A review of Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Reviewed by Dominic Ball

by Christopher Paolini
Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 20, 2008, Hardcover: 784 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0375826726

Brisingr is an altogether excellent book. Use of vivid imagery combined with heart-pounding action and twists of the plot all the way make a stunning third instalment in the brilliant Inheritance Cycle.

Brisingr focuses on the many promises Eragon and his dragon Saphira have made to various people throughout Alagaësia. First is Eragon’s promise to rescue his cousin’s wife-to-be Katrina from the prisons of evil King Galbatorix and the Raz’ac, his minions. But Eragon has also sworn fealty to Nasuada, leader of the Varden, promised to visit his dwarf foster brother Orik and pledged to return to Ellesmera, land of the elves, to complete his Dragon Rider training with Oromis and Glaedr among other things.

Christopher Paolini has the uncanny knack of leaving a chapter hanging just at a crucial point before lifting off to some other character – and leaving that hanging as well! It creates nail biting suspense as well as urging you to keep on going. And he seems to be able to make little, trivial things – e.g. a contest to find out who has the worst bruises in the worst places – into big, serious (if hilarious) tournaments: ‘Eragon inspected the lesions, then chuckled and said, “Pshaw, those are pinpricks! Did you get lost and run into a rosebush? I have one that puts those to shame.” He removed both his boots, then stood and dropped his trousers, so that his only garb was his shirt and woolen underpants. “Top that if you can,” he said, and pointed to the inside of his thighs. A riotous combination of colors mottled his skin, as if Eragon were an exotic fruit that was ripening in uneven patches from crabapple green to putrefied purple.’ (Which is also outstanding imagery.)

In the Inheritance series, a battle is a battle – even if it is with a simple peasant brutally forced to work in the evil king’s army. And killing someone is killing someone – even if the someone is an insignificant squirrel. This makes Brisingr’s characters so much more realistic than immortal crusaders with no qualms about killing anybody.

The only thing that I was really disappointed with was that during chapters written from Saphira’s point of view, she sounded quite animalistic and unlike the wise and sophisticated dragon whom she is – e.g. using silly names for certain objects such as ‘big-round-fire-in-the-sky’ for ‘sun’.

But all in all, Brisingr is an excellent book, filled with surprises, excitement, tragedy and nail-biting suspense! Can a once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king? I’m desperately hanging off my seat for the fourth and final book in the series. It is a highly recommended read.

About the reviewer: Dominic Ball is an eleven year old compulsive reader who likes nothing better than to sit still for hours and hours with a good book. He is occasionally forced by his parents to get up for meals, and also swims, writes, plays soccer, cricket, piano, mandolin and chess, and has been known to contemplate the ‘multiverse’, but would always rather be reading.