Did We Read the Same Book: Fourth Wing and Plot Holes
I was woken off by the text message alert going off on my phone at 9:30 in the morning. Reasonable enough time, but it was also long before I wanted to be awake. It was one of my friends from university asking me if I had read Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, and if I had, what did I think of it? Did it live up to the BookTok hype? The book was sitting on my bookshelf still unread. When I originally seen the book in the bookstore I fell in love with the cover and sprayed page edges with dragons. When I went back a couple weeks later to make my purchase, Barnes and Noble no longer had it in stock at my store, and every store within a reasonable distance of me. It was even out of stock online. I got lucky and found it as Costco.
Here’s the thing, I don’t follow book hype on social media. Sometimes it’s hard to miss when everyone is Collen Hoover this and Sarah J. Maas that. I don’t read books because they are popular. Case in point, the LitRPG series Dungeon Crawler Carl. I discovered it on KU and decided I need to know why, as book 2 started, he still wasn’t wearing pants. I’ve become so invested in series it’s ridiculous. It’s not the sort of series that is going to get hyped on BookTok or Bookstagram or anywhere else despite being well written and easily one of the most hysterical things I have read since Douglas Adams.
If something catches my attention, for whatever reason, I am going to read it. Sometimes, I don’t even know what a book is about before starting on it. This brings me to Fourth Wing.
Another friend told me people either love it or hate it and there seems to be no in between. 46 pages in, I decided I was going to read some of the negative reviews of the book. Why? Because I don’t need to know about the hype. Twilight was hyped and now I have trust issues. I read the entire series in one weekend I will never get back. I want to know what problems people have with books. It’s all about different perspectives.
I will take any legit criticism of even my most favorite books. Like I said, different perspectives. Everyone is going to walk away from a book with something different and not every book is going to resonate with every reader. However, I am finding a few things happening with online reviews. Many leaving reviews can not read critically, or they are reading too fast and missing important points in books, or they just don’t understand the book and want the author to handhold and spell everything out.
Case in point is this excerpt from a review I pulled from Goodreads:
There is also the matter of the plot hole of why violet had to train to be a dragon rider to begin with despite training her whole life to be a scribe. Her mother KNEW from the get go that she was going to force violet into the initiation, so why didn’t she have her trained like her two older siblings? Why not give her a fucking heads up that she was never actually going to be a scribe?
There are a number of people complaining about this “plot hole” so let’s talk about it. A close reading and a little bit of critical thinking closes that plot hole. (Warning: There will be spoilers).
The plot hole is actually addressed, in short form, on page 177.
Mom forced me into the Riders Quadrant. She didn’t care if I lived or died as I crossed the parapet. the only thing she cares about now is how my flaws might mar her sterling reputation or how my bonding might further her own agenda.
And now she’s staring at my dragon without even bothering to look down to see if I’m alright. (177)
Naturally, there is a little bit more to it. Earlier in the book we get an insight into how General Sorrengail thinks, supporting Violet’s train of thought.
“Spoken like the daughter of a scribe,” Mom says quietly, and I see for it – the woman she was while Dad was alive… “
I am the daughter of a scribe…”
Mom blinks, and that softer woman is gone, leaving only the general. “You’re the daughter of a rider, you are twenty years old, and today is Conscription Day. I let you finish your tutoring, but like I told you last spring, I will not watch one of my children enter the Scribe Quadrant, Violet.
“Because scribes are so far beneath riders?” I grumble.
“Dad wouldn’t want this!” Mira argues.
“I loved your father, but he’s dead.” Mom says, as if giving the weather report. “I doubt he wants much these days.” (3-4)
In short: General Sorrengail became quite the bitch after her husband died. She chose to focus on her military career doing a disservice to rest of her family. With her husband dead, she now expected all of her children to walk in her footsteps in order to uphold, and help, her reputation. Even Violet who was slated to follow in her fathers footsteps. If she honestly believes scribes are beneath riders, she would have never married one. We can assume that she blames his heart attack on being “weak” and not the prime physical specimen riders are expected to be. Every time she is reminded what a great scribe Violet is going to be, she is reminded of her dead husband. She is also reminded that Violet being a scribe paints her as even more different than her other children. The great General Sorrengail, who everyone looks up to, has a disabled daughter who is going to be a scribe. She sees this as a stain on her reputation after her son, Brennan, was both a rider and skilled healer, and her daughter Mira is considered a war hero. This legacy is what is important to her. She would rather her daughter fail, die, and be forgotten than not live up to it.
Furthermore, General Sorrengail is involved in what amounts to a military/government cover up. Violet becoming a scribe and recording the history of Navarre creates, at the very least, a personal risk. If her daughters found out she was letting innocent people die, they would never forgive her. If word got out that the military was corrupt there would be larger uprising than the one they put down years before.
As per the two letters found on her desk (pages 319 – 320) people are asking for help against towns being raided and there are protests about conscription laws. Things are slowly falling apart and she, probably along with everyone else in charge, doesn’t want the word getting out that the hundreds of years of tradition are failing the country.
It is also telling that the Archives doesn’t have a copy of The Fables of the Barren, a book Violet’s dad gave her full of folklore and legends about venin, wyvern, and other “children’s stories” (210). For a library that contains every book ever written it’s an odd book to exclude until you consider it tells truths that are trying to be suppressed. The letter Violet’s dad left in the copy of the book he gave her even hints that there are those in power who are trying to change how history is written. All things considered, General Sorrengail probably felt that Violet being a scribe would be a truth if she stumbled upon the truth.
Obviously putting her in the Riders Quadrant was a way to keep an eye on her via Dain. That’s another post, and it will be interesting to find out, in the next book, how much of a pawn he was turned into or if he went along with everything from the start.