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.