Christopher Paolini: Inheritance

Reviewed By Amanda Imhoff

I recently finished Inheritance, the last book in the Inheritance cycle which began with Eragon. I was truly excited to read the final chapters of Eragon and Saphira’s journey and to find out how they would defeat Galbatorix (because I had no doubt from the previous stories’ lead up that they would destroy him). I believe that the book was very well-written and showed much growth on Christopher Paolini’s part. Many critics have not reviewed his previous works well, especially Eragon, because they believe his writing is too immature. I think that if the reader takes into consideration that Paolini was only 17 when he wrote Eragon, they will cut him some slack about the maturity of the writing and see the story for what it is, an inspired work of great talent by a very young writer. The works are very long, Inheritance is no exception, because I believe Paolini doesn’t edit enough content. There are some parts of all the books that I feel could have been cut to pace the books better and shorten them, but I don’t feel it weakens the story as a whole so I write it off as editor/author opinion. Inheritance does take quite some time to get to the main conflict, Eragon vs. Galbotorix, but there are several battles in between that provide some action and necessary plot points. I did find myself at times thinking that I wanted Paolini to get to the main conflict already, but when Eragon and Saphira flew to Vroengard, I got excited again because this was a twist that I wasn’t expecting. Then shortly after, the main conflict took place, and I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed with how Paolini resolved this fight. I think how Galbotorix falls is an inspired piece of writing.

My main complaint with the novel, and I’m sorry but I will probably go on in length about it, is the ending. I feel like it has become a convention of late, even among fantasy and science fiction writers, to not have (for lack of a better term) “happy” endings. My only guess is because they want their characters to have “realistic” endings. I feel, as a consumer and not a literary critic, that this convention is misguided. When I purchase/read a book, especially a work of fantasy, I want to have a satisfying ending. I experience (and I believe most of us do) enough realism in my own life that when I read a work of fiction, I want it to transport me out of realism and into a world where “happy endings” do occur. I understand that there may be readers that disagree with me and will want their fiction to be as realistic as possible, even including unhappy or inconclusive endings. I understand that point of view, but I don’t personally feel it has a successful place in fantasy or in much science fiction. Especially because the Inheritance cycle is so long, readers had a chance to really connect with Eragon and Saphira, and as such, readers wanted them to have fulfilling lives after all their struggles. *SPOILER ALERT* For Paolini to exile them from Alagaesia, leaving behind all of their friends and family, as well as both of their love interests, seems a travesty of an opportunity to me. If, for the sake of the safety and secure instruction of the dragons and their riders, the pair had to leave Alagaesia, at least have Aria and Firnen accompany them. It seems too cruel to dangle the possibility of Aria coming to love Eragon, only to take it away at the end. Dragons and magic aside, if I had heard of a similar love story as Aria and Eragon in real life or even in realistic fiction, I would consider it a tragedy. As such, I can only count the conclusion of Inheritance as a tragic end as well. I would still highly recommend the series to people who enjoy fantasy fiction because it is a well-written, engrossing, story, but I would add the caveat that they may not like how it ends.

Check out Amanda’s blog at http://museswhim.blogspot.com