A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The author has created a detailed fantasy world with its own languages. There are also worthwhile lessons in politics and leadership.
As always, Eragon and his friends and allies are 100 percent committed to defeating their country's evil king and restoring peace to the land. They're loyal to each other and their cause, and they have some sympathy for those who serve the king out of ignorance or force (though that doesn't stop them from killing scores of them in battle). Friendship, duty, and honor are all valued.
Positive Role Models
Through magic, personal growth, and training, Eragon is virtually without flaw at this point in the saga; he's motivated by loyalty, duty, honor, and friendship, and he never hesitates to do the right thing (he also never hesitates to kill an enemy, which some may consider an iffier quality). Arya and Nasuada are both strong, powerful women -- Arya is a better warrior than many of the male characters, and Nasuada is a smart, brave leader. Roran is one of the few main characters not able to use magic; his success despite this lack offers a good counterpoint to the others' achievements. Murtaugh is one of the book's more conflicted characters, and his ultimate decisions have all the more impact as a result.
Violence & Scariness
Lots and lots of fighting and bloodshed; there are many epic battles with massive destruction and loss of life. Characters are killed in gruesome ways -- stabbings, beheadings, disembowelments, fire/immolation, crushing, and much more -- but most of the gore isn't lingered on or described in ultra-graphic detail. One character is tortured both physically and mentally; her suffering is described, though again not in tons of detail. Another submits herself to terrible pain to escape captivity. Some characters are able to dispatch huge groups of enemies in swift succession, with little regret/hesitation expressed. Dragons breathe fire; there are tons of swordfights, hammer blows, and more. Animals are killed (horses in battle, etc.), mutilations and painful injuries are described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Eragon's ongoing feelings for Arya continue, though there's little action. Dragons court each other in showy fashion.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one chapter, Eragon and Arya get quite drunk on a special liqueur that makes them giddy and induces visions/hallucinations. Other casual/social drinking of alcoholic drinks (mead, etc.).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this epic fantasy is the conclusion to the story that began in Eragon and continued in Eldest and Brisingr. Its many battles and fight scenes are filled with frequent gory deaths via sword, hammer blow, magic, heavy masonry, and many other methods of dispatchment; bodies pile up at an alarming rate. Characters are also tortured, one at length. Many of the main characters, including the hero, are able to kill hordes of enemies single-handedly, a fact they seldom seem to worry about or regret. There's also a bit of romantic tension and one scene in which two characters get quite drunk.
Is It Any Good?
There's no question that author Christopher Paolini is able to tell an entertaining story; INHERITANCE is very readable and full of adventure. But that adventure is stretched out over more than 800 pages, too many of which are spent inside Eragon's head as he mulls over some decision or another, practices his swordplay, or moons over Arya. And at this point, Paolini has made Eragon so nearly perfect -- he's a killing machine, he's a powerful magician, he makes the right decisions in a crisis, and he doesn't even really need to sleep -- that he's a little bit boring; it's hard to be worried that he won't prevail in the end. The more humanly flawed Roran and Murtagh are often more compelling.
Inheritance has some very exciting set pieces, and it brings Paolini's Lord of the Rings-and-Star Wars-influenced saga to a mostly satisfying conclusion, but it also leaves some key questions and plot points unresolved -- which is frustrating after bearing with the story through four doorstopper-sized tomes. But the book also leaves the door open for more adventures in Alagaesia, so perhaps we haven't quite seen the last of Eragon and Saphira after all ...
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.