Book Review: ‘Eragon’ by Christopher Paolini

Posted: 19 November 2012 in Book reviews
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It’s been a year since my last post and I have a little catching up to do.  I finished the series by Alison Croggon, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ by John le Carre, as well as the first book in my own series ‘The Chronicles of the Fallen: The Fallen Resurrection’.  I will get posts about all those books with the coming weeks.  Now on to ‘Eragon’.

This is the second time reading through ‘Eragon’.  The first time was in 2007 after the movie came out.  Personally i thought the movie was good.  I really enjoyed it.  My best friend hated it though.  Once I read the book I understood why.  Like the do with most book to film adaptions, the altered the story, moved scenes out of order, and even changed to location of the ending.  It wasn’t awful, but yes disappointing.  But I’m not here to critique the film.

My second time reading the book was last night.  I am rereading the series as I bought the last book some time ago and despite there being a synopsis in the beginning, I would rather read the books from start to finish to get the whole picture.  ‘Eragon’ is the first book of four in the ‘Inheritance’ series.  It was originally supposed to be only three books, but it was lengthened to four from the quantity of material he wanted/needed to add to complete the story.

This book contains the beginnings of a very complex story.  I shall try and create a synopsis as short as possible.

Eragon is a farmboy who discovers a blue stone in the Spine (a mysterious mountain range that most of the villagers are afraid of) during a hunt.  He knew it has been magicked there but not why or whom it was for.  As soon he picks it up his life is changed forever.  Shortly after he discovers it, the stone hatches to reveal a dragon.  He is now a Dragon Rider, a legendary figure used to protect and guard.  They were eventually betrayed and wiped out by Galbatorix, who now rules all of Alagaesia (their country).  Now Eragon is a rider.

Betrayed by Sloan the butcher, Eragon’s uncle is killed by strangers, later known as the Ra’zac.  Eragon, accompanied by Brom the storyteller, begin a journey to avenge his uncle’s death.  How would he know though that this journey would ultimately reshape his life?  In Yazuac he discovers he can use magic, in Teirm he learns his future, and throughout all this he discovers the most challenging choice of all, what to do with the power he has been given.

He soon has to begin making his own choices when Brom dies after an attack by the Ra’zac.  They are saved by mysterious newcomer Murtagh.  Eragon is captured shortly thereafter and Murtagh and Saphira rescue him along with an unconscious elf, Arya.  They only have one choice now: to go to the Varden.  The Varden are a group of people who openly oppose Galbatorix and his regime.  They are hidden in the Beor Mountains far away from the reaches of the king.  After the group cross the Hadarac Desert, Eragon touches Arya’s mind where he learns her name and the location of the Varden.  They have very little time as they learn she has been poisoned and then discover that an army of Urgals (which they later learn are actually Kulls which are stronger and larger than Urgals) is in swift pursuit.  Murtagh doesn’t want to go to the Varden, as he is the son of Morzan, a ruthless man who was once a rider and right-hand man to Galbatorix (Brom killed Morzan).  He knows the Varden will not trust him.  Once they reach where the entrance to the hideout should be, the Kull are upon them.  They battle them as best they can and only survive because Orik (a dwarf) disobeys orders and opens the doors to save them.

Now they are in the hands of the Varden.  Once Ajihad (the leader) recognizes Murtagh’s voice, he imprisons him for his safety and until they know he can be trusted.  Eragon doesn’t like it, but once he is allowed to visit him, he learns that Murtagh is not being treated improperly.  Not everyone is happy that a new rider has appeared though.  The dwarves had an aversion to dragons and many would try and use the rider for their own means.  Eragon has now been thrust into more than just a battle for the future of his country.  He is the hope for the salvation of the different races and the entire world.  He must learn all he can as well as who to trust.

Alright, now my thoughts.  I really enjoy the story.  It is engaging and very well developed.  Some of the dialogue drives me crazy between Saphira and Eragon.  She sometimes has this ridiculous air about her that makes it seem like she thinks she is smarter than Eragon.  Sure she probably is, but she comes off as arrogant and demeaning quite often and it isn’t pleasant to read.  Otherwise it is great.

My favourite character is Murtagh.  Still is.  What I love about him is his defiance.  He stands his ground and doesn’t budge for anyone.  It can be seen when he is requested to let the Twins probe his mind (to see if they can trust him).  He says no.  His mind is the one thing that hasn’t been taken from him so he will let no one in it.  He doesn’t care if they lock him in a cell, he stands firm.  Plus he seems more realistic as a character.

Overall, I say to read it.  It is worth it.  It can be difficult to read at times (more so in the later books) from the language but that’s all.  There are a couple improbable parts (obviously in a fantasy series) such as Saphira being able to use her wings the same day she hatches.  Who am I to say that a mythological creature can’t glide the day it hatches, I’m just noting that not even birds can use their wings like that until they’ve grown some.  The improbables are very small though so they don’t detract from the story.  Give this one a shot.  You won’t be disappointed.  And if you’ve seen the movie first, definitely read it.  You’ll be glad you did 😉

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