Monday, January 26, 2009
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
A friend loaned me her boxed set of Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. She said it was better than the Harry Potter series, so I was game for taking a look.
I don't know if I can say, after only the first novel, that the series is "better" than Harry Potter. Fantasy epics seem to have common plots and character types; the fun evolves from the twists the author dreams up around which to tangle the whole quest. In my mind, Eragon stands closer to the Lord of the Rings as a "traditional" fantasy story than Harry Potter.
For those who haven't read the book, or seen the movie, the story revolves around a boy called Eragon who lives with his uncle and cousin. His mother had left him there years before and vanished. Seems like a lot of heroes don't get to have much of a family life with their parents, doesn't it? Anyway, Eragon finds a dragon egg, or the dragon egg finds him, while he's hunting. Not knowing what it is at first, he takes is home and after trying to sell or trade it for basic necessities, he is surpised when it hatches. He takes care of the dragon secretly in the forest near the farm until strangers start asking about him and the "stone" he has. The dragon, who has just grown big enough to haul him away, drags him to the forest because the strangers are approaching his home. He isn't there to see his uncle tortured and the farm burned to the ground.
He returns the farm to find his uncle in the wreckage and manages to get him to some help in a nearby town. Nothing can be done for the man, and Eragon decides to set out to find the strangers who tormented his uncle. An old storyteller in town accompanies him, and oddly enough, knows a lot about dragons and magic and swordplay, in which he instructs Eragon as they travel.
And thus starts the quest to find his uncle's killer, develop the skill necessary to become a dragon rider, and figure out who he is and what his purpose in life is. I won't spoil any more of the story, but I was impressed to learn it was written by a teenager. Just outstanding.
I'm reserving judgment as to whether Eragon is better than Harry Potter. It's compelling enough that I feel I have to finish the series, so we'll see. The author's website is here if you want to investigate further with an excerpt.