Inheritance Book Review

It began with Eragon. . . .

It ends with Inheritance

-front flap

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

This book was nearly thirty dollars and I got a Barnes and Nobles account just to bring it down to twenty-five. The things I do for Paolini. Let’s talk about what I got in return.

Two things. If you stopped reading after Eragon, I would say read keep going. This last book is the best and the end is satisfying. Second, this about to be the longest book review I think I’ve ever done. Grab some popcorn.

So, I’m not sure how to give a summary of this book. It’s the last in the Inheritance series, but I’m sure the casual observer would know it better as the conclusion to the Eragon books.

Do you remember Eragon? The first book came out when I was in 6th grade, which was about a thousand (six) years ago. I was obsessed. I seriously thought I had stumbled upon the greatest adventure ever.

To give you some perspective on my experience in the literary world at that time (I was twelve) I had read the entire Deltora Quest series, Little Women, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Narnia, and every Royal Diary book I could get my hands on (plus the entire school library). So I wasn’t exactly freakin’ out over this book from the point of view of someone who has never read anything before. I was simply enraptured. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe because I hadn’t read any “dragon” books before— in fact, if I remember clearly, this book ignited a renewed interest in writing fantasy for kids.

Regardless of why I liked it, it’s mostly important to know that I did. I mean, this book had a huge impact on my life. If Harry Potter was the series that got me into reading, well this was the one that made me want to write. I’m dead serious. I started my own book shortly after reading this and now the finished manuscript is sitting on this very computer. It’s a completely different story from the one I started all those years ago (it was half Eragon, half Avatar: The Last Airbender back then) but I will never forget the story that inspired me to start it.

Anyways, because of all that, I have a sort of special place in my heart for the Eragon books. Over the years, my taste has become a little more refined and as I grew older, I saw that some of his sentences were awkward and sometimes his description is heavy enough that you can pull a Hermes and bore people to death with it. But for sentimental reasons, I defend the book. I liked it.

Ah, half a page of typing and I’ve still not managed to give a summary. Well, in Eragon, the first book, a young farm boy called Eragon discovers a dragon egg while hunting. The dragon egg hatches for him and he suddenly finds his life turned upside down— he is the first in a new breed of Dragon Riders. The Riders were from times of old and they protected the lands of Alagaësia (Paolini’s world). But one Rider went astray and killed the other Riders. He took over throne, created an evil empire and has ruled for the past century. Eragon finds himself now as the only one with the power to defeat him. The books are his quest to do this. And this one, Inheritance, is the final chapter.

Alright. So I’m going to get the flaws out of the way now so I can discuss some deeper things. I’ve mentioned it before, but Paolini suffers from something I call the Eragon Syndrome. Woah. Yeah. Anyways. The idea is, Paolini has all these words and he thinks, “Hey. How many words can I use to write this? ALL THE WORDS.” So he does. It makes his books long. So much longer than they need to be. The first was okay because he was just starting off, but in the second, he starts adding in things— Eragon’s cousin for example becomes a major character. Paolini stated once (if I’m remember correctly) that he enjoyed writing from Roran’s (the cousin’s) point of view (third person, though) because it gave him a chance to explore a more mature character. I read two of Roran’s chapters in the second book, dubbed them boring and never read another one again. Roran is completely average. I mean, there are some thing that he does that eventually make him famous in Alagaësia, but in comparison to some of the other characters that Paolini has created, Roran is dull. And I never missed a single thing from not reading his chapters. Which goes to prove that they simply didn’t need to be there. But Paolini put them in anyways. In the third book he had some one-hundred pages of dwarven elections. This is how much I cared:

Yeah. Especially because I knew who was going to win— it was obvious. So basically, when I say that something suffers from the Eragon Syndrome, it means that the editor died and left cutting out useless bits to the author. How many people write things and then want to delete their hard work? I’ll give you the answer: none of them. Not even me. This review is proof.

The drag that this Syndrome puts on his books is enormous and it’s probably the number one reason why people don’t read it. I kid you not. The other reason lies in the way Paolini uses all the words he insists on putting in. He is a very intelligent person, but his books are basically SAT practice. I read them with an electronic dictionary on hand. I have no problem with mature people writing with a mature vocabulary, but in the words of Mark Twain, never use constable when cop will do. It’s simply excessive. And it has the effect of slowing things down. It makes the writing clunky and instead of savoring the words, you’re kind of chewing on them. Like rubbery meat.

The idea is that Paolini was inspired by Tolkien and other classic writers and like any young author, drew on their style. So you can see where the language is coming, but it’s not quite right. It doesn’t quite work.

The last negative thing I have to say is that in the first two books, the world was basically Lord of the Rings and the plot was Star Wars. Seriously. There was even something like an “I am your Father!” moment. There is a certain lack of originality in the names and the races featured (Urgals are the Orcs of this realm; there are elves and dwarves and such and they’re very Tolkien-esque) but like I said before, he was young when started and having done the same thing, I understand how his books ended up so similar.

However, in the last two books, you can see Paolini maturing and the story takes on more of his own world. This is where I start saying good things. This last book really worked hard to be original. And in many ways, Paolini succeeded. He drew the focus back to what was originally so unique about his books— the Riders. We heard less about the elves and dwarves and Star Wars and got into his own world’s personal history. With the focus on the Riders and Eragon’s place as one of the last (because by this point it has been revealed that Eragon’s half brother Murtagh is also a rider, as well as the evil king Galbatorix) Paolini explores a few new concepts.

First, a question of whether magic has a place in his world comes up. Is it fair that the vast majority of people are constantly at the mercy of magic-users? The answer becomes a definitive point for the end of the book. It makes the ending a little heart-wrenching, but in a good way. It also makes sense.

Second, Eragon no longer has any more time to waffle around— he has to confront Galbatorix now. Or else the series will end and we’ll all be disappointed. Because of this, the book is in many ways more tightly plotted. No useless quests. Just a few important ones. The beginning of the book is mostly a good chunk of conversation, but then Eragon is sent out on a mission with a few good friends and dear God it was a ripping good yarn. I stayed up late for those chapters and lugged the book to school for them too. That’s dedication.

After that mission, the pace stays quick. Yes, there are still those infuriating Roran chapters (none of which I read and the book made perfect sense) but now far more interesting characters are explored. And by characters I mean Nasuada and Murtagh (who had a hinted-at romance when they first met, before Murtagh was turned “evil” by Galbatorix). And by far more interesting, I mean that this book surely has imprints of my hand on the cover from how hard I was gripping it. Here’s a quick spoiler: Nasuada gets captured at one point and spends some time in prisoner where she has a chance to get to know Murtagh a little better. A small romantic fire is kindled here and it’s basically the sweetest thing ever.

There is something actually quite interesting that I wanted to discuss. So, Paolini. He’s a dude. Mostly, the romantic books are written by girls. When girls write, I tend to notice that they let their female characters blissfully forget their pain when a handsome boy is around and instead I have to suffer through pages of mooning and description about how he sets her blood on fire.

But with Paolini, Nasuada remains focused and strong. I realized when I was reading this that not only did it make the story and romance so much more appealing but just— realistic. Like, if you’re being tortured are you really gonna go on about how this guy looks? No. You’ll be suspicious and slow to let down your guard and just. Umph. Everything about how this was handled was perfect. And I don’t really want to sound sexist, but it’s gonna come out that way anyways so here goes: I think the number one reason that this worked is because a boy wrote it. I guess he had boys in mind, thinking they wouldn’t want to read that crap. But here’s a message to the writers of the world: some girls don’t want to read it either!

Alright. Now that I’ve trampled that soap box, we can continue. So character exploration really made this book. Eragon has really grown up and his interactions (in particular dialogue) with others have become much more natural. Murtagh, Nasuada, Arya; they all grew up and became very interesting people. Their plights and struggles made this book. I wish I had a Murtagh chapter for every Roran chapter that I didn’t read. He is simply that engaging, Murtagh.

This is getting way longer than it needs to be. Let’s move on. To the final battle. Because that’s what the entire second half of this book is about, basically. It was…well, it was good in some ways and bad in others. There are some parts that are overly convenient (Eragon enters with a bunch of elves but they’re all magicked away, except for Arya. Why didn’t she go? I’ll never know). Others are kind of cheesy— Eragon is in hand-to-hand combat with Murtagh and they’re just being chatty Cathyies. It was so weird to have so much discussion in a battle. And it was like, was everyone listening? Because there were lots of people around. And the conversation seemed kind of private. So that was awkward.

Also, Galbatorix is a man. And because of this, Paolini has him present, sitting on the throne for Eragon to destroy. It made him less…scary? I feel like you can almost never fear a man that you know too well. Galbatorix monologues and crap and I recalled the scenes in the Harry Potter movies that featured Lord Voldemort. I remember thinking then, “Wow. This makes him so much less intimidating.” Well, the same thing happened here. His villain becomes human. Yet somehow, he is undefeatable. It’s a weird contradiction that Paolini has created. In the end though, I think he actually manages to come up with a very creative way of defeating this man of evil. I won’t say what it was— just that I would’ve never thought of it myself. Was this battle exciting? In some ways yes. In some no. But I felt satisfied when it was over.

In terms of falling action, this book also manages to wrap up all the loose ends. People complained that it didn’t but I either forgot something or they’re just liars. I thought everything was tied up. Logically and, because it was Paolini, you are guaranteed that it isn’t rushed. The only thing that bothered me is that, well, Arya and Eragon. They were meant to be together. And Paolini pulls out a card that has to separate them. And while this card is a major point of the story and also quite necessary, I still wish he had at least promised to have them visit each other in their old age. Their distance was justified and I agree with it— it was certainly the only way that Alagaësia and the Riders could survive. I know I’m being so vague here, but to say it would spoil everything. So, seriously, just email me if you want to talk. Nobody else that I know has read this book and I’m dying to discuss it.

The one—ONE— other thing that niggles me is that, like Arya and Eragon, Murtagh and Nasuada were meant to be. Simply meant to be. I understand that they can’t be together right away, however, Paolini makes it seem like they never will be. Was that necessary? No! At least hint at it. But Paolini says he’ll revisit this world. So never I guess we’ll eventually know. Maybe these open endings will come to a close.

In the end, I’m glad to have read this series. It’s taught me many things about writing and it has at the very least been an entertaining ride. I think Paolini’s greatest strength is that he has developed into this story into his own world and I can see it very clearly in my head and he doesn’t shy away from nerdy-cool things, like having Eragon’s sword burst into blue flames every time he says its name. Or some of the sweet battle moves Eragon pulls. Or the Doctor Who references he threw in there. I mean, he writes with the spirit of adventure and I actually wrote a whole post on this, but these books would make excellent movies. The movie that was made was horribly botched. But if I could, I would make them. There are some really good action sections, but also enough fantasy and wonder and some really awful creations that would make it a visual treat as well as a good adventure. I honestly think that handled correctly, these books could really be something on the silver screen.

It’s been a long time. Nearly a decade that this series has been a part of my life. I’ve even met Paolini and had my books autographed. And while there are oodles of people ready to run this boy down for borrowing excessively from Tolkien, etcetera, I would rather commend him on actually getting his book published and for giving me something to read. I wouldn’t say they’re the best. But they are something. And they’re worth a try. And maybe, like me, they’ll inspire you to create something of your own.

Ri’s Rating:

QQQ/QQQQQ
3/5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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7 Comments

  1. Really impressive review, enjoyed reading it :).

    Reply
  2. Roran and Elva are worst character to me…Roran still good in Eldest but after that just a page fillers. I agree with many of your points.

    Reply
  3. 1) Hey, you like Deltora Quest? That was one of my favorite juvenile fantasy series!
    2) I liked the dwarven elections! I liked them despite knowing who’d win just as I liked the showdown with Galbatorix despite knowing Eragon would win in the end. It’s not the mystery of it that makes me want to read it, you know. I read it for its own sake! I also very much enjoyed the Roran chapters, and though you’re probably right in that they’re not strictly necessary, I think they definitely added a lot, and . . . Roran wouldn’t seem as flat to you if you had read them, I think.
    3) On Arya and Eragon, Paolini said: “I realized that the characters weren’t the people I thought they were back when I was fifteen, and that if I forced Eragon and Arya together (and it would be forcing them) I would end up breaking Arya’s character. I wrote a big chunk of Inheritance thinking that she and Eragon would be together. However the scenes between them, scenes where they were rather openly flirting, just did not work. Essentially, I was writing Arya the way that Eragon *wanted* her to be, not the way that she actually was. So, I cut back on the flirting. When I did that, I realized that it made no sense for Arya to suddenly turn on a dime at the end and leap into Eragon’s arms. If she did, it would seem as if she was only doing it for the sake of the dragons, not for Eragon, and Eragon himself would have noticed this. It would have left a very bitter taste in peoples’ mouths, I think. [ . . . ] Originally, my idea was that Eragon’s exposure to the Eldunarí in Vroengard would mature him so quickly (sort of like what happened to him physically during the Blood-oath Celebration) that when he returned, Arya would see that he was now grown up and would be willing to have a relationship with him. However, doing that was too big a shift in Eragon’s character. When I wrote those scenes, I realized that even if the Eldunarí exposed him to all of the wisdom of the ages, it would still take him years, if not decades, to understand it all. The thing to keep in mind is that though the series is over, Eragon and Arya’s story will continue. They’re going to live for a very long time, and their relationship is far from over.”
    4) On whether there’s hope for Nasuada and Murtagh (who I’m all for and think are adorable!), he said “no comment.” I’m taking that as a yes. ;)
    5) Feel free to email me, and we’ll talk about it!

    Reply
  4. DanielSwagger

     /  March 3, 2013

    I am doing a book report on this AMAZING book.
    I mean, I never fell on a better fantasy book than this one.
    I would of course give it a 5, for there should be a 5th book! It leaves at such a cliffhanger.
    So yeah. 5/5

    Reply
  5. Kevin

     /  July 5, 2013

    The ending seemed terrible. I literally saw it coming from three books away, when Brom and Eragon started talking about how maybe the ancient language had a name. I remember thinking , “That would be very convenient for solving everything, though I hope the author wouldn’t be so shallow as to use such a deus ex machina tactic without some preparation.” Turns out that was exactly what he did. He solved everything by letting Eragon pull some miracle out of a hat, or to be precise, letting Murtaugh pull a miracle out of his hat. Frankly, the book was a bore and the series a disappointment.

    Reply
    • Ri

       /  July 31, 2013

      Right? I hated the way the book ended; it was too much like Tolkien with everyone leaving to far flung corners of the world. Also, for so much resolution, I felt that a lot of the relationships were sorta just abandoned. If this book hadn’t had such special personal meaning to me, I probably would’ve dropped the series a long time ago. Anyways, thanks for commenting! And come back soon!

      Reply

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