Reviews: Inheritance Cycle

A Cycle of Awesome

I have read all three of the current books in the Inheritance Cycle. I went to a book-signing for the second book when Paolini came to my hometown and got my books signed. I have re-read the first book so much that the cover is worn out and even ripped in places. Yes, I admit I am an Inheritance Cycle fangirl and damn proud of it. After reading all three books I was flat out blown away by the sheer scope and breadth of the series. It takes us from peaceful Palancar Valley and drop kicks us into the turmoil of Tronjheim, the mountain city of the dwarfs and then catapults us to Surda and beyond.

The series has many parallels with various fictions such as Lord of the Rings (what fantasy doesn't?) and Star Wars (young boy becomes great warrior) but it still manages to stand on its own as a credible and downright incredible world of fiction. I love the dragons the most in this series as they seem so intelligent and real that I almost expected Saphira to come flying out of the pages.

Paolini is almost a young Tolkien in the way that he has meticulously contstructed his own entire world, complete with various races and even languages for each of them. I especially love the Ancient Language and think it is actually better than some of the other made up languages of literature.

What I truly, deeply love about this series is the characters themselves. All of them are undeniably awesome from Eragon the protagonist to Galbatorix the twisted villain (who I cannot wait to see in the fourth book). Each character is unique and different, no two are alike. The most amusing characters have to be Angela the herbalist and Brom, the wise Rider of old who turns out to be closer to Eragon than meets the eye. I was truly surprised to find out that tidbit. Arya also stands out as the aloof elven princess who Eragon falls for (it is foretold by Angela when she threw the knucklebones for him), yet it turns out for the worse as she spurns his affections. However a certain dream that Eragon had may actually dispell this notion by the fourth book's release.

All in all, this is hands down the best fantasy series to date and I am eagerly, hungrily waiting for the fourth book. Here's hoping it is just as amazing and breathtaking as the first three.

That series you loved as a kid that actually isn\'t very good.

I don't want to rag on Paolini too much since, though undeniably arrogant and rather bigoted (albeit I think unintentionally), he really does love this pile of horse dung. As derivative and hilariously over-hyped and poorly-done as it is, the man genuinely loves this bizarre fanfic hybrid of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.

Alright, to business. This series is...bad. The first book I read when I was like 10, and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever read. Book 2 was a couple years later, and it was...OK. Not that good. Book 3 was soon after that and I liked it.

I went back and read the first 3 before reading the fourth, and hoo boy. In retrospect...none of these books are very good. Paolini's conlangs are divided between random keyboard spew and badly mangled hybrids of English and Icelandic. The protagonist is a self-righteous hypocritical sociopathic asshole and a total Marty Stu. The love interest...has potential, but isn't great. The secondary characters are better, and I really liked Roran before he became Eragon lite in book 3, but they all bow and scrape to Eragon and those f***ing elves.

"Those f***ing elves" are a great reason to hate this series. They're sanctimonious, arrogant, overbearing, hypocritical assholes and massively overpowered to boot. The Varden aren't much better, given the harsh punishments and really nasty war crimes that they commit throughout the series—and these are the GOOD guys.

Plot-wise...OK, this is a 15-16-year-old kid who's an invincible badass fighter/mage with a dragon who mows through legions of soldiers like hay and acts like he's high on bloodlust. That is creepy even BEFORE the creepy sexism, racism, and the way Eragon pervs on Arya while she's unconscious. Plus, Eragon's story is a paint-by-numbers version of Star Wars. Farm boy who becomes hero with special powers? Check. Spends most of second part in woods with wise old dude? Check. Has cool unique sword and gets a newer, cooler one after losing the old one? Check.

Since I can't go as deeply as I want into this series's flaws in this space, I'll go book by book with short analyses.

"Eragon": Cliched, Paolini's writing is the weakest here. He's very obviously a teenager writing a fanfic—something that we all have been, but this one somehow got published. Despite still being crappy teen fanfic.

"Eldest": Cliched, slightly better writing. Roran's story arc is more original and thus entertaining. Eragon's is flat-out boring.

"Brisingr": Paolini can write reasonably well, now. Not professional well, but enough to not be an obvious teenager. Still not a good book, and Eragon becomes even more of a total douchebag in this, but at least the plot sort of hangs together, we get more of the Urgals to avert the Orc-ripoff-ness that they had earlier, and the fight scenes aren't too terribad. Best of the series.

"Inheritance": Absolute and utter crap. That is all.

Not bad, but complicated on so many levels.

Normally, when you read a review, you expect a neutral and often fair evaluation of the review material's aspects. Be warned. Some of the evaluations here aren't written by people genuinely trying to enjoy it. As for this review, it will have to cover more than just the cycle.

Of course, I'll start with the cycle itself. Now I will admit, I don't read literature that much. That said, I acknowledge Inheritance isn't overly original. Expect clichés, and if you consider them a mortal sin, there's one reason to avoid the cycle already. If you know clichés aren't bad, you might still read the series. But it gets more complicated: Inheritance is said to lift from other works. I believe this is at least somewhat true, so if you have read those other works (most notably Star Wars), Inheritance might be a painful read.

Another problem I definitely acknowledge, looking back, is the pacing and flow. Some things just feel off, reading them. Most notably, Eldest had me confused once Roran's story came in. As for Eragon himself, a few encounters notwithstanding, it takes until about halfway through Eldest for things to happen at a regular basis. Then there is the fact that Galbatorix, as enjoyable a villain as he is, is glued to his throne and barely shows up.

Now that I am reading Inheritance, I can already say the cycle isn't a perfect read, and far from perfectly written. Not perfect isn't bad though.

It gets even more complicated. If you haven't noticed yet, the series manages to be divisive for reasons I can't fathom at times. So let's take a look at some of this, shall we?

By far the biggest things that came up are the morality issues. The series' very YMMV page claims there is a Grey and Grey Morality being painted as Black and White Morality. Let this be clear: From Eldest and on, Cristopher actually does portray Grey and Grey Morality. It's the characters and some readers who actually see Black and White, and both are expected to do that.

My verdict? If you're looking for literature to read before going to sleep (or waste time), this works. It's not great, but satisfactory. If you actually intend to spend day time, however, there are better things to do, among entertainment and among literature as well. Finally, I've influenced you enough as is, so before you pay further heed to people on the subject, read the series.

Predictable, boring, and unoriginal, but not truly awful.

I had the fortune of not having heard much about this series from sources other than the mainstream press' rave reviews of it, and my few friends who had read it, who thought it was amazing. They constantly told me about how it was great, and "was going to be our generation's Lord Of The Rings!" So I borrowed my friend's copy of it, and gave it a read with a completely open mind.

You know how all the press was saying stuff like "Paolini was already working on this as a teenager! Isn't that amazing?!"

It shows.

I figured out about halfway through Eragon that it was simply a Star Wars ripoff, and again, this was having not heard a lot of the online complaint about it, simply my uninfluenced opinion. The characters were the definition of 2 dimensional, the writing completely ignores the "show, don't tell" rule, and the whole thing reads like exactly what it is: a teenager's fanfic that just happened to get published. There's nothing interesting about the history or backstory of the world, the characters are boring, the writing lacks any form of subtlety, and the story is so blatantly plagiarized from Star Wars that after having read only the first novel, and having read not even a review of the second one, correctly predicted to my befuddled friend who owned the book, literally every plot twist and story aspect of the second book without having read a single page of it. Correctly I might add.

Now I ask you, if a book is that predictable, to where it literally can be predicted without having read a single page of it, is it really worth reading?

Not to mention, even the names are unoriginal. Eragon? Sound similar at all to the word "Aragorn?" "Arya?" Couldn't possibly be a derivation of "Arwen," could it? Naming the leader of a force "struggling" against it's oppressors "Ajihad?" The absolute feather in the cap of unoriginality is naming the dwarf king "Hrothgar".

However, in my final analysis of it, I have to disagree with people who claim it to be the worst book ever written. It's not quite that bad. It's not something "I wish I could forget," nor does it have any of the camp value some claim it to have. It's just not any good.

The most disgustingly idiotic series I've ever read

Eragon was bad. Just bad. Imagine a fanic Marty Stu, then add massive amounts of unexplained Black And White Morality that we need to take for granted - rather than shown, because failing the old rule "Show don't tell" is so "kool" -, plus uninventive and ridiculous worldbuilding. The closest thing to something decent was the Ra'zac, and even they are Nazgul wannabes.

The second book was more meh than anything. Contains added mary sue elves - because a generic fantasy setting cannot be without those! - and a frankly poor handled Face Heel Turn. Also, Eragon is clearly in the closet.

The other books I haven't read, but they better bring something new to the table.

In Which Fantasy Tropes Are Reclaimed From Star Wars

Personally I did not see the similarities to Star Wars until they were pointed out to me on this site and I had already thouroughly enjoyed the three books curruntly released, but then I'm not in the habit of compairing Science Fiction to Fantasy. The two genres are completely seperate in my mind and I favour Fantasy, probably influenced by [[Characters:Jackie Chan Adventures magic must defeat magic]]. However, now that it has been brought to my attention I must address it. The plot elements drawn from Star Wars are based on trope that are Older Than They Think. After all it was George Lucas who turned Space Opera from a derogatory term for all Science Fiction to the Sci Fi equivelent of High Fantasy. While I also enjoyed the Star Wars films, including the prequels, it was the criticism of them that made me realize that though an important step in taking Sci Fi mainstream they were only ever So Bad Its Good, and anyone claiming otherwise is just looking through their Nostalgia Filter. With that said, in addition to taking the story elements back to their roots, the writting is much better than in Star Wars, or at least the delivery of its writing. The series is also not without its own twists and innovative new takes compaired to both Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings, the other work it has been compaired to.

Now the Lord Of The Rings comparison is only natural given that it has taken Star Wars elements back to their original High Fantasy genre as codified by LOTR. Now Chistopher Paolini is the first Author I have read since Tolkien to have fictional languages as well developed as Tolkien's. Giving his Medieval European Fantasy a Norse feel was a nice touch and while Urgals may fill the same niche as Orcs, they are distinctly different in ways that are interesting to discover. The use of modern english, which is much easier to fallow than Tolkien's writing, is also a boon to his work.

The descriptive text, such as when they enter Teriem, moves the story along, draws you in, and foreshadows, unlike the snarl the Hate Dumb makes it out to be when compaired to works like Dinosaur Summer which I gave up trying to read when I couldn't remember the protagonist falling into the water, or for Pacing Problems like the repetitive plot in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Rule Of Cool abounds, putting the Epic back in Epic Fantasy.

Wasted Potential

I originally read the Inheritance Cycle when it first came out, and I liked it. Not LOVED it, but I had heard enough that I borrowed the first book from a friend. After that I thought it was at least interesting enough to pick up the second book, and after that the third and fourth. My biggest problem isn't that it rips off Star Wars, or that Eragon becomes overly powerful, or even the blatant Deus Ex Machina... It's the Purple Prose. Even when I was little this was my biggest problem with these books. There is nothing wrong with being descriptive or exploring character's thoughts, but it seems used as filler. Worse, it disrupts the pacing, by time I get through with it I just want to take a break. Its bad enough these books are long, and expanded to take up 4 books, but the amount of pages wasted on Purple Prose could have been used so much better. He could have developed Saphira's personality more, he could have had more foreshadowing for certain events, he could have let us seem a little more of the Galbatorix.

Speaking of that, I wish we had more time with Brom and Galbatorix. Brom is probably the most interesting character in these books, despite being dead for most of it. I wish he had at least stayed around till the second book so we could get some more interaction between him and some other person who knew of his past. Throughout his life he's been a Dragon Rider who looked up to Morzan, a found of the Varden, and a storyteller that secretly watched over his son. In Eldest Eragon even wishes he could have spoken with him about his adventures just once. And I agree completely! I almost wish he was the main character instead. Galbatorix is said to be this immense, threatening, powerful Rider....but we barley get to seem any evidence of this till the last book. Even a little more time exploring how he rules and his point of view would have developed him as more than the generic evil king.

I liked the books when I was younger, and even now I find certain parts to be genuinely enjoyable, but I shouldn't have to skip parts of the book to enjoy it. There is so much potential in these books, but its wasted. I don't think the Cycle deserves the hatred it gets, but it's definitely not the most amazing read. For me it falls short of So Okay It's Average, but it's not horrible either.

Not as Messed Up Morality as Claimed

The Inheritance Cycle is a good series and it doesn't deserve all of the bad press it gets. It's got some cliches in it but not as much people would have you think. One of the big things that people like to talk about is how the morality in it is wrong and the Empire is actually a good place. To be frank: these are lies.

People defend Galbatorix a lot which just baffles me. They say that he is a good emperor who watches over his people and cares for them, or that he isn't worth rebelling against. These people always overlook the terrible things he does or just ignore them. For one thing he sacrifices an entire village to be killed by his mind-controlled Urgals. Also HE REINTRODUCED SLAVERY. I don't know how much worse you can get then that. Oh wait - he also feeds two of the slaves a month to two Eldritch Abominations. And he's also an immortal tyrant so it's not like there are any other ways of overthrowing him.

Another person who is claimed to be a saint is Sloan, who is a terrible terrible monster. People talk about how he heroically stood up to Eragon, proving his moral superiority. These people often forget how he ended up in that situation. Namely by (beware of spoilers here) killing a person who was on watch of a village so he could sell out that entire village to be eaten alive by the aforementioned Eldritch Abominations because his daughter was going to marry somebody he didn't like. But everybody ignores this for reasons I can't even guess at.

In short this series is much better than people say, and you should ignore them and give it a shot.

Overhyped, but definitely a good read.

Lets be frank here: The Inheritance Cycle is NOT A Song of Ice and Fire. It's not the Lord of the Rings(despite similarities which, I'll admit, exist). It's not The Wheel of Time. And it's not The Sword of Truth.

This series, so long as you're able to consider both sides of the argument and take into account the reasoning of either side, is a good read. It's entertaining, even if the Prose gets rather Purple at times, and it can provoke one thought in your mind that a lot of the Hate Dumb never seems to consider: How would you do things if you were in Eragon's position?

Has Eragon displayed some rather sociopathic tendencies in his dealings with his enemies? Definitely. But remember to take into account that this dude is seventeen at the end of Brisingr; He was basically a high-powered Child Soldier who was suddenly thrust forth to become the One Last Hope against an oppressive Empire and its agents. I don't know about you, but that could breed a good bit of that in the average person.

There's more to come, I'm just too damn tired to finish this.

Work in progress!

Okay, then terrible, then bad.

I haven't read Inheritance yet, as of this review, but I can certainly talk about my experiences with the first three books.

The first time I read the first book, I thought it was fairly well made, with a good story and good characters. Recently, however, I took another glance into the book and realized just how bad it really was. The Shades were bland villains, not threatening-looking. The Ra'zac (I think that's how it's spelled) were pretty good, however. The magic system was so-so. Dragons and their riders? Done before, but it works. But the plot was the worst part. An evil king that the main character overthrows? Not worth reading. Sure, they had the whole Forsworn background, but it, in my opinion, failed to add any sort of color to Galbatorix' character. Eragon himself I found to be a little too childish for the story. I didn't like his constant history lessons from Brom.

Eldest was definitely the worst of the three, about half the time. The only reason I enjoyed that book at all was because of Roran's parts. Roran was a good character, and I liked following his trials as an ordinary man, contrasting with Eragon's bland "adventure", learning "exciting" magic in the forest with the elves. I hated those elves. They were so overpowered and at one with nature, with senses far surpassing those of men, that I almost skipped entirely over Eragon's bits. In the end I read them out of curiosity. But overall, this book was lackluster and boring. Oh, and I almost threw the book out the window when I found out about Eragon's namesake.

Brisingr was better than Eldest by a long shot, but still fell short of Eragon. Eragon's elf powers were annoyingly overpowered. The integration of elves into the story was still just as annoying as in Eldest. And I hated Nasuada so badly when Roran got whipped for disobedience. And when an injured Roran wrestled with a Kull and WON, I was just about to give up. Roran had lost his normality by becoming a fricking SUPERMAN. Eragon's progression into a vegetarian was frustrating at best. He became such a nature freak that I lost interest in the series after I finished.

So, to summarize: The series is annoying and not worth reading, as least up to the third book. Your time would be much better spent reading Tolkien, Rowling or Brian Jacques.

Not so bad as it seems

Brief review: I've readen the entire tetralogy and, throwing aside all the faults that other people have commented, the books are an enjoyable reading and it seems the author has been improving as Eragon has been growing, but that's all can be said. Paolini is at light-years of Tolkien despite some reviews may say and Eragon is to Lord of the Rings what a MC Donald's is compared to a good restaurant: tastes well and fills but does not leave the same impression and it's quickly forgotten. The best example is the sad ending of the last book; I felt absolutely no empathy for Eragon, nor any other of the characters except for the poor villagers killed by the Urgals in the first book and maybe Brom while I remember to have felt quite sad when I ended The Return of the King, as the trilogy ended there. At least the end is not the same of "everything ends well with everyone happy".

The thing I disliked most was the Star Wars feeling of the two first books. Especially the "Luke, I am your father" moment of Eldest that was later retconned, as well as Galbatorix himself. I expected a better developed and deeper villain, not someone who does not appear until the last book -like his dragon-, and whose end is ... you know if you've readen it.

A fridge think: who could build a city (the Empire's capital; by the way, Galbatorix should have been emperor, not king) under a largue stone, even if it's reinforced with magic?

Guess that it happens when a book is self-published; at least is way better than what I've seen about the Maradonia saga. Or especially the movie.

My Brain Deserves Better Literature Than This

There's something you all need to understand about me before I start my review; I have never watched Star Wars, LOTR, never read anything of the LOTR trilogy, and have little understanding of a normal teenage mind. Therefore I have no clue how this rips off Star Wars or LOTR, or any clues of a peverted teenage mind was behind it. Yeah, I am a hermit, so sue me. Even without that though, I still hate this seris. The explanations are ridculously long. One particular scene, for example, includes two pages about an explanation for one spell. I offically gave up in the second book when a dwarf told Eragon how convienent it was that Eragon used a spell to retrive a practice arrow, so he didn't have to replace it, for two paragraphs. I immideatley proceded to slam the book shut and return it to the library right away. Second, almost everything about it is boring! The history of the empire, the people, the main characters, the pointless scenes, the meaningful scenes, the plot, everything! Eragon was escpically tedious, so even when he was in danger, the boredom didn't go away because I didn't care. The only thing I enjoyed about this book was Saphira. She had the intresting personailty, and all the entertaining scenes. That might just be due to my inner dragon lover, but she was my reason why I made it through the first book. Sadly though, even Saphira couldn't save the second book from it's tripled boredom factor. On the other hand, I think everyone needs to keep in mind The Inheritance Cycle still has some elements to offer. I am not compeltley sure if this might be my Star Wars-LOTR ignorance talking, but the story of how Eragon found Saphira's egg was pretty creative. Consider this; The author of Twilight, a full grown adult, managed to write a seris a billion times worse than a trilogy by a teenager. Christopher Paolin still has potential, Stephanie Meyer is the one who should really be condemned!

An Honest Work Of A Growing Author

The Inheritance Cycle is not great literature, nor does it strive to be. What it is, is a fun read by a young author. The series has amassed a massive Hate Dumb which spends more time bitching about the series than the series' fans spend reading it. Yes, some of the earlier characterization could've used work. Yes, the series has many similarities to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. So do many, many other stories. The Cycle's not the most original story, but that doesn't make it a bad one. The series succeeds as a fun, lengthly A Boy And His X story with exciting action scenes and a well-plotted story. Additionally, Paolini's writing quality improves a lot with each book, particularly with the final book Inheritance.

Not a Bad Story

I'm a fan of the books, but I should be honest about it. It's not bad. While the writing is overly descriptive to the point where I skip over paragraphs, it can take four lines to make a single slash in Inheritance...It's not bad overall.

The Good: While some of it is rather 'yawn, old news' compared to some things it tries to take a fresh approach and very often does well with it. It's an honestly new attempt in the fantastical world of people riding dragons, and it's done well to fit into this and leave its mark. The characters seem human, though those that are supposed to be alien to us are. It's good at doing things that it could do in allowing a new fantasy with new perspective.

The Bad: However, when it is terrible in descriptions. I know it's supposed to convey a good sense of what the image is, but there is such a thing as too much detail. Some sections of the cycle leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and some of it is boring. It clearly has no research into late-Medieval strategies and tactics, and oftentimes even the swordfights that are written can seem off.

While written by a younger author than usual, it does show good qualities and good promise for the author's future career. Even with many negatives, it stays honestly good. A personal feeling of mine though is that I don't appreciate how...Open the ending is and how so much is not told of. However, this is something of my own ideas and thus shouldn't be held to itself entirely if you're someone with other tastes. Overall? About an 8 out of 10. (Eldest... 6.5)

So Okay It's Average, but Nonetheless Enjoyable

I'm going to make this short. I've only read the first two books, and maybe, someday, if I have time, I'll read the rest. When I first read the first book, the only fantasy I had read before was The Lord of the Rings, and I can assure you that helped my enjoyment immensely. These books are hugely derivative. Moreover, the writing and characterization are very characteristic of young and inexperienced writers, especially fanfic writers, but that didn't bother me at the time; I'm still more forgiving of bad writing than most, if the story can light my imagination, and Eragon did. In the end, it is very easy to get into and more or less enjoyable. It is good, I think, for people who are just starting to read for pleasure and who have an interest in the fantasy genre, since it is very accessible. But more developed readers/writers may have a hard time getting over the purple prose, while fans of the genre will have trouble getting past all the cliches; nobody will mistake it for a true masterpiece like the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter regardless, but it is worth checking out if you like fantasy and need to kill some time.

Eragon: not as bad as they make it sound, but still sucks.

I groaned and snarked about Eragon, the first book in the series, before I even read it. Part of it came from my overall dislike of the High Fantasy genre (although I'm just fine with other types of fantasy), but most of it came from the fact that I was still kind of bitter because I hadn't been able to write anything coherent yet, despite my wildest efforts, and this punk gets a wild hair up his ass one day and shits out a New York Times bestseller. I ignored it and talked smack about it for a while, until one day I decided to put my money where my mouth is and read the darn thing, if only so my whining would be justified.

And, you know what? I was totally right. The book is crap. Pretentious, derivative crap. However, it's not nearly, nearly as bad as most of the haters would like you to believe. The flow of the storyline is competently assembled, albeit lifted almost wholesale from Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, and the interaction between several characters (most notably between Brom and whatever incidental two-bit player happens to waddle onto the scene at the time, but rarely between him and anyone actually important) is pretty darned good. However, that marks the end of the good things I can say about Eragon. Let's talk about the main character himself, for instance; he's pretty much the Middle Earth equivalent of an Ali G, a snippy, well-to-do white kid who hangs out at the mall thinking he's gangsta. I guarantee that if you knew this guy in real life, you'd be smacking him upside the head at least three times a day. The villains are non-entities, even the ones that do show up, and the other heroes are bland when they aren't being obnoxious (looking at you, here, Arya).

Oh, and another thing. This book reeks of immature, teenage sexuality. And not ordinary, run-of-the-mill sexuality, either. We're talking Internet sexuality here. The scene wherein Eragon lusts after the badly battered body of a freshly rescued Arya cannot pass without mention, nor can a scene where Eragon ask the dragon Saphira, "Can I ride you?" This may be one of the book's clumsiest aspects. It tries very, very hard not ot be a kid's book, and on this count at least, it fails.

All in all, pretty bad, but hopefully So Bad Its Good.

Inheritance Cycle is Brain Candy

The Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini, is literally Star Wars in Middle Earth, with some good old Wizards of Earthsea thrown in to the mix. And Dragon Riders of Pern. And probably a ton of other fantasy and sci-fi works that "inspired" Paolini. It's not really explained until the end of Inheritence why exactly Galbatorix is evil. Eragon rejoices in violent battles, describing them as "exhilarating", and is pretty obviously an author avatar. It's not particularly good writing. BUT I still liked the series. It's entertaining to read about the fictional land of Alagaesia and all of its game-breaking characters. Not only that, but each book is better than the previous, and it's nice to see Paolini grow as an author. Brisingr steered the series away from Star Wars, and Inheritance finally fixed the sociopathic tendencies of Eragon and made Galbatorix's evilness more than an informed trait. An elf, and then later Galbatorix, turns himself into a nuclear bomb and detonates himself. HE DETONATES HIMSELF. And while yes, there were times where I groaned at the Deus Ex Machinas and all the new powers as the plot demands, I still found myself enjoying this series. The Inheritance Cycle is brain candy, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just watch out for cavities and brush and floss regularly.

Terribly crafted, but surprisingly useful.

Inheritance is, in a word, pooptastic. Okay, so in a made-up word. But there are a couple ways that the series can benefit us. The first way is obvious, and many have pointed it out, but I say it nonetheless: doorstoppers. Paolini's pointlessly longwinded writing has made for some books of impressive weight. Maybe they can be used to hold down buttons in order to solve in standard dungeon puzzles? They're probably cliche enough.

The second use is as a beacon of bad writing, nonexistent research, and just plain wrongness (as in Uncanny Valley creepiness). As I am working on my first foray into writing a full novel, Eragon has shown me what a bad writer really is capable of. I am at once shown errors that no writer should make, and encouraged in that even a bad writer can make a fuck-ton of money if they make their story nice and flashy. So, being a hack, I can look to Paolini as inspiration.

Oh, shit. I forgot that his parents ran a print company and actually produced that monstrosity. And after that, the pretentious snot was lucky enough to have a Knopf executive's nephew (I think it was a nephew) read the book and fall in love with it. Yeah, I think he was an elementary schooler.

The last use is to provide that magic moment Stephen King described, when you put down a book and say: "Boy, that sucked! I can do better than this, and this got published!"

Anyway, I can hardly begin to bash the cycle adequately. If you want someone's much better thought out criticism, I recommend Kippur's Eragon Sporkings. They're hilarious, and go very far in depth. Thank you for reading, unless you are Christopher Paolini, in which case: PLEASE STOP!
  • Fria
  • 26th Oct 11
  • 1

Even though clichee, I've still written Inheritance fics

So, I've been recommended this series (by someone with a rather ... *cough* cheap *cough* taste), and when I finally checked it out, I was surprised with the first book (I expected much worse writing by a teen;). But come scenes really get the mood well, f.ex. the intro with the shade. He did put a lot of effort in his writings, but he also gives the impression he wants to prove himself with his writings - which is a huge turn-off.

Most of the writing is way too long-winded, though. But in a way the long descriptions take the reader into the fantasy world almost like a drug does. Synthetic drug, mind you! He hasn't experienced enough real life to be able to produce an organic drug, anyways. I pity kids who have had such a sheltered life. School is hell, to be sure - but homeschooling is even worse, IMHO. School makes you forget the exam material right after the exam, and all that remains is memories of bullying and trauma (that you can work on and develop yourself), but homeschooling leaves people with a very unusual(=limited) socialisation and with loads and loads of useless knowledge.

I guess I enjoyed Inheritance series much more than other TV-Tropers, cos I'm not into Star Wars. Having only seen one Star Wars movie, I wasn't aware of such a rip-off, but I understand other readers get really frustrated about it. Even so, I noticed the plot was generic and full of cliches. And names (Eragon=Aragorn; Arya=Arwen), those kinda jump at the reader, too.

Oh, well, in general Inheritance has many interesting bits and pieces, but it's tied together with too much pruple prose and not enough real-life experience to back up the (sometimes outlandish) psychology of the characters ... What I liked were some original and funny characters, Bleodhgarm and Angela esp. (no, I don't ship those two, but they get other ships in my fics ;)

Eragon - Hero or Anti Hero?

I'll start off this analysis by getting something off my chest. I am not a fan of this series; I hate these books with a passion. There. Now that I have established my disgust, I can put it to one side and discuss the morality of Eragon in these books.

One problem I have with fans and haters alike is their tendency to shove every character in the book into moral boxes, portraying the Inheritance Cycle in a very black-and-white fashion. Yes, Christopher Paolini wrote these books with Black And White Morality in mind; the noble Varden vs the evil Empire. But we the readers should not categorise characters into black and white just because C.P. did with his writing; we should be more discerning than that.

One thing that bothers me is the morality of the character Eragon. The problem with him is not that he is an amoral sociopath that don't give a **** about the suffering he causes, but that he shows often compassion or brutality at the wrong times and to the wrong people. In the first book, he pleads Murtagh (designated Anti Hero who doesn't do anything particularly anti-heroic other than brood and angst) to spare some slave traders who just tried to kill them, and who made dozens of lives miserable. This can come across as a rather Messianic thing to do, and C.P. is obviously trying (and failing) to show Eragon as a flawed but good-hearted young man. And he "dies three times" when he kills bunny rabbits for energy to fuel his magic. But these actions don't fit with the fact that Eragon remorselessly killed legions of soldiers just because they were on the wrong side.

And yet he rewards the archers on his side for nearly shooting him to death by accident in Eldest (it makes no sense at all), showing that he does care about his own men (how are they any different to Galbatorix's men?). He also sentenced Sloan to a Fate Worse Than Death, although he really did want to be just and fair to the man, but failed due to his naivety and rashness of youth. However, it doesn't help that the Elven Queen approved of his actions, showing that C.P. is forcing the reader accept that Eragon did the right thing.

At the end of the day, do we really have to shoehorn Eragon into "good" or "evil"? Why does he have to belong to one of those camps? Why can't he just do wrong things for the right reasons?

Series is good, fans and anti-fans alike are idiots

This series really isn't anywhere near as bad as it is often made out to be. The hatred directed at it is more the result of a trend, if anything else. People with a lowered tolerance for the common archetypes of fantasy are angry with the author for taking too much inspiration from their favorite series, and use that as an excuse to criticize every point that can be criticized and be much harsher than they would be to other series.

Is it derivative? It's traditional fantasy, in every sense of the word, and is built out of the tropes of the genre played straight. I really can't say it any clearer than that. It's probably at the same level of what you'd expect from "The Sword of Shannara" or "The Belgariad." It is not copied word for word, even if it is formed from the same skeleton as these other works.

The criticism that the Inheritance Cycle draws is mostly due to either bitterness excerberating criticism and accentuation of the negative, or people jumping on the Hate Dumb bandwagon and letting others' opinions think for them. Most of the fans are hardly any better, being convinced that Paolini is Tolkien and swallowing every aspect of the story completely.

Is it perfect? No, there are actual problems here, but more in the spirit of small annoyances that could have been fixed with another draft. Eragon and Saphira are boring and unlikeable protagonists, but Murtagh, Roran, Arya, Katrna, and several others are all interesting characters. It's interesting to read a fantasy series that is based in a mountainous Norse-based landscape, not a temperature European one, and the Hate Dumb complaints about geography fails are ridiculous.

Paolini has talent as an author and could create some really good literature once he moves away from the hyper-traditional High Fantasy and writes some other things; it's too bad idiots keep fudging and misinterpreting his quotes in order to tell other people that he compared himself to Tolkien, downtalked J.K. Rowling, or other bull.

My best advice is to read this series on its own merits and don't let others tell you what you should think about it, probably including myself. If you don't like first book, then put it down and move on to something else. If you enjoy it, as many people do, then good for you.

Veterans of Fantasy Will NOT be Pleased

Personally, I felt like I was dying a bit inside once I learned how to read it properly, especially after I found out how this was first published. Okay, when I was nine, it was good, but then I got converted by getting more experience in the fantasy genre and watching Star Wars. However, for people that were like me when I was nine and just read things casually, this is probably OMG THE MOST AWESHUM THING LIKE EVAH!!!1!!!11! Which is the whole problem. Most of the people that love this are not experienced readers: they have not seen these cliches or plotlines before because this is the first fantasy they picked up because it's a newer one, can't find a single Plot Hole / You Fail Logic Forever example because they don't pay attention, don't give a dang about the You Fail Geography Forever instances (Let's face it. Geography is usually very boring anyway— I hate it myself), have not yet learned to pay enough attention to continuity errors, don't understand the finer points of [medieval] warfare (SEIGE IS NOT ATTACK, PAOLINI! GAH!) and are under the delusion that excessive Purple Prose and hackneyed similes and metaphors and illogical but pretty descriptions are good writing. But they're usually very easily converted. I think Eldest was the worst, if you ignore the fact that Brisingr didn't have much a plot, which is a criminal offense in writing in my opinion. I think the most accurate rating is So Bad Its Good, but the Fan Dumb is unreasonable, but there's a lot of Hate Dumb for it that is a bit too rabid. Paolini was just a [probably] spoiled kid that got thrown into the real world a bit too early, but he loses all my sympathy because he seems to think that he's so awesome. (If he reads the reviews like he says, it hasn't helped him much.) But God, just don't watch the movie. They took every single thing wrong with the book Up To Eleven.
  • TVG
  • 10th Jun 11
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Its Functionable, and perhaps can be Loved as a Trope-Vehice

The Inheritance Cycle is not bad, nor is the best thing ever. Its very functional and dare I say it, pragmatic. There is nothing about the actual writing itself that is bad. I'm sorry, but I don't see the Purple Prose, at worst, its Beige Prose, and I think the pacing, characters, etc. are just fine.

Everything about it is just fine, in fact. There is nothing wrong with anything about this story, in of itself. Yes, its all very copied. Ripped right off from other places quite blatantly. But does that make the story itself bad? No, not in this troper's opinion. It makes it a little predictable, sure, but really, as a Fantasy fan, sometimes I enjoy archetype distillation.

This is archetype distillation at its finest, people. By combining Lord of the Rings with Star Wars and giving it functional prose and dialog (I, again, dare say those are things neither of the two aforesaid properties have respectively), this series is a very fine distillation of everything good about Epic Fantasy. It takes what I love about storytelling, and it gives it to me in a few books. I love that.

I already accept the premise, and because I do, I see no reason why to reinvent the wheel when this particular story can give me exactly what I want by being pragmatic and take from things already invented by other authors.

You know what? I really, really love these books, upon further reflection. We need at least one book that perfectly distills these tropes in a way that's accessible. It is like a guide for future writers on what are the best plot, setting, and character ideas being currently used at the moment, so maybe they can take those and twist them somehow. But how can anyone write the perfect Deconstruction without this kind of work to show what precise concepts to look for?

Hell, this book might've been want turned me into a Troper. I saw all of the tropes, and I loved those tropes. I loved how they were played straight because this book uses good tropes in a functional way. And that is why I love these as a vehicle for playing the best tropes straight in High Fantasy, a sort of George Lucas Throwback or Reconstruction if the genre itself were a little older and a little more played with.

"It Gets Better Later" And How.

The problem with reviewing a series that was started when the author was a teenage boy and continues into his adulthood is that the quality is going to sharply jump. The original book, Eragon, is not a bad book, exactly. It's not very good though, either. it's an airplane or train-ride book at best. The characters are familiar, the plot is simplistic and predictable, the prose is choked, and the angst is overwrought and dangerously close to Wangst. Unfortunately, the dislike for the first book tends to color people's opinions of the others, so the first book's hatedom became partially a Hate Dumb who dig really hard for reasons to hate the subsequent installments, sometimes even claiming to hate it for things that didn't happen (like the Cant Argue With Elves thing in the later books).

However, Paolini grew a bit, both as a person and as a writer, between the first and second book. So while Eldest does still remain somewhat quaint and predictable, it does have a few stronger selling points. There was at least one plot twist I didn't see coming, the characters were beginning to be fleshed out, and the morality became much more juicy and ambiguous. Paolini also added politics in, suggesting that perhaps the Varden wasn't unquestionably good, nor the Empire unquestionably evil, although they are on fairly obvious sides of a grey spectrum.

The third book is by far leaps and bounds above the other two, as Paolini had become an adult while writing it. The characters, plots, morality and politics deepen considerably, the story becomes much more original, and the writing style is much better. While it did take two books to set up for it that were just "okay," they are made worth it by this one.

The fourth book is still upcoming, but if it does wind up going by this scale, it will be impressive. it is unfortunate about the Hate Dumb twisting so much of it to suit their complaints and the Fan Dumb giving them fuel for Fan Hate as well, so the best bet is to read the books and avoid any websites dedicated to them.

The Cycle is an excellent deconstruction

The cycle is obviously all about Eragon, so it's no surprise that it's told from the eyes of a teenager. The cycle succeedes in feeling like it is from a teenagers view. The flaws in Eragon's actions don't make me hate the character, they make me cheer him on more when he still aspires to be a good person regardless.

Yes, the books are juvenile - that's the point of the perspective. A teenager trying to put right 100+ year old problems. Eragon is, importantly, trying to do the right thing - and often trying to work out what the right thing is. Not knowing what is right in any situation doesn't make him a sociopath or evil, it prevents him from being a Gary Stu who does nothing wrong and makes no mistakes.

Maybe deconstruction is too harsh a term, but accidentally or on purpose (I think on purpose) the series repeatedly shows that no matter how much magical power or fighting prowess or desire to do right Eragon might have, it can't prevent him from being manipulated or help him resolve a moral dilemma. He just has to struggle about those like the rest of us.

Eragon: Follows Star Wars, NOT The Hero's Journey.

I think Eragon is a decent first novel from an inexperienced author, but there's no two ways around it - it's plot rips off Star Wars.

Some have claimed that it is not the plot of Star Wars that Eragon follows, but rather Joseph Campbell’s ‘Monomyth’ or ‘The Heros Journey’. I’ve gone through the monomyth point by point to demonstrate how wrong they are. Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings both have undertones of Campbell’s monomyth. Eragon has undertones of Star Wars. This list only includes key stages of the monomyth I found in all three stories.

The Call to Adventure E/SW: Hero’s adventure is kick-started by the actions of a distressed princess. Lo TR: Bilbo leaves Frodo the Ring.

Answering the Call E/SW: Hero discovers his home as been burnt down, and his guardian/s killed by the Empire. He resolves to destroy the Empire. Lo TR: Frodo trusts Gandalf and agrees to take the ring to a place of safety.

Supernatural Aid E/SW: Hero gains a wise Mentor who can train him in the ancient tradition that he is destined for. Said Mentor appears to be the last of that tradition. Mentor presents the hero with something vital for that tradition (e.g. lightsaber/dragon saddle). Lo TR: Gandalf is Frodo’s wise Mentor who explains the nature of the ring and sets Frodo’s quest.

The Crossing of the First Threshold E/ SW/ Lo TR: Hero leaves his mundane home.

Meeting with the Goddess E/SW: Hero saves imprisoned heroine from the base of The Dragon. Lo TR: The heroes meet Galadriel, who gives them advice and assistance etc.

Ritual Death, Dismemberment E/ SW/ Lo TR: Mentor dies (or appears to).

Refusal of Return E/SW: Anti-hero sidekick refuses to join the rebellion. Lo TR'': Aragorn’s leadership is rejected by the Steward of Gondor.

Rescue from Without E: Murtagh ends up helping the rebels anyway, Arya and Saphira save Eragon’s butt from The Dragon at the last minute. SW: Han ends up helping the rebels anyway, saves Luke’s butt from The Dragon at the last minute. Lo TR: Aragorn leads the forces that distract Sauron from Frodo and Sam’s quest.

I'm not sure if this has been done before, but there you have it. Eragon rips of Star Wars.

Inheritance? Or Inherited?

Is Inheritance terrible enough to be exposed to the Hate Dumb? It has some Hype Backlash, but I don't think Hate Dumb's complaints for this are as feasible as they are often made out to be.

The book does have an inherent plot that is common to most fantasy writing, and the first two books are almost identical to the {{Star Wars}} franchise: young man meets old man with a message from a princess who is under attack by the Big Bad's Dragon and is thrust into a quest for personal revenge, losing his mentor and developing ties as he improves his mastery over magic and his abilities as a warrior. Let's face it though; aside from some more specific points, such as Brom being an Expy of Obi-Wan, it seems lazy to just call this a Star Wars rip-off.

The plot is inherited from several sources, notably Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, but this is not uncommon to most pieces of fantasy writing. The issue that it does suffer from, however, is the issue of Purple Prose and in some instances just plain bad writing. A lot of Brisingr is an attempt to fix major plot issues from the previous books and an attempt to move away from the established Star Wars plot (YMMV as to how well this is done), caused by Eldest being a slow 'You must learn to become stronger' book, and Eragon as the plot establisher.

Beyond these issues however, there is a depth to the novels that Paolini often taps, but is so surrounded by bad that people often fail to pick it up. He acknowledges issues beyond the stereotypical teen angst and posits more philosophical or social issues: religion, economy, and war are prominent among these. What prevents this from being a good book (again, setting aside the amateur writing) is that he fails to actually go into depth with these, forsaking them for a more conventional, sellable writing. The depth is poking at the text, but is ultimately sacrificed in favour of obvious character development and plot de/construction. Characters develop themselves when written properly, but Paolini seems reserved to force a storyline on his writing - a mistake made by many commercial writers (*cough*Steven King).

I wouldn't suggest the series for a more academic or serious reader; this is mainly for people who just want a good casted yarn to read before bed.

A good series that is often unfairly criticized.

The Inheritance Cycle is not an original series by any means, but neither is it plagiarized. The majority of people who claim such are mostly rage-fueled Hate Dumb members who use the term "plagiarism" like a banhammer without really understanding its meaning. The series is indeed somewhat derivative of several other works, but it is by no means just a copy.

However, every person has a different level of tolerance for this sort of thing. Before you read this book, you need to make a decision to yourself; are you okay with the idea that Paolini was heavy inspired by other sources? If you go into this series going by the words of the hatedom, that these are plagiarized and poorly written works by an imcompetant author, than you'll reap what you sow, and you won't enjoy the series for anything other than Snark Bait. Likewise, if you absolutely cannot stand it when a series you read has elements that are obviously similar to others, than this series will not be for you. It's a hit or miss deal, really, because if it exceeds your comfort level in this regard, you most likely won't enjoy it.

However, if you don't hate the series for this one point, it's actually not a bad novel at all. The flaws in the writing are, again, overblown by people who hate the novels for what they see as plagiarism and are looking to bash it in any way they can. The prose writing is more than competant, there are a lot of interesting characters, and every book is consistently entertaining. Most of the "problems" in the writing are largely a matter of taste, like whether Paolini makes the books too long or uses too much description. It's not a poorly written sereis by any means, definitely professional enough to be a published work, and I'd probably give it a 7 or 8 out of ten in terms of technical writing. If you want to see bad writing, go read Twilight, the Fifth Sorceress, or most fanfiction. If you pay attention to his interviews and such, you'll also note that Paolini is a notable aversion to Protection From Editors. The writing also improves with each book.

All in all, an enjoyable series that is sometimes unfairly based, well above the writing level of genuinely "bad" works, and a good read if it doesn't exceed your comfort level for "borrowing" from other works.

Leading With the Best Foot Forward

I was introduced to Inheritance when I was 17. My mother purchased the first book, Eragon, for me after hearing it was written by a boy around my age. After reading it, I could have told her that myself. Eragon is cliched, predictable, and the prose is amateurish. The story's setting is a generic fantasy land peopled by generic fantasy races, the plot is lifted nearly wholecloth from Star Wars: A New Hope, Brom's and Murtagh's big reveals are obvious nearly from their introductions, and the prose tends toward blatant and long-winded exposition.

For all of these flaws, Eragon has its moments. The book conveys enthusiasm from its author that earns forgiveness. Eragon got more praise and attention than it deserves thanks to playing up Paolini's age, but is reasonably enjoyable even so.

Then came Eldest. I enjoyed some parts immensely on my first reading, while other parts I abhorred. Unfortunately, a later reading revealed that I had enjoyed the parts I did because they had given me relief from the main character, whose chapters were those I abhorred, rather than by their own merits. Paolini tries to grow up in Eldest, and it does him more harm than good. The flaws of Eragon remain, but the enthusiastic charm of its predecessor is lost. Where Eragon seeks wonderment, Eldest wallows in wangst. The tone is set by page five with the apparent deaths of two major characters from Eragon, and never recovers. Eragon spends most of his chapters bemoaning his hardships, only overcoming them by deus ex machina. Roran, whose chapters I preferred, is little better.

Brisingr is worse yet, as only about a quarter of the book is relevant to the series's plot, the rest taken up by lesser adventures and antics advancing only the page count. Saphira is a fine example of this: finally given two point-of-view chapters, she spends them meandering about having dragon-flavored text and obsessing over Eragon's absence. Characters who were already flat in previous books are reduced to single traits and then made to worship Eragon, who remains maddeningly passive throughout the book. The result is that Brisignr comes across as a work of obligation rather than enthusiasm.

Eragon was the series's high point, and it was merely mediocre.

Doesn't deserve the Hype

Now, let's be clear. Eragon is not a bad series, in my personal opinion. It's solid and if it is derivative, it least it derives from the best (Star wars, LOTR, etc.) I for one will not say that a fantasy translation of star wars is automatically crap, and Eragon does a decent job of it.

But considering how stupidly successful the series has been, I do not think that it has substance in proportion to the money it has raked in. (Granted many things don't, but that's hardly a compliment.) I read the first two books in 2005 (as a kid) and was absolutely blown away. Inheritance was the epitome of awesomeness, and I obsessed about it for some time, but I moved on. Three years later when Brisingr (did I spell that right?) came out, I had already read numerous other fantasy novels, and novels in general, too many to name. I enthusiastically bought the latest installment, eager for another run on my old stomping grounds.

Let’s just say that with my new perspective, I was not impressed. I did enjoy Brisingr, but part of it was admittedly nostalgia. I realized that many books did exactly what my old idol did, and did it better. And though the book split caused the plot to deviate from star wars, the result was still clichéd and reminiscent of numerous other books I'd read, many of them better detailed and written.

I'm not in the gushing fanclub or the unconditional basher camp. I just honestly don't think that Eragon is worth the controversy. If it weren't for the big bucks, that is, which I don't think it deserves either. It's just sorta...average, and with the occasional exception, it’s mostly forgettable.