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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Empty Shelf/Mad Reviewer #5 - Brisingr, Christopher Paolini

And here we are in the third stage of the 'Inheritance' cycle by Christopher Paolini: Brisingr. When I first saw the page count - 748 pages - my first thought was, how has Paolini written this much and still made it interesting? Paolini himself said in the acknowledgements that it was originally meant to be a trilogy but there was just too much, hence a fourth book. And he gave a nod to his editor as well - the first draft was apparently a lot longer.

Anyway, a lot has happened in Eragon's life up until this stage (SPOILERS APLENTY HERE!!). His uncle, Garrow, was slain by the Ra'zac; he found a dragon's egg who hatched for him - he named her Saphira; they partnered with Brom who began training Eragon but was later slain; he fled to the Varden in the Beor Mountains with a guy his age called Murtagh; he travelled to Du Weldenvarden and received training from Oromois and Glaedr; and he battled with Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, on the Battle of the Burning Plains.

The book opens with Eragon and Roran trying to figure out how to rescue Katrina, Roran's fiancee, from the Ra'zac in Helgrind. After the rescue they are separated, for the most part, and enters into dual narrative again with some overlaps.

In this Paolini takes us over much more of Alagaesia. From Helgrind, to Surda - where the Varden are contemplating their next move - to Farthen Dur where the dwarves need to elect a new king, to Du Weldenvarden and Ellesmera, so Eragon and Saphira can receive some more training.

It really is remarkable to me how fantasy writers can create entire universes, well-thought out to the very last person and path, and take their readers on an epic journey through their world. What was so interesting to me about Brisingr was the amount I learned about the different civilisations, from the humans, to the Urgals, to the elves and dwarves, and in particular about their politics. The clanmeet, in which the dwarves elect a new king, reveals so much about dwarven politics and how the different clans live and work together. We find out from Rhunon, the elf who makes Eragon a new sword, how the elves used to be before the peace between dragons and elves. We even find out smaller details, such as how precisely to make a sword, in the chapter "Mind Over Metal". I was surprised that Paolini had spent about nine pages on it but, as my friend found out, it was good because it further demonstrates how important it is to Eragon to have a sword befitting his needs and station.

I'll be honest, though - some bits of description I did scan quickly over because I didn't judge them necessary to focus much on, although in terms of world-building, it may be beneficial to learn from them. One particular example was during the seige of Feinster, when Eragon and Arya go into a room in which some spellcasters are attempting to create a Shade (someone inhabited by spirits who becomes incredibly powerful, but the person no longer has complete control over themselves). Paolini described every single bit of the room down to the last piece of furniture which, in my opinion, wasn't necessary, as a more general description can give the reader everything they need to know when visualising a place. I guess that's just Paolini's writing style, though, and it works for him.

There was a great twist in this (AGAIN, SPOILERS) that I probably could have seen coming, but did not. Eragon was told by Murtagh in "Eldest" that he is the son of Morzan, one of the forsworn who betrayed the Riders to Galbatorix, the evil king. Obviously this gives Eragon a bit of an identity crisis, considering how appalling Morzan is, but he finds out that this is not actually the case. His father is, in fact, Brom. MIND BLOWN.

This book was a bit of a mission to complete in a week, I'll be honest. But it was worth it. I look forward to reading Inheritance in a couple of weeks (I've got some library books I need to read first) and see how Paolini brings this great series to an end.

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Very well presented Becky and what a feat to accomplish in a week!