This is the third book in the Inheritance Cycle. It was supposed to be the last of a trilogy, but, to the joy of fans everywhere, Paolini wasn’t able to finish the story in just three books. It’s basically the continuation of Eragon the Dragon Rider’s story as he, together with the Varden, the Elves and the Dwarves, tries to end Galbatorix’s reign over Algaësia. War is breaking out all over the country and the armies fight the ground battles. Eragon is torn between joining in these battles, fulfilling the oaths he has made on both a personal and political level and continuing his training with the elves as he promised he would. He must try and learn to balance what he can or otherwise decide which is the least of all evils and concentrate on that particular goal for the time being. It is, in effect, a story about his personal development as he learns to become a man and make a man’s decisions, as hard as they may be.
Brisingr capitalizes on the motion Eldest has already created and is already in full swing before you start the book. So unlike in Eldest, there was no drag to it and it took off right away. It pretty much keeps up the pace for the entire length of the book, although there are some more contemplative moments when Eragon begins to realize that he cannot please all of the people all of the time and that he will have to make unpopular decisions. All of the characters make huge learning leaps during this novel. It’s as if many of them grow up and really begin to learn what it is to fight a war. I did think that Nasuada made a few poor decisions, but overall, she has begun to grasp her leadership and accept that although she makes mistakes, she’s headed in the right direction generally. Roran is possibly the only character not to really make any personal advancement. He still just keeps his head down and rushes forward while hoping his skills and intuition will keep him alive. There are other story lines I will reserve judgement on since it’s not quite clear where Paolini intends to take them.
All in all I found this one slightly less riveting than the last half of Eldest, although I couldn’t tell you why. I may have just OD’d on the Cycle and had enough of that genre for the time being. Regardless, it was still a good yarn and a good vacation read. 4 out of 5.