Eragon 60: The End

This is it.

We made it, guys. We did it.

Nearly 500 pages and a couple unplanned hiatuses later, Eragon is finally finished.

I would normally call for a celebration at this point, but after the trials that Eragon and I both faced getting to the end of the story, I’m not sure a party isn’t what we need. No, the proper way to send off Eragon is with a stiff drink and quiet contemplation of what we’ve been through.

Or I could just review the final chapter like normal, I guess.

Eragon has finally killed Durza, and the Shade’s memories and mind flow into his. He struggles to separate himself from Durza, “weakly at first, and then more strongly”. This being the last chapter, I promise not to fuss too much about the adverb abuse in that sentence. Instead, I’ll just say this: ick.

Eragon then receives a telepathic message from “The Mourning Sage” or “the Cripple Who Is Whole”, but this mysterious person never gives Eragon his actual name, just his titles. It bugs me a little bit. Why keep your name a secret?

It’s Oromis, by the way. His name is Oromis. Was that hard?

Oromis tells Eragon that he and Saphira need to travel to the elven land, Ellesméra, and promises him answers to all Eragon’s questions. Then he instructs Eragon to stay quiet about talking with him. Which again, I have to ask, why?

I don’t really remember how the group decides to bring Eragon to Ellesméra in the second book, but if Eragon’s not allowed to talk about Oromis, it could be really awkward.

“Let’s go to the elves!”
“Eragon, why are you suddenly insistent on going to the elves?”
“You know…dragon…stuff…”

At this point Eragon knows almost nothing about Oromis or Ellesméra. I’m sure one of his companions would love to help him out and give him more information, but he’s supposed to keep it secret.

Eragon’s reunion with Saphira after the battle did make me smile, but for the most part, this chapter is just a lot of talking heads. Arya, Saphira, and Murtagh explain the results of the battle, but no one has any real emotion. Arya looks sad again, but that’s about it.

Yeah, this is what I want at the end of my exciting action-adventure story. Bland summaries of the cool stuff we didn’t get to see. The book doesn’t even end on a satisfying note. Just having it end after Eragon kills Durza would be great. You could have a heartwarming reunion with his friends, they sum up the battle, and then look hopefully towards the future together. But we get the introduction of another character, with Eragon pledging to go see this person we know nothing about.

But for sixty chapters, I’ve mocked, ridiculed, and occasionally yelled at this book. But I want to give Eragon and its author, Christopher Paolini, some credit. It really wasn’t all bad; I think there are very few books that are 100% terrible. I can see how it would appeal to teenage fantasy lovers, like it did to me so many years ago.

There are things that Paolini did well over the course of the story, and I want to acknowledge that. First, he put a huge amount of effort into worldbuilding and lore, and it paid off. Sometimes it did get a bit bloated, but it also made me seriously consider finishing reading the series. I still want to know what the Vault of Souls is!

Paolini’s descriptions, particularly of flying, were great as well. Like the lore, sometimes it could drag on for too long, but it was never difficult to visualize the various settings. A lot of the action sequences were clear and easy to follow, and had I not read them before, would probably be pretty exciting.

The storyline was formulaic, but even a generic plot can be saved by great characters. This is the real problem with Eragon: most of the characters have no personality of their own, and rarely stand out.

To be totally honest, this novel is an achievement for a teenage writer, and was way better than anything I could have come up with at that age. And it was perfect for me as a fifteen-year-old reader, who loved escaping to a world of dragons and magic.

You know, the last Eragon book came out at least five years ago. I wonder what Paolini’s working on now…

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