“Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world. A tall Shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.”
Eragon was Christopher Paolini’s first-ever novel, published in 2002 when was just nineteen years old.
It was an instant success and became a New York Times bestseller. It’s the first of The Inheritance Cycle series, along with four subsequent books being published over the next ten years. Originally self-published, Alfred A. Knopf has since re-released it.
It’s a tale of adventure, dragons, and magic. Set in an entirely different universe called Alagaësia, it follows a fifteen-year-old boy, Eragon. It deals with corrupt leaders, identity and finding yourself, as well as friendship, trust, and deciding between right and wrong.
Having lived in poverty all his life, Eragon is relieved to find a precious-looking blue gemstone while out hunting. It quickly becomes less of a blessing and more of a problem as the stone cracks to reveal a baby dragon inside. But the corrupt King murdered all of the dragon riders one hundred years before. Eragon’s entire life gets turned upside down as he struggles to cope with new responsibilities and villains closing in. He’s forced to flee his home, put his life in strangers’ hands, and fight back against the most powerful enemies in the kingdom.
Eragon is one of my favourite books for its brilliant writing, incredible characters, and realistic plot. Within the fantasy genre of course.
Eragon’s character development is one of the best I’ve ever read. He changes from a gangly farm boy at the start of the novel, to a powerful warrior at the end. His thoughts and outlook on life change with his physical appearance as a result of this new terrifying world he never asked to join. Yet he does give a lot of descriptions even though not all of them are needed for the plot. The panicked struggle of trying to hide a real-life moving breathing dragon from a suspicious uncle takes up two paragraphs. The calm inconvenience of shopping for groceries takes up two pages.
There is no love triangle. Let me repeat that. This is a teenage/young adult fantasy novel. And it has no love triangle. It was such a relief to read a book more focused on platonic relationships than romantic ones. The characters are also incredibly realistic. Yes, there are dragons and elves and creepy possessed spirit humans called Shades. But within those species, the individual characters are as authentic as the reader. Eragon remains traumatised from what he goes through, the different species have unique cultures, and no one remains unscathed from the war they go through.
Eragon can be slow-moving in places. After the dragon egg hatches, everything seems to happen at once, but once Eragon teams up with an old storyteller, Brom, things slow down. The main action of the book doesn’t happen until the end of the novel, which may annoy some readers. Some scenes are also stereotypical of fantasy novels. It has the Fleeing Princess, the Secret Societies, and even the Precious Item To Be Kept Away From The Big Bad King At All Costs. Although Paolini puts a whole new twist on the clichés, they remain clichés all the same. There’s the Orphan Destined For Greatness, Pretty Elves And Ugly Dwarves, and of course, the Mysterious Old Guy With A Quest.
Eragon is one of the best fantasy novels that I have ever read and as a result, gets five out of five stars. It’s intriguing, entertaining, and captivates you with every word. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone, whether you’re a child, teenager, or adult. It’s a heartwarming story of friendship and bravery and the start of a just-as-fantastic series!
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