By: Christopher Paolini
Review By: Alex Frank
I would like to start by saying the movie did this book no justice. For those readers who saw the movie and thought it wasn’t worth seeing again, I recommend reading the book. For those readers who saw the movie and loved it, I recommend reading the book. The movie so completely diverges from the original plot that I feel it should have infringed on some sort of “sacred book law” of movie making. Saphira wasn’t even the right type of dragon in the movie; that should be a hint right there.
But I digress. Now about this book.
Eragon is the first book in The Inheritance Cycle of a total of four books that also includes Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance.
Eragon is a young farm boy who lives in a sprawling, magical world called Alagaesia. He hunts deer with a bow and arrow in a vast forest near his uncle’s farm to help provide food and money for his small family of three. The book opens with Eragon hunting and having no luck finding any game. He has been there for many weeks and wishes to return home.
Out of nowhere and with a sudden unforeseen power that manifests itself in a flash of light, a blue stone appears right as Eragon looses an arrow at a deer. The stone is a deep sapphire color, and Eragon believes it may be worth something to sell. He takes it back to the farm in the hopes of turning a profit.
(He was otherwise empty handed because he didn’t kill the deer).
As the cover of the book suggests, the stone is actually an egg that hatches into a dragon. Eragon takes on the responsibility of keeping her safe by not telling anyone of her existence. Because Dragons have become a mere shadow of history in Alagaesia and only stories remain of them, the prospect of raising a dragon on his own is daunting to Eragon because he is without a mentor. He also begins to realize that as she grows, his dragon is an intelligent being that finds Eragon’s attempts to help her amusing. He finds that she is so advanced of mind that she is able to communicate with him telepathically. Eragon gives her the name Saphira after some debate (with her). She acts as a kind of older sibling to him and treats him like a child despite her being a baby herself. But as they spend more time together, Saphira and Eragon create a fiercely loyal bond of friendship to one another and become equal in their relationship.
With a special form of luck that could only happen in a novel, there is a storyteller in the village near Eragon’s cottage who knows all about dragons and the myths that lurk behind their history. This aged storyteller becomes Eragon’s mentor in the art of raising dragons once he discovers Eragon has Saphira.
Conflict arises when Eragon’s secret is found out and reported to King Galbatorix. Now hunted, Eragon is forced to flee his home. With his new mentor and scaly companion Saphira, Eragon embarks on a journey to escape death and dark magic.
I found Eragon to be enjoyable, captivating, and incredibly well written with a style, language, and attention to detail that is pleasurable and approachable. This novel is remarkable given that Paolini began writing it when he was only 15 years old, and he finished it within four years.
The story bares a remarkable resemblance to other books of this type of fantasy fiction (aka. Lord of the Rings). Dragons abound, elves thrive, and dwarves lay hidden. However, Paolini gives his own unique twist in his bazaar world of magic and enchantment that will give Eragon a special place in a reader’s heart. It is a book to remember, and the amount of detail given to the settings and scenes set up the world perfectly in the reader’s mind.
However, like with any book people enjoy greatly, Eragon has some major flaws. While reading, I think it can be sometimes easy to forget that Eragon is still a teenager. He is about to come into manhood in a time where fields are still plowed by hand or livestock, and horses were the main mode of transportation (or in Eragon’s case, a dragon). He is 15. He is ignorant, and sometimes he foolhardily rushes into situations that can all to quickly get him captured or killed. And sometimes Eragon is just down right annoying. He occasionally will make you want to shake the book and yell, “Why the hell did you do that?” But in the end, there is no easier way to write a story than to have a young, green boy creating problems.
While Eragon has his flaws, he is overall the type of hero people wish to read about. He is skilled at hunting, tenacious, determined, strong willed, and honorable. He has a good heart and always tries in his own way to do the right thing (even if he sometimes louses things up). His character exudes a type of simplicity and ease to connect with.
Eragon is decently paced and gives the reader plenty of dramatic scenes to become enveloped in however there is a fair amount of convenient plotting.
Overall rating: 4.5