Title: The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance)
Author: Christopher Paolini
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Hardcover, Random House Children's Books
Book Source: I purchased all of these books from either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
Synopsis (from Paolini's website)
Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy-
until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an
ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller,
Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and
power. Now his choices could save - or destroy- the Empire.
I have been keeping up with Paolini's Inheritance cycle ever since Eragon was published. I elected not to review the individual books here, but waited until the cycle was complete to write a series review. Over the years I have become a huge fan of fantasy works and have enjoyed reading Paolini's tale of Eragon and his quest to overthrow Galbatorix. No, it is not highly original fantasy, but many of Paolini's ideas and approaches to dragons are intriguing, particularly given that he started writing these books at the young age of fifteen. His Inheritance Cycle can be appreciated on that fact alone.
In the end, it is my honest opinion that this series was one book too long. If I recall correctly, it had originally been billed as a trilogy, and I rather wish it had stayed that way. It was almost as if Paolini bit off more than he could chew -- there were just too many plot lines and too many loose ends that I believe caused him to get bogged down in parts that didn't really advance the plot. And while I thought the character development was pretty good in the first two books, by the third and fourth, it was really as if they stopped growing altogether.
Because of the dangling loose ends and tendency to get caught up in the less important plot lines of the story, the ending ultimately was not as satisfying as it should have been, either. It made the whole build to the finale and climax anti-climatic, which was a bit disappointing. Some aspects I did enjoy and appreciate, but on the whole it didn't really do the entire series justice. Again, I am still impressed by what Paolini was able to accomplish for someone so young and there certainly is much to like and appreciate about these books. But if you sit down and read them straight through, as I did again when the last book was released, you shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself feeling a little let down by the end.
I don't make these comments so much to discourage anyone from reading these books, but more as a fair warning. I know there are many of you out there who adore these books, hands down, no questions asked. I, myself, expect that I will re-read these books again down the road and if my daughter becomes the reader I hope she will be, I would encourage her to read the Inheritance Cycle as well. I am anxious to see Paolini grow as a writer -- I think that by simply getting to experience life more and grow as a person, his writing and storytelling will be better for that. I truly do think there is a TON of potential for him to have a very prolific career as a fantasy writer.
If you have reviewed any of these books, as well, please feel free to leave the link to your review(s) in the comments section! And feel free to join the discussion... do you have another opinion to share? I'd love to hear it!