I’ll never admit that I’m a bright person; it took me until half way through the second book in this series to realize it was just Star Wars, but with dragons instead of the Force and lightsabers. Which probably explains why I still love the first book, Eragon. (See that? That’s “dragon”, but with one letter changed. That’s the level of cleverness we are working with here.)
So this is the last book in the series, so we know Not Luke Skywalker is going to win against Not Emperor Palpatine, probably going to redeem Not Han Solo/Not Darth Vader, and get Not Leia in the end (they aren’t related this time around, so it’s okay. Even though Not Leia isn’t into him and has told him so, repeatedly, but since he’s the hero, why should he listen to a broad?) And most of those things do happen, mixed in with a lot of boring battles and a hundred pages devoted to Not Luke finding his “true name”, which is hundred pages of introspection on the part of our main character trying to figure out what he is. (He’s the hero. There. I just saved him a week of navel gazing in the Not Degobah swamp.)
And don’t even get me started on the piss poor excuse for magic in these books. Magic should be arcane missiles and meteors and turning people into newts. Instead, magic here is the Force. As in, wizards meet each other on the battlefield and then THINK really hard at each other. Eventually, after several pages of describing two wizards having constipation looks on their faces, one of them might explode in a tiny ball of fire that almost makes it all the effort it took to move your eyes across the page worth it (no, it really doesn’t).
And then the ending, damn it. For all my rage and hate that was slowly building while reading, the ending had the audacity to be good. Really good. Not Luke is battling the Not Emperor, first with sword and then we get into mind battles. Just as Not Luke is about to loose, he decides before he goes, he is going to give the Not Emperor empathy. As in, Not Emperor will be forced (heh) to feel the consequences of all his selfishness and evil. And that just struck such a chord with me, since I believe a lot of hate and evil in the real world is the direct result of too many people not having enough empathy. THEN, after good conquers evil, after all signs point to Nice Guy Not Luke getting the girl just because he won, Not Leia says, “hey, if things were different, if I didn’t have to be Queen of the elves and you didn’t have to train all the new Dragon Riders/Not Jedi, maybe we could’ve tried.” And he RESPECTS HER DECISION. (Of course, this is after he has the moronic idea to go train the new Dragon Riders far away from everyone and then one day bring them back to guard the galaxy because a foreign group of people suddenly barging into an existing government and taking over has ALWAYS been an A+ idea, so Not Luke isn’t entirely redeemed from being a toolbox this entire series.)
This is one of those books where I’m more interested in how the author relates to his work than how I do. (I think once you consume some type of media, be it books, art, music, etc., you then own your interpretation of it, whether it’s right or wrong. Kind of like how George Lucas still thinks he own Star Wars and can change the movies to Greedo shooting first and then be flummoxed as to why fans had a visceral reaction to that. Because we consumed that media and it’s part of us now, it’s no longer just your property, George!) Paolini started writing this series as a teenager (and it shows). He was home schooled and it sounds like his parents were the driving force behind getting this book published. So the pages upon pages of introspection might be due to Paolini coming to terms with himself, now an adult yoked to this cribbed Star Wars fan fic that he has to finish. And that makes him more relate-able than any of his writing so far, because there’s no way in hell I’d want anyone to read the crap I wrote as a kid.