I figured it was about time to revisit this childhood classic. It was weird picking up your/our old copy from over a decade ago. If you recall it was just the first two books and I’ve since gotten the second two. But I’ve never read them back-to-back, only the first two and then many years between the others so it’s going to be a bit of an eye opener.
Series: The Inheritance Cycle; Book 1
Author: Christopher Paolini
ROTS Setting: UU, Medieval/Renaissance, Dragons, Magic, Higher Magic
Synopsis: 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 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. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .
Recommendation: I recommend this series for pre- and early teens.
I always remembered this as basically being for younger readers, not children but pre-teens so I’m surprised at the various mature references. It’s not over the top and I can’t remember if I noticed and then forgot or never noticed to begin with.
Eragon is a simplistic character whom I don’t care much for but he’s not a terrible character. In isolation (not considering the rest of the series), there’s some real potential there. And like the characters, the plot is also pretty simple and straight forward and other than some minor plot holes and clear maneuvering by the author for the sake of drama, it’s not bad.
My biggest issue with this book is with world building. The “empire” feels tiny, empty, and living in a vacuum. Everything is isolated from everything else. There’s no common culture or clashing cultures. The language used by the unlearned and illiterate is quite intellectual and high brow. Rivers fork! Horses can sprint over long distances and for days at a time. Magic has both hard limits and yet is used indiscriminately.
It’s the in-between nature of book that’s the cause of most of my frustration. Had this been targeted toward children then much of the detail could have been glossed over and reversely had this been targeting teens then the details would need to have been worked out a bit better. From a casual perspective, this novel is just fine. It’s an easy read fantasy that’s entertaining with mild fulfillment. Sadly, any sort of closer scrutiny and it’s weaknesses become glaringly obvious.
And that’s when compared with an adult author which Mr. Paolini was not at the time that this book was written. It’s solid book for an author of any age, but knowing he was a teenager is absolutely amazing.
In summary, it’s a good novel and a decent series opener. I’ll be reading the rest of the series over the course of this month so keep an eye out for those.