WARNING: Contains Spoilers!
Eragon is further proof that people should spend more time reading and less time watching American Idol or Survivor. In many ways I cannot believe that this book was written by someone as young as Christopher
Paolini. There are certain things that I think do illustrate his age, but creativity is not one of them.
Eragon, a fifteen year old farm boy travels through a dangerous area of
Alagaesia on the hunt for an animal that will feed his family through the harsh winter. He fails at felling a deer when a bright flash of light scares the herd away. In place of the deer is a extremely smooth sapphire stone – which we shortly come to learn is not a stone at all but rather a dragon egg.
In short order a baby dragon causes trouble in Eragon’s small village of Carvahall, resulting in the murder of his uncle Garrow and forcing Eragon to flee with the village storyteller Brom.
As they travel Brom teaches Eragon how to use magic, and how to spar. Their training proves fruitful, particularly after Brom the storyteller is killed in the act of saving Eragon’s life. Thereafter Eragon and his dragon, named Saphira (the same as Brom’s slain steed) must flee but they do not get far before they are captured and imprisoned.
With the help of Murtagh, a nomad traveller of impressive swordsmanship, Eragon is able to escape his imprisonment and save an elf by the name of Arya, She, though still unconscious due to many months of torture, is able to connect with Eragon mind-to-mind and lead him to the Varden, a rebel group that is battling King Galbatorix, an evil dark lord who was once a dragon rider but vowed vengeance when his dragon was killed.
The Varden are attacked by Urgals (vicious creatures who have run rampant throughout the lands) shortly after Eragon’s arrival. They triumph but at a cost of many lives of man and dwarf alike. Eragon himself slays another dark creature: a Shade (a man or sorcerer who has given their body over to the control of spirits – usually of the unfriendly variety). He accomplishes this great feat after suffering a grievous injury and during his healing he dreams of an elf telling him he must come to the elves.
My thoughts on this book:
First of all it took me a damn long time to read – ten days. That might not seem like long to some, but when I was reading books of similar length (Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series) in one fifth the time, that might explain it. Then again I suppose that two of those days can be discounted because I was on a podcast release frenzy. In any case I was surprised at this book, both in a good and a bad way. I cannot break with previous tradition so must tell you the things I did not like first.
I hate to sound repetitious, but I really didn’t like Eragon for quite a long time, particularly in the beginning. Like Bella Swan from Twilight he seemed a little whiny. I’d like to show my prejudice here and say that maybe its just an American writer quirk, but I’ve read a lot of Stephen King and I don’t recall his characters being annoying. But such is the case. I suppose we can chalk it up to the teenage thing. They just don’t have Harry’s bravery I guess (Harry Potter that is, in case you didn’t already figure that out).
This book reads very much like Lord of the Rings. By that I do not mean that he’s as good a writer as Tolkien. Sorry, Mr. Paolini but these books don’t compare to that great work. What I do mean by my statement is the story structure itself. There are, of course, Elves and Dwarves and the like all throughout the fantasy genre, but just in some of the naming and the fact that there were elves and dwarves in the stories. Another staple of fantasy that I think is present in this book as well as Lord Of The Rings, is the naming of things. Some of the names for places like Gil’ead, Teirm, Carvahall, and the like sound very like some of the names for places in Middle Earth.
On that vein there is one scene in the very last chapter that shouts to me Star Wars! That is the scene in which Eragon is contacted by the Mourning Sage and told to accompany Arya to Ellsmera. Luke Skywalker and Yoda? All that was missing was Use The Force You Must! I love Yoda, but we’ll not get sidetracked here. Again I suppose that Star Wars wasn’t all that original either and they probably pilfered it from somewhere else in the first place (which again, being fair here, Paolini could have got as well).
I also take issue with some of the glaring plot devices – like Brom and his “I’ll not say” for whatever it was that needed to be kept hidden. Yes, it was more a characteristic of the storyteller, but it seems awfully contrived. To be fair, I will concede two points: the first is that this is a children’s book so might be forgiven for some less than subtle nuances of character (though Harry Potter was a children’s book too). I saw the movie before reading this book (an extremely rare occurrence for me) and thus my second point is that some of this might have been spoiled by that. This is exactly the reason why I don’t like to watch movies first.
I have to admit I’m a little disturbed by Saphira and Eragon’s attachment to each other, particularly in wake of her jealousy over Arya. I choose to think of their attachment as best friends and nothing more . . . but still . . . I guess I’ve been reading way too many NC-17 rated fan fictions.
I both like and appreciate the amount of effort that had to go into developing this world. There are so many bloody names for beasts, battles, spells, elves, places and the like that I can’t really keep it straight. I think I have the main players in my head . . . Eragon, Saphira, Brom, Galbatorix (a name I’m enamored with by the way – but its a very distant second to my beloved Voldemort), and so forth.
I love the idea of being able to fly. I’d love to have a dragon just for that simple pleasure. I don’t think I’d like all the strings that go with . . . but this is fantasy, right? I’ve also always loved the mind trick or mind connection. This is one of the reasons I love Order of the Phoenix (the novel) so much, and the only reason I would ever want to be a Jedi.
I’m still searching for the next Harry Potter and I haven’t found it yet. Unfortunately Eragon is not it, but its not such a bad book that I am giving up here. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to finish both this book and Eldest by the release of book three in the Inheritance Cycle but I’m off to read Eldest now. My thoughts will be coming in another ten days or so I’m sure.