Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Published by Alfred A. Knopf on August 26th 2003
Series: The Inheritance Cycle #1
Genres: Dragons, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 513 pages Source: Gift from Family
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Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.
The more I read this book, the less I enjoy it.
I remember I first read Eragon many years ago now, and it was exciting because someone not that much older than me wrote it. Even older now, I have to admire the complexities in the series that my mind would never have been able to write at that age or even several years older, so in that way – kudos to Paolini. I can still appreciate his plot and his foreshadowing, even when I find his particular writing style a bit juvenile. But, really? He was young when he wrote the book. The wrote far more admirably than I daresay almost anyone his age could have, and for that you really must be impressed.
I’m not really one for dragon tales, but Paolini hooks you in with all the various realms of fantasy he employs. A common criticism I have heard about the series – and Eragon in particular – is his reliance on the conventional fantasy tropes. I cannot argue this. But I personally don’t think those things make the book unoriginal or any less interesting. It is the elements and similarities in a story that lead us to sort them into genres, so of course some things may seem less original than others. Would a twist have been refreshing? Absolutely. But there is nothing wrong with a classic.
However, there is nothing in particular that makes Eragon memorable. The battle scenes are hazy, there is a lot of travelling. No character stands up with more strength or conviction than others of its kind. If anything at all, what makes Eragon stand out in the YA Fantasy genre is the age of its writer and its ease of reading – not to mention the rather intriguing dragon on its cover. Still, the story itself will most likely not withstand time, the way Tolkien or Rowling’s work will, and that is why it gets four stars.
I own the next two books in the series and I have every intention of acquiring the fourth. The Inheritance Cycle is compelling enough that I will pick up the sequels to follow the story to its end, but the only reason I tend to reread the books is to remind myself what happened before so I am not lost when I pick up the sequels.