Many books in my book queue are waiting to be read, and a common theme among is that they’re all part of a series, trilogy or saga. Each Sunday, I’ll share a book from a series. You can read along with me, or add the books to your own reading list. This week, I’ll be reviewing “Brisingr,” the third book in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.
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Warning: This review might contain spoilers.
The third book in the Inheritance Cycle proved to be more interesting, adventurous and fast-paced than its predecessors. For those who gave up after the transcendentalist ant-meditation scene and the boring lessons with Oromis in “Eldest,” try reading the series again. The third book is much more richly detailed where it mattered, and skims over strenuous running, training or flying sequences (for the most part.)
“Brisingr” starts with Eragon and Roran traveling to Helgrind, the home of the Ra’zac, to avenge Garrow’s death and rescue Katrina, Roran’s fiancee. The story splits when Roran travels back to the Varden with Saphira and Eragon stays behind to deal with Sloan, the butcher of Carvahall who betrayed his daughter to the Ra’zac in the second book.
Roran is given a chance to fight with the Varden, disregarding orders from his superiors and proving himself more a leader than a follower.
While Roran faces his own trials in the Varden’s militia, Eragon runs errands for Nasuada, the leader of the Varden, who becomes a powerful and industrious leader, even though she’s a teenager. Eragon travels to Tronjheim, the home of the dwarves, for the election of a new king. The old king, Hrothgar, was killed in the second book. While there, he faces political intrigue and an assassination attempt.
Arya, the elf with whom Eragon falls in love in the first and second books, takes a back seat in the third book. She shows up in battles to assist, but there is no more forced tension between her and Eragon. I’m hoping she’ll have more of a presence in the fourth book because her character is very ambiguous and I’d like to find out more about her life. She’s 100 years old, after all. A lot could have happened to her in that time.
Oromis and Glaedr show up at the end to divulge several secrets that tie up a few loose ends about Eragon’s heritage and the history of the dragons. I won’t spoil it here. You’ll have to continue reading the series to find out.
At the very end of the book, in the acknowledgements, Paolini describes writing “Brisingr” as “a vast, three-dimensional puzzle that I had to solve without hints or instructions.” I couldn’t imagine trying to entwine three different plot lines and tie them up so nicely at the end, with enough spare loose ends and cliffhangers to keep readers guessing. The third book really showed Paolini’s growth and maturity as a writer.
When I read “Eldest” for the first time, I found it hard to believe the Eragon series was only going to be three books long, especially since the first and second books were so detailed. Paolini added the fourth book after realizing too much was going on in the third book. He has a tenancy to add every last detail to the narrative. Running, walking, meals, all of it is carefully documented in every chapter. It’s not tedious, but it’s hard to cram all of that plot into only three books. I wouldn’t have wanted him to hurry through the third book just to make it an even trilogy.
From the couple chapters I’ve read of the fourth book so far, it’ll be a fun ride. Check the blog next week for a review of the final book in the Inheritance Cycle, and vote on what I should read next!