Number of discs: 24
Hours: 31 – Unabridged
Read by: Gerard Doyle
Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Random House Childrens
Produced by: Listening Library
I am not sure it is fair or a compliment to any author to compare their works to others, but this thought ran through my head for the entire 31 hours thus it must be said. INHERITANCE resided at the intersection of later “Harry Potter” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and that is quite good company to keep. This is the fourth and final installment of the very popular Christopher Paolini series that began with ERAGON and ends with INHERITANCE.
Without the brilliant packaging, I would have been lost. The 24 discs are packed in groups of 4 and these jackets are flush with background information that is essential if this is your entre to the series. And I suspect the seasoned series follower would enjoy as there are many characters with unusual names and there is quite a history that has been told in the previous installments. Additionally, each of the discs are imprinted with the cover art and it feel like a treat each time you pull a disc out to play.
We are in the midst of war and a dire power struggle that is clear as this installment begins. There are different factions and not all human. The setting is a the faraway land of Alagaësia. To set the stage there are: dragons, dwarves, elves, Dragon Riders, humans, Urgal, Ra’zac, Varden and Weircats. There is but one chance to rise up against Galbatorix who is evil and very powerful to get back the kingdom where these races had found a way to live peacefully once upon a time.
It is up to Eragon a Dragon Rider and his dragon Saphira to lead the charge to rescue Nasuada and uncover and safeguard any remaining dragon eggs. But they face Galbatorix who is no ordinary foe as he possesses Eldunarí of dragons lost in battle which is powerful indeed. The magic within this story is captivating, of course it is good and evil and Gerard Doyle does an amazing job of bringing that to life for listeners.
It felt like battles took center stage at the start for several discs. There were all kinds of battles, big and small, and many kinds of death and all of it felt very violent due to the success of Gerard Doyle. Doyle handled all of the narration which is quite a feat given there were so many characters and species, but I never felt a yearn for multiple voices as I thought I might. He used slight changes in inflection, tone and pace to represent the various characters it really did work rather well.
While I could have skipped over a number of the discs at the start and some of the battles during the 24 discs I recognize I was not Paolini’s target audience. But when Eragon, Saphira and company travel to rescue Nasuada from Galbatorix’s evil clutches that is when things got interesting for me. The detailed description of the surroundings and the well-developed characters are compelling and definitely would hold the interest of any listener of any age.
These were some highlights for me during the listening of INHERITANCE audiobook: disc 9 Eragon receives a sword which is not labeled Excalibur but Twinkledeath. Also, one of my favorite characters, the Herbalist, kills the high priest with a dagger and the priest was turned to dust. During disc 16 and the journey to the Vault of Souls, I was unable to remove myself from the car as such I was in the garage for some time. This section was suspenseful from beginning to end but so well done. How they get in, their journey within, those they meet and the contents are all worthy of a listen and maybe a repeat. And while I do not know what disc the burrow grubs make their appearance they were disgusting and terrifying and I have been trying to forget them since I finished listening to INHERITANCE. Yuck.
Previously, I mentioned that it had a slow start for me, I felt the same towards the end of the book. Once the war had been fought and life had returned to a sense of normal, I was bored with the kingdom banter, jockeying for power and the even the future view. Although, I definitely could see some good lessons to be learned by junior listeners.
I do think it is for mature tweens and up as there is much warfare and some extreme torture. The scenes with Nasuada as a prisoner of Galbatorix and enslaved Murtagh were difficult to stomach at times. Along the way there are many deaths, killings, and lots of appendages being removed including decapitation. Obviously, if you have been onboard for the entire series I suspect this will be known and appropriate listeners judged accordingly.
If I could do it all over again I would listen to this series from the start and follow it through: ERAGON, ELDEST, BRISINGR and INHERITANCE. If you have an enthusiastic reader that is able to handle this content, it would be a great summer break activity. The audio brings this tale to life and I would recommend this audiobook for that reason. Finally, I would add that my interest was raised enough where I figured out how to upload it to my ipod so I could listen to it in other places besides the car, I was beginning to spend more time there then anywhere else.
This material was excellent for audiobook listening. The characters were brought to life and I know the reading would have been slow going for me especially jumping into the series so late. Christopher Paolini provided Gerard Doyle with this rich content and it made for a thrilling while sometimes a disturbing listen. There is no question in my mind that this would be a terrific choice for a family contemplating a road trip with the appropriate age listeners on board.
Disclaimer: As I joined the series with this installment, I do believe I have the same background or perspective as someone who has been on board since the beginning.
Special Thanks: go to Audiobook Jukebox in conjunction with Random House Children’s Books/Listening Library for providing this audiobook to me.