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Christopher Paolini – Brisingr

October 6, 2008

120. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (2008)
Inheritance, Book 3

Length: 764 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 30 September 2008
Finished: 06 October 2008

Dragon Rider fights,
whines, thinks, but mostly stalls. No
final battle yet.

Summary: After his defeat by his brother Murtagh at the end of Eldest, Eragon, the last free Dragon Rider, must come to grips with the fact that he is the son of Morzan, who was second only to Galbatorix, the mad and evil emperor. However, he can’t wallow for too long, as the Varden continue to make war on the Empire, and they need his aid – him and his dragon, Saphira. But Eragon and Saphira are bound to more than the Varden, and as the subtitle of this book (The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular) hints, much of the span of this book is taken up with them fulfilling oaths they swore during the first two books of the series, as well as preparing for their inevitable confrontation with Galbatorix.

Review: Christopher Paolini does have some talent; I’m not denying that. Eragon, derivative and overwritten though it was, was better and more cohesive than any of the crap I wrote when I was fifteen, without question. However, there’s one key difference: my parents don’t own a publishing press on which they published the crap I wrote when I was fifteen. Paolini somehow got it into his head that he was a Serious Writer producing Fine Works of High Literary Merit (or at least, his writing reads like this is the case), his parents didn’t disabuse him of the notion, and by the time he came into contact with people who could and should have set him straight, his vanity-published work was already successful, so he’s had no external motivation to improve his writing. And, given that he was a NY Times-bestselling author before he was able to buy a celebratory bottle of champagne, apparently he doesn’t really need to.

To be fair, Brisingr is better in some ways, than the previous books in the series. The prose is still overwrought and full of unneccesary two-dollar words, but at least he’s now using them correctly. Also improved is the derivative nature of his story – fantasy tropes (and blatant lifts from Tolkien, amongst others) still form the basis of the world he’s created, but in Brisingr he introduces several elements that I thought were quite creative, and have the potential to take the story in cool directions.

My main problem with Brisingr was its length. What saved Eragon from being crippled by its own writing was the fact that it told a good, exciting (if derivative) action story. What saved Eldest from its writing and the bloat of its main storyline was the exciting action story that focused around the sympathetic character of Roran. In the case of Brisingr, however…

Originally, the Inheritance Trilogy was going to be just that, a trilogy, but then Paolini decided that he couldn’t fit everything he needed to into the nearly 800 pages of this book, and *poof*, the Trilogy becomes a Cycle. One might think that that should mean that Brisingr was going to be action-packed, crammed with all of the stuff that just *had* to be included before the inevitable final battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil… unfortunately, one would be wrong. Eragon and Saphira meander about for most of the novel, fulfilling promises here and there, but not really doing much of consequence until about page 500. When stuff was happening, it was exciting and attention-holding, but those sections were interspersed with long stretches of mostly disposable filler. That means that an editor with the stones to sit Paolini down and respond to the idea of a tetrology with a stern “No! Bad author! No biscuit!” could have saved the reader about two-thirds of this book, and kept the series as a trilogy. However, seeing as these books sell like hotcakes, no right-minded publisher is going to object to having more of them. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you loved the first two, it’s mostly more of the same, so knock yourselves out. My honest advice, however, would be to skip it and just read the summary recap that’s sure to be included at the beginning of the fourth (and hopefully final) book.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Shari Writes (contains spoilers), Associated Content, 5 Minutes for Books, Astrogirl’s Galaxy Guide
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Eragon stared at the dark tower of stone wherein hid the monsters who had murdered his uncle, Garrow.

Vocab:

  • p. 69: “The bumblebee’s mane glowed in the morning light – each hair sharp and distinct to Eragon – and its blurred wings generated a gentle bombilation, like a tattoo played on a drum.” – sound of rapid vibration; “the buzz of a bumble bee”. (“Bombilation”? Really? “Buzzing” wouldn’t have worked just as well?)
    .
  • p. 211: “Her face calm, she lifted an arm and, before Eragon could leap forward and stop her, laid her hand upon the lambent orb.” – softly bright or radiant.
    .
  • p. 297: “From another part of the pavilion, Fredric brought Eragon a weapon he identified as a falchion.” – a broad, short sword having a convex edge curving sharply to the point.
    .
  • p. 398: “Thus accoutered and accompanied, Eragon made his way toward Mount ThardĂ»r and there to Bregan Hold and his foster brother, Orik.” – To outfit and equip, as for military duty. (Oh, same basic word as accoutrement. Duh.)
    .
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30 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2008 8:51 pm

    So, what you’re saying is, I don’t need to bother with Christopher Paolini’s books…

  2. October 6, 2008 8:57 pm

    DoB – Erm… not unless you’re curious what all of the bestseller fuss is about, no. There’s lots and lots of better YA fantasy, and fantasy in general, out there.

  3. October 7, 2008 6:38 am

    Yikes…2.5/5! You’ve actually kind of convinced me that I can skip this series all together. We have the movie but I’ve never seen it.

  4. October 7, 2008 8:51 am

    Trish – well, if you’ve seen Star Wars, substitute dragons for the spaceships and dwarves for the fishy-head dudes, and you’ve pretty much read/seen Eragon.

    Oddly, even after all of my complaining above, I’m actually looking forward to the last book in the series, since Paolini will have to stop fiddling around and write the actual conflict with the Big Bad.

  5. October 7, 2008 11:06 am

    Excellent review….one of the best I’ve read thus far! I’ve got the first two books, but haven’t found the time to dive into them yet. Every time I pass a bookstore, I’ve been tempted to pick this one up, but now I think I’ll pass.

    Nice work!

  6. October 7, 2008 11:18 am

    Lucky! I loved the first two books but I think I’m going to re-read them before I start this one.

  7. October 7, 2008 11:38 am

    Michele – Thanks! It’s so frustrating, because there’s a ton of potential for a really interesting story in these books, but it just gets overwhelmed by the writing style and the length.

    Ladytink – I re-read Eragon before I read Eldest, but I didn’t have the time or motivation to re-read them this time around… luckily for me, there was a summary of the previous books at the beginning of Brisingr.

  8. October 7, 2008 3:59 pm

    Your review confirms my suspicion that these books aren’t worth my time. They don’t sound terrible, but like you said there are so many better fantasy books out there. And we only have so much time.

  9. October 7, 2008 4:26 pm

    Nymeth – And we only have so much time.

    …she says on the day that my TBR pile finally topped 200 books. :)

  10. October 7, 2008 10:02 pm

    Nicki – This is a great review. You write so well.

    This reminded me of your Sunday Salon post yesterday, which definitely made me smile with the editing comments.

    200 books!?!? Okay, now I feel a little better about my TBR pile.

  11. October 9, 2008 7:56 am

    I loved ‘bombilation.’ It says something ‘buzzing’ doesn’t. It says that the observer is listening more closely, that the buzzing is less sharp and more bumbly, and it implies the motion accompanying the sound. I’m no raving fan of Paolini but I have to say that I’d side with him agains the American school of writing on the use of so-called unnecessary words. What’s necessary about stories in the first place? Not much. They’re a luxury – but they make us more humane. And I think the corresponding use of luxury words is less out of place in a fantasy novel than anywhere else.

    Besides, kids love to learn stuff. School has become so outrageously, sinfully boring that we’ve forgetten that.

  12. October 9, 2008 8:19 am

    Shana – Thanks! Also, yes, 200 books. *hangs head in shame* Actually, at the moment it’s 202. I live to make others feel better about their bookpiles. ;)

    AR – I love words, I love big fancy words, and I love big fancy words that say exactly what they mean with all the finely shaded nuances you can handle. However, I’m less willing to cut Paolini slack on the “unnecessary words” issue for two reasons: First, I think that the big words are symptomatic of the Child Prodigy Writer vibe that I get from his writing in general. Second, while I can’t remember any specific examples off the top of my head, there are numerous times in Eragon (and probably Eldest) where he uses a big word incorrectly. So, luxury words are fine in general, and even desirable in some (most?) cases, but Paolini has used up my patience on the issue.

    And I think we’re just going to have to disagree on “bombilation.” There may be shades of meaning that “buzzing” doesn’t capture, but it just struck me as silly. :)

  13. Jill permalink
    October 9, 2008 7:39 pm

    I will whole-heartedly agree with you concerning Brisingr. I was hoping for more, but was satisfied that my original suppositions were confirmed. I have to say that my students read Eragon over the summer, then watched the movie to compare/contrast, and they were stunned by the butchery done to the novel. I am relieved that most of them felt the book was much better. We’re now reading Eldest, and it definitely has evolved from the trite story being told in Eragon. I really enjoy the parallel between Roran and Eragon in this book.

  14. October 9, 2008 9:06 pm

    Jill – I thought my suppositions had been confirmed in Eldest, but at the same time, I wasn’t particularly surprised by the revelations in Brisingr. Also, Roran’s my favorite character, so I was kind of sad that we didn’t get as much of him this time around.

  15. mike permalink
    October 10, 2008 8:10 am

    omg i really cant wait to get this book ive read the first 2 like a million times because i just cant get enough of eragon

  16. October 10, 2008 10:42 am

    Ha – does he ever use masticating instead of chewing? That’s a pet peeve of mine and instantly tells me a book is pretentious like crazy.

    I know a ton of kids who love this series, but it is so NOT my thing.

  17. October 10, 2008 2:34 pm

    mike – More power to you. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

    Lenore – I don’t particularly remember “masticating”, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

  18. October 10, 2008 5:26 pm

    I wondered about this one – sounds like more of the same. I read and mostly enjoyed the first two (though I agree with the $2 word comment!).

    I feel like I should re-read the first two before I start this one and can’t quite bring myself to it. Especially if it’s fairly dull for the first 500 or so pages. I hate that!

    PS I love your “scene” where the editor is telling Paolini no. It made me laugh.

  19. October 10, 2008 9:39 pm

    I love these haiku reviews!

  20. October 11, 2008 1:20 pm

    KT – I had the same internal “to re-read or not to re-read” debate – I settled on reading the wikipedia page for Eldest, which is pretty detailed, and then the summary at the beginning of Brisingr.

    I love the “Bad ______! No biscuit!” My friends and I use it on each other all the time if one of us is doing something that we know we shouldn’t – I hear it a lot when my friends catch me glancing longingly at the library booksale. Plus, it’s a lot more portable than if I were a cat person and had to carry a little squirt-bottle of water around. :)

    mari – Thanks! Some come easier than others, but they’re always fun to write.

  21. October 12, 2008 1:17 pm

    I’m impressed with Christopher Paolini, but it wasn’t enough to keep me reading his books. I got through a small portion of Eragon before stopping. The descriptions were so very, very lengthy. By the time action happened, I was already asleep.

  22. October 12, 2008 3:15 pm

    charley – Hee hee, too funny! I haven’t tried reading Paolini’s books while sleep-deprived – sounds like it’s maybe not such a good idea!

  23. cherrycola1788 permalink
    February 10, 2009 10:24 am

    So we can safely lump SMeyer and Paolini into the same boat of “pop writers” and resume our serious reading. Good to know!

  24. thekoolaidmom permalink
    April 3, 2009 10:19 am

    OUCH! lol.. you were meaner than me, but you speak the truth. I didn’t know that Paolini’s parents were publishers, though. I still say a Reader’s Digest condensed version would be a better read than this bloated door stop of vanity. I don’t suppose there’s any word on when book four will be out?

  25. November 27, 2009 5:20 pm

    Iam looking for the 3rd book of eragon-eldest-brisingr

  26. Viv permalink
    May 30, 2010 1:45 pm

    i have to agree with you, i only liked the last few chapters of eldest actually and i dont really remember what i read in brisingr

    the first one was awesome but the movie didn’t support it that well, i really hoped it would be better

    you are very dedicated to these reviews btw
    very interesting

    i dont even bother much with a tbr list, theres no point, i just read whenever and whatever suits me best

  27. tom permalink
    November 5, 2011 2:41 pm

    liar.i give it 10000000000000000000000000000000/5

Trackbacks

  1. links for 2008-10-27 « YA Fabulous!
  2. Saturday Review of Books: October 11, 2008 at Semicolon
  3. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini « Book Scoops

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