Book Review: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Brisingr is the third book in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series, which began with the book Eragon and continued in the book Eldest. I was impressed by the depth and maturity this book contained compared to the other two books in the series. Brisingr is without question my favorite Paolini book thus far. It is strikingly original, particularly towards the end, and wraps up many loose threads and questions left unanswered in the previous two books of the series. Paolini is beginning to find his his own voice and is now forging an original path in the world of fantasy. For the late teen or young adult left yearning for an eighth Harry Potter book, Paolini's series offers a satisfying alternative.

When I began the book, I assumed that Brisingr would climax with the hero Eragon facing his archenemy Galbatorix. However, the pacing of the book seemed wrong for a finale, and I realized that Paolini had decided to change the Inheritance Trilogy into the Inheritance Cycle, a four book series. This will give fans another book to look forward to, though as of the writing of this review the title and release date have not been announced.

The addition of a fourth book allowed Paolini to focus on character development rather than simply moving the action forward, which deepens the reader's understanding of and interest in Eragon's world. The book seems to be as much a compilation of stories as a single story, and the reader can expect some lulls between action scenes. In particular, I found myself as bored and frustrated as Eragon's character during the discussions leading up to the crowning of a new dwarf king.

The character of Eragon's cousin Roran, who came of age in the book Eldest as the leader of refugees from Carvahall, is further developed in Brisingr. Both Roran and Eragon are mighty warriors, though in some ways Roran is superior because he must fight without the aid of dragons or magic. Both Roran and Eragon feel realistic emotions of remorse for the lives they must take in the course of their campaign to defeat Galbatorix. There are several scenes of gruesome battle violence depicted in the story, some of which I skimmed because of their graphic nature. Because of this, I would not recommend this book for young teens.

Toward the end of the book, Paolini describes the making of a sword in amazing detail. It is almost as if he has made a sword himself and is simply telling his readers about the process. This scene is well-researched and well-written.

The final scenes of Brisingr feature intertwined battles that left me breathless. Once I got to this point in the story, I couldn't put the book down. Without giving anything away, I will say that the source of Galbatorix's power is finally revealed in this book, setting the stage for his ultimate defeat in book four.

Overall, Brisingr is a delightful read and a guaranteed hit for fans of the series. Paolini had his work cut out for him when he set out to complete the story, and while his efforts were not entirely successful–necessitating a fourth book–he did manage to write an entertaining and powerful novel that is certain to keep fans wanting more.

 

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