Read Nov 21 2015 – Dec 15 2015
Book 4 of The Inheritance Cycle
It began with Eragon… It ends with Inheritance.
Not so very long ago, Eragon — Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider — was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And ifthey cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance.
The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?
Closure, at long last, for 10 year old me who had picked up Eldest at the school library (because reading books in order must not have been a priority for past me apparently).
I have found the Inheritance Cycle to elucidate two key reactions: those that love it because it reminds them of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and those that hate it because it reminds them of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is the part where I need to come clean: I have not read or seen (and by seen I include actually paying attention to) any of Tolkein’s work apart from The Hobbit, but reading others’ reviews have left me with a fairly strong impression that yes, Paolini’s worldbuilding and plot is very heavily influenced by Tolkein.
But then truthfully, how many of those elements are truly unique? Young, unsuspecting, low-born hero who stumbles upon a destiny bigger than himself, where he needs to rid the land of an evil ruler. Aloof and ancient elves who dwell within forests. Dwarves with a love for treasure deep in the mountains. These were not created by Tolkein, although he arguably played a large role in conveying these to the general audience. Overall, ingenuity is definitely lacking.
I used to vocally dislike the series based on the fact that it was full of these clichés and the writing was terrifyingly immature. Truthfully, the first few books probably will still elicit these feelings (although I do not have any urges to reread them). Paolini has grown alongside his protagonist, Eragon. Paolini shows more… restraint in his writing, for lack of a better word. Paolini is less prone to the fits of poetic prose that just tried too hard that were scattered in his earlier works. People criticise Paolini, stating that Eragon was only published due to his family owning a publishing company. Which is true, I’m sure that it was immensely helpful. But when it comes down to it, putting one’s work out there is one thing, but having it become popular (for all the right reasons – we all remember Friday by Rebecca Black) is another. And credit where credit is due – a teenager managed to write an admittedly immature, but nonetheless popular and successful story.
There is also a maturity to Eragon’s decisions, such as having to leave Alagaësia to raise hatchlings, train future Riders and protect the Eludnari (I was wondering how Paolini would bring about Angela’s prophecy). Not only does he leave his land and friends, but he also leaves Arya. Eragon (and perhaps Paolini) at last shows that he is more than a besotted man – his drooling over Arya in Eragon especially frustrated me to no end. (I must admit the consummation of Saphira and Firnen did make me roll my eyes a little, but in a somewhat endearing way. I’m a little disappointed Arya became a Rider as it is too expected, but I don’t care enough to be put out.) It may not be original, but the hero sailing off for distant lands was a perfect way to conclude the series.
Finally to touch on Galbatorix’s actual defeat – he understood what he had done and that was the end of him! Because he had no conscious but Eragon gave him one! Objectively, yeah, it’s a pretty stupid ending. Isn’t it? I would definitely scoff if someone told me that a sprinkling of empathy is all that will ruin a ruthless and evil king. But I have to give props to Paolini for writing it quite masterfully. I was engrossed in the overwhelming unfairness that Eragon felt when confronting Galbatorix – after all they had been through, after all they had lost, and after all the pages I had read, does it come to this? To evil triumphing after all? To not having enough time to train and prepare? That’s not right! And in the most simplest of ways, it is made right.
I have some problem with the Eludnari that I find difficult to articulate. For some reason, I don’t like how many there are just lying around, vast stores of energy to use. Eludnari felt like they should be sacred, that only in very, very, very specific circumstances does a dragon give up its heart of hearts. And in Inheritance they’re just a dime a dozen.
Oh there is actually one last question that I have: when did Nasuada and Murtagh fall in love? Did I just overlook the hints leading up to this essential plot point? Or did it actually just arise out of nowhere like I think?
The Inheritance Cycle