Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.
Executive summary: Fun read.
In the first chapter, you are introduced to Urgals (large horned monsters), a Shade (evil spirits encompassed) and three elves. The female elf magically gets rid of a blue sapphire that she is protecting, but then is captured by the Shade and her counterparts killed.
We are then introduced to 15 year old Eragon who lives with his uncle, Garrow and his cousin Roran. We know Eragon has difficulties with the butcher, Sloan although Roran is hoping to marry Sloan’s daughter Katrina. Also in this second chapter Eragon discovers a blue sapphire (presumably the one in the first chapter) while hunting in the Spine. King Galbatorix is mentioned.
In the next chapter, traders come to the town nearest where Eragon lives (Carvahall) bearing bad news about the land of Algaesia. The blue sapphire is examined by a trader but determined to be unsellable. We meet the storytellers including Carvahall’s own named Brom. We learn that the Empire led by King Galbatorix are hated by most but are generally followed. There is also a rebel group called the Varden who continually tries to fight the empire. We learn the backstory of Galbatorix and that he used to be a Dragon rider before he turned evil.
And then the sapphire stone hatches to reveal a blue dragon. I must say that I was a bit surprised as I didn’t think that the obviously blue dragon from the cover would be revealed on page 36. I flipped to the back to see a total of 497 pages. Oh no. Is this going to be 463 pages full of aimless wandering and elf song?
Eragon and the dragon, eventually named Saphira (when the dragon names were suggested, it was obvious which one it was going to be), grow a stronger connection. Saphira grows bigger and bigger and then it turns out that Eragon and Saphira can communicate with each other through their minds and have a stronger connection as a team than they wood individually.
Two black cloaked men show up in Carvahall, and Eragon overhears them speaking to Sloan. He is “trying” to go home, but he coincidentally bumps into Brom and his silvery hand mark (which was created by his first touch of Saphira) is discovered. When he gets home, Saphira flies away angrily with Eragon to avoid these cloaked strangers. They return the next day to find the house blown apart and Garrow injured. Eragon takes Garrow into town where he struggles then eventually dies. Eragon realizes his cover is blown and sneaks off in the night with Saphira and the help of the town storyteller Brom. (page 100)
For the next 397 pages, Eragon & Saphira with the help of various others go chasing after the cloaked men (the Ra’zac, who are the king’s servants). Eragon learns fighting skills and magical powers, and they inevitably find the elf from chapter 1 and take her to the Varden, where there is an epic battle between dwarves, urgals, elves, humans, etc. The culmination of this battle has Eragon killing a Shade (a big deal) and then (a terribly overused plot point in this book) passing out and while unconscious, being contacted by someone who tells him to travel to the forest of the elves…creating the segue for the sequel.
This book was recommended to me by a few people, and I happened to already have a copy of it which was certainly convenient. It was only after I finished that I realized that the book was written by a teenager! The book was started when Paolin was only 15 years old. That explained a few things to me.
There were obviously a lot of similarities to other fantasy work, but that didn’t really bother me that much. I expect to see dwarves, elves, and epic battles between them when there is a dragon involved. I actually was reminded a bit of Avatar with the relationship between Eragon and Saphira, which post-dates the book release. I thought the quick pace of the book was good (but I also am the sort who tried to read The Fellowship of the Ring twice and got bored in the middle both times…) and even though I summarized 397 pages in one paragraph, I didn’t feel bored when I was reading it.
Like I mentioned previously, there were a lot of convenient ways to transition the story, passing out for one. I think Eragon passed out 5 or 6 times throughout the book and always made it out OK. The characters were not that well developed, and despite their background information, you didn’t really know what they looked like or any personality traits of them. And some of the descriptions of locations were really hard for me to follow. When they finally got into the area where the Varden were hiding (Tronjheim), I must have read the description 3x of what the area looked like before abandoning the attempt.
Verdict: 3.5 stars. It was fun to read, and not that serious. I will probably read the sequel(s) when I get an opportunity to, however, I will borrow them from the library. As far as young adult (yes that’s how I would classify it) books go, it falls somewhere in the upper middle class. 🙂