Updated: Jan 20, 2019
The last release from New York Times-bestselling author of the Inheritance Cycle, Inheritance, was published a staggering seven years ago. Since then, he has been working on and developing his ambitious science fiction piece and the frequently teased fifth installment to the series that made him famous. Updates for both of these projects can be found with the interview we conducted with him here. But with both projects and his previous books seem like major milestones due to their excessive length, many were surprised to learn of The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm, the first volume in what is titled as Tales from Alagaësia, a series of short stories taking place in Paolini’s rich world. After all, short stories have recently developed a bad reputation with certain authors pushing some of their best ideas to the medium. But while this 288-page volume never reaches the heights of Paolini’s full releases, it’s a welcome distraction that whets the appetite of countless readers for the author’s hopefully more ambitious projects.
Consisting of three distinct and original short stories featuring brand-new characters, namely The Fork, The Witch, and the final short story, The Worm, the volume is dense with world-building, primarily from The Worm, which explores the dense culture of Alagaësia in its fairytale-like nature. In addition, brief sequences of Eragon are sprinkled out, serving as a connector between these three mild stories. I use the term “mild,” because the two first stories are an entertaining distraction at best. Paolini has mostly written books that are past 500 pages long, with his last published work, Inheritance, reaching 882 pages. As a result, the ambition of these stories, particularly The Fork, is never reached, simply due to Paolini unable to establish a riveting tone within such a short space.