Brisingr by Christopher Paolini Review 3/5

(To read my review of the previous book from the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest click here)

Overall Impression: Elegantly written, but with a little too much Dwarf politics and  sword searching for my liking….
Brisingr is the third installment in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It was originally intended to be the final book of the trilogy. However when Paolini was writing it he realized he couldn’t possibly fit the entirety of what he wanted to say into one book, and therefore expanded it into a four book cycle instead.
Rereading this book I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it much more than the first time. On my original reading I only remember coming away from the book very disappointed and strongly believing someone should sack the editor. However even though I enjoyed it more this time, I still feel it is the weakest book of the series so far.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have not read the previous books from the series this review may contain spoilers about them, however this review will not contain any major spoilers from the book Brisingr.

Oaths sworn…
Loyalties tested…
Forces collide.
It’s been only months since Eragon uttered “brisingr”, an ancient-language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words – he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.
First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength – as are the elves and the dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices – choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.
Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

Blimey that was a long! I don’t really feel the need to add much more information like I usually would, as the blurb does a pretty extensive job. However I will mention that the book revolves around Eragon and his dragon Saphira attempting to fulfill the seven promises  they have made to people throughout their journey. As far as I’m aware these are: Freeing Elva from the accidental curse, serving Nasauda and the Varden, fixing the star sapphire, avenging Garrow’s death at the hands of the Ra’zac, rescuing Katrina from inside Helgrind, avenging Hrothgars death and promising Oromis and Gleadr they will return to Ellesmera for their training.

Brisingr is the longest book in the Inheritance Cycle so far, stacking up at 748 pages. Phew! It is in some aspects, Paolini’s best writing to date. It feels as if he’s suddenly jumped about 5 to 6 years in maturity. His vocabulary has expanded massively, so much in fact I actually had to look up several words. His prose flow off the tongue like honey; so perfectly crafted they almost read like poetry. It’s very obvious the amount of effort Paolini has put into this third book to pick the right phrases. I can just imagine him spending hours at a desk with a huge leather-bound dictionary, glasses off kilter, coffee cup in hand, a dingy desk light his only friend.
However I feel his ultimate obsession with the English language is both his strength and his weakness. This is mainly because he doesn’t seem to realize when it is appropriate. While his technique can work extremely well in some places, in others it makes the book an extremely slow and taxing to read. I am no stranger to long or slow books, but even I begun to reach my limit. Chapters upon chapters of battle scenes that don’t really have any bearing on the plot, conversations about making plans to make plans, and sixteen pages worth describing the forging of a sword.
I’m afraid in this book Paolini really has released his inner fantasy geek, and splattered it all over the pages. An easy mistake, but a potentially costly one.

The plot of Brisingr also progresses at a slower rate than the previous books. As is Paolini’s style, he begins and ends the book with action packed events/battles but substantially cools down the plot pace throughout the rest of the pages. Brisingr has a distinct ‘middle book’ feel which I think was probably unavoidable, due to the fact that there were so many lose ends that needed to be cleared up before the final showdown in the last book. However although Brisingr is slow, it ultimately continued to capture my attention. This book takes the opportunity to expand the world of Alagaësia further, and continues to develop back-stories of interest. The beauty of this book is it’s subtlety; philosophizing conversations around the fire, moments of contemplation, and short windows into the complex lives of the elves. However I feel Paolini’s biggest weakness is battle scenes; I find his writing style gets clunky and his descriptions become boring, confusing and much less imaginative, and since quite a lot of  this book focuses on battles, I found it slightly frustrating. Hopefully this is a skill he will improve in time for the last book.

The character development in this book is just as great as the previous ones, if not better. As soon as the book begins there is an automatic shift in Eragon’s personality, showing that he has matured. This was a big bonus for me as I found Eragon on the verge of whiny in the previous book. Roran’s character isn’t developed much, but the rest are improved substantially. Nasuada role in the book grows and she continues to be a strong and tough leader, and in comparison Arya is shown to be more venerable, and therefore becomes a much more rounded and interesting character. Last but not least, there is much more character development around the race of dragons. YAY! We are given further insight into their mysterious powers and hidden secrets, which I loved as dragons are one of my favorite mythical creatures, and I felt slightly cheated of that aspect in the previous book. Finally the best part about the character development in this book is that we are given much more insight into the characters back stories including Arya, Angela, Brom, Oromis and Orik which I really enjoyed.

I would recommend this book to readers that enjoyed the first two books, male or female. I feel this book is aimed at a more mature audience than the previous installments with it’s slower paced subtle style. I would suggest it to ages 16 and upwards who enjoy traditional fantasy.

(To read my review of the next book in the Inheritance series, Inheritance, click here.)

Writing Style: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes

Overall 3/5


7 thoughts on “Brisingr by Christopher Paolini Review 3/5

    • I can definitely understand why, Eldest had a great start and ending, but the middle really drags on, and the characters aren’t given as much development in that book.
      Aggh yes Brisingr took ages to come out, and Inheritance even longer! I almost gave up on the idea that Inheritance would ever come out! I was beginning to think the author had abandoned the series.

  1. A couple of spoilers here. This is my least favourite of the series, it just seems out of place with the others and it also demonstrates how predictable Paolini is. Before it came out me and a friend though that maybe Faolin was Arya’s mate and the Brom was Eragon’s father and then both things happened. But yeah he did seem to explore more with the language he used but I was glad when he toned it down for the last one. Also, I’ve been meaning to comment on thi for a while, sorry for the delay. I still can’t wait for you to read the last one I really hope you like it!

    • I completely agree, it does seem out of place (although I haven’t got the last to compare it to yet) but I guess that’s going to happen if you transform a trilogy into a four book cycle. I thought the storyline didn’t have enough to it, but instead was lots of little stories, although there were still some scenes I really enjoyed.
      Really? I didn’t guess that actually, I thought they were more going to continue down the “Luke, I am your father” route haha 🙂 But then I didn’t really put much thought into how the next book was going to pan out.
      Haha that’s alright 🙂 I was hoping you’d comment because I wanted to see what your stance on this book was as I do know a lot of people did really enjoy it. Remarkably, 60 people gave it five stars on Amazon! I don’t get that at all…..
      I can’t wait to read the last book either! It’s high up in my TBR pile so I should be getting around to it soon 🙂

      • Yeah, I totally agree! I liked the end of it where Eragon and Arya killed the shade, I like that he made an effort to keep them equal and I like that you learn more about Arya but, like yousaid, it seems to be lacking a story. To be honest I can barely remember what happens in the book, I need to read the series again!
        Haha, me and my friend have been known to spend hours debating books, we just had too much time on our hands :p but I guessed some of the stuff that happens in the last one too.
        I think I would have enjoyed it more if i hadn’t of rushed it. Gave the book five stars? That is pretty odd, maybe we’re missing something 😛 Haha, I eagerly await your review of it and to see if you views match up with mine! I like that we basically read the same things, it feels sort of like a book club!

      • Me too! I’m reading this book at the moment where the female representation is really annoying me! That is one thing I do love about the series, he gives the females important roles rather than leaving them in the supporting role and occasionally having them cry in the corner. That stuff really bugs me!
        Haha, funny enough that’s actually why I decided to reread the story, because I couldn’t remember anything about Brisingr, actually there were quite a few vital details I completely forgot! :S But even now I’m not sure I could describe the main plot, because there kinda isn’t one? 😛
        Thats great that you can discuss books with your friend! 🙂 Nothing’s better than pouring over the details of a favorite book *cough* Hunger Games *cough* I used to have a lot of book discussions but unfortunatly these days it doesn’t happen as much, but of course my blog makes up for that 😛 And I love that we read the same things too. It’s awesome that our taste is so similar, and I know I’ve got tonnes more books on my shelves that also overlap with your reading! Kelley Armstrong, One Day, Dracula etc.
        Here’s to many more future book clubish discussions! 🙂

      • Oh my god it is so hard to find a decent female character in any book, that is why I love Hermione, Luna, Bellatrix, Katniss and Arya they don’t wait to be rescued but do it themselves instead (apart from Bellatrix, she’s usually th person people need rescuing from).
        You’re totally right, there’s no main plot, just a lot of dithering before battle. Ha, we have yet to properly debate Hunger Games, we were speaking about it on the bus but getting a bit too passionate about it that we might have drawn odd looks!
        We just have awesome taste 😛 I look forward to our book clubbish discussions! 😀

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