Monday, 10 September 2012

Book Review: Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini

This review contains spoilers of the end of Eldest. Read at your own risk.

Title: Brisingr
Author: Christopher Paolini
Series: Inheritance Cycle, #3
Genre: YA high fantasy
Published: 20 September 2008
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 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, Katrina, 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 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?
Eragon was a really good book, but Eldest left a lot to be desired. Brisingr is a lot better than both the first books.

The story starts around three days after the end of Eldest. Murtagh and Thorn defeated Eragon and Saphira and took from them the sword Zar’roc. It’s been revealed that Murtagh and Eragon are brothers, the children of Morzan. Eragon promises Roran that he will help him rescue Katrina from the Ra’zac, who have imprisoned her in Helgrind. That’s where Brisingr starts, with Roran and Eragon in Helgrind.

Eragon and Saphira travel a lot in this book. They do travel together sometimes, such as when they went to Ellesméra, but the also spend a good deal of time away from each other, e.g., when Eragon had to go to Tronjheim. Eragon focused on Eragon and Saphira getting used to what they were now, a Rider and his Dragon. In Eldest, they had to learn to be act as a whole, as a unified entity. In Brisingr, they had to learn to work separately, since they cannot always fight together.

The story had lots of action and battle scenes, since the war/rebellion against Galbatorix has properly begun and the people from Carvahall have joined the Varden. Both Roran Stronghammer and Eragon Shadeslayer shine in their respective battle scenes.

Several characters who I really like are introduced in this book. We meet Blödhgarm, one of the elf wizards sent by Islanzadí to protect Eragon. I liked the concept of elves changing their appearance to their individual perception of beauty. We also get to know Nar Garzhvog, leader of the kull who joined the Varden. When he and Eragon travel to the Beor Mountains, he tells us lots of stuff about the culture of the Urgals.

To Brisingr also return a few characters that were not quite present at the end of Eldest. I am glad that we got to see more of Orik, Oromis and Glaedr.

Something I just don’t like about the whole tetralogy is that the climax happens way too close to the end of the book. For example, in Brisingr, the climactic scene(s) happens in the last fifty-or-so pages. That is not right for a 700-ish-page book.

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