Inheritance - Christopher Paolini Honestly, it's been so long since I've read Eldest and Brisingr that I don't feel I could write an accurate review without reading them all over again, and holy shit I'm not prepared to do that. Instead, I'm going to include points from those with my review of Inheritance as a sort of blanket review.

I have a lot of problems with the Inheritance cycle. All of these are books that I could not read in public and keep a straight face. Eldest and Brisingr, the hub books, are by far some of the worst fantasy I've ever seen, for reasons I'll try to bring up later. Inheritance is...actually not that bad. In the sense that having your hand bitten off by a wild animal is not that bad in comparison to losing a limb instead.

Well, I guess I have to start somewhere properly.

Emotions. A sign of a good writer/book is the ability to make the reader feel emotions, without them feeling forced. You love a character, you feel concern for their well-being, you feel uncomfortable by another protagonist, background characters/antagonists/even the protagonist on rare exception might make you feel disgusted, angry and sometimes betrayed. We are meant to be a part of the story, nestled in amongst the character's own thoughts and emotions, and we go through their adventures alongside them, sharing their pains and triumphs.

Paolini does this well, just not in the way he was intending. Parts of the series pissed me right the hell off that weren't supposed to, if I was ever cheering for any character it wasn't the one he wanted in the spotlight, and I felt sad at things that were supposed to be passing and unimportant. Basically, I treated the series as a joke – Eldest and Brisingr in particular – and because of that I enjoyed them a lot more than I would have done so otherwise. Whoopsies!

Overall, Paolini himself made me feel the most emotion here. The style of writing in both Eldest and Brisingr is un-fucking-bearable. For the love of your precious dragons, why did you try to make your unoriginal, insipid books read like a Tolkien-esque epic, especially when you have neither the skill nor experience to pull it off? It's incredibly painful to read, and I ended up cringing at least once per page, just hoping to get it all over and done with so I could move onto other books before too long.

I have to give props where props are due though, and Inheritance loses a lot of that terrible forced prose, and does in fact read a lot more naturally. Paolini's similes were terrible and often very confusing in the previous books, and while they still have their bad moments in Inheritance, they tend to be a lot more relevant and I didn't find myself getting 'stuck' on them all that often, since (for the most part) they tended to fit closely with the subject at hand. It's worth mentioning, though, that because of that, a lot of times similes weren't actually necessary. We can see and experience what is happening just fine most of the time, and don't need excess information to bog us down.

Characterisation. Probably my biggest fault with the books, barring the fact that they themselves are nothing but mirror copies of a lot of older works. But anyway. There were few, if any times that any of the characters actually appealed to me on any level whatsoever. I had no love for Eragon, and could even go as far as saying that I honestly hoped he'd get killed off so I could read about a more interesting character. I rarely find myself able to loathe anything, and yet that's how I felt towards Roran. Arya was nothing but Arwen plucked from LotR and dropped into Alawhatsthisnow, and despite Paolini's claims of her being 'a beautiful maiden who's more than capable of taking care of herself', she's bloody useless for the most part. Saphira is nothing but a glorified, flying horse, and little else. Murtagh and Thorn were good for nothing except showing up at regular intervals, showing that he's stronger than Eragon and yet getting driven away before long, shouting something along the lines of 'And I would've gotten away for it too, if it weren't for you meddling Riders!!!!1!' Galbatorix is the biggest disappointment of a villain I have ever had the misfortune of coming across. Angela, for all of her fans, just struck me as an obnoxious, arrogant and useless waste of words – especially as nothing ever went anywhere with her sub-story.

Nasuada is really the only one who I thought was actually good, even awesome. Her trick with making cheap lace to fund the Varden with magic? Brilliant. More of that please! She's a tough chick who knows her limits, but then knocks them aside anyway and pushes them further. She's really nifty, and more than once I found myself asking 'why is she even here?' She doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the book and characters around her. She does Paolini out a little in Inheritance though – yep, she gets kidnapped, of course she does. She's a woman so it's only inevitable, right? Of course.

I should not have to sit down, tune out distractions and honestly think really hard to find a character I enjoyed in a series that is not at all short. I did like Nasuada, yes. She could've definitely been better, though. Having her actually be a LEADER when it came to Eragon and Roran would've been a really good start. (Props where they're due again though – when she sends Eragon off to Dwarven City #1 for the election of the new king/queen against his will, and he basically throws a tantrum over it in her tent, she doesn't bend. Good on you.)

Exposition. Another time where Paolini plays with your emotions really well, but not how he intended. A lot of his long-winded, unbelievable, hair-yankingly painful info-dumps had me a) nearly in tears begging the book to just stop, or 2) seconds away from throwing the book against the wall and putting it down for good while shrieking about the injustices of work like that getting published.

I'm sure I don't need to mention The Sword Chapter in Brisingr. A whole chapter where nothing happens except a sword getting forged, in explicit detail. Never before in my relatively inexperienced reading life have I seen a case of Look I Did Research be so insulting. It should go without saying that the research done to help flesh out a book should be a skeleton to build a town or person or world around, hidden yet giving it solid structure and believability.

This chapter (Mind Over Metal? Was that what it's called?) doesn't have a research skeleton. Paolini has wrapped up information on how to forge a sword into a tidy yet massive piano, lured us under a crane with the prospect of nearly being done with this book, and then dropped this unbelievable information overload onto our heads while dancing around shouting 'IT'S BECAUSE HE NEEDS A SWORD, SEE!'

It might've actually been interesting, except it was just boring. We don't need this sort of information. We just want to read the damn book, not be forced to swallow fat, sizzling gobbets of exposition. This happened during Roran and Katrina's rush wedding as well, though not quite to the same mind-blowing extent.

An entire chapter devoted to nothing but the details of making a sword.

Paolini backs the hell away from dumps like this in Inheritance, though. Most of the time, anyway. Well, it's not as bad as it was in the previous books, but that's something, right? Okay, in some places he did crack and go back to throwing in too many details and bad similes, but it really was a lot better. A bit better.

Other stuff I guess. It's difficult to look at an entire book series, especially one that's fantasy, and come to the conclusion that it was pointless. I took nothing at all from it, except how not to do certain things. I've already forgotten most of the struggles and victories in the books. The plot was not original, or even refreshing an older standard set of high fantasy rules. The world-building was lacking and very contained. The passage of time through the series was wholly unrealistic and very inconsistent. (Wasn't Elain already heavily pregnant when they left Palancar Valley? She had her baby at the beginning of Inheritance for god's sake.) The topics of Paolini's research were spread out and enormously unbalanced – the forging of a sword gets a whole chapter of excruciating description, yet Paolini doesn't seem to know much at all about pregnancy and child-birth, for example. Of course. The characters didn't make me think at all, and I'll doubt I'll remember them for good reasons in the future. The technical aspect of the story itself is incredibly choppy and both badly designed and badly maintained. (I do not like to speak ill of editors at all, but in this case...)

My conclusion? The Inheritance Cycle as a whole scrapes by with maybe 2 stars out of 5.

Two stars because despite how much I didn't enjoy reading these books, I'm still mighty impressed by them. The fact that Christopher has the drive to write, and the motivation to actually follow through with it is incredible and hopefully bodes well for the younger writers of today. He does not have the experience of technical writing to write well, not yet. Neither does he have the sheer experience that just living brings a person, no matter how they might live. There's some things that are incredibly hard to replicate, and the memories and life experiences that an older person puts into their work is one of them.

It's for this reason that I actually hope he writes more, particularly books that have nothing at all to do with Eragon and Alawhatsthisnow. It would be great to see whether or not he's actually worked at improving himself, instead of just convincing himself what he's done can't get any better and sticking to that.

Though, in the future, drop the Doctor Who references. As a fellow fan, I was just plain offended by them.