Spoiler for Brisingr (Eragon #3) follow. Proceed only if you have read the book.
I do not know how I kept away from the world of Eragon for the past couple of months. What was holding me at bay was the condition I set to myself to write down my thoughts about the first 2 books in the cycle. Once I finished the article on Eragon, I let myself off the hook and started reading Brisingr. Soon after, I even finished my thoughts on Eldest and one on Dragon Rider training.
I wanted to change the way I would bring these thoughts together for Brisingr and started writing them while I was reading. Of course, I couldn't sustain it for long as I was pulled into the world and lost myself among the pages. There was much about the third book that I did not remember from my first reading except for one of the major events at the end of the book. So, it was less of a reread, and more of coming in fresh.
I started Inheritance soon after I finished Brisingr. I did have the thought in the back of my mind to write before I moved forward, but I convinced myself I would take it slow. I am already through 60% of Inheritance 😅. However, I will try to stay true to my opinion and not reveal future truths I have unraveled.
Paolini doesn't tarry long with the opening and throws us right in the middle of the action. Two books and the whole reason why events kicked off are brought to fruition with the stand off and slaughter of the Ra'zac. It is good to see Eragon and Roran work together.
Just before the final Ra'zac is killed, it tries to strike a bargain with Eragon hinting at some secret the king Galbatorix is looking to uncover. A seed for the future to unfold.
Rather than conclude the book as a trilogy and speed things along in this book, I believe Paolini chose to flesh out his characters more esp. the motivations that drive Eragon. This is evident in the punishment that Eragon doles out to Sloan. It seemed like a strange choice at the time that he would chose not to tell his cousin or even Katrina in the heat of the moment. But somehow, he levelheadedly makes the choice to handle Sloan by himself.
Why did Eragon not kill Sloan outright? He knew where his line was and his sense of justice forbade it. Further, when he is questioned about why it was ok to kill soldiers, he makes the statement that they were a threat, but Sloan wasn't. I love how Paolini reasoned this line of thinking out.
While Sloan is forced to make his way to Ellesmera never to meet his daughter again, Eragon gives him a small hope.
When I was among the elves, I learned that a person’s true name often changes as they age. Do you understand what that means? Who you are is not fixed for all of eternity. A man could forge himself anew if he so wanted.
I feel that Paolini used this opportunity to lay a seed for the endgame. All across this book are dotted hints at the solution that would work in the finale that it is quite interesting to pick them up this re-read.
Sloan's punishment shows Eragon's maturity, which is further validated by Nasuada and King Orrin later in the book, when they point out that he was right not to kill Sloan outright as he was not in a position to dole out justice.
This detraction in the main story gave space for Eragon to have some interesting encounters, including one with soldiers and another with the mysterious Tenga in Edur Ithindra. I still wonder why Eragon spoke to Arya about Tenga, when she found him. The odds of Arya finding Eragon are astronomical in regular circumstances and yet, Paolini provides a logic to explain it.
I am ready to suspend my disbelief because it gave me one of my most favorite chapters in the entire series.
The Shadows of the Past
The moments that Arya and Eragon share are just so grounded. It felt like a break from the main story, stolen from the worries that assailed them. It was a time Paolini used to build the bond between the two. So far, all we got was constant movement from one place to another and the closest these 2 shared time together was in Ellesmera. Even that was fraught with a fragileness that Eragon ended up breaking.
It was here, where moments of quiet companionship blossomed. The stories they shared on Urgals, The Banishing of Names and more gave us further insight on the histories of the land. Further, the mysteries, they witnessed, with the spirits and strange magics further opened up the world to us.
Numerous examples of self-perpetuating magic exist throughout Alagaësia, such as the floating crystal on the island of Eoam and the dream well in Mani’s Caves.
The lands of Alagaesia were bigger than we imagined and there were many more mysterious forces at play. I was curious to learn more about them.
When Eragon comes back to camp, a lot of the next part is spent on closing threads like healing of Elva (happens in part), paying back for old favors and finding a sword.
At the same time, we are reminded that we are in the middle of a war. The joyous moment of Roran's wedding is interrupted by Murtagh and Thorn and this time around we get to understand their pain and obligation. This time is another moment where the importance of the true name is highlighted and seeded for the end. So, Murtagh is aware of this route.
Finally, we get hints of the sources of Murtagh's magnified power, which we later learn are the Eldunarí, the dragon's heart of hearts. It took Eragon, Arya and the entire group of elves to drive away Murtagh showcasing how powerful he actual was. I remembered the Eldunarí from the first time and it was clear now that Paolini had already hinted at it in this battle.
For some reason this chapter also stood out in the book for me. The strangers who met Angela sure seemed like interesting folk to warrant a reading and it seemed like a setup for a future story.
“Who were they?”
Her lips quirked. “Pilgrims on their own quest.”
I thought I will make a note of it here and came back to this when I have an answer. Perhaps I should browse the forums after finishing Murtagh.
As Eragon and Nar Garzhvog made their way on foot running from Surda, it is only after 2 days that they take a break and make camp. After a hearty meal by the fire, Eragon leans back and asks his companion to share a story about his people. It was around this time that I stepped away from the book for a bit and stepped into the café to listen to the tales before the coffee gets cold.
But when I got back, I started to understand the Urgals better. Their nature and the hate towards them was touched upon in the previous books and Eragon's own relationship to them is strained. We finally get to see some sense of understanding from the Dragon Rider, which will definitely be important for future events.
The Urgals remind me so much of the krogans from Mass Effect. Even the krogans were a race driven by war, pushed to the edge of extinction by their nature. Did Bioware possibly draw inspiration from a common source or perhaps from Paolini's books themselves?
The Election of the dwarf king
Killing King Hrothgar seemed to be a major event in Eldest. The fallout of it can be witnessed n the need to elect the leader of a race. Contingent to this election is the support of the Varden and the war against Galbatorix.
While politics did play a role in Alagaesia, we witness it firsthand in the election of the dwarves. The travel to Farthen Dur seems like an unnecessary diversion from the main concern of the land, but the importance of the dwarves' allegiance and the possible loss of it.
This goes to highlight that even though there seems to be the most logical right thing to do, there will always be a faction opposed to it. We further witness this in the attack of Eragon commissioned by the leader of Az Sweldn rak Anhûin. Strange how races behave when nursing old grudges.
Forging the Sword
Throughout the book, one key issue is highlighted: Eragon's loss of his sword, Zar'roc, to Murtagh and his need for a new one. When he does get back to Ellesméra, there still doesn't seem to be a clear solution to this problem apart from the advice shared by the werecat, Solembum.
Turns out that the advice does pan out and Eragon gets the brightsteel he needs for his sword. It seems like such a coincidental happenstance. Even the forging process is most interesting, with the elf Rhunön, leveraging a loophole to use Eragon's body to circumvent the oath of "never" making another Dragon Rider's blade.
Further, we also learn of his true heritage and his actual father. I could see as I read through the books equipped with my foreknowledge, that Paolini had planned this out from the first book.
“Try though they might, no being escapes death forever, not even the elves or the spirits. To all, there is an end. If you are watching me, Eragon, then my end has come and I am dead and you know that I am your father.”
It is good to get some closure in the form of the memory shared from father to son through Saphira.
In Nasuada's part, we got to witness her resilience and leadership with her overcoming the Trial of the Long Knives and directing an army for their assaults. She even is able to give Roran the opportunities to rise in the ranks and channel his leadership.
Roran seems to have become a representation of the limits a human can push himself in feats of battle and planning. He becomes a prime example of a good leader and strategist leading his group through the most stickiest of situations. He even gets to prove himself against the Urgals.
Through him, we witness a rise in the ranks, the celebration much needed at the time of battle (his wedding), defiance when needed to save his compatriots and resilience in taking the punishment for not following orders. We witness his evolution as a leader through his struggles.
Roran's story may seem supernatural, but all I see is a man driven to do anything to protect his love. There have been crazier stories in our history and his story seems among the more saner ones.
The Conclusion: Shadeslayer & Tragedy
All the while, I remembered the heartbreaking ending of this book. It was Brom's death and the death of Oromis and Glaedr that always got me in tears. It's strange how even though you know it is going to happen, you hope that things change in the re-read.
I did not remember about the Shade that Arya slayed, which ended up creating a tense situation and again another encounter with the spirits (seeded for the ending). But what got me was the death of Oromis and how it panned out. Even though it was Galbatorix controlling Murtagh, Oromis was actual defeated by old wounds. I wonder how he would have done in a fair battle. Would it have been the end for Murtagh and Thorn?
The biggest impression I had when finishing up this book was how it served as a bridge between Eldest and Inheritance. Paolini used this book to further build up his characters and evolve their relationships. We got to see this in Roran and Nasuada's arc, in the interactions between Eragon and Arya, between Eragon/Saphira and Murtagh/Thorn.
The book started off with a tone of it's time to get serious. There is much ground to cover and it looks like this book may conclude the trilogy, but ended up taking its time dwelling on each of the characters. I had the sense of the sidequests of Witcher 3, where you learn more of the people and the kingdom and are presented by the choices that define Geralt of Rivia.
All in all, I wonder if the Inheritance cycle could ever have been a trilogy. I don't believe it would have worked because this book serves to bring us closer to the characters. It closes out many threads of storylines started in the previous books and lays the foundation for the end.
On a final note, I always thought the dragon on the cover was Shruiken, Galbatorix's dragon because the cover is black. Only after the finished the book, I realized that it was Glaedr. Upon closer inspection, I found that the dragon on the cover had golden scales, not black ones.
It took me some time to sit and put together my thoughts on Brisingr. I am glad it was sooner in comparison to the first 2 books. Since I am in the middle of Inheritance, I had to revisit parts of Brisingr and it was quite fun to do so. This article does not feature many quotes from the book because I ended up reading my physical copy over the ebook I was reading for the first two. Anyway, thak you for reading and do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Atra esterní ono thelduin!