Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Brisingr" by Christopher Paolini

I've had this book since it first came out just over two years ago, but I've never been very eager to read it. Paolini is at best a marginally talented storyteller. Maybe I'm just a tough crowd, since fantasy really isn't my genre (fairy tales, yes; swords and sorcery, not so much). But I'd read the first two Inheritance books and kind of felt obligated to read the third.

I read the first book, Eragon, because I was kind of in awe of the fact that Paolini began writing it at the age of fifteen, much like S.E. Hinton with The Outsiders. I was perhaps even more impressed in this case, as Paolini takes on the likes of  J.R.R. Tolkien with his story. (Of course, Tolkien soundly boxes little Paolini's ears and sends him to bed without any supper, but at least Paolini tried.)

My vague memory of Eragon is that it was OK. Nothing transcendent or life-changing, but not horrible or boring. I read the second book, Eldest, because I'd read the first book. And maybe because I hoped it would be even better than OK. (I think it wasn't, or I would have remembered.) Which leaves me with the third book. I obviously didn't have much hope that it would be better than OK, or I would have read it two years ago.

At least I wasn't disappointed in Brisingr. It met my expectations: it was OK, and it wasn't horrible or boring. I do feel like Paolini went into a whole lot of detail without an excessive amount of plot. I'm also pretty pissed (and this is a huge spoiler here, so consider yourself forewarned) that Galbatorix was not defeated by the end of this book. Nobody won or lost. There was no real resolution. Same with the potential love between Arya and Eragon. Of course, by now I have figured out there will be another book--no wonder it's gone from the "Inheritance Trilogy" to the "Inheritance Cycle"--but I'm dreading it before it's even been published. Do I buy the fourth book or do I leave the set incomplete? There are a few authors who could squeeze out a turd between two covers and I would still buy it (the first time they tried it, anyway), but Paolini isn't one of them. However, Hud seems to enjoy these books more than I do (he's more of the sword-and-sorcery type) so we probably will end up with a copy of book four.

It was a little bit silly of me to listen to the audio version of this book when I own a paper copy, but after this much time I knew if I hadn't started reading it yet I was never going to. I was fairly certain that, given the choice between this book and any other, I was always going to pick the other one. But I refuse to own a book that I will never read (and it's not like I would get rid of my copy just to resolve the issue--that would be giving in!) so my compromise was to listen to it. I haven't yet devised a way to read while I'm ironing or washing dishes or running, but listening to an audio book allows me to be a multitasking maniac.

The audio version was well done, and I was impressed by the reader's range in making each character sound like a different individual. It did take me a bit to get over his voice for the dragon Saphira. At first he sounded like an unfortunate cross between Yoda and Grover whenever he spoke Saphira's lines. But either the reader improved or I got used to the similarity, because I stopped noticing it.

This audio book was really, really long (29.5 hours!) and if I could have listened on fast-forward, I would have. It took me two weeks to get through it, during which I sorely missed listening to music and watching movies. I am glad to get back to those (possibly less-than-admirable but probably more entertaining) pursuits.


Amy said...

I didn't realize there was going to be a fourth installment. I haven't read these but my oldest son loved them when they came out. I like the idea of listening to an audio book while running or doing housework!

Lesa said...

Oh, I love this series-- I am definitely the sword and sorcery type!

It is admirable of you to tackle it when it isn't your fave genre but don't read the next one-- that would be like self-flagellation-- don't do it-- life is too short-- read something that excites you.

And if you don't want an unread book in your house... there is a good home waiting across the Red River!


Kathy said...

Amy--I bet your son will be much more excited to hear about the fourth book than I was! ;) I don't know how you feel about audio books, but you ought to try the multitasking thing. I've never felt so efficient! Except now that I'm finished listening to Brisingr, I feel a little bit guilty when I'm only washing dishes. ;)

Lesa--I just have this awful gotta-finish-what-I've-started syndrome. How can I not read the fourth book? Granted, if there were going to be 20 more in the series I would have no problem stopping right here. As it is, I have to see it through to the self-flagellating end. But don't worry! I'm a survivor. :)

Amanda said...

I am currently finishing up Eragon on audio book. I picked up the audio format for the same reason, I may never have gotten to it on my pile of books. It wasn't easy to get from the library though, checked out almost every time I went.
I am really enjoying it, so I guess I am more into fantasy than you. But I do agree that there are a ton of details and some parts were a bit slow. But written by a 15 year old, wow!
What really amazes me is how much it differs from the movie. I did watch the movie many years ago, so maybe it's just my memory, but I don't think so.
I love the narrator, I think he has the most wonderful range with the characters. Although I do agree Saphira's voice was a bit startling, especially after her beautiful feminine voice in the movie.
I had planned to read/listen to all three and I guess now it's four!

Kathy said...

I wonder if the same person read both audio books? Kind of sounds like it.

I, too, watched the Eragon movie years ago (I'm pretty sure we rented it instead of seeing it in the theater) but I can honestly say I remember absolutely nothing about it, except that it could have been better. I only barely remember the book.

Amanda said...

I am sure it was the same reader from your description of Saphira's voice! Finished Eragon this morning, on to the next one, Eldest.

Kathy said...

Are you liking Eldest as much as you liked Eragon? I think I remember even less about it. If possible.

Amanda said...

I finished all three and I had the same reaction as you, what about Galbatorix?? I thought it was a trilogy and the fourth book would be an add-on. (Obviously I didn't read your spoiler section.) So at some point it went from 3 to 4. I enjoyed them all though and I will definitely read/listen to the fourth when it comes out.
There was an interview with the author at the end of Brisingr that I also really enjoyed. Did yours have that?

Kathy said...

You're asking me to remember something about this three months later?? That's optimistic of you. ;) Actually I do remember that there was an interview, and I did listen to it (I think that was maybe what cleared up the trilogy-to-cycle transformation for me) but I hardly remember anything else about it. Except for the vague general notion that it was worth listening to.

Amanda said...

I finally read the fourth book. And it was long!! Too long. It did wrap everything up, but I feel it could have been done in half the pages. And frankly it wasn't as satisfying as I hoped it would be. Oh well!
Watched the movie Eragon again with Ean and he loved it, but he's not hard to impress. Maybe some day he'll read the books.

Kathy said...

I never did read the fourth book, and don't plan to. But my 2 older kids have each read all four, and really enjoyed them. Maybe I'm too old . . . ? Nah!