**spoiler alert** I've kept up with the Inheritance "cycle" (now that the author has decided a trilogy isn't cutting it) out of a desire to see a stor**spoiler alert** I've kept up with the Inheritance "cycle" (now that the author has decided a trilogy isn't cutting it) out of a desire to see a story I've invested in to its conclusion. I hesitate to call it an obligatory read on my part, but it's more because I'm invested in the story now than I am eager to read more by Paolini. His writing has struck me as amateur, if refreshing for its brevity at first, since the beginning.
To keep this as spoiler-free as I can, my biggest issue with Brisingr--and with the entire series, truthfully--is what I can only call the easiness factor. The conflicts and trials of the story often end up more or less resolved in the same chapter in which they are brought up. And the few extended tribulations of Eragon or the other characters, once they are finally put to bed, are handled in a disturbingly deus ex machina fashion. At the end of nearly every chapter I was struck with this thought: "He really could have saved himself the trouble of writing twenty pages and just not had this happen in the first place."
Okay, I can't really do this without an example, so there are spoilers in this paragraph. In one sequence, Roran, Eragon's cousin, is sent on a raid on an enemy unit under a captain he dislikes. At first the man is competent, according to the narrative, but (it seems to me) since the author is invested in making the man difficult to like, he ends up being shown as massively incompetent. It just wouldn't do if the man were good at his job but a jerk, would it? That would make Roran look stupid. Thanks to the captain's incompetence, the company ends up in a dire situation and only Roran's bravery and, yes, insubordination win the day. Roran is therefore punished for insubordination by being lashed in front of the army. He is told beforehand by Nasuada that he cannot seek a mage to heal his wounds, because he must suffer them naturally in order to learn a lesson. This is all well and good--he was a hero, but he still did something that required punishment. Only it doesn't end there. Nasuada decides that she needs Roran (meta translation: Roran is supposed to be a hero in the story and has to be in the thick of action to continue to be important) and has put him at the head of a new company of men. Therefore she brings in magic users to heal his wounds so he can be in fighting shape. Meanwhile, the man he disobeyed in the first place--to the point that a lashing was deemed necessary for not obeying him--has been axed from his position. So at the end? Roran is lashed, yes, but suffers no lasting damage and is promoted, while the man he disobeyed is punished. Why did we go through this? What was the point? By the end, it felt like I was having Roran's "hardship" thrust upon me because it seemed like he should have some, only for it to be immediately removed because it was inconvenient to the ongoing story. It was artificial.
Beyond these problems, the story is as engaging as it was in the first two books, if a little cliché. My position on the story has not changed, and I will likely pick up the fourth, and supposedly final, book when it is released. Ultimately, Paolini has a good overall framework for an intriguing fantasy story, but his own writing and the lack of heart in the details leaves it flat....more
Somehow I got this far in life without reading Dracula. Thanks to a recent classic pulp horror kick, I decided to remedy this and pick up a copy.
WondSomehow I got this far in life without reading Dracula. Thanks to a recent classic pulp horror kick, I decided to remedy this and pick up a copy.
Wonderful read. The atmosphere of despair is palpable. I love the format of journal entries and multiple perspectives; it really sets up suspense and intrigue. I had a lot of fun reading this late at night (when any book like this one should be read).
Another reason I wanted to pick it up is a board game we're fond of: Fury of Dracula from Fantasy Flight. The game is excellent thematically, and after reading the book I marveled at how faithful it is. That sounds weird, I know, but the details of the board game are so perfectly crafted around the actual story. Every encounter, every card, every player character's ability, has a reason that ties back to the book, right down to Jonathan Harker's assertion that the railways in Eastern Europe are not run as well as they are in Western Europe. Now that I have experienced both the book and the game, I have a greater respect for the details in both....more