Overall Impression: A farm boy destined for greatness, ferocious dragons, powerful magic, and an evil King. This has all the great elements of a traditional fantasy book.
I remember so well the first time I saw this book. I stumbled across it browsing in Waterstones when I was 11 years old. I was captivated by its amazing front cover with its beautiful blue hues, stylish gold typography, and incredibly detailed illustration that I was completely in awe of. I got the book for Christmas that year and read it straight away. It was probably the first proper fantasy book I ever read. Now, with the release of the new book in the series Inheritance, I’ve decided to reread the series to refresh my mind, before reading the conclusion of Eragon’s epic story.
When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.
Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….
Eragon lives in the village Carvahall, along with his Uncle Garrow, and his cousin Roran. His mother abandoned him at birth, and he has never known who his real father is. After Eragon discovers the mysterious blue stone he tries to sell it for food, but is rebuffed. The following week he attempts to sell it to the visiting merchants, who also refuse to buy it, but tell him of mysterious, foreboding events that are spreading across Alagaësia.
Soon after he realizes the stone is actually an egg, which hatches to reveal a baby dragon. This makes Eragon a Dragon Rider, something that has not occurred in over a century when the Rider Galbatorix (who is now King of Alagaësia) betrayed the other Riders, resulting in their destruction. He names the dragon Saphira and hides her round the back of his farm, trying to keep her secret.
But all this changes when two of Galbatorix’s men/servant/freaky things called the Ra’zac, come to Carvahall searching for the egg and start interrogating local villagers. They follow the leads to Eragon’s house, which they burn down killing his Uncle.
A week later, rejuvenated and determined Eragon, flees Carvahall accompanied by Saphira, and the local storyteller Brom (who mysteriously knows a lot about dragons) to revenge his Uncle’s death.
But the further away from home Eragon gets, the more he learns about the consequences of being a Rider, and his duty to protect Alagaësia. It a demanding, formidable and perilous task that may mean he’ll never get to see the sweet little village of Carvahall again.
I’m a fan of Eragon, but there seems to be a lot of controversy around this book as to whether its original. To which I answer, there is no such thing as an original book. I could probably write an entire essay on the pros and cons of Eragon, but I would be here all day, so I’ll try and give a condensed version. 🙂
First off let me say that I really love Christopher Paolini’s writing style. Many people have mocked it, and I feel this is really unfair. Lets not forget, he was only 15 when he started writing this story and this was his debut novel. It takes a while to perfect your craft you know? His descriptions of the fantasy world Alagaësia are rich and detailed, and his subtle use of words convey perfectly the emotions of Eragon, and his relationship with his dragon Saphira. When reading his books I really feel as though I have been transported to another world full of excitement, and new wonders to explore. Yes, I will admit, there are a few continuity issues (saying how boiling they are and then lighting a fire, or letting someone lead the way who doesn’t know where there going) but that’s just nitpicking.
The book keeps you interested with a clever balance of mystery and foreboding. We know that there are many stories and mysteries around the legacy of the Riders, and are slowly drip fed these throughout the book keeping us interested and desiring more. The plot does slow down a little in the middle of the book, but I find this is often the way with fantasy stories, and in this case, it’s not long before the pace picks up again.
The main argument against this book, is that it is too similar to classics such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and yes, it does have a lot of similarities. The hooded servants the Ra’zac are very similar to the Nazgûl/Ringwraiths, the evil Urgal’s are practically the same as the Orcs, Eragon a poor and sheltered farm boy is similar to Frodo and the character Brom is the Yoda of the story. So yes, Paolini does use very stereotypical characters but there is a REASON these kind of characters are used again and again, because THEY ARE GOOD CHARACTERS! Everyone can relate to a young boy/girl who wishes they were destined for bigger and better things, and everyone wants an evil villain to hate. These are key elements to nearly every successful and popular fantasy book ever written and have been used again and again throughout time. I feel its really unfair that Paolini was given such a hard time over it.
One of the main reasons I enjoy this book so much is because it has a real magical feel about it, I get the same feeling while reading this book as I do when I read Harry Potter. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger, because Paolini really brings his world to life, and it captivates me. So much so that it makes me wish I could dive into the book and talk to the characters myself.
I thoroughly enjoy this book and would recommend it to others from 11 upwards who like to dabble with the fantasy genre because it will leave you thirsting for more! However, I wouldn’t recommend it to the hardcore fantasy fans, who want something a little more outside the box that they’ve never come across before, because this book will not deliver enough for them.
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 5/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes!
(To read my review of the second book in the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest, click here)