Over the course of four books—“Eragon,” “Eldest,” “Brisingr,” and “Inheritance“—Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle follows a teenager named Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, through the mountains and valleys of Alagaësia as they battle the evil king Galbatorix.
I’ve read all four of these books, and I’ve enjoyed each one. That being said, you have to go into these novels with a certain understanding: They’re told in a very Tolkienesque way. What’s that mean? Paolini draws out the story and embellishes it with meticulous detail. You’ll come across whole chapters where nothing at all important to the story happens. It’s easy to find yourself saying, “Come on, go kill Galbatorix already!”
That being said, the first three books move along at a pretty steady pace. They’re slow, but the story keeps moving forward. During the build-up to the final confrontation in “Inheritance,” however, there are a few places where things start to lag. Were I Paolini’s editor, I would’ve cut at least one whole chapter and chunks of several others. Sometimes, there’s just too much waiting and pondering. I’m not saying Paolini should get rid of all of this build up—it’s how we get to know the characters, after all—he just may want to tone it down a tad in the future.
“Inheritance” is good, though. I like how the world ends up, and I like that Paolini took the time to wrap up just about every single loose end—think Pippin and Merry returning to the Shire at the conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The resolutions seem realistic for the world Paolini has built, and there’s even some room for further exploration of Alagaësia, should he choose to write them.
The scope of the story is epic—perfect for movies and other forms of media. By the way, I don’t count the 2006 “Eragon” movie; I’m not a fan. If you’ve seen the movie and haven’t read the book, give the book a chance. It’s much better.
Is “Inheritance” worth your time? Definitely, as long as you like Tolkien-style wandering tales that decide the fate of an entirely new world. It’s not a standalone work; you absolutely have to read the first three books, in order, before picking up the finale.
The Inheritance Cycle has dragons, magic and swordplay. What’s not to like? Just remember to be patient, especially toward the end. For me, it’s refreshing to dig into a book—especially one labeled as YA—that requires an attention span greater than that of a goldfish.
Quinton Lawman is a technical writer at OverDrive.
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