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Let's Talk Fantasy: The Inheritance Cycle

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Hello everybody! I hope you are having a fun and enjoyable day. Now, let's get right into this. I'm going to be reviewing books I've read, and that have influenced me. Most will be fantasy, but I'll also try to sneak in a few other genres and even some non-fiction books.

Let's begin. Did I hate the Inheritance Cycle? No. Do I like it? Yes, but it has flaws, a lot of them. For those that don't know, the Inheritance Cycle follows the adventures of Gary Stu-- I mean Eragon. He starts as a fifteen soon to be sixteen-year-old boy. He begins as a kind, humble, patient boy who turns into an arrogant, impatient, quasi-sociopath but overall still a good-hearted person. That in itself wouldn't be a flaw if his transformation had been explained, or if the author didn't make it clear that he meant Eragon to be the typical all-loving fantasy hero.

So, Eragon is a sixteen-year-old boy who finds a dragon's egg, it hatches for him, and he becomes a dragon rider. Some say that the Inheritance Cycle is a rip-off of Dragon Rider's of Pern, and while I see that, even as an adult, I still like that aspect. Dragons have always interested me, and they'll forever be my favorite fantasy creature. I also believe that the author did a decent job of explaining the dragon riders and their history. As for the dragon character, Saphira, I actually liked her. Yes, in the later books, she does get bloodthirsty and acts like she's higher up than everyone because she's a dragon, but I still found her a fun character. Or maybe I just like dragons too much, hmm.

Back to Eragon, I don't mind that he's a farm boy born in a remote village. I like the humble, unknown roots to hero trope if it's done well. I don't even mind that Eragon comes across Saphira's egg by chance. To me, that's better than having to go on an epic search that spans pages or chapters. That can be done right, but fetch quests in countless video games have turned me off to that type of plot. What I do mind is that Eragon is a Gary Stu who masters swordsmanship and magic in a matter of months. He can defeat warriors and magicians who have trained for years and decades with ease, and everyone adores him. The only characters who dislike him are evil or proven to be wrong or bad people. Worse, Eragon starts as a likable enough kid, but by the fourth and final book, he's devolved into an arrogant, whiny, impatient, brat who has a superiority complex. Now, that would be fine, if the books explained how and why that happened, especially the impatience part. In Eldest, the second book of the cycle, it is explicitly mentioned how patient he is during his brief period of training. I won't even get into the unnecessary description of the elderly naked elf's crotch.

Next, let's look at Eragon's love life. First, I'm glad he didn't get together with Arya. (Arya as in the elf princess from the books, not the far superior Arya from A Song of Ice and Fire.) Eragon, like a certain Aragon, is a hero who falls in love with an elven princess. She kept rejected his advances, and he continued to pursue her. Many fans were upset that they didn't get together, but I think that adds a little originality. Arya's rejection of Eragon made sense. She wanted someone mature, and that wasn't Eragon.

While some people decry the Inheritance Cycle because of the inclusion of elves, dwarves, dragons, and orcs... I mean urgals, the similarity between the Inheritance Cycle and Lord of the Rings exists mostly in the character and place names. Yes, urgals are similar to orcs, but honestly, having similar fantasy races as long as they are done differently doesn't bother me. Inheritance, at least in the first two books, steals mainly from Star Wars, with the beginning being an almost fantasy version of Star Wars: A New Hope. The biggest detractor from that, however, is that Eragon's father is not the big bad's former second-in-command, but instead, was his teacher, Brom. While some did predict that, it was a nice little twist, and the memory Brom leaves for Eragon is sweet.

While I found the story enjoyable, and while Eragon devolves into a whiny, arrogant, impatient, man-child, most of the characters are likable and interesting. I do feel that certain characters such as Elva, Thorn, and Roran (Eragon's cousin) could have been utilized more. Especially Elva. The biggest complaint I have, one that many fans and detractors share, is the overabundance of purple prose. The books are overflowing with it, made worse by the filler chapters that have little to no relevance to plot or characters, making the last two books hundreds of pages longer than they needed to be. The filer chapters are mostly in the last two books. Some filler chapters are fine and enjoyable to read, but many of those chapters weren't needed or should have been shorter. While they have some, Eragon and Eldest, the first two books of the cycle, have much less filler than the last two books.

The final complaint I'm going to make here is the Varden. Some of their actions are less than heroic, which is fine and acceptable if the author didn't make it clear that he meant the Varden to be the typical fantasy hero rebellion. My biggest gripe with the Varden is that I felt no sense of worry or tension that they could lose. They had superpowered demi-god like elves who, if I remember right, didn't lose a single soldier until the final battle, urgals, a breakaway rebel country called Surda, dwarves, and an unnecessary country of werecats that joined out of the blue. To anyone who paid attention, it should have been clear that the Varden stood no chance of defeat. Yes, the heroes win in the vast majority of books and movies, but at least most of the time, they stand a chance of losing and don't give the villains a curb-stomp battle at every turn.

On a positive note, as mentioned above, the cycle does have exciting characters such as Murtagh, Thorn, Angela, Elva, and Brom. While this might come down to me being a sucker for battle scenes, I also felt that the battles were done well and made for interesting reads, despite the fact the Varden had no real shot at defeat. In the final book, while some thought that the Vault of Souls was not needed, or a Deus Ex Machina, I liked the descriptions of the vault, the story and lore behind it, and the information on the dragon eggs it safeguarded.

Rating: B-

While a nostalgic, fun, read, the Inheritance Cycle does have its faults. I'm sure some will think I gave it too high of a rating, but I can't deny the joy I had reading this when I was younger. While I haven't borrowed anything from it in my own writing, the Inheritance Cycle did help craft my love for fantasy, dragons, and large-scale battle scenes.

Five Favorite Characters:

  1. Murtagh

  2. Thorn (He gets little page time, but he is a red dragon, and red is my favorite color.)

  3. Elva

  4. Orik

  5. Eragon (Yes, I know I said he becomes an arrogant whiny man-child, but he's still a decent character. While he may be a Gary Stu, he does have good qualities about him, and his adventures are among the many reasons why I first got into fantasy.)

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