Sunday, August 2, 2009

"Brisingr" by Christopher Paolini

On a whole, I found Brisingr to be a much smoother, richer, more thoughtful book than the first two in the series, Eragon and Eldest. Paolini's writing becomes more subtle with each book, and you can definitely see him growing from a talented adolescent into a gifted adult writer.

In fact, the only thing I didn't particularly like about Brisingr is something it can't help: it's a middle book. As such, it doesn't have a definite conclusion, but keeps leading up to things that will happen in the final book.

For those who found out about Eragon's parentage Eldest and thought it was too much of a Star Wars rip-off, I say this: new information comes to light in this book. Read it.


  1. I gave up after Eragon, it was so derivative - and then I read about the author and how his parents published his book for him (and that didn't make me warm to him!) - but from what you say he's worth a second chance?

  2. Well, I think it's a little hard not to be viewed as derivative these days, especially in the fantasy world. The basics of any Epic Story are pretty similar -- hero gets call to action, finds a mentor, crosses into the unknown, goes on a mission, learns new skills, meets certain archetypal characters along the way... you can apply this model to everything from the Odyssey to the Grimm Brothers to Lord of the Rings to Star Wars. People are so familiar with this model anymore, that when you use it, sometimes it seems like you're just copying.

    Which is not to say that some parts of his first two books do feel derivative -- I've heard them described as "Star Wars with dragons." On the other hand, Star Wars gets described as "Cowboys in Space."

    I personally am enjoying these books and like how he's subverted some fantasy cliches and not taken the easy route with some of his characterizations. I really dig the dwarves and their culture, and there's a lot with them in this 3rd book.

    So I think he's worth a second shot, but my tastes and yours may not be the same.

    And yes, he wrote Eragon as a teen and his parents helped him self-publish it, which eventually led him to an agent and a big-name publishing house, where he's been honing his craft ever since. Compared to what I wrote when I was 16, it's bloody amazing. Not S.E. Hinton, by any means, but then, who is?


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