Alagaësia...here's hoping he is true to his word!) book in the Inheritance series, which chronicles the adventures of Eragon - Shadeslayer and Dragon Rider - as he seeks to rid all of Alagaësia from the clutches of Galbatorix.
**Warning: I am going to try not to give too much away, but there are a few points that I must discuss. If you have not read the book, or in the process of reading it, and do not want to read any spoilers, proceed with caution.**
Christopher Paolini wastes no time getting into the story, nor does the book relent much as Eragon marches toward his inevitable battle against Galbatorix. I found myself tense, on the "edge of my seat," foot often tapping in anticipation as I turned page after page. Christopher Paolini truly has a talent for writing. While I would call this book a "page turner" and could feel the drive of the story, I never felt rushed. He managed to write with his characteristic detail, while still maintaining the suspense of the story. Oftentimes, I found myself surprised by the direction of the story. Usually, the final book of a series has some elements of predictability, but several of the predictions that I had made turned out to be completely wrong.
The first of which was Murtagh, Eragon's half-brother who was forced to swear allegiance to Galbatorix, and fight against Eragon. I always felt sympathy for Murtagh, whose hard life left him angry at the world, and hoped even after he became Galbatorix's pawn, that in the end he could rise above the hand life had dealt him. However, I knew that he and Eragon would be forced into a final battle, and feared that Eragon would be forced to kill him. However much Eragon hated Murtagh, I knew deep down that he would spare his brother if he could. In a way, my hopes were realized. The love story that sprang up between Nasuada and Murtagh was quite unexpected, but in the end it was his ability to love that finally freed him and allowed him to do what was right. It brought him a new understanding of Eragon, and allowed Eragon to understand him more fully, and ultimately to forgive him. Unfortunately, the damage inflicted by Galbatorix was not so easily pushed aside and the ending to his part in the story was not the happy one I would have wished. It was hopeful, however, and it certainly would be interesting to see what the future holds for Murtagh, should Paolini chose to explore it (which I hope he does!). I only hope that one day Murtagh will be able to overcome his demons and be viewed as the hero he is.
The character I was most looking forward to finally meeting was Galbatorix himself, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. While Galbatorix was the topic of many discussions in the previous books, and was an ever present figure, I was excited to meet the real Galbatorix "in the flesh." He was exactly as I imagined him - he was charming, awe inspiring, and just as evil as he had been painted to be. What was intriguing to me is the fact that while he was evil, he truly believed what he was doing was the best thing for all of Alagaësia. He was not unlike dictators of the past, such as Hitler. The world looks at Hitler and sees a madman, who let his own prejudices destroy Europe and decimate an entire population of people, but Hitler himself truly believed that his actions were for the betterment of the Germans, and so Galbatorix believed he was protecting Alagaësia from the evils of magicians. However, his solution was to eliminate the free will of others and subjugate everyone to his will. I will admit that I was slightly disappointed by the manner in which Galbatorix was ultimately defeated. I so desperately wanted Eragon to find a way around his defenses and pummel him to death, as restitution for all the wrongs he had inflicted, but sadly, that was not the way it worked out. Instead it was knowledge that undid him...which did make me smile. Knowledge is a powerful thing, a dangerous thing, and often a means to an end.
The one bone I have to pick with Christopher Paolini is the ending he brought to Arya and Eragon's relationship. They both deserved so much more that he gave them! I knew this end was coming - it was predicted by Angela: "But the rest awaits in a great journey. Look closely at this bone. You can see how its end rests on that of the sailing ship. That is impossible to misunderstand. Your fate will be to leave this land forever. Where you will end up I know not but you will never again stand in Alagaësia. This is inescapable. It will come to pass even if you try to avoid it. The next bone is easier to read and perhaps a bit more pleasant. An epic romance is in your future, extraordinary, as the moon indicates - for that is the magical symbol - strong enough to outlast empires. I cannot say if this passion will end happily, but your love is of noble birth and heritage. She is powerful, wise, and beautiful beyond compare."
I knew that Eragon would be forced to leave Alagaësia, but I had hoped that there might be a way for him to stay with Arya, for it has always been clear to me that she and Eragon were destined for an epic romance. Being the romantic that I am, I had hoped for an all out, passionate confession. Eragon's feelings for Arya have always been obvious, but Arya's were not. They were hinted at, but still never put into words, nor does that change in Inheritance, which left me slightly disappointed. There was nothing in their final moments together that I would call "epic," unless you count the fact that they do love each other, but are doomed to be separated forever due to the calls of duty they both feel honor bound to fulfill. Still, would it have been so hard to at least work in a kiss?
It saddened me that Eragon did not get the complete happy ending that I had hoped for him, but the future he is sailing towards should be an exciting one. I hope that Christopher Paolini returns to Alagaësia soon and continues Eragon's story. While this book is an ending in so many ways, it also has the potential to be a beginning for a whole new set of adventures, which I would be very excited to read...