Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brisingr (Inheritance, Book 3) - Christopher Paolini

Brisingr or The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular is the third book of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, following the books Eragon and Eldest. It was released on September 20, 2008. The title means "fire" in the fictional Ancient Language of Alagaesia.

The book sold 550,000 copies on its first day of sale, the most ever for a Random House Children's Book,[2] and debuted at #1 on USA Today's top 150 bestsellers list.[3]

In this book, Paolini provides some clues that let the reader start guessing as to how the story will unfold. You learn a lot more about the characters' personalities and how they might react in a certain situation. There's lots and lots of suspense; I found myself holding my breath more than a few times while I was reading, and read for so long one day I couldn't really see when I took the book away from my face...I liked how all the sad parts were actually sad; I started crying when I read most of them which, in a weird kind of way, is sort of nice. All the characters are likeable and believable, even the villains. They're the kind of bad guys you love to hate.

Paolini weaves an intricate web of characters and plot lines, connecting everything so that you have to read the book two or three times before you can grasp everything within it. Brisingr is a rich, captivating and complicated book that holds your attention until the very last page. I absolutely suggest this series to anyone who likes to curl up with a blanket on a rainy day with a good book.


The Inheritance Cycle was initially planned to be a trilogy. In an October 2007 press release, Paolini revealed that the third book would have been so large that it would need to be published in two volumes.[4] An April 11, 2008 newsletter sent out by Paolini said that this book was longer than either Eragon or Eldest.[5]

Paolini began providing hints about the plot with a March 2005 interview with Shurtugal.com. He suggested the next book would include whether Saphira ever finds a mate, and find the Varden shifting favor away from Nasuada as leader.[6][7] Paolini answered some questions for his fans on his official site in July and August 2006[8] and gave a video interview in December 2006 to promote the movie.[9] Paolini said the coming book would explain how Thorn, Murtagh's dragon, matured to rival Saphira despite their age difference, and the nature of the spirits that sorcerers summon. In February 2007, Paolini answered a letter from the Czech fan site Alagaesia.net and Eragon1.net, in which he hinted that the rest of the Inheritance Cycle would reveal information about Brom's lover, Ajihad and Arya's background, and about dwarf culture.[10]

[edit] Title and cover

Paolini said about the title: "'Brisingr' is one of the first words I thought of for this title, and it's always felt right to me." As it is the first word in the Ancient Language that Eragon learns, it holds a particular significance for him.[1] "Brisingr" is the Ancient Language's word for "fire", used to summon and control fire by magic-users in the series, and it ends up being the name for Eragon's sword. Paolini revealed the subtitle, "The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular", in a July 1, 2008 newsletter from Alagaesia.com.

John Jude Palencar illustrated the cover featuring the golden dragon Glaedr. The content of the cover was one of the few things initially confirmed by Paolini. The cover was first to feature an emerald-green dragon looking to the right.[11] Paolini later indicated that this was affected by the expansion of the series to a four-book cycle, but did not explain the change at the time.[12]

[edit] Promotion

In March 2008, a spoiler was released on the cycle's homepage, Alagaësia.com, stating that "In Brisingr, Eragon will meet a god."[13] A second spoiler was released in May saying that, "Eragon will meet a terrifying new enemy; one who likes to laugh a lot, but not in a good way."[14] In July 2008, a third and final spoiler was released on Alagaesia.com, stating that "In Brisingr, one of the characters becomes pregnant."

An excerpt from the third chapter of Brisingr, "Light and Shadow" (now renamed "Assault on Helgrind"), was included in the Eldest deluxe edition and later released on the Fricaya network.[15] This excerpt features Eragon and Roran traveling to Helgrind, in an effort to save Katrina (Roran's betrothed) from the Ra'zac's lair.

Brisingr was released in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom on September 20, 2008,[1] with later releases in other countries.[16] More than 2,500 midnight party events were held for the September 20 release.[17]

The book sold 550,000 copies on its first day of an initial print run of 2.5 million copies. Both the initial print run and first-day sales were the largest ever for the Random House Children's Book division.[2]

During promotion of the book, at Seattle Town Hall, Christopher Paolini stated that his favorite line from the novel is "Die, puny human!"[18]

[edit] Plot summary

[edit] Eragon

Eragon, Roran, and Saphira are traveling towards Helgrind, the dwelling place of the Ra'zac, where Roran's betrothed, Katrina, is being held prisoner. Eragon mends the wound that was inflicted on Roran by a Ra'zac in Carvahall as they are camping. Together they infiltrate the fortress and are ambushed by the Ra'zac. Roran kills one of the two Ra'zac, then rescues Katrina. Eragon then finds Sloan, Katrina's father and a traitor to Carvahall, imprisoned. Eragon decides to remain in Helgrind to kill the remaining Ra’zac and deal with Sloan. He tells Saphira to go back to the Varden with Roran and Katrina, which she does. Eragon finds and kills the last Ra'zac with ease. Eragon then leaves Helgrind with Sloan and, using Sloan's true name, commands him to travel towards the elves' domain, and Eragon heads back to the Varden. Meanwhile, Saphira arrives at the Varden's camp without Eragon, so Arya sets off in pursuit of him. Arya finds Eragon traveling back, and they return to the Varden together. At the Varden's camp, Eragon reverses the curse he accidentally set upon Elva. He also pays his debt to Gedric, from whom he stole hides for Saphira's saddle, and he then visits Jeod and gives his wife a gift as well.

Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, attack the Varden shortly after Eragon’s return. Elven spell casters aid Eragon in his fight against Murtagh, forcing him and Thorn to flee. After the fight, Eragon binds Roran and Katrina together in marriage. Nasuada then orders Eragon to attend the election of the new dwarf king, insisting Saphira stay behind, which Eragon reluctantly agrees to. Among the dwarves, Eragon is reunited with Orik, the clan chief of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum. An attempt to kill Eragon is found to be the work of the clan Dûrgrimst Az Sweldn rak Anhûin, who are hostile toward Eragon. Orik presents evidence to the clan-chiefs, who banish the Az Sweldn rak Anhuin clan into exile. Having won the trust of the dwarves, Orik is elected the new dwarf king. At Orik's coronation, Saphira mends Isidar Mithrim, which Arya had shattered while rescuing Eragon from the Shade, Durza.

Eragon and Saphira decide to return to Ellesméra to continue their training. Eragon is told by Oromis and Glaedr that Morzan is not his father and that Brom is. The next day, Eragon is told the source of Galbatorix's power; an Eldunarí, or a heart of hearts, is a dragon's heart, which contains their consciousness and exists forever. Glaedr explains that Galbatorix controls hundreds of these, which are the source of his power. They discuss Eragon's need for a new sword as well. Eragon visits Rhunön, the elven blacksmith, whom he asks to forge a new blade for him. She agrees, only after he retrieves the material needed, brightsteel, and Eragon names the sword "Brisingr". When Eragon sets off to return to the Varden, he finds that Oromis and Glaedr are departing as well. Oromis explains that the time has come oppose on Galbatorix alongside Islanzadí. Glaedr gives his Eldunarí to Eragon and Saphira before they part.

Eragon and Saphira return to the Varden, who are engaging in a siege of the city of Feinster, and are reunited with Arya. Eragon and Arya find the leader of the city, Lady Lorana, but discover that her three magicians are attempting to create a Shade. Eragon and Arya race to kill the magicians, as they transform a man into a Shade. However, Eragon passes out as Glaedr's Eldunarí depicts Oromis and Murtagh fighting; Galbatorix takes control over Murtagh as Oromis suffers a seizure, and Eragon watches as Glaedr and Oromis are killed. As Eragon regains consciousness, he and Arya fight the Shade, Varaug, who falls to the duo. After the successful siege, Nasuada informs Eragon that the Varden plan to march to Belatona, then to Dras-Leona, then to Uru'baen, where they plan to kill Galbatorix.

[edit] Roran

Roran has set about training for upcoming battles. Nasuada calls him to her pavilion, and asks him to serve in the Varden's military forces, to which he agrees. However, he requests to be married to Katrina first, insisting Eragon perform the ceremony. Having his request accepted, Roran prepares for the wedding. On the wedding day, the Varden is attacked by the Empire, but the ceremony still takes place four hours later. After that, Roran is sent on his first mission as an official part of the Varden's military; he is to ambush a convoy of the empire's supply wagons.

Almost immediately after successfully completing his mission, Roran is sent on another; to ambush yet another of the Empire's convoys. This one, however, was guarded by soldiers who feel no pain, so Roran's unit suffer extreme casualties, and only nine return to the Varden, with the commander unable to serve after losing a limb, causing a new commander to take lead. After shortly returning home, and being encouraged by Katrina, Roran is sent on a mission to take back one of the Surdan cities that the empire conquered. The new commander's plan almost drives the soldiers to death, but Roran takes command when all seems lost, giving new orders. Despite saving the operation, and killing one hundred and ninety-three men on his own, Roran is charged with insubordination, and is relieved temporarily of his duties.

When they arrive back at the Varden, Roran is whipped for the charges against him. After many hours, Roran awakes to Nasuada entering his tent, who gives him new orders. She promotes him to commander and orders him to ambush another convoy, which is accomplished successfully. However, some Urgals were torturing a soldier, which Roran disapproved of. An Urgal challenges Roran for leadership, and Roran wins. Roran then returns to the Varden's campsite, and partakes in the siege of Feinster, which is successful.

[edit] Nasuada

Nasuada's leadership of the Varden is challenged by Fadawar, a nomad, through the Trial of the Long Knives. Nasuada emerges as the victor and maintains her leadership. Upon Eragon's return, Nasuada allows him to attend to any affairs he may want to tend to. Immediately afterwards, she orders Eragon to witness the crowning of the next dwarf king. For Roran, Nasuada offers him a place in her army. Following several successful missions, Roran disobeys direct orders and Nasuada decides he should be flogged for insubordination. Due to her injured arms, Nasuada takes a place at the back of the army instead of at the forefront during the siege of Feinster. Upon completion of the siege, Eragon tells her many of the secrets that had been revealed to him. She then recounts for Eragon her brief plans for capturing the remainder of the Empire's major cities.

[edit] Reception

David Durham of the Washington Post praises Paolini for his streamlined prose, but says the novel drags a lot in the middle. He says Paolini shows greater maturity during some of the quiet moments of the novel, although he notes these parts could bore younger readers. Durham finds that Paolini's new characters are original, and that he adds depth to characters from the previous novels.[19] In contrast, Sheena McFarland of the The Salt Lake Tribune says Paolini "hasn't learned how to create characters that readers can relate to," although she praises him for strong female characters in the book such as Arya and Nasuada. McFarland calls the last 50 pages "riveting", but says they are a "paltry reward for trudging through the 700 preceding pages".[20]

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