smells like Varrish and pain.”

But then, she’s thinking of good scents. Xaden who is mint and leather. I think Lilith who is rain and thunderstorms. And dad, who is books. Xaden, and the scent of thunderstorms, and books. That’s all I let in as I force my way through the passage.”

This might be wild but, are you seeing a pattern too? Liam had farsight, can Violet have a hyper acute sense of smell? Like, can she smell people’s signets or “their soul” so to speak? Can this be Violet’s second signet? A type of inntinnsic but with…smells? It feels like bad smells throw her off balance. Good smells seem to ground her. It doesn’t seem too powerful of a signet, though, as there are many others that would seem a lot more useful. After all, can’t everyone smell dragons’ bad breath? We don’t know, can they?

Bad smells – Venin / Dark Wielders

We all know that nature like all things in balance, right? Well, venin is siphoning all magic from the land. Instead of getting more powerful, these creatures are rotting, decaying.

I first started thinking about this a few months ago when we got to read some excerpts from Iron Flame. Do you remember? That was the first time we saw a mention of Cath, Dain’s dragon having really bad smell.

Dain really needs to check Cath’s teeth, because there has to be a bone stuck in there decaying or something.”

Alright, I thought this was odd. I thought about it over and over, but there was no reason to believe that Dain has anything to do with venin. But then, this is a reoccurring theme with bad dragon breath. And I’m not the only one who noticed. There is a lady on TikTok called Lucies Library who also pointed this out. When they are having their first land exercise, Violet does note the same bad smell coming from Baide. As we now know, Baide was controlled by Jack Barlow because he was venin.

“There are a few muffled cries from the infantry cadets as she exhales a dank huff of steam, then breathes in again when directly in front of me.”

Coincidence? Maybe. But then we have Solas with his really bad breath. And he smells of stolen magic!!! And yes, I do have a theory that Varris was venin too.

“No. They smell of stolen magic when you get close enough.
Fetid breath fills the air a second before he curls his tongue, and his throat glows orange with rising fire.

But then, the wyvern have horrible rotten teeth, unlike dragons. And well, they are controlled by venin. You’re starting to see this, right?

“Yes!” I shout as the creature tumbles from the sky, but my joy is short-lived as its counterpart, complete with dark wielder, surges forward, opening its jaws to reveal rotten teeth and a green glow in its throat. “Tairn!”

Also colours seem to matter too

You know how red signified venin? Well I think dragons’ eyes change too when corrupted or influenced.

Baide swivels her head, then opens her mouth and curls her tongue, and I chance a quick glance, catching her hazy golden eyes.”

Then at the end of Iron Flame: “Get out of there!” Tairn orders as Baide lowers her head, and I get a single glimpse of her eyes—opaque instead of golden—before Mom charges toward her nose, lifting her sword to swing.

Is Dain venin or some sort of dark wielder?

Difficult to say to be fair. In Fourth Wing, we get Dain so worried about Violet, but then he betrays her. As we all know, he did have his redemption arc in Iron Flame when he decided to save Violet and attack Varrish. Now Dain has been trained by Varrish himself and probably his own dad, Colonel Aetos. There are all the possibilities that Xaden read him wrong, and Dain faked his own intentions. Although, this does seem a little far-fetched…for now.

But check this out, as they arrive to Aretia, there is a moment when it’s pointed out that Cath vouched for Aetos.

“I also brought you four professors, and it’s not like you’re without your share of knowledge,” Xaden replies. “I’ve already questioned the scribes. They can be trusted, and Cath vouches for Aetos.

It just seems very interesting to point out. Now it can be seen two ways. Xaden needed to say something to not give away his own secret signet, or indeed Cath did vouch for Dain. But Cath is corrupted. We know that for a fact.

Could it be that Cath is too close to dark wielders so that’s why she is getting the bad breath? Because Dain is too close to Varrish and his own dad, always training with them? Could it be that Cath is being influenced by the way of Varrish and Colonel Aetos?

Do I think Dain is venin? No, not really. Because when he is trying to stop Jack, Dain gets marked by Jack. I have this feeling that he wouldn’t have got that grey mark if he himself were venin. He also seems to actively participate in stopping the dark wielders and he doesn’t lead Violet astray. Again, we don’t have enough evidence to say that Dain is venin. But everything could be rapidly twisted around.

Again, Dain really does seem to help. Is he undercover venin like his dad and his dad’s pal Varrish? Maybe…: “That complicates things. Dark wielders know exactly where we are because, according to Barlowe’s memories, he planted lures all over the college and up the path to the Vale.”

What about dark wielders and their smell then?

I’m so glad you asked. Because it’s also relevant, I think. Again, let’s go back to the land exercise when they are being given the antidote to the signet blocking elixir.

“I uncork and drink, tasting something sweet and hard to place as I drain it.”

Why is this relevant? Because when we’re having those dreams with The General Venin, she can also smell something sweet:

“The rest turn for the power,” he whispers, coming so close I can smell a hint of something sweet on his breath.

It seems to me that his breath smelled the same way as the antidote given to Violet and the rest of the signet blocking elixir. Coincidence? I think NOT.

What about really white teeth?

We all know that dragons and wyvern have decaying breath and teeth. But what about riders / venin? Not much is known about them at the moment. It feels like it’s only the creatures they influence have bad breath. But in contrast, I did think I should note that only two people are being mentioned to have white teeth.

In Fourth Wing: The curtain whips back and Nolon walks in, leaning heavily on his cane. He smiles at his wife, his bright white teeth contrasting his brown skin. “You sent for me, my—”

In Iron Flame (re Tecarus): “We are.” He flashes impossibly white teeth as he smiles at me, etching deep lines into his forehead and at the edges of his eyes. “But it’s you I am most curious about, Violet.”

Alright, this has been…difficult to put together. As I have to go back and forth between the books…a lot. But I enjoyed every single minute of it. What do you think? I am really excited about this one. So I really can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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43 responses to “Iron Flame Theory: Smells are crucial clues (eyes too!)”

  1. If it’s not a second signet, it could be a habit. Like, her father taught Brennan and Violet about poisons; I can believe if he showed them how to detect other poisons to be careful.

    Just because it’s normal to die in the rider’s quadrant doesn’t mean that they can’t die in the other ones. Violet was educated to be a scribe, and I could believe if the most common way to die in the scribe’s quadrant was with poison.

    Being the star student of Markham could’ve attracted jealousy between her classmates(?), not letting her have real and trustworthy friends like her actual squad. I also have the theory that Markham killed Violet’s dad with a very ingenious and slow poison.

    So I believe that being very olfactive is a scribe thing.


    With the eyes’ topic, just to add.

    Xaden has gold-flecked onyx eyes.

    What else is mentioned as being onyx?
    In IF Chapter 57, when Violet and Mira opened a wybern:
    “Mira draws back a polished chunk of what appears to be onyx, marked with a complex rune.”

    (What if it was a hint from Rebecca to warn us of the end?)
    Ugh, there’s also this quote in FW Chapter 36.
    “For there, in the land beyond the SHADOWS, were monsters that dwelled in the night and dined on the souls of children who wandered too close to the woods.”
    —”The Wybern’s Cry,” The Fables of The Barren.


    I think Dain was just drained, just like Violet could have been when her mother was pregnant during the possible attack of a venin.


    A little out of topic:

    Violet is very good with daggers; I don’t know if she started to learn in the six months before her conscription day. Mira is also very good with daggers, and she aims without even seeing the target, just like Violet—before destroying her bedroom with Xaden in FW.

    And she hadn’t seen Mira in years before that. So, maybe she practiced a great part of her life just to defend herself against jealous scribes or vengeful people who’d like to kill her just because she’s the general’s daughter.

    She was always in the woods with Dain, a future dragon rider, and Mira, a gifted dragon rider, was her sister.

    1. Good catch with the eyes and the object marked with a complex rune. And I just added that bit to the wiki “For there, in the land beyond the SHADOWS, were monsters that dwelled in the night and dined on the souls of children who wandered too close to the woods.”
      —”The Wybern’s Cry,” The Fables of The Barren. On the actual Fables page! But until you pointed it out, I didn’t catch the shadows…because OMG! The freaking shadows! This is terrifying. Oh, book 3 is going to be legendary isn’t it?

      What’s your take on Dain? I’m really confused about his dragon having the same issues as the corrupted ones. What the hell is decaying about Cath? I’m so so confused about it! Is Dain some sort of venin?

      Because check this out:
      Fans said they don’t want a Tamlin situation. Rebecca said not all writers are Sarah J Mass. Noted.
      But then, in a weird kinda way, she goes and does a Tamlin situation. He loves Violet, he wants Violet for himself, he goes on to protect Violet and not allow her to grow. He’s angry when Violet picks shadow daddy and basically “sends her to die”. Then we get the redemption arc and he saves Violet. Sorry, but so far, it’s Tamlin 101. Dude loves Violet and didn’t do anything wrong towards Violet. The only thing is, we won’t be leaving it at this. I think we will turn Dain into a nasty ass villain somehow. Maybe.

      1. Well… Luckily, I’ve read ACOTAR more than twice. Dain is better than Tamlin, and at least for me that’s what I think.

        ACOTAR is based on the Beauty and the Beast.
        While ACOMAF is based on Hades and Persephone.

        This starts with Tamlin’s relationship with Amarantha:

        Amarantha’s sister loved a human, a human who killed her.
        Amarantha knew Tamlin since childhood, and she grew desire for him—that’s pedophilia. So he was wary of her.
        Amarantha carved Lucien’s eye —his friend’s eye—out with her fingernail. That made Tamlin sick.
        Amarantha asked Tamlin to join her as her lover and consort, but refuse to let her near and said “he would sooner take a human to his bed, sooner marry a woman, than ever touch her.”
        Alis said this to Feyre in ACOTAR Chapter 32: “She said he had 7 times 7 years before she claimed him, before he had to join her Under The Mountain. If he wanted to break her curse, he need only find a human girl willing to marry him. But not any girl—a human girl willing to kill a faerie. Worse, the faerie she killed had to be one of his men, sent across the wall by him like lambs to slaughter. The girl could only be brought here to be courted if she killed one of his men in an unprovoked attack—killed him for hatred alone, just as Jurian had done to Clythia so he could understand her sister’s pain.”

        So, Tamlin sent one of his men across the wall every day, for two years til he had only 12 men left. So he stopped til Winter of the 48th year sent the last of his men out, and Feyre killed a wolf: Andras.

        So everything that we read in ACOTAR, everything of the love story between Feyre and Tamlin, it was basically written by Amarantha and her words of the curse. It wasn’t love.

        In ACOMAF, Feyre said to Rhys: “I’m thinking that I was a lonely, hopeless person, and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety. And I’m thinking maybe he knew that—maybe not actively, but maybe he wanted to be that person for someone.”

        The bastard didn’t help Feyre in UTM, and Rhys said this in ACOMAF: “And that last night, when I found you two in the hall, I was jealous. I was jealous of him, and pissed off that he’d used that one shot of being unnoticed not to get you out, but to be with you.”

        Tamlin’s parents were mates, and he was hoping that eventually the bond would appear.
        He was so worried on the looks of his court and become overprotective, ignoring the fact that she needed him emotionally. Feyre was used as a toy, jailed, tortured, killed, and he just jailed her again. Plus, Ianthe.

        Tamlin destroyed a room just because he was angry, he isolated her, he didn’t want to train her new magic. And I remember that Rhys said if he didn’t use his magic, he could explode eventually. So that’s why she exploded before Mor came for her.

        Like, I think I remember in Calanmai he literally had to fuck another woman in a cave while Feyre was in his house. He also made the mistake of making the deal with the King of Hybern, Ianthe told him about her sisters, and then he made them faerie. BUT IANTHE WAS STILL IN ACOWAR.

        I think he also called Feyre a bitch in ACOWAR in front of the 7 High Lords for destroying his court and becoming Rhy’s High Lady.

        And his redemption arc was helping her escape from a Hybern camp. (just that?)

        Dain in the other hand is the overprotective friend of childhood. We can justify him, Violet’s joints were popping out from time to time, and they could always go to Nolan. Dain saw lots of squadmates die when he was a first-year, he didn’t want to see Violet die. In IF, Aretian cadets started to listen their sibling names in the death roll. Family and other cadets are different levels. Violet was like family to Dain.

        Ofc, he should’ve helped train, but he also worried about the looks. Rhys helped Feyre in a lot of ways, just as Xaden did with Violet.

        Both Dain and Tamlin wanted the protagonist to escape, both didn’t help her, both care about the looks. But but but…

        Dain loves Violet, Tamlin never loved Feyre.
        Dain let her go with Xaden, he accepted that she chose him, and then her mom sent his dad to a coastal outpost, but he never reproached that. Tamlin became aggressive after the wedding and called her a bitch in front of the 7 High Lords, he never listened to Feyre, he always thought that Feyre was dumb and that he was correct.
        Dain rejected twice to help Varrish. He finally listened to her when he told her “no”, and he helped to get her out, betraying his principles, his dad, Navarre, the Codex, the rules, going with the 200 hundred dragon riot. He helped to break Basgiath, to be part of the revolution.
        Dain and Xaden started to work together for the wardstone.
        Tamlin and Rhysand were never in the same page after Tamlin’s father killed Rhy’s mother and sister.
        Violet and Dain talked while traducing Warrick’s journal, they passed the page and ended a cycle.
        Tamlin did a distraction so Feyre and Azriel could escape with Elain. That was all the redemption arc. Dain made a mistake by telling his father about Athebyne, but he came back, supporting Violet in every way he could.
        —Imbuing the wardstone.
        —Going to Basgiath to defend Navarre, just 50 Aretian cadets came.
        —Using his signet to see Jack’s memories, he probably pass all night looking for the lures with infantry while other riders were asleep.
        —And he was drained, Jack took him by the arms. Maybe now he’s going to lack strength in that part of his body, or maybe he now is like Violet.

        Dain is 100% not a Tamlin 2.0 for me. FW Dain was similar to ACOMAF Tamlin, but he was never aggressive or possessive. IF Dain was great for me, he learned his limits with Violet, accepted Xaden in her life and that rules need to be broken sometimes. Tamlin never learned anything and never saw Feyre as her equal.

        But yeah, Cath’s teeth. Hope she’s not being demonized, it’ll awful if he’s part of the venin party too. Everyone is a possible venin at this point.

        This was fun, let’s compare Xaden and Rhysand next time haha

        1. Wait wait, woah! I only read it once so your analysis is waaaaay better here. Let’s see!
          Acotar is a bit messed up isn’t it? Based on your summary, I’m like wait WHAT? Oh yeah, I remember that, ugh! I’m sure you can tell, it was not my favourite book. (Sorry!)

          Dain loves Violet, Tamlin never loved Feyre.
          >> I can agree with this!

          Dain let her go with Xaden, he accepted that she chose him, and then her mom sent his dad to a coastal outpost, but he never reproached that. Tamlin became aggressive after the wedding and called her a bitch in front of the 7 High Lords, he never listened to Feyre, he always thought that Feyre was dumb and that he was correct.
          >> I mean yes, but also Tamlin is a wreched old fae, whereas Dain is just a 21 years old kid.

          Dain rejected twice to help Varrish. He finally listened to her when he told her “no”, and he helped to get her out, betraying his principles, his dad, Navarre, the Codex, the rules, going with the 200 hundred dragon riot. He helped to break Basgiath, to be part of the revolution.
          Dain and Xaden started to work together for the wardstone.
          >> I agree with this. This is his redemption arc. A good one as well.

          Violet and Dain talked while traducing Warrick’s journal, they passed the page and ended a cycle.
          Tamlin did a distraction so Feyre and Azriel could escape with Elain. That was all the redemption arc. Dain made a mistake by telling his father about Athebyne, but he came back, supporting Violet in every way he could.
          FW Dain was similar to ACOMAF Tamlin, but he was never aggressive or possessive.
          >> I think he was a little possesive (and overprotective) but no, he was not aggressive at any point. He wanted what was best for his friend.

          But yeah, Cath’s teeth. Hope she’s not being demonized, it’ll awful if he’s part of the venin party too. Everyone is a possible venin at this point.
          >> I just mentioned in another comment that indeed apart from a handful of people, almost everyone could be venin at this point!

          This was fun, let’s compare Xaden and Rhysand next time haha
          >> This was a LOT of fun to read. Now, my friend LOVES Rhys. But to me, he’s got nothing on Shaddow Daddy Xaden <3
          Also Rebecca herself said that Xaden is no Rhys. Xaden is 23 and not some thousand-year-old man. haha

          1. I think I prefer Rhys over Xaden. I feel like Sarah’s strength in ACOTAR is the love story of Feyre and Rhys, while Rebecca’s in FW is the world-building and the military war.

            ACOMAF is a masterpiece for me because it is a story that started in ACOTAR, and they explore a healing journey after UTM trauma. Mates are equals, and there’s also the theory that Rhys’ last name is Darling, and from the start, he called the protagonist “Feyre darling.”

            In ACOMAF, they are both healing and fighting on the same team. And it makes you realize that just because Tamlin gave her food and a roof—and recovered her father’s fortune and gave the lives of rich people to her sisters—didn’t mean that it was love.

            Feyre stopped painting after UTM, and started again thanks to Rhys, who gave her not only emotional support but confidence in herself and a family—the Inner Circle. He trained her, gave her the title of the High Lady, and respected from the start that she was in love with another man. ACOMAF gave me a very warm feeling. Rhys explains that he took the knife and tried to kill Amarantha because, from that moment on, he realized that, even though he hadn’t yet seen the bond, Feyre was his mate and that if she was going to die, he was going to die with her.

            And in Calanmai, his first phrase to her was, “there you are, I’ve been looking for you.” I just had to re-read ACOTAR from that chapter—I don’t think I’ll read Tamlin’s love story again in my life; I refuse.

            But the man was always there, wanting her to be happy. Even if it wasn’t at his side, because his parents were mates and never liked each other.

            ACOWAR is another topic; it was the last book of the saga that I read, and I expected a strategic journey with Feyre dealing with High Lady stuff and leadership things, something similar to Violet’s construction character, but it never happened.

            I also never liked her sisters. I’m not very excited to read ACOSF (Nesta’s book), honestly.

            Both Feyre and Violet are the youngest of a group of three. But Feyre had to mature to get food on the table because nobody was doing anything, and Violet always had at least a supporting sibling by her side.

            Sad thoughts:
            —In ACOTAR, Feyre only wish was to see her father arrive at the Spring Court and rescue her from the faerie.
            —[I’d already talked about this in another comment; I remember you saying you were working on something similar.] Violet is always receiving disapproving treatment from everyone—her mom, Markham, Brennan, and the only ones that feel pride and let her know it are her dragons. I feel like Violet’s only wish is to make her family proud, either as a scribe or as a dragon rider.

            When I started reading FW, I never saw a resemblance between Rhys and Xaden because in my eyes he’s more similar to Azriel.

            Azriel is a shadowsinger, Rhy’s spymaster; he was tortured and dumped into the Illyrian training camp by their family when he was eleven years old.

            Xaden is a shadow wielder, and inntinnsic; his dad was executed in front of him and Lilith cut him 107 times, and her mom abandoned him when he was 10 years old.

            Rhys was tortured by war enemies; his mother, sister, and father were killed by the Spring Court, and then he was raped by Amarantha for 49 years.

            So I see more resemblance between Xaden and Azriel.

            I mean, Rhys and Xaden have this thing of being seen by others as the villain, the bad guy, but it results in being a mask when we get to know them.

            Behind Rhys’ mask is a High Lord who dreams of a unified world—someone capable of killing and manipulating just to protect his family. And we found the City of Starlight, Velaris—an Illyrian bastard, his Inner Circle, his little home, his traumas. And bat wings.

            Behind Xaden’s is someone who wants to defend the Continent—and he has killed and manipulated for that. And we found Aretia, House Riorson—an orphan who has endured all these years to protect the marked ones and continue his father’s mission.

            But the difference in why I think Rhys is better is in the TREATMENT. I’m not a Xaden hater, really, but I’m tired emotionally of him.

            Rhys shared with Feyre his trauma; he felt he could be himself and weak with her. As I said, it was a healing journey after UTM. Eventually, Feyre started to feel ready to love again and opened her heart to Rhys.

            After Resson, Violet passes for a PSTD, Xaden tells her that she’s not the only one who has nightmares, but I don’t feel like they had talked about it. I needed a scene of Xaden mourning Liam’s death, at least a dialogue, not the only “Liam’s death was my fault, not yours.”

            Like, Sloane’s problem was really with Xaden’s decision to let him—a first-year—participate in Resson. Violet wanted to fight, but even if she didn’t want to, she had to. Because Sgaeyl would surely have continued fighting, even after Xaden died. Tairn wouldn’t have let her go alone; he would have convinced Violet the hard way or forced her—but thankfully, he chose well his rider. Without the lightning, everyone would have died and thanks to chain, the smartest thing for Violet was to fight with Xaden. BECAUSE THEY’RE A TEAM.

            Xaden acts like Violet is now his only family, forgetting he has his own “Inner Circle” like Bohdi and Garrick. Proof:
            —Expecting to hear Violet that he loves him when he doesn’t tell her that he loves her. “You love me.” “I loved you.” “No, you love me.”
            —Being reckless with the 5-day-hunting-wyberns just to throw them to Melgren’s front door.
            —TURNING VENIN.

            I feel like Violet could have gotten out of the torture chamber without Xaden; Lilith was on her way to get her out with the antidote, and Dain would have helped her get to Tairn, who could have killed everyone in her way at Daenerys Targaryen’s Drogon Style—but yeah, the riot of 200 dragons was an amazing scene. And she didn’t break—Violet is more responsible and careful with revolution matters than Xaden getting a luminary, investigating to activate the wardstone, getting scribes help, sharing the knowledge of the venin to warn, and getting 101 cadets.

            Just saying, Xaden needs to be weak with Violet and stop trying to manipulate her to think that he has a right to have his secrets. He has a right to privacy, yes, but all the secrets were giant battleaxes, not little daggers.

            His brother was alive. The venin was coming. He made a deal with her mother, who cut him 107 times—and the mf told that to Catriona, why not Violet? And why Violet never complained to that?

            He had a second signet. He also didn’t see that all of Violet’s weapons and liabilities are his, as his weapons and liabilities are hers too. What killed Solei and Liam was negligence. Violet was the only one who had read the Fables of the Barren, and the other ones were: What’s a wybern?

            She could have taught them the fable to plant the idea of the potential situation of venin draining the earth and creating wybern. I would have made a whole difference in the strategics. However, I think Fourth Wing’s Xaden’s mistakes are justifiable.

            But it seems like he didn’t learn anything for the next book and just started to treat Violet like Dain treated her. In Iron Flame, Xaden didn’t even ask her to lend him the book or to tell him the story of the rider, the flier, and the venin.

            He also expects Violet to be transparent with him, to love him unconditionally, and to be by his side no matter what—even after turning venin? Have we seen him cry once? Does he even look at Violet as an equal, or just a woman two years younger than him?

            Sometimes I think he treats her like a child, like he’s always right. Tairn says to her, in the chapter when he tells her he’s an inntinnisic, that “he thinks he’s right.”

            Maybe Sgaeyl makes him feel that all he does is okay and right, like the boy moms usually do, supporting every single good decision and justifying the bad ones.

            Tairn lectures Violet to become stronger in mind and makes her feel his pride for her. She starts to think like him in IF, a result of a year and a half being part of her training as a dragon rider. But I asked myself if Sgaeyl lectures Xaden sometimes, she seems to applaud his recklessness.

            I just need Violet to take control of the revolution matters with Tairn in the next book.

          2. I also need Violet to take control of the revolution with Tairn. It feels like they really know what they are doing. And to be fair, I kinda give credit to the author for creating the books that point to the fact that it’s the woman in here that can hold her own.
            In the scheme of Acotar and co, I actually did like Azriel a lot more than Rhys. But again, we do know that Xaden is 23, and he does act immature.
            Does he have a lot of red flags? Oh yes!
            And let me tell you. In FW, he was very alluring to me. Shadow dude, mysterious, interesting. Why didn’t he kill her by that tree? Why did he become vulnerable on the mat for her (rhetorical questions, we now know the answers). You get his POV at the end and you feel a little redeemed for all those orange/red flags within the main story.
            In Iron Flame, though? Xaden is a walking red flag. Through and through. And I suppose that’s why I don’t feel so bad for him turning the way he did at the end of the book. I’m not even surprised, shocked or on a cliff, hanging so to speak. If anything, the whole thing makes me feel bad for Violet. Because she needs to suffer. She needs to sort it out, she has to find solutions.

            So overall, I do agree with you and Xaden’s analysis 100%. Personally, I couldn’t connect with Rhys, although I do have to agree with your statement. As a character, personality etc, yeah, Rhys was a lot more forthcoming and honest.
            As a shadow bad guy tho, in books, I do prefer it when it all comes from a place of honesty and genuine interest. Have you read the Flesh and Fire? For me, I cannot imagine a better one than Nyktos.

          3. It would have made a whole difference in the strategic decisions.*

            There’s also this scene in Chapter 43 in ACOMAF, after they steal the Veritas from Mor’s father, a crystal ball to show things, in the Court of Nightmares.

            Rhys says to Feyre:
            “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let you go. Let you see that part of us. Of me.”
            “I’m fine. We knew what tonight would require of us. Please—please don’t start… protecting me. Not like that.”

            [Rhys broke all Keir’s bones after he called her a whore in Chapter 42. Rhys used to be called “Amarantha’s whore.” Feyre connects that kind of protection with a scene where Tamlin explodes with rage and almost harmed her after she begs him to let her train her powers and get out.]

            “I will never—never lock you up, force you to stay behind. But when he threatened you tonight, when he called you…”
            Feyre tells him, “You’re my friend and I understand that you’re High Lord. I understand that you will defend your true court and punish threats against it. But I don’t want you to stop telling me things—inviting me to do things because of the threats against me.”
            “I am not him; I will never be him.”

            That’s ACOMAF Tamlin’s behavior in words for me. FW Dain and IF Xaden behave like that. But still, the only aggressive person who exploded was Tamlin.


            Another thing. [I’ll just pray for Xaden to change in the next books in the good way, even though it seems otherwise.]

            There’s a thing Xaden says in Chapter 58, “Unless there’s a full inntinnsic around, no one can hear us like this.”

            A full inntinnsic?
            Xaden also said he was a type of inntinnsic. Will we see another type of inntinnsic in the other books?


            Cory, I just found something in Chapter 36, but I don’t know if it’s correct because I have an epub of Iron Flame—still waiting for my physical book.

            Violet’s supposed to not have access to Tairn, this is before she kills Varrish. So, she doesn’t have access to either Sgaeyl or Xaden.

            “Xaden shifts his grip, wripping his arm around my waist and watching my reactions. “I don’t know where I can touch you.” [tilted text, mental message, I guess]
            “That’s fine.” I promise.”

            I just want to know if it’s tilted, because if it’s tilted, the only way possible to enter her head would be using the inntinnsic signet, right?

          4. Yes it is, Diana…it freaking is in italic. How the bloody hell did I miss that? Ok, she does not have access to the bond with the dragons, but is it possible that her bond with him is not muffled? Because of the elixir?

            Xaden shifts his grip, wrapping his arm around my waist and watching my reactions. “I don’t know where I can touch you.
            “That’s fine,” I promise, gripping the alloy-hilted dagger in my right hand as my left lies uselessly at my side.

            Yes, I do think we will introduce more inntinnsics. And I will be curious to know how they managed to survive.

          5. Hello,
            I haven’t read Flesh and Fire, but they’re on my TBR!

      2. Hi Cory – sorry cutting in here. I am still wanting to give Dain the benefit of the doubt. I do think he was sincere during that conversation when he and Vi were translating. But Cath’s breath is hard to push aside, but Cath did help out with the wards at Aretia (is he that corrupted) – I am hoping it is just coincidence, but that is just me. Or it could be a close association with his father and Varrish like you said. I’m not really seeing any corruption in Dain himself (up until this moment) just someone who made a mistake. But who knows where Rebecca’s story will go. I really hope he is not going to be the villain of story – like Vi I still see the boy who climbed trees with her and was there for her when bad things happened (that 1%) – I just can’t let that part go.

        To be honest at the moment I don’t so much see Tamlin in Dain, but more Chaol, who even though he was mad at MFC for turning his world upside down/rejected for another love interest, he did everything in his power to help her – no questions asked. And he had to face the consequences/guilt of his actions that inadvertently caused the death of a character. But I guess this is more if Dain is still good at his core.

        Please don’t make him evil 🙏🫣😆.

        1. Hi Emma, you are going to love Diana’s comparison between Dain and Tamlin. She was super spot on.
          I DO NOT want Dain to turn evil. I hated Dain at the end of FW but really felt sorry for him in Iron Flame. I really wanted him to get his redemption arc, seriously! And he did. And it was nice.
          If anything, I just, I don’t know, wanted someone to give the guy a hug, you know?
          Having said all that, I just cannot ignore the issues with Cath. And I’m struggling to understand where that comes from.

          BUT there is one reason why I really don’t think Dain is venin BTW. You know when Jack grabbed him? Jack drained him and left a grey mark on his arm. One that cannot be mended, the same as Violet’s hair. She even said in FW that her hair cannot be mended no matter what.
          So, I surmise that if Dain were indeed venin, he might not be susceptible to such side effects, wouldn’t you agree?

      3. Though totally agree – the over protectiveness is definitely Tamlin 101, but Xaden also slightly went down that path in Iron Flame as well. I loved it when Violet called him on it 😂

        Anyway, at the moment, I can’t see any venin in Dain, but as you say things can turn in each book. When I listened into the Waterstones interview with Rebecca, though she never really went into Iron Flame (it was promoting the Special Edition of Fourth Wing), she did mention that she is writing each book along the lines of story acts and gave the impression that each book would end on some sort of cliffhanger. This could be a revelation cliffhanger – though I hope not (pleading 😆).

        Random thought – we saw Jack control his own dragon, showing us that venin can corrupt them, but I am wondering if they are looking at controlling dragons in general – i.e. controlling someone else’s dragon, without that rider’s knowledge or involvement. Possiblity, but who knows!!

        1. Your last thought…it would make sense re Cath. I want to find some references to other dragons. I’m searching for their eyes. I want to know that. Because dragons have amber eyes but they turn hazy/opaque by the time they are corrupted. But there is nothing about Cath. Just the smell.
          We have zero clues that Dain is venin. In fact, everything points to the fact that he is NOT.
          But I don’t think it was Solas or Varrish influencing Cath. Because Cath had the smell pretty much at the same time Solas came about. So before they started training together.
          I think it has to do with Colonel Aetos. Which would imply that he is venin and Cath is spending much time with Colonel Aetos dragon too. So there is corruption. Maybe?!

      4. I have this theory about Violet and Zaden being mates. Since you guys both read ACOTAR we know that mates sense each other and emotions and such. I don’t think they can talk like mind to mind because of the dragons bond (does the riders of the other 2 mated dragons do the same- not sure) but Xaden being inntinnsic was what I need to hear too. If you go back on FW even after bonding Tairn she doesn’t start talking with Xaden mind to mind right away, it’s just a feeling of his presence still, she says the hair on the back of my neck, and I know is Xaden.
        Then he talks in her head and she asks how? It should be natural if it was the bond and she should have a door to communicate with Sgaeyl too if it’s a matter of “I bonded a dragon that is mated with your dragon”. But violet and Sgaeyl don’t need a door.
        The way Violet senses Xaden “mental” presence is the same way Feyre and Rhys senses each other.
        If the whole theory that they are not really humans is true, then being mates is possible. It explains too why even tho on IF they both are toxic to each other they still crave and miss each other and they always say they can’t live without reach other. Maybe is because I read FW and IF in two weeks right after I read the whole ACOTAR series again. But that’s what I’m getting from their interactions.
        So I think him turning Venin is gonna be a nightmare, I have this feeling that he is gonna become the villain of the story too and there is going to be a storm inside Violet and their bond, like instead of shadows in head he can literally bring an onyx storm inside her head (her archives) and actually try to corrupt her too. And Andarna and Tairn might be what keeps her grounded and good, specially Andarna.

        On that sense I think the fact that Andarna knew of Violets birth and was left behind in the continent will have to do with that, keeping the darkness at bay in the continent to save them. I don’t think Andarna predicted the future, I think someone did, there may be a knowledge inside the Empyrean elders and the Venin (since they live forever) and possibly the isle people too (since I think most of the 7th species of dragons are from there too but were forced to leave the continent but managed to leave Andarna to fulfill this profecy)
        Andarna actually waited a 650 years to hatch and she says “I heard our elders talk of the weakling daughter of their general (…) You would have the mind of a scribe and the heart of a rider”
        So that’s why I think there is a profecy, annd if you and that she wields light, after hundreds of years nobody doing it, and the whole thing of having power over the skies and such, makes sense the Venin want her, so they can take her power, but also avoid their downfall.

        1. I haven’t considered this prophecy idea before to be fair. I thought it might be too much of a cliche but I can see nods to it to be honest now.
          I also think Xaden needs to be a bit of a villain moving forward 😀 But I think he will come around.

  2. Hi Cory!

    Love your site and content/theories!! I like where you are going with this one because I thought the same thing during my re-reads that she is talking so much about how everything smells.

    I’m a little new to the site and haven’t looked at everything yet (so I apologize if this is random or is something you’ve touched on in another theory).

    But I noticed that orange dragons are never a good omen…

    Jack Barlowe’s Baide – orange scorpiontail
    Amber Mavis’ Claidh – orange daggertail
    Varrish’s Solas – orange daggertail

    I thought it was interesting, but not sure what the meaning behind that is other than the choose riders who seem to hate Violet, and other dragons (namely Tairn) seem to have negative history with oranges as well.

    This one is a little bit of a stretch, but the other mention of an orange is during threshing when their squadmate Trina is seen falling from the back of the orange club tail.

    I’ll leave the theorizing to you – because you’re so excellent at it! But thought I would share my “colors” observations!

    It makes sense though to me that the venin drain the world/riders/dragons of magic but they’re also rotting away – for the balance of it. I think this theory is true, just hoping Dain/Cath aren’t caught up with the dark wielders D:

    1. Hi Keely, really happy to have you here. And yes, I agree, the smells are just…everywhere.
      Orange dragons are the most unpredictable. And yes, it does feel like they are the bad guys here. I do wonder if there will be a relation to this. But quite clearly, they were needed for the Iron Flame and the wards too! Cath is a red one, but I’m now thinking a lot of things…I will put something together. Going to go through the books to see what I can find!

      1. Hi Cori!

        Don’t forget that Imogen’s dragon is an orange one as well! I’d so hate to see THIS as a problem!

        Re: Dain. No way is he a venin. RY herself said she’s a Dain apologist and even in FW I never saw anything evil about him. If anything, I saw an incredibly biased attitude on Violet’s part.

        It’s interesting that the issue with Cath’s breath has only been mentioned once and the rest of the dragons don’t seem to have noticed anything out of order. Perhaps at the time, he had been close to the source of the corruption.

        I’m baffled as to what transpired between Jack and Dain, though. He clearly did drain him in a way but not the way Soleil was drained. And Xaden watched it happen. Why?

        1. Oh I have things to say about the way he was drained.
          I think Jack just needed some power. Also, Jack is still an initiate, right? Or at the very worse, he is an asim. So I don’t think he has enough power to drain the ground and the person properly.
          My guess is that he just took some from Dain, and eventually, he would have drained him. Much like a siphon 🙂 fun comparison, I love this.
          Also I think this was vital for us to know because it means that Violet with her grey hair tips was also drained at some point.

          Xaden watched. Was he curious? Did he see something about venin that he needed to know? Did he secretly want Dain to just die? It was before Xaden became venin. Was Sgaeyl saying something then?

          1. Charlotte Schryvers Avatar
            Charlotte Schryvers

            So interesting about Violet’s hair! Maybe the draining occurred through her mum, when she was in the womb. Could this have caused her weak bone condition?

          2. I read the theories about Violets hair and I also think her mom was actually touched by a Venin just like it happened Dain, but was saved in time. Also, it drove me crazy that his arm was barely discussed afterwards, leaving me thinking why the hell she is not talking about it?! They said there is no cure, so I wonder if he is gonna have a discoloured mark on his arm and that arm is gonna be weaker like all Violet is too.

          3. Yeah, I think it takes a while for Violet to “realise” things. Not because she’s not smart but I think because we need to move the story forwards.

      2. I wonder if Cath’s previous rider was a “disguised venin” like Varrish, and she was already messed up when Dain bonded.
        Your whole smell theory is awesome! I also think that on other series, mates could smell their mates specific scent. Rhys and Feyre, Cassian and Nes, Hunt and Bryce… hehe
        There is also a chance that what happened to Violet in the womb might have influenced her olfactory skills (If her mom was touched and violet is part venin or if her mom became a venin) On chapter 61 of IF – on that initial entry it says that “turning Venin heightens ONE of the wielder senses”

        1. That’s a rather good theory right here. Do you reckon maybe that’s why he smells bad?

    2. Brennan’s dragon is also orange… this would be awful but might also be linked or at a minimum explain the rune in his hand and how he survived/resurrected.

      1. Honestly sole…I’m telling you. Brennan is just not a good guy. He is venin or something.

  3. Currently on my second read through and noticed that, during presentation, Violet tells a story of her mother coming back after a long night on the southern border and having bloodshot eyes. Then the two green dragons smell her – she thinks it’s because of her dragon scale vest but might be because she admitted she might be related to Venin? (Another theory).
    Also, right after parapet, after Jack attacks Violet and he’s walking away, he sniffs her. Maybe he was Venin from the start? (Another theory).

    1. Hmmmm interesting, interesting. I need to go back and re-read. I thought the scenting like a dog is a figure of speech. But maybe not? :O

    2. Jack says he turned after he saw that Violet bonded with Tairn.
      I think there is more that will be explored and what is gonna happen to Dain from being touched by Venin Jack. And I was thinking that Lilith might had a Venin touch her belly. But now thinking about the eyes, maybe s he got full Venin, during her pregnancy AND the potion Nolan was giving Jack was probably what her mom was taking and what kept violet from being fully drained by her mom on the womb? Hence weakness and hair? That would be crazy. But Nolan was trying to save Jack and he said he “could chose”! Which makes me think he already dealt with that with Violet’s mom. Oof that would be crazy lol

      1. It would pretty crazy but awesome if Lilith turned out to be venin and work to protect her kids….

  4. Thank you for this page! Any thoughts on color when Violet says she sees red?

    1. I am wondering about that myself. Is there any chance she is somehow venin? Or at least has the ability within her?

      1. When she sees red that only happens when she gets mad and red is often used to show anger. Like when Cat challenges her she gets mad. It could also mean that she is out for blood maybe?

        1. Maybe! Or maybe she has some “dark side”. Just not in a bad way, that would make her a villain.

          1. True. I feel like a “dark side” shows a little bit when she poisons her opponents. She is ready to weaken anyone and I think Yarros talks about poison enough to say that it will be very normal to the books.

  5. When she sees red that only happens when she gets mad and red is often used to show anger. Like when Cat challenges her she gets mad. It could also mean that she is out for blood maybe?

  6. She gives us an Easter egg during the first mention of the fables of the barren in fourth wing where she says “warn us against the lure of magic and even demonize dragons”

  7. I don’t think Dain is bad or venin or will turn against Vi. His own signet (who he is at his core) is based on his love for Vi, the cupping of the face.

    I’m not sure about Cath. Def something wrong with the smell/teeth but I don’t think it’s because of Dain. I’ve been thinking the same way jack, varrish are able to control their dragons and ‘disassociate’ from them to the point that killing their dragon doesn’t kill them, same can be done by someone else to their dragon. So Cath might be under someone else’s control (his father, varrish…) and ‘spying’ on Dain to the point Cath can die and it wouldn’t kill Dain. Which also then creates a big problem cause a dragon vouching for someone means nothing

    1. Your first sentence is beautiful! And you are right. He does have love for Vi.
      Do you think it’s because Dain was spending time with Varrish? That Varrish was his “educator”?
      Cath did vouch for Dain, remember? I think that was somewhat crucial piece of info. I don’t know why…just something tells me that we needed to take stock of that little sentence. I hope that Dain is not evil. But knowing Yarros (not that I do…but so far) she might throw a spanner in the works and hate on poor Dain again.

  8. The one thing I’ve noticed is — there are bigger things at play than what we can see in the books. The series is named the Empyrean, which implies that the dragons are more central to the series than what we’ve seen till now. There seems to be a lot of dragon poltics going on too!
    What I think : the dragons are probably divided into factions —
    1. The ones who are totally anti-venin : will do all that is possible to get rid of them, aka the “right moral thing”
    Eg : Tairn, Sgaeyl
    2. The ones who are anti-venin but prioritize the safety of the Vale over any moral thing (the approach Navarre has been taking)
    Eg : Codagh probably? I’m not sure about this one faction being obvious
    3. The ones who are venin sympathizers (worst case), or at least the bad guys among the dragons (best case). I think these are the ones whose breath smells bad.
    Eg : Solas, Baide, Cath.

    As for dragons being bad, I think the theme of ‘balance’ is obvious : there’s no distinct good vs evil here, we’ve seen that in the way Poromiel was villainised when all it did was out of self defense. We’ve seen how Navarre went from the good guy to the selfish one. I think the same concept applies to humans and dragons too : just like there are bad and good people, there could be dragons that are bad guys. Going on this line of thinking.. what if we get some venin who are.. good guys? What if the venin are not the ultimate big bad?
    At this point dragons are being a bit sus with all the secrets they’re hiding! I’m all down for complex dragon politics lol.

    1. The series is called the Empyrean. It could be related to the dragons’ politics. OR it could be related to the Gods.
      1. Hm….I agree. BUT I wonder if we they will have to tune down their moral ethos because of Xaden.
      2. True. Although I think a lot of them are venin in disguise. I think Codagh is antivenin and needs to stay quiet because of his rider. Maybe?
      3. I think they are just venin. Corrupted. Altho, sympathizers is a very good word as well. Could be that not all are venin. But Dain’s father is. Varrish was venin for sure. Their dragons might not be sympathizers but I think they might be kept in check by their venin riders.

      I like your theory. I mean let me clarify. I am pretty certain that Lilith was venin. And I don’t think she was a bad one. She became venin to protect her daughter and save her during pregnancy. I am 100000% certain and I will die on that hill.
      But then she wasn’t a bad venin. So yeah, in my mind your theory stands. And I think it will be the same with some dragons.

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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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