Thursday 25 April 2024


Murtagh by Christopher Paolini (Penguin Books) PB RRP $32.99 ISBN 9780241651346 

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

When a character from a well-loved fantasy series gets his own spin-off, you can expect that he (and his dragon) will make the most of it. In side-stepping his complicated relationship with the authorities to hare off on a potentially life-threatening investigation, Murtagh does just that in his eponymous follow up to The Inheritance Cycle.

I have a confession: I’ve only read one-and-a-half books of The Inheritance Cycle. I enjoyed Eragon but got side-tracked half-way through book two. While that incomplete background knowledge didn’t prevent me from enjoying this book, I’m confident someone who has read the full series would get a lot more out of it. Someone completely new to the universe should probably start with Eragon and go from there.

The author has a gift for character, and Murtagh and his dragon Thorn are excellent examples. They’re outsiders with outsized chips on their shoulders, and this fact drives the narrative as well as their appeal. Streetwise, powerful but overlooked, the team is the underdog we just can’t help rooting for.

This is a long novel with an intricate plot that gets a bit lost in flashbacks and questionably reliable visions towards the end, but by then the reader is sufficiently invested in the characters and engaged by the action scenes to keep turning the pages.

A must for Eragon fans, new and old. It gets violent in the way that fantasy can, and there are some vivid descriptions of torture, so best for high schoolers, with a warning for the sensitive.

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