First lines: Brisingr

Like it’s subtitle Brisingr —or— The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular (Book Three of the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini) could have benefited from an editor. Or at least, when Paolini said that he needed a fourth book to resolve all plot lines, his publisher should have insisted that there was no way in hell that was going to happen.

All you need to know about the story is that it boils down to a basic Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars* fantasy epic with an teenage überemo, human/elf-hybrid dragon rider as protagonist. You know the type of story I’m talking about: walking (and flying) around a lot in Middle Earth Alagaësia, an evil overlord in a remote mountain stronghold that needs to be overthrown by a rebel army of elves, dwarfs and orcs Urgals, magic, epic battles and unpronounceable names. Not a lot of singing though.

If I were an editor and this book would come across my desk, I’d suggest the following:

  1. Burn your thesaurus, and change all the big words meant to impress your readers back to something that actually makes sense.
  2. Omit needless words.
  3. Likewise, omit scenes that don’t help the story along. For example: dragon rider boy runs back to the rebel army, and comes across a hermit spellcaster in an abandoned tower. He does some gardening, gets a meal out of it, listens to the magician rant, and runs away. While this guy may prove useful in Book IV, he is absolutely insignificant for the rest of this story. Another example: while Yoda Oromis is explaining something important that might actually help them overthrow Darth Vader Galbatorix, a hummingbird flies by to feast on some leftover lunch. Just some random observation in an onslaught of exposure.
  4. Speaking of exposure: show me, don’t tell me.

Bottom line: this book should have been shorter. The small amount of plot doesn’t need 700 pages. When Book IV in the trilogy is eventually released, I predict more filler**. It wouldn’t surprise me when both books could be condensed to a much better single volume. We’ll see. Meanwhile, Brisingr drags the series down from “derivative and mediocre fantasy genre piece” to “I wish I hadn’t bothered with the first part, but now I’m in too deep to consider stopping.”

Christopher Paolini — Brisingr —or— The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular
Eragon stared at the dark tower of stone wherein hid the monsters who had murdered his uncle, Garrow

* Disclosure: I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies (nor was I planning to rectify that), so I’m just going along with what the other geeks are saying.
** Also, I predict dragon rider boy defeating the evil king, him getting the elf-girl after all and then sailing away into the sunset from whatever the equivalent of Grey Havens will be called in this world.