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.”
“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.
“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.
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 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.
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 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!
- Iron Flame Theory: Thoughts about Violet’s box
- Iron Flame Theory: Parallel between Iron Flame characters and the Pantheon
- Iron Flame Theory: How come that Violet and Xaden share dreams?
- Iron Flame Theory: Bodhi is Xaden’s brother
- Predictions for Book 3 Empyrean Series
- Iron Flame Theory: Violet and Xaden are Gods
- Empyrean Series Theory: Xaden Riorson is a morally grey character.
- Iron Flame Theory: The physics of Violet’s signet (and why gravity is not her second signet)
- Iron Flame Theory: General Daramor is more important than we think
- Iron Flame Theory: Venin live forever
- Iron Flame Theory: The Isle Kingdoms’ Rift and the Unseen Alliances
- Iron Flame Theory: Are the Gods among us?
- Empyrean Series Theory: Did Liam master more signets than we initially thought?
- Iron Flame Theory: There is something off with the Sorrengail family dynamic
- Iron Flame Theory: The elixir developed by the leadership is not new
- Iron Flame Theory: We will have a new General in Book 3
- Iron Flame Theory: Smells are crucial clues (eyes too!)
- Iron Flame Theory: Tairn and Sgaeyl might have had hatchlings
- Iron Flame Theory: Why are dragons so afraid of hatchlings being discovered by humans?
- Iron Flame Theory: Varrish was venin
- Iron Flame Theory: The Barrens will be restored with Sloane’s help
- Iron Flame Theory: We will unite the continent and have a modern language
- Iron Flame Theory: Did Naolin really die saving Brennan?
- Iron Flame Questions and Answers – What do we know so far?
- Iron Flame Theory: Aaric’s blue clubtail to become Andarna’s mate
- Iron Flame Theory: Violet’s second signet
- Iron Flame Theory: Mr Sorrengail is General Venin
- Iron Flame Theories – A complete collection
- Iron Flame Theory: Andarna knows how to kill venin