Brisingr is the newest installment of Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy (oops, Cycle) and pretty much follows the patterns of the previous novels. In this one, Eragon has been reunited with the Varden and his family and friends from Carvahall and now must travel with Roran to save his betrothed, Katrina, from the Ra'zac. After this battle, Eragon continues through a series of missions and quests to discover more about himself and find ways to defeat Galbatorix and save Alagaesia.
Having finished it, I did enjoy the fabulous revelations at the end of the story. And the Eldunari are a fascinating concept. Eragon himself is not nearly as annoying as he was in the first two volumes, likely because he has finally began to grow up. Also, I really do like Roran, even with his slightly abrasive personality. I admire Paolini for showing the dark side of war with little reservation or rosy coating for young readers. The battles are graphic but not over the top and even the most bloodthirsty of the good guys questions his own morality.
However, I do have a few problems with the book.
First of all, this was supposed to be the final part of the story, but is instead a continuation that will be completed in a fourth volume. I have one of the same problems with it that I have with the Twilight saga: where was the editor? While the story is still one I wish to finish and contains many interesting revelations at the end, the middle drags terribly and a lot is included that really doesn't matter. Paolini obviously admires Tolkein and Star Wars, but both were able to complete their essential stories in three volumes, likely for a reason. I greatly fear that Paolini will lose all but the most devoted audience with this installment.
Secondly, now that magic has become increasingly involved, true injury and death seem unlikely for the main characters. An exception to this comes at the end, but this is necessary and expected by those who are steeped in fantasy. Hopefully, we will not see a "happily ever after" ending to this tale.
Finally, even though I love fantasy and revel in world building novels, the language and names are getting to be a bit too much. Understandably, the cast is very large, but I trip even in my head at trying to pronounce 'Blodgharm' and 'Inuarin'. Do we have to know every bit of every culture? Do we need every article of clothing, every building, every facial expression described in full detail? With elvish or dwavish or ancient language name included?
That being said, by the end of the novel I was anxious to read the next volume. I really want to know how this is going to end. I just hope that his editors have a stronger hand in the final (we hope?!) volume of this epic story.
P.S. The above image is the Spanish cover. I like the change of perspective!