(Cover picture courtesy of Children’s Books.)
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?
Okay, I have to admit that after I read Brisingr, I began to question Christopher Paolini’s writing abilities. The plot is so slow it’s almost non-existent, the characters are cardboard cut-outs and not much actually happens to get the Varden closer to Galbatorix. I honestly wish I had never read the series past Eragon.
The book starts out interestingly enough: Eragon and Roran are scouting out Helgrind to see where the Ra’zac are. But the plot slows down immediately after they rescue Katrina and Eragon stays behind to kill the last Ra’zac and figure out what to do with Sloan (who betrayed Carvahall to the Empire). He finds a way to help Sloan but make sure that he can never get in the way of Roran and Katrina again.
Then he spends many chapters travelling with Arya, who somehow manages to find him. I wouldn’t mind the fact that he got to travel with his love interest except for the fact that nothing happens between them. I won’t give anything more away, but let me say that the plot of Brisingr is basically the same as the first two books: Eragon travels, learns magic, pines for Arya, then a battle is thrown in at the end of the book to keep readers hooked. Christopher Paolini also throws in an apology at the back of the book for getting his fans’ hopes up about Brisingr being the last book. Then three years later, we get Inheritance, the actual ‘last book.’ But it has an open ending that leaves the potential for a fifth book open.
Despite all of his newfound power and strength, Eragon does not change much throughout Brisingr. He still pines for Arya and acts like a love-stricken child around her. Many characters do not change, but the few that do go completely out into left field. Nasuada, for example, begins treating King Orrin (her benefactor) rudely and bestows a completely unjust punishment on Roran to ‘keep discipline’ among the Varden, never mind that such a punishment would kill a normal human. A leader that relies on blind obedience and punishes initiative will end up like Pompey the Great did during the civil war with Caesar: an army near mutiny that will abandon you as soon as things start going badly. But of course this never happens to the Varden because that would be inconvenient for Christopher Paolini.
I give this book 1/5 stars.