on November 9, 2011
Important: I recommend that all potential buyers only read reviews that clearly state there are no spoilers in the review title (or the title clearly intends the review for said audience). There are one too many reviews that give away critical information within the first couple of lines.
It is difficult to review a book such as this; a person's liking of the book is obviously subjective (as you'll notice with any novel). I am surprised that the current highest-rated review contains many spoilers, and one can only assume that most of those reading the reviews have already read the book -- or perhaps they are too lethargic to actually read the book for themselves.
As it is, I would do my best to give an honest review, without spoilers, for those who have not read the book.
Firstly, I must admit that I did enjoy the book, though it did have many flaws. Perhaps I am alone in this, but Paolini's writing skills seem to have lessened since the second novel; in Inheritance, many smaller plots and potential side-stories remain unexplained or simply not pursued. A few extremely engaging characters seem to have underlying motives and/or secret histories that also remain woefully unexplained. Furthermore, the chapters seem somewhat rushed, and one cannot help but feel that the story does not flow as smooth as previously -- it feels somewhat distorted. And yet, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the story was its ending (I would not elaborate, for fear of giving something away).
And yet, even so, I still enjoyed the book immensely; as one who has read the previous books and has become slowly captivated by the story, it would prove quite difficult not to enjoy 849 pages more -- whatever flaws it may contain. With that being said, I would highly recommend any prospective readers to get the book, and enjoy it in its finality.
Note: I was also just recently informed that Paolini may return to the series. In my negligence, I apparently missed the author's "acknowledgements." He writes, "When I do return to it, I hope to address a few of the mysteries that I left unresolved in this series." So perhaps Paolini's failure to explain these "mysteries" was, in fact, just him waiting for a better time to reveal them. That being said, one cannot help but hope that he writes an entire novel on Angela, who seems to become more interesting by the page throughout Inheritance.
on November 12, 2011
It is hard to say what I thought of this book. I liked it, yet I detested it. It was epic, yet depressing. If I had to abbreviate this entire review to one sentence, it would be: "It was meh."
ERAGON was (and is) one of my favorite books. It is timeless and fantastic. It follows the classic `hero's journey', yet adds enough twists to remain fresh. It is long, but never boring. And, like Sabriel and Northern Lights, I feel children will still be reading and enjoying it decades from now.
ELDEST was a bit of a disappointment. Over-long, talky, and boring for most of its length. The Battle of Burning Plains was a fitting end, though, and gave me hope that the remainder of the series would be worth the wait.
BRISINGR was everything that Eldest was not. Things happened. Eragon grew stronger, and for the first time it appeared as if Galby might be defeated. There were boring parts, yes (ie, the dwarves choosing their new King). Yet the book as a whole brought everything together and setup the epic finale.
So, you ask, what of INHERITANCE?
Well... It was Meh.
It is sad that an 850 page book can be abbreviated thus. But I don't know how else to put it without rambling. However, I shall try to consolidate my ideas.
The first 740 pages of this book were excellent. I could debate some points, such as the birth of Elain's baby or Roran leading the siege of Aroughs. Neither of those storylines added much of anything. They could have been cut, or perhaps turned into the "exclusive content" at the end of the Deluxe Edition (which is certain to be released). I could also express disappointment at the climax of the book, which had a great setup, but was remarkably anticlimactic. Yet, none of these things bothered me. This was not my story to tell, and I knew from the start that I would not agree with every word that was written.
In fact, if those things above were all that I could complain about, I would gladly give this book 5 stars and declare it a brilliant work of fantastic fiction.
The problem is with the last 110 pages of the book. Everything from the chapter "Heir to the Empire" and forward sucks. I hate to say that, but it does. If this 110 pages was abbreviated to 40 pages and actually ANSWERED SOME QUESTIONS, this book would get 5 stars.
To explain what I mean, I will go into some (lengthy) spoilers. If you don't want the end of the book ruined, please skip to the end.
1. Let's talk about grammar. Normally, I am not one to complain about poor grammar and grade a book down for it, but there is one point within this book that bothered me regardless. That point is the plural of Eldunari, which has been definitively established as "Eldunarya". Yet the plural is not used once in this book. Every time the characters speak, regardless of whether they are referring to one Eldunari or one thousand, the singular is used. Every time this happened, I rolled my eyes and muttered, "Come on, Paolini. Don't you remember your own language?" Again, this is not a big thing. And if it were the only thing I could complain about in the whole book, I would shrug it off and give the book 5 stars.
2. The Dauthdaert. This supposedly legendary weapon comes straight from Deus Ex Machina Land and provides a heretofore unrecognized possibility to kill Galby and his evil dragon. This was a touch too ridiculous for me, and was not believable at all. I would have been able to accept it if, for example, it was a rider's sword they found (even an `extra special' riders sword), or if Arya explained that there was one legendary rider who used a spear instead of a sword, or if the idea of Dauthdaerts had been mentioned in any of the previous books... But to just throw it out there and say it is now the only hope to kill Galby... I'm sorry. I'm not buying it. And again, if this was the only problem with this book, I would be willing to overlook it and look at the book as a whole... rather than the sum of its flawed parts.
3. The Belt of Beloth the Wise. This thing was lost on page, what, 285? And after that it is mentioned a couple times, but never found. Seriously, what is with that? I would have understood if they found Galby or Murtagh wearing it at the climax. Or I would have no problem if they went back after the climax and found it buried deep under Helgrind. And I would have no problem if there was a rumor that some mysterious magician had stolen it and it could not be found. But to simply have it disappear, and to have no one care that a super-powerful artifact is on the loose... Seriously, now. What is the purpose of that? It just seems lazy.
4. That One Nameless Character, You Know Which. Do you remember that character in Brisingr with massive scars on her wrists, who got a prophecy from Angela and a blessing from Saphira, even though such things are rarely given to anyone? Saphira called her "Wild One" if I recall correctly. Well, after being utterly mysterious for years between books, she appears here in Inheritance--now with two apprentices (children?) in tow. She saves Roran, says a grand total of 4 words, then walks off into the mist. Seriously now. What was the point of that? We are given nothing on this character. No history, no reason for her to exist, not even a name. It would have been better if she had not existed in this book.
5. Tenga. That mysterious magician who appeared in Brisingr for a few pages, and who was Angela's teacher for a while. Well, the mysteries surrounding him are not answered or even mentioned once. Someone says his name, but only in passing. We learn nothing about him.
6. Angela. The most mysterious and intriguing character in the whole series gets even more mysterious as she faces down the priests of Helgrind and singlehandedly defeats them. She proves herself able to fight with her mind... and apparently she's better at it than Eragon or Arya, who are two of the greatest magicians in the world. Urgals, werecats and elves all respect and fear her, yet she admits she cannot face Galby because he is so powerful. Yet she controls weapons and spells that no one else even understands. Seriously, WHO IS SHE? We get a couple hints, and those imply that she is thousands of years old. Is she one of the Grey Folk, or perhaps the Soothsayer? This mystery bothers me A LOT because she is a strong, compelling, mysterious character that is given absolutely no history whatsoever.
7. The Faceless Monks on Vroengard. Eragon sees these guys momentarily, which indicates that humans (elves?) live in the rider's fallen city, which is one of the most hostile environments in the world. Although the setting on Vroengard (and its strange beasts) was excellent, the mysterious presence of these figures was utterly forgotten about within a page and never mentioned or considered ever again. Seriously, what was the point of that?
8. The Menoa Tree. What was her price? Eragon asks, and the tree sort of laughs... and then ignores him. It's ridiculous. Was her price the death of Galby? Or was it nothing? And if it was either of those, why didn't she just say so? When Eragon asks, she could merely say "the price is already paid", or something like that. But no. She says nothing. Another question unanswered.
9. Orrin. He acted like a drunk jerk the whole book, and even tried to kill Roran! And why? Some of the characters said it was "stress" or something like that. Well, if it was a temporary thing, then he should have recovered, and this recovery should have been made obvious to the reader. Honestly, though, I was expecting him to be the source of all the information Glaby was receiving. I was expecting him to reveal that he had been bespelled, or given an offer he couldn't refuse. I could see Galby telling him in a dream, "if the rebellion fails, I will give you half of my kingdom." That might be enough reason for him to take up drinking and act like a stressed out soulless monster. Seriously, this was just random and pointless. Another question unanswered.
10. Murtagh. For a time, he seemed to have closure. He escapes Galby and rides Thorn off into the sunset, but speaks to Eragon and redeems himself first. I was glad that he and Thorn were finally happy and could go on with their lives. Yet, they leave with 110 pages remaining in the book... And never show up again. No one even mentions them. They simply fly away and disappear.
11. Murtagh+Nasuada. For a while, this was my favorite storyline. Nasuada, kidnapped and tortured. Murtagh offering her comfort and trying to save her. The romance and comradeship between these two was true, organic, and did not feel false or contrived at all. I was eager to see how this romance played out, with Nasuada the likely heir to the empire and Murtagh untrusted and likely to be exiled. Murtagh even admits that it was his care for Nasuada that allowed him to break Galby's spell and fight him. So much could have been made of this relationship, but what happens? Nothing. Yep, nothing. Murtagh flies into the sunset and Nasuada never mentions him again. Talk about disappointing! We are given hope for a unique storyline, only to have it forgotten and ignored.
12. Queen Arya. Yeah, Queen Arya. This struck me as incredibly unlikely. Arya had stated (multiple times, IIRC) that she did not want to rule, and would rather ferry dragon eggs back and forth until the end of time. A noble decision, but one which never happens. Why? Well, apparently all the other elves really want her to be queen. Like, really, really, REALLY want her to be Queen. The reasons for their choice are not explored. But they badger her until she agrees. Really? I didn't know elves could be so adamant about giving a position of leadership to one who refuses to take it. Further, I am amazed that Arya accepts and then feels duty-bound to rule to the best of her ability. So, why didn't she just accept the crown temporarily or something? You know, "I'll be queen, but only until our realms are safe once again" or something like that. Further, she could abdicate the throne any time she wants. I mean, no one can MAKE her be Queen, can they?
13. Arya+Eragon. The epic romance is reduced to a bunch of epic angsting and, ultimately, nothing. I did not find this as disappointing as some, as I predicted from the start that they would never get together. But still, that does not make it better. Arya should have, without question, joined Eragon in his trip to the East and she should have helped him in re-establishing the riders. They could have been King and Queen of the new riders. I never expected them to get in bed together, but for Arya to just ABANDON him like that is ridiculous. Why did she leave him? Does she want to remain Queen of the elves? I find that hard to believe.
14. Firnen. Firnen was, without a doubt, the most pointless character in the whole book. His face may be on the cover, but he served no purpose whatsoever. First off, he should have hatched BEFORE the climax. It doesn't matter if he was as big as a puppy when Galby died, at least he could have served some purpose. As it is, he added absolutely nothing to the story because he only appeared after the story was over. Secondly, he was the greatest source of contention among fans before the book was published. Now, I'm not saying that the fans should decide how a book is written, but doesn't it make sense that the fan favorite should get a little more screen time than Firnen gets here? After years of guessing and theorizing, he appears with fifty pages left and has, what, one line of dialogue? Disappointing beyond words can say. (Even Snowfire, the horse, advanced the story more than Firnen.)
15. Firnen+Saphira. Ugh. This was the one storyline that I found, in the end, insulting. Saphira finds a male dragon that is not under Galby's control, and the first thing she can think of is boinking him. Nevermind that he is six months old. Nevermind that neither Arya nor Eragon gave their blessing. Nevermind that she met him less than two minutes ago. From then on, Saphira is barely even a part of the story as she and Firnen are far to busy having a bunch of (offscreen) dragon sex. So not only does Firnen barely exist, but he serves no greater purpose to the story than a barnyard stud. Now, I have no problem with Saphira finding a mate and raising a clutch of eggs, but this was absolutely the worst way to do it. She could have raised the eggs they found in the Vault of Souls. Besides, it is well established that she is vain, right? So why would she take the first eligible bachelor she sees? She should have made him work for it. Made him prove his strength and worthiness. As it is, I would have preferred she get knocked up with Glaedr. At least she knew him.
In the end, this book was simply too full of unanswered questions. Really. Go look at the titles of each of the 15 points above. Most of them could have been solved after the climax, or with a short paragraph somewhere within the story. Some could have been resolved with a single sentence. But we are given no resolution. No answers. Yes, Galby is defeated. Yes, peace now reigns. But the questions that REALLY MATTER are unanswered.
So where does that leave us?
I feel, when it is all over, that Inheritance was the conclusion to one storyline, but the beginning of another. It would not surprise me to hear in the next couple months of the upcoming EMPIRE: the first book of the Next Inheritance Trilogy. That is fine with me. I have no business telling Paolini what he can or cannot write. (Look at McCaffrey's Pern. 25 books over the past 50 years.) I fully support more books set in Alegaesia.
However, I feel that in setting up whatever comes next, Paolini has forgotten to give us any closure in THIS book. There are too many riddles remaining. Too many questions unanswered.
on November 11, 2011
At first glance, giving a book such as this a single star may seem a bit harsh. After all, there were plenty of well-written scenes, and it was obvious through the book that Paolini's style has developed. However, the description for the stars are: I hate it, I don't like it, It's OK, I like it, and I love it. Yes, I loved this series, even until the last 100 pages of this last book. But make no mistake... I hated the latter part of this book, and that is what will shape my opinion of the entire book, and even series as a whole. Much like a delicious meal at a 5-star restaurant, you will walk away saying you hated the entire meal if your last course, a chocolate cake, tastes like rotten eggs.
Throughout the series, Paolini creates numerous storylines and stays true to them. By the time the third book ended, there was a vast array of ideas to keep track of, and they played beautifully off each other, like the inner lines of a symphony. Some of the storylines, we all knew how they would end, even midway through the first book. And that was fine; the joy was in reading how these things should come to pass. Other storylines, we expected some kind of twist, and Paolini sometimes delivered. But then, with 100 pages to go, he destroys the vast majority of these storylines. Mysteries which have teased us since the first book are left cloaked in ambiguity. The culminations of various romances (whether fulfilled or unfulfilled) are skimmed over as an afterthought.
I can only come up with one theory: Paolini took longer than expected to write this book, and he ran into publishing deadlines. Pressed for time, he was forced to rush what should have been a grand finale.
A scene comes to mind where the series' protagonist, Eragon, is training. After each failure, his teacher gives him advice, then orders Eragon to try again. "Again." "Again." I feel that the same teacher, upon reading this book, would look Paolini in the eye and flatly say...
on November 15, 2011
I think an honest evaluation of the last book in Paolini's series would rank (according to Amazon's scale) somewhere between three and four stars. Because I found the book for the most part entertaining and I quite enjoyed the downfall of Galbatorix, I decided to go with a three star review, but just barely. If it were up to me, 3.5 would be most appropriate.
While nowhere near the nightmarish bomb of Stephanie Meyer's fiasco of a concluding novel (Breaking Dawn) it is definitely not as satisfyingly warm as Rowling's ender (Deathly Hallows). Always the Lord of The Rings is a masterpiece of literature few attain to and none rival (in my humble opinion) so comparisons there are unfair. Lewis's novels I always enjoyed, but for more metaphysical reasons rather than pure fantasy escape. This is most like the ending of the Mistborn series: Some good and some bad but definitely not what I expected.
I agree with some reviews that Paolini came daringly close to a failure...some of his plot lines we wearing thin and while he brushed up against "what was he thinking?!" a few times, I don't think he went overboard and managed to keep the "ship" afloat; meaning that the novel was for the most part consistent and believable unlike Breaking Dawn which often left me literally pondering "What the hell was she thinking?!" For that at least I am grateful. To be fair, this is not nearly as massive as a bomb as some have made it out to be.
Paolini is skilled at telling a good story and utilizing archetpyes. However I feel that his characterizations are a bit flat and he does not accomplish in this book what a writer such as Rowling accomplishes: really making you care and invest in the characters, feel, understand, know them and relate to them. For example, I felt little to no lasting care when Izlanzadi died. I was surprised and somewhat saddened but we know so little of her that it wasn't that distraught.
The story goes pace by pace and there are some surprises. Paolini takes a different turn then what I expected. I was greatly disappointed when Nasuada was captured (as this one of his more succesful characters) but I think he used the capture in a unique way as a way of introducing us to Galbatorix and what I thought was ultimately a plot-line I was going to hate, kind of worked. But I do agree that more needed to be done to further demonstrate Galbatorix's insanity and evil. He seemed more brooding, mysterious and power-hungry not truly evil. Again, what Rowling captured with Voldemort was more along the lines of what I anticipated. Galbatorix is evil...but not evil incarnate. When your placating to archetypes as Paolini does, he should deliver them.
During the last battle I was hoping that the races would somehow find more to honor, respect and dare I say care for in each other. They all enter the final battle on rather shaky grounds and a feeling of unity bonding is lacking to some extent. It does not feel genuine or make you care much for them as the Varden as a whole, because there are no real personal friendships or lessons shared between the races.
I found the ultimate undoing of Galbatorix actuall quite satisfying, it was a surprise that I was not expecting and I thought it was gratifying that Galbatorix's own guilt contributed to his ultimate downfall and he became so detestable to himself that he undid himself. I found it unique. I'm glad that Paolini used the idea of immolating one's body prior because I had intially suspected he just utlizied it to explain a necessary plot device and it was rather shallow, but I liked that he returned to it.
A few last things:
1. I would have liked to know more about Angela, at least a little bit. It would have been nice to know why so many respected her and some (like the high priest of helgrind) feared her. Paolini should have given us a little more to chew on. I too suspected she may have been the Soothsayer, but with no confirmation on Paolini's part...who knows.
2. The significance of Brom's last words. This is just shoddy writing to put in someone's mysterious last dying words, LAST WORDS, only to never pick up the plot again. He should have just had Brom die if he wasn't going to extrapolate upon these mysterious last words...or did he just forget he wrote this? Thats what editors are for!
3. Who the hell are these people that save Roran?! If you're going to inject some mysterious characters for effect you need to at least give us a little more to chew on then: "they vaguely looked like this, did this, and left." Ummm...OK?! Honestly it just seems like Paolini forgot he wrote this part and never finished the plot line he started. I didn't get it.
4. The Menoa Tree deciding not to need anything after all seemed more like an afterthought. It was kind of like Paolini finished the story and then remembered: "oh yeah that damn tree..."
5. I too GREATLY dislike how Paolini built up the romance between Eragon and Arya but did not deliver on it. The romantic tension between these two characters is what was intriguing and interesting about their relationship. Their relationship is hardly ever even discussed and when it is, it is vague and dismissive. I don't find it entirely believable that Eragon will go through all of this growth and self-exploration only to blunder upon deep seeded feelings he has held for years. He can defeat the most powerful magician in history but can't tell Arya how he feels? This is not maturity. It does not bode well to invest four novels worth of building this plot line up to have it simply dismantle at the end and instead interject a "quickie" for a character (Saphira) whom we were never anticipating having a "relationship" or whatever it is dragons have. This little *switcharoo* was unfair. I hope Paolini will perhaps address this in a future novel as well as the potential relationship between Murtagh and Nasuada...after everything these characters have been through he needed to end the series with some kind of gratification for his characters. Instead all we have is talk of duty, duty, duty to the point where these characters seem to be fighting their deepest emotions or simply not caring. This is not a good ending, nor effective literature. Arya seems even more cold, robotic and duty-bound then ever...despite their being hints for four novels that she too cared for Eragon. This relationship, above all, I wanted to work itself out into a conclusion and it was part of why I invested my time in the series to begin with. While it may be LOGICALLY consistent with the character of Arya, what made Arya interesting is that she was more "human" than other elves and it almost feels like a jab in the eye to play so much with the romance idea only to finally retreat entirely from it at the end. Also, the first book speaks of an *EPIC* romance...in my mind an epic romance is not a boyhood crush that never gets off the ground. Eragon and Arya never even get a passionate kiss...COME ON PAOLINI!!!
In conclusion, I understand what Paolini was doing and why Eragon had to leave. I also like how the two the races were added to the riders, but I agree that this does not ultimately satisfy the reason for his leaving (which was to prevent dragons from feeding on...game, which is a LAME reason to leave) because the new riders would have the same issues. The decision to leave seems more a cop-out than anything else, but it wouldn't have been so bad had Eragon at least promised to return now and then. I do not think he needed to make Eragon so duty bound so as to insinuate the characters would NEVER see each other again. Relationships in stories are what make them special. Friendship, love...these are the things that make the characters and their journey's interesting. It does not do well to have divulge themselves ENTIRELY of these relationships...at the least Paolini could have left the door open for an occasional visit or potential romance option. To flat out cut-ties with everything Eragon loved and worked so hard to protect is simply heartbreaking and unsatisfying! I'm not sure if Paolini intended this ending to avoid convention, but I don't think many would say Rowling was a "bad" writer because she gave her characters a heart-warming conclusion. She left surprises in her writing come about through other plot lines and wrapped up the plot lines she was always heading for in a satisfying way. Paolini could have achieved this but to take a sudden 180 does not make much sense even if it was to avoid convention.
If you are a fan of the series I think its necessary to read this book to finally get some answers, but be forewarned that what you find here is going to be a mixture of bitter (too much bitter) and sweet. Because of this I would recommend the book and overall I think Paolini achieves what he set out to do though there are issues that could have been resolved much better even with some minor tweaking on his part. There was too much smoothing over of some difficulties and not enough attending to others. While for the most part I enjoyed the book, these issues prevented it from achieving the greatness it easily had the potential to achieve.
on November 23, 2011
Look, lets get one thing out of the way: Inheritance is a good book on its own. Paolini spent many years of his life working on this book, and he clearly has talent. When I read about the battles I could see it in my mind's eye. When Eragon was left alone to run the Varden, I could feel his fear at his own incompetence to run this task. And when the "Kings" gathered after the climax of the book to discuss what was going to happen now, and old racial prejudices came out, I felt it was realistic and very well done. As a book, Inheritance is great. I simply could not put it down until the end.
But it is not just a book. It is the end to a series.
At this point, the story should be driven by the characters, wrapped up by the characters, and fulfilled by the characters. This is, what I feel is, Paolini's main weakness. He does not build a world with a story and have characters drive the story forward, he drives the story forward and has characters along for the ride. That would be ok for the first book in the series, when he was still building his world, but this isn't the first book. In fact, "Eragon," the first book in the series, felt organic. In "Inheritance" Paolini demands certain story points to come, not of the character's volition, but his own. Let me explain: in the first book, there was a prophecy that Eragon would leave Alagaesia and never return. So in the end of this book, it comes to pass. Why exactly? Why can't he just fly back into Alagaesia, when he has thousands of years to live and family and friends in the region? There is no logical reason, he just must. It is as if this was done just to satisfy the prophecy, a plot point, and not the character's own decision. After rebuilding the Riders, couldn't Eragon take at least 1 week to go to Alagaesia, out of the thousands of years he is alive? And yet, he will "never" return. This isn't organic: Eragon would return to see his niece, see his family, his friends (Orik for example) and his love (Arya). It only makes sense. What logical reason limits him from returning, even for a brief time?
And speaking of his love, Arya should have left with him (leaving Alagaesia, that is). I'm not saying this as a contrived fanboy demanding the plot to follow my whim. Rather, Arya as a character never loved to live a royal life, or exclusively a life amongst the elves (as she repeated in multiple books at multiple times). She is "use" to the humans and dwarves. So how does Paolini explain her decision to become queen? The persistance of the elves (persistance that lasts a week, according to the book). This makes no sense. She has lived for over 100 years, and rarely spent time with her mother or spent extended amounts of time amongst the elves exclusively. Again, Paolini explains her decision by saying that the elves "need" her. But the humans "need" Eragon. Again, Paolini, in his mind, decided long ago that Arya was to be queen. It does not seem to bother him that she did not organically reach her decision. Rather he formed a plot point, and fitted the characters in whether they would actually act in the way he desired them to act or not. This makes sense when you first start a series, when you are first inventing your characters. But now your characters have a life of their own (albeit, a fictional one), and they should organically flow into the story. Their actions should naturally lead to a conclusion. Instead we get Arya and Eragon saying their true names to one another as the only "romance" which was prophecized in the first book.
And the true names. What were they? Whole chapters are devoted to the true names, the name of names, but they are never revealed, nor hinted at. This may make sense to Paolini, since these phrases are so complex or deep that leaving them a unknown is more effective than explaining them, but I repeat: whole chapters are devoted to the discovery of these names. I could not form a connection with Arya, Saphira, or Eragon, about who they truly were, when their "names" we hear so much about is simply not elaborated on. I hate to say this, but this seems like laziness from Paolini.
And then there was various loose ends. That mysterious women from the previous book that saves Roran in "Inheritance," now with two children in row, should never have existed. She has no point. There is no mystery. There just is no backstory to be explored. The same goes for Angela. Sure, Paolini notes that he did not reveal who see really was intentionally, but the problem is that she has no backstory. There can be no MYSTERY unless there is something that one does not know fully. In the case of Angela, she is simply effective with the blade, potions/toxins, and magic (and her mind). She is the "Wise one" to the elves, hated by the head of the werecats, and respected by the Urgals. There is mystery in some of these issues, but as a whole, we know nothing about her. If Paolini never picked up the world he created here again, we would not miss much of her. Despite the obvious importance of her origins, no hint is given of who she is. And thus I cannot wonder who she is, because I have no starting point for exploring her as a character. She could be the Soothsayer, or not. Who knows?
I am sure there are other loose ends, unnatural character progressions in relation to the story, etc, woven into the book which I will not explore. I will not even mention Orrin. We understand there is stress here, but nevertheless, Paolini trashes Orrin's character, giving him no respect and protraying him as a drunk and an outsider to the "true" heros, aka Nasuada, Orik, Arya, and Eragon. Yet it was thanks to him that the invasion of the Empire even begun at all. Instead of respecting him as a character, Paolini made him jump from an eccentric, good natured man to a drunk with no more wisdom to share with Nasuada than a commoner (unlike what he was in earlier books, a guide and helper). Again, this is another example of Paolini putting the story in front of the character. This character was invented a few books ago, so we should see his organic growth, and if you wanted to make him a drunken weakling by the end, there should be some sort of PROGRESSION to that point. There is not. What we have is a plot point (Orrin breaks down) and the character following the plot point, regardless. Was there a character flaw that led to his break down? Was there a reason for his breakdown specifically (after a certain event in the war)?
I know I am being harsh here, but this is one of the few series I really enjoyed. Eragon was a masterpiece. Eldest left me wanting more (in a good way). Brisinger expanded the lore of the series. Inheritance concluded the series, to be sure, and did some really great things, but it just left too much loose ends and was to unusual (Eragon leaving forever for no good reason, save a prophecy, the key word here being that "forever" isn't necessary) for me to enjoy through and through. I loved how Murtaugh and Nasuada fell in love. It WAS ORGANIC, it made sense in terms of who they were as characters. I loved Galbatorix, the dead-centered logic of his actions, neither contrived (aka typical bad guy) nor shallow, but rather a logic that Nasuada herself admitted was a problem (the problem of magic). I love how everything did not just return to the way it was, but things changed after this history shattering even (Urgals and Dwarves join the Riders, for example). I love how Carvahall is still given attention (as with Brigit and the "blood price"). I love the epic battles, intense, difficult, always trying, always tense. But for all I love, I have the problems I mentioned above. Roran is a very strong character, but why do we still have to focus on his exploits? It made sense when we were exploring the events in the Empire while Eragon was in Du Weldenvarden, but now they are both fighting in the same war, roughly in the same battles (although, obviously, Roran heads to Aroughs). Why do we have to follow him still? This is my only real criticism of the book in and of itself. The criticisms above relate the book to the series as a whole, which is why I can say that this book is great ON ITS OWN but not as the completion of the series.
In the end, I applaud Paolini. As hard as it is for him to hear these criticisms, I hope he sees them for what they are and does not reject them off hand as a fanboy who wanted things to go his way. Paolini is a strong writer, and Alagaesia is to me a real world I can imagine in my mind's eye. It seems to be, however, that Paolini lost his grip on that fact, not with the world itself, but with the characters. He felt that the plot had to follow some points, and he fixed the characters into those points. A good series creates characters that organically grow with you, and their actions (and the actions upon them from others) naturally flows into the story as a whole. The Inheritance cycle is only partially there, with loose ends that weaken it further. For every good point I make, I feel a little disappointed that I can also make a harsh criticism.
on December 14, 2011
Book 4 of the Inheritance Cycle
By Christopher Paolini
A Review by Eric Allen
After the success of Eragon and Eldest, Christopher Paolini set to work on the final book of the Inheritance Trilogy. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, the outline he'd written for the third book wasn't going to fit in a single volume. He decided to split it in two. I have to question why, but I'll get into that later in the review. Now we've finally come to the end with the fourth and final book of the series. Was it a good ending? Well, to be blunt, no, it wasn't. The best I can say is that it IS the end.
I'm not really a fan of this series. I saw the movie and thought it was one of the worst things I'd ever seen. A friend of mine told me that the book was way different and much better. He was right on both counts, though I still didn't like it much. It was generic, not exceptionally well written, and it blatantly stole from Star Wars so much I had to wonder how Paolini didn't get sued for it. He uses some very awkward, repetative, and inappropriate wording in his imagery, and lingers on describing completely unimportant things as though they are the holy grail. One example from this book is something like three entire pages devoted to the fingernails of a character whose name we never even learn. Why am I still reading this series? Because Paolini, much to my regret, did make a villain compelling enough that I really wanted to see how he would be defeated. One thing I can say about him is that the quality of his writing does improve with each book. That is like saying of two hot pokers in the eye, one of them burns a little less, but at least he's improving his skills, such as they are. Also, you've really got to hand it to anyone that can so consistently steal from other, more creative people and call it his own work with a straight face. That takes balls my friend.
This book was both too long, and too short. That may seem rather paradoxical, but it's true. I would say that at least 70% of this book was padding that was completely irrelevant to the story, and the 30% that actually had anything to do with the story was so underdeveloped because of it that it felt rushed and unsatisfying. The padding made it far too long, and the lack of attention paid to the relevant plot elements makes it far to too short. It's neither a consistently good book, nor is it consistently bad. It does have some decent moments, albeit, most of them were shamelessly lifted directly from Star Wars, but if you're going to rip something off, it might as well be quality material.
Inheritance begins with several very one-sided battles that are full of Paolini telling us that there's tension rather than actually building it into the story. The Varden are taking cities from the King on their way toward Uru'Baen. Unfortunately, these are largely completely irrelevant to the story, and basically do nothing but add padding. When your heroes can literally walk over a city wall, wade through an army, waltz into the lord's stronghold, and intimidate the soldiers there simply by the power of their own awesomeness rather than having to fight them, and come out on the other side with little more than a few scratches that they instantly magically heal, what's the point? They're never in anything resembling peril, and that makes these battle scenes extremely boring. I equate the first 300 pages or so of this book to shining a laser pointer in front of a cat, or jingling keys over a baby. It adds nothing to the story, but entertains the easily amused. It feels very Michael Bay-ish. Explosions do not equal a well thought out story, and neither do one-sided battles where there is litterally not one ounce of tension, because the characters are so much stronger than the ones that they are fighting. These sorts of things may dazzle those who don't care about anything deeper than pointless action, like anyone who claims to be a Michael Bay fan, but they'll leave everyone else feeling cheated.
One such battle involves Roran riding a horse halfway across the kingdom to win a battle in less than a week. Why? What was the point to that? It served no purpose to the plot, the city wasn't anywhere near where the characters were headed, obviously, and Roran did not grow as a character during this excursion. After winning, he just went right back to the main army where he was to begin with, having learned nothing, and not having been strengthened by his ordeal. We didn't see any new sides of him, and the entire thing is mentioned in passing maybe twice during the rest of the book. Why? Why did we need to spend 100+ pages on this? We didn't, because it was completely irrelevant to the plot. The only thing of note that happens in the first 300 pages is the acquisition of the completely unpronouncable Spear of Dues Ex Machina, which could very easily have been obtained at Dras-Leona, leaving this entire beginning out all together. Or better yet, not at all, allowing the characters to use their own strength to triumph in the end rather than relying on magical artifacts that basically fall out of the freaking sky into their hands.
After that considerably bloated section of filler, the book's actual plot begins with the siege of Dras-Leona, where Murtagh and Thorn have arrived in defense. As the Varden wait outside the walls, Eragon trains against the elves with his sword, and with the disembodied Dragon Glaedr in strengthening his mind, basically relearning things he has spent the last two books learning. A lot of nothing interesting happens, and then a way into the city is found.
In comparison to the rest of the book, the conquest of Dras-Leona is a relatively well done, and exciting diversion from the hundreds of pages of meh yet to come. A few horrors befall those sent inside to open the gates, placing characters that were basically gods in the first 300 pages in real mortal peril, and the battle itself is rather entertaining if you can turn your brain off for most of it and just roll with Paolini's complete lack of skill in writing action scenes. Pointless gore does not make an action scene exciting, especially if it is not realistic, serving no real purpose except to distract from the fact that there's no real skill put into crafting a compelling battle scene full of tension and horror. It sets the Varden up to strike at the very heart of the kingdom, Uru'Baen, where Galbatorix sits waiting for their arrival.
The defeated Murtagh attacks in the night after the victory and kidnaps Nasuada, leader of the Varden, taking her back to be personally questioned and tortured by the king, in another extremely long and irrelevant plotline that ultimately leads nowhere. Again, why? Why do we need 100+ pages of Nasuada, a relatively MINOR character being tortured? What does this add to the story? I could see if maybe she turned to the figurative dark side, or if she pretended to so she could betray the king at the most opportune moment, giving Eragon the chance he needs to defeat him. But no, she is bound and gagged during the entire final confrontation, contributing nothing except a sudden case of Damsel in Distress Syndrome. Eragon didn't even realize she was there at first. Why was so much time and attention paid to a completely irrelevant subplot like this when there were elements of the actual story that needed so much more fleshing out?
Following the business model of the Underpants Gnomes, Eragon becomes the leader of the Varden because ... and leaves to go hunting down a prophecy that may hold the key to defeating the king. This is another part of the story that, in comparison to the rest, is relatively well done. Eragon flies to the old stronghold of the Riders, seeing for himself the grandeur that was, and the ruin left by their fall. There's quite a bit of history given, and some decent character development. However, it feels very rushed, and they find a treasure trove of dues ex machina, that basically gives Eragon the ability to stand up to the king without really trying very hard to find a way to defeat or outsmart him. Again, why was so much of this book spent on irrelevant filler, when this part was in dire need of fleshing out?
Eragon races to Uru'Baen and the final battle begins. He enters the city with some elves whilst the army attacks the walls, drawing the defenders. They then sneak past many rather silly traps. The final confrontation is very unsatisfying and rather abrupt. Rather than outsmarting, converting, or utterly destroying the antagonist on his own strength, Eragon relies on the strength of others and literally pulls the solution to defeating the king right out of his ass on the spot without a single prior word or thought on the method. We saw him continuously worry about how to beat the king, but he never actually comes up with any real ideas, so when he does it on the fly, and drawing heavily upon the strength and knowledge of others, instead of his own, it feels as though we're being cheated. Eragon is not developed well enough as a character for Paolini to pull this off believably. Four books have built up to this moment, and it was completely ruined because he doesn't ever show us any hints of spontaneous brilliance, such as it is, in Eragon's character beforehand. He basically became a different character entirely for a few seconds in order to defeat Galbatorix
The book then spends far too long tying up every. Single. Loose. End. Imaginable. And it is EXTREMELY boring. Yes, your ending should tie up loose ends, but really, some of these should have been addressed earlier in the story so you don't have them all dumped at the end in a jumble that's frankly a chore to read through, and also, I don't know about you, but I actually kind of enjoy when some loose ends are left. It gives you something to ponder over when all is said and done. This ending also heavily steals directly from Return of the King, so badly, in fact, that Tolkien must be rolling in his grave. And there is a huge difference in storytelling here as well. Where Paolini made sure that every single loose end imaginable was addressed in the actual book, making it hugely boring, and a complete waste of a reader's time, Tolkien left most of that junk for the appendices, where a reader didn't actually have to read them, or could skim through and find the specific afterward event that he or she was curious about.
The Good? There were some passably good moments in this book, the events leading up to the battle of Dras-Leona, and the battle itself were ok, as was the trip to the ruined city of the Riders. Although my like of these sections of the book may be largely based on comparing them to the rest of the book, rather than on them actually being good. They really stand out amongst the rest of the book as they are both relevant to the plot, and by the time they rolled around I was literally screaming for ANYTHING relevant. Paolini, as an author, has made some very big steps in developing his talents since his first book, and this one is almost passably adequate, if not for all of the irrelevant filler. In this book, he did seem to actually try taking a few steps away from his shameless stealing from other more talented authors, and the book was much better for it. Though he did return to it in force by the end. He could almost be considered a decent writer if he'd only just put some effort into coming up with his own ideas for stories.
The Bad? The amount of time spent on story arcs for minor characters that ultimately lead nowhere is extremely annoying. The core story needs a vast amount of further developing, and instead of doing so, Paolini wasted hundreds of pages on Nasuada's storyline, which dead-ends in no actual payoff, and Glaedr's storyline about overcoming depression and coming to terms with his new life as an inanimate object. Did we really need this? No. These are minor characters that really don't play a very large part in, or contribute terribly much to, the story, and to spend so much time on them when there were more important things that didn't get the attention they needed was just plain stupid.
The ugly? Filler. I don't think I've ever seen an author spend so much time of a book this massive spinning his wheels on storylines that had no point at all to the actual story. And in this case, I'm not blaming the author. When he outlined this book he was fifteen years old. The one the blame really falls to is the editor. I listened to the audiobook while at work, and there is an interview at the end between the editor and Paolini, in which she makes incredibly clear that she did not do her job on this book AT ALL. Rather than sending this unfinished mess back to the author with notes saying 70% of this is irrelevant and needs to be dropped completely or developed further to the point that it is relevant, she basically spent the entire time squeeing over it like an excited fangirl. She's probably a Michael Bay fan too. The job of the editor is basically to coax the absolute best out of the writer. They are the ones that understand the mechanics of storytelling and grammar, and tell the writer what work still needs to be done. She failed at that spectacularly. This book is unfinished, and rather than pointing it out to the author like she was supposed to, this idiot encouraged more of it. She dropped the ball so badly that she should be fired on the spot.
If 70% of the book is completely irrelevant to the plot, and can be cut out without even changing the rest of the book to make up for the absence, it's incomplete. It needs to be cut. Everything up to the siege of Dras-Leona can be completely dropped without missing a single thing of importance, the entire storylines about Glaedr and Nasuada can be dropped without missing a single thing of importance, and almost everything after Eragon visits Brom's grave, and more than a few things before, can also be dropped without missing a single thing of importance. The fault of this is partly on the author for not really knowing how to lay out a proper storyline where everything is relevant, but the vast majority of the blame lies on the editor. She came at it as a fan, rather than as a professional. She should have sent it back saying to drop all of the irrelevance, and develop the rest of the plot to the point that the reliance on dues ex machina for the climax is minimal to none.
The final book of the trilogy was split in two, Brisingr and Inheritance. Why? Brisingr suffered from some of the same problems of irrelevance that Inheritance did. If everything I mentioned above was dropped from Inheritance, and the 300 page long tangent about the dwarf king in Brisingr had been dropped as it was ultimately pointless as well, this would have fit very easily into one novel. To make matters worse, he broke one of the ten commandments of writing in the previous book, which was a MAJOR problem in this one. Thou shalt not make thine villain so powerful that he cannot be defeated. Again, where was the editor. This is a huge flaw that should have been pointed out and fixed before the third book was even published. Now, there is literally no way AT ALL, that Eragon can triumph without resorting to dues ex machina and plot convenience. He did not learn and grow as a character until the point that he could defeat Galbatorix on his own merits. He used a very large stepping stool provided by others, pulled a baseball bat out of his ass, and hit the king over the head with it when he wasn't looking.
The entire climax of this book is a complete failure that steals heavily from Return of the Jedi. Plus it takes place closer to the middle of the book than the end. Again, Paolini seems to have completely missed the entire point of the source material that he is ripping off. The duel at the end of Jedi was more about the talking, the temptation, the taunting, with occasional clashes of lightsabers as punctuation to the emotion, climaxing when Luke loses his temper and just starts wailing on Vader, leading him to the realization that he could, in fact, become like his father. This makes his final defiance of the emperor, tossing his weapon aside, all the more powerful, because he's felt the power that could be his if he joined the dark side of the force. This is a poorly xeroxed copy, with none of the meaning or emotion behind it, and no true victory over the enemy, only a hollow shell of one. There's nothing to tempt Eragon. The King keeps saying "join me" and Eragon keeps saying "no". It's meaningless, because there is no attempt by either side at temptation. He hasn't seen the power that could be his, he hasn't felt it flowing through him, he hasn't almost let it consume him and pulled back at the last possible moment in defiance.
One thing I hate when authors do is they will have a character start explaining something and say "ok, this is what I'm going to do..." and then skip the rest of the conversation, leaving the reader in the dark on what is about to happen. It's a crap transitional element that no one should ever use in any medium EVER. Paolini did it at least four times AFTER THE FREAKING CLIMAX OF THE BOOK when there was really no need WHATSOEVER to withhold any information from the reader. He did it several times earlier in the book too. In fact, he did it so many times that I was literally yelling at the audiobook narrator by the end over it. Why? Why would you withold information like that, ESPECIALLY when you go on to reveal it almost immediately afterward. That's just lazy, pointless, and annoying storytelling in the guise of trying to be clever.
In conclusion, this book suffers heavily from an editor that didn't do her job, and a writer with no concept of relevance. It is an ending to the series, and some people might call it good, though I think a lot more are going to call it bad. Most of this book is just Paolini jingling his keys at his readers, and really should have been cut or developed to the point that it actually was relevant to the plot. I think he felt he had to add filler to this book because there wasn't enough of the story left to make a full book after the split, but honestly, had he developed the areas of the story that needed it fully, rather than wasting his time with filler, this would have been a much better, if a little shorter, book. It's not the length that counts, it's the story. If it's told well, a great story can be finished in a page, rather than hundreds.
I'm giving this book two stars, because there were some genuinely entertaining moments in it, but they are bogged down by hundreds of pages of completely irrelevant crap that should have been cut. Paolini is steadily improving as an author, and if he ever decides to stop shamelessly stealing from other authors and figures out how to properly use imagery and metaphors, he might make a decent writer of himself someday. When 70% of the book can be completely removed without changing a single word in the rest with nobody noticing it, there is a huge problem that needs a great deal of addressing before the book is ready for publication. Shame on the editor for not seeing past her fandom to the fact that this book needed massive amounts of work still. Someone needs to sit her down and explain to her what, exactly, her job is, because she certainly isn't doing it.
The best thing I can say about this series is THANK GOD IT'S OVER!!! I didn't completely hate it, but I wouldn't say I liked it either.
on November 11, 2011
Inheritance, the long awaited fourth and final book of the Inheritance Cycle. Reading the first three books some three years ago, I have waited for this final installment, but was it really worth the wait? I think not. The book, while showing some technical improvement, lacked everything that makes an epic conclusion. Paolini hasn't matured much as a writer, seemingly incapable of creating plot tension and of writing realistic emotional exchanges. I couldn't bring myself to feel much for his characters; their struggles and triumphs were empty. A whole slew of questions I had were never answered and those that were felt unsatisfactory.
Things I liked about the book:
- Paolini finally used "Eragon said" instead of "said Eragon." His habit of using the latter constantly in the other books tended to jar me out of the narrative in a frustrating way. It's not that it's wrong to say the speech tag first, but I think the former makes the story flow better.
- A less obnoxious amount of similes that make little to no sense. They're still there, but not in droves as before.
- Eragon receives some character development! Shocking, I know. I liked how he actually seemed to feel unnerved about fighting good old Galbatorix. Though it wasn't much, it was an improvement over the cardboard hero we know and love. That, and he stopped trying to mac on Arya every chance he got. He finally seemed to accept her a little more as another person and not just a sexy object to try and woo.
- Learning the names of more of Eragon's elf guards. They're characters, however minor, and Paolini delivered by giving them at least a little more individuality.
- Murtagh and Thorn's survivals. While their ending felt totally incomplete, I was glad Paolini gave them a chance to do something with their lives.
- Gladr's return to the world. It was cool that he was able to overcome his grief and work with everyone, fulfilling his role as mentor.
- The Vault of Souls. Just how I had imagined it, and I was entertained by the spell that made everyone forget of its existence.
Things I didn't like about the book:
- The incredibly slow pacing, especially during the first two hundred pages or so. The sieges at the cities did not need so much coverage. I only want to read about all the ways Roran killed soldiers so many times before it just becomes BORING. Also, the birth of Elain's child and Eragon's subsequent attempts to heal her were unnecessary and only served to bog the plot down further. Actually, all of Roran's scenes could have been cut and it wouldn't have made much difference.
- The deaths of Islanzadi and Carn. I actually kind of liked Carn, for whatever reason, and even though he was such a minor character I was really disappointed that Paolini decided to kill him off. Islanzadi didn't need to die. It was a pointless plot device, unrealistic, and just stupid. The guy she died fighting was unnaturally strong to the point of ridiculousness, and made me wonder what exactly Paolini was trying to accomplish, other than finding a way to kill the elf queen off.
- Orrin's complete character about-face. I always thought him to be a proud, eccentric king. But in this last book he becomes a raging drunk who threatens the newly gained peace of the kingdom simply to increase Surda's territory. His anger issues and drinking were blamed on the stress of war by the characters, but he's been dealing with it his whole time as king and it just didn't make sense.
- The dragon-killing-spear-deus-ex-machina thing. We've heard no mention of this weapon for thousands of pages and then it just pops up out of nowhere all of a sudden. Unrealistic.
- The Belt of Beloth the Wise. Where did it go? What was the point in Eragon losing it?
- Angela. Paolini's note at the end stating that he didn't reveal who she was so she would remain mysterious struck me as ridiculous. Saying a character remains mysterious when you know nothing about them is pathetic. We've seen her for all four books, numerous times, yet we know nothing about her back story. She's not mysterious anymore. She's just a character who Paolini wants us to believe is mysterious, only because he couldn't think of any back story that would actually work.
- The anti-climactic final battle of WTF. Eragon literally kills Galbatorix with emotions. Then he explodes. No, really. Shruikan, big and scary, spends the whole time chillaxing behind Galby's throne. And then gets stabbed in the eye. And dies. Because of the deus ex machina spear. Exciting? Not at all.
- Eldunarya are really not interesting. Big lumps of rock that can talk are, after all, pretty boring. It would have made for a much more exciting final battle if the Vault of Souls had contained dragons, perhaps even dragons bonded to Riders, and then the whole "thunder" (really, Paolini?) of dragons could have taken out Shruikan together. As it stands, all the dragon hearts did was info dump.
- The romance. Oh, Paolini. There are a lot of single people in Alagaesia at the end of this book. Eragon, Arya, Murtagh, Nasuada, Orrin, Saphira, Fernin... Paolini wasted, literally wasted, four books of attempted romance between Eragon and Arya. We spend the first two books watching Eragon get repeatedly painfully rejected by Arya. Then in Brisingr they seem as though they're starting to relate on a normal level and actually can spend time together without Eragon trying to marry her and Arya acting like he's a leper or something. This continues in Inheritance until...nothing. It was a total cop out. No affirmation of anything positive; love, friendship... It's not there. Paolini must think whispering each other's true names is erotic or something, but for me that didn't cut it. I expected at least a short thank you from Arya for all Eragon's done for the world. Murtagh and Nasuada looked promising, and it was actually heart warming. Until, without any actual romance, Murtagh flies off into the sunset and Nasuada never seems to think of him again. Saphira and Fernin have implied hot and heavy dragon sex for what, a week at most? Then they part ways, for a very long time at the least.
- Other small things that bothered me, things from the whole series that were never answered. What were the seven words Brom gave Eragon in the first book? Did Eragon use all the energy that was in Aren to move the rocks around? Who were the mysterious woman and girl who first showed up in Brisingr and then in Inheritance for a few moments? Did Selena actually die? Why did we never hear any of the True Names, or the name of the Ancient Language? What of Galbatorix's seemingly omniscient spy ring? What happened to Du Vrangr Gatta? The Menoa Tree. What was all the fuss about her getting what she wanted, only to have her not ask for anything?
Also, Shruikan should have been on the cover. He was in it for far more time that Fernin was. Besides, a black dragon sounds cool.
Inheritance played out much like the other books. Little pacing, lots of unnecessary drivel, and very little to reward the reader for persisting. It was entertaining in a small way, but certainly not the epic conclusion Paolini seems to see it as.
on November 29, 2011
Many other reviews in here sum up what I wanted to say. I am absolutely amazed though that it has a 3 star rating on average. If I could give this book negative stars I would.
My biggest problem with the book is that the author subbornly stuck to the fortunes eragon was told in book 1. I have read every interview by Christopher Paolini. In one of the more recent interviews, before the book was reliesed, he made a strong case for the future not being set in stone. But the problem was that everything predicted about his future came true. In the end the future was set in stone.
After I finished reading this book I was left shocked and saddened. I absolutely could not believe he ended the book the way he did. The ending was the worst part of the entire series. If you have not read the book yet you should simply stop reading after the final chapter dealing with Galbatorix. Let your own immagination take over from there and end the story in your min how you feel it should end.
on November 9, 2011
I don't normally write reviews for Amazon, but I felt I had to do so for this book, as it is one I have long anticipated. Let me start with what I liked about the book. The Rock of Kuthian was everything I wanted it to be, and was all the more effective because of how Paolini prepared us for it by having Glaedr misdirect us as to what was there or not there. Secondly, I was happy with the Galbatorix scene, contrary to some of the other reviews. We all knew that Eragon was not going to be able to defeat Galbatorix by force of arms or by force of magic, as was foreshadowed all the way back in Eldest. Paolini has it happen through a massive self-realization on the part of Galbatorix, induced by Eragon. This is very consistent with the nature of the ancient language, and is neatly paralleled by the equally important self-realization of the hero as he finds his true name.
My main criticisms of the book have to do with how he ended certain plot lines. First off, I found the Eragon-Arya epic romance (prophesied in volume 1) to end completely the wrong way, based on what we had in the previous volumes. In volumes two and three, we have a gradual lessening of the gap between the two, and then Paolini quite suddenly adds a completely unbridgeable gap at the very end, one which is not very believable. After all, as another reviewer has pointed out, they have dragons. And there are magical means of communication. Undoubtedly, Paolini wanted to avoid artificial neatness in tying up the loose ends. I wish he had picked a different plot line to leave that way.
Other plot lines, however, fare no better. We never find out what happened to the belt of Beloth. Why was it stolen, and why couldn't they find it? Who is Angela, really? And there is one major plot line error: how did Galbatorix know about the Eldunari when Eragon entered the throne room? No one but the high council knew. Galbatorix tells us that he has highly-placed spies, but we are never told who it is. It would have had to be one of the kings in order to be believable (I kept expecting it to be Orrin), because they are the only ones who knew about the Eldunari. So, we never find out how Galbatorix knows.
King Orrin is another disappointment. His odd behavior is never explained, and we are forced to conclude that it is simply the stress of the moment, or the arrogance that comes from power. This is not convincing to me, since Orrin has been dealing with both of those challenges quite well for quite some time.
Murtagh and Nasuada are a puzzle. Murtagh seems to have romantic feelings for her, and yet this is not developed or resolved. Paolini had a great opportunity to create tension between Orrin and Murtagh (literary tension as to who will marry Nasuada), and keep us guessing until the end, but did not take advantage of it. As a result, none of the three characters feel fully rounded.
There are some great moments in this book, and if you have been following the series with interest, as I have, you will want to have it. However, I believe the book is significantly flawed. Paolini has quite a ways to go in understanding plot lines before he becomes truly great. He has a great imagination, however, and I look forward to his next creations.
on November 13, 2011
Normally I don't write reviews. I don't like to rail on authors or books, it just seems too mean; however, every copy of this train wreck really ought to be burnt.
First of all, the ending with Arya and Eragon was so contrived; one of his excuses for leaving and never returning was that Angela predicted that it would be so, yet, he fails to acknowledge that it was also predicted that he would have a romance with a woman of noble blood. Where is the romance??? And seriously, who's going to leave forever when the love of their life has made it plain that they reciprocate? Another thing, it seems like the romance between Arya's dragon and Saphira was ridiculous! What was the point of that? It screamed after thought.
Second, Eragon's leaving. Why was it so hard to find somewhere to raise the dragons in Algaësia? Seriously, if he's "too powerful" why couldn't he just restore Vroengard? Again, seriously contrived ending, just to fulfill half a prophecy, the other part of which was never acknowledged, much less fulfilled. Also, if Murtagh could say, despite possessing the same powers as Eragon, then why couldn't Eragon. Again, this made no sense.
Third, the defeat of Galbatorix. Seriously? I barely comprehended what the hell happened. It was absurd, and, again, highly contrived. This was just one of many instances of Eragon barely making it through with no discernible explanation, and acting as though it were no big deal.
Fourth, the ridiculous diction. I swear, he sounded like a five year old swallowed some archaic tomb, an SAT vocab review, got drunk, and regurgitated it over a book. Seriously? He said "like so many" so many times, I was fairly convinced I would vomit. Oh and don't get me started on "even as". Seriously, it was ridiculous; it sounded so forced, there is no way this is seriously how he thinks. This excessive use of archaic colloquialisms ensured that "like so many" bowling balls, falling from the sky, this book will inflict brain damage on any reader, and "like so many" droplets of water, this novel will forever rest in the lake of forgettable literature.
Fifth, the absurd length. I don't need to say much about this. More than half of this ridiculously long novel could have been trimmed without affecting the story in any way whatsoever.
Sixth, the fact that this is a low resolution LOTR Return of the King. This needs no explanation.
Seventh, the whole ending. He had two years to write this. There's absolutely no reason why the ending was so rushed. Seriously, it felt like the end of an episode of Scooby Doo, where the gang abstractly summarizes everything, making everything clear. This works for Scooby Doo. Not so much for Inheritance.
Lol, sorry about the rant. I'm just a little frustrated that I spent 12 years of my life enjoying this series, just for this. DON'T READ. Especially if you're a fan of the series.