When I sat down to read What Will Happen in Eragon IV I didn't know what to expect, but there were a few things that I did know…
1) That I was a good candidate to write this review because I just happen to be personally acquainted with the sights, the spectacles and the smells — most definitely the smells, of Dragon*Con. Trust me, a person will never forget their first experience with a five foot, faux-fur costumed wookie who has not bathed or brushed his teeth after sleeping in his car for three days… I know I can't. And I have tried. Anyone who has ever attended Dragon*Con will understand my meaning only too well.
2) I had never read any of the books in the Inheritance cycle.
3) I wasn't about to let the author off the hook because I had not read them. His job, as far as I was concerned, was to carry me through with enough information that this book could stand alone. I expected a book that I could enjoy without feeling lost or like I just walked in on the middle of a conversation.
The book of predictions that Richard Marcus has put together reads like a novel itself. It's an absolutely fantastic and fascinating read. The writing is intelligent and conversational. I love that he never talks down to readers; an expectation that readers can keep up with his intellect and his complex explication of the original three books. I was captivated by the story he was telling, it felt more like I was having an in-depth conversation with an old college friend, rather than reading a book. It reminded me very much of those late night study sessions that unlocked the mysteries of literature for me. I read the most whilst riding the train to work. There were times when I almost missed my stop because I was so engrossed in the story.
What Will Happen in Eragon IV is a book of predictions for the fourth book in the Inheritance cycle, a very popular series created and written by Christopher Paolini. The much awaited fourth and final book has been the topic of discussion on fan sites and forums since the announcement that Brisingr (2008), the third book in what was supposed to be a trilogy, would not be the last.
Marcus covers the characters and the events that are significant in the first three books: Eragon (2002), Eldest (2005) and Brisingr (2008). For those who own the series he refers to book and page numbers to back up the reasons for his predictions, but those are not really necessary to enjoy the book because he does such an excellent job of examining and discussing the characters and events that have occurred in the previous books.
The simple fact is that What Will Happen in Eragon IV is an incredibly good read in its own right. In 211 pages Richard Marcus is able to cover the background story and characters well enough that I feel completely confident that I can purchase the fourth book, when it is finally released, and know exactly what's happening. The fourth book is, as of yet, untitled. The next title is also one of the predictions made by Marcus, you can only understand the significance of the title by reading his predictions. He makes you realize that much of what is to come hinges on the meaning behind the next chosen title. His prescience on the title is brilliant. This book of predictions has whet my appetite for that fourth book. I've now read the predictions that Richard Marcus has made and I am as eager to see what will happen as anyone who has read the entire trilogy.
The questions left unanswered at the end of Brisingr are numerous, but Marcus takes them on with an omniscient authority. Who will live? Who will die? What does the future hold for the characters, both good and evil, after the final battle with Galbatorix? Who might change from trusted ally to traitorous enemy in the face of Galbatorix' strength and cunning? Who will become the ruler of Alagaesia? As with most of his predictions, Marcus goes through a list of possibilities, then explains his reasoning as he removes each from the list, until only the most sensible possibilities remain. He then narrows it down further and explains why his choice is the most probable outcome, citing previous events, conversations and interactions between the characters to back up his predictions.
The most important questions by far are how will Eragon defeat the dark lord, Galbatorix? And who will become the third dragon rider? These questions can only be answered by looking at the maze of questions and riddles scattered throughout the first three books. Marcus is a perfect guide in leading the reader through the web that Paolini has created, searching out those hints and clues that have been left like bread crumbs, most of which a less intuitive and creative thinking researcher might have missed.
Richard Marcus has made the case for each of his predictions in a very considered and well researched way. I found myself many times appreciating his thoroughness and feeling slightly amazed at his in-depth knowledge of the previous books, as well as his inherent understanding of the author of those books. He has been able to adduce the patterns, the associations of the characters, their past behaviors, and come to well-reasoned conclusions. He has brought to light the groundwork the author has laid for the fourth book. I'm looking forward to seeing just how many of his predictions are correct.