When I heard Christopher Paolini was returning to the world of Alagaësia, I was really excited, though I didn’t quite know what to expect. Now that I’ve read The Fork, the Witch and the Worm, I think there’s a couple things to know before you pick it up.
While I knew from the beginning that this wasn’t simply a continuation of Eragon’s story, part d me still assumed it was, I think.
Instead, we get a brief look at Eragon holed up in the Easter Reaches, little snapshots before being shown three different little stories. The first is a glimpse of what Murtagh is up to, just enough to make you wish you had a full story on him post-Inheritance.
The second little story is a scattered bit of biography by Angela the herbalist (written by Paolini’s sister, the inspiration behind the character). And while I think many of us would also enjoy a full story of Angela’s, I personally felt this section was largely nonsense, neither giving insight to the character, nor really furthering any part of the story or series.
The final story was an Urgal legend, and it was probably the best bit, though maybe a little longer than it needed to be. It was the story of a young urgal and her long-standing vendetta against the dragon who wreaked havoc on her village. Of all the stories in this anthology, this one made sense to have among the brief glimpses of Eragon’s new life, as we see him learning a lesson from the story and recognizing that there will always be some challenge to face, even after you’ve defeated one.
All in all, I think it wasn’t the book we wanted. It wasn’t quite a book of histories or legends, which would have been interesting (thinking Tolkien’s works relating to the Lord of the Rings), but it wasn’t really a story about Eragon and the world we grew up with and loved. It comes across as a collection of tidbits that didn’t find their way into the series.
I’m indifferent about it, to be honest. It’s a short book and a quick read, and if you love the world, I’d say read it. But at the same time, it’s not crucial, nor a must read for all fans of the series. I think it could have been more, even without being a full continuation of the story. And that’s a hardest part, I think. I was excited for something new from a world I loved, but change a few words and terms, and the stories could have been pieces of any fantasy story. It wasn’t fleshed out enough to really feel like Alagaësia.