Brisingr – The third novel in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and the longest book in the series, is a much more enjoyable read than the previous two books. Whereas it took me a month and a half to read the second book in the series, it took me a mere 12 days to read Brisingr.
In the second last book of the series war is imminent. The Varden have begun to strike more fiercely at the Empire in Alagaesia. With the villagers of Carvahall settling into life with the Varden, Eragon and Roran set out to rescue Katrina from the Ra’zac. They achieve this feat, but not without cost. Eragon learns that Sloan, Katrina’s father, is still alive and he still reuses to let Katrina marry Roran. After sending Roran and Katrina to the Varden on Saphira, Eragon leaves Helgrind, the lair of the Ra’zac, with Sloan. He deliberates some time on what he is going to do with the butcher. Eragon’s final decision is not to kill the man, but to banish him from seeing his daughter until he changes his ways, and thus Sloan is sent to seek the Elves in Du Weldenvarden leaving Eragon to travel back to the Varden on foot.
This journey is not as hard as it once might have been because of the powers Eragon was given by the dragons during an earlier Elvish ceremony, however it is not safe for him to travel through the Empire without a real weapon or Saphira when he is one of the most wanted people. As such, when Nasuada, leader of the Varden, hears of Eragon’s actions she is displeased. Arya, of her own accord, sets off to accompany Eragon back to the Varden. They meet in a small village. Eragon almost does not recognize her, for Arya has disguised herself as a human. Thereafter their travels are almost without incident, but for the fact that they meet groups of soldiers and must kill them.
Eragon wishes to return to Du Weldenvarden to continue his education with Oromis, but is unable to do so because of other pressing matters, specifically the crowning of a new Dwarf king. Politically speaking it would be unwise for any but a supporter of the Varden to be elected, so Nasuada sends Eragon (sans Saphira) to see that this happens. Before he leaves though, Eragon makes the deal that if their desired outcome is achieved, he will be able to spend a few days more with Oromis. He feeels this is necessary as a second meeting with Murtagh and Thorn does not result in Eragon and Saphira being captured only because they are strengthened with the power of a dozen Elves. Orik, friend of Eraon and the Varden is crowned in due course, but not before Eragon is attacked by a rebellious clan of Dwarves. These Dwarves are expelled from the clanmeet, and in due course the required majority of other clan leaders vote for Orik.
At first Nasuada appears that she will not keep her word about letting Eragon return to the Elves, but she does and Eragon returns there to learn several things. The first is how Galbatorix has become so powerful – using the souls of dragons thought to be dead – and that while he and Murtagh are indeed brothers, they do not share the same father. Eragon’s father is not Morzan, first of the forswarn, but Brom. He also finds the required metal to forge a Dragon Rider’s sword. A new sword is forged for him – which matches his dragon’s colour (as should always be the case). He names it Brisingr (the word for fire in the ancient language). This sword has a most intriguing characteristic: when Eragon says its name the sword bursts into blue flame.
Meanwhile, Roran has been put to great use with the Varden. His skills as a fighter and his ability to lead convince Nasuada to use him in the battle against the Empire. After he and Katrina are married he sets out on several missions that are all successful. His skill as a fighter, as well as his logical strategies aid this success, making him rise quickly within the ranks, and soon he is heading his own group of soldiers into battle.
In the end everyone comes together again, Oromis and his dragon emerge from hiding and are killed by Galbatorix (through Murtagh). Murtagh stabs Oromis and he dies. Glaedr (Oromis’s dragon) has given his soul to Eragon and Saphira and so he dies very shortly after Oromis. Eragon and Saphira, having Glaedr’s soul, witness this amidst a battle with a new Shade that was summoned by three magicians. Arya, who is also there, defeats the Shade.
It is thereafter decided that the Varden will press on with their battles until they are standing right outside Uru’baen where the final battle with Galbatorix is sure to take place.
My thoughts on this book . . .
Before I started reading this book I read a review saying that nothing much happens in this tale and that it was a waste of money to buy it. That was a little harsh, I thought. Having how finished the book I know exactly how wrong that review was. I think there was more happening in this book in the previous two. The first book basically told of Eragon’s initial attempt to destroy the Ra’zac and what happened along the way. The second book was mostly about his education with the Elves. This third book, however, dealt with many more battles, proving that things are changing. Galbatorix has begun mobilizing his forces all the more.
In the previous novel I found Roran’s story more intriguing, perhaps because of all the time devoted to Eragon’s complaints about his back injury and the somewhat boring details of his education. I am certainly not adverse to the education itself, being the perpetual student that I am, but I could have cared less for the lessons that Oromis was giving Eragon. The one exception that I have to this statement is the idea of sensing the beings around you. I would love to be able to do that – and I think that is one of the principal ideas of meditation. In this novel, however, Eragon starts out slaying the Ra’zac and then he journeys back to the Varden, to the Dwarves, to the Elves and eventually back to the Varden. he’s doing a lot more than dwelling in one place – and he’s attained a level of wisdom and maturity that makes him a lot more tolerable as a character.
I don’t know if I cared for the altercation between Eragon and Murtagh – at least Eragon’s trying to convince him to come over to the good side. Its a move that has been done again and again – in Star Wars and Harry Potter, to name a few popular ones therefore I don’t think that it was the encounter itself but the way that the scene was written that turned me off – especially a line about how he had to lower his wards or the Elves helping him would not be able to help. That line in particular reminded me of a firewall and it seemed awkwardly placed.
I think that perhaps I am finding Eragon more tolerable because I am very much beginning to dislike Nasuada. Thankfully she was not in this tale much though.
There are three things that I loved about this book over the others. The first is the sometimes raunchy humor, although it was subtle. I am referring specifically to some of the comments by the villagers as they were preparing the feast for Roran and Katrina’s wedding. It was so accurate to the types of jokes that are told that it was amusing. Having that type of scene in the midst of all the battles was well-placed I think. I am sure that was a big reason that it was included in the first place.
A second thing I loved about this story was the new sword Brisingr. Who in the world would not want a Dragon Rider’s sword that bursts into flame when you say its name? I want that for sure (because its real of course!). That, combined with Jedi mind control powers would complete my master plan for wold domina – ahem – peace. Even though it was an acquisition quite late in the story the uses it was put to were intriguing. I am anxious to see what other uses it will have in the next story.
The third thing that I loved in this story was the development of the relationship between Eragon and Arya. I think that some of this started in the second novel Eldest, but it was developed more here. There is a scene near the beginning when Nasuada learns that Eragon is traveling through the Empire alone that made me sure my predictions were right. After hearing Saphira recount Eragon telling her to leave Arya, without any request, leaves to pursue him. Then there are subtle exchanges between the two of them throughout that cause raised eyebrows, or faint, knowing smiles. The culmination though is in the battle of Feinster when Eragon first arrives Arya’s reaction seems overjoyed. Then, after slaying the Shade, they hug – an intimate moment that was not forced but sweet. Could this be leading somewhere? Let us hope so.
I mentioned predictions. Before I started reading the book I made a few predictions. They were these:
- Galbatorix will be defeated.
- Methinks thou dost protest too much. So many times it has been stated that Eragon has feelings for Arya but she does not return them – she cannot, and his feelings are making her uncomfortable. I think that she has feelings for him too, but she should not, and that is what is making her uncomfortable. In the end they will be together – that’s what I predict.
- I think that the Ra’zac are going down in Brisingr
- Roran will be the third rider and that he and Eragon will steal the last egg from Galbatorix.
- Orik will be the new Dwarf King after Hrothgar’s murder.
- I predict that it will be Nasuada who dies at the end of book three.
– Of the first, I hold to it.
– Of the second, I think Paolini is leading in that direction. I hope he does (it would certainly seem so given Angela’s fortune from book 1). I cannot say I would be disappointed. To use a term from the Harry Potter fandom: I ship Eragon/Arya.
– Of the third, I was right about the Ra’zac. Yay for me!.
- Of the fourth, I still would love it if Roran were the next Dragon Rider. It would prove that Eragon was right about magic only working if you’re linked to a dragon – and that would explain why Roran can’t do it. However, I think he is the symbol of how every man can do it. They do not need to have magical abilities to make a difference. If I am right about this then he will not become a rider. He will help defeat Galbatorix and then return to Palancar Valley, build his farm and raise his children with Katrina. I would be happy with that as well.
- Of the fifth, I was right about Orik becoming King.
- Of the last, I was wrong about Nasuada, but that OK.
I’ll have comments on the last book in the series when it comes out in three years or so.