(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.
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
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes