Book Review: ‘Brisingr’ by Christopher Paolini

Posted: 8 January 2013 in Book reviews
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‘Brisingr’ is the third book in the Inheritance Cycle.  Just a friendly warning though.  If you haven’t read either of the previous two books, then obviously this review will reveal many “secrets”.  If you don’t care, fair play.

The book can be broken up into five ‘scenes.’  The opening scene finds Eragon and Roran in the vicinity of Helgrind (where the Ra’zac live).  There are on a perilous mission to rescue Katrina and also to (hopefully) destroy the foul Ra’zac).  Neither Arya or Nasuada are happy with this mission, but they all know that if Eragon didn’t got, Roran would have simply gone off by himself.  They couldn’t let that happen, and since Roran and Eragon are cousins they allowed him to go.  The only way for them to reach the Ra’zac’s lair at the top of Helgrind is by having Saphira fly them there.  After finding the hidden entrance, a battle ensues in which the Lethrblaka (the Ra’zac’s parents, which are also their mode of transportation) and one of the Ra’zac are killed.  Katrina is rescued just after Eragon discovers Sloan, Katrina’s father and reason she was kidnapped.  Eragon doesn’t reveal his presence as it would only upset the others. Instead he forces Saphira to fly the other two back to the Varden while he stays behind.  He kills the last Ra’zac after learning that Galbatorix has almost discovered the true name of something very important (the true name of magic is my guess).  He saves the now blind Sloan (his eyes were removed) and curses/blesses/forces (you pick) him to go to the elves and live amongst them.  Sloan doesn’t take to kindly to that, but not like he now has a choice.

Scene two takes us to the Varden’s camp where Nasuada is having difficulties of her own.  Her own people expect her to place them in positions of power without their proving themselves.  She will not allow it and thus she is challenged to ‘The Trial of the Long Knives.’  Whoever is the first stop cutting themselves with a long knife looses.  Much to the chagrin of her opponent, she wins gaining the loyalty of her people.

From this point on, life becomes quite uncomfortable for everyone as life usually does when plans of war move forward.  But it isn’t all doom and gloom.  There was a marriage.  Roran and Katrina were finally able to get married with no hitches.  Other than they needed to get married right away for one very important reason *wink wink*.  Eragon married them in a beautiful ceremony that was a nice change from the devastation of battle they had been dealing hours prior.  

Eragon was also able to finally rectify the blessing/curse he placed on Elva.  At least he tried.  He wasn’t able to completely remove the curse, but he got enough of it that she was able to choose to help or not without the pain.  The unexpected result was her declaration of defiance to anything and anyone.  

The most difficult of the pain came from the dwarves.  In the battle before Roran and Katrina wed, Murtagh and Thorn (his dragon) appeared and killed Hrothgar, the King of the Dwarves.  This was a blow not only to the dwarves but also to the Varden.  Hrothgar had always been friendly with the Varden, but not all the clan leaders felt the same.  Nasuada sent Eragon to Farthen Dûr to help ensure that a king or queen was chosen that would help out the Varden rid Alagaësia of Galbatorix.  This is where we find scene three.

Eragon’s time in Farthen Dûr was arduous filled with meetings, meetings, assassination attempts, a trial, and more meetings.  The final result was a relief.  Orik, Eragon’s foster brother, was named King of the Dwarves.  Eragon relayed the news to Nasuada and had Saphira begin her journey there.  Saphira made it just in time for the coronation.  As a gift (and as was promised) she restored the star sapphire.  Shortly after the coronation and following celebration was complete, Eragon and Saphira left Farthen Dûr for Ellesméra.

In scene four, Eragon finds himself back in Ellesméra to receive instruction from Oromis and Glaedr and hopefully to procure a sword.  He does everything he went there to do and then departs.  This leads to scene five, the battle at Belatona.  Of course I’m ending this on vague note as to not give away much of the ending.  

There are two main protagonists in this book: Roran and Eragon.  Obviously Eragon is the main protagonist, but Roran was been followed much more since the second book.  I didn’t relay much of his goings ons but suffice it to say, he appears quite a bit.  You can tell that Roran and Eragon are cousins.  The are both stubborn  and reckless.  The biggest difference between the two is how the react to the current situations.  Roran has the charisma and passion to incite people to follow him and trust him.  Such as with the villagers he saved in ‘Eldest’, when Nasuada sends Roran off to earn his place as a leader, he shows is capability time after time, including when he defies the nonsensical orders of a superior to save the lives of most of his comrades.  He takes his punishments willingly, doesn’t complain (much), and has earned his place.

Not so with Eragon.  In this book he has further shown his immaturity.  He is impatient, testy and generally acts like a spoiled child.  When he is trying to get a weapon in the Varden’s camp,  he gets all dramatic to Saphira about the agony of having to learn how to take care of a ‘regular’ sword.  He is essentially a diva.  He whines all the time, gets moody when he doesn’t get what he wants or isn’t able to understand things, he is impatient with everything.  The only reason people fight for him is because he is the dragon rider.. Without the dragon he would be nothing.  He doesn’t have the strength of character to rally people behind him like Roran does.  People trust Roran because he has earned it.  People ‘trust’ (a term I use loosely here) Eragon because of what his position stands for and what they expect him to do.  

I miss Murtagh.  I know he is the bad guy now but he is a much more enjoyable character than Eragon and Saphira (who is just as bad as Eragon but a dragon).  You see him a couple times and he seems to be in more anguish than in book two.  He is also much more powerful.  You really feel for him.  You know he doesn’t want to be bad (something that Eragon conveniently won’t remember) but doesn’t seem to have a choice in the matter.  Especially when you see how he is used at the end of the book.  I pray that he survives the final book.

There really aren’t any new characters to mention.  Arya is still there, same as Orik.  Nasuada, the villagers, Oromis.  There are a selection of secondary characters that are constantly present.  There is Carn, a magician who Roran becomes good friends with.  His magic isn’t that strong, but he is willing to do whatever he can to help.  There is Blödhgarm, an elf magician who has fur the colour of midnight.  There is Elva, who we met in ‘Eldest’, who has grown at an unnatural rate to compensate for the curse/blessing that Eragon gave her.  I should at least mention a dwarf.  There was Kvîstor, a dwarvish guard who dies protecting Eragon from assassins an in abandoned quarter of Farthen Dûr.  Also there is Garzhvog, a Kull.  He was introduced in ‘Eldest’, but you see him more in this book.  He is the mouthpiece for how we the reader learn about the Urgal culture.  There are many great characters strolling through the pages that are around for a few acts.

Overall, the book is engaging and very good.  Thankfully, I found the language to be easier to understand.  There weren’t that many strange words like in ‘Eldest.’  But just like the previous two books, the description was very overwhelming.  It paints a pretty picture and you can see exactly how a place or person looks, but it can get overwhelming after a while.  These aren’t books that you can just breeze through.  They take time to read.  At least for me they did.

Definitely read it though.  I mean if you have made it this far you really should just finish it.  I am almost a quarter done with ‘Inheritance’ (book 4 and the conclusion of the story).  I am excited to see how the story ends.  Enjoy 😉

  1. lightningjcb says:

    A fantastic series! I’d love to read your review of ‘Inheritance’ and what you’ll think of the conclusion to a wonderfully, gripping series 🙂


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