Book review: Murtagh

Murtagh

Christopher Paolini

Penguin Random House

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

A quick perusal of social media confirmed that I am not the only reader to have a huge crush on the title character of this sixth book set in the fantasy world of Alagaësia but seriously, who can resist the tragic anti-hero Murtagh?

Murtagh picks up the story a year after the Inheritance Cycle series completes.

Paolini says in the book’s afterword that it is not book five in the series, which is still coming.

Since the original books were finished, 20 years ago, when the author was 15, he has also published a collection of short stories set in Alagaësia.

This story though, is all about poor, poor Murtagh.

The abused, belittled and enslaved dragon rider endures more of the same in this book.

This story also delves deeper into Murtagh’s cruel and fractured upbringing and how it formed his complicated character.

The young noble was raised with all the privileges of the kings court but was scorned and abused by his father and then later controlled by the evil king, Galbatorix.

Lastly, it waters the small seeds for a broader story that Paolino planted at the end of book four, Inheritance.

When Inheritance ends, spoiler alert – Murtagh leaves a crying Nasuada on the battlefield.

When Eragon later seeks him out, he says he doesn’t know where his path will lead but he knows he cannot stay because the populace will always hate him for the unwitting part he played in the war – or something along those lines.

A year later, when Murtagh starts, we find that he has been busy and he is about to get even busier.

That is not innuendo because there is no spice in this young adult, high-fantasy series.

Murtagh gets busy with spying, violence, pining, freedom-fighting, and magic.

The violence, as his dragon Thorn points out, seems to follow him regardless and the pining is for Nasuada.

I started this book hoping and hoping that it would end with Murtagh and Nasuada finally requiting their romance – since well, it would never have worked between us because I’m married and he’s, well, fictional – but I could not wait and skipped to the end to see if this was yet another Alagaësia romance to end unrequited. I will not say what I found.

Despite knowing the ending, the book was still unputdownable.

To those who have read the Inheritance Cycle, you can expect more endearing characters, complicated plots, twists, monsters, heinous villains and gore, with a smattering of sweet moments.

To those who haven’t but want to read the series, this book can be read first, without being wholly confusing, if you don’t mind spoilers for its predecessors.