Eragon – Christopher Paolini

eragonReading level: 7.8
Lexile: 710 (I doubt this is correct…)
Series: The Inheritance Cycle book 1
Genre: fantasy
ELL-Friendly: No
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his 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 advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

There is quite a bit of politics behind this series, and I was wary to begin. Lots of people hate the books because it’s poor writing, it’s a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and it’s nothing special in the world of fantasy literature.

Much of the writing, plot, and names of people and places did remind me a lot of The Lord of the Rings. I can’t speak to the Star Wars part because I can’t stay awake through the movies. But I actually thought the writing wasn’t terrible for a fifteen year old. I mean, some of it was cheesy and I inwardly “d’oh’d” a few times, but I thought it was pretty okay.

I just couldn’t get into Eragon very much. I’m going to continue with the series because I want it to pick up and because I hate giving up on a series, not because I was actually intrigued. I really want to care about Eragon and his journey, but I’m having a hard time.

I zoned out frequently when I listened to the audiobook, so maybe I just missed it, but what I think the book is missing is urgency. I rooted for Frodo because the world was going to turn into, I don’t know, terribleness, if he didn’t destroy the ring, and Voldemort was going to kill basically everybody if Harry didn’t kill him. So what is Eragon trying to accomplish again? He’s helping a cousin we don’t know much about? And he’s trying to stop a tyrannical ruler? Well that’s nice.

The lack of females was irritating, as was the elf character, one of the token females. Eragon was all kerfuffled because the elf was going to fight rather than run away with the other women. Uh, no. We’ve been through this with my rant in the Lord of the Rings series. To Paolini’s credit, the elf is clearly physically strong, cunning, and smart, but she’s also treated like she’s helpless, needing to be rescued and all. But hey, the author was a teenage boy, what can you do?

The book isn’t particularly ELL-friendly with the magic words and complex names. I can’t even keep track of them all.

I recommend this book for middle schoolers. I feel silly saying that, because so many of my 6th graders are already devouring the series without me “recommending” it to them.

Lastly, someone on goodreads pointed out that Eragon = dragon but with an E. Not sure how I feel about that…which pretty much sums up my whole experience with this book. But we press onward!