For those of you who don’t know about the series Paolini became a New York Times bestselling author when he was nineteen with his book Eragon. Eragon is the name of the main character and his dragon Saphira are trying to defeat an evil dragon rider named Galboratrix who has taken over much of Alagaësia by killing dragons and riders alike. Galboratrix is nothing but evilness personified – he must be stopped. Basically the story is a mix of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings with Dragons. So if you like that sort of thing you would like this story.
I first discovered Eragon when I was teaching 8th grade history. I saw so many kids with this thick book that I finally had to check it out myself. I really enjoyed it. Since then I have recommended the series to several family members including my grandmother.
I have to admit I was a little aprehensive at first. My grandma said while she really liked the first two books, this one she did not – it was too bloody and too violent for her. My 19 year old brother really liked it. So I was not sure what to expect.
It is hard to do a review of a 700+ page book, where does one start? So I thought I would list a few of the things I didn’t like and the things I liked.
*****Some spoilers below*****
Things I didn’t like
It is violent. Lots of death, blood and pain including a self-inflicted by one of the characters, Nasuada the leader of the Varden who must undergo an ancient ritual called the Trial of the Long Knives to prove herself as leader. She must inflict knife wounds on herself while her opponent does the same alternating until one gives up or passes out or dies from blood loss. The last person standing is considered strong enough to be the leader. Also Roran, Eragon’s cousin fights some pretty violent battles and kills a lot of people . In one day he kills in hand to hand combat over a 100 people. Is that even really possible? Although it’s fantasy so I guess anything is possible. So if that is not your thing stay away or skip those parts because the whole book is not that way.
The writing is long, intially the whole series was supposed to be trilogy, but now there will be a 4th book to finish it all up. The quality of the writing in my opinion is not high, too long, lags in places and sometimes seems awkward. At times it felt like there are so many loose ends it’s a wonder that I could follow the story as well as I did. We all know the New York best seller list does not necessarily mean high quality writing. I was seriously was hoping that the book would end sooner and I really hope the 4th book is the last because I’m not sure I can make it through a 5th book. (Of course that is what I say now, but if it happened I probably couldn’t stay away.)
Things I liked about the book
Paolini has some very strong female characters such as Nasuada the leader of the Varden is a young woman who is intelligent, cunning and a great leader. It’s nice to see a fantasy book with strong female characters.
He does talk about some of the consequences of killing people even in war, it harms the person doing the killing. Both he and his cousin struggle with taking someone’s life, feeling guilty, moral debates and then there is this little thing called Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. So at least, even though there is blood, it’s not glorified. Although, I really think the whole Trial of the Knives could have been left out.
I did get sucked into the book as I read it in one day and don’t ask what my house looked like at the end of the day or what we had for dinner!
Would I buy the book? Probably not. Would I recommend the book? Yes with cautions . . . it’s a good story
If you have read Brisingr let me know what your thoughts were about the book if not what do you think about violence in books? I can think of several non-fiction books about historical events, namely war, that are quite violent and have graphic pictures. How do you determine what is too much and does it have a place in YA literature?