Sunday, 25 January 2009

Brisingr review and commentary

A nice fellow by the name of Rob Oakes has, over at his blog, written a very thought-provoking review of Christopher Paolini's much-derided (and sadly hugely popular) Brisingr. For the sake of those of us who wouldn't read a Paolini novel if our lives depended on it, Rob explains exactly why we're not missing out: 

"To understand the great weaknesses in Paolini’s work, it’s first necessary to understand the small ones. Let’s start with the minor sins before looking at their heavier brethren. As I alluded to above, there isn’t much to enjoy in this novel; not at a technical, literary, or philosophical level. While some of the linguistic errors might be resolved with a good editor, many of the other errors are stylistic or structural and are much more intractable. Paolini devotes pages to unimportant minutiae, drowning the narrative in lengthy and ponderous description. At one point he spends twenty-two pages to describe the forging of his sword from space metal. Twenty-two pages!"

You can find the rest of Rob's excellent review here. Rob has also written quite a scholarly article about how the character Eragon, far from being a hero, is actually a sociopath: 

"Eragon has little mercy or understanding for anyone around him (either friend or foe). This trend only gets worse as the novel progresses. Steadily, we proceed from actions which are merely foolish to those which are profoundly disturbing. Consider how Eragon acts in the first few hundred pages of Brisingr. In the opening chapters, Eragon commits genocide. He later circumvents justice in order to condemn and abandon a man in the desert. Last, he kills a child in cold blood while the boy is begging for mercy. In this essay, we will look at these three scenarios in detail and show that Eragon has lost his way, his conscience and his soul."

Chew on that, Paolini! ;)


T.D. Newton said...

Still have not cracked the books, but good to know they're only to be read as an example of "what not to do" regardless of popularity. Too bad.

Speaking of books, though, I was in my local B&N yesterday and saw the other two Brent Weeks' novels are out already. WTF, I said, wasn't Way of Shadows some kind of debut in 2008? How are all 3 books out already? I still haven't even read the first one!!! ARGH!

Hagelrat said...

LMAO i enjoyed the first two books well enough but would agree they are neither original nor well written.

James said...

TD: Some author (was it Jeff Vandermeer?) once said that, as an aspiring writer, you should read crap books as well as good so you can see what NOT to do. Potentially good advice, but I don't have the patience!

Regarding the Weeks: he wrote the entire trilogy before getting the Orbit deal, so they published the entire thing in the space of three months. Very good marketing strategy. Though I think Weeks was crazy to write the second two books before getting a deal for the first.

Aahzmandius Karrde said...

Sorry to derail this even further, but regarding Weeks:

The crazy part was not Weeks writing two more novels before getting a deal. The crazy part was the editor not saying, "Hey you got really good by book three. How about going back and tightening up the first two"

Mr. Cereal said...

Might I say that the great Tolkien himself also had the tendency to drown readers in lush descriptions? (Though, granted, I am not too fond of Tolkien, so that may be the problem right there.)

James said...

Mr Cereal: Agreed, but at least Tolkien could write.