Book Review: The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm

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Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.

I’m struggling with a rating on this one because I have no idea what to rate it. This book was not at all what I expected, but then again, I went into this having zero idea what to expect, so it feels wrong to rate it low when it was a well written book even though it did not meet what I wanted.

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm was weird and fascinating. It feels like a companion novel along the lines of the Silmarillion or the Children of Hurin by Tolkien. It gives random information, extra worldbuilding, and legends from one of the species. It was bizarre that it was so short because a bunch happened but also it felt as though nothing happened.

What I can say for sure: Angela is a Timelord and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Eragon has grown. He’s no longer a squish, and I’m so proud but also sad to see him grown. This sets up PERFECTLY for a fifth full-length novel. We have rumblings of dark magic and bad stuffs, hope for a future, Eragon building the new home of the Riders, and the various inhabitants of Alagaesia being forced to work together.

The whole side story of Murtagh in the beginning was definitely bizarre. I’m not sure why it was set up the way it was with the Eldunari showing Murtagh’s current whereabouts and actions to Eragon. It would have made more sense to do the whole story from Murtagh’s viewpoint in the firstplace–don’t get me wrong, I loved hearing from Eragon and listening to him talk about his life and Saphira and what was going on where he was. The scene change was simply off somehow.

The second story was something else. I loved hearing from Angela again, and reading a whole chapter from the original Angela was really, really cool if 100% nonsensical in some ways. Elva’s part in the new world is also fascinating and can grow into something really well-done if Paolini continues with it well. I did find it a bit odd/lazy to mention that Angela told Eragon about how she and Solembum met but not tell the reader. This is a question a lot of us have had. I came out of that story with more questions than answers for sure.

The last story was a complete departure from the narrative, and while I enjoyed it, I found it difficult to stay focused when I wanted more Eragon and Murtagh. I wanted to know what those guys were doing, not what some Urgal legend from ye olden era was. But it was cool, don’t get me wrong.

And that leads me to the all-encompassing question: what do I think? Was this needed? Probably not. But Paolini is a fantasy writer–an adult-esque fantasy writer. He lives in this world and wants to share its history and odds-and-ends with us. This gave us that. It gave a window into various parts of the world without becoming a 700 page novel. It set up what might be the elusive book 5. It gave a little resolution about characters–not enough, if I’m honest.

So I’m sitting on a 3.5/4 star rating.

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