THIS POST CONTAINS EXPLICIT SPOILERS FOR FOURTH WING.
IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK, LOOK AWAY CHILD!!
(I raised my rating to a full 5 stars after my re-read!)
I recently re-read Fourth Wing after falling into a massive, hours-long black hole on TikTok looking at theories and small details that many people missed on the first read through. This post builds on some of the theories I saw before my re-read (which told me what to look for), as well as things I picked up on my own during my re-read.
Rebecca Yarros is actually pretty fucking brilliant. There are SO. MANY. tiny little snippets and hints that I blasted right through when I read it the first time, and didn’t even notice because I was too engrossed to pay attention to small detail. (Seriously, is there crack printed into these pages? Because it’s addicting AF!)
I also annotated this re-read, follow @novelheartbeat on TikTok to see videos of it!
On Brennan being alive
I originally saw it coming that Brennan was alive, but the ending still shocked me because Xaden knew. The implications of this are much larger than just his betrayal of Violet (and didn’t he tell her over and over not to trust him and that he had secrets?).
- Tairn had to know. This is the part that hits me the hardest. He had to. They can all shield, yeah, but the fact that Sgaeyl almost certainly knows (it’s stated that you can’t lie to your dragon, quoted below) via Xaden also leads me to believe that Tairn knew via Sgaeyl, because the bond of mates is stronger than the bond with riders. And if he knew, surely other dragonkind knows as well? It’s stated multiple times that he’s basically a leader among their kind. Dragons are also capable of speaking to gryphons. I have to wonder how much the dragons know about what’s really going on.
- Does General Sorrengail know? (more below)
- There is an interaction with Professor Carr that sounds like he may know as well. On page 288: (Carr) “Menders are so very rare, and to lose one so young was tragic.” (Violet) “I think losing Brennan is the tragedy” to which Carr only responds with “hmm.” His use of semantics was interesting – ‘lose’ instead of saying ‘died.’
General Sorrengail: Good or bad?
I keep running in circles between her being evil and her being a double agent. We know she’s cold to Violet, but how much is an act? I’m leaning heavily toward her being a double agent.
- Page 4: (after Mira calls Violet fragile) “Mira, Violet deals with more pain before lunch than you do in an entire week. If any of my children is capable of surviving the Riders Quadrant, it’s her.” She knew Violet was capable of making it through. There’s a lot of speculation over whether or not she created the storm at the Parapet in an attempt to kill Violet, but I don’t think that’s what happened. If she wanted Violet dead, Violet would be dead. So, if not to kill Violet, why would the General send her to the Rider’s Quadrant at all?
- Page 4: “I will not watch any one of my children enter the Scribe Quadrant, Violet.” I’m sure she knows just how corrupt the Scribes are because she was married to one. She vehemently refuses to send Violet there – because she doesn’t want her to become corrupt too? Or because she doesn’t want Violet to know the truth of history?
- Page 5: ‘Mom tolerates me and respects Mira, but she loved Brennan.’ This makes it sound like he was her favorite child, which I take as more evidence against the fact that she’s a double agent if she knows he’s alive.
- I saw someone mention that the General was the one who suggested that the separatist children be marked and sent to the Rider’s Quadrant instead of executed. I don’t remember reading it and can’t find it, so I’m not sure if this is true or not.
- Naolin burned out trying to resurrect Brennan. (Hits differently knowing that Brennan is, in fact, resurrected.) on page 97 Professor Kaori says “resurrecting someone from the dead? Now, that makes you a god.” I saw a theory on TikTok that Naolin siphoned from the power of the sun to resurrect Brennan, because ‘Naolin’ means “ancient Aztec tribe god of the sun.”
- It’s mentioned that Tairn’s bonds are very strong, and losing Naolin almost killed him. But what if Naolin isn’t actually dead? The venin mentions him, her mysterious Sage. With the amount of energy he was channeling in the effort to resurrect Brennan, it’s entirely possible that he channeled too much – or from the wrong place – and it corrupted him, turning him into a venin. (I have another theory on the Sage below, but I am leaning toward this one. I feel that the Sage is more than likely someone we know.)
- I strongly believe that Brennan and Naolin were together or in love.
Is Xaden an inntinnsic?
- Violet’s scalp prickles almost every time Xaden turns up, sometimes before she knows he’s there, so I wonder if it’s him using his ability on her because she feels a similar sensation when Andarna uses her power. This was happening before she bonded to Tairn, so if that’s true then his mind reading has nothing to do with the fact that they are bonded. In this case I don’t know why she didn’t feel anything when Dain was stealing memories, though. Maybe she’s just feeling his shadows. Either way, the scalp prickling is definitely important somehow with the number of times it was mentioned.
- He knows how to block an inntinnsic. Page 219: “Start mentally reciting whatever bookish shit you’ve learned. […] If you value your secrets, clear your thoughts. Now.”
- Page 225:
I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive. I repeat the mantra in my head[…]
(Xaden) “Yes. You’re alive.” […]
“I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud.”
- Page 226:
“I’m fine.” I’m not.
His focus snaps back to my eyes. “Never lie to me.”There are more instances where she drew his attention like he could hear her thoughts, but you get the idea.
- Page 232:
“We need to know what happened in that room.” Xaden’s gaze cuts through me like a knife for a millisecond before he glares back at Tairn.
“Do not dare to try and read me, human, or you’ll regret it.”
- Page 236: (Xaden to Violet) “Rare abilities, when kept secret, are the most valuable form of currency we possess.” It’s this comment that leads me to believe that he’s not just reading her and Tairn. But, it’s still possible he could also be alluding to another power for his second signet that we know nothing of.
- Page 419:
I’m not going to survive this. I’m going to die right here in this bed.
“Then I’m going to die with you,” he promises, kissing me. I’m so far gone, I didn’t even realize I said the words out loud, and then I remember that I don’t have to. “More. I need more.“She was definitely not directly communicating with him the first time.
- The final, irrefutable one for me:
Page 443: (Violet) “You have no idea what I’m thinking.” Fucking. Traitor.
Page 490: (Xaden) Sleep is where I hear her heartbreaking scream, hear her cry that Liam died, hear her call me a fucking traitor over and over.
- Even though he is most definitely reading her mind (and tried to read Tairn), it is possible that it’s just because of their bond. All of the direct and obvious mind reading happened after they were bonded and I don’t remember seeing any instances of him reading anyone else. But, I feel like even if he had more experience than her and she didn’t know she could do it, she would still get something from his end (especially when her mental Archives becomes stronger and she can speak back to him mentally) if they could read each other’s minds because of the bond.
- Also, there was one instance before they were bonded that leads me to believe otherwise: Page 87 (when she spies on his meeting) ‘He looks at me like he’s trying to see through me, and ice prickles my scalp.’ That is a big secret to keep, yet he knew he could trust her to keep it.
- I strongly suspect foul play involved in her dad’s death, making it look like his heart failed. BUT. Who did it? We know that toward the end he started acting strange, and he had started figuring things out. I’m not sure it makes sense that the government killed him because he knew too much, because he was a Scribe and they are most definitely altering history. But are only certain ranks allowed to know this?
- It could have been the General, if she’s on the bad side, for the same reason. But I don’t think she is. Violet said she shut down after he died.
- Xaden calls Brennan a poison master. What if Brennan was the one who poisoned him? (Or, on the opposite spectrum, what if he was the one keeping him alive? He was a mender, after all)
- Is he even dead? One of my wild ass, out in left field theories is that he’s still alive but turned venin. On page 331 Mira says “We have the kind of power people would kill for. Dragons and gryphons are the gatekeepers, and I’m sure that to someone jealous enough, ambitious enough, risking a soul would be a fair price for the ability to wield.” Was he jealous of the General because she could wield and he couldn’t? When the venin talks about her Sage during the fight, he was the first person I thought of. What if he turned venin? (this is a pretty crazy one, I think Naolin being the Sage is a better theory)
- I 10/10 think he lied about how his ability works. On page 51-52 he says “I have to put my hands on the person” but then a paragraph later he backpedals and says “I just put my hands on someone’s temples.” Toward the end of the book, Xaden also says that Dain has to touch someone’s *face* specifically. I feel like Xaden would know if he can read minds.
- So does any skin to skin touch work, or does it have to be face? I’m dying to know how it really works.
- The amount of times he touches Violet is staggering once you pay attention to it. Without knowing exactly how his power works, it’s hard to know if the times he touched fabric worked as well. But even if it doesn’t, he touched her face SO. MANY. TIMES. I’m honestly shocked Violet didn’t notice after he told her how it worked. I guess because she trusted him implicitly not to take without asking.
Imogen & memory erasing
- It’s only mentioned once in the entire book that Imogen’s signet is erasing recent memories. How has this not come into play more often? Because she was likely erasing Violet’s memories all along, making Violet an unreliable narrator.
- Where was she when they were at Montserrat? The whole wing was there, but she was mysteriously missing and that fact was never mentioned. Then Violet made a comment that Xaden left with a considerably smaller pack than he came with, which was most certainly the weapons they were smuggling to the Gryphon fliers. I’m guessing Imogen was the one who snuck away to deliver the weapons, and in turn made sure no one else remembered she was missing.
- How does her power actually work? With it being only mentioned once in passing, there’s no telling. I’m not sure if she has to touch the person or not, but I paid attention to all of her lifting/training sessions with Violet, and Imogen physically touching Violet was never mentioned. The only occurrence of touching was when she broke Violet’s arm the first time they sparred.
- Xaden tells Violet “I’ve been yours for longer than you could ever imagine.” Is it because she’s met him and Imogen erased it, or because he’s been hearing about her from her brother? (I desperately need a story in his POV!)
- But I also wonder, if she’s been erasing things to keep the rebellion a secret, why didn’t she just erase Violet’s memories when she sees the gryphon fliers and isn’t supposed to?
- Melgren can see a battle’s outcome before it happens. BUT, he can’t see if more than 3 marked ones are together. I feel like Melgren’s dragon, Codagh, knows about the rebellion and marked the kids of the rebellion leaders for a reason. Why else would they be marked with something that is obviously a gift? Or did it just backfire?
- It also seems to give marked ones a second signet somehow (are they all bonded to Codagh?? Not sure how this works without another bonded dragon). Imogen is fast and can wipe recent memories. Xaden wields shadows and can probably read minds. Liam has (had *cries*) farsight and could also wield ice – which was mentioned so casually mid-battle that I missed it entirely my first time through.
- Page 111-112: (Dain) “Dragons would do anything to protect the Vale and their sacred hatching grounds. There’s no way any dragon would have bonded Riorson or any of the separatists if they weren’t honest about protecting Navarre.” (Violet) “But would a dragon even know if you were lying?” (Dain) “It’s impossible to hide something like that from your dragon.”
- Page 253: “they originally figured the dragons have unimpeachable honor, so they’d never bond to a marked one in the first place.” The dragons have know about the false history and that Aretia stands.
- I am DYING to see Andarna full grown!! I’m curious as to why she’s the only gold dragon. Are all babies gold until they reach full size? And are all feathertails babies? I swear Andarna said something about her tail changing when she gets big, but I can’t find it.
- Did Tairn bonding to Violet have to do with Brennan? I’m pretty sure Brennan loved Naolin and vice/versa (I mean, he burned himself out for the dude, come on), so Brennan must have been important in Tairn’s life via Naolin. Tairn absolutely had to know Brennan was alive. What if that’s why he chose Violet?
- Separatists call it the apostasy, not the uprising. Apostasy means “the abandonment of political or religious belief.”
- The General was really sick when she was pregnant with Violet and almost died. This is what caused Violet’s silver hair as well as her pale eyes and skin. Was she poisoned? I feel like there’s more to this story. Maybe something involving venin? (Also Violet does mention she saw her mom with “bloodshot red eyes” at an outpost and thought she was venin.)
- Violet is in the Fourth Wing of Flame Section, and their squad is the Iron Squad of that year (they had the most surviving members since Parapet). I think this is what the title of book 2 – Iron Flame – alludes to.
- The Navarrian government is absolutely working with or controlling the venin. They sent Fourth Wing to Athebyne knowing full well the venin would attack. One of the venin also says “no wonder we were called here.”
- On page 286 it’s stated that Fen Riorson put an arrow into Brennan’s chest, according to battlefield reports. Is this actually true, or is it just what they want people to believe beause he was actually injured fighting venin? If it is true, why would Fen shoot him if they were both part of the rebellion? Unless it was to fake his death so he could get away from Basgiath and aid the rebellion effort. But why did Naolin burn himself out resurrecting Brennan if that part weren’t real?? Did Fen even shoot him at all, or is that just what they used as a cover up to execute him and explain Brennan’s disappearance?
- The beginning states that the book was translated to modern language by Jesinia, who was Violet’s friend in the Scribe Quadrant, and that ‘names have been preserved to honor the courage of those fallen.’ DOES THIS MEAN EVERYONE DIES AT THE END OF THE SERIES? I would think it was in the future and they died of old age, but Jesinia is the same age as Violet. I’M SCARED.
Other theories I’ve seen
- Andarna traveled back in time to meet Tairn and Sgaeyl who are actually her parents, but died before she hatched. Personally, I think maybe they just lied about her being theirs and her parents dying. (Maybe this is just hopeful thinking because I want them to be her parents <3)
- Andarna can see through time and was at Threshing to save Violet’s life, because she later tells Violet “maybe I was saving you.“ It’s possible she meant more by that line, but it’s also possible she only meant she didn’t fly away because Violet would have died. (Did she stop time long enough for Tairn to reach them?! I’m not sure if she needs a bonded rider to use the ability since young dragons are special.)
- Andarna saved Liam because can see through time, and she knew he would save Violet during the battle with the venin. This isn’t that far-fetched to me, because she didn’t try to stop time long enough for Tairn to catch up with Deigh and save him before the wyvern killed him. It could be argued that she was hiding and was too far away, but she was close enough to communicate, and she was also hiding during the War Game when they stopped time to catch Liam. It’s possible she only did it the first time because she knew Violet needed him – postponing his death long enough for him to save her – and not the second time because she knows nature needs balance (see below).
- Violet will gain time manipulation as her second signet (from Andarna) and will go back and save Liam. I really, really hope this isn’t true because that cheapens his sacrifice. I haaate when characters get brought back to life in fiction. Robs me of that emotional attachment. I also think that Liam died because Violet saved him with a power that shouldn’t exist – she mentions robbing Malek of a death (page 367-368, “I can’t help but wonder if somewhere, on some plane of existence, Malek sits on his throne, angry that I stole a soul from his grasp.”) and like Andarna said, nature likes all things in balance. Death came back to claim him.
- Violet’s second signet will be the ability to wield the power of the sun (something about the greatest power comes from the sky), because of the whole ‘nature likes things in balance’ and she’s the light to Xaden’s dark. I don’t know about this one. It would make more sense for her to have some time related signet because of Andarna’s early ability.
- Liam’s sister is deaf. Not only does he know sign language, but he asks Violet (and not Xaden, his brother in all but blood), who also knows sign language, to take care of her. I strongly agree with this theory!
If you have anything you’d like to add to this, or anything to correct, please let me know!