by Christopher Paolini
Many, many, many, many readers have urged me to read this book by an American child prodigy who began writing it after he
graduated from high school at age 15. But I fended them off with some excuse about waiting for it to come out in paperback
(which was a good excuse, because I do spend too much money on books as it is). Confession time: that wasn't the only
reason I dragged my feet.
You see, I was writing novels at age 15 too, and I thought I was a child genius; and looking back on those novels I frankly
don't think too much of them. Plus I did the whole Advanced Dungeons and Dragons thing with my friends, who all thought we
were the heirs to the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien
and that we were creating a great fantasy adventure together... and now I want to hide my 20-sided die with shame just to
think of it. So I was a little hesitant to jump on the Eragon bandwagon. I figured it would be like reading the stuff
I wrote at that age, or a transcript of guiltily-remembered conversations around the Dungeonmaster's kitchen table.
But now that I have read Eragon, I must confess that I AM SEETHING WITH ENVY.
This kid has really got it. What has he got? He's got a good, solid adventure story for starters, with all the necessary
parts in due balance. He's got an intricately-laid-out fantasy world with much of the geographical and linguistic detail of
The Lord of the Rings. He's got a magnetic young
hero wrapped up in relationships you feel and believe in. So the settings, characters, and story hold together well. So what?
But then he also has a talent for pacing revelations out, another talent for creating suspense and excitement, still another
talent for depicting battles. He has an eye for detail, an ear for dialogue, and a winning writing style that I, at twice his
age, STILL dream of having.
So basically, it sucked to read this book.
Even with my sense of grievance at being denied the greatness this young author is sure to achieve, I enjoyed the book
immensely. I enjoyed the story of a 15-year-old farm boy named Eragon who suddenly becomes the first dragon rider in a
century-- of his developing relationship with the dragon Saphira, the bard Brom, the swordsman Murtagh, and the elf Arya,
among others-- of the dangers and enemies that hem him in on all sides, and of the great destiny that lies before him
if he survives-- and finally, of the climactic battle involving dwarves, men, an elf, a dragon, a witch, a horde of
hornèd monsters, and another enemy so powerful that few have faced his kind and lived. I had a grand time reading it, right
down to the glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the book. And I look forward with bated breath for the second
book in Mr. Paolini's projected Inheritance Trilogy, to be entitled Eldest.
How, you may ask, did I get over my taboo against buying the hardcover? I didn't. I used my library card. Why didn't I think
of that sooner?
Recommended Age: 12+
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