Sunday, October 05, 2008

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

*Warning: This review may contain spoilers for those who have not read Eragon or Eldest, the first two books of this series*

Brisingr directly follows on from where Eldest left off. Eragon, now half elf and half human, has to come to terms with the betrayal of Murtagh and the revelations about his parentage. Whilst struggling with this he must also assist his cousin Roran in saving his beloved Katrina, avenge his uncle, fight for the Varden, remove the curse he unwittingly bestowed on a young girl, fulfil his obligations to the dwarves and continue his training. As if that wasn't enough he needs to find a way to defeat Murtagh, Thorn and eventually Galbatorix. Having barely escaped with his life after his last encounter with Murtagh the odds are overwhelming against Eragon. With so many pledges and tasks it seems as though Eragon will have his work cut out for him, especially when his pledges conflict with one another. Follow Eragon as he continues to work his way to his ultimate task, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes til the final page.

I couldn't wait to pick up the next book in the Inheritance series and I was not disappointed. Paolini has once again brought Alagaesia to life with its multitude of races and varying topography. It was a delight to re-enter this world and pick up where we had left off, straight after the battle where Murtagh and Thorn defeat Eragon and Saphira.

As you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but some may find this latest installment not what they expected. It is a little slower than previous books, with somewhat less action. However the book does deepen our knowledge of the characters and provides us with some interesting insights. Paolini explores the themes of power, obedience, justice and family in this book. There are several points at which characters are forced to make decisions that affect our notions of these ideas. For example one character is forced to have another punished for disobeying orders, despite the fact that by doing so the character saved lives and made the mission a success. Paolini is forcing us and the characters to see the wider picture. There is definitely a sense of 'every action has a consequence' and some of the actions from previous books, like the blessing of Elva and his promise to undo the curse. There is a feeling of wrapping up loose ends as Eragon begins to fulfil some of his promises which I think is a great thing and leaves the way open for the final book to concentrate on his quest to defeat Galbatorix.

For those who were hoping to find out what would happen in the end, obviously this book does not give the answer. In some ways it can be seen as a bit of a filler to stave off the main event, but I didn't feel it was any less enjoyable for this. I still couldn't put the book down and had at least two nights when I looked at the clock, swore and raced off to bed :)

For people looking for something original and new, perhaps this isn't the series for you. What I love about this series is that it combines some standard fantasy ideas like dragons and elves and quests and battles, in a comfortable and engaging way. It takes me back to the sort of books I read as a child and the films I grew to love. They are exactly the sort of books I would curl up on the sofa with when I'm feeling down and just escape to.

So if you want fantasy that is light, enjoyable and interesting, I would definitely recommend the Inheritance cyle.

*4 stars*

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