At the beginning of June, kicking off my 10 Books of Summer 2021 reading, I was swept away by a re-read of Eragon by Christopher Paolini, which is the first book – published in 2002 when Paolini was only 15-years-old – of his epic fantasy series, The Inheritance Cycle, for young adults. It has been many years since I read this and even with seeing the 2006 film since, I must say I didn’t remember a great deal of the detail of this adventure.
So it was good to be re-acquainted with Eragon: a poor young man, who has quietly grown up, with his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran, in the small farming community of Carvahall, nestled away in the northern reaches of The Spine mountains, mostly overlooked by the rest of Alagaësia and its tyrannical ruler, Galbatorix. It is a tough, isolated life, but a good, honest one. The only highlight of the year being the arrival of the trader’s wagon train, just before winter, that brings much needed supplies, fine goods, performers and gossip from the wider world.
It is at this exact time of year, with the snow almost upon them and still no signs of the traders, that Eragon goes hunting in the foreboding forests of The Spine, to augment his family’s meagre food supplies. However after long hours of patient pursuit, his quarry is frightened off by the magical appearance of a large, polished blue stone. Eragon takes it hoping it might have enough value to buy some meat, but what the stone brings instead is a dragon hatchling: a species long believed extinct after the fatal betrayal of the Dragon Riders. 🐲
Overnight Eragon’s simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the guidance of the town’s old storyteller Brom, Eragon and his fledgling dragon, Saphira are forced to flee their home, with dark enemies in pursuit, to reach the resistance fighters: The Varden, where they hope to find shelter, tutelage and a way to avenge the wrongs done them, their loved ones and the land. Can he take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in their hands/claws!
What unfolds is the standard adventure/journey across an epic fantasy world, made up of towering mountains, fortified cities, a treacherous desert and a secret, underground sanctuary; populated with humans, elves, dwarves, mages, witches, weres, urgals (horned goblin like creatures) and the Ra’zac: the dreadful henchmen of Galbatorix. This has led to some negative comparisons with Tolkien’s work and while yes there are many similarities, I think the characters, style and tone of this book, being aimed at younger readers, is different enough for this to stand in its own right.
I particularly enjoyed the characters of Eragon and Brom, who are both very likeable and believable, and I really liked the growing bond between Eragon and Saphira, and the interesting dynamics that are involved in a friendship between a man and a dragon. It was also good to be reminded of the finer details of this tale, which I had forgotten over time, and while I enjoyed it at first, I am now more painfully aware of how off script the film went! Although still got to give it to Ed Speleers he was great casting as Eragon. 👱♂️
So while this is no Lord of the Rings, I did enjoy my re-read of Eragon by Christopher Paolini, for the fun, fantasy, young adult adventure that it should be read as. Plus this is a YA with not a love triangle in sight, which has got to be worth something?! 😅 I look forward to re-reading Eldest next, and then finally getting round to reading the final two books in the series for the first time. Good read ⭐⭐
(This is book #1 for my 10 Books of Summer 2021 reading challenge)
Now I’d love to hear from you: Have you read this? Or any of the other books from the series? Have you seen the film?