Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Eragon Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Inheritance Book One
Pages: 509

Buy on Amazon!

I’ll admit there is a very magical feeling about reading Paolini’s Eragon.  All of the fantasy staples are here – romance, magic, powerful weapons, mythological creatures, monstrous bad guys, and heroic good guys.  Even more impressive is the fact that Paolini began writing this series when he was 15.  For a 15 year old this is great, but it was published by a big name and it now has to stand against professional authors with a lot more writing experience.  Compared to other professional works Eragon just doesn’t cut it.

While Paolini’s story may have a magical feeling to it, and some likeable characters to boot, it severely lacks originality especially in its plot and setting.  This is ultimately what undoes the book, as it becomes nearly impossible to get behind a plot that you’ve already read and a world you’ve already been to.

Eragon is a simple farm boy living with his uncle, until he finds a stone that hatches a dragon.  As Eragon raises his young dragon, Saphira, agents of the despotic emperor Galbatorix kill Eragon’s uncle and set him on journey for revenge.  Joining Eragon is a wise storyteller named Brom who teaches him about the Dragon Riders and begins training him to become a powerful warrior.

Lack of originality is the single greatest flaw in this book. The plot is taken directly from Star Wars (A New Hope).  Luke Skywalker works for his uncle until he is murdered.  Luke then joins with Obi-Wan Kenobi who teaches him how to be a jedi and helps begin his quest to bring down an all powerful empire. Replace the word Luke with Eragon, Obi-Wan Kenobi with Brom, and jedi with Dragon Rider – and that is the basic premise of this story.

The setting to Eragon seems to be taken directly from Lord of the Rings.  There are elves, dwarves, and many of the locations bare similar names to their Lord of the Rings counterparts.  The dwarves are short and live underground like Tolkien’s dwarves, and the elves have pointed ears and are immortal like Tolkien’s elves.  Reading Eragon, it’s not hard to get confused and think you’re in Middle Earth

Despite those plot and setting references, even the names for the characters aren’t original.  Sometimes you get obvious knock offs, for example consider the name Eragon and how similar it is to Tolkien’s Aragorn.  Or sometimes Paolini just straight up takes a name – like Arya, who’s an important character in George R.R. Martins’ A Song of Ice and Fire.  It’s ok to borrow common names for a story, but using unique names? … No, there is a good reason why nobody wrote a serious fantasy story with an important character called Frodo after Lord of the Rings.

The plot points to Eragon are very predictable.  You know what’s going to happen chapters before it does, because of how simply laid out this story is.  Granted this is a book written for teenagers, that doesn’t excuse the writer from not creating twists and turns that can keep a reader engaged.
Eragon as a character can get pretty annoying and self-righteous.  Because this is a coming of age story and this is only the first book I’m willing to forgive this, but it really started to annoy me after awhile.  The symbiotic relationship he has with his Dragon though is a fun concept and it could definitely make for some interesting plots down the road, but it hardly makes up for this novel’s many other faults.

The magic system isn’t too spectacular either, basically you need to know the real word for something in order to make it happen magically. For example Brigisnr = fire. This enables a new magic language to occur, which is kind of like the magic in Harry Potter, but without the clever puns and word play.

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but Paolini just didn’t know when to stop.  It’s one thing to imitate, but it’s a whole other thing when you constantly take from two of the most well known plots from the 20th century.  Eragon is a disappointing story that lacks creativity; young kids may not know the difference, but any teenager or adult should. This book may be popular, but the fantasy genre has offered better.

Score: 5.3

No comments:

Post a Comment