this is the 236th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Knopf 2003 hardcover
fantasy – Inheritance Book 1 (of 4)
Christopher Paolini began Eragon at age 15. His skills with storytelling and writing beyond his years and show improvement as the book progresses through it’s 497 pages.
Eragon, a young farm boy, is hunting in a mountainous area near his home when a flash and explosion occur nearby, devastating a small area of forest. He goes to investigate and finds among the burned brush and trees a large blue stone. He tries to barter it for food but townsfolk are suspicious of anything unusual, no matter how attractive, fearing it may be evil in nature. So he keeps it. The gemlike stone soon cracks open, hatching a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon with which Eragon bonds. This is all unexpected as dragons are thought to be extinct.
Soon afterward his family is killed by the evil marauding Ra’zac, and soon Eragon discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the humans dwarves and elves versus the diabolical Shades, Neanderthal-like Urgalls and the evil King Galbatorix. Soon Eragon and his dragon Saphira are thrown into a complex political situation which they struggle to understand while they endure perilous travel, battles, dire wounds and capture.
The book shows the influence of Tolkien (as does every fantasy written since Lord of the Rings) and also perhaps Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey and George RR Martin. It’s a traditional fantasy tale of a young boy who comes to realize he is special and his quest to find himself and overcome evil. We have the generally agreed-upon nature of dwarves, elves, dragons, magic swords and heroic warfare. The endpapers are a helpful map. This book got better as I read and by the end I was ready for the next volume, Eldest, which was published just over a year later.
The gap stretched out for the final two novels, and the four book series wasn’t in hand until 2011, nearly eight years after Eragon appeared. After I read this first book, I bought each successive one but did not read them until the quartet was complete. At which time I re-read this book and then went straight through the others. At the end, I found I had enjoyed the entire story immensely and wished there could be another book carrying on the story of Eragon and his dragon, Saphira.
These didn’t get the positive reaction I believe they deserved, and the 2006 film didn’t help matters any, though I find it to be watchable, just not great. I think fantasy readers who only read this first book and stopped have been short-changing themselves. I can recommend the entire set.