Title – Eragon
Series – The Inheritance Cycle #1
Author – Christopher Paolini
Genre – Fantasy
Length – 528 pages
Published – 6 Jan. 2005
My Rating – ★★★★★
Originally intended as a trilogy, the four books of the Inheritance Cycle have become quite controversial in the fantasy community. While it is certainly true that there are numerous similarities to The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and even Star Wars (and quite possibly others as well) I still feel this Cycle is overall quite fascinating; the depth of the relationship between Saphira and Eragon and how they get to grow into their role as the legendary dragon riders captivated me. It definitely kept me locked up in the student halls and away from the occasional lecture that’s for sure. Written by Christopher Paolini who was only 18 years old when the first book Eragon was published, the Inheritance Cycle had sold more than 25 million copies even before the last book was on the market (see here).
The books describe the adventures of the farm boy Eragon (yes, this is really similar to Aragorn, but surely this is not intentional :D) and his dragon Saphira in the Land of Alagaësia full of humans, dwarves, and elves (… don’t even…) and their epic fight against the immortal evil king Galbatorix.
The first book of the Inheritance Cycle – Eragon written by Christoper Paolini when he was only about 16 years old fascinated me. I read it the first time (and have read it what feels like a million times since) when I was 18 and a friend recommended it to me when I was staying over at his. Well, let’s say I was not much fun that day (sorry!)…It went so far that when the second book Eldest was published, we bought a copy together and I insisted that I read the book first..
Paolini describes how a teenage farm boy, Eragon, from a village on the outskirts of a vast empire becomes entangled in the epic struggle for the land. Everything is triggered when Eragon finds a dragon egg while hunting and the dragon Saphira hatches. The king of Alagaësia, Galbatorix, who himself is a dragon rider, seeks to control Eragon and sends his evil minions after him, which results in Saphira and Eragon having to leave their village guided by the mystical figure of Brom – who turns out to be more than is first apparent. Paolini succeeds in allowing the reader to grow with the two uneducated hatchlings into a powerful and respected force. In my opinion, it is this growing bond between rider and dragon which gives depth to the book (and uniqueness too). Just to imagine having someone so different (as human and dragon naturally are) to be in each other’s minds (yep that’s part of the deal) and have no secrets from each other sounds quite disturbing to me and it is for Saphira and Eragon as well in the beginning. But then dragon and rider, as well as the readers, come to realise the power of not HAVING to keep secrets from someone and how much stronger this connection makes them and begin to appreciate it and each other more than anything else.
On the other hand, there is Brom who has offered to accompany and train Eragon in both the use of magic (all dragon riders become magicians through their bond with their dragon) and fighting and is without a doubt my favourite character of this book. While initially known as the somewhat edgy storyteller of Eragon’s village, we discover through the course of the book that there is so much more to him and while he always keeps his secrets he shows a depth of emotional empathy and wisdom that is impressive. He teaches Eragon what is right and wrong when it comes to using his new abilities (such as reading other people’s minds) and becomes something like a father figure for Eragon who has grown up as an orphan with his uncle and his cousin Roran (who is more like an older brother). For me, Brom guides not only Eragon but also the reader into the bigger connections of the events taken place around Eragon and the world of gramarye (the elvish word for magic).
The contest for the control over Eragon climaxes in the heroic rescue of the elf princess Arya from one of Galbatorix’s prisons aided by Murtagh – a young master swordsman who offers to accompany Eragon and the epic battle of Tronhjeim, the capital city of the dwarves who shelter the rebel group called the Varden and also take in Eragon and Saphira. Arya offers to take Eragon to the land of the elves to complete Eragon’s training, which sets the path for the sequel Eldest (which you will be able to read more about in my next post).
Paolini’s simple writing style is perfectly fitting to Eragon himself and his development throughout the book. So, while I totally understand why many people don’t like the book because of its similarities to LOTR and other books in this genre, it is less the setting of the story but rather what it adds in rich individual characters, such as Brom and especially the bond between Eragon and Saphira that make this book totally worth reading and a good addition to the fantasy genre.
So, if you haven’t done so yet, get the book and find out for yourself whether you agree or not, but keep in mind one thing… the movie is bad… I mean really bad, but that is a different topic…
Until next time and feel free to air your thoughts below!