I finally finished it. In the midst of all the other books I’ve been reading, last night I turned the last page of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance–the final volume in the series that began with the publication of Eragon in 2003. After nearly nine years, it almost feels like the end of an era. One can imagine that it may have seemed so to the young author, who began penning this fantasy series when he was only fifteen years old.
Many things have been said about the Inheritance cycle. Some have likened it to a mixture of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. This is not necessarily criticism; many great works contain elements of other great works. (An aside: I am not one to put movies on my outstanding literature list. There are only a relative few that I believe hold a candle to the books on which they are based, in the case of those made from literary works.) Most readers and reviewers have been mesmerized by the descriptive language, the fascinating characters, and Paolini’s extraordinary imagination. There are, of course, those who were disappointed, their displeasure often stemming from what they believed to be the repetitiveness of the novels’ plots and themes (it’s not the first time such events have occurred in fantasy fiction).
My take on these novels? From the early pages, I began to like and empathize with young Eragon. Paolini did an admirable job developing his character and that of his dragon Saphira, as well as those of the other personalities–human, dwarf, elf, dragon, werecat, Urgal, even Ra’zac. As Eragon and Saphira grow and metamorphose, they remain refreshingly “normal,” with the fears, foibles, desires, and dislikes that are common to us ordinary people. If some of their experiences have appeared in literature before, this is not a drawback: for the particulars of the plot are unique to these novels, and everything is woven together as the story arrives at its conclusion. They are a bit wordy, yes; but the descriptive phrases are literary gems, and the action does not falter.
After having bidden farewell to Eragon and all the characters populating the novels, I happened to read part of the beginning of Eragon, and had to smile at the passage introducing the teen and relating the story of his discovery of Saphira’s egg. If only Eragon knew what was in store…