BRISINGR, by Christopher Paolini, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 784 pages, $27.50

When Christopher Paolini wrote his first book at the tender age of 15, he had no idea that his creation would become a worldwide phenomenon.

His parent-published book caught the eye of editors at Random House, and the first edition of "Eragon" was published in 2003 by the company's young-adult imprint, Knopf. Since then, "Eragon" and its sequel, "Eldest," have sold 12.5 million copies worldwide.

It's been three years since "Eldest" was published, so it's no surprise that the highly anticipated release of the third book in the Inheritance Cycle, "Brisingr," brought out diehard fans in droves. And for good reason.

"Brisingr" does not disappoint, advancing this story of humans, magic, dragons, dwarves, elves and other mystical creatures with ease.

The Inheritance Cycle follows Eragon, a farm boy, who at the age of 15 discovers a strange rock that turns out to be one of the last three dragon eggs in existence. The egg was in the possession of the evil Galbatorix until stolen by his foes, the Varden.

The dragon hatches for Eragon and he names her Saphira. The two are linked together, able to hear each other's thoughts and share magic. Galbatorix sends his minions to capture the duo, killing Eragon's uncle in the process.

Saphira and Eragon escape, and set off in search of revenge. They are joined by the village storyteller, Brom, who has a surprising knowledge of dragons; and Murtagh, a young man who hates the empire, but is harboring secrets.

Eragon's pursuit leads him to the Varden and later to the elves, who train him to become a Dragon Rider in preparation for a showdown with the empire and eventually with Galbatorix, who was once a Dragon Rider himself.

Like many books in a series, Paolini could have easily spent the first few chapters recapping what happened in previous works. Instead, he included a brief synopsis at the beginning. It was a smart choice, allowing the reader to jump right into the story without being bogged down by clunky narrations sandwiched in wherever they seem to fit.

As with other fantasy books, Paolini has created his own world, with its own language and peoples. In fact, the title, "Brisingr," is the ancient term for fire in Paolini's world. And when the word is spoken by someone who can wield magic, it can have devastating results.

Written for young adults, "Brisingr" has an easy flow to it. Paolini's writing has matured from what reads like a 15-year-old wrote it to a confident style that is smooth, with strong description that carries the reader forward.

Like Paolini, the Inheritance characters, particularly Eragon and Saphira, have matured, too. Their relationship and connection has advanced, making them formidable warriors. Privy to the thoughts of the duo, the reader gains a greater understanding of their bond — how it drives them forward but can hold them back as well.

"Brisingr" is a great option for those who are avoiding the current vampire book trend. More mature than the "Harry Potter" series, but not as involved as "The Lord of the Rings" series, it's a middle-ground offering that is clean for fantasy — there is some battle violence; sword fighting, gore, etc. — and imaginative.

While not for the younger crowd, teens and older readers will quickly devour "Brisingr." Paolini's work continues to improve, and if he follows on this path, the final book in this four-part series should be impressive.


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