Review: The Inheritance Cycle

The book tetralogy widely popular with the title of its first book and movie adaptation, Eragon, is a fantasy adventure novel series written by Christopher Paolini. The fact that attracts the eyes of most readers and critics alike is the age of the author while publishing the first book. While most youth these days find difficulty in writing a 100-word statement of purpose, Paolini successfully wrote a 500-page novel, becoming the Guinness record holder for being the youngest author of a bestselling novel.

The story is set in an imaginary land called Alagaësia, which is protected and guided by powerful and wise Dragon Riders. Galbatorix, the antagonist of the series is one such Rider who turns his back to the good cause they serve. He kills all the other Riders and their dragons and becomes a dreadful king to Alagaësia. After years, Eragon, a small farm boy finds a dragon egg which hatches for him, making him the only other Rider apart from his nemesis, Galbatorix. Saphira, Eragon’s dragon; and Brom, a local storyteller-turned-guide teach Eragon what he needs to learn to oppose the most powerful person in the realm. 

Learning about the rise of a new Rider, a new threat to his reign, Galbatorix sends his puppet Durza, a Shade, to nip the threat in the bud. This leads Eragon to leave his home and to remain on the run while learning ‘the Ways of the Riders’. He learns a great deal about the Riders, Brom, and eventually himself. He stumbles upon a soothsayer whose prophesy confuses Eragon for days on end.

Eragon, while digesting his fate, goes to new places, and sees new creatures, while defeating Durza in every attempt he makes to please his boss. He makes new companions and yet has trust issues with some while fighting a war from the same side. After all this struggle, he has still not met his actual enemy, the one he is meant to destroy.

There seems to be a lot of loose ends which would make no sense at the end of the first book, but by the time the series concludes, each and every detail starts to have a significance and it all comes together so beautifully. Even trivial details a reader might have overlooked would be of extreme importance later on, which blows the readers’ minds away.

The amount of effort put in by the author is clearly visible by the attention to detail given to each and every character in the story. He has gone beyond the normal creature choices such as Dragons, Elves and Dwarves and made up new ones like the Urgals, Ra’zac, Shades, and whatnot. The detailed explanation of the clans among the Dwarves, the hierarchical system of the Elves, and the indestructible nature of Shades make the story not just compelling, but also unique.

The story is also considered fancy by common people because of the usage of a made-up language. The author has created a language for the Elves, called the Ancient Language, which acts as the language of magic spells, making it mysterious, and hence more interesting. It takes effort to create a language from scratch, and the author has made a good job, which is evident when readers try using the Ancient Language in normal conversations.

The logic used for justifying the possibility of magic existing is surprisingly very new. The concept is that a Rider or an Elf can conjure any magical act by uttering the necessary words in the Ancient Language, but the energy required to do that act without magic will be drawn from their body, thus limiting the usage of magic for long, and making wise usage of spells necessary.

Critics and readers alike find one drawback with the book series, that the story seems rushed in the middle parts of each novel, which is a minor setback to this otherwise well-written story. There is one other common complaint that readers have whose status to be a drawback to the entire piece as such is questionable. As goes with most fantasy stories with many characters, sacrificing one’s life for the greater good is quite common. This sacrifice is generally made in battles, where death is sudden. Thus, the statement that characters are killed off by the author suddenly and more often could not plainly be put as a downside. Notwithstanding, the characters being killed off by the author sometimes makes a piece a rather gripping one, making the readers realise that they empathise for characters a lot.

The series in whole is quite a refreshing read. The style of writing combined with the vast and detailed manner in which Alagaësia is built around makes the reader feel that they are a part of the universe. The story leaves the readers yearning to have a Dragon egg dropped off by their door someday, while also fearing the fate that would follow. Trying to use the Ancient Language, acting like a Rider fighting off a Shade or the Ra’zac are common indicators that one is a fan of The Inheritance Cycle.

Vishnu Dhinakaran

Should I do this? Meh.

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