I reread the first three books over the last week and I have just finished Inheritance. Here are my first impressions:
I was pleased with the following:
-There were some good/interesting surprises such as there being eggs in the vault and in Eragon changing the Dragon/Rider spell to include all races.
-I was pleased with Angela’s role during the events of the battle of Dras Leona, I was not satisfied that Paolini left it alone after that and in the acknowledgements said “basically I like it better with the readers unhappy”. I’m sure that wasn’t his intention, but with Tenga, and with Angela speaking urgal in Brisingr and also the continued hints that we were going to learn more in Inheritance, I was dissatisfied with her resolution.
-I was pleased with the resolution of Elva.
-Islanzadi had a fitting death scene, though anyone with a brain saw what was coming the moment it began.
-The actual writing itself was much tighter. He had a lot to get done in a limited number of pages and the pacing was much better than the previous novels. (though there were still frustrating loose ends)
-Eragon was less stupid than in previous novels. This was necessary and if it hadn’t been fixed I would have nerdraged completely. Anyway, it was good to see.
-I liked hearing the story of Oromis and Glaedr fighting the Forsworn.
-Nasuada’s kidnapping was at first unexpected and enjoyable. Later it just felt like a tool to get Murtagh going where CP wanted him.
-Carn’s death in the Battle of Aroughs was both unexpected, cool, and emotionally intense. I appreciated that we finally saw the “ZOMG” possibility if magicians fight before breaking into someones mind.
I was displeased with the following:
-No main characters died. They were supposedly fighting the most dangerous and evil mad man of all time ever and no one important died, or was even injured beyond repair or anything. It is dishonest to the characters and to the readers to suggest a reality in which the ultimate evil bad guy would fail to kill anyone of significance in a struggle of this magnitude.
-I was displeased with multiple character resolutions. With the way things were set up in Brisingr I strongly suspected that Islanzadi would die, and that Lord Dathedr would take her place. This belief was even reinforced with the continued political importance of Lord Dathedr in the later segments of Inheritance. Arya becoming Queen was quite simply Deus ex Wrench. It was Paolini’s device in which to toy with his readers (something he admits to enjoying, and that I find insufferable and frustrating). He destroyed the possibility of a relationship for which there was significant evidence in previous novels to support as a possibility. He did this, not because the story or the characters demanded it, but because he made a PLOT decision that it would either make a better story or otherwise serve his interests. In my opinion Arya becoming Queen was not in accordance with the readers understanding of her motivations. If we were to ask ten thousand readers if Arya were offered the throne, would she take it? I believe most of them would agree that she would not.
-The disappearance of the Belt of Beloth the Wise, the words with the Menoa tree, and Roran being saved by the unnamed heroes are clearly seeds for other stories in Alagaesia. I would have much preferred to see the current story resolved satisfactorily than to read those scenes.
-I disliked that the Vault of Souls contained a horde of Eldunari, no matter how much magic was able to explain it away. In Brisingr Oromis and Glaedr told us in no uncertain terms that there were not Eldunari hidden from Galbatorix. While the explanation of the story technically makes it “ok” it was actually a false promise to the readers that Christopher Paolini was going to introduce something new, unexpected, and amazing that would somehow allow Eragon to defeat Galbatorix. A stash of Eldunari just felt stupid. Instead he has a lot more power and whole lot of no good reason that he should have been able to defeat the king.
-Brom’s Seven Words from Eragon were completely ignored. The memory from Saphira in which Brom tells Eragon to use his brain when dueling was completely ignored. He cast the spell that defeated Galbatorix on an instinctual whim, more like a Dragon, then in actually use his brain to Know his opponent.
-Murtagh’s character resolution felt dissatisfying to me. His feeling attraction to Nasuada didn’t feel profound or important enough to me to result in a fundamental change of his true self. His conversation with Eragon at the end felt cliche and a pretty dumb way to end things.
-Not enough Aerial Dragon awesomeness duels.
-Shruikan’s death was stupid. We never got to see him fly and fight like a real dragon, we never got to get inside his head and see what this fascinating character was experiencing as a false-bonded dragon. He wrestled with Thorn and Saphira for two paragraphs and got stabbed in the eye. GG to the supposedly most powerful dragon on the planet.
-The Magic System remains overpowered and Paolini finally had to get around to dealing with it. The need for political change was foreshadowed well but when it came down to “Lets police them and use the Name of Names” as a resolution it was utterly unsuccessful. This problem was so bad that Christopher Paolini didn’t even try to get it resolved properly.
-I stopped caring about Roran and Katrina. She was “loving wife Katrina” and he was still action hero ridiculous stamina Roran. Nothing new, exciting, or interesting to report.
-I disliked how whenever CP started naming characters that used to be “nameless villager” or “one of the elves” it meant they were about to die. It was a clumsy ploy that an astute reader could see from a mile away.
-Galbatorix failed to walk the walk. Paolini spent forever and a day setting him up as the most powerful and amazing villain of all time and he quite simply failed to deliver. The supposedly unbelievable traps in the Citadel were unimaginative. As was his torturing of Nasuada.
-Arya becoming a rider felt inevitable. Firnen felt tacked on, as did his relationship with Saphira. Eragon leaving felt like it was following CP’s outline instead of what the characters would actually do.
-The Eldunari were just another plot device to let magicians be more overpowered. That was dissapointing.
That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Gotta let the story stew a little bit and then start discussing it more as people finish reading.
I read Eragon when I was 11. I have followed the series for 8 years, and forgiven the weaknesses therein (for they are weighty and numerous) in the hopes that this conclusion would blow me out of the water and undo all past wrongs. It didn’t.
Many problems the series faced were from an outline that is over ten years old. I’m sure if CP started the series today he could improve upon a great many things. However, as it stands I will give Christopher Paolini one more chance to amaze me with something new. After that, if it doesn’t get better, I’m going to stop reading his books. After all, why should we keep reading if we’ve already learned all his tricks?