Edition 3: Book Review: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
Inheritance is the final of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, the series that began with a story called Eragon, written when Paolini was 15.
It is the culmination of the series, where little Eragon and his dragon Saphira are finally to fight the mad Galbatorix, a dragon rider who has held all the realm of Alagaësia in his thrall. Following the armies of the rebel Varden and the armies of the only free human territory Surda across the land, Eragon is afraid he is not ready for the final testing battle. It is again only with help from the others who rally around him that he can defeat his ancient enemy.
The end to this story was always going to be tough, both in pleasing your fans and a narrative that remained true to the characters. It was always going to be an epic full of battles and intrigue, and the burden of self-doubt that comes with growing up. Paolini did not give in to a happily ever after scenario and made the ending realistic, nuanced, and where winning does not mean you get everything you want. It also recognises that there is a time and a place for everyone, and recognising where you no longer belong is part of life.
Each of the characters matured in this novel, which fits with the setting of an epic, filled with battles to the death. Particularly, Saphira’s maturation seemed to outpace Eragon’s but it fits in with the timeline of how a dragon would age when compared to a human counterpart. Nasuada is given the chance to show why she is worthy to be leader of the armies of a free Alagaësia. It is good that the novel is centred on teenagers with vision and responsibility, instead of the oft repeated sullen and incapable teen seen in most fiction.
It is rare to find a young adult fiction that does not delve into more adult themes as the series goes on, and certainly the target age group of this series has not changed much, despite it being ten years since the initial book was released. Whether the lack of narrative development is a strength or a failure to recognise that your readers age with you, is unclear.
There are some exceptionally convenient plot developments that allows Eragon to become powerful enough to even contemplate facing his greatest foe, but they are worked in to allow some further explanation into some plot elements. There are a number of revelations which are not a total surprise that come to light in this book. There is quite a lot of slowness in the plot as they move ever forward with repetitive, pointless battles, but you recognise as a reader that this is what it would be like to fight a real territorial war.
It simplifies some of the issues of power and war-mongering, and certainly some of the storyline as it goes along. Don’t think that the novel isn’t engaging, because it is definitely one I wanted to keep reading, and it is definitely an epic I would recommend to parents of teens. It however is one that adults also enjoy as it is not overly simplistic.
Paolini did an impressive job of staying true to his original creation with Inheritance. To keep in with his creative vision and keep the story from clichéd endings can be difficult, especially when you bond with the characters. Certainly worth reading, especially if you were a fan of the series, and recommending to teenagers for the vision of a world where their actions mean something. You can find out more about the series and the author at http://www.alagaesia.com/.
Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini
Young adult (fantasy)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011
ISBN: 0375856110 (978-0375856112)
Sophie is a scientist, aspiring writer, sci-fi and fantasy nerd. She is an editor with IFWG Publishing and has been Editor In Chief of SQ Mag and SQ Magazine, the previous incarnation. She also contributes book and film reviews. She is currently living in Vancouver, Canada.
You can find her in a few different places: @Smoph on Twitter, Sophie Yorkston – writer on Facebook, and at her blogs: Smoph’s Musings and Smoph Writes.