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

Christoper+Paolinis+Murtagh
John Jude Palancar
Christoper 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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About the Contributor
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. There’s a story everywhere. If you have one contact him at [email protected].

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