Point of View–of POV for the sake of brevity–is important in any novel. But it’s not just who’s perspective that you’re telling the story from but how many individuals will contribute to the telling of your grand tale. While more interesting, multiple POV’s can be a challenge, but can tell an excellent tale. A good example of this is the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.
With the exception of the prologue the entire first book is written from the perspective of the main protagonist. This changes in the next three books so I will focus on them. In Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance there are three POV’s. Eragon, his cousin Rowen, and the Nasuada–the new leader of the Varden.
The POV changes are handled vary well, usually occurring when a large gap of time must elapse before one of the characters can continue on their personal narrative. In Eldest, Rowen must hide in the fringes of the Spine because the Raz’ zac have returned to Carvahall to capture him in order to draw out Eragon. Once he’s hiding in the Spine the narrative leaves him and shifts back to Eragon who’s preparing to leave Farthen Dur to travel to the Elven kingdom to continue his training. Not until he and his companions are about to venture forth on a two week journey beneath the mountains does it then shift back to Rowen. In this manner, the last three books operate and it works. You’re never torn from a character who’s in imminent danger, your never bored with meaningless trivialities, and each of the three characters pops up precisely when they need to.
The POV’s are also distinctive and not just because they are written in third person and use the character’s names. The personality behind the words, their own particular challenges, and how the environments are described are all used to make each character distinct so that you never have any doubt who’s adventure your reading. More importantly, all three POV’s progress at the same pace which is particularly important in the ending of Eldest where the three characters all meet at the same location–the Burning Plains.
Their is nothing wrong with multiple POV’s, but they can be more challenging than telling the story from a single character’s perspective. But if done right, then multiple POV’s can enrich the narrative and give you a more compelling story.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this book and have no artistic claim to them.