Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Christopher Paolini: Eragon

I recently saw an email announcing Brisingr, Book Three in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. So to bring myself back up to speed on the story, I decided it was time to re-read Eragon, the first book. After I finished, I noticed that the announcement was earlier than I expected. The new book is not due until September 20. So obviously I jumped the gun. I’ll re-read Eldest in August or so. And since I’m re-reading and planning to buy the third book, I’ve tipped my hand on the conclusion that I enjoy the book. (On the other hand, I thought the movie was awful.)

Paolini is spinning a good tale, although he is obviously influenced by others in the genre. I can’t help but think his dragon riders are influenced by Anne McCaffrey. His dwarves and elves seem to draw heavily on Tolkien. His country of Alagaesia reminds me a lot of the terrain of Middle Earth, although the forests don’t seem quite as dangerous.

Paolini’s approach to magic was new, at least to me. Different forms of magic require personal energy and can leave the wielder exhausted and vulnerable. Magic beyond your limits can kill you.

Eragon is a simple farm boy who finds (or is found by) a polished blue stone. The stone hatches into a dragon. The two of them, Eragon and Saphira, must grow and learn together to face the evil in the empire. Brom, who becomes Eragon’s tutor in the ways of magic, combat, and honor, is an interesting character. Murtagh who teams with Eragon later in the story also adds some depth and mystery.

In some ways, the story has a young reader feel to it. There’s not much nuance to his good versus evil. Some of the plot twists are pretty obvious. But like Harry Potter, Eragon is still a fun escape.

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