Tuesday, November 15, 2011

REVIEW: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Reading this book became a running joke because I had been raving about it to my non-fantasy-fan friends at Uni (one of whom thought I was excited about getting my inheritance ie money) and then spent the entire week in the theatre reading it, including time in the dressing room between pieces.
Seeing as this blog isn't about reviews and is more about my personal responses, I have decided to include SPOLIERS. But I will make these highlighted in white - feel free to read if you have read the book (or don't care).
Overall I was very happy with the end result. While at first I thought the book got off to a slow start and seemed too similar to Brisingr, I then came to appreciate how Paolini gave equal time to characters other than Eragon, even though some of it deviated from the primary narrative, the never-ending question to kill Galbatorix (which by the way I prefer to pronounce Gal-BA-tor-ix rather than Gal-ba-TOR-ix, which sounds weird). I thought characters like Roran and Nasuada gained a lot more depth and I began to see them as characters of equal merit to Eragon.
Relationships were handled exquisitely, allowing them to build naturally and then become resolved in a way that wasn't overly romantic or over the top (romance not really ever having a place in the series) but that still had a definite conclusion. This was particularly the case with Eragon and Arya. We know that Eragon has always had a big crush on Arya and that she did not reciprocate for reasons slightly murky. Throughout Inheritance they come to rely on each other more and more, and their trials bring them closer together. We begin to see more scenes where they share each others company for pleasure, which is new. Then towards the conclusion you get a sense that things might lead somewhere and that Arya does love Eragon too, but their duties mean that their paths must part and so instead Arya gives but the most subtle acknowledgement. At one point I wanted them to kiss or something and then felt the total opposite and was so relieve that Paolini felt the same. Another interesting relationship was Nasuada and Murtagh ... again very well played and subtle. 
I enjoyed throughout the series how as a reader we never saw or heard from Galbatorix in first person. In that way, he became an enigma and allowed the reader to further sympathise with how powerful and out of reach he had become. This did create the problem though of how to finally reveal him - how could he live up to our expectations? I did think that it was done a little flippantly and lost some of the potential dramatics, but then again maybe that was a way to point out how Galbatorix was essentially just a man.
I was a little disappointed with the final confrontation scene for several reasons. One was that while I really loved the major role that Elva began to and could potentially play, she was a little underused at the end. Secondly I thought the whole storming of Uru-baen could have taken much longer - I mean all they did was jump some traps and walk into the throne room. Thirdly, and this is the biggest disappointment, was that Galbatorix defeat was a TOTAL COP OUT! Rather than using something that was introduced previously, Eragon used an inexplicable piece of magic that then made Galbatorix pretty much give up instantly and kill himself. I wanted more! More magic, more struggle, more deaths, more sacrifices! It was a little too easy. Murtagh changing his true-name however was a nice, if predictable, touch. 
On the character of Galbatorix ... I don't know - I don't feel like we heard enough from him. I wanted to know more about his side, about his past. Also I think the most underdeveloped character in the whole book was Shruikan. Not until Inheritance had I started thinking of him as an actual character, but after he became mentioned so much and then after he appeared, I became really interested. But alas, I felt it went nowhere quickly.
As conclusions go I am in two minds. When I saw the film Deep Impact, after the meteor hit all I wanted to know was what the coastlines looked like afterwards - I wanted a map or something! I have always been a fan of finding out the smaller details after all the action has happened. This is done thoroughly in Inheritance with quite a few chapters dedicated to the politics and resolution of each character. However, it did kill the story a little and diminished the impact of the action that took place beforehand. One character who I was dying to know about and had nothing revealed was Angela - although Paolini apologises for this in his acknowledgements.
There were a few things that were satisfyingly predictable, some not so much and some surprising. I KNEW that Arya would become the rider of the green dragon which hatched from Galbatorix's last egg, and I would have been quite disappointed if this hadn't been the case. I wanted Arya to emerge from the fortress carrying a little green dragon hatchling. Eragon's decision to leave Alagaesia with the eggs and Eldunari and therefore leave everyone he knew behind was a nice ending, although it lacked the emotive evocation I was craving after absolutely bawling in Brisingr. 
All in all, I wanted the ending to leave me a crying, desolate shell of a man, but it left me merely satisfied, which I guess I can be at least thankful for.
I was going to read The Novice by Trudi Canavan as Alloy of Law hadn't arrived yet, but I just found out it was left on my doorstep only moments ago. What good timing! Hopefully I'll finish it by Monday (I'm sure I will) and then I can take a fresh book with me to Hamilton Island. I also received a copy of The Phoenix Requiem (Vol 1) which I preordered so long ago I forgot about it. It's an amazing web comic that I read twice a week by the amazing (Australian) Sarah Ellerton. Check it at http://www.seraph-inn.com. There are also links to her other comics - Inverloch is great!

1 comment:

  1. Let me know what you think of novice when you get to it :)