Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christopher Paolini: Brisingr

I’ve been looking forward to Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. So I picked up a copy not long after it became available. And then it jumped to the front of my line. Eragon and his dragon Saphira continue their adventures in Alagaesia, helping the rebel Varden, and their allies the dwarves and elves to overthrow the evil King Galbatorix. The ancient word for fire, brisingr, takes on special meaning as the story unfolds. Not surprising given the title.

We resume the story not long after we left off in Eldest. Eragon and his cousin Roran are trying to rescue Roran’s finance. That mission is not politically important in the grand struggle against Galbatorix, but is important to Eragon. In fact it represents one of the promises made by Eragon reflected in the subtitle The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular.

One of the interesting themes of the book centers around the potentially conflicting promises made by Eragon as he tries to balance fragile alliances, family ties, and a sense of rightness and honor. He walks a fine line between political expedience and political necessity.

Again, as in Eldest, Roran gets the bulk of the action, while Eragon gets the political intrigue and travelogue. We don’t get as much travelogue as in Eldest, but we do get a good look at dwarvish politics and clan relations.

It’s hard to say too much about the plot without spoiling the plots of Eragon and Eldest. So I won’t say much. But I will say that I think Paolini’s writing has matured since Eragon. I think we get much better depth in the characters, and much more complexity in their inter-relationships. I like it.

By half way through the book, I thought we sure had a long ways to go to get rid of Galbatorix. By three quarters of the way through, I thought we would have to really hurry. In fact I thought drawing to a close in the time left would be anti-climatic. By the time I finished I realized that the Inheritance Trilogy had become the Inheritance Cycle. It is scheduled to conclude in Book Four.

I hate waiting, but I’m glad the story is not over. I’m especially glad it was not rushed to a conclusion. I probably could have known that there would be a fourth volume if I had paid more attention to the pre-release publicity. But I didn’t. I just knew the third volume of a trilogy was coming. So I will bide my time and look forward to the next installment.

I thought that Eldest stopped at an inopportune point in the story. I feel that Brisingr came to a better pause point. So I would not discourage anyone from reading the story through the first three books. In fact, I would encourage it.

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