© Christopher Paolini.
This is the third book in the lengthy “Inheritance” fantasy epic begun in “Eragon,” continued in “Eldest.” It was originally to be the final book, but Paolini couldn’t get everything into this one, so there will now be a fourth and final volume.
When I first picked up “Eragon,” and read the synopsis on the jacket flap, I thought it sounded intriguing, if derivative: of Tolkien, also somewhat of Ann McCaffrey’s “Pern” novels. Then I turned to the author bio on the back flap and learned that Paolini had begun writing it at age fifteen. That was impressive enough to make me want to buy it, and I did. I was an aspiring fantasy writer myself once, but hadn’t gotten far with it. I wanted to see what this young writer had come up with.
Yes, it’s derivative. A powerful, long-lived, evil sorcerous emperor opposed by humans, dwarves and elves. Magic dragons that, in rare circumstances, can bond with a human, allowing them to work together as a fighting team. It’s very entertaining, though, with good characters, an interesting storyline, and lots of inventive details. And I think one thing that makes it different from other fantasy epics is the age of the author. “Eragon” was full of youthful enthusiasm as Paolini built up his world in great handfuls, so in love with it, so passionate about it, the reader could hardly remain uncharmed. “Eldest” had a strong thread of teen angst and repressed anger that probably expressed another side of the author’s age. And this new one, “Brisingr” shows a maturing of the main viewpoint character and his acceptance of a role in the wider society he’s found himself thrown into, perhaps again a reflection of a youthful author’s own experience. There’s nothing in these books that seems to meet any outside agenda. It’s all coming right from Paolini’s passion for his creations.
A few years ago I heard Christopher speak on a panel at the San Diego ComiCon, and he was every bit as intelligent, enthusiastic, and passionate about his work as I expected from reading it. Loving what you do is the key, and he obviously does. This series transcends its roots and continues to be great reading. I don’t mind at all that there’s another book coming to finish the story, in fact I welcome the idea. Yes, it’s a very long story, but for all that, I’m sad when I finish each book, and look forward to the next one.
If you like epic fantasy of any kind you’ll probably enjoy this series, though of course you’ll need to start from the beginning. Recommended.