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When Christopher Paolini had finished Eldest, the second book in his then trilogy, I was looking forward to the third and final book. Finding out that Brisingr was not the final book and that there would be a fourth annoyed me a bit when I read it and realised that there is a lot of padding, but now that I have read Inheritance, I can say that at least he is consistent with it all.
The series of books is actually very good. Don't be disheartened by the shoddy film version that was almost embarrassing to watch in places. It's a good story, and the tale improves as it goes on. By the time we reach the beginning of Inheritance, Eragon has come a long way since Saphira's egg first hatched for him. He is now one of only three known Dragon Riders, the star fighter of the Varden, a band of various races joined together to try and defeat the evil Dragon Rider King Galbatorix, who controls the minds of his subjects and is determined to destroy anyone able to challenge him.
What Paolini has managed to do up to this point is develop the characters enough that they can each carry a chapter here and there, the action progressing in one area and then the next as the Varden make their way through Galbatorix's realm, defeating town and city on their way to his citadel of Uru'baen, and what promises throughout to be the ultimate in conclusive battles.
I like that there are more than human powers at play here as well, with magic and ancient languages and wards and superhuman ability, as well as deep rooted courage, determination, fear and heart. Each character has been deeply described and is well engrained on my mind, to the point where I'm very familiar with their traits and how they are likely to react to a certain situation. As a result, I found that during the read, my mind was trying to leap ahead to guess what was going to happen, who was going to do what, and how the whole thing was going to end.
I won't lie and say that the end of the book left me completely satisfied, and I know that a lot of this was deliberate. Some particularly pointed components of the saga were left open, although the main ones, as you would expect, were concluded most definitely. I thought the way the action took place was well done for the most part, and the way the political and patient build up to war was approached was equally well thought out and delivered. The issue I had though was with the amount of elaboration that went on. I can understand a need for patience and detail, but as one person has said, the main points of what actually happens in the book can actually be written in half of the 840 pages or so that the book holds.
The padding means that not only will it take you rather longer to read than you'd like, it also makes it hard to wade through. Details of the dragons' history, as well as lengthy geographical descriptions seem more like updated notes put into novel form than integral parts of the story. No doubt Paolini didn't want to leave out any of the extensive detail he has created in his magical world of Alagaesia, which is not a million miles away from the style of Tolkien's Middle Earth; and he is indeed to be lauded for the intricacy of his creation. The fact of it filling the pages though, seems more of an ego massage than literary necessity, and at times I admit I lost interest and had to leave it for another time.
Perseverence though is a powerful thing, and it was well worth it in the end. The book ends gracefully, with Paolini taking time to conclude things as opposed to just having a huge climactic point and then a short prologue. It lends a bit of explanation and aftermath to the whole saga, and he has promised to revisit his fictional land again at some point, which I'm sure he will.
I'd definitely recommend, but read the books in order. The beginning of the book does recap the first three books for you,. which is handy, but this doesn't really give you the full force that you'd need to understand everything. Paolin is a gifted writer, and I look forward to whatever works he produces in the future.