Friday, January 20, 2012

An(other) Ending Era

Eragon was published in 2002 by nineteen-year-old Christopher Paolini.  And thus a saga was born.

Oh, granted, it's no Harry Potter or Narnia or Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or any of the parallels people draw.  It's stuffed with flaws, enough to make some people detest the very phrase 'Inheritance Cycle.'  It's a bit similar to the Twilight Saga, actually.

Don't worry, Chris.  Inheritance is much better.

I just finished the fourth and final (?) Inheritance book, aptly titled Inheritance.  I've read the three preceding books over the past three weeks, and today spent a good five hours, almost straight, finishing up Inheritance.

How do I feel?  First and foremost - exhausted.  Inheritance is a very involved cycle, and, even skimming lots of Eldest and Brisingr, it's a lot to take in in four weeks.

But, despite many people's claims of dissatisfaction, and while not forgetting the continuing flaws inherent in Inheritance (like that bit of wordplay-ish?  I did), I also feel very justified.

(Oh, no spoilers from here on.  Just to assure any fans.)

I'm going to compare the Inheritance Cycle to the Twilight Saga again, though I mean no offense to Mr. Paolini - I think one reason a lot of people resonate with both series is that they're both a sort of wish-fulfillment project.  With Twilight, you have - it makes my head hurt to say it, but the wish for true love. (It fails miserably, but that's a rant for another day.)  Inheritance handles the wish for something more.  At least for me.

Sure, every little girl's dreamed of Prince Charming.  But everyone knows how it feels to want more - to want to be better.  At some point, however brief or faint or vague.  Eragon the Rider, the Shadeslayer, the Kingkiller is, like Bella, a person into whom we can place ourselves.  Maybe not too much - I certainly don't want to go around spouting metaphysical claptrap and confessing love to elves, no matter how entertaining that sounds - but... Eragon grows.  He gets better.  He changes from a lowly farm boy to the hope and dream of an entire continent!

Who can't admit to not wanting that sort of importance, that kind of significance?  Not just the idea of power, but the very idea of changing into something so much better?

Another reason I think people might stick with Inheritance is because, even if you don't enjoy it, you're still connected to it.  Because, like it or not, after those pages and pages and pages of details... you're in Alagaesia.  You have been under Galbatorix and you have been in Du Weldenvarden and you have sat through the interminable dwarvish customs.

You're vested in victory.  At least I was.  And when the end of Inheritance rolled around... I was so tired.  I had been to Hades and back with Eragon and Saphira, and the fact that they had won... it was relief.  Palpable relief.  Alagaesia and I were safe.

Only Narnia has the same sort of claim on my literary home.  Narnia's is much stronger, of course.  But it's the same thing.

But aside from all that, the most significant reason that I, personally, enjoy the Inheritance Cycle is the way it mimics the old.  Unlike the Twilight Saga, a thoroughly modern invention, Eragon takes us back to epics like Beowulf and The Odyssey and Iliad, to ancient yarns of elves and magic and dwarves and violence and good against evil.  Inheritance's very style, however clumsily, calls your mind back to those epics.

It's... comforting, in a way.  The story has happened so many times that nothing can go wrong.  I know how the story ends, no matter what happens or who dies or what's destroyed along the way.  Good wins and evil doesn't.  Bittersweet endings are inevitable, and, yes, much of it was overdramatic and not very logical at all.  But good wins.  It's the full feeling that a tall tale's come full circle, and that I can leave the campfire storytelling and go to bed with the simple relief that good wins.

Excuses for over-the-top writing, too many filler subplots, and stolen situations?  No.  As I said, I skimmed most of Eldest and lots of Brisingr because lots of it is just so much fluff.  I actually can't stand Eldest - it's a rather self-indulgent book - and Brisingr... too long.  Inheritance had its problems as well.  Even Eragon, one of my favorite books, is rife with cliché.

But it's the cliché of the whole cycle, to me, that makes it endearing.  It's the harkening-back to those old stories, the respect it pays to how stories used to be told.  Clumsy respect?  Most definitely.  But better that than most of what there is now.

I'm glad the Inheritance Cycle is over.  It's taken a decade and it's about time for things to come full circle.

However, I admit to anticipating the news of Chris's return to Alagaesia, as he says he intends to return, and I'm ready and willing to slog through as many pseudo-archaic terms and not-surprises as it takes to enjoy the fireside tales he'll tell.

That said - Imma go watch some Sgt. Frog now.  I need to unwind.


  1. So, hi, this is Mercia Dragonslayer from OYAN, and I found the link to your blog while stalking your page for information about where in the south you live to see if we are anywhere near each other. *cough* Yeah.

    I wrote out a huge long comment this afternoon, but it was almost 1000 words long and blogspot wouldn't let me post it. I've put it up on my blog, so you can see it there. :)

  2. *laughs* Well, I'm glad someone is reading it besides my mother. (And do we leave near each other? o.O That'd be cool.)

    Thanks for reading/replying!

  3. Nice review, Aster. I'd had trouble figuring out just what it was about the Inheritance Cycle that I liked, considering all its problems, and this helped me figure some of it out. So gracias.