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Iron Flame

Questions, Ending & Explanations

See below for an explanation of the ending and other questions about Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros. If you have other questions that aren't already covered here, feel free to drop a comment!

Where can I find a full plot summary for Iron Flame?

Right here! You can find a quick recap and a lengthier version of the summary over here.

What happens at the end of Iron Flame?

After the revolutionaries bring in a bunch of cadets and other supporters to Aretia and Xaden gets the luminary in order to get the forge to be operational, Violet manages to the wards up in Aretia based on instructions in Warrick’s journal just before a major wyvern attack. However, a private meeting with Violet’s mother, General Sorrengail, reveals that Warrick’s instructions are flawed, and she secretly gives Violet Lyra’s journal instead, saying that above all she wishes for her daughters to live.

Melgren believes there will be a major venin attack on Samara (a major strategic outpost), and asks for the revolutionaries to help defend the outpost in exchange for their independence, but he’s rejected. However, Violet figures out the actual attack will be on Basgiath where Navarre’s wardstone is kept, and she knows all of Navarre will fall if they don’t come to their aid.

They all decide to fight, and they discover that Jack has turned venin, which Nolon has been trying to cure this past year. Before they can stop him, Jack breaks the wardstone protecting all of Navarre. The ensuing battle is brutual, an attack of a thousand wyvern against an unwarded Basgiath with all its forces and the many gryphons rushing to defend it.

As they battle, Brennan mends the wardstone. Jesinia determines that it requires seven types of dragons for the ward, and Violet realizes her dragon Andarna is not a black dragon but a seventh breed of dragon. Violet is about to burn out trying to imbue the wardstone with power, but her mother stops her and gives up her life and power for it instead. The ward is raised and the wyverns fall. But the book ends with Violet ominously noticing a red tinge around Xaden’s eyes after the battle, indicative of someone who has turned venin.

What is a luminary?

The book is pretty fuzzy on what a luminary is, but it’s basically some type of object, substantial but small enough to be transported on a dragon’s back, that can heat up dragonfire. Xaden needs one for the forge to be able to craft weapons with the alloy that is capable of killing venin.

Is Xaden venin by the end of the book? Why did he turn venin?

Given the red tinge around Xaden’s eyes and him telling Violet that she should be scared of him, I think the strong implication is that Xaden is, in fact, venin by the end of the book.

I assume we’ll find out more in the third book, but it sounds like it was necessary for him to survive the wyvern battle. At one point, we know that Xaden was being attacked by the Sage and approaching burnout, and he knows the Sage will go after Violet next if he falls. I think it’s reasonable to assume that he probably survived by drawing power from the ground.

The passage where it happens: “He’s too strong, and I have nothing left. But I’ll be damned if Violet suffers the consequences. He won’t get his hands on her. Not today. Not ever. The slush beneath my palm melts, and I feel… There’s something beneath me. A steady flow of unmistakable…power. “You cannot!” Sgaeyl shrieks. “I chose you!” But Violet chose me, too. I reach.”

When did Jack Barlowe turn venin? Was it before he was crushed by the mountain?

It seems that Jack Barlowe turned venin right after Threshing. He bonds with Baide during Threshing, so he could not have been venin at that point. However, in Chapter 60 of Iron Flame, he explains that he made the decision to turn venin when he saw Violet bond with the most powerful dragon there.

If you go back of the first book (Fourth Wing), you see that the Threshing happens around Chapters 13-16, and by Violet’s next encounter with Jack in on the mats in Chapter 23, it’s hinted that he already has turned venin, as noted by the red tinge around his eyes: “His sadistic grin and a red rim around his eyes are all I can see as he forces more and more power into my body, but his hands are occupied and he’s too obsessed with his victory to hear that I’ve stopped screaming, to see that I’m moving.”

How did Jack Barlowe survive being crushed by the mountain? Why did they heal him?

Jack Barlowe was already venin (see the question above) by the time that he’s crushed by the mountain. Since venin can only be killed in specific ways, the mountain did not kill him.

Nolon has been trying to heal his soul and un-venin him, but clearly his efforts were unsuccessful.

It’s not explained why exactly they chose to try to heal Jack, but it seems likely they thought he was a good candidate for trying to see if it was possible to undo it when someone turns venin since the higher-ups are all aware of the venin issue even if it’s not public knowledge. The elixir that temporarily removes the bond with the dragon and signet powers was created as part of this process, to keep Jack’s powers at bay, while they tried to un-venin him.

Have more questions? Leave them in a comment below!

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