The first part of a four novel fantasy series called the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon tells the story of young farm boy and how circumstances force him to become a hero, a saviour for a world reeling under the shadow of evil. And in this Eragon (that is the name of the protagonist) is assisted by his loyal friend and companion, the dragon Saphira whose egg he discovers on a hunting trip. What follows is an intricate journey replete with dragons, urgals, dwarves, magic, elves – in short all the essential ingredients of a fantasy novel. And then there are some new elements like the Shades and the Ra’zac.
A fast paced book, Eragon boasts of some great characters and well described action sequences. Often fantasy novels make the mistake of having too much or too little background. In Eragon, Paolini has managed to keep a fine balance. There is enough lore, enough detail to engage the reader and yet, there is never an over dose of explanations. The characters, their roles, their powers, their history and their parts in the story all unfold gradually and in a beautiful symphony. The plot is intricate enough to excite adults, yet not too complicated or too gory for kids. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity.
Of course, Eragon is no Lord of the Rings and Paolini no Tolkein. There are times when some sequences in the novel just don’t make sense or seem out of place. At places, the story line drags too much and you wish you could just skip a few pages to get some real action. But Eragon’s real beauty lies in its emphasis on relationships. Eragon’s relationship with Saphira, Brom, Murtagh and his uncle are all well developed and show depth. What is also endearing is the fact that Eragon is not born a superhero. He is just an ordinary boy who discovers that he is capable of and meant for extraordinary deeds. In the course of his journey he errs, he stumbles, he needs help and these vulnerabilities make more believable, and more loveable. If he was born perfect, if he could defeat hordes of urgals or fight bands of Ra’zac single handedly then he would perhaps lose his charm . After all, even fantasy requires a touch of reality – an ability to relate to a character and believe that extraordinary adventures can happen to anyone; ordinary people are the people who go on to shape destinies.
Interestingly, the story behind Eragon has been as much in the news as the book itself. Paolini started writing the book when he was 15 and completed it at the age of 19. He then self published the book with the help of his parents. It is said that Paolini would don medieval costumes and sell copies of his books in schools, libraries etc, till one day his work was discovered by Alfred Knopf. That marked turning point of his career.
So read this book if you are looking for a good fantasy read and pay attention to the names for Paolini sets a great store by them. He would sit for hours till he found the perfect name for his characters. The name Eragon he thought was perfect because it is very close to dragon – the other protagonist of this series. Replace the “D” in dragon with an “E” and you have the perfect dragon rider!!!!
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