I like fantasy novels. More specifically, I like mythology and it’s modern extension — fantasy. I like epic stories and developed characters. I like complex moral situations and fantastical settings that help me both process and view my world — reality — with fresh eyes.
If you are like me, then don’t waste your time on Christopher Paolini’s latest effort, Inheritance. Its plot is weak, its characterization is minimal, and its focus is sorely lacking. Entire chapters are thrown in that neither develops the world, the plot, nor the characterizations of Paolini’s protagonists. It’s surprising that his editor included such superfluous chapters, as they weaken the overall structure of the story.
It’s paramount in any novel, but particularly fantasy, that the reader cares for the world. In other words, Paolini must first answer the question: Is Alagaësia worth saving? If this question is answered negatively, then the reader will have difficulty participating in any fictional writer’s imagination. For Paolini, I fear the answer is “no, Alagaësia just ain’t worth it.”
Due to Paolini’s weakened and superfluous structure, I found myself an uncommitted reader. Who cares, I thought, if Galbatorix (a terrible name for a dark overlord) dismantles Alagaësia? I hadn’t bought in; Paolini hadn’t sold me. Why? Because I didn’t experience the rolling-green hills of Paolini’s imagination — only the stale pages of another tired D&D campaign. Good fantasy demands an acute belief in the truth of its world. Paolini failed and Inheritance is but one more dragon in a sea of d20’s.
Inheritance is good for one thing, however. If you want to be a great writer, then you have to read bad literature. So, for all you aspiring J.R.R. Tolkiens, grab Inheritance, a spot of tea, and start making a list of what not to do.
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