The story of Eragon and his dragon Saphira spans four books, beginning with the hatching of Saphira and ending with Eragon and his companions taking on the evil emperor of Alegaesia. I finished the fourth book earlier this year, reading them at my leisure whenever I was able to get ahold of the next book. It has taken me seven years to complete the series, and every book was borrowed from a former student (spread the love of reading!).
I can unequivocally say that Christopher Paolini’s books have improved as the series has progressed. I approached them with a solid foundation of fantasy reading, which meant that my enjoyment of Eragon consisted of picking out the different elements he “borrowed” from various fantasy series. As a former devotee of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. By the time Paolini wrote Inheritance, he had done much to make the world his own. Inheritance shows a great deal of originality in his treatment of magic and the various species that inherit Alagaesia.
Inheritance was difficult for me to get into. Battle scenes have never been the reason why I read fantasy. I typically avoid them as much as possible. If the same is true for you, then don’t judge Inheritance until you are past the first third of the book. Actually, you can skip the first third without any detriment to your understanding of the rest of the plot.
All in all, the Inheritance cycle is an impressive accomplishment for such a young author. The characters are mostly well-developed, the plotline is gripping, and the world appears to be as complex as Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Whatever Paolini tackles next, whether inside or outside of Alagaesia, it is sure to be another exciting tale.