Book name: Eragon
Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Vintage children’s fiction, fantasy
Publication Date: 2003
Star Rating: 5/5
Eragon is the first in four books in the ‘Inheritance’ cycle, which is a series of epic fantasy books for children.
When Eragon opens, its hero is a fifteen-year-old orphan who lives with his uncle Garrow and his cousin Roran.
During a hunting trip, Eragon finds a blue stone of great beauty and mystery. The stone is large, but it weighs far less than he would expect given its size.
Eragon takes the stone home and, given his family’s financial insecurity, he tries to sell it or exchange it for food.
In the meantime, the stone turns out to be an egg when it hatches to reveal a baby dragon.
Eragon names her Saphira, discovers that he can communicate with her telepathically and does his best to hide her away.
However, the villagers have not forgotten Eragon’s attempt to sell his strange blue stone.
This puts in train a series of events that will lead to the murder of Garrow and the destruction of the family farm when strangers arrive in Carvahall.
Eragon is now penniless and homeless in addition to being an orphan. He still has Saphira, and is joined by the local bard Brom.
Brom’s role as storyteller means that he is able to inform Eragon about dragons. He is observant and intelligent, so he quickly guesses that Eragon’s stone was a dragon egg.
Together, the trio set out to find the men who killed Garrow. At this point, Eragon turns into a quest epic in that the small group have a reason to make the journey with a particular end in sight.
However, they have to work out who has done this and where they might be as they go along, so the elevated sense of a pre-defined quest we often see in epic fantasy is slightly tempered by the ‘find out as we go along’ nature of their information.
Brom is brave, informative and decent. He is more like a father to Eragon than anyone the lad has known apart perhaps from Garrow. It is Eragon’s loyalty to his uncle that underlies the entire quest.
As the journey occurs, new allies are found and the group must deal with a great deal that is unexpected.
There is also the mystery surrounding Eragon’s parentage and his ability as a dragon rider.
Eragon features a whole lore around dragons, and the promise that there may be more of them out there.
While the book is really a quest epic, it is as much as anything a journey of personal discovery for Eragon and those who surround him. He was an intensely likeable hero: modest, decent, loyal and uncomplaining. He was incredibly resilient.
The story was complex in a linear fashion (the move from one location to another as interim goals are accomplished and new goals set) but also in terms of Eragon’s heritage, the dragons and the wider existence of a king and empire not yet seen.
I loved Eragon and would thoroughly recommend it. There was nothing simplistic about the story or the fictional universe, so it appealed to me as an adult reader but is also suitable for children over 12.
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