Friday, July 24, 2009

Brisingr Review

I just finished Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. It's the third book in what was originally supposed to be the Inheritance Trilogy but what is now the "Inheritance Cycle" since the story has spilled over into a fourth, yet-to-be-published volume. Not the first time that's happened to a series, but I really do think that it's symptomatic of some of the problems with this book.

The funny thing is, that in the acknowledgments, he talks about how long the first draft was and thanks his editor for helping him pare it down. Sheesh! The finished book is 750 pages long. I can only imagine how monstrous the original manuscript must have been. I know that it's supposed to be epic fantasy, and I'm sure Paolini was inspired by Tolkien... perhaps too inspired? One of the beefs I have about the Lord of the Rings is that while it is certainly beautifully written, Tolkien describes everything in excruciating detail. And he "tells" rather than shows. Same with Paolini. I found that there were many, many parts of the book where nothing much happened and it just seemed to drag and drag on forever. There were also several scenes where two characters had long and awkward conversations about certain plot points, just so Paolini could get the information across to the readers. A lot of it was unecessary.

And the details! I know that details help to flesh out a fantasy world and make it real, and you can tell that Paolini must've done a LOT of research for the book. But is it really necessary to go through all the steps of how a sword is made? Or all the proper names for Eragon's armour? There were certain points of the book where it was so detailed that I didn't even understand what he was talking about, and I'm sure 99% of Paolini's readers were in the same boat. Though perhaps somewhere there was a blacksmith or an ancient weapons enthusiast that was very pleased.

I'm all for having descriptions and authenticity in books, but a lot of it was over the top. And I thought there were many scenes that did not advance the plot in any way, help us get to know the characters better, or even really help in fleshing out the setting. They were just there, taking up space. I think the book could have been about 150 pages shorter than it was.

Having said that, I think the first part of the book was the worst for this. It picked up about half way through, and I ended up really enjoying the second half of the book. I think Paolini's writing is really coming along, and some day he's going to be great. Just not today. Still, if you like the series, Brisingr won't disappoint (there were a couple of plot twists that I didn't see coming) and I'm sure the fourth book will be the best yet.

P.S. If you're ever bored, go here. Hours and hours of time-wasting fun, I promise.


Ash said...

My gmail account says you added me as a friend on Facebook, but my Facebook can't seem to find you. Is this a weird error? I am pretty positive that I don't know anyone else with your name. :)

Violette said...

Yeah. Hmm. About that. I briefly joined facebook and then immediately deleted my account. I'm stubbornly refusing to join, but I just needed to check something briefly. I didn't realize you could skip all those steps about adding people until later. Sorry for the confusion!

Violette said...

As an update, I may have to give in and join facebook permanently. *Sigh* I was kind of just testing the waters. Stay tuned.