Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A brief review of the new Inheritance book

I finished Brisingr a few days ago, and here are my first impressions.  I had re-read the first two books in the series right before delving into Brisingr, since I wanted them to be fresh in my mind as I devoured the new one.

Brisingr is definitely better than it's predecessor, Eldest, and probably better than the first book, Eragon.  Christopher Paolini is maturing as a writer, and his protagonist has, in my mind, stopped coming off as pretentious and arrogant from time to time, something that got a little irksome toward the end of Eragon and in several parts of Eldest.  Eragon has matured — he's less of a boy and more of a man.  Finally.

The plot twist involving Eragon's family history?  It was well executed, although I saw it coming.  Reading between the lines, there was way too much ambiguity in certain statements by the red dragon's rider and the blue dragon toward the end of book 2 for things to have been the way Eragon assumed they were.  (Side note: I love how fantasy books tend to reward close reading and re-reading!)

The development involving the objects called Eldunarí was great.  Paolini dropped tantalizing hints all the way through the book but never revealed what was going on with them until close to the end.  The payoff with that was quite satisfying.  Speaking of hints dropped, I really want to know what the soldier Eragon overheard meant when he referenced Murtagh as publicly saying something that really incensed King Galbatorix in the chapter "Escape and Evasion."  Quoth the soldier Derwood, "You heard what Morzan's spawn said well as I did."  We never discover exactly what was said, even though Eragon wonders what it was repeatedly.  Knowing Paolini, this will be hugely important in the fourth and final book in the Inheritance cycle.

In sum, I thought that this book was a satisfying read that still left many interesting plot threads open for resolution in the series's final installment.  I give Brisingr five stars out of five.  By the way, once you get to the end of the book, the title (the word for "fire" in the ancient language) makes sense on many levels.  

A final note: I loved the shout-out to Doctor Who that appears about a fourth of a way through the book.  Paolini admits the reference in the acknowledgements, so no, I'm not making this up! And because I am nothing if not helpful with book trivia, you can find the line in question in the middle of the chapter "Shadows of the Past" (on page 204 of the first edition American hardcover).  Moreover, I shall quote it for you:

Arya signed a stop to the sentence she had been writing on the ground.  Bending over, Eragon read, Adrift upon the sea of time, the lonely god wanders from shore to distant shore, upholding the laws of the stars above.

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