Book Review: Brisingr

And no, for the last time, I didn’t spell the title wrong. I can’t help it when authors use made-up words for their titles. It’s their perogative.

Overall: Decent series so far, it’s worth a read if you like fantasy. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not terrible either.

Brisingr is the third installment in the Inheritance Cycle (that was supposed to be… and probably should have been a trilogy) by Christopher Paolini who had most of Eragon written when he was just fifteen. If nothing else, I read Eragon simply because I wanted to know if a fifteen year old really could write a decent novel. I was surprised, and actually enjoyed Eragon and most of Eldest. Brisingr, overall, was not a disappointment but there were a few things that had me shaking my head. First off, each book keeps getting longer and longer as though Mr. Paolini is thinking ‘I wonder how long I can make the next book?’… and Brisingr is no exception. In fact, Brisingr was in dire need of a non-biased editor. This definitely could have been a trilogy because this third book should’ve been about half its size– each journey Eragon takes has 2-3 pages simply describing the journey. It doesn’t make your characters seem more realistic if you have them eating a meal and complaining about how hard it is to get to sleep at regular intervals… it just makes the book drag. And drag. And drag. I really wish I still had a copy of the book to count up how many times we get a description of Eragon eating or complaining about how exhausted/sore/tired/but-still-couldn’t-sleep he was feeling.

That said, I did manage to trudge through the entire book and it was decent, I still like the series. It’s exciting (overall… including Eragon and Eldest), and I’m anxious for the fourth and final (it better be) installment of the series. It’s true that you can see the author’s influences (and love of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy) but I think he does bring his own adjustments to the story that sets it apart from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (mostly).

Another good thing about this series is that it is relatively PG rated. Which is nice to find. You can still tell a good story without resorting to base language and sexual themes. Does Eragon have a love interest in the series? Yes, but descriptions of her are tasteful and pure. It makes for a better story, in my opinion. Plus, he has a little bit of trouble wooing her, as it is… but he likes her as her, not her as a body and so presents a better idea of the ‘love story’ aspect of the adventure.

Despite the length issues of Brisingr, I still thought he managed to tell a decent story and I hope the fourth book is published soon.

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Africa, AIDS, and the Pope

Nearly every news article, story, and blurb about Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Africa has some snide comment about the Church’s stance on artificial birth control and how Pope Benedict XVI says that condoms won’t solve the AIDS crisis in Africa. Writers and uninformed speakers alike paint the Pope as a man who cares more about religious dogma than people’s lives, as though, by his affirmation of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality Pope Benedict XVI is condemning Africans (and other inhabitants of countries struggling with AIDS) to death by AIDS.

NOT SO! I yell. Not so at all. If people would simply open their eyes and see “the big picture” it would all make sense. What is the (main) way the disease is being spread? Sexual contact. Casual sexual encounters, and sexual encouters by force (which, if it’s by force, don’t count on the rapist to take the time to put on a condom…). Handing out condoms like candy only encourages those casual sexual encounters. Are condoms 100% foolproof against spreading HIV/AIDS? Heck no. Look at all the condoms they’ve already been handing out in Africa. There’s still a huge AIDS problem. The only way to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS through sexual encounters is to eliminate those casual sexual encounters. Abstinence. Self-control. We live in such an indulgent society that it’s hard for us to imagine saying no. It’s hard for us to imagine having to deny ourselves a pleasure simply because it will be better for us in the long run.

Let us at a real example from history: the Philippines and Thailand. When the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in the Philippines the Church’s policy was implemented (i.e., don’t have sex with an infected person)… there is now a minuscule rate of AIDS in the Philippines. In Thailand, the Church’s policy was ignored and condoms were promoted. The death rate from AIDS is climbing and child prostitution is rampant. Mere coincidence? Highly doubtful.

So what should Africans do? Listen to the Catholic Church! Listen to the Pope! Don’t have sex with an infected person. Bam, zero chance of getting HIV if you’re not putting yourself at risk. Using a condom while having sex with an infected person only increasing your chance of contracting HIV each time. Promoting condoms is promoting an increased spread of AIDS. Promoting abstinence is promoting a grinding halt. Which makes sense to you?

Year of the Priest

For the Year of the Priest:

Reads
“Theology of the Priesthood” by Fr. Jean Galot (SJ)
The Sermons of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney)
Christ, the Ideal of the Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion

… and most importantly: pray for priests!