Twenty years after Knopf released Eragon, us diehard fans of The Inheritance Cycle received Murtagh. Paolini had talked about a book five on more than one occasion, I think I personally always imagined that it would feature Eragon again, or at least that was my desire. Now, he has said that this was not the book five he always had in mind, it just kind of happened. So to me, that says we have a lifetime of Alagaësia ahead of us, especially seeing that we’ve only made it a year after the end of Inheritance so far.
This post is mostly my chance to rant about my love for this series before I post an actual review of Murtagh, which I had just finished. Keep in mind that I am rarely strong worded when talking about things, even though this is one that I dearly love. The below is a mixture of reviews shared across GoodReads of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance, and The Fork, The Witch, and The Worm: Eragon and my reviewing ‘stance’ or ‘attitude’ was following reading some of the rather heinous things said about them/the author in peoples’ reviews. I did of course reread it, and I don’t think its bad or out of line…I wouldn’t have shared it then!
Needless to say…some or all the spoilers may be below
Below is mostly my review posted on Brisingr, Eldest and Eragon with some rehashing/added stuff…
So this is my first time reading Inheritance, (Eragon, Eragon/Eldest, Eragon/Eldest/Brisingr…) this being my first time listening to the audiobooks too. To put it simply, Gerard Doyle is fantastic. His character voices and narration fit perfectly, and I love the job he did. I will continue on with audio for as long as he does them. (Of course I buy them physically too).
I obviously fell off for some years seeing that Inheritance was released 9 years ago, but what can you do…
I’m sure there’s a hundred reviews on here talking about how this all started when Paolini was fifteen, and how at the time of Brisingr, he had spent a decade with Eragon, so I’ll just say–WOW. (And wow, I guess it’s two decades now!)
He takes so many things from others (in terms of influence) and handles them all so delicately that he created this wonderful, lush, dense lore that continues to grow throughout the rest of the novels. He was like a mini-Tolkien with his languages and flushed out geographic ideas. He created the Urgals and Kull instead of just recycling the typical Orcs and Uruk-hai. I found multiple points of similarity between Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ dragons and Paolini’s, and yet past those he once again branched off and created his own world and lore for them in a refreshing way. I think the training and wiseness from Brom most similarly matches the ideas of Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker, including the necessary death of a mentor/father figure that thus propels the main character towards greatness. I suppose you could also easily argue that it is also like Gandalf/Frodo, however I think it’s a harder argument to make that Frodo actually grew based off lessons from a knowledgable mentor (HE IS A HERO, JUST A DIFFERENT KIND!). Or, you could also point out Harry/Dumbledore–I’m sure we’ve all seen the memes about needing an old man mentor and a young hero to make a successful series–even though Dumbledore hid questionable important details from Harry, he still fulfilled that role.
I actually read a bitter sounding review under Eldest on GoodReads where they claim the opposite of what I am saying–ie. that Paolini does not do any of these things delicately/well and all I can say is that I’m genuinely surprised by that reaction. The main complaint I saw was drawing a comparison to Star Wars and almost calling these similarities blatant stealing. IE. “I am your father [Morzan].” And also saying that the reemergence of the twins and Murtagh was stupid/not earned. All I can say is that 1. I am a HUGE SW fan, as you can obviously see in my read books section, and I think that if your basis for disliking this book/series/author is that you think SW is the end-all for original ideas, you’re just misguided. I mean right off the bat, just read Dune and see how many things are super close to some of the original SW ideas in A New Hope… 2. I have now read these books three times and each time I have loved the “surprise” of Murtagh coming back. Every single time. Sure, I also thought he was alive, but riding atop a new RED DRAGON? No, that hadn’t crossed my younger mind at all. 3. If you dislike reading things that have any kind of similarities at all, I’m sorry to inform you but fantasy is not the genre for you at all. Find me something that doesn’t pull strings from Tolkien, Lewis, Herbert, Martin and many others. I don’t believe it can be done. Those similarities are the reasons WHY I love these kinds of books and genre. Originality would come at a cost. Probably the cost of that comfortability many look for in fantasy and that wouldn’t work for me and many others.
I’m sure there are also countless ideas and influences that he drew from the million and one dragon rider series that exist in this world. However, I first started reading these books in the sixth grade, so as an eleven year old I hadn’t much experience elsewhere, and afterwards this was more my basis for that kind of story than any other.
I know we’ve all seen/heard Paolini say things like “trying to write like Tolkien at his best” and various other stupid and pompous sounding things, but he was young and humility doesn’t come easy for everyone. He had great success with these books at an early age, that could certainly do that to your head. And to be honest, it’d have been better for someone else to have said that for him, but I don’t really disagree with it. I even call him a mini-Tolkien at the beginning of this review… (but lets be real…Tolkien was always at his “best”)
I will say that I think Paolini is lucky that he had spent so much time working his characters in book two, because honestly without it I would not have given a single f**k about Roran getting married or trying to become a leader. Nor about them having a baby or Eragon healing a hairlip either… It’s because of his earlier work and attention to detail that leads fans to desire more information about other characters and the day to day activities. The trouble with the dwarves even borders on getting too dry and he still (in my opinion) reels it in enough, and splits it with action, to save its enjoyability. I feel like he manages the same with the ending of Inheritance. The political magical stuff and the rebuilding isn’t my favorite, but he cuts it up with a NEW DRAGON and NEW QUEEN OF THE ELVES? A great win in my opinion. Even though it’s a bit of a stretch for this dragon to get a cover when he exists for so little.
The world of Alagaesia needs more dragon power.
I will say though one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was how Lord Barst was portrayed. Not only was he there simply to be killed my Roran (in my opinion) but he also was described for so much longer, and seemingly stronger, than Galbatorix himself was? I feel like with perhaps even a single Eldunarí he appeared more powerful than I even imagined Eragon to be… the main character, who not only had quite of few of the Eldunarí, but it was purposefully still said DID NOT have enough to outright defeat the Mad King. Barst has so much page-time that we see him kill perhaps hundreds of men, elves, dwarves, Kull, and werecats. Not to mention Islanzadí, a feat that I’m still not sure I believe Eragon should have been capable of? I understand that this was supposed to add the big-bad warrior feel to the climax because Galbatorix had to be defeated by either cunning or magic but still. That was my only major gripe.
I understand that his writing style, and seemingly his incessant need to write bible length books, is not for everyone, but these have been 5*/100% novels since the first time I read them. I love them and not just for the nostalgic feel, it’s amazing.
This is clearly a full on rant and if it does not make any sense, or you simply disagree, I welcome you to ignore me entirely.
Now as a kid I actually loved the Eragon movie and its accompanying video game, heavy flaws included. I of course knew it clearly ignored most of what was actually in the book, but it was so nostalgic for me, having the characters right there in front of me. With that being said, once the news of Fox being bought out by Disney became officially, I tweeted several times to Paolini about how Disney needed to get on a more faithful remake and put it on Disney+. Luckily I was not the only one:
Now so far, the Percy Jackson adaptation by Disney+ has not disappointed. So especially considering that Paolini has already mentioned that he is attached in some shape or form, I am over the moon about the possibilities with this show and it getting down right.