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Iron Flame Theory: Why are dragons so afraid of hatchlings being discovered by humans?

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Written by: Cory

Why are dragons so afraid of hatchlings being discovered by humans?

This theory is a bit raw, but I’m on my third re-read right now, and I’m having difficulties understanding some things here. Why are dragons so protective of their hatchlings? Basically, there are a lot of contradictions in the book when it comes to feathertails, and I’m sure there is a reason for it, so what are we missing?

What are feathertails?

Feathertails are young dragons that have yet to enter the Dreamless Sleep. Not quite hatchlings but still baby dragons. They are golden, have no power to breathe fire, and no claws but paws. Their tails are not weapons but are essentially adorned with cute feather endings.

They do possess a special gift, though. Every feathertail has some sort of magic that can be accidentally passed on to their riders.

Fourth Wing: “Feathertails shouldn’t bond because they can accidentally gift their powers to humans,” Andarna continues. “Dragons can’t channel—not really—until we’re big, but we’re all born with something special.”

But feathertails are not allowed to bond

Alright, that’s awesome. But as far as I’m concerned, mature dragons do not let hatchlings bond. There is the Right of Benefaction, but we know this could be objected. Sgaeyl herself said she would have objected harder to the Right of Benefaction had she known Andarna will actually bond.

We do know that in Andarna’s case, there was no choice but to allow her to bond, simply because she is the eldest of her clan, thus she has her own rights.

But that’s not the case with the rest of the dragons. Every other dragon breed has its own elder. So why are dragons so afraid that humans could bond their hatchling and steal their gifts?

This doesn’t really make sense to me. In Iron Flame, Violet is vehement about keeping Andarna a secret or they would put all hatchlings in danger. It’s confusing because then, Tairn makes a huge point of stating that Dragons don’t take orders from humans.

Therefore, if humans were to know more about feathertails, why would that put them in danger?

Page 124 in Iron Flame:

“You’ll do no such thing, or you risk every feathertail in the Vale,” I remind her. “Do you want someone who takes joy in the pain of others like Varrish bonding a hatchling?”

Again, surely humans would simply not be allowed to bond hatchlings, as mature dragons would just…roast them for even trying.

What are dragons hiding?

I believe dragons know that there are venin amongst them, even within the wards. And I believe some dragons know that some are being corrupted and influenced by their venin riders. Which is a main reason why they are keeping their hatchlings away.

However, even with this logic, I’ve got to say, I’m a little confused. I believe feathertails and their gifts might be a key to fighting venin. We learn about it in Fourth Wing: “I remember your father doing a bit of research about the second Krovlan uprising, and he mentioned something about feathertails, but we can’t seem to find that tome.”

So why exactly is Varrish so desperate to see Andarna? Why are dragons keeping hatchlings away from humans, because I don’t think it’s just the fear of bonding? Maybe you can help shed some light on this one.

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16 responses to “Iron Flame Theory: Why are dragons so afraid of hatchlings being discovered by humans?”

  1. I think it’s because of their gifts.

    “Feathertails shouldn’t bond because they can gift their powers to humans,” Andarna explains in FW Chapter 19. “Dragons can’t channel until we’re big, but we’re all born with something special.”

    Then Tairn said, “Feathertails don’t bond because their power is too unpredictable. Unstable. […] Bonding too young allows them to give their gift directly, and a rider could easily drain them and burn out.”

    (Maybe how Lilith did with Aimsir, how probably Naolin did with Tairn trying to resurrect Brennan?)

    “Easily drain them”, that would be the words that I would highlight.

    1. Hmm, I see. It still feels odd to me though. Because they just wouldn’t bond. Imagine humans getting close to feathertails. They wouldn’t bond. And if they don’t bond, how can they gift their power? Just by proximity? That wouldn’t make sense either.
      I think there is more to the hatchlings and dragons know. I just can’t imagine them being allowed to bond even if humans were to get close.

      1. From what I understand, every dragon can bond with a human since they’re hatched. The dragon tradition is that Navarre trains a generation of cadets for 3 months (I don’t remember when Conscription Day is, but Treshing is Oct 1st I think.) Navarre presents strong cadets capable of riding a dragon.

        All dragons need to wait until Treshing to bond because of tradition, and the elders need to agree.

        Hatchlings, juveniles, and adolescents never leave the Vale, but if they could, I can imagine lots of situations.
        —Humans kidnapping them. (They’re little; they don’t breathe fire; they don’t fly a lot; they have no claws.) Lit, How to train your dragon.
        —Humans demanding to know their gifts and use them in the war. Like, how useful could have been Andarna’s gift to stop time in the hands of someone like Varrish or Melgrem.
        —Hatchlings being tortured or lured to bond with a human.
        —Experiments with hatchlings.

        Navarre likes to have control over everything. Melgrem knows future battles; Markham keeps the information about venin, Basgiath created a serum.

        Imagine a person like Varrish having 5 hatchlings in a room, each with a different gift, and that person knows what they have, so he chooses the hatchling as his dragon based on that—not waiting for them to be strong enough to form a signet with their rider. [But after using the gift 3 times, the rider will die with the hatchling. Adult dragons can survive the loss of lots of riders.]

        Every dragon channels power in order to create a signet; hatchlings can’t, so they channel their gift directly instead with their energy.

        And hatchlings are children. Andarna doesn’t have the same amount of energy as Tairn. That’s why Violet used Andarna’s energy to imbue runes, because her energy was more approachable to use in small amounts.

        Violet was pushed to burn out thanks to Varrish after 40 lightning strikes. Tairn was strong enough to carry her to a cold shore, and they have been training the signet for more than a year. Violet can create lots of lightning thanks to Tairn, but Andarna’s gift was used just 4 times.

        The first two times, Andarna had to sleep for a week to recover because she was almost drained of energy. In Resson she used it two times: to aim a venin and when Violet fell from Tairn’s saddle.

        Of course, dragons don’t want their hatchlings to bond; it would be like letting them go to war. They’re children, and if they don’t have enough energy and go to war, they’ll die there. They can’t even fly with a rider on their backs.

        I think Tairn said that it took like 3 or 4 years for a hatchling to mature; the Dreamless sleep takes a lot less than 4 months. So, humans need to be patient; they can’t do what they want. Dragons aren’t bonding or killing—like in Presentation Day—humans younger than 20 years old; they bond adult humans, Basgiath-trained cadets of the Rider’s Quadrant.

        I feel like now I need a memorandum from Aimsir, that dragon saw Lilith getting married and pregnant three times. I think Aimsir agreed with Lilith to siphon their energy to the wardstone, because Aimsir was also already attached to Brennan, Mira, and Violet.

        In Chapter One, Lilith was talking with Aimsir through the bond when she was talking with Mira and Violet. Like, after the dad died, she only had Aimsir to rely on.

        1. Humans kidnapping them. >> But, can you imagine large dragons going after humans, killing them all?
          Humans demanding to know their gifts and use them in the war. >> Ugh, Diana, ugh!
          Hatchlings being tortured or lured to bond with a human. >> ok, this turned dark. I don’t like it.
          Experiments with hatchlings. >> humans suck, ok? fine, keep the poor babies away from dragons. For a moment there I forgot that no big mighty dragon can keep the sneakiest of human from doing horrible stuff.

          I hereby retract my theory. Please, dragons, keep the hatchlings AWAY AWAY AWAY! Not even the mightiest Codagh can save them all.
          Gosh, Diana, you painted some vivid and horrible images in my head right now. BRB, I need a cup of tea and to go hug myself and cry in the shower. “Imagine a person like Varrish having 5 hatchlings in a room”
          Nope nope nope! NO!

          Quick question about Aimsir. Do we believe him dead? Like, did Sloane siphoned all energy from Lilith (and thus Aimsir) but did she also kill the dragon? Is that possible technically?
          “My mother saved us.” My voice cracks. “She had Sloane siphon
          Aimsir’s power and both their life energies into the wardstone. She’s gone.”

          The mom is gone, but is the dragon gone too?

          Either way, I can agree that Aimsir loved Lilith’s children too. I don’t know why but it just makes sense.

          1. I believe Aimsir is gone too.

          2. Yeah, it kinda makes sense…

    2. I think some key words we need to consider here are “gift” vs “channel.” To me, gift would mean it would be something a rider keeps and always has? While channel is something they need their dragon for?

      1. I hadn’t considered that. This is actually brilliant, Haleigh. You are absolutely right. That would be catastrophic!

  2. The other thing about hatchling, and maybe not about the hatchling themselves, but did Xaden (I think? Might have been someone else) say that one of the components of the alloy for the daggers that take out venin is dragon egg shells and that the shells themselves are some kind of metal? Then dragon egg shells are also part of what powers the wards. I’ve wondered if humans (or specific human like Kaori, maybe Mr. Sorrengail at one point) are allowed into the Vale to collect the egg shells? How else are the shells obtained? Do dragons bring them to Basgiath themselves? Seems unlikely. Draining feathertails in humans quest for the ultimate power is certainly a frightening possibility (probability?) But you also need enough dragons to reach maturity to produce baby dragons to continue the production of egg shells to include in the alloy to protect the wards that protect the hatching grounds. I’m convinced Mr. Sorrengail had to have discovered something in his research, that General Sorrengail knew about it, and now Violet is going to find it. I’m not sure if andarna’s line disappeared 650 years ago or at the time of the mentioned Krovlan uprising, but Andarna can kill venin unlike the other breeds. What if andarna’s breed’s shells mean if venin would try to cross wards made from them, it would kill them immediately. Entirely possible I’m reaching here, but andarna’s breed does appear to be the only one that can kill venin.

    1. Yes!! They did talk about dragon eggshells. A lot of questions, right? It feels like Kaori was the only one with more access. But I do wonder if dragons brought them to humans. Given how ruthless they are towards humans, you are right, it does feel…unlikely.
      So obviously, humans know about hatchlings and dragon eggs but not about feathertails. I assume because they are kept off limits at all times.

      I imagine it that Violet will have to collect her things form her room before the new General arrives. Or go through her mother’s stuff to burn them, right? And I think she will discover a lot. Including that book…
      I have no idea why Andarna is the only one who can kill venin. But what happened to the rest? Do you reckon they were targetted and killed by others to ensure no dragon can easily kill venin? It almost feels like this since she is the ultimate weapon. You are right about the egg shells. But given that Andarna is the only one, not many eggs happening. Unless they can fine her own egg shells and use them in Aretia? Because, still, Aretia remains very much unprotected.

  3. Andarna was “left behind”. I find it hard to believe that means she’s the ONLY one of her kind left. I still think more of her kind exist somewhere – maybe on the Isles? Whether her natural color is purple or changing at her will pearlescent, we know she can camoflage herself to hide basically in plain site. I’m wondering if the pearlescent shimmery scales thing is because her kind is originally from the Isles and it has something to do with how the sun shimmers off the sea kind of thing? So maybe her kind is hiding in plain site on the Isles. The other thought I had was maybe feathertails and adolescents can kill venin but adult dragons cannot and dragons (rightfully so in my mind) aren’t willing to send their young into battle until fully mature adults, again continuity of lines, keeping the wards up, etc. But then why wouldn’t they be willing to use them to vanquish the venin once and for all? Maybe too afraid in humans’ quest for power, the venin will come back? I still think there is a dragon prophecy out there that we don’t know about yet, that Mr. Sorrengail discovered, that General Sorrengail knew about (her statements about Violet having all the tools she needs, until she was strong enough, etc.), and is why all this is happening right now at this point in time. This leads me to another theory for Violet’s second signet I’ll post on that page.

    1. I 100% agree with you. They are def on the isles somewhere.
      About the feathertails and adolescents being able to kill venin. THIS is the theory I’m working on. HA! We’re on the same page with this one, K! Oh this is so exciting.
      I think the dragons are in a very peculiar spot. In fact, I think the Empyrean Series is mostly about the dragons so to speak, and the humans are just the excitement we need to fill the gaps.
      I think the dragons are basically in need of humans, but afraid of humans. They are afraid of venin because they could kill all dragonkind, but also need humans to fight, but also are afraid that humans are just as hungry for power..just differently.

  4. I also think there are fewer dragons willing to bond each year because there are venin undercover… so less true (non-venin riders) to bond with.


    1. I think so too! I’ve been wondering why are dragons so afraid nowadays? It would make sense. If you bond a venin, you are pretty screwed as a dragon…

  5. This is a multi theory drop, as they are connected.

    Feather tails and General venin theory
    It was stated Daddy Sorrengail was doing research on feathertails. Lilith Sorrengail also stated that all Sorrengails are riders. Dragon egg shells are a component needed to create alloy. It’s possible since Daddy Sorrengail was conducting this research, he did bond a dragon (the other black dragon that was stated to have been sighted), can ride (although does not fight as he is a scribe), that dragons allow him into the Vale with the caveat that he cannot leave (his heart was failing/venin and can be helped within the Vale’s magic) and is allowed to collect the dragon eggs shells to help make alloy to fight venin in return. I’d like to think he’s good and he’s waiting for Violet in the vale. / The other theory of him being a venin would seem more likely if Lilith was dying and he chose to channel the earth in order to save her and their baby, giving Violet the gray silver hair similar to venin, meaning it’s possible she could be part venin/have some sort of venin ability/connection like the dreams. I wouldn’t consider her “weakness” part of that, that doesn’t feel right considering the genetic connective tissue disorder implied that Violet has is also what the author is affected with- it’s not a fault or weakness created from evil, it’s just unfortunately a medical condition. He sacrificed his soul for love, paralleling Xaden. / General venin is the original venin brother, he’s still alive because of channeling the earth- he gets life traded for the lands life now the barrens.
    The other theory is that the new black dragon is Tairn and Sygael’s hatchling, and that they adopted Andarna as they found her egg and she hatched around the same time theirs did. It would be cute if they would be mates. I think they would tell Violet and Xaden if that happened though.
    The book states Andarna was “left behind” not necessarily the last of her kind. It’s implied that the 7th breed is still alive in the Isles, or has an egg(s), and possibly Andarna would choose a mate there. Maybe there is a new love interest for Violet there as well… I don’t think Andarna would choose Aaric’s blue dragon. Aaric seems to have a connection to Sloane. It’s also hinted that Aaric’s older brother Holden may be Violet’s ex. It’s possible he bonds to the new black dragon when he goes to Basgaith. I’ve seen comments about saying he’s bad, it’s more likely that he doesn’t know. He goes to find Aaric, find out or to help after he does find out.

    Three brothers/Three siblings
    The three bothers/three siblings theory may be Violet the dragon rider, Mira (a rider) and griffon flier (hints around Drake), and Brennon the venin. Or Brennon as the rider (he’s secret is he’s gay if y’all are getting keeping secrets vibes), and Violet as the venin, referenced above.

    1. Where did you see this in the book? “It’s also hinted that Aaric’s older brother Holden may be Violet’s ex”
      Curious about it as I didn’t feel there was any hint.

      The sightings of a black dragon you are referring to are related to Andarna being black at the time.

      “Hey, has Tairn said anything about another black dragon in the Vale?” Ridoc asks me […]
      “I know, it sounds ludicrous, but when we walked by Kaori back there, I swear I heard him say something about another black dragon being spotted. The guy was practically jumping with excitement.”
      “Tairn?” If the professor of dragonkind knows about Andarna, we’re screwed.

      So this is about Andarna being black no other black dragon. Except for the hatchlings.

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