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REVIEW: Eragon by Christopher Paolini

REVIEW SUMMARY: I don’t consider myself a huge fan of fantasy, but even I found this book to be excellent.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Farm boy of unknown lineage discovers a sapphire blue dragon egg and must come to terms with his destiny.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Engrossing tale; great pacing; superb storytelling; often page-turning.

CONS: Somewhat derivative and cliché.

BOTTOM LINE: A hugely enjoyable simple fantasy story.


Man, I hate it when a commercially successful book proves to be hugely entertaining. It makes me think that I need to start reading from the bestseller lists and stop searching for the long-forgotten gems of genre fiction. Popular does not connote quality after all.

Then along comes Eragon a young adult fantasy novel that was born at the hands of a fifteen-year-old high school graduate (!) who nursed it to near-perfection for the next three years. Surely this upstart is incapable of creating a quality tale, the Holy Grail so often out of reach by seasoned writers, isn’t he? Well, that’s where I misjudged a book by its writer. To be sure, there are echoes of J. R. R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey in Eragon. I’m sure these are the books that influenced Paolini when he was growing up. Like when he was a five-year-old. But Paolini manages to tweak those ideas enough to make them, well, not fresh, but still loads of fun to experience.

The story concerns an orphaned farm boy named Eragon who discovers a beautiful sapphire blue stone. He quickly learns that the stone is no gem – it is the egg of a dragon, long-thought to be extinct. Eragon (smarmily close to “dragon”) nurtures the female hatchling, forms a mental link with her, and names her Saphira. As the evil forces try to locate the powerful beast, Eragon enlists the aid of Brom the storyteller (Hint: Brom is not just a storyteller) and is thrust into an adventure filled with creatures, beasts, swordplay, magic and intrigue.

(I really wanted to footnote the above character names with the Lord of The Rings and Star Wars equivalents, but I refrained for fear of making this fantastic novel sound too derivative. Oh, what the hell: Eragon/Frodo/Luke enlists the aid of Brom/Gandalf/Obi Wan to save the land from the evil Galbatorix/Sauron/Emperor. There, now that that’s off my chest, ignore it. Though there are similarities, Eragon embellishes enough to overlook those similarities and just enjoy.)

The fun part of Eragon is in the storytelling. This be the stuff of fantasy. Dragons and magic and ugly, nasty beasts (Orcs. I mean Urgals) and a beautiful Elf (Arwen. I mean Arya), a fighter with a mysterious past (Aragorn. I mean Murtagh.) dwarves, and of course super-bad evil warrior bad guys (Nazghul. I mean Shades). I particularly enjoyed the teacher/student relationship between Brom and Eragon as well as the relationship between the boy and his dragon. If there is anything negative I can say about the book it’s that sometimes Eragon just seen to intuit his abilities.

The narrative is quick-moving and the plot development is superb. Die-hard adult-fantasy fans may sneer at the lack of depth to the simple plot, but this is aimed at a younger audience after all. To its credit, every scene advances the plot while providing atmosphere. Slapping in a paragraph or twelve describing the countryside always ticks me off. (*Cough-cough!* Red Mars. *Cough-cough!*) Paolini deftly reveals plot twists to propel the story to its satisfying battle sequence conclusion. Speaking of which, Eragon is the inevitable first book in The Inheritance Trilogy. The second, Eldest, is one I won’t miss.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

26 Comments on REVIEW: Eragon by Christopher Paolini

  1. Cameron Kingston // December 15, 2004 at 7:12 am //

    Eragon, an action packed fantasy novel, was one of the greatest books i’ve read in ages. This book combines a mixture of action/adventure, death and espionage, friendship, and venegance. I would recommend this book to any reader.

  2. :-@:-P:^)(H):-$:-$

  3. Awsome Book! I love it .Did 11 book reports on it in school. I also love Eldest.:-P:D:)

  4. hector chavez // December 5, 2005 at 4:47 pm //

    This is by far the best science fiction book I have ever read. 🙂

    I’m hoping to get Eldest.

  5. Hector, this is a fantasy novel, not sci-fi. Given that this is the best you’ve ever read, I assume that means you’ve read none? 🙂

    Seriously, if you want to read some real sci-fi, may I suggest looking at our previous discussions on starting out with some great science fiction.

  6. Congratulations Christopher! I’m 15 and Eragon is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I love Star Wars & The Lord of the Rings, they have similarities, but I have read myths quite similar to The Lord of… (and for the ones who said Paolini took BEOR from that book, it’s in the Bible! Tolkien’s great, but his not THAT original) 🙂

    I live in Argentina, and I’m waiting for Eldest Spanish version.

  7. I didn’t especially enjoy fantasy books, then I read Eragon.;-)

  8. Eragon is one of the best fantasy/adventure books i have ever read.if anybody reads this please let me know your opinion on the book. like what attracted you to read it? the setting, the characters, the theme. it would be greatly appreciated. email me at ka_vene@yahoo.com

  9. 😀 I love this book! I’ve read it about 30 times, and I’m doing a book report on it at this moment! Seriously, I have Microsoft Word up right now. (H)

  10. :-@ Does anyone know what the third book will be called?

  11. Anonymous // May 27, 2006 at 7:57 am //

    i hated eldest

    (6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)(6)8o|8o|8o|8o|8o|8o|8o|8o|

  12. Anonymous // July 30, 2006 at 7:53 pm //

    Its the best book i’ve ever read i’m looking forward into reading eldest.

  13. I LOVED the first book but i have not read the next one but i know it will be great!:D

  14. Anonymous // August 21, 2006 at 4:40 pm //

    awesome….

  15. this book was awousome. I loved it I would recommend it for all. It’s the best book i’ve ever read.:D

  16. I hate this book. It has retarded people in it. And who likes dragons. I hate this book. It’s boring and stupid.:-@:-@:-@:-@:-@:-@:-@

  17. You know, this book leaves a lingering feeling of a story almost identical. A farmboy sets off with a wise mentor to fight the Empire that has destroyed his home and killed his uncle. I don’t think it’s necessary to say what great 70s trilogy also follows this exact same storyline.:)

    Still, I have to say I loved the book regardless. After all, if you’re going to copy another story, why not copy the greatest movie saga in history.

  18. And I won’t mention what first novel in a long-running fantasy series also had a very similar plot, other than the author’s initials are T.B. and the title sounds something like “Sha-na-na”.

    :-$

  19. I love Eragon, its gr8!!!!!:D Lord of the rings, star wars, eragon, they all have 1 thing in common, THEY ROCK!!!!!!

    PS. whoever commented this book is full of retards has to see a doctor, they have serious problems.

    I love this book. I’m not usually a gr8 reader but eragon is an exception:D:D:D:D:D:-P:-P:-P:-P

  20. Anonymous // October 11, 2006 at 6:43 pm //

    good book:-S

  21. Anonymous // October 11, 2006 at 6:44 pm //

    awsome book:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

  22. Anonymous // October 11, 2006 at 6:47 pm //

    :):D(6):-@:-P:-S:^)(H);-):-$|-):O:(8o|:(:O|-):-$;-)(H):^):-P:-@(6):D:)mix emotions

    \

  23. If there is anything that is going to drive me away from SF Signal, it will be the inane comments by the fans of this over rated piece of fantasy.

    :O

  24. I love Eragon! amazin book!:D:D:D:D:D

  25. I’m starting to sincerely wish that John hadn’t read this book. Perhaps I’ll lock it from comments – repeated smileys aren’t really meaningful comment anyway.

  26. Scott, if you would lock the comments, that would be awesome!!!!

    :-$:-$:-$:-$:-$:-$:-$

    :O:O:O:O:O:O:O:

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