Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on August 26, 2003
One boy. One dragon. A world of adventure.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.
Because Eragon came out in 2003 when I was still pretty young, this book still falls into the “throwbacks” category. However, since the last book in the series came out in 2011 I can’t put the entire series into a Thumbing Through Throwbacks post. Because of that, and since I just did a complete series reread at the end of 2015, this is what I consider a hybrid review. I’ll be able to talk about my initial thoughts as a kid as well as how they’ve changed throughout the years.
For Eragon in particular, I have reread the book at least a dozen times. As the series continued on they got less rereads, mostly because I was finding other stuff to read as YA hit its stride. It has nothing to do with the quality, the entire series is awesome. However of all the books I think Eragon is the best. Eragon is where the Inheritance Cycle got its start. Paolini was a teenager when he wrote the first book and his grasp of how and what kids loved to see in fantasy was fantastic. As he got older and the series developed the books became increasingly more adult, but I don’t think they ever actually became what I would consider “adult fantasy”. They still held the wonder and beauty, the very specific YA feel, that I only ever see in YA fantasy. IT’s just that Eragon shows it off best.
I remember thinking of this series as YA’s Tolkien. Paolini carefully crafts multiple languages in a way that reminded me very strongly of Lord of the Rings but with the easy to read feel of The Hobbit. As a Tolkien nut they appealed to me instantly. Paolini creates the world so completely and clearly, one of the reasons the film adaptation failed so miserably. It didn’t even come close to the expansive beauty of the land, making such a massive world seem so tiny. Right off the bat Paolini measures the huge world he created against the tiny town of Carvahall and its so easy to get lost in there. I used to stare at the map at the beginning of the book for hours, letting my mind fill in the gaps for places Eragon hadn’t visited yet.
My favorite character of the series has a integral part in this book, that being Brom the storyteller! He’s your typical wise old man archetype but with a bit of added sass. His sass and beration of Eragon is really what makes the character for me, and Eragon certainly earns every scolding he gets.
That’s because Eragon is a bit of an idiot in this book, but honestly, wouldn’t you be? You’re 15 and you just discovered that you’re the last of an ancient order who protects the land with dragons, magic, and bad ass swordplay. It might go to your head a little. And if you’re and impulsive 15 year old boy with a score to settle, you’re probably not always going to be smart about it. Eragon grows up not even in a small town, but outside of it on a farm. He has no idea what’s out there, no clue besides bits and pieces of info that comes across a giant mountain range. So yeah, he makes incredibly dumb decisions, but most of them are based on lack of knowledge and a bit of impulsivity.
Rereading it again, this book totally holds up. The world is still at a manageable level and you aren’t following multiple characters at once. This is probably the reason it is the most strictly YA book of the series, as the story hasn’t yet gotten incredibly complicated and intricate. Even though it’s the shortest book of the 4 (each book gets progressively longer) there’s a lot of info to swallow but it never gets overwhelming. I still love the crap out of this book and I dare anyone to try and tell me that the movie was better (we will seriously have a fight). It was a five star (or nut) book then and it remains the same today.
What did you think of Eragon? Share in the comments (or check out the review of the film in the pre-wordpress archives).