Science fiction and fantasy
by Christopher Paolini
The early chapters of Eragon are very clichéd, derivative of many other novels in this genre without bringing anything new or insightful. The author's extreme youth does come through in the writing, unfortunately. This book was written and published during Christopher Paolini's mid to late teens, and his lack of life experience is reflected in the characters he has created.
Eragon soon discovers that dragons and their riders attract all the wrong kind of attention in Alagaesia. The further he travels the more unrest and suffering he discovers. Urgals are encroaching into new territories, whilst war between the Empire and the Varden looks increasingly likely.
Luckily for Eragon he has the help of Brom, the town's old storyteller. Brom seems to know an awful lot more about dragons, magic, and the king's business than any small town entertainer ought to. King Galbatorix is widely disliked and feared, and with Brom's help Eragon learns just how ruthless and underhand the king truly is.
The dialogue is peppered with ham archaic speech, abounding with phrases such as "Woe unto you!" and so on, and this drives home the hackneyed aspects of this book. However, the story gains personality and complexity as it progresses, and it improves steadily. The political situation becomes more nuanced the further in you read, and there are hints that certain characters have something to hide or stories to tell. The relationship between Eragon and Saphira strengthens, although in some ways the pair of them are a little too good to be true, too heroic and noble to be entirely credible.
There's enough mystery sown in Eragon to make you want to pick up the sequel. Some of the flaws in this novel carry the hallmark of an inexperienced writer, which is entirely understandable. Yet in spite of this Paolini has achieved something that authors decades older than him don't always manage, which is to write an entertaining narrative set in an immersive world and built around likeable central characters. It's a promising début.
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Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Christopher Paolini