Inheritance, Book IV
The final book in the Inheritance series has been much anticipated, and certainly INHERITANCE will thrill many fans who have been waiting patiently. Though Paolini had planned only a trilogy, there was much more story to tell, and this last volume with its more than 800 pages of adventures should answer many of the hanging questions. On the other hand, though definitely the best written in the series, INHERITANCE will not fill in all the blanks or leave every character neatly tucked away. Good storytelling like this leaves readers to speculate and to always hope for more.
"The final book in the Inheritance series has been much anticipated, and certainly INHERITANCE will thrill many fans who have been waiting patiently."
That said, get ready for a blockbuster adventure from beginning to end. The novel opens with a huge battle in which Saphira is nearly killed by a Dauthdaert (a spear used to kill dragons). Only due to Eragon’s skills is she healed and able to continue her special role as the last female dragon in Alagaesia and the dragon to Eragon’s role as Rider. As Eragon fights for the Varden on one front, his cousin Roran Stronghammer assumes a decisive role fighting in the city of Aroughs. Though they battle separately, they fight for the Varden and against the evil rule of Galbatorix. As the battles escalate in fury, so do the skills of Eragon and Roran.
Murtagh and his red dragon, Thorn, continue their fight for Galbatorix. Eragon understands now that he and Murtagh, though they share the same mother (Selena), do not have the same father. Brom, once the leader of the Varden, was Eragon’s father and mentor. Eragon sees Murtagh as evil, and all of their encounters have been in combat with one another --- each fighting for the opposite side. Changes begin to take place, however, when Murtagh captures Nasuada during one of the battles against the Varden.
Nasuada served as the leader of the Varden, and under Galbatorix’s command, Murtagh must force physical pain on her as they try to pull information from her. While much of the pain is almost beyond endurance, the most powerful is the force of mind control --- especially when used by Galbatorix. Murtagh is himself the victim of Galbatorix’s mind control, and during his encounters with Nasuada, he begins to admire her strength and courage. Very slowly, a shift begins and Murtagh finds himself pulled to the brave woman. Under the most horrific circumstances, Nasuada is able to hold on to her sanity, and very unexpected things happen as she and Murtagh form a kind of relationship. This subtle shift, painful and dangerous, affects everything that occurs in the rest of the story.
It is refreshing throughout the series to see how Paolini develops his female characters. Between Angela (the witch or healer), Katrina (Roran’s wife), Arya, Elva, Nasuada and even Saphira, you find women who are strong, brave and resourceful, fighting along with the men like the warriors they are. They are leaders, respected for their skills and powers.
I found it most interesting discussing INHERITANCE with young people. In a recent encounter with my teenage nephew, he said that Saphira remained his favorite character. He also added that he felt disappointed in some of the things that happened with the book’s main characters. I heard this from several other teens and even a few adults who expressed some surprise with the book’s ending. However, the skill of a good writer is not to do the “expected” and answer all the questions. The final horrible battles and unexpected twists help push this story into one of the best in the series. Every reader must decide for himself or herself. There is no question that Paolini has matured in his writing and has thought carefully about the fate of these characters. My nephew, and many others, expressed hope that somehow he would pick up the stories in another series.
It is imperative to read these novels in order. There are numerous characters, spells, battles, dragons, dwarfs, urgals, wearcats, magic swords, traitors, hints of romance, dragon eggs, spellcasters, explosions, underwater monsters, and more. As in previous books, an excellent vocabulary index is provided at the end.
INHERITANCE is definitely a winner. Whatever Paolini does next is sure to have a ready fan base eagerly waiting. For the time being, start with book one, ERAGON, and go through the series again. There’s always pleasure in pursuing these marvelous characters and their heroic stories. And so we say in gratitude to Paolini, from the ancient language: “Atra du evarinya ono varda (May the stars watch over you)."
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on December 18, 2011