Friday, 27 January 2012

Inheritance- a review

   After finally completing the Inheritance series, I would like to post something on it's spectacular developments. Paolini definitely has a way with words. His descriptions are simple yet captivating. His plot has improved both in style and quality over the series of four books that he has come up with. Of the lot, Inheritance is definitely his best work. Just as Eragon has grown from his small village-bound life of Palancar Valley to the Rider that he became, the books too have grown from a simplistic tale of a quest to one filled with  Paolini's values of both good and evil.
    It was good to note that Paolini did not intend to make Galbatorix 'evil' per se. His way of thinking was different. It was a different take on governance. And it was visible that both Eragon and Nasuada, too, differed in their views of ruling a country. It is probably this, that mellows down Galbatorix's deviousness. The part when he points out to Nasuada that she was the one who had sought to destroy him, and not the other way round and that therefore she was responsible for the deaths of millions shows that nobody is absolutely 'good'. Galbatorix himself had quite a few followers, as was apparent with the uprisings that Eragon had to subdue once he had killed the king. This vaguely reminds me of Samit Basu's point of view in The Game World Trilogy. While Basu has no clear notions of good and evil, Paolini definitely believes that certain actions that Galbatorix took were incorrect, while the ones that Eragon and Nasuada took were better (thereby creating an hierarchy that was missing in Basu).
   This brings us to the notion of power. Paolini obviously focuses on power in the hands of a few. He also represents the rare poor-man (Roran and Eragon, to be precise) becoming more powerful. Use and abuse of power is a very apparent theme. And mingled with power is the sense of duty to the country that guides this power. Nasuada believes that she is a dutiful leader, and that she will take into the consideration the necessities of each and every race. This is her strong point over Orrin, the king who fights along with the Varden. Eragon, as a Rider, also attempts to be impartial. This impartiality is embedded in the requirements of a dutiful leader. And yet, it is apparent that the elves and the humans are the emergent leaders, not to forget the Riders. In each and every decision that Eragon makes after the final battle shows that he chooses not to be a part of the world of humans, elves, dwarves and Urgals. So also Murtagh.
   Romance within this novel is also quite fascinating. First is Katrina and Roran. These two are an amazing couple, who represent a stereotype of the families of yore, where the woman and the man are considered to have set roles within their society. They come from the village, which is probably why Katrina remains at home while her husband goes on to fight battles. And yet Katrina's undying faith in her husband's prowess and success is laudable. On the other hand, there is Nasuada and Murtagh as well as Eragon and Arya, none of whom remain together at the end of the novel. While the reasons each person gives is different, one has to question why it is only the poor family from Palancar Valley that survived the battle, while leaders, rulers of nations, did not. Why is it that, excluding Murtagh, every one of these four had to take care of their duty alone? Even Islanzadi was a lone ruler. So was Ajihad, Orrin and even Glabatorix. Yet, on the other hand, had Eragon and Arya gotten together in the end, or had Nasuada and Murtagh ended up together, the rosy ending to a battle-ridden story might have been conspicuous. As a story, it reads well. It isn't the normal romance. Especially since Paolini had built up the emotions that Eragon had for Arya right from the first book, it led to a different ending altogether. This gives a realistic representation of unlikely romances.
  Women in the novel are different and vibrantly characterised. Nasuada, though a leader and proud of her scars acquired from the battle of the long knives, also seems to be quite conscious of her appearances. As does Saphira. Arya, Katrina, Brigit and Angela are not the same. They do not particularly care about the way they look or the way others percieve them. Yet, the voice of the novel is predominantly male. We hear Eragon and we hear Roran. We rarely hear the women's point of view- not even Saphira's (except when she voices concern for Eragon).
   Finally, I revert back to language in the novel. Words like Albitr and Faelnerv quietly take from English itself (All-biter and Fail-nerve). The ancient language, which is the language the elves use, definitely has power over all other languages. This reminds me of something a professor of mine would say- languages have all the attributes of humans. And indeed, the ancient language had managed to control every other creature in the region. This is, in fact, a major theme in the novel and is discussed widely in relation to power itself. The control that the ancient language has over everything else proves that the elves (as is mentioned quite a few times) were the most powerful. It is only because Galbatorix had known the true name of the ancient language could he overthrow the elves when they went to battle. Similarly, it is only with the ancient language that Eragon completes a lot of his tasks. At points, his magic is medlesome, even when he intends good, again showing the power that he has over all others. The language then, trivialises the importance of the dwarves' language. The dwarf lord is not at all consequential when it comes to the power that the ancient language has. This hierarchy only goes to show the human hierarchy that exists within the novel: elves, Riders, humans, dwarves and Urgals. Though Paolini attempts to look at Urgals in a better light, they are still attributed the more animalistic tendencies of killing without priorities, with a coarser language and stronger meads. Language, then, is intricately woven with the ways of the talking creatures (elves, dragons, humans, riders, dwarves and urgals).
   While language is one thing, the lack of language and the usage of just emotions is another aspect that the author has covered. There are those creatures in the depths of the sea that cannot express in a language. Neither can some of the ancient dragons (preserved in the Eldunari). This is amazing. It leads to the question as to whether emotions themselves are a language on their own, or whether they express themselves through a certain language. Obviously, Paolini feels that they have a language of their own. It is this that every single creature can understand, even if the usage of the ancient language has a certain effect on every creature. Maybe we can relate this to the usage of English today. Eragon says that the way the Eldunari of the dragons of yore used the ancient language was completely different from the way Eragon had used it (just as we see the changes in the English language from Old English till date). Similarly, the ancient language was used to control quite a few different races, as did English.
   I shall conclude by saying that Paolini has definitely improved his style and skill over the years. He had a definite plan for his story, not abruptly cutting off certain characters (as happened in the Harry Potter series). Everything falls into place when the story ends. This itself is a requisite for any successful novel, and Paolini manages to do this with a flair that is exquisite. He does, indeed, have a way with words.