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Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle) Paperback – April 13, 2010
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Tad Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of several epic fantasy series. He lives in California.
Read on for Williams and Christopher Paolini's discussion about why they write fantasy, their upcoming projects, and more.
Tad: Hi, Christopher. Nice to talk to you, albeit virtually. It was great hanging out with you and your family this summer. Pretty much all of us fell in love with your part of the world, too.
Be warned: this isn't my best time of the day, so if I start calling you "Herman" and asking what it was about whaling that interested you, please forgive.
The first thing I'd like to ask you as a starter question is: why fantasy? I mean, there's the obvious answer (which is also true for me) that it was something I loved to read growing up, but I guess I'm curious what is it that still resonates for you. Why do these kind of stories, these kinds of characters, these kinds of worlds, still speak to you?
In a similar vein, do you have another kind of fiction, another genre, that you'd really like to try? If so, why? Any genres you think you'll never write but wish you could?
Christopher: Hi Tad. Great talking to you as well. We all had a wonderful time when you guys visited. Definitely one Of the highlights of the year.
I'm still waking up as well -- takes a few cups of tea and a few strips of bacon before the little gray cells start firing properly -- so if I sound a bit muddled, that's why. Still, we can make a stab at coherency, eh?
Hmm. Why do I write fantasy? As you said, it's because I enjoy reading it, but I enjoy reading it because . . . well, for a number of reasons, I suppose. First of all, fantasy allows for all sorts of dangerous situations, and those can provide a lot of excitement in a story. And excitement is always fun. Also, epic fantasy usually deals with themes and situations that everyone can relate to, such as the challenge of growing up, or how one is supposed to deal with moral quandaries. Fantasy is the oldest form of literature; the very first stories that humans told while crouched around campfires were stories about gods and monsters and tragic mistakes and heroic feats. Even now, those topics still resonate with us on a primal level, which is one reason I think fantasy will remain popular with readers as long as humans are still human. And I love the sense of awe and wonder one can often find in fantastical literature. . . . Fantasy can allow you to see and hear and experience things that have never existed and never *could* exist. To me, that is the closest we come to real magic in this world.
That said, there are a number of other genres I'd like to try my hand at: mystery, thriller, horror, science-fiction, romance, etc. I love stories of all kinds -- although mythic ones certainly hold the greatest appeal to me -- and I'm very much looking forward to experimenting once I finish the Inheritance cycle. Any genres I think I'll never write but wish I could? . . . Probably long-form epic poetry or a witty comedy of manners. Poetry is fun, but my grasp on it is rather shaky, and a comedy of manners (while I enjoy them) is so different from my usual life, I'm not sure I could pull it off properly.
And now a question for you: You have just finished your third (large) series. What is it about big epic stories that so fascinates you? Why not write small, intimate books about a fishmonger whose greatest love is his toothpick sculpture of the Brooklyn Bridge?
Read the full conversation
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
It is an enjoyable read, and a worthy third installment to the series. I thought that Eragon was a very good story, and Eldest not quite as good, although Paolini's writing had improved. Brisingr is the best of the three. I fell back into the story right away, and I found myself caring about the characters, even worrying about their safety. This is what I look for in fiction: it made me want to pick up the book every chance I got. If it interferes with the rest of my life, it is a very good book. Brisingr is one of those books. I am thankful to my son that he recommended this series to me.
Some reviewers of Eldest were very critical of the fact that the plot is derivative of other epics, like The Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars. I didn't mind this in the least. It is the tale of a hero's journey, complete with absence, devestation and return. It is one of the oldest tales in storytelling. We already know the story, but it is the storytelling that makes it good or bad. Paolini is a good writer. Not as great as Tolkein or LeGuin, but good nevertheless. I was able to suspend my inner critic, and enjoy the read. I recommend that you do the same.
Unfortunately, the series is growing into the complaints. Paolini does have talent, but his sales figures and incredible life story have seemingly allowed his manuscripts to go unchecked, and his writing flaws are getting worse, not better.
Three major problems with "Brisingr":
1) It's way too violent. It opens on a group of fanatics who slice off their own limbs to prove their faith, whose rituals we observe in loving detail. (The head priest has lopped himself down to just a torso.) We soon continue to a torture victim whose eyes have been pecked - eaten - out of his face. "Gore" is Paolini's favorite word, particularly when it is "smeared" on something, and we get endless graphic depictions of Roran's hammer smashing an enemy soldier's skull/throat/arm/spine, its owner rejoicing in the carnage. I don't expect war to be bowlderized, but the book revels in charnel for its own sake and is too bloody for readers under thirteen.
2) Eragon has become a bit of a sociopath. A reunion with one of his childhood bullies - who's just been through horrific torture - becomes a control-and-humiliate fantasy that's disturbing. When the typically closed Arya touchingly recounts her love's recent death and how it stole all joy from her world, Eragon's heart is unmoved; he feels only irritation and jealousy, fuming that he will "not be discouraged in his suit". (Has he been reading "The Game"?Read more ›
When I bought this, I told myself, "I don't care if it's good or bad. I just want to learn something from it." At a gut level I knew it would be disappointing. I sensed it when I first picked up the book and held it in my hands. It's more than a year later, and it's taken me this long to read through the book twice, and I still don't remember most of what happened in the book.
But here's the truth: It was a purchase I'm proud of.
I've read hundreds of reviews of the book and at least a thousand of the entire Inheritance Cycle, and I've come across a lot of great advice. But nothing has helped me more than actually struggling through the book. By reading it word for word, I got to step into Paolini's shoes and understand his thought processes as he wrote the book. As a result, it's taught me some things to keep in mind as I write fiction. Here are a few that tie into my issues with "Brisingr":
1) Eragon is worsening as a character. I can't get around it. The more I read his dialogue, the more I can't stand him. There's nothing that I can relate to. There's nothing I can admire. There's nothing that makes me want to keep reading about him. Of course, he still has to defeat King Galbatorix, but there's nothing else in his life or personality that I can fall back on. Every word out of his mouth sounds forced: the more I read his dialogue, the more he sounds like Paolini instead of like a fresh, original character with a mind of his own.Read more ›
I have long since given up on the tiresome fantasy series of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, and the like as I noticed that after about the 3rd or 4th book, nothing new happens. A series should be short, maintain our attention, and always keep in mind the primary conflict between hero and villian.
Books one and two of the Inheritance cycle did this. At the end of Eldest, Eragon has three things that need be done, fulfill his promise to Roran, return to Oromis, and defeat Galbatorix. The first of those is finished in the early pages of the book, but from there, we spiral away from the story and into tiresome cliche. Eragon spends pages moaning and groaning about how he has been forced to kill, but it never amounts to anything. Eragon and Roran spend pages pontificating at each other in conversations that make each of them sound as though they were raised in the hearts of academia, rather than on the farm.
As an aside, the characters talk way too much in this book. For pages. One wonders when they pause to take breath. Even other characters notice this "He certainly talks alot." says Saphira at one point. Yes, I suppose he does. But then, so do you, my dear blue dragon. So do you...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Trite and repetitive. I found the writing to be decent but the storyline lacked logic and was plodding along at a snails pace. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Kindle Customer
Fantastic book. Lots of action and mystery. Kept me guessing what would happen next or what new treasure would be discovered.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
A good book but I suggest you read books 1,and 2 first so you know a little bit more about the history of Eragon and SaphiraPublished 14 days ago by J. Lavy
Great continuation of the story. I love the characters. They become your friends.Published 23 days ago by Linda L Knight
Each of his stories just seem to get better and better. I can't wait to see what happens next and yet, I don't want it to end.Published 1 month ago by Russell Fletcher
Excellent, immersive and fun reading! It was very hard to put this book down! Can't wait to read the next one!!!Published 1 month ago by All things fiction