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Belated sequel to “Inheritance Cycle” struggles to find its footing

The cover of Christopher Paolinis Murtagh.
John Jude Palencar
The cover of Christopher Paolini’s “Murtagh.”


The stories of our past and the joys of being young are unparalleled; from here comes the power of nostalgia. Many millennial and Gen-Z readers fondly remember “The Inheritance Cycle” (the first four books of “The World of Eragon”) as a childhood favorite years later. Callbacks to this bright past and the fuzzy feelings of familiarity that come with it are, unfortunately, all that carry bestselling author Christopher Paolini’s newest novel, “Murtagh.” 


Paolini’s debut story was an instant success upon its publication in 2002, propelling the 19-year-old author to stardom. Paolini captured the minds of readers everywhere with a world eerily similar to Tolkien’s, but updated for the appetite of modern readers. Contrasting with Middle Earth, Alagaësia is a world of viscous action, steamy romance, sassy dragons, and a deeply-flawed cast of heroes and villains.


Chief among these beloved characters is Murtagh Morzansson. Anti-hero turned reluctant villain, Murtagh is the messy-haired, leather-jacket wearing, edgy secondary lead of Paolini’s “World of Eragon.” Fanfiction about Murtagh’s misadventures after theInheritance Cycle” has flown freely since the day the series concluded in 2011. When an official sequel focused on him was announced, fans were ecstatic. The news descended upon ‘BookTube’ and ‘BookTok’ like one of Paolini’s own dragons. Hundreds of content creators began creating hype trailers, prediction videos, and glowing advanced reader copy (arc) reviews all the way up to release on Nov. 7.


Since then, thousands of readers have chewed through “Murtagh.” However, one must wonder if it truly lives up to all of the anticipation. “Murtagh,” while succeeding in some areas, falls flat in other critical pieces of its execution and plot.


The novel’s first sin is the butchering of its leading man. Gone are the days of the edgy anti-hero. Murtagh Morzansson is a changed man. Opting to take a narrative time skip a year in the future, Paolini glosses over Murtagh’s softening into a hero, scrubbing out all of the interesting development that the reader could have witnessed. What’s left is a tormented husk of a person guided only by one-dimensional grief and a desire to do good. Now a Mary Sue, in all respects, Murtagh never once leaves the reader engaged. While fans of the series may be happy to simply see him in action again, he is no longer the same character fans of “The World of Eragon” came to love decades ago. 


Murtagh’s newfound-personality collapse is not helped by Paolini’s struggle with convincing dialogue. Characters, especially Murtagh, frequently flip between medieval vocabularies and modern slang. Objectively, both of these styles are welcome in fantasy, but when jumbled together they shatter any sense of unity in the world- roughly pulling the reader out of the narrative. Throughout the novel Paolini’s writing is often uneven in this way. Sentences appear in places they shouldn’t, the flow of the text breaks, and strange details get put in sharp focus within tangential paragraphs.


Finishing out the unbalanced writing of “Murtagh” is the arduous to mull through opening that drags on for a third of the novel. In simplest terms, the main conflict of the novel is preceded by a 200-page pursuit of a giant mutant fish to save a cat. In a world dominated by epic battles, dragons, and magic, this entire sequence feels lacking. Devoid of substantial character development, important plot beats, or satisfying action, the front half of “Murtagh barely feels like a professional novel–more like an intensive and well-edited fan-fic. Not necessarily boring, but just barely enough substance to keep you reading.


Despite all this, there’s something still inherently warm and welcoming within the pages of “Murtagh” to a longtime fan of “The World of Eragon.” It still feels like coming home, going through a portal to the simpler times of childhood fantasies. This nostalgia pushes “Murtagh” unsteadily across the finish line, even if it has no legs under itself. 

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Alexander Dyga
Alexander Dyga, Staff Writer
Alexander Dyga is a Junior. This is his first year on staff. Alex enjoys reading, writing, and gaming for an unhealthy amount of time. He is the recipient of 5 MIPA awards honorable mention awards- 4 for sports photography and 1 for news brief writing. There’s a story everywhere. If you have one contact him at [email protected].
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Comments (10)

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  • N

    NickApr 18, 2024 at 8:11 am

    This review seems like it was written b,y or supported heavily by, AI. While I agree with some points that it makes, it seems to lack understanding of the world.

    I personally really enjoyed the fish side quest since we as the reader learned more about the mechanics of the AL.

    But let’s be real, the World of Eragon is known for many things, Steamy Romance is NOT one of them. Which is the main reason why I have trouble believing what the author of this review is saying, and frankly, doubting if they’ve even read any of the books.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like a romantasy or fantasmut, but TWoE has been fairly light on the steamy scenes in the traditional sense at least.

    • A

      Alexander DygaApr 18, 2024 at 9:09 am

      Author of the article here, thank you for your feedback and engagement with the site! It is appreciated, however, I’d like to clarify a few things.

      First of all, this article was not assisted with AI in any way. The Wildcat Roar is a student newspaper committed to upholding and teaching the highest journalistic standards. AI is not included in this vision. All work submitted to the Wildcat Roar has been extensively edited by Novi High School students and staff alike to prevent breaches of journalistic integrity.

      My word choice in “steamy romance,” is largely influenced by my own circumstances. I grew up with more traditional fantasy such as the Lord of the Rings and Earthsea- largely asexual stories. Still quite young, I first read the Inheritance Cycle as a hormonal pre-teen who had never experienced a fleshed out romance like that between Arya and Eragon. It was very “steamy” to me at that time and I still tend to view the story in that way due to that first experience. Regardless, this was some poor phrasing on my part and I understand the confusion it caused. Hopefully this offers some clarification and I appreciate the feedback!

  • J

    Jerrod GarrettApr 17, 2024 at 2:47 pm

    I thought it was a great read.

  • S

    Shawn RyanApr 16, 2024 at 11:49 pm

    I’ve waited for more Alagaësia tales and this was great! It felt different and familiar and wasn’t near long enough. I need more.

  • H

    Harry DresdenApr 16, 2024 at 9:48 pm The Wildcat Roar Pick

    Agreed. Stumbling hot garbage. Love the series but this was like Inheritance meets DBZ. Murtagh intentionally wanders off into danger and of course finds a individual antagonist that is somehow more powerful than him, despite his knowledge of the name of names and being a rider? And, wordless magic, which is pretty much anathema to the elves because of the danger of it going horribly wrong we are told, is the secret sauce that defeats him? The witch would have blown herself to the moon or been turned into a newt or something based on cannon before this book. Now wordless magic is suddenly all powerful without any kind of real explanation, just a hand wave of it being uncounterable, as if speaking the words under your breath below hearing level would not accomplish the same thing. It was meandering, depressing, and not remotely satisfying. I like the Inheritance Cycle enough to hang for one more book, but if it’s as bad as Murtagh, I’m out.

  • E

    ElleApr 16, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    I absolutely loved this book. I personally don’t think it’s struggling to find it’s footing at all. I loved a more mature and edgy tale.

  • D

    Dana JonesApr 14, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Loved the book!!!! Made me care about Murtaugh! Hopefully, there will be a sequel to this one!!!!!!!

  • F

    Frank bennettFeb 25, 2024 at 8:38 pm The Wildcat Roar Pick

    I don’t agree with this breakdown at all. I think it fit in wonderfully with the inheritance cycle. Murtagh was never truly evil in the dragon series either he always struggled with his role. Now we see his true self misunderstood. My only complaint with murtagh is that it could have been so much more. Like when he originally went down into the cave. He could have fled and mustered a force of riders while bashull went into hiding and found a force of her own and that could have been a much more epic clash later down the road. However I believe murtagh sets itself up for at least another book or two in the series told from his pov I thought the book held up to the rest of the series.

    • B

      Brian TurnerMar 13, 2024 at 12:30 pm

      I agree I don’t get where they are coming from with this point of view. Murtagh was a fantastic installment. Can’t wait for more!!!

      • K

        Kyle ParkerApr 3, 2024 at 9:47 pm

        Stumbled upon this in my feed. I 100% agree with the two previous posters; this review seems to have been expecting the world and upset that we recieved and introduction to an expansion. I really enjoyed Murtagh. The dynamic with Thorn is something I love to see and both protagonists overcoming their fears was relatable. I encourage anyone with interest to give it a read.