(This review might contain some spoilers, but hey, where have you been if you’ve not read this one already?)
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the Inheritance series books. On one hand, I greatly admire the fact that Paolini was a young teenager when he started out and created a commendable piece of work in , but at one hand he shows a complete lack of effort to improve his writing style and storytelling techniques.
In the third, and not the final book of the Inheritance Cycle, Paolini continues where the second book Eldest left off. The battle of Burning Plains has come to an end and Eragon and his cousin Roran are out to rescue Roran’s beloved Katrina from the clutches of the Ra’zac- a deadly treacherous beast under Galbatorix’s command who were also responsible for killing their father Garrow and ruining their lives in Carvahall.
During their rescue mission, Eragon comes across Sloan, Katrina’s father and the butcher who had betrayed them to the Ra’zac for his daughter. Here Eragon faces aas to when he feels he should kill Sloan for the murders he had caused but at the same time doesn’t want to become a law unto himself. Paolini meanders for a good 100 pages for this quandary and brings in an unnecessary detour in the story.
The story progresses to show Roran fighting with the Varden, having to proving his worth again and again before he can lead an army under his command. Meanwhile Eragon has another face-off with Murtagh hisand Thorn; returns to the Beor Mountains for the election and coronation of the new Dwarf King following which he and Saphira fly out to Ellesmera to meet their mentors, the old Rider Oromis and his dragon Glaedr.
Here Eragon learns that Murtagh and he have the same mother, but Brom was Eargon’s father while Murtagh is the son of Morzan, the evil Rider who had betrayed the Riders to Galbatorix. They also discover the secret for Galbatorix’s ever increasing power and the source of energy behind it.
Armed with that knowledge they fly back to join the Varden in their siege of Feinster and from thereon we hope and wait for the fourth book to release and see if Galbatorix will ever be slain by our last free Dragon Rider.
At places Paolini shows a maturity to his characters and depth to his story that is often hard to find in many better fantasy series. But at the same time, he still seems to not have learned the art of lucid and tight prose. He goes on to waste pages on plotlines that hardly seem relevant to the plot and more like fillers in a badly orchestrated stage act.
While he has an interesting host of characters, sometimes they fall flat. For instance, Roran has got to be one of the most monotonous and lackluster character in the history of fantasy fiction. Despite being the only human without any strain of magic in him to be a prominent warrior his struggles, his interactions with Eragon, his undying love for Katrina and his unwavering loyalty to the Varden, show only a drab doggedness rather than valor or any heroic trait. There are many pages depicting battles in which Roran was involved, and if the only excuse for those many chapters are to show what a brave and courageous leader Roran can be, then it again confirms the fact that Paolini needs to sharpen his writing.
It is for such unwarranted and unwanted rambling and extension that Paolini chose to write another book in what was supposed to be a trilogy and disappointed a large part of his audience. He has mentioned that he wanted to explore the moral quandaries that Eragon faced, but writing a whole new book for the series hardly seems like a wise recourse. As the character of Eragon develops and comes closer to fulfilling his ambition to slay Galbatorix, there will be many places where he will have to put his judgment, his character, his mind, his body, heart and soul to test. The question here is not of exploring the character through pages and pages, but how to portray it with effective lucid writing. What a better writer could have achieved in 300 pages, Paolini takes 738 pages.
Though I didn’t outright dislike this book, I was disappointed with it. I was disappointed at how it began, such that anyone who’s not read Eldest will hardly be in a position to understand all the nuances in the book. I was dissatisfied with how he managed the plot, the characters and the flow of the story. There were many parts which I thought were too contrived or shoddily thought out, but let’s not reveal all here. Last but not least, I was upset with the note on which it ended. It was like flat beer, to say the least. It doesn’t leave you with eager anticipation for the fourth book because you can’t wait to see what happens, but because as any fantasy fiction series nerd would attest, you can’t not read what happens in the series, no matter how bad it is.
Let’s just hope Paolini makes up for this with some brilliance in the fourth book.
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