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Reviews of 'The Inheritance'

The Inheritance

by Nancy Varian Berberick
Classics, Volume 4

Reviews of 'The Inheritance'

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Reviewer: Cassandra Jacobs

Rating: Stars

The story itself was very well done, and Nancy definitely did not disappoint me. Her writing level in this story puts it above the standard "teen" level of writing I see in most of the other Dragonlance books and she brilliantly handles some very adult concepts and scenes while still maintaining a reading level acceptable for the majority of the public. While this isn't a book I'd be letting a younger child read, anyone with some level of maturity could handle it.

The story itself? The characters were very well done. Elansa, the elven female who is kidnapped is wonderfully written. Her emotions as she goes through various stages in the kidnapping is very well done and thought out. You can see her moving from hopeful and defiant to just existing, then gradually turning into a member of the outlaw band, although the latter is done out of necessity, and not desire. Brand, the outlaw and kidnapper gradually grows to care about Elansa as a woman and his "girl", protecting her against the rest of the band. The relationship between Elansa and the dwarf Char is fascinating, and I really enjoyed seeing it develop over time.

Towards the end, it was pretty obvious that Keth, Elansa's elven husband, was going to turn on Elansa once he discovered she had been sleeping with Brand. Keth was pretty typical for an elf, especially a male elf, and believed that Elansa should have killed herself rather than being taken by a human. Lea, Keth's female cousin, gave some good insight on how a female elf might think, and she knew that Elansa would sleep with the human rather than die. Maybe if Lea lived through the goblin war, she might have been able to convince Keth of this. Doubtful though, as elven males are extremely stubborn and close minded.

Now, my complaint? While the book didn't follow the initial storyline concept that I read (Tanis was conceived out of love between an elf and human), it did go over that line. Elansa was initially faced with the option of being raped by the entire band of outlaws, or become Brand's lover, which would keep the rest of the outlaws away from her. While she went willingly to Brand's bed, it was still a form of rape, since she was faced with two awful choices, and she took the lesser of two evils. The relationship between her and Brand grew, which I found acceptable, but by the end of the book, it seemed Elansa was pretty emotionally attached to Brand, far beyond a tentative trusting relationship... almost to the point of love. This I had a difficult time with, as it seemed to cross that line of victim and kidnapper. Stockholm Syndrome? Most definitely. What I would have expected about Tanis' heritage? Definately not.

I will say though, even though the ending wasn't quite what I was expecting for the relationship between Tanis' parents, it was well handled and brilliantly thought out. I did enjoy it and the storyline, while a little more unexpected than expected, was acceptable in my view.

Review made August 10th, 2001.

Reviewer: Craig J. Ries

Rating: Stars

Ok, first off, I'd like to say that The Inheritance, overall, was a good book. I liked it, but not to the point where others have sung high praise about it.

Nancy took what was otherwise a simple background and made it into a detailed and complex story.

Now, I still don't agree that this story needed telling, but since it was, I should say that Nancy certainly accomplished what I believe other authors would fail to do: make the story seem realistic enough so we wouldn't turn away in disgust once we actually start reading the story.

I must say as well, that I have mixed feelings on the ending. I thought that exactly WHERE the book ended was perfect, but the implications of that ending changes the foundation of what made Tanis Tanis.

One of the few qualms I had, besides the ending, was that Elansa is pregnant early on in the book, and then, a year later, she is pregnant with Brand's child (which will turn out to be Tanis). However, all sources state that elves are fertile only a handful of times in their lives (which makes Solostaran's luck of having three children incredible). Yet, twice in a year Elansa is pregnant.

Another is the ending: the way that Elansa has things worded about having been forced to share Brand's bed, it reads almost like she didn't think she was raped when I can't see how you can look at it any other way. That is why I feel the background of Tanis has been changed: instead of it being rape outright, it might be falsified where it didn't need to be, particularly since the story ended before her and Char actually reached Qualinesti.

Posted Sun, 17 Jun 2001 on the Dragonlance-L mailing list.

Reviewer: Matt Lynch

Rating: Stars

Nancy Varian Berberick, a proven DL author, has delivered what I view as the single greatest tale of her DL career. She can, of course, debate that as she pleases, but I'm convinced. Ladies and gentlemen (and all of those who fall elsewhere), The Inheritance is a Classic in every sense of the word.

Forget the premise and what you think of it, forget the fact that it isn't a world-advancing book, forget even that it's only 284 pages long. This book is pure gold.

I said of Nancy's "The Long Road Home" and "Lost Causes" short stories from the last two books in the Tales of the 5th Age trilogy that they were respectively two of the best stories in each book. "Lost Causes" itself was the best story in Rebels and Tyrants easily, IMO. The Inheritance is a blend of the two styles/concepts she used in those two stories and it works perfectly. I'll not go into character depth too much, as there were too many great characters in this book to focus on any one of them.

Elansa was extremely well done as the sufferer in the book and the progression of her character throughout was very believable. There was no "Stockholm Syndrome" involved for any of you who are spoiling this for yourselves right now, rest assured. Maybe, had things not ended as they had, if enough time had passed, that may have changed, but Princess Sungold was very set in her ways and spent the better part of a year with Brand and his band, so who could really tell? The sad thing is that she did, indeed, end up dying in childbirth after suffering through so much.

Brand himself was not featured too much in the story, believe it or not. He was always there, yes, as a presence, as the dark cloud that eventually, at the end, became the one you almost wanted to see turn pristine white. Sadly, Kethrenan's blade stopped that from ever occurring. Given the times of Brand's life, it is easy to see how he became as he did, but Nancy was very good to also show the glimmers of true heroism that would come to be a major part of his son's personality.

The biggest antihero in the book was Char the dwarf. Although he was never referred to as a Hammerfell, as the rest of Nancy's dwarves always seemed to be, he was just as great a character as Stanach from Stormblade. Seeing as how he lived to the end of the story, I'd be quite interested in seeing Nance do more with him in the future. The backstory to his character was an intriguing one as well.

Kethranan Kanan was excellent. Not since Porthios have I seen an elven warrior character done so well. That's really all I have to say on him beyond the fact that as noble and courageous as he was, he was worried too much concerning how his wife should have acted and didn't deserve a "happily ever after" ending with her.

Lindenlea and Gnash the hobgoblin were two supporting characters whom also had good development.

The writing was superb. There is really nothing more to say on it than that. It was just phenomenal. Very dark, very poetic, yet touching and insightful. I've heard of writers capturing their muse and this seems like a great example of such.

My only real complaint is that it was only, yes, 284 pages long! Now, Nancy, I know that the book was a challenge, but I think 20 more pages could have easily been typed out just to fill out the book a bit. The story of Ithk and his cohort meeting the skeletons could have easily been thrown in. Maybe a bit more on Gnash and how the magical staff was draining him. It would have been nice to see first person views from both those accounts, as they were initially presented as big deals. Ithk seemed as though he would play a pivotal role, but then just up and disappeared and was later confirmed dead by the skeletons' hands. A bit more interaction between Elansa and Tianna may have been cool too.

Someone also mentioned that they didn't think this conflicted with any source. It doesn't, for the most part. However, I seem to recall very much so that Kethranan was reported killed on the road long after Tanis's birth in Kindred Spirits. I don't think it took the elves that long to find his corpse in Pax Tharkas. All in all, a minor continuity glitch, but still a small sticking point. In other news, the editing crew seems to finally have their heads screwed on right as there were very few (if any) typographical errors in the book.

So, bottom line, this booked reeked of awesomeness. Anyone who refuses to read it on premise is missing out on one of the rare treats in the series. Maybe it would have been better off written a few years ago, but it wasn't. It's here, now, and it's a great book. After Spirit of the Wind, many heralded Chris Pierson as the next big name in DragonLance, forgetting that it was his first novel. Dezra's Quest was good, but not AS good. Now he has the Kingpriest Trilogy, which I want to read solely based on name value alone. He's a good author, proven, but untested. Nancy's been around for a while and has, like fine wine (and cheese), gotten better with time. You want a name to be next in line for moving the DragonLance line forward, I say Nancy Varian Berberick. Richard A. Knaak, one of the more prolific authors in the world, is only just starting to get the chance to do so. Let some veterans strut their stuff and let's see what happens.


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