Book Review : Brisingr

Book Review : BrisingrBrisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3) by Christopher Paolini
Published by Alfred A. Knopf on September 20th 2008
Pages: 748
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Oaths sworn... loyalties tested... forces collide.

It's been only months since Eragon first 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 Empires 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?

I had almost given up on The Inheritance Cycle, after barely making it through Eldest.Imagine my surprise when I actually not only enjoyed Brisingr, but was also even brought to tears during it. Though this novel, like Eragon and Eldest, suffered from many of the same writing issues, they were not quite as frequent or blatant as in the others. There was much more character development happening in this novel and Eragon was at his most likable. I loved reading from Saphira’s point-of view, the foreshadowing for the next book, and the twist surrounding Galbatorix’s insurmountable powers. Though I was not as fond of reading about the process of appointing the new king of the dwarves, or about Eragon’s true parenthood, this book was a massive step in the right direction.


I think the major reason I liked Brisngr the most out of The Inheritance Cycle novels was because of the increased focus on dragons. At last, I got to read several chapters from Saphira’s point-of-view. And even if I found her to be more of a stereotype of what the author thought a dragon should be, rather than a fully-dimensional character, I was still pleased by its inclusion and at the separation of her and Eragon, so that they could be fleshed out on their own. Unfortunately, Saphira’s characterization rendered her very concerned with her own appearance and draconic power—all she needed to make her more fitting to the trope was to have a massive hoard of gold to guard and a princess to kidnap.


“She imagined how the light must make her scales sparkle and how those who saw her circling in the sky must marvel at the sight, and she hummed with pleasure, content in the knowledge that she was the most beautiful creature in Aglaësia, for who could hope to match the glory of her scales; and her long tapering tail; and her wings, so fair and well formed; and her curved claws, and her long white fangs, with which she could sever the neck of a wild ox in a single bite?”


Despite my disappointment with Saphira’s development, I was riveted to learn that the source of Galbatorix’s immense power was, View Spoiler »


At first, this revelation reminded me a lot of the movie Dragonheart, in which the last dragon separated his heart into two to save a dying young prince, linking them irrevocably forever. Though it may have originally been inspired by this, Brisingr took its own path. View Spoiler » I was certainly not expecting to be moved to tears by it and probably would have not believed you if you told me after reading Eldest that I would be emotionally attached enough in order to cry while reading Brisingr.


The author’s narration View Spoiler »


I cried as View Spoiler »Honestly throughout the entire series, I was never more invested in Galbatorix’s defeat than in this moment.


For me, this was the emotional high point of the entire series. Though the book often tries to include romance in it—it has never been as successful as the display of partnership and love between Oromis and Glaedr. I was not touched by Katrina’s rescue and marriage to Roran or the romance between Eragon’s mother and true father. I was also baffled at how View Spoiler » even through the stress of being kidnapped and tortured by the Ra’zac and despite the fact that she is constantly referred to as thin and sickly looking.


And though Eragon’s View Spoiler »


I was similarly less than absorbed during Eragon’s return to Farthen Dûr at Nasuada’s behest to influence the dwarves to pick their new king. It really ruined the pacing of the novel, in my opinion, and it was always apparent that Orik, Eragon’s foster brother, would end up as king. I also really could never be bothered enough to be concerned about the entire dwarf clan who wanted Eragon dead. Their assassination attempt on his life was not exciting in the least to me, even with the murder of one of Eragon’s dwarf guards, the breaking of his sword, and the lack of Saphira’s assistance in the fight. I knew Eragon would come out unscathed. And thankfully, it at least put an end to the dwarf’s deliberations over their new king, with the outcome as expected.


I much more enjoyed Eragon and Saphira’s foray to Ellesmera in Brisingr. Eragon’s search for a new sword was interesting, even for someone who has no interest in weaponry, like me. I loved the foreshadowing of him trying out the green Dragon Rider sword, Támerlein, which he found lacking.  It was obvious that this green blade was for the Dragon Rider of the last dragon egg, which was also green, as the swords of the Rider match the scales of the dragon. I literally cannot wait to learn the identity of the last Rider, and I am crossing my fingers that it is not Roran or Elva.


Regardless of who the last new Rider is, I also appreciated the creation of Eragon’s new sword, Brisingr. (Admittedly, I did find it pretty hokey that his sword burst into flames whenever he said its name). It was interesting to see Solembum’s prophecy come true about what was beneath the Menoa tree, and the actual forging of the weapon through magic. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of Solembum’s prophecy become a reality in the last book. It was also interesting to see yet another person predict, curse, or prophesy that Eragon will leave Aglaësia in the future, never to return. The very first time I read this, I predicted Eragon would pull a Frodo and take a ship to the lands of the elves, but maybe the author will surprise me like he did with this novel.


Though ultimately, I thought Brisingr was the strongest in The Inheritance Cycle as of yet, it did suffer from many of the same writing flaws as the others and I would be remiss not to note any of them here. Though the preposterous metaphors were not so frequent as in Eragon and Eldest, they were still present, and often jar the reader right out of the story.


“‘I would not want to get any closer to those creatures, Shadeslayer. They aren’t human, of that I’m sure, and their hate, it was like the largest thunderstorm you’ve ever seen crammed into a tiny glass bottle.’

‘And when that bottle breaks. . . .’ Eragon murmered.”


Was it really necessary or valid to compare hate to a huge thunderstorm stuffed into a bottle? Furthermore, the man stating this expression was gravely wounded, so I doubt he would be throwing metaphors around. Though as far as the author’s metaphors go, this one wasn’t that bad. Worse yet was Katrina and Roran’s conversation, which highlighted both the author’s struggle with romance ad metaphors in one fell blow:


“‘And if Galbatorix attacks Du Weldenvarden, I will fly to the moon and raise our child among the spirits who inhabit the heavens.’

‘And they will bow down to you and make you their queen, as you deserve.’ She snuggled closer to him. ”


Ah, yes, nothing more romantic than one’s husband fighting in the frontlines of a war fought with soldiers incapable of feeling pain, dragons, sorcerers, and shades and talking about raising your unborn infant alone. Total snuggle material. At least Roran and Katrina’s gross romance was the only one I had to put up with in this novel. I was thankful that Eragon kept his romantic fancies for Arya to himself this time, and actually got to know her as a person and friend at last.


Though the metaphors and romance were not quite as bad in Brisingr, the events that happened so quickly that the instance seems unreal were as frequent as ever. One such occurrence that forced me to reread to ensure what happened, actually occurred was:


“As Martland Redbeard walked across the corpse-strewn encampment, a soldier who Roran had assumed was dead flipped over and from the ground, lopped off the earl’s right hand. With a movement so graceful it appeared practiced, Martland kicked the sword out of his hand, drew a dagger from his belt and stabbed the man through one of his ears, killing him. His face flushed and strained, Martland shoved the stump of his wrist under his left armpit and waved away everyone who rushed over to him. ‘Leave me alone! It’s hardly a wound at all.’”


In another scene, I almost laughed aloud when Roran single-handedly killed literally 193 enemy soldiers by himself, with no magic and only the image of Katrina strengthening his blows. Now I have never fought in a battle, so I have no idea how realistic this number was, but it seemed ludicrous, even for a fantasy novel, and especially for someone who had zero magic or dragons at his disposal.


Regardless of any writing flaws—be they poor romance, metaphors, or unrealistic narrating—Brisingr was my favorite out of The Inheritance Cycle and showed vast improvement since the last entry in the series, Eldest. My interest in the series was renewed, my investment peaked—due in large part to the focus on dragons—, and I cannot wait until my copy of Inheritance arrives and I can see how it all ends.


Book Review : Brisinger - Blogging with Dragons

Posted September 14, 2018 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

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