By Christopher Paolini. #3 in The Inheritance Cycle. Grade: A
Brisingr begins only a few days after Eldest (Inheritance #2) ended. It was supposed to be the concluding book in the series, but the young writer hadn’t fathomed how much the story would grow, which is why he has decided to introduce another fourth book, called The Inheritance, which released November last year.
Oaths sworn . . . loyalties tested . . . forces collide.
It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr,” the 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 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?
For those readers new to the Inheritance Series, let me do a quit recap (FYI, you’ve been living under a rock). The series is set around Eragon, a simple farm boy, who chances upon a dragon egg that changes his life. They live in the fictional – but brilliantly crafted – continent of Alagaësia during a power struggle. As is often the case, our gifted teenager is one of the very few remaining Dragon Riders, an elite group that protected Alagaësia in the past, but was wiped out by our evil villain Galbatorix. Galbatorix now rules the land, and under the inexpert guidance of Eragon, the small Surda and a rebel group called the Varden attempt to overthrow the much more powerful Empire. They are outnumbered, and they know it, which is why all hopes had been pinned on Eragon.
In the beginning of Brisingr, Eragon and Saphira are tired and weary, having just barely survived the battle between the Empire and the Varden. Their encounter with Murtagh and Thorn was filled with revelations, and they realize the need to visit their teachers in Ellesmera. But before they can do so, Roran needs help to recover a soon-to-be pregnant Katrina from the Ra’zac, and they also need to thwart Murtagh, witness the crowning of the Dwarves’ king, and help the Varden to gather forces.
When they finally return to Ellesmera, they learn about the concept of Eldunari, or the heart of the heart of Dragons, which allows the Rider to tap the dragon’s strength, even if the Dragon’s no more. This is the reason of Galbatorix’s power, and things have never looked so bleak. Once their training is complete, Eragon realizes the need for a sword, and gets Rhunön, the blacksmith, to make him one, and names it Brisingr (hence the title of the novel). The novel concludes with Oromis and Glaedr deciding to face the Empire in an open battle in fly to Gil’ead. Glaedr gives his own Eldunari to Eragon before flying off to fight his final battle. Saphira fly to Feinster, the city that the Varden are laying siege on.
Brisingr is not an easy read. Aside from the daunting 800 or so pages, it also has little plot going on for it. But surprisingly, it’s also the most polished book of the three. Paolini’s maturity is at the forefront, with his unusual verbosity and descriptive writing. His confidence is evident in the he takes time to explore the minutiae of the highly colourful world he has created, and the little stories and unusual characters that bring it to life.
The book’s certainly boomed, and there’s more than just a little dash of Tolkien (the elves, the imaginary languages?), McCaffrey and even Rowling (Eldunari ~ Horcruxes?), which makes for somewhat unoriginal writing. The little side stories do make the reader slog with its meandering ways, which is why most of his fans are not planning to read the sequel. It may occur to the reader exactly where is Paolini going with that particular line of thought, and the lack of heart in it gives the impression that the author is just as lost. No doubt, he could have easily sniped half of the book without losing much in the way of a plot, but it shouldn’t matter to those of us who like to savour a well-set story. The little sub-plots and innumerable secondary characters and side-stories added colour to the novel, and I, personally didn’t mind it too much.
A small warning: readers new to the series shouldn’t attempt to begin this, without at least reading the summaries from Wikipedia. Fans of the series may have highly contrasting opinions because this book is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately, it was mine, which is why I finished it in two days, and am glad I read it this late, because it means I wouldn’t have to wait two years for the sequel.