Inheritance: A [Long] Review

AS ALWAYS WITH REVIEWS, THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.  IF YOU WANT TO, YOU COULD PROBABLY READ EVERY SECOND WORD AND YOU PROBABLY WOULDN’T SPOIL IT FOR YOURSELF, BUT WHO REALLY WANTS TO TAKE THAT CHANCE?

First of all, I think Christopher Paolini should have stuck with the traditional style of trilogy, which by definition means only three books.  Either that, or he should have been better with his planning.  That being said, here’s the summary:

Roran and Eragon are going around fighting lots of battles with the Varden.  After Eragon heads a mission to open the gates of Dras-Leona, where we first see an elf killed (it’s nothing special), Murtagh and Thorn (who have been occupying the city, making a direct siege impossible) capture Nasuada, the leader of the Varden.  Roran, who has been sent off to Aroughs to capture it, can do nothing about it.  Eragon, immediately after being elected the head of the Varden, runs off to the Vault of Souls on Vroengard.  After a long search with Saphira and Glaedr for their true names (which are needed to open the Rock of Kuthian), the Vault opens, revealing a hidden cache of Eldunari and dragon eggs, hidden by a collective effort of the Eldunari, who have caused all who have seen the hoard to forget it once out of the Vault.  Taking away a lot of the Eldunari, Eragon and Saphira fly back to the Varden.  Meanwhile, Roran has come back and Nasuada is being tortured in Uru-baen, where Galbatorix and Murtagh hold sway.  Here we find that Galbatorix has learned the true name of the ancient language (called the Word), which enables him to almost rewrite the laws of magic.  Eragon and the Varden, along with the dwarves and the elves, headed by Orik and Islanzadi respectively, reach the gates of Uru-baen.  After the Varden launch an attack, Eragon and his elven bodyguard get into the city.  Progressing to THE INNER SANCTUM OF THE ENTIRE OPERATION (sorry, Get Smart movie reference), Eragon loses his bodyguard in the traps, but is able to keep Saphira and Arya beside him.  Galbatorix has been waiting for them with Murtagh and Thorn.  He orders Murtagh to fight Eragon to the death, but Eragon wins and of course spares Murtagh’s life.  In the never-failing ensuing silence, Murtagh uses the Word against Galbatorix (his true name has changed because of a love for Nasuada, making his vow null and void) to strip him of his wards.  Everything erupts, Thorn and Saphira attacking the impressively-unveiled Shruikan as Galbatorix attacks Eragon and Arya and all the good Eldunari with his mind.  Arya kills Shruikan with a dragon-killing spear.  Unable to cast magic with words because of the Word’s effect, Eragon casts a spell with his mind (a trick Galbatorix has no idea of, somehow) to make Galbatorix understand how evil he really was.  Finally cracking, Galbatorix basically undoes his being, instigating a huge release of energy that Eragon shields the Varden from.  Outside in the castle, Islanzadi has engaged one of Galbatorix’s best men, who kills her with the help of an Eldunari that is unflatteringly stuck in his armor.  Roran however is able to kill the man before Galbatorix commits suicide.  After that the story begins to wind down, with Murtagh and Thorn flying into the wilderness for some me-time, Nasuada retaking command of the Varden, and Roran once again recovering from just less-than-mortal wounds.  As Galbatorix’s influence ceases, everyone who knew about the Vault of Souls regains their memory, with some “How could we forget” moments.  Nevertheless, the last egg that Galbatorix had kept is still treated with great respect as Arya, now queen of the elves, ferries it back and forth between men, elves, dwarves and Urgals, who have been included in the dragonrider treaty for their help with the overthrowing of Galbatorix.  Suddenly the egg hatches for Arya, as I predicted.  This changes her feelings altogether, and she suddenly falls in love with Eragon just as he decides to leave Alagaesia for the purpose of establishing a dragon-and-rider training center.  Before he goes, however, there is a useless scene with the Menoa tree where it just decides to do away with the promise it exacted from Eragon when he found the brightsteel in book three. The end.

Wow.  Really long summary there, for a really long book.  Things wrong:

Number one:  Too many battle scenes.  Roran was too much of a figure.  Why not just show him giving a summary of his siege of Aroughs to Jormundur later?  That whole scene was useless.  Absolutely useless.

Two:  The Menoa tree.  He put time in for the Vault of Souls, so why not the Menoa tree?  It would have made the book even longer, but still, he could have handled that a bit better.

Three:  The mission into Dras-Leona.  It was absolutely useless, except to kill off one character and to give Arya a little spot on her hand that’s dead of nerves.  Frankly, at that point in the book I was happy the author had moved out of the constant battle scenes into something else, but still, it was useless.  Of course, Murtagh and Thorn were in the city, but there was no use for that either.  Why not have the Varden capture the city like regular (omitting battle scenes, of course) and have Thorn swoop down from a perch on Helgrind, where they watched the whole thing, and get Nasuada that way?

Four:  The Vault of Souls.  Yes, I know Solembum the werecat gave Eragon the prophecy in book one about the Rock of Kuthian, but it should have just contained Eldunari, not eggs too.  He goes through the first three books with all this emphasis on the one egg and then ruins it all in the fourth when he gives over 200 eggs in one scene.  Speaking of this scene, they took too much time for Eragon finding his true name.  Why not just a little four-letter passcode?  Well, perhaps not that, but still, there should have been less emphasis on the process of finding the names.

Five:  The fight to the death at the near-end.  That was just too predictable, I think.  I mean, yes, Galbatorix is evil, and yes, Murtagh is Eragon’s half brother, and yes, he’s bound to show his cruelty by making them fight each other, but they should have done something more creative.  This point also includes the fight outside with Roran and Islanzadi and the Varden.  That whole battle should have gone a bit quicker.  A bit.  Most of it was good.  But the near-mortal wounds of Roran have become too regular.  In every battle he’s almost killed, and after every battle Eragon heals him.  I don’t really like stories where the characters almost die, then are healed the next moment.  I like a few disabilities here and there.

Six:  I think I’m safe in saying that everyone knew that Arya would get the last egg, whether it was really the last or not.  What Paolini should have done there was this: he takes an undercover survey of who most of his readers think will get the dragon, and then picks the least obvious choice.  I think he might have been good with going with an Urgal or dwarf, so signifying the true change in the dragonrider treaty.  Of course, he also wanted the unrequited love to finally be requited, and the dragon-inspired feeling change was necessary for that turn-around.

Seven:  It was immaturely written.  At the beginning of the series it feels quite well written, but once you step back and look at the thing as a whole, you realize how young he is.  But perhaps I’m focusing too much on the plot and less on the style.  The style is good.

Now for things good:

As I just said, the style.

Nar Garzvhog is a great character.  He’s the only character other than Angela who ever shows a remote sense of humor.

Next great character: Angela, of course.  She is the best character the author ever thought up, and he admits to not thinking her up at all; she’s based off his sister.

The story is… slightly more original than most modern lit today, so for that I applaud him.  Contrary to most beliefs, I think the ending fits well, even though there are holes in the plot, stated above.  It was not a bummer of an ending.  Not at all.  If you want to debate that point privately, NaNoMail me at dragonfirehurts. If you aren’t a part of NaNoWriMo, tough luck; debate publicly in the comments instead.

This was a “trilogy” that I really enjoyed.  What did you think?

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13 Comments

  1. Erin

     /  February 19, 2012

    I have yet to read Inheritance, though I know everything that happens (not from your review – I knew everything before I read this post). From your summary, the ending seems okay. Not great, not terrible. Just okay. I think the sad parting with Eragon and Arya is perfect and unexpected, since everyone was probably thinking they would live happily ever after. I agree that having the green dragon hatch for Arya was totally predictable. I think it should have hatched for Nasuada or Angela (or Nar Garzvhog – that would have been kind of funny, actually). Personally, I think Eragon and Galbatorix should have had a big duel with swords, and then Murtagh intervenes, stabs Galbatorix, but just before Galbatorix dies, he kills Murtagh to die along with him. That would have been tragic. Scratch that. That would have been awesome.

    Reply
    • Nasuada was my second choice for the dragon, actually, but I agree; it would have been better than Arya.
      The problem with the ending you just mentioned is that Galbatorix is so much better than Eragon that our hero would be dead, Murtagh would be dead, Thorn would be dead, the Varden would be dead, and dragonkind would probably be dead, and that defeats the point of the story.

      Reply
      • Erin

         /  February 19, 2012

        True, but if Galbatorix is so powerful and better than Eragon, then he would have defeated and killed everybody any way.

  2. Miriam Joy

     /  February 19, 2012

    That is indeed a long summary! I’m impressed. That book took me forever to read (not allowed to take Kindle to school. Inheritance is a big book, and I have no bookshelf space left. Therefore, Kindle edition. Therefore, reading only in the evenings, so long time reading) and by the time I got to the end I’d basically forgotten the beginning… thanks for the recap!

    I do like Angela. I’d like to know more about her; we don’t really get any of her backstory. In fact, we don’t get much of most people’s back stories, which although is a good thing in some ways, is also annoying when they’re interesting characters. BORED of Eragon’s backstory. Give us Angela’s.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t remember a few parts of the book so I had to look it up on Wikipedia. They’ve got quite a summary there too. Glad you liked it.

      Reply
      • Miriam Joy

         /  February 20, 2012

        Ah, Wikipedia. How did we cope before it was invented?

      • We would make things up and argue about them for hours afterward. If that were the case here, I’d be telling you that Roran died in the third book, Eragon went insane while trying to figure out his true name, and Galbatorix fell off a cliff, pushed by Murtagh, who then was killed by Nasuada who then was killed by Thorn who committed suicide. Saphira, trying to stop him, was also mortally wounded and Eragon, being insane, couldn’t do anything about it.
        (If you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of drawn to thinking up tragic endings for non-tragic books.)

  3. Oh yes, Angela was awesome. I was really disappointed that we didn’t learn her back story. Since we don’t, was the point of the scene where Eragon meets Tenga (I think that’s the right name) in Brisingr? That whole scene got me curious about Angela’s past, and then I don’t get to find out what it is. Very vexing.
    Arya was an obvious choice for the last egg. I think it would have been better if, like you said, it had hatched for an urgal or dwarf.
    The style was good, but I got sick of the phrases “even as” and “like so many”. Though, come to think of it, they did lend to the medieval tone a bit.
    We have already debated the ending, so I won’t say anything about it.

    Reply
    • Everyone’s asking about Angela’s backstory all of a sudden. Yes, the Tenga scene was useless. Brisingr could have been cut down to size too.

      Reply
  4. This review is pretty much spot-on, although I must say that I would prefer endless battle scenes to endless description of landscape. Angela is definitely my favorite character–I am also very partial to Queen Islanzadi’s white raven, whose name escapes me. There were quite a few unnecessary scenes throughout the series, nearly everything after Galbatorix’s suicide included, in my opinion. I thought that everything happening thereafter could have been summarized in an epilogue at no detriment to the story. Or maybe I just think that because it took me so long to finish the book that I just wanted it to be over with.

    Reply
    • I agree; battle wins out over landscape any day of the elfin coranar. (Lord of the Rings elves, there.) I think the book could have been shorter that way, and possibly short enough to be tacked on to the end of Brisingr, thus making it a proper trilogy.
      Islanzadi’s raven… His name started with a B, right? Baldrick? Bucko? Probably not Boswick…

      Reply

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