YMMV / Inheritance Cycle

  • Acceptable Targets: Humans are this for elves.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Paolini's accidental erotica is infamous.
    Murtagh: Death will take me before I'll expose myself to their probing!
    Narration: When they finished, Eragon flopped on his blankets and groaned. He hurt everywhere – Brom had not been gentle with his stick.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Anti-fans of the series love to find new interpretations that subvert the good/evil conflict. So far, sites such as anti-shurtugal.com have concluded that Eragon is a sociopath, the Varden are terrorists and the original Dragon Riders were a racist military junta.
  • Angst? What Angst?
    • Eragon in Eldest. It is revealed to him that his father was The Dragon to the Big Bad, and to put it lightly, not a nice person. He gets over this in three paragraphs (although, in fairness, he does revisit it later). He does, however, angst when his uncle dies (for a few chapters, after which he gets over it), when he is told that his father was really his mentor, Brom, and when Murtagh joins the enemy.
    • There's also Arya in Eragon: in spite of having been, by her own admission, beaten, tortured, and very nearly raped for weeks on end, the biggest reaction we get out of her thereafter is a paragraph of her clenching her jaw a bit as she recounts the events... and after that everything's just peachy. Although that may be a racial thing for her, considering one of the things about elves is their iron-control over themselves. Arya is also more withdrawn and closed than most of them, and for her even a clenched jaw might equal something stronger from others.
    • Nasuada comes back from horrific torture in Galbatorix's lair and seems completely fine at first. Later she admits Galbatorix nearly broke her, though little more... given that she's always accompanied by Elva however - the girl who sees peoples' pains, and knows exactly what to say to either heal it, or make it worse - perhaps she's had help in that matter.
  • Ass Pull: The series features a big 'un in the shape of magical elf twins, never previously mentioned who cure Eragon's achy back scar, allowing him to fight properly again - the only implication is that it's one of the dragon's 'inexplicable' pieces of magic, specifically a physical manifestation of the Rider-Dragon arrangement, but also later revealed that the specifics of the event that healed Eragon were done by the hidden Dragon Eldanari, when otherwise nothing might have happened at all. They turn up once more in the fourth book so Eragon can make it so Dwarfs and Urgals can become Riders as well, thus solving all racism forever.
  • Broken Base: To this day, the Cycle fanbase is polarized into two parts: one part that thinks that the series is an unoriginal ripoff of much better series, and one part that thinks that it's a good story despite these influences.
  • Cliché Storm: One of its most common criticisms.
  • Critical Research Failure: Oromis' explanation of the Ancient Language gets basic points about language wrong: "The suffix o forms the past tense of verbs ending with r and i. Sköliro means shielded, but skölir means shield. What you said was ‘May luck and happiness follow you and may you be a shield from misfortune.’" Unfortunately, Eragon wasn't using the active past tense, but the passive future imperative ("may you be shielded" is an imperative pertaining to something that is to happen, not something that has happened).
  • Dancing Bear: The first book was sold on the basis of having been written by a 15-year-old.
  • Designated Hero / Designated Villain: As you may have seen elsewhere on this page, a number of fans actually perceive Eragon as a villain and Galbatorix as an antihero.
  • Ending Aversion: Some fans of this series hated how the fourth book ended, due to it leaving too much hanging. (Paolini plans to tie everything up in a forthcoming "Book Five".)
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Murtagh for his Dark and Troubled Past, being a Badass Normal (at first) and considerably more interesting character. Even some of the anti-Eragon fans like him.
    • The latter part may be because some fans left the series at his Face–Heel Turn, since he was the Ensemble Darkhorse and it seemed like an attempt to get more fans behind Eragon.
    • Roran holds this position, too, largely due to many people finding his parts in Book 2 to be more enjoyable then Eragon's parts. The fact that his Badass Normal status was ramped Up to Eleven to in-universe Memetic Badass levels certainly helps.
    • Carn from Brisingr and Inheritance is fairly popular too, due to his nature as a Deadpan Snarker with extremely creative spells.
  • Fridge Logic: Galbatorix uses the rules of the Ancient Language to force people to do things for what he thinks is the greater good. When Sloan (his cousin Roran's traitorous father in law) shows up, Eragon tells Roran that Sloan is dead. Then he uses the rules of the Ancient language and forces Sloan to never see his daughter again. All for the good of Roran's marriage, of course.
    • The big difference is that, in Galbatorix's view, he would have considered himself right to take Sloan's life, a view which even Islanzadí supports. Eragon gave him an infinitely less inhuman punishment, including the opportunity to partially undoing it by repenting his acts. Which Sloan does.
    • This one has been referenced over and over as an example of Eragon being like Galby. He could have taken Sloan to the Varden, where he would have briefly been reunited with Katrina, and then executed in front of her for being a traitor. Instead Eragon sends him to the elves, using more energy casting magic to ensure Sloan makes it there alive, to those who are versed in healing spiritual pain, which due to the death of his wife is what Sloan suffers from. He gives him a chance at redemption and being healed, and by the time it happens the war will be done and anger will have subsided and Sloan stands a chance of being forgiven and being able to resume a normal life. Further, in order to do this Eragon thinks on Sloan until he knows his true name, which takes a deep and intimate understanding of the person. Remember Eragon also had responsibilities to tend to and not a lot of time to spend on someone who he knows betrayed everyone Eragon cares about and who attempted to destroy his cousin's happiness, even being willing to see Roran dead solely so Sloan can continue to have an unhealthy relationship with his daughter. If Eragon was more pragmatic he would have left Sloan or just killed him and not wasted time trying to find a way to help rehabilitate him.
  • Follow the Leader: A rare positive example - alongside Harry Potter, it was one of those books that helped tell publishers that yes, young adults do in fact have the attention span to read long books, especially ones that span multiple installments.
  • Growing the Beard: Brisingr is considered by some readers to be an improvement over the first two books. Inheritance took the changes further, although the third book is the most seen as the series's peak.
    • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: A lot of people say that Eldest was the point where the Cycle actually got its first bit of decent ground to stand on, distancing itself from the Cliché Storm that plagued Eragon and actually creating an engrossing story of its own with actually interesting characters.
  • Ho Yay: The series has plenty of it, even though the hero's obsession with an unattainable elf girl supposedly indicates that he's straight. Despite this, he travels and becomes EXTREMELY close to his half-brother Murtagh, and starts getting vengeful and sulky when Murtagh turns out to think he's an annoying little twerp. Additionally he never notices the sexual characteristics (read: breasts) of the she-elf, but he spends a LOT of time ogling his master's muscles, "port-red lips" and long flowy hair, and starts staring intently at the guy's "hairless groin" during a naked bath scene. He also ogles the "hard and lean" muscles of his crippled ex-nemesis, and even drops his underwear in front of his cousin to show a very intimately-placed bruise. Oh yeah, and he spends a lot of time fondling, rubbing and stroking wooden staffs, swords, and other fun phallic weapons.
  • Internet Backdraft: Fans of the Inheritance trilogy have their hands full defending the object of their fandom from a gigantic number of anti-fans. Anti-fans have to defend their criticism from a gigantic number of fans.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Sorry", - apologised Brom".
  • Narm: Has one of the largest entries on that trope's page. Highlights include:
    • The very first line of the entire series: "Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world."
    • The first line of Eldest, currently among the page quotes for Meaningless Meaningful Words: "The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living." Yes, Eragon, that's pretty much exactly what the songs of the dead are.
    • The description of Eragon post his transformation at the Agaeti Bloedhren as "more beautiful than any man, more rugged than any elf" is somewhat overdone.
    • The High Priest of Helgrind, who has no arms or legs, reminded some readers of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    • Durza, Galbatorix's dragon (his henchman, not his literal dragon) in Book I, is described as having pale white skin and red hair. Like a certain fast food mascot.
    • Galbatorix's name. It's a name you'd expect to find in Astérix, and as a result, a number of people find it hard to take the character seriously. Moreover, if you are a bit into history, you will probably see it as Roman emperor Galba's name mixed with a Gaulish one.
    • The Film of the Book gives us Galbatorix's infamous line:
    Galbatorix: I suffer without my stone. Do not. Prolong. My suffering.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Incredibly common. It doesn't help that the book concedes that most of the people living in The Empire are happy and at peace, giving the impression that if the Varden would just stop fighting everyone would be fine. And though the emperor is a douche, his evil actions all seem to be about fighting the Varden so, again, his rule would probably be much less tyrannical if the Varden didn't keep going at him. It doesn't help matters that the main character can considered be a Designated Hero with a lot of Kick the Dog moments.
    • Ultimately, the case seems to be more about an Anti-Hero being treated as The Hero, and about the setting's apparent Grey and Gray Morality being treated as Black and White Morality. For every morally questionable deed which the Evil Overlord commits, The Hero commits one in return. The Empire slaughters villages? Well, so does La Résistance, around Feinster. The Big Bad uses conscription? Well, La Résistance whips their own soldiers for doing the right thing, to such an extent that Badass Normal Roran seriously thought that a weaker man would die. The Empire tortures people and uses "true names" to force its soldiers to be loyal to it? Well, La Résistance wields chemical weaponsunless Angela was carrying enough ordinary poison to kill hundreds or perhaps thousands of Mooks in a few hours in Book II.
    • What also seems forgotten is that the Empire is happy... because Galbatorix is spending all his time on his secret projects, ie the ones that would allow him full and uncontested control of all magicians; the few times he turned his full attention onto the Empire in that time, they were extremely bloody times, matched only by the war. Yet even if the Varden hadn't waged war, this would have continued until eventually he succeeded, and then considering his tendencies with consolidating power and those who defy him- said 'golden age' would have likely degenerated into something much worse, particularly once you look past the outward appearances. At least the Varden is dedicated to true peace and freedom, as well as fostering relations with the other races, rather than pure control.
    • However, once Galbatorix believed that the strength of his dragons exceed the strength of the elves, he intended to leave the Empire and conquer the elves. Of course, the resulting war would require conscription, absurd taxes, requisition of supplies of civilian sources... taking away everything he claimed to have given the citizens of the Empire.
    • Oh, and he allowed the slave trade to resume after the Riders abolished it.
  • Snark Bait: This is one of the biggest examples, primarily due to accusations of being unoriginal.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Galbatorix can be seen as this. While later books established him as being thoroughly evil and tyrannical, his depiction in early books left him looking pretty good for many readers. His rise to power (in which he won humanity's superiority over the elves and killed the all-powerful dragon riders) is portrayed as a Moral Event Horizon, and he wants to stomp out the urgals, a warlike species whose rite of passage is to find something, anything, and kill it. He's done plenty of unsavory things and isn't to be praised, but he's made humanity safe and superior, and even his enemies acknowledge that his batshit insanity doesn't touch most of his subjects. Interestingly, at the end of the fourth book, even Eragon seems to come to this opinion at seeing Nasuada adopting some of the Galbatorix directives about magic and people. And, especially according to anti-fans, he is the established power, with a clear-cut law, as opposed to the Varden, who will gladly accept you into their group provided you A.) follow your flawed and suicidal orders to the letter, and B.) be sure to always shower praise on Eragon, the elves, and your visionary leader, Nasuada. In the end it isn't so much that the Strawman Has A Point, but that the other side is so self-righteous and annoying the reader finds it hard to root for them.
  • What an Idiot: Eragon. "Huh. That perfectly smooth, round rock seems to be squeaking. Do rocks usually do that? Weird. Oh well, it's probably nothing. It's definitely just a regular rock. I'll just leave it on the shelf and go to bed, and not tell anybody."

Assorted character YMMVs

  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Murtagh is a badass Anti-Hero who calls out Eragon on his more What the Hell, Hero? moments, is good-looking and pragmatic, and comes complete with a Woobie backstory and discrimination from the anti-Empire forces who think he's just another stooge for the Big Bad like his father. Even after his Face–Heel Turn many readers still preferred him to Eragon.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Nasuada with Murtagh, since she seems to like him. Seeing as Inheritance deals with their relationship directly, don't be surprised if it becomes even more Fan Preferred.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Galbatorix. By Inheritance, it's clear that his cunning and manipulation go much deeper than anyone would previously have guessed.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Sloan was trapped in a village surrounded by the Empire's soldiers and human-eating monsters, who wanted to punish him and the rest of the village for the actions of a kid who wasn't there anymore and who Sloan didn't even like. Sloan then surrendered to the Empire to keep his daughter safe... and the Ra'zac pecked out his eyes, threw him into the dungeons of their evil lair and forgot about him, and trapped his daughter nearby. Then Eragon came by, and added insult to injury by cursing Sloan to never see his daughter again, even putting a geas on Sloan to force him to walk halfway across the continent to go and meditate with some arrogant elves until he "reformed". Harsh punishment for a man whose biggest crimes seem to be not liking the hero and wanting to protect his daughter... though admittedly in said surrendering, he sold out the entire village of Carvahall to do so, people he's lived with for years.
  • The Woobie:
    • Murtagh. Also an Iron Woobie and Jerkass Woobie. His father was physically abusive, his mother was distant, by the age of five both of his parents were dead, he grew up in the shadow of his father with Galbatorix possibly expecting him to become Morzan 2.0, and this was all before he was eighteen. When he finally escaped Galbatorix's clutches, his mentor/friend was killed, he was beaten up by Urgals, dragged halfway around Alagaesia with Eragon, imprisoned, captured and misused by the Twins to the point where he was happy to watch them die, tortured by Galbatorix, forced into swearing allegiance, and unwillingly molded into the person Galbatorix wanted him to be. And this is only the first two books.
    • Thorn: Forcibly born and magically enslaved, then subjected to massive amounts of rapid-growth magic. He probably isn't very comfortable in his body, to say the least. .
    • Eragon at the end of the series. At around 16, he's facing complete isolation for years, having to explore a vast new continent that is extremely difficult to reach, and establish a new order of dragon riders there virtually by himself. He does not expect to see any of his loved ones alive again (which a certain prediction makes explicit), and has given up all thoughts of romance or pleasurable company. Kind of harsh for a band of grown men, let alone a single teenager.
    • King Orrin - after years of busting a gut for the Varden (in Eragon Orik flat out says: "The Varden couldn't exist without Orrin,"), living in terror that Galbatorix is going to roll over and crush his kingdom and enslave his people, and sheltering the Varden's noncombatants, he is completely supplanted in La Résistance by Nasuada, insulted by Roran and seems destined to spend the post-war period as a "second-fiddle" nation to the Empire. No wonder he takes to the drink.
    • Durza - Carsaib never wanted to become a Shade.