The cycle finally ends in what is arguably the best installment of the series. What began with “Eragon” finally completes with “Inheritance” and the finale is everything the story needed. The sense of scope in this final installment dwarfs what has come before and truly hammers home the epic nature of the high fantasy saga. There is a very definite sense of purpose with “Inheritance” that was lacking in earlier volume. The pacing of the narrative leaves little room for filler and the race to the climax moves at an admirable pace. Paolini does not linger on anything longer than he needs to and he gives us an ending worthy of the time and pages he’s put into the story so far.
The only element I waver on is the high-fantasy trope of the extended epilogue. With the war over and the threats facing our protagonists vanquished, Paolini feels the compulsion to continue the story and wrap up every loose end leaving nothing to the imagination of the reader. It feels very reminiscent of “Return of the King” and the Hobbits’ return to the Shire and their encounter with Saruman. I understand the need to let us know what happens after the dust has settled, but there is also worth in letting ideas ferment in the mind of the reader. It would be like Return of the Jedi having an extended 45 minute sequence after the celebration on Endor where Leia and the rebels argue about who should replace the dead emperor before the credits rolled.
I like parts of the epilogue and much like the rest of the series it is very well written, mechanically at least, but it hammers home my belief that the series’ number one issue was one of pacing and flow. It’s not enough to sink an otherwise amazing climax, but when I reflect on the series as a whole I believe that there is probably an entire novel’s worth of filler in the series and that the story could have easily been told as a trilogy and been better for it.