Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle #4) by Christopher Paolini

There’s a scene in Inheritance, the final volume of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, where our protagonists spend fourteen pages negotiating a hallway leading straight to the evil overlord’s throne room and the final battle of the series. The only problem is the many traps along the way—blades sliding out of the wall, spikes shooting up from the ground, that sort of thing.

It was a boring scene, really, and it’s the perfect analogy for the entire story of Inheritance. After three books spent setting up the pieces for this final battle, Paolini’s latest novel tells us the story of a rebellion marching in a straight line for the capital, the conquering of every city along the way being the only obstacle. It’s straightforward and honestly quite unimaginative.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved Eragon when I first read it at age eighteen. It was the first genre novel I read after The Lord of the Rings. While its sequels weren’t as good as Paolini’s debut novel, and though my taste has since matured, I still considered myself enough of a fan to buy Inheritance on the day it came out. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. Of course, Paolini has never been enough of a wordsmith to please the lexophile in me—I mean, you know it’s poorly written when you read lines like, “His lips were torn and his right eye was ruined, but he could still see out of his remaining orb”—but at least his stories have always been interesting and entertaining.

Dragging on to the final battle
Inheritance starts out slow and, while it gains some momentum after about two hundred pages, it never becomes the page-turner that the first three novels were. The viewpoint of Roran, Eragon’s brother, was the only really interesting part; unfortunately, it seemed more like a ploy to drag the story on longer than necessary than an actual element to build upon. It’s not the only such ploy, either. There are long scenes of torture and interrogation that drag on interminably with no purpose to the story whatsoever, and a journey through a storm that only delays the inevitable.

Deus ex machina
All of this adds up to an 850-page book in which only two truly necessary events take place, resulting in a story that could just as well have been told in a quarter of the pages. Quite frankly, even those two necessary events left me underwhelmed. The final battle was anticlimactic, with the all-powerful overlord being defeated almost effortlessly, while the big reveal midway through the book was spontaneous and hardly foreshadowed, as well as lacking in imagination and creativity. In the end, Inheritance is a deus ex machina story if ever I read one.

This anticlimax isn’t ameliorated by the actual ending of the book following the inevitable and easy defeat of Emperor Galbatorix. Over one hundred pages are spent in an awkward attempt to wrap things up in entirely redundant ways. Paolini’s attempt to conclude the series is made even more awkward when it becomes apparent that he will likely write more novels in the world of this series, thus robbing readers of the closure they came to expect. The changes introduced in the end were insignificant enough that they could have instead been laid out at the start of a new novel.

Why should you read this novel?
All in all, Inheritance absolutely doesn’t deliver. It works neither as an epic fantasy novel nor as the end to a series loved by many, and only serves to prove what so many have said already: Christopher Paolini may well be undeserving of the popularity he has gained over the past six years. A tedious read at best, Inheritance has proven a huge disappointment to the dragon lover in me.

If you’re a fan of the series as I was, this review probably will not stop you from reading Inheritance, and you may well find it at least sparsely entertaining. Don’t expect the closure you’re looking for, however. If you’re an epic fantasy reader looking to see if the ending warrants reading the entire series, I would simply recommend you watch the original Star Wars trilogy and imagine dragons instead of lightsabers.

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 31 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he can be found in a comfy chair reading a fantasy book. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing to boot. Stephan lives in a small town in The Netherlands with his wife Rebecca, an editor for The Ranting Dragon, and their two cats.

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  1. I had many negatives comments for the book but i enjoyed way more than the previous. I almost died of boredom at Brisingr. At least here instead of too much talking had too much battling which for me is better. It was after the half book, that things really started annoying me. I did give it 4 stars though. Mostly because i was expecting it to be really bad and i actually enjoyed the first pages XD Hehe…

    Here my review if you want to check it out: Inheritance

  2. I thought that maybe I had out grown this series but Im glad I’m not the only one who felt this way about the book d:

  3. I totally agreed with your response to Inheritance … I find myself in a similar position of loving the series from my teenage years. I almost threw the book across the room and yelled ‘COP OUT!’ at the defeat of Galbatorix. The beigeness of this book was further compounded by the fact that I reread Brisingr immediately beforehand, which has such a climactic and emotional ending (yes I cried!) that Inheritance paled before.

    • I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one. I hadn’t reread Brisingr beforehand, and did wonder if it may have been my taste maturing, but apparently my memories of the other volumes in the series aren’t too wrong.

  4. Stephan van Velzen

    I would expect that a person’s sexual orientation does not influence
    their appreciation of literature. Thank you for your response, though.
    It is good to hear that some fans stick up for their favorite series.
    Would you care to explain your opinion with arguments?

  5. Right, that settles it then. I’m not even going to bother with reading this.

    I first read Inheritance when I was 18 (8 years ago already? really?). And though I was not as impressed with it as I was with Tolkien, Feist or Hobb (the only other genre authors I read at the time) I enjoyed it quite a bit. Eldest wasn’t as good imo, but still enjoyable.

    Then came Brisingr. That book was so bad it was offensive. I actually was angry by the time I was half way through it. I had never had, and never have since then had such a strong negative reaction on a book. It completely killed my interest in the series and the author.

    Then I recently saw that Inheritance was released, and despite my misgivings I thought that I maybe should pick it up, even if only to know how it ends. But then all the review sites I frequent wrote the book into the ground, so I’m over it again.

  6. CP in all honesty robbed us bad after we wait for the closure you speak of we find nothing and see eragon “frodo’d” away to see the romance between him arya that he had blued balled us with dissapate and have galbotorix killed as if he were a noisy poodle if CP had the fan base that stephen king did he also might have received some death threats over this one – sincerely from angry, betrayed, dissatisfied Fan

  7. Dude, that is by far the best constructed argument I’ve ever seen written. Sadly, I have not yet read Inheritance, but now I am afraid my sexual orientation may be swayed with my opinion of the book. This troubles me.

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