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Brisingr

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Brisingr

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Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Corgi Books, 2010
Doubleday UK, 2008
Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
Series: The Inheritance Cycle: Book 3

1. Eragon
2. Eldest
3. Brisingr
4. Inheritance

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Heroic Fantasy
High Fantasy
Juvenile Fantasy
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Synopsis

Oaths sworn... loyalties tested... forces collide.

It's been only months since Eragon first uttered "brisingr," the ancient language term for fire. Since then, he's not only learned to create magic with words-he's been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

First is Eragon's oath to his cousin, Roran: to help rescue Roran's beloved from King Galbatorix's clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength-as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices-choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?


Excerpt

ASSAULT ON HELGRIND

Daybreak was ?fteen minutes away when Eragon rolled up right. He snapped his ?ngers twice to wake Roran and then scooped up his blankets and knotted them into a tight bundle. Pushing himself off the ground, Roran did likewise with his own bedding. They looked at each other and shivered with excitement. “If I die,” said Roran, “you will see to Katrina?”

“I shall.”

“Tell her then that I went into battle with joy in my heart and her name upon my lips.”

“I shall.”

Eragon muttered a quick line in the ancient language. The drop in his strength that followed was almost imperceptible. “There. That will ?lter the air in front of us and protect us from the paralyz ing effects of the Ra’zac’s breath.”

From his bags, Eragon removed his shirt of mail and unwrapped the length of sackcloth he had stored it in. Blood from the ?ght on the Burning Plains still encrusted the once-shining corselet, and the combination of dried gore, sweat, and neglect had allowed blotches of rust to creep across the rings. The mail was, however, free of tears, as Eragon had repaired them before they had departed for the Empire.

Eragon donned the leather-backed shirt, wrinkling his nose at the stench of death and desperation that clung to it, then attached chased bracers to his forearms and greaves to his shins. Upon his head he placed a padded arming cap, a mail coif, and a plain steel helm. He had lost his own helm—the one he had worn in Farthen Dûr and that the dwarves had engraved with the crest of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum—along with his shield during the aerial duel between Saphira and Thorn. On his hands went mailed gauntlets.

Roran out?tted himself in a similar manner, although he augmented his armor with a wooden shield. A band of soft iron wrapped around the lip of the shield, the better to catch and hold an enemy’s sword. No shield encumbered Eragon’s left arm; the hawthorn staff required two hands to wield properly.

Across his back, Eragon slung the quiver given to him by Queen Islanzadí. In addition to twenty heavy oak arrows ?etched with gray goose feathers, the quiver contained the bow with silver ?ttings that the queen had sung out of a yew tree for him. The bow was already strung and ready for use.

Saphira kneaded the soil beneath her feet. Let us be off!

Leaving their bags and supplies hanging from the branch of a juniper tree, Eragon and Roran clambered onto Saphira’s back. They wasted no time saddling her; she had worn her tack through the night. The molded leather was warm, almost hot, underneath Eragon. He clutched the neck spike in front of him—to steady himself during sudden changes in direction—while Roran hooked one thick arm around Eragon’s waist and brandished his hammer with the other.

A piece of shale cracked under Saphira’s weight as she settled into a low crouch and, in a single giddy bound, leaped up to the rim of the gulch, where she balanced for a moment before unfolding her massive wings. The thin membranes thrummed as Saphira raised them toward the sky. Vertical, they looked like two translucent blue sails.

“Not so tight,” grunted Eragon.

“Sorry,” said Roran. He loosened his embrace.

Further speech became impossible as Saphira jumped again. When she reached the pinnacle, she brought her wings down with a mighty whoosh, driving the three of them even higher. With each subsequent ?ap, they climbed closer to the ?at, narrow clouds.

As Saphira angled toward Helgrind, Eragon glanced to his left and discovered that he could see a broad swath of Leona Lake some miles distant. A thick layer of mist, gray and ghostly in the predawn glow, emanated from the water, as if witch?re burned upon the sur face of the liquid. Eragon tried, but even with his hawklike vision, he could not make out the far shore, nor the southern reaches of the Spine beyond, which he regretted. It had been too long since he had laid eyes upon the mountain range of his childhood.

To the north stood Dras-Leona, a huge, rambling mass that ap peared as a blocky silhouette against the wall of mist that edged its western ?ank. The one building Eragon could identify was the cathedral where the Ra’zac had attacked him; its ?anged spire loomed above the rest of the city, like a barbed spearhead.

And somewhere in the landscape that rushed past below, Eragon knew, were the remnants of the campsite where the Ra’zac had mortally wounded Brom. He allowed all of his anger and grief over the events of that day—as well as Garrow’s murder and the destruction of their farm—to surge forth and give him the courage, nay, the desire, to face the Ra’zac in combat. Eragon, said Saphira. Today we need not guard our minds and keep our thoughts secret from one another, do we? Not unless another magician should appear.

A fan of golden light ?ared into existence as the top of the sun crested the horizon. In an instant, the full spectrum of colors en livened the previously drab world: the mist glowed white, the water became a rich blue, the daubed-mud wall that encircled the center of Dras-Leona revealed its dingy yellow sides, the trees cloaked themselves in every shade of green, and the soil blushed red and or ange. Helgrind, however, remained as it always was—black.

The mountain of stone rapidly grew larger as they approached.

Even from the air, it was intimidating. Diving toward the base of Helgrind, Saphira tilted so far to her left, Eragon and Roran would have fallen if they had not already strapped their legs to the saddle. Then she whipped around the apron of scree and over the altar where the priests of Helgrind observed their ceremonies. The lip of Eragon’s helm caught the wind from her passage and produced a howl that almost deafened him.

“Well?” shouted Roran. He could not see in front of them.

“The slaves are gone!”

A great weight seemed to press Eragon into his seat as Saphira pulled out of her dive and spiraled up around Helgrind, searching for an entrance to the Ra’zac’s hideout.

Not even a hole big enough for a woodrat, she declared. She slowed and hung in place before a ridge that connected the third lowest of the four peaks to the prominence above. The jagged buttress magni ?ed the boom produced by each stroke of her wings until it was as loud as a thunderclap. Eragon’s eyes watered as the air pulsed against his skin.

A web of white veins adorned the backside of the crags and pillars, where hoarfrost had collected in the cracks that furrowed the rock. Nothing else disturbed the gloom of Helgrind’s inky, windswept ramparts. No trees grew among the slanting stones, nor shrubs, grass, or lichen, nor did eagles dare nest upon the tower’s broken ledges. True to its name, Helgrind was a place of death, and stood cloaked in the razor-sharp, sawtooth folds of its scarps and clefts like a bony specter risen to haunt the earth.

Casting his mind outward, Eragon con?rmed the presence of the two people whom he had discovered imprisoned within Helgrind the previous day, but he felt nothing of the slaves, and to his concern, he still could not locate the Ra’zac or the Lethrblaka. If they aren’t here, then where? he wondered. Searching again, he noticed something that had eluded him before: a single ?ower, a gentian, blooming not ?fty feet in front of them, where, by all rights, there ought to be solid rock. How does it get enough light to live?

Saphira answered his question by perching on a crumbling spur several feet to the right. As she did, she lost her balance for a moment and ?ared her wings to steady herself. Instead of brushing against the bulk of Helgrind, the tip of her right wing dipped into the rock and then back out again.

Saphira, did you see that!

I did.

Leaning forward, Saphira pushed the tip of her snout toward the sheer rock, paused an inch or two away—as if waiting for a trap to spring—then continued her advance. Scale by scale, Saphira’s head slid into Helgrind, until all that was visible of her to Eragon was a neck, torso, and wings.

It’s an illusion! exclaimed Saphira.

With a surge of her mighty thews, she abandoned the spur and ?ung the rest of her body after her head. It required every bit of Eragon’s self- control not to cover his face in a desperate bid to pro tect himself as the crag rushed toward him.

An instant later, he found himself looking at a broad, vaulted cave suffused with the warm glow of morning. Saphira’s scales refracted the light, casting thousands of shifting blue ?ecks across the rock. Twisting around, Eragon saw no wall behind them, only the mouth of the cave and a sweeping view of the landscape beyond.

Eragon grimaced. It had never occurred to him that Galbatorix might have hidden the Ra’zac’s lair with magic. Idiot! I have to do better, he thought. Underestimating the king was a sure way to get them all killed.

Roran swore and said, “Warn me before you do something like that again.” Hunching forward, Eragon began to unbuckle his legs from the saddle as he studied their surroundings, alert for danger.

The opening to the ...

Copyright © 2008 by Christopher Paolini


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