Review of The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alegaësia – Christopher Paolini

Posted: March 20, 2019 in fantasy, Review
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A wanderer and a cursed child.
Spells and magic.
And dragons, of course.
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.

The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alegaësia

Christopher Paolini

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Christopher Paolini broke onto the literary scene a few years ago with his debut novel Eragon. Which soon expanded to a trilogy. Of four books (don’t ask). His latest offering continues, in an oblique manner, the story of Eragon and the dragon Saphira. The book comprises three sections: The Fork, The Witch, and The Worm, each a separate tale not directly connected to Eragon, but linked by a theme given in the introduction to the section. While Christopher’s name adorns the cover, the second tale is penned by his sister Angela.

The premise of the book is that Eragon is facing a variety of challenges, mostly managerial, establishing his new dragon rider academy. The first story is a distraction from the mundanity of administration courtesy of the collective minds of the dragons past and future. The title of the vignette comes from the weapon wielded by a mysterious stranger befriended by a young girl. It was an okay read but seemed a little formulaic.

The next details a visit and the diary of Angela, a witch with an interesting ward, Elva the girl Eragon improperly blessed back in one of the previous volumes. Certainly there is a different voice here though it is similar to Christopher’s. This one works well even if the sub-chapters are a bit short.

The last section, Worm, is a great story, but Christopher needs to read more heroic epics, like Beowolf, or Gilgamesh, as his voice here was totally wrong. There was none of the pulsating passion, or oratorical balance epics have. I felt I was reading the Reader’s Digest Version. Too much tell, not enough show, and because the voice was wrong this was the weakest story in the book.

The book closes with an excerpt from Eragon, perhaps prompting a re-read of the series to fill in the mental blanks time has left.

I’d recommend this volume for the fans of Paolini’s work. But discriminating fans of heroic fantasy will be disappointed. Let’s just hope he has a follow up in the pipeline. I thank Penguin for supplying the review copy.s

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