Christopher Paolini – Inheritance

  Author: Christopher Paolini

Title: Inheritance
Series: Inheritance Cycle
Published: November 2011
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Length: 849 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Why I picked it up: Fan of the series
Rating: 3/4 stars
Challenges: 100+
Buy: IndieBound | Chapters | Check your local bookstore!

At long last! We have reached the end of what came to be known as the Inheritance Cycle. It was a long haul, but I think in the end it was worth it. I felt proud of Paolini for making it this far, it was very nice to see the maturation of style and plot elements between Eragon and this concluding novel. I first read Eragon in grade seven and immediately loved/hated it. I enjoyed reading the books, but didn’t think the story anything too special and the style a bit over the top. But still, I liked reading the story and I liked the idea that it was written by a guy my age, it was very inspiring to me. After the first book, however, I felt like the story really grew into something that was distinctly Paolini. I’m conflicted about the four star rating I’m giving this book. I liked it but I’m not sure what I think about the work as a whole and I don’t think I can critique it critically at all, speaking as a learning writer as I normally like to – I’ve got too much history with the series. So, while I can’t really explain whether this is a good book or not and whether I really loved it, I did make a lot of notes on what I liked and didn’t like, so let’s get to that first.  



***The rest of this post contains SPOILERS.***

 Didn’t Like:

  • The Daethdart – Or however the heck you spell it. Like death except screwy. This weapon came out of nowhere and ended up being the key to beating Galbatorix. It was never mentioned in any of the other books. Just, poof, oh look, now we have this awesome weapon, deus ex machina to the extreme, I have never seen such a blatant case of it. I was disappointed and frustrated that Paolini would have to resort to such a technique.
  • Queen Arya – I see no reason for her to have become Queen. Blah. It completely goes against her character. The story would have been the exact same (minus some fretting about how Arya can be ruler and, at the same time, remain an impartial Rider); her becoming Queen was pointless. 
  • Firnen – Augggghihitypqieuouiut. How absolutely painfully unsatisfying. The hatching of the green dragon should have played a major role in this novel. The last dragon egg! Will it hatch for Galbatorix or will it hatch for the Varden? Etc, etc. But no, the green dragon’s role is reduced to a plot ‘hole’ that gets wrapped up with some of the other stories in the last hundred or so pages. Bah. How…disappointing. Such a word is apt for what should have been a much stronger conclusion to such a supposedly-epic tale.
  • Eragon gone forever – This made absolutely no sense. There was no one single reason for ahh
  • Pacing – Quite a few segments of the book, a lot more than I would normally tolerate, were dragged out. The capturing of various cities is a good example. They were interesting to read but very lengthy. As with Murakami’s 1Q84, though, this didn’t really bother me until I thought about it afterwards, as I was only concentrating on getting through the book. Such scenes would be very difficult to get through on a second read; I would do a lot more skimming. If I were to recommend this book to someone, I would warn them about that. 

Neutral:

  • Murtagh and Nasuada – I was going to put this in like, but then I thought of a bunch of things I didn’t like, then I was conflicted, so I made a neutral category 😛 I liked that we got to see a lot of them. I liked that they were together in some way and that hint of romance was there again between them. But I was sad that they couldn’t be together and I was sad that we saw so little of Murtagh after the conflict was over and that he just vanished and that was that. I has happy that Nasuada got to be Queen, she was deserving of that at least.

Liked:

  • Eragon and Arya’s relationship – I actually really appreciated how their relationship was developing in Brisingr and Inheritance. It was painful watching him pine after her in the beginning, but at least it was believable. The direction in which their relationship develops in the later books is also realistic – he works to control his feelings and they become very good friends, as they should be in the positions they find themselves in. I am happy they did not end up together because that just wouldn’t have felt right. The way their relationship ended fit how it was developing. However, after I thought about all this, I realized that the sudden display of romantic interest from Arya towards the end kind of ruined the steady build to a strong, neutral friendship between the two. It felt like a road bump, a strange and awkward turn in the development of their relationship, but at least the whole thing ended up back on track. Overall, I was satisfied with how their relationship played out. It was different from your typical hero gets girl story. 
  •  Defeating Galbatorix – Okay, there was really only one thing I specifically liked about this and that was Eragon forcing Galbatorix to understand. In any great conflict, the one question you’re always shouting at yourself is ‘Why can’t he just understand?’ I realize this works for both sides, and if Galbatorix tried this on Eragon there would have been problems. But that’s why I think this was so neat, this question was screaming at Eragon for so long and then finally, at the end, he has the ability to make Galbatorix understand, with devastating effects. I thought that was neat.
  • Inside the Vault of Souls – There was one thing I never, ever expected to see from this series and that was the proper reestablishment of dragons. I never expected more dragons to be found, I never expected there to be a solid hope for their comeback. I don’t know why, I just didn’t feel like that was something that was going to happen. So when Eragon opened the vault and found not just Eldunari (this didn’t surprised too much, after Glaedr crushed the idea that their might be Eldunari I got suspicious…) but hundreds of dragon eggs, I was pleasantly surprised. I hope I’m not the only one who was blown away by this revelation 😛

That’s really all I have to say for now – these are my relatively immediate impressions, the first things I thought of while reading. I realize that a lot of my views on Inheritance may differ from popular opinion…this book provided a lot to think about, especially in context with the rest of the series. I’m sure my own opinions will change over time and upon a good reread of the entire series. But for now, I’m mostly content with how the cycle concluded, even if certain aspects slightly infuriated me ;P

Extra Books – December 19 to 24

(Christmas Day will be included in the final round-up)

  • The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
    • Published: June 2011
    • Genre: Fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Read a review in the newspaper, sounded interesting
    • Rating: 3.5 stars
    • Challenges: 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • A relatively light and easy read, I was expecting this story to be more moving/mature. The ending was underwhelming, but I did enjoy reading this book mainly because of its somewhat outrageous plot, believable and unique characters and the combinations of elements you don’t normally see together, such as a young librairian, a ten-year-old being sent to ‘turn ’em straight’ classes, a kidnapping and the Russian Mafia.

Isaac Asimov – I, Robot

  Author: Isaac Asimov
Title: I, Robot
Published: 1950 (Edition I read: June 2004)

Publisher: Gnome Press (Edition I read: Bantam Books)
Length: 272 pages (Edition I read: 224 pages)
Genre: Science-fiction
Why I picked it up: On my TBR list
Rating: 4 stars
Challenges: 2011 TBR Pile | 100+
Buy: IndieBound | Chapters | Check your local bookstore!

Some quick thoughts as it is Christmas Eveeee and I still have not posted this: I thought this was going to be a somewhat dry, mostly bleak post-apocalyptic novel. I was pretty much wrong on all accounts. 😛 I enjoyed how Asimov threaded all the stories together and I liked that each story was about the loopholes and paradoxes and such that arise from conflicts of the three laws; the stories were fairly intelligent. I found the writing to be very modern as well, to the point, humorous and easy to digest. I am not generally a fan of short stories unless they are done exceptionally well and as this felt almost more like a novel than a collection, I enjoyed this book very much.

Extra Books – December 12 to December 18

  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
    • Published:
    • Genre: Science fiction
    • Why I picked it up: On my TBR list
    • Rating: 3 stars
    • Challenges: 2011 TBR Pile | 100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • I’ve never read anything by H.G. Wells before. Hey, there’s a first time for everything.
      • I liked Griffin recounting how he became invisible and what happened before Iping and I liked the last part, especially ‘The Hunting of the Invisible Man’. This short chapter gives the reader a very good impression of what kind of terror the Invisible Man could and intends to wreck, and it was at this point that I really got into the story, caught up in the craziness.
  • Winter by Adam Gopnik
    • Published: September 2011
    • Genre: Non-fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Read a review in the newspaper, interested in books about winter
    • Rating: 3 stars
    • Challenges: Global 100+
    • My Thoughts: 
      • Not really what I had hoped it would be…the first topic was interesting and directly related to winter (the Romanticizing of the season) but the other topics weren’t as much about a winter as about people and philosophy and the activities that grew out of the season, which is of course a fine topic but not what piques my interest in the season.
      • I had put off reading this book for so long because I’ve been waiting for it to snow…I don’t like that I can see grass on Christmas 🙁 Reading this book was a little depressing because the whole thing (I mean, at least the essay I was interested in) is about that magical feeling of being warm and cozy with snow falling and ahhhh this is the first time since I fell in love with winter that there isn’t a decent amount of snow 🙁
      • Winter is a very well-written collection of essays, but the subjects weren’t really what I’m interested in. 
  • Canadian Pie by Will Ferguson
    • Published: November 2011
    • Genre: Non-fiction
    • Why I picked it up: Like the author (went to his book signing for this book)
    • Rating: 3 stars
    • Challenges: Global |  100+
    • My Thoughts:
      • While I do enjoy Ferguson’s subjects and style, I’m not really a fan of collections such as these that round up snippets of an author’s work, bits published in anthologies and fragments from other previously published (or not) books.
      • ^^^That covers everything I have to say 😛

Haruki Murakami – 1Q84


*The following information applies to the English hardcover edition. (the novel was originally published in Japanese in 2009/2010).*

Author: Haruki Murakami
Translator: Jay Rubin (Books 1 and 2) and Phillip Gabriel (Book 3)

Title: 1Q84
Published: October 2011
Publisher: Knopf
Length: 925 pages
Genre: Post-modern surrealism
Target age: Adult
Why I picked it up: Fan of the author, massively hyped
Rating: 2 stars
Buy: Chapters | IndieBound | Check your local bookstore!

Weehoo, I finished it, I finished it! The last two hundred pages made me feel like Frodo climbing up Mount Doom and now that I’m done I feel like Frodo laying on the mountain waiting to die…well, perhaps I exaggerate. I don’t know how I stuck it out to the end – I suppose it has to do with good ole’ Samwise Gamgee, always there to carry me through. Except that’s a lie, there was no Sam, I had to tough it on my own. Booo. But it’s all over now, so that’s that.

As you might have gathered from extended Lord of the Rings metaphor up there (sorry, couldn’t resist, watched 7.5 hours of LotR movies last weekend), I was not very happy with this book. Honestly, I was immensely disappointed by it and I am greatly impressed by those who are not. Interestingly, I also wasn’t that impressed by the book that preceded 1Q84…I hope Murakami’s not losing his touch! (Although I did like After Dark more than this 1Q84 if only because it’s a fraction of the length…). Why did I not enjoy this book?

The main answer to that question is there was very little substance. A few things happen regarding a book and a murder…augggh, but see, if I describe how I felt nothing happened then you might think I’m just not that thoughtful and didn’t realize what was happening. Granted, that may be the case, but I got a lot out of Kafka on the Shore and I didn’t get anything at all out of 1Q84. I couldn’t really grasp any underlying message, any purpose to anything that happened. Murakami’s not one to lay out a story neat and tidy for a reader, but I can usually piece things together to gain some meaning – not so with this novel. The third book consisted of three people waiting around to find each other. Basically, three events happen but nothing is very notable. The end. The third book was so lifeless (although the last ten pages or so were nice, admittedly) it made me forget that some things did happen. I remember there were a few moments in the first two books when I was shocked/surprised at something that happened, but the novel just dragged on sooooo long I forget that there was anything I remotely liked about it. Maybe it all boils down to the length. But even if you cut out the last book, I would still not be overtly impressed. I feel like this novel lacked the heart of other Murakami books I read. It’s all about the love between Tengo and Aomame and eventually that comes out but not until the very end. Everything to do with the book and the cult and Tengo’s first memory and anything that seemed like it was going to matter eventually didn’t. Maybe that’s the point. It was a very long and winding crazy novel but eventually you get to the end and realize none of it mattered. Haha, I think that’s the message I’ll take from this. My parents ask me ‘What’s it about? what does it have to with 1984?’ and I say ‘I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain’ and those are honest answers. It’s a love story, ultimately, I suppose? Bah, I’ve blathered on long enough. I don’t really know what I’m talking about. This hasn’t been a very good analysis of the novel’s story or what did/didn’t happen in the book so just to sum up – ultimately, I feel like this novel was lacking in the crucial something that might have brought it to life. (Perhaps a professional review would be better at conveying what I feel about this book – click here to read one that I agree with.)

Somehow, I managed to make it through books one and two without being to upset. No worries, this is how Murakami is, I’m sure it’ll all come together in the last book. The last book was fairly different from the first two, though, and by the time I was around page 700 I wanted to give up. What had gotten me in that far was Murakami’s prose. I don’t know what it is about his writing style. I can’t tell you why I like it. I just know that I can read 30 pages at a time no problem, just patiently reading every word and enjoying the flow of his words. Had this book been written in anyone else’s style, I probably would not have made it through. The best part of 1Q84, however, is probably the book design. The cover image I’ve posted above doesn’t do it justice. The translucent book jacket, the overlapping images, the symmetry and the soft smooth pages made this book somewhat easier to read.

Who knows, maybe I just totally missed the point of this novel. Maybe it’s just not for me. I felt like the story was greatly lacking even though I liked the characters (I didn’t talk about the characters at all in this post and I don’t feel like saying anymore. But I did like Tengo and Aomame and sometimes strange Fuka-Eri and weird Ushikawa). At least I have a pretty book for bookshelf.