A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The main characters will go to any lengths to protect those they love and defeat evil. The society in this world has clearly defined gender roles, but they don't preclude women from fighting.
Violence & Scariness
Lots. Many bloody battles, with large numbers of deaths (including that of a major character) and injuries (including some that are self-inflicted), many described: beheadings, disembowelments, snapping of necks and spines, limbs lopped off, pecking out of eyes, whipping, piles of bodies, spurting blood, drinking of blood, chunks of flesh (several times described as "meat") and brain matter, and more. Some of this is described using very graphic metaphors: "his skin split like an overripe berry," etc.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A mention of groping a maid; intercourse is implied in several scenes; some kissing; an oblique, bawdy joke about a bridegroom.
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The term "bastard" is used correctly.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking of mead and wine; pipe smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the gore factor is very high and frequent here, even higher than the previous books in the series. Expect piles of bodies and graphic descriptions of things like beheadings and disembowelment amidst the many battles. There is also some mild sexual innuendo.
Is It Any Good?
Young author Christopher Paolini continues to grow as a writer, and his story has an ability to capture and hold his readers' attentions even over the far-too-long expanse of his longest novel yet. His characters, settings, and action set-pieces are vivid and continue to thrill, and there is no doubt that this third book in what is now planned to be a four-book series will sell well and please many of his fans.
But his decision, presumably approved by his editors, to extend the trilogy to four books has given his propensity for self-indulgence free rein. The actual plot here warrants perhaps 250-300 pages. The rest is spent in what can only be described as showing off. He loves flaunting his vocabulary in lengthy, unnecessary descriptions: in one scene, for instance, where a bunch of men are ringing bells, he divides them in two just so that he can describe half of them "producing a dolorous cacophony of notes" while the other half "cause iron tongues to crash against iron throats and emit a mournful clamor." He continues to include sophomoric bull-sessions that run to dozens of pages, and he seems incapable of doing a bit of research without foisting it all on the reader: for example, his description of the forging of a sword takes up an entire 16-page chapter. Paolini is a very good writer, and has the talent to be a great one -- all he needs is the discipline.
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Our Editors Recommend
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