Friday, March 19, 2010

Brisingr Review (Christopher Paolini)

Seventeen-year-old farm boy, now Dragon Rider, Eragon and his blue dragon Saphira are back for a third installment of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle - a fantasy series considered epic by many readers. The continued stupidity of Eragon is about the only thing epic in this series.

Normally a fast reader, it took me a week and a half to get through the 745-page Brisingr. And even now I puzzle over what made it so bloody long! The chapters mainly focus on the political struggled of the Varden and especially the dwarves - as if there wasn't enough of that in Eldest. And while the politics surrounding a war are definitely important, none of it contributes to Brisingr's supposed plot.

Wait, there was a plot?! If there was, I certainly missed it among the laughing soldiers who can't be killed - unless you stab them through the left nostril, their foot, or the armpit -, Eragon's conversing with the surrounding foliage and wildlife (yes, the ants are back), and Roran's constant doubting of his leadership qualities, as well as his dislike for killing. (Ironically, in one battle, he ends up slaying nearly 200 people, and is seemingly unaffected by it afterward, whereas he has reoccurring nightmares after other battles that Mr. P finds necessary to relate in detail.)

And if you hoped that there would be character development, you will be sorely mistaken. Eragon has elf abilities now, but he still passes out about every other chapter, and exhausts his stamina gauge. Never mind he can punch straight through someone's stomach and not feel light-headed at all after getting a compound fracture. He is still as whiny as ever, and his intelligence level hasn't upgraded in the slightest.

There are a few moments with Arya where the reader sees a softer side of her, but they are few and far in between, and really do not contribute to her character at all. It just leaves the reader thinking "O-kay, so one moment she was sharing sentiments with Eragon around a campfire, and now she's slashing and hacking and acting as uppity as ever!"

I found Roran to be very tiring - particularly when he slew nearly 200 men on his own while gushing blood from his femoral artery. And then he doesn't die. After that moment, he simply becomes a killing machine with a big warhammer in tow. For a while, Mr. P shows signs that Roran may be able to use magic - which is demonstrated in a few nonsensical scenes where he tries (unsuccessfully) to levitate a pebble -, but that is left open for speculation. This may be because Mr. P has plans for it in the fourth book, but doubtful.

About the only character(s) who develop are the Urgals! Urgals, people! That is sad! And even they are not as developed as one would hope. They are still very much portrayed as hulking brutes with ram's horns and yellow eyes that go about grunting and roaring. This portrayal makes the character developments hard to take seriously (though none of this beats the part in Eldest where Eragon experiences the Urgal's childhood).

A good portion of this book focuses on the dwarves (yawn!), and the majority of that is spent with the clan chiefs bickering back and forth about this and that, and one clan giving Eragon the evil eye because he's a Rider. The only redeeming quality during those many chapters are the Star Sapphire is repaired, and Eragon is attacked by ninja dwarves! But unfortunately not killed.

The battles should have offered some variation, but they didn't. One is so abrupt that I literally jumped in my chair. One moment the Varden are being merry and preparing for a wedding, and then BOOM! There's an army of non-pain-feeling laughing soldiers on the horizon! And - surprise, surprise -, the "evil" Murtagh shows up, and he and Eragon have their usual conversation that suspiciously resembles ones Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have. The most disturbing thing I found about that particular battle was afterward, everyone acted like nothing had happened, and they went back to being happy and merry.

The other two battles consist of Muscleman Roran and his skull-smashing hammer doing hundreds of baddies in. And the Varden siege resembles a role-playing game so much that you automatically wonder, "Did I save the game?" when a character enters a building.

What few plot twists the book has are so obvious that you could predict them with only reading the first book. I won't waste time expressing the similarities between it and Star Wars (and goodness, are there a lot!), and in order to cover all of the absurdities in this dreadful volume, I would have to write an essay. But I won't. I'll just end it with these words: I have never in my life had to force myself to read a book - not even for school. I dreaded every time I picked this book up.
Overall Rating: 

(special awfulness award)

Others in the Inheritance Cycle:



  1. I for one am surprised you stomached it, I couldn't. Back when I read eragon and eldest I really enjoyed it but by the time brisingr came out I had realized my stupidity, and when I tried to delve into the book I could not stand it. =]

  2. I have far too much fun making fun of it, plus I was more or less bribed by my sister to do it. But it was a painful pill to swallow and I'm still recovering. Only one more book to go!


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