A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
On the warpath with the Varden, determined to finally overthrow the evil King Galbatorix, Eragon and his bonded dragon, Saphira, find that they still have challenges to overcome before they'll get their chance to confront the powerful monarch. The most important may be solving the cryptic words of the werecat Solembum, which send the pair on a side quest to the Dragon Riders' ancestral (and long-destroyed) home after a strike at the heart of the Varden's leadership puts the whole army in jeopardy. It will take all of Eragon's skills -- plus help from his many allies, including his cousin Roran, the elf maiden Arya, and the wise dragon Glaedr -- to succeed against Galbatorix and his chief henchman, Eragon's half-brother Murtagh.
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 ...
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the book depicts duty and loyalty. Are they important motivators? Should they be the most important motivators? Is loyalty always freely given?
Do you consider Eragon a role model? Are things too easy for him at this point in the story? Does he still have room to grow as a character?
How do you feel when a long fantasy series like this one comes to an end? Do you wish it would keep going? Is that always in readers' best interest?
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