Today I'll be reviewing the third book in the Inheritance Cycle, Brisingr, written by Christopher Paolini.
I'm going to get the complaints out of the way first, but since I criticized Eragon and Eldest shamelessly, I am definitely going to be praising this one...because I LOVED it.
Before we begin, what is this book all about?
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 Empire's 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?
My biggest issue with Brisingr, and indeed all three of Paolini's books that I have read, is that Paolini has a habit of going into immense depth with unimportant descriptions of foliage, faces, buildings, etc., and ignoring important things. By important, I mean things that ought to carry incredible emotional weight for the reader. For example: we've been waiting for Roran and Katrina to end up together since the very beginning of book one. That wedding should have been a monumental occasion that melted our hearts and gave us all those wonderful feelings of things longed for finally achieved. Yet once again, Paolini rushes through the wedding and immediately follows it up with a battle...because that's all he apparently cares to write about.
I still don't particularly like his flowery prose either. It's just too stiff for my taste. Let's keep in mind this is someone who reads Shakespeare for fun sometimes. It isn't prose that bothers me, it's Paolini's prose.
However, on a brighter note, the characters didn't fall flat for me in this book! They were engaging and enjoyable to read about, and I actually cared what happened to them this time around which is a major step forward. How much of that was improvement in writing on Paolini's part and how much was simply the fact that I had now spent 1400 pages with these characters and couldn't help but eventually learn to care for them, I don't know. I like to think it was the former though.
I liked the pacing of this book as well. Eragon and Eldest bored me at times (okay, all the time) but Brisingr did not. Were there slower passages? Of course. Yet they weren't too long and the fast-paced events weren't too crammed together either. I felt the whole book was very well paced.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book to read.
Would I read it again? Likely.
Would I recommend this book to others? Definitely. Although whether or not they want to read the first two books is entirely their choice. Paolini does include recaps of previous books at the beginning of each book in the Inheritance Cycle, so I'd say the first two books aren't necessary to reading the third.
I have yet to finish the fourth book, so we'll see what my opinion of that book turns out to be...