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Brisingr: Inheritance Book 3    by Christopher Paolini order for
by Christopher Paolini
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Brisingr is the 3rd in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series, starring a boy (Eragon) and his dragon (Saphira). It's set in AlagaŽsia, ruled by evil Emperor Galbatorix, who was once a Dragon Rider. Served by the Forsworn, he destroyed other Riders and sought to control the few dragon eggs remaining. The Varden rebel alliance (including human, elves, dwarves and magic-users) opposes Galbatorix.

In the first book, Eragon, our young farmer hero - who was raised by an uncle along with his cousin Roran - found a dragon egg and bonded with the little creature who emerged and quickly grew very big, and rather maternal towards her new rider. A series of adventures ended after an epic battle that gave Eragon the title of Shadeslayer. He also fell hard for long-lived elven Arya and befriended dwarf Orik.

In book two, Eldest, Eragon learned more about fighting and wielding magic from a Yoda-like, crippled Rider in hiding, and was transformed into an elf-human hybrid. In parallel, after the capture of Roran's beloved Katrina by the beetle-like Ra'zac, Roran earned the title of Stronghammer. He led an exodus of refugees south to join Eragon in a great battle between imperial forces and the Varden, in which Eragon was almost defeated by his friend Murtagh (who had been forced to become Galbatorix's slave).

Now, the third episode, Brisingr, advances the story on many fronts (as always I appreciated the story synopsis at the beginning and wonder why other long-running fantasy series don't do the same!) Eragon and Saphira are regularly separated, increasing his risk level and changing the nature of his adventures. During them he learns more of his origins and finally wins a new weapon - as well as a dragon heart.

It begins with a desperate attempt by Eragon and Roran to rescue Katrina, during which the former is once again cursed to 'leave AlagaŽsia and never return!' Afterwards, Eragon takes on a mission secret even from his closest friends. Nasuada makes a sacrifice to solidify her leadership of the Varden. Elva, mistakenly cursed by Eragon while he was attempting a blessing, gains relief but chooses to retain the ability to sense others' pain. Roran becomes a Varden commander. And Eragon participates in the dwarves' clanmeet to select a new ruler.

This episode, subtitled 'The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular', ends after another major battle, with a note that the story will conclude in Book Four. I find the series growing in momentum, and loved small, imaginative touches like the four inch long 'exquisite ship made of green and white grass' and magic by Arya. Once launched, it flies - and continues to amaze - forever. Like many other fans, I'm anxiously waiting to see where Paolini's impressive storytelling ability takes the Inheritance conclusion.

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