The Dark Secret is the fourth book of the New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series, and also the fourth book in the first arc, featuring Starflight, the NightWing Dragonet of Destiny, as the main protagonist. It follows The Hidden Kingdom and precedes The Brightest Night.
The title in this Wings of Fire book refers to the secret plan created by Queen Battlewinner and Morrowseer to invade and take over the Rainforest Kingdom and alluding to the fact that the Dragonet Prophecy is fake.
In the shadows, trouble is brewing. . . .
The mysterious NightWings keep everything hidden, from their home and their queen to their allegiance in the war. Now they've kidnapped their own dragonet of destiny, and Starflight is finally meeting the rest of his tribe — whether he wants to or not.
The NightWings have also kidnapped several innocent RainWings, now trapped in the dark, barren, miserable place that is the NightWing kingdom. Starflight wants to help the RainWings, but he's busy saving his own scales and trying to find a way back to his friends. The fate of two kingdoms rests in his talons, and with no one to save him, Starflight will have to find a way to be brave . . . before it's too late.
For Jonah and Elliot's first tribe: Willamina and Wyatt, Ashwin and Syrus, Leo and Maya, Amelie, Charlie, Adam, Stella, Rady and Lyla, Sylvie and Penelope, Calvin, Evie and Joshua, and Noah and Grace
Quote on Back of HardcoverEdit
Suddenly, one of the nearest dragons snapped, “Just tell us if they’re planning an attack!"
“Yes,” Starflight blurted. “I mean- I think so.”
This met with such an uproar that Starflight had to sit down and cover his head with his wings. He’d said the worst possible thing. He’d made everything worse for Glory and the RainWings, and he couldn’t even bring himself to speak up and try that famous “diplomacy” he’d always thought was a good idea.
They wouldn’t listen to me anyway, he told himself, but he didn’t know if that was true. He wasn’t brave enough to find out.
The prologue showed Reed and his siblings in a battle between the IceWings and the MudWings, where Marsh becomes terrified after he had just seen his sister Crane die in front of him during their first battle. After the battle was over, Umber claimed to have noticed a scavenger den the IceWings were after. Reed took note but did not ponder on it anymore. He then thought about joining the Talons of Peace with his siblings. The prologue ended with him not wanting to lose anyone else in the war, having already lost their sister.
Part One: The Secret Plan Edit
The book began with Starflight unconscious and worrying where Sunny was, before replaying what had happened happened beforehand. He remembered that when Clay left and was chasing a boar, the NightWings came up out of the tunnel and abducted him. He couldn't seem to remember anything else. Starflight was awoken by his half-sister, Fierceteeth, who dumped salt water onto him. He was introduced to all of the NightWing dragonets, however, the introduction was cut short when Morrowseer stormed into the room, demanding that Starflight join him at the council to see the queen. Starflight nervously came along.
At the council, Starflight watched as they debated about attacking the RainWings. They asked Starflight what he knows and Morrowseer threatened to kill him if he didn't say anything, so he said that he thinks they were attacking. He witnessed Vengeance's death because he endangered the tribe for bringing Glory to the home of the NightWings with Greatness saying "You brought us a viper disguised as a garden snake" and so the guards threw him in the lava.
Morrowseer took Starflight to an island to hunt, and when Starflight saw how the NightWings hunt he was disgusted and tried to talk his way out of eating the giant albatross Morrowseer had killed. After listening to Starflight rant on and on about the strange hunting habits of NightWings, Morrowseer confirmed who his father is. Morrowseer took Starflight to the labs, but on the way, they met Fatespeaker. Morrowseer agreed to take her to the labs if she promised to be quiet, and she happily agreed. When they met Mastermind, Morrowseer went away, being bored with science, leaving him and Fatespeaker with Mastermind.
At first, when Starflight met his father, Mastermind, he was filled with elation at the prospect of having such a smart father, but when he was given a tour by Mastermind around the labs, he was sickened by the fact that his father was abducting and torturing RainWings without even showing that he cared. He said that they were doing it for "science" because he didn't want his son to know the real reason. When Mastermind showed him a RainWing test subject, - which turns out to be Orchid - Starflight said reassuring things to her, such as saying Mangrove was still looking for her, instead of giving up and stopping his search for her, turning her a pink color (which means she was happy). Mastermind marveled at this, wondering why and how she turned colors. When Starflight realized that Mastermind might be reading his mind, he momentarily panicked, but then relaxes when he realized his father had not reacted to any of his thoughts. Fatespeaker gave him a look that said, "We'll be talking about this later."
Morrowseer then came back, saying that Starflight must be introduced to the "others". However, Starflight was not paying attention but instead pondering why the NightWings would be abducting the RainWings. The puzzle pieces clicked inside Starflight's mind, and he figured out the plan was to take the Rainforest from the Rainwings and make that their new home. He also figured that the NightWings allied with Blister so that she and her army could help take the territory. Part One ended with Starflight thinking "I've figured out the NightWings' secret plan. But now... what do I do about it?"
Part Two: The Queen's SecretEdit
Starflight was brought to meet the false dragonets, and almost immediately afterward Morrowseer ordered the dragonets to kill him as a test. He ran away and hid in the RainWing prisons where a guard stopped him. He told her he was there for a “school project” and she let him through. While waiting there, the other dragonets ran into the Nightwing guard who freaked out, not knowing that the alternate dragonets of destiny were on the island. When Flame, the false SkyWing dragonet of destiny, shouted "We’re trying to kill a NightWing dragonet! Did you see where he went?" The guard then screamed "THEY'RE HERE TO KILL OUR DRAGONETS!" and slammed a gong on Flame's head. After a while, Fatespeaker found him and brought him back to the cave where the dragonets originally were. Morrowseer then took them to the fortress and to the dormitories where Starflight slept.
Fatespeaker woke Starflight up in the night to explore the volcano. They found the old treasury and Starflight discovered a dreamvisitor. He attempted to contact the real dragonets with it but had to enter Kinkajou's dreams instead. In her dream, he learned that his friends think he either betrayed them or was too cowardly to even do something in that nature. Starflight then fell asleep feeling lonelier than he ever had before.
He was woken up by Morrowseer, who brought them to the mainland to try to convince a remote outpost of SkyWings to switch their alliances to Blister. The dragonets failed, and some Nightwings, who were following them, burst in and killed all the Skywings. Squid then said he didn't want to do this anymore and Morrowseer sent him away, saying he hoped Squid would die. Morrowseer then took everyone back to the volcano island. Starflight and the rest of the dragonets then took a long, deserved sleep.
Fatespeaker woke Starflight up saying that Flame just snuck out and she wanted to follow him. Flame lead the way to the dungeon Flame and Ochre had to stay in when the RainWing dungeon's guard caught them trying to kill Starflight. In there, they found Deathbringer, the NightWing who helped Glory escape the Night Kingdom.
Fatespeaker and Starflight left so that they had time to find Queen Battlewinner. They found her in a secret room behind a map. When nobody was in the room, Starflight thought that there might be no queen at all until a dragon rose out of a cauldron of lava in the middle of the room. They found out she was forced to stay in the cauldron because an IceWing shot their frostbreath straight down her throat. Since the lava and ice canceled each other out, if she left the lava, the ice would finish its work and kill her. Both NightWing dragonets tried to convince her that what Morrowseer was doing was too cruel, but the queen told them to do as he says and for them to leave her. The dragonets had failed to change anything.
That night, Starflight took out the dreamvisitor again and successfully contacted Glory. He told her that the Nightwings were attacking and he was captured and didn't betray them. He then woke up after talking with Glory and realized the blankets had changed and the dreamvisitor was exposed.
The next day Morrowseer instructed them to do battle training and while attempting to kill Fatespeaker, Viper fell into the lava but managed to accidentally scratch Flame with her venomous tail. Morrowseer attempted to save Flame and left Viper for dead. While Morrowseer took Flame back to the fortress to find healers, Starflight discovered that none of the alternate dragonets were born on the brightest night. Fatespeaker and Starflight returned to the fortress to rest.
Before Starflight could get any sleep, Mastermind told him to walk with him to their library to find something on how to cure SandWing venom for Flame. Knowing how Starflight is caught in between the thought of telling him and not telling him. Starflight decided to tell him, but before he could, NightWings came to take Mastermind to the council. There, Starflight learned that the NightWings would attack at midnight that night.
Part Three: The TruthEdit
Frantically trying to find the dreamvisitor to warn Glory, Starflight discovered it was missing. He woke up Fatespeaker and told her that they needed to help the RainWings, but did not know how. Fatespeaker agreed that they should help and came up with the plan to go to the Rainforest.
Using Flame's scratch as an excuse, they tricked the guards into letting them into the rainforest, claiming that they would find the antidote for the venom. He told the guards that the queen had chosen him as he was the only NightWing the RainWings trusted. The guards decided to let them in. Immediately after they came in, RainWings pinned them down, as ordered by Tsunami. Starflight and Tsunami spotted each other and Tsunami explained a bit of their situation and brought them to Glory, Sunny and Clay. Fatespeaker asked who Sunny is, and soon after they found that they were quite alike. They planned how they were going to do the battle and decide they would go in within a few hours. Sunny suggested a new way of fighting for RainWings: Sleeping darts. Soon, all of the RainWings were armed with their tranquilizer darts.
Starflight believed he might die in the fight, so he confessed to Sunny that he loved her. She said she loved him back but she couldn't share the same kind of affection for him when they were going into battle. The army of RainWings then went through the tunnel. Glory freed Orchid first and told Liana and Grandeur how to free the RainWings with the spear. They then went to speak to Queen Battlewinner. As they were entering her chamber, Starflight noticed the ground shaking, and realized the volcano was going to erupt. Glory demanded that Battlewinner stopped the battle but the NightWing Queen refused. Starflight came up with the idea for letting the NightWings come to the rainforest, as long as they accepted Glory as their queen. Queen Battlewinner shrieked in rage and attempted to attack them, but having jumped out of her lava, the ice freezed her insides and killed her in a matter of seconds.
Then they went to free Splendor and Deathbringer. During this period, the volcano was shaking violently. They freed Splendor and Deathbringer and told the NightWings their plan. Almost all the dragons entered the rainforest, saying "Queen Glory" except for Morrowseer. As they were about to leave, Morrowseer told them the prophecy was false and made up, as part of an elaborate plan he and Battlewinner orchestrated to take over the rainforest. When the volcano erupted, the dragons dashed through the tunnel to the rainforest as the explosion consumed Morrowseer and killed him. Starflight then felt the blast on his scales and felt a stab of pain through his eyes and therefore became blind. Clay brought him to the rainforest and Fatespeaker came up to him (he was unsure whether or not it was Fatespeaker or Sunny at first) and he was then jabbed in the neck by a sleeping dart and was knocked unconscious.
Blaze was with Glacier, telling her about the dragonets. Glacier confirmed that she only was supporting Blaze for the land. Glacier allowed Blaze to go inside and thought to herself about killing the dragonets if they didn't choose Blaze.
Blister was with Nautilus and Squid, who was found by the mountains after Morrowseer had left him to fend for himself. Both Nautilus and Blister were wondering about Morrowseer's disappearance and why he sent Blister to a scavenger den. She realized that the dragonets may be the reason for his disappearance and vowed to kill them.
Burn was outside of her stronghold, with her brother, Smolder. They were talking about their prisoner, Ex-Queen Scarlet. Burn then told him about how much a bore Queen Ruby was, and how she wouldn't enter battle while her kingdom was in turmoil. Burn then stated she would destroy the prophecy by killing the dragonets.
- The Dark Secret is the only book where the dragonet featured on the cover is fully depicted on the front panel, without part of the dragonet's wing or tail on the spine or back of the book.
- It was following the release of this book that Wings of Fire made the New York Times bestseller list.
- The Lost Heir, The Dark Secret, Winter Turning, and Darkness of Dragons are the only covers to have the main dragon, not in flight, but standing on some sort of rock or ledge or swimming.
- The Dark Secret and Winter Turning have the same number of pages: 295.
- It's the only book in the first arc where the PoV doesn't encounter a scavenger.
- On some paperback books, the NightWing under the one flying closest to "Tui T. Sutherland" is missing its head. There is also a case of this on the first printings of the hardcover copies.
- It’s likely that The Dark Secret will get a graphic novel adaptation.
- It's the first book in the entire series to have the protagonist standing on a rock-like structure, the second be Winter Turning and the third being Darkness of Dragons.
- The Dark Secret is the first book to have five POVs (Reed, Starflight, Queen Glacier, Blister, and Burn), the other being Legends: Darkstalker (Prince Arctic, Darkstalker, Prince Fathom, Clearsight, and Indigo), and possibly Dragonslayer (That is, if it follows the same pattern as other legends books).
- When Starflight has the dreamvisitor he thinks that it was made by a SandWing animus, even though it was actually made by Darkstalker.
Click here to see the cover gallery.