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Book spotlight (Young Adult): Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon, and its counterparts, Eldest and Brisingr, make up Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy. Paolini also has announced that he is writing a fourth book, although the most recent news from the official websites informs readers that at this time, there has been no official release of either a title or cover art. Also, this fourth book will be the final book of the Inheritance saga.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
photo from Amazon.com

And that seems to be the best course of action.

Now, I certainly don't mean that Eragon was a terrible book. It was, in fact, quite the opposite. However, I do firmly believe that there was too much hype for a book that was written with underdeveloped writing style. Paolini's characters and plot were well-envisioned, and there were plenty of unique sparks that lit up as you read to keep you interested in the overall storyline. However, there was also a trememdous amount of stock plot - something that any truly great fantasy fiction book simply cannot have.

Eragon's overall plot seemed to mimic the epic journey style of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Since Eragon is written with young adult audiences in mind, it is considerably less complex than Lord of the Rings. Sadly, however, Paolini did not make use of the epic journey style plot to expand its own story on its own merits. Instead, what results is a long read about a boy struggling to grow up and understand the responsibilities that have mysteriously and suddenly been thrust upon him.

... Somehow, that seems a bit familiar... oh yes, isn't that the basic stock plot of most underdeveloped stories? Especially fantasy fiction?

But, to be fair, Paolini did do a good job in other respects. His characters are very worldly and believeable, and he breaks out of the stereotype with the descriptions of his different races. The magic in the world of Alagaesia is unique and explained enough to hold up within the reader's suspension of belief. And, of course, the concept of dragons as more than mere animals is far from Paolini's own creation, but he does employ it well and with his own character-driven style.

Eragon is worth the read. Just don't expect to be "wowed" out of your chair by it, because you will be disappointed. Perhaps once Paolini finishes his fourth Inheritance book and puts this first series behind him, his future books will be better. I, for one, certainly look forward to his later novels with the hope that his writing will have matured and grown with the experience Eragon and the Inheritance saga has given him. Paolini does have a lot of potential and hopefully someday he will be able to write the kind of book that will stand up under the heavy scrutiny that falls on fantasy fiction.

For copies of Eragon, visit Amazon.com, or head to your local bookstore. Midland friends, Barnes and Noble in the Midland Mall is well-stocked. Also, Eragon is available as an ebook from B&N.com. For more information about the Inheritance saga, visit Alagaesia.com (the official site) or Shurtugal.com (both official information and fan section).

Additional tidbit of information: Eragon was made as a movie in 2006. For movie information, check out IMDb.com or watch the trailer below. As happens with most stories, the book and the movie are similar in nature but certain things were changed to be better adapted for screen viewing.

Trivia Question: What is the name of the dwarves' god?

Comments

  • lallypop 4 years ago

    Sounds like a better developed analysis than some. Good comments.

  • Kim 4 years ago

    I totally agree with you Sarah. Yes, the author is fairly good for writing such a popular book at the age of 19. I found that reading Eragon (and the two following books) was enjoyable, but kind of like a slightly tweaked cookie recipe. A story about a boy (or girl) who has to make a tremendous journey, learn a lot of important life lessons, with lovable and memorable side characters is like the chocolate chip cookie of fantasy literature. A very standard cookie. Paolini basically took the story and added , let's say, peanut butter chips. I really want to enjoy a new cookie, which doesn't have a standard storyline. I want something new and innovative when it comes to a plot, like some candied ginger or dried mango. Because really, who wants to eat the same cookie EVERY TIME?

  • Melody 4 years ago

    I haven't read the books. This is partially because I had a friend in high school who was obsessed with them, and when the movie came she dragged everyone she knew to it. There was way too much hype for a story that just could not deliver, and I have not been able to make myself pick up the books since.

  • John 4 years ago

    Wow, you didn't take any of the cheap shots. Congratulations. Most people (including myself) when they talk about the Inheritence Cycle, usually comment on how much it rips off the Star Wars trilogy. Eragon, the poor farmer, discovers that he's connected to an extinct organization of peacekeepers, gets his adoptive family killed, and is forced to leave his home with a cranky old man.

    Anyway, great critique. I really enjoyed your insights.

  • John 4 years ago

    About the trivia question, I know the dwarves worship multiple gods, but isn't one of them named Helsvog?

  • Dagda 4 years ago

    I liked the first one. I could read it and get through it. I couldn't get into the second one because I had forgotten what had happened in the first one and he left the first one at a critcal point (if i remember correctly). I don't have time to re-read one book so I can read another. I hate it when authors do that. A saga should flow among its book brethren, I didn't think this flowed. Thanks for the Review!

    I am running out of odd things to say,
    Dagda

  • Kylandra 4 years ago

    I read the first two books and liked them quite a bit. However, upon a second read I immediately noticed the parallels to Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings without having heard anything about them.
    I'm not altogether surprised at the underdeveloped story and "borrowed" plot. He wrote these books at a very young age and was published by his parents' publishing company. I wonder if we would have these books today if his parents didn't have a connection to a publishing company.

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    Kim: mmm, cookies...

    Kylandra: I wonder that too. I'm all for new authors getting published, but I think the manuscript needs to be good enough to sell itself - and I don't think Eragon was really at publishing point yet. Paolini really should have waited to develop his own unique voice in the world before being anchored as "the brilliant young author of the Inheritance Saga" etc. etc. etc.
    What will happen when he finally publishes a book that has a mature, well-developed sense of self? His fans will probably turn away from it since it will be so different than Eragon. Worse, if Paolini realizes this, he might never change his writing... which would be a shame and a waste of great potential. I guess we'll have to see.