**spoiler alert** There be spoilers here - Beware!
I'm in the middle of reading the book, so I can't review it completely; I might not finish anyway b**spoiler alert** There be spoilers here - Beware!
I'm in the middle of reading the book, so I can't review it completely; I might not finish anyway because I've already skimmed through the whole thing and read the parts I liked, and it feels more like I'd be finishing it out of duty than interest. I'm finding that the beginning of the book (the first third, anyway), is packed with battle scenes and dialog and exposition and all sorts of really uninteresting trivia about the Varden's war plans. (This puts me in minds of previous criticism of over-explanations of Dwarf Politics or Elven Sword Making.) I personally could care less exactly how many men Eragon and Roran kill, nor am I interested in each slice, slash, cut, jab or whack they take. It reminds me of the longings of a playtron at the Rennaissance Festival, who wishes to be a part of the action and glorifies what can never be real. As this is a work of fantasy fiction, Paolini gets a break, but one wonders why he bothered having an editor - or what said editor removed. (I had the same problem with Brisingr, btw. Somebody let Paolini believe his own press, and he has run amok.)
Instead of finishing the book straight through, I have instead read the sections that interested me - Eragon's trip to the Vale of Kuthian, for example, or Nasuada's time of torture, the planning and execution of the final battle, Roran's unfortunately chopped up trip to the seige, Saphira's love interest, the plans for finding a safe place to raise the dragons. I skimmed the rest of it, including the extremely unsatisfying, melodramatic, nonsensical ending. On the ending - I got the distinct sensation that Paolini was tipping his hat to Tolkien by sending Frodo away, but he might have missed the important difference: Frodo had no love interest, nor did he have a dragon with a love interest. Frodo wasn't making a sacrifice - Frodo needed to go. Eragon chose to go.
And speaking of Eragon. . . poor, poor Eragon. He hasn't grown or changed at all, despite what has happened to his body. This makes sense, since he's a teenager, but man, is he a boring teenager, despite having all the traits of a stereotypical teenager: impulsive, self-centered, thoughtless, self-important, rash, loyal, well-intentioned but just not quite getting WHY. Occasionally I found myself wondering what in the world Saphira saw in him, much less Arya. Throughout the books, I found most of the other characters more interesting than Eragon, although he served well as the spoke in the wheel that all of them rotated around. And oh - what about the ones left hanging? Angela was fascinating - why not explain her? Or maybe she'll get a book of her own one day? The two children at the end, the ones that everyone agonized over - they're just tossed back at their parents after it's all over and explained away as being expediently expendable? Elva? Poor Elva is ruined and vilified and so unpleasant - why not do more with or for her? And King Orrin - he turns from an amusing scientist-king to a drunk, fearful, grasping jerk, without any explanation of why. I wanted more for or from Shruikan, and Galbatorix. . . well, I'm on the fence about Galbatorix. That said, I appreciated Murtagh's change - he's still messed-up Murtagh, but there is hope for him and Thorn.
Overall, I enjoyed the trip to Alagaesia. It was akin to traveling with an overly expository great-uncle, and I confess that my eyes glazed over and I didn't pay attention when he got to rambling. I'm not sure that I would read a new book by Paolini - I was invested in Eragon's world enough that I wanted to see how it all ended. Knowing that Paolini rambles and that his interests are so different from my own, however, might keep me from picking up anything he writes in the future....more