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Reading “Eragon”

with 4 comments

When I first learned that Christopher Paolini was only eighteen when he published this novel, I became intrigued. I figured, if you can score a book contract at eighteen, there’s got to be something special threaded into the pages. Right?

I did a little research, and learned that Paolini first published Eragon through his parents’ publishing arm, and then struck out across the country to promote the thing. He spoke at libraries and schools, usually appearing in period garb, and painted a large picture of the dragon featured in his story while delivering his pitch. He eventually earned the attention of Alfred A. Knopf, and the rest, well, you know.

The book rose to the number one spot on the NY Times bestseller list, and as you can imagine, the movie rights were picked up soon after (the film premieres this Christmas). I bought the book on impulse last week. I’m 300 pages in, and here are my thoughts so far…

The story follows the titular character Eragon, a fifteen year old orphan boy who stumbles upon a dragon egg in the wilderness. Destiny leads him to become the next Dragon Rider—part of an ancient group of protectors. The narrative paints the hero quest rather predictably, but moves along well enough. The writing could use a polish—Paolini relies on adverbs almost as much as Rowling, and far too many sentences fall into passive voice. Many times, his characters tend to sound alike. That’s a big no no when your three mains are a wise old warrior, a boy, and a dragon.

As far as plot, what more can I say than it’s held me thus far? I will finish the book and will probably see the movie. It was written for teens, and being unfamiliar with that market, I can’t really offer a take on its merits there. Compared to other works of fantasy, the book falls among the parade of other efforts that somehow seek to emulate the grand experience of The Lord of the Rings.

It seems somehow unfair to accuse Paolini of borrowing his favorite elements of classic fantasy tales and creating his own. Many writers have earned quite a lot of money doing this very thing. Besides, they all follow the same steps of the hero’s journey. I’ve written before that an author’s originality will not show in the structure of the plot, but the colors he / she uses to paint the journey. Paolini’s colors fall a little flat in this effort, but to the casual reader, this will probably go unnoticed. It’s an entertaining escape, though it lacks the fanfare and depth of other more mature efforts. I think the one thing hindering Paolini here may simply be his age. I’m curious to see what he creates in the coming years. If he keeps at it, he could establish himself quite well.

Once I put this on the shelf, I’m going to take a stab at the Dark Tower series (Andrew, this is for you).


Written by taj

December 5, 2006 at 10:16 pm

Posted in Books, stories, Writing

4 Responses

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  1. All right! Finally, someone I’ll be able to talk “Dark Tower” with. See my review on my blog on these novels, in order to maximize your experience.

    Lord Vertigo

    December 6, 2006 at 6:30 pm

  2. I started reading the book this week. So far it is a very enjoyable read. I went and saw Casino Royale last night, and saw an extended trailer for Eragon, paint me excited to see the movie! Another trilogy that looks to be as good as LOTR, I can only hope…

    ~Neophyte Pundit

    Eric Jay

    December 9, 2006 at 8:36 am

  3. Nah, every time someone gets compared to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, it’s an inevitable let-down. Eragon would probably have a little more in common with Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books, especially the first two. From the trailer I saw this week, it appears to be a visually impressive film and pretty much anything with Jeremy Irons (not counting that “Dungeons and Dragons” fiasco) is great.

    Lord Vertigo

    December 9, 2006 at 10:37 pm

  4. How’s “Dark Tower” coming? There’s a page at http://www.thedarktower.net that will be a helpful resource for you, and also just plain fun to look at while you read.

    Lord Vertigo

    January 4, 2007 at 8:01 am

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