Many books in my book queue are waiting to be read, and a common theme among them is they’re all part of a series, trilogy or saga. Most of them are considered in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, packed with action and adventure. Each Sunday, I’ll share a book from a series. You can read along with me, or add the books to your own reading list.
Changing pace from “Anna Karenina,” I noticed Christopher Paolini released his newest book, “Inheritance,” last November. I’ll be reviewing the newest installment soon, but I want to read through the series first. The series is four books long so far, and the third one, “Brisingr,” was published three years ago. So it’s been a while.
If you’ve never considered picking up the series, you’ll want to start with “Eragon.” Paolini wrote “Eragon” in 2003 and in 2006, it was made into a horrible movie. The subsequent novels, “Eldest” and “Brisingr,” were never transferred to film, and Eragon fans can be thankful for that.
“Eragon” is about a boy who finds a dragon egg. The egg hatches and he raises the dragon, named Saphira, in secret, becoming a fabled Rider. The emperor, Galbatorix, who is set on conquering the world, wants all of the dragon riders under his control.
Eragon is ignorant of the emperor’s plot until shadowy, evil insect-bird-men called Ra’zac start hunting him. From there, he travels with the village storyteller, Brom, who teaches him the fundamentals of dragon care, sword fighting and spell casting.
Later, he meets a boy his age named Murtagh and a beautiful elf woman named Arya. Together, they travel to Farthen Dur, a dwarven cave system where the empire’s resistance, The Varden, is camping out. When the caves are attacked by Urgals (vicious, horned bull-men,) and a Shade (an evil magical demon,) Eragon, Arya and Saphira save Farthen Dur from certain doom.
“Eragon” reads like the first book in a series. A lineup of characters prances across the pages and the readers get a small taste of what they look like and how they act through narration and dialogue. There’s no confusion as to who is evil, who’s good, and who might be a double agent. The main character starts his adventure in his own small town, isolated from the rest of the world, so the reader learns about his world, Alagaesia, as Eragon is learning about it.
One thing I found frustrating about the book is the whole is the “you don’t know about this (ability, character, political move, etc.) now, but you soon will” ambiance, which permeates the narrative. After an epic battle, readers are left hanging at the end, thinking, “oh well, guess I’d better buy the next book.” Eragon plays every second of the “chosen one who will save the world, but who is still learning about his powers” archetype, similar to a Frodo Baggins or Luke Skywalker. While his story is interesting, it’s been done before.
I can’t be too critical. I recall the series getting better as I read on. Paolini did start writing the series when he was 15 years old, a feat I would not have been able to accomplish when I was 15. The series also is classified as young adult fiction, so the story is a quick read, uncomplicated and straightforward.
Paolini offers beautiful descriptions of settings and he creates his own world with a set of values, rules, taboos and politics. There’s no way the reader can finish “Eragon” and NOT want to read the three books that follow.
Next week I’ll be delving deeper into the Inheritance Cycle with its second book, “Eldest.”
Do you have a suggestion on a book series I should pick up next? Comment below!