When there grows a significant span of time between reading books in a series, sometimes the books will acquire a certain measure of unfounded love. You forget just whether the book is any good or not, and tend to give it the benefit of the doubt; because if nothing else, you’re looking forward to the forthcoming book, right?
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini acquired that unrealism in my head as I waited for its arrival, all those months ago. I had enjoyed the first two books well enough, and was hoping that – as with many authors – the author’s skill would have grown.
Sadly, Paolini didn’t feel that was necessary in telling his best selling series. Similar to J.K. Rowling, Paolini knew that he could survive on his popularity and the originating story, rather than any actual literary skill.
I want to make it very clear though, that Paolini (and I guess Rowling as well) created an ingenious story. I don’t hold with the idea that it is simply a rip-off of Star Wars meshed together with Lord of the Rings. It’s not as if either of those two stories was entirely original anyway. No, Paolini’s problem in my eyes is that he has gotten everywhere without any actual writing skills.
One of Paolini’s most obvious flaws is in the apparent belief that Paolini thinks he can write like Tolkien. An XKCD comic describes one of Paolini’s major flaws perfectly in a comic entitled “Fiction Rule of Thumb.” In it a graph depicts a falling curve which states that the probability that a book is good will decline as the number of words made up by the author increase.
Without a doubt, it is good to stretch yourself and aim big. But when you’re only in your early 20’s and trying to mimic Tolkien, you’re in for a big reality shock. Tolkien was a linguistic genius, having studied the topic for decades and taught it at the University of Oxford. Anyone who attempts to imitate the man is either very brave or oh so very stupid.
This is exemplified most clearly once you reach the end of the book, where Paolini feels that his story is deserved of an “On the Origin of Names.” In it, he shamelessly attempts to mimic Tolkien in explaining his characters names came from. It is nothing short of ludicrous and laughable. There is nowhere near the work put into Paolini’s name creation to warrant such a chapter, especially when a simple glossary would have sufficed. (Let us not forget that authors as great as Jordan and Erikson were happy with just a glossary.)
As for the story itself, I will say that it isn’t horrible; as long as you ignore the flaws in his writing. Eragon continues to learn new skills; he gets himself in and out of trouble, sometimes with the help of his dragon Saphira, other times without; Roran (Eragon’s cousin) rescues his bride and somehow manages to become Paolini’s mimicry of Hercules in the Inheritance Cycle.
But everything is so contrived. Roran manages to come through virtually unscathed, after attempting suicidal and almost physically impossible feats. Eragon turns his burgeoning magic into nothing more than an obvious reflection of 21st century technology (in once scene he uses it as an alarm clock). Eragon also uses his magic as a lightsaber, copying the scene from Star Wars Episode 1 where Qui Gon Jin attempts to melt through bulkhead doors.
Paolini had originally said that he needed to expand his trilogy to four books, to fully tell the story. In a very Robert Jordan-esque manner, Paolini has just filled this book with inarticulate dribble in an attempt to expand his moneymaking possibilities. There was so much excess in here as to be proof that no fourth book was necessary.
As to why it is so popular, it’s the Rowling-story problem. Both Rowling and Paolini have created wonderful stories that engage the reader and make you want more. Sadly, neither of them can write very well, and only manage to get through on the strength of the underlying story. There are no doubt worse authors out there, but by gosh neither is even in the top 50% of great writers.
Review by Joshua S Hill
17 positive reader review(s) for Brisingr
Yo boi from Melting Pot
I understand. This isn't your type of book. But to call him a half-ass writer? That is just cold. You need to understand that these books are just harder to read if you are not prepared to walk along the long, winding path to the thick of the plot. A lot of these comments call Paolini out for slowing it down. Others criticize him for taking ideas and credit from Tolkien. If Tolkien was alive today, he would be proud to see what others have created in his absence. And as for slowing it down; it's a 800 page book! Not to mention, Brisingr and Inheritance were supposed to be one book! He had to split it so people wouldn't fall asleep before they were halfway through a 2000-page book. As for those who say nothing happened, everything happened! Eragon and Roran save Katrina, and Eragon sends Sloan to the elves. Eragon also meets Tenga, a powerful hermit who mentored and taught Angela. Nasuada beats the Hadarac desert tribes' leader in the Trial of the Long Knives. Orik was crowned king of the dwarves. Saphira repaired the Isidar Mithrim. Rhunon/Eragon created Brisingr, a Rider sword that lights at it's name! Eragon discovered the secret to Galbatorix's power; Eldunari. Oromis and Glaedr were killed by the possessed Murtagh and Thorn. And Arya kills a Shade, with Eragon's help. Shall I say more?
Alex from Australian
I really enjoyed this book. If your really into fantasy i really recommend it. Paolini does a great job of world building and really makes you care for the characters. The book does drag a little mid way trough the read but other then that it was a fantastic read and cant wait to read the last book.
Alia from Whoknowswhere
I absolutely don't understand most part of this review, and the hate it has, because for me Brisingr is the best book in the Cycle, at the same level as Inheritance. I won't deny that in the first book, Chris' writing wasn't that good, but he really grew up, and got so much better at it, and Brisingr is the living proof of it. His way of telling the story, along with the character development, was so much better. The story in brisingr was slower, yes, but from my point of view, everything that happened was 100% important, and I got through a lot of feelings and nervous breakdowns for fear of the characters while I read. So then again, the only answer I find to why people dislike this so much, is that they are only here for the action, and a book can have so much more than that and still be awesome. Or is any of you going to deny that Tolkien had a lot of slow moments in his books? C'mon.
Brom from Alagasia
Epic book, definitely read.
Owen from USA
The Book has a lot less action than the other 3 and I understand where the critics viewpoints are but they are being a little harsh. When I first read the sires I did want to skip the chapters about Roran. His story was like reading a textbook with emotion. I thought it was a little annoying but didn't actually skip any chapters. If you are going to skip chapters about Roran I would do it until the point where their ship pulls up to the Varden and the Empire fighting. After that it is a little better.(but not much) It has little to no magic and may not appeal so someone who just wants Eragons chapter to resume. I think that the book overall is fine and you should read it if you read the first 2 and liked them. (just my opinion)
Carson from Nelson
I honestly thought it was a great book, aside from the fact that not very much happened. This book review made it look way worse than it really was, and if you are deterred by this review still read it. People have way different opinions, and mine is that this book had fantastic story telling.
Johnny from New Zealand
I wouldn't say it was anywhere near as bad as it is made out to be by this review. The book wasn't as good as the first two, but one of the books can not be as riveting as the others surely? I personally found it a good read, but the critics are very harsh. I don't believe Paolini copied from other series, and it most certainly is not "inarticulate dribble". The only not so interesting part is the middle, where not a lot is happening, but all books must have a dull part. I would recommend this book to everyone who has read the first two.
Maria from UK
I did not like Eragon very much either. I was able to read it and some of the ideas were great, but at the same time, I did not enjoy any of the characters, as you mentioned and found it incredibly difficult to read. I actually had to force myself to read a book that is meant for pleasure. I started the second one expecting it to be much better because of all the years in between, so far, I have not made it very far because I find it slow still. I did a review of Eragon on my site as well, somewhere. Thanks for sharing your opinions.
Martin from New Zealand
Paolini has so obliviously copied Tolkien. ON one of his words he uses Turin without the special symbol above the U. He has Isen star which sounds like Isengard. You have Elesmera which is his Lothlorien, Urubane- Mordor, Carvahal- Hobbiton, The Spines- Misty Mountains, Surda- Gondor or Rohan, Dras leona- Minus Morgul. The Rar' Zac are the Ringwraiths. Eragon is a mix of Frodo and Aragorn cause Eragon loves Arya who is Arwen and Saphira is the One Ring. Paolini needs to not write like Tolkien but I understand why. Tolkien was such an influential man.
Lachy from Australia
How is Brisingr rated a 3.2 out of 10? I will admit, Brisingr was somewhat of a bridge between Eldest and Inheritance, but this does not severely detract from the intriguing world that Paolini has established and continues to establish, whilst intertwining interesting relations between characters and a plot line which made me struggle to put the book down. As for those that say this series is unoriginal, I can understand this sentiment due to the elves and dwarves being similar to other fantasies. However, I belive Paolini also differentiates them and emerges from the most simplistic defintions of the fantasy world. Each aspect of Alagaesia, from the humans, elves, dwarves, Urgals and dragons to the magic that governs so much of it, is multi-faceted and complex. Personally, I struggle to say the same about Harry Potter, for instance.
Anon from UK
I absolutely loved this book! At the bottom of all these reviews it says Brisingr got an averaged 7.3 rating, but the big rating is a 3.2. What?
ZR from AL
Could RZ from L.A. explain this- "no meandering, no overly-predictable subplots, and no soap opera elements"? You seem to have a good point but I don't get it.
RZ from L.A.
One thing Paolini does well is he focuses on the implications of actions. Most fantasy novels end with the hero succeeding, or almost immediately thereafter, with everyone living happily ever after. Paolini is willing to take on the issue of what happens next, as well as what happens to those left behind by the hero (that's what made "Eldest" the best book in the series; he wrote about all the troubles of his family and neighbors after he'd left). I agree that it's not the best-written book. I got tired of everything and anything having an ancient name or elvish name. But it wasn't terrible either. Where I really disagree, however, is the depiction of JK Rowling's writing as lacking talent. I think she is an excellent writer and wish more fantasy novelists (actually, pretty much any serial novelist) would take a cue from her and learn how to end a series properly (i.e., no meandering, no overly-predictable subplots, and no soap opera elements).
nathan from pamilan
sara from alagaesia is quite right. those who call this book inarticulate dribble and brain dead butt-slapped asses. hats off to paolini. paolini is great. the book rocks, people. shut your ears to lewd and unworthy comments. the book rocks.
Billy from Texas
Brisingr was amazing, it was action packed and had pure comedy
sid from mumbai
brisingr is engaging although sometimes boring in between
Adam from Alagaesia
Ethan from From Alagaesia
I was very upset about the reviews when I first saw them but than I came to realise that the people who called the book "Brisingr" and the Inheritance Cycle "Inarticulate Dribble" are really just a bunch of ass sore crotch rots. Thank you Christopher and I am looking forward to the next book which my Grandmother will insist upon buying for me. Thank you very very much you inspire us all.
Rebecca from Norfolk, UK
I can't understand why these books receive such bad reveiws. I find Paolini's books engaging, exciting and moving. At various points in the book I found myself crying, laughing and at one revelation, shocked beyond belief (I had to then reread the first book, Eragon, only to find the truth was staring me in the face). As to the comments of "copying" certain scenes from movies such as Star Wars, you can do that with just about every book ever written. For example, a book in my personal collection, has a demon in the basement - am I to then presume the author copied the movie Home Alone in reference to the evil boiler? This book, is without a doubt, an amazing read, full of mysteries and makes you pine for the fourth! Christopher Paolini was right to extend the trilogy into a cycle - I share his obvious love for backstory and twists and turns. I rate this at 9 out of 10, simply because some of the paragraphs get slightly long winded when you just want to get back to the action.
Sarah from Alagaesia
Paolini rocks!!! This is by far his best book in the cycle, dispite people saying it is full of "inarticulate dribble". I am waiting on baited breath for book 4!!!
Bob from NJ
It is a great book to read.
8.7/10 from 22 reviews