Author: Christopher Paolini
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr, the previous books in the Inheritance Cycle.
In the fourth and final book of the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon knows that his time of reckoning is approaching. As the Varden and their allies advance towards Galbatorix’s capital of Uru’baen, he knows that he must find some way of defeating his seemingly invincible foe, before all is lost.
As the last book of the Inheritance Cycle, Inheritance is the story of the end of Eragon’s quest to defeat Galbatorix. Every part of the novel is clearly leading to that one purpose. There’s just one problem: neither Eragon nor any of his allies actually know how he can defeat the tyrant. Eragon suffers through fits of self-doubt as he grapples with this very difficult question. He’s so young, yet he knows that the fate of his entire land rests on his shoulders. He carries that burden better than he has in previous novels; in this book, it’s clear Eragon has grown up.
The novel leads up to its inescapable climax well; the pacing is good, though Paolini’s writing skills leave something to be desired. There are dropped plotlines and the book seems unnecessarily wordy, which is saying something considering its length. However, that doesn’t stop Inheritance from being riveting and moving quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in this world, and was continually questioning how things could end up well, considering what Eragon was facing. I appreciated that the book kept me guessing, and though I didn’t love the contrived-feeling solution, I at least understood the reasoning behind the decision.
However, where Inheritance really falls short is in its last few pages. The battle with Galbatorix is interesting, though the motives of key characters lack explanation. After the battle is over is where things really become muddled, and unfortunately, I can’t talk about it in any kind of detail without ruining the story. So I will just say that these last 100 pages dragged absolutely. It was as if Paolini was trying to tie his story up with a neat little bow on top, which is completely unnecessary. He’s stated already that he will be writing more stories set in this world (though not about Eragon) in order to explain some of the loose plot threads and lacking character development. This part of the book was almost painful to get through, and I wish the series had ended on a better note.
Overall, I enjoyed Inheritance, but I can’t get past that slog of an ending. If you have read the previous books in the series, I highly recommend wrapping it up. It’s worth reading if you’ve already put the time and effort into Eragon’s tale. If you haven’t picked up the series yet and were waiting to see how this book was, unfortunately, I am a bit more guarded. While Paolini has a great imagination and the overall story is good, the series as a whole is just too uneven for me to be able to wholeheartedly recommend. That being said, if you’re just a huge fan of children and YA fantasy novels, you should consider this series. It really is a remarkable accomplishment, considering the author’s tender age when he began writing it. I look forward to seeing what he does with his writing career.