Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading


Eragon by Christopher Paolini


If you do a small amount of research into this novel, you’ll find many reviewers call the book or its author “precocious.” I suppose that has more to do with the author’s age than anything else (Christopher Paolini was 15 when he began writing the novel). The definition fits, but I can’t help but feel like reviewers are casting aspersions at the author; I’ve always felt that “precocious” was often used in a derogatory way. Maybe that’s just me.

I resisted reading Eragon for a long time, partly because I tend to shy away from high fantasy books. I went into one of my book frenzies a few weeks back, though, and this one popped up on the list somehow. Maybe it was all the buzz surrounding the book, or just that it was going to be a movie by Christmas. Either way, it jumped to the top of my list, since it was the book with the most holds on it at the library.

I liked this book. I think that Paolini shows great aptitude for storytelling and writing, as well as for understanding human nature (though the author’s note reveals that he had a lot of help from adults and editors). His characters, though sometimes a bit thin and stereotypical, were believeable and honest, and the relationships between them rang true. Since this is a coming-of-age story, the characters and relationships are important, and though he may falter occasionally, Paolini pulls it off well.

Because this is a fantasy novel, there are similarities between it and The Lord of the Rings, but I also found some similarities with Star Wars. There’s an evil king, who leads the Empire, the system of rule that’s in place due to a hostile takeover. He’s often challenged by a group of rebels, made up of different races of creatures, all fighting for freedom and fair justice. Eragon, the main character, is a Dragon Rider, the first to be “birthed” in many years, and represents the power that can de-throne the king and thwart the empire. Oh, and the king has a race of troops at his command, similar to both the Stormtroopers in Lucas’ epic, and the Uruk Hai from Tolkien’s. I don’t think the comparisons are bad, since both Tolkien and Lucas formed their stories from mythology, but it kept popping into my head as I was reading, and it distracted me from the story.

There were some aspects of the book that threw me off. It seemed that there were fantasy cliches peppered throughout the story, but maybe that’s somewhat typical of high fantasy novels. Also, Paolini’s pacing was a bit frustrating. He would easily spend pages clearing up the exposition, or more of the back story, but most battles would wrap up in a page or two. I felt like the battles should have been the heart of the story, but he didn’t spend enough time on them. Just as they started to get interesting to me, they would end. His characters sometimes lacked depth, but on other occasions, they elicited a lot of sympathy. It was a weird combination, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Overall, I think it was worth reading, and I expect to read the rest of this series as it’s released. I expect that the series will get better as it goes along; if nothing else, the author will be maturing, so his prose should, as well.


May 22, 2006 - Posted by | Reviews, YA Fiction

1 Comment »

  1. eragon should be better than harry potter

    Comment by eragon | July 21, 2006 | Reply

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