Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Dragons, swords, Elves, Dwarfs, magic, mountains, spirits and an epic struggle between good and evil – what will book 2 bring!

Wow! This is book is my answer to Harry Potter! Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the Harry Potter novels, but they didn’t capture my imagination in the same way that they seem to have for other people; Eragon does.

Eragon is a young boy, whose story begins on his uncle’s farm, where his whole mundane future is mapped out for him; that is, until fate brings a dragon hatchling his way that turns his existence upside down. The presence of the dragon draws enemies to the quiet village, the consequences of which are the destruction of everything that Eragon holds dear. Eragon and his dragon stead, Saphira, begin an epic journey of revenge and discovery which lands them right in the middle of a historic struggle of power across the Empire.

Christopher Paolini has created a wonderful universe, where magic, ancient languages and mystical creatures reside. The realm of Alagaesia contains the lands through which the journey takes place, Paolini’s vivid descriptions of the areas through which Eragon passes help to completely immerse the reader in this magical universe. With every new landscape or town that was visited Paolini managed to always capture the essence of the place, allowing you to see the dangers and hardships that each new area brings; providing a fuller understanding of Eragon’s plight.

The characters are very real, with their own back stories and secrets just waiting to be discovered. I found each character to have their own interesting personality and its fun to try and work out where each of their motivations really lie (I’m still not sure with some!). The relationships between the characters are also very real and touching in places, giving the book that extra edge as you can identify with their feelings (even if it’s difficult to imagine life with a dragon!). I love the special bond between Eragon and Saphira, their protectiveness over each other and the way that they are growing together; I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops in the next book.

Others have noted troubles with some of the language and names used in the book; something which immediately put me off (having stopped reading the Hobbit for the very same reason), but I persevered. Paolini created an ancient language to add weight to the magical nature of this book; an even though you have no hope of understanding these words (unless you look them up in the glossary), it doesn’t hinder the story in any way. There are only a small number of characters with unusual names to remember, and I was happy to read without looking up the ancient words. They are used on the most part in order to cast spells, and do not in any way stop you from understanding what is happening. I just read them as magical words like abracadabra (I’m sure Paolini would be mortified!); saying that, now that I’ve finished the book I may look back over it and see what they really mean (you never know – I may have missed out on something after all!!).

There are places in which you can recognise the influences, but I see this book as only adding to the magical lands created in the likes of the Lord of the Rings (I’ve never read it, but from watching the films, there are places where the similarities are pronounced  ); it is a great book in its own right. The crossovers with other novels, such as Harry Potter, are also there, but I feel this is likely to happen as they are both coming of age stories crafted within a magical universe.

All in all, I would rate this book very highly; I would list it among my all time favourites. It is a totally absorbing, easy read, with enough danger, mystery and heart to pull you along to the last page without a struggle. In addition, I find Christopher Paolini and his family completely inspiring (have peek on his website http://www.alagaesia.com ). He began work on this novel as a teenager, and through a couple of years of hard work and dedication, with support from his family (who published the book in the first instance), he has created a top selling novel and blockbuster movie to boot. His story makes me want to be a better person, I’m sure we all have it in us!

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