“A vast expanse of dunes spread to the horizon like ripples on an ocean. Bursts of wind twirled the reddish gold sand into the air. Scraggly trees grew on scattered patches of solid ground – ground any farmer would have declared unfit for crops. Rising in the distance was a line of purple crags. The imposing desolation was barren of any animals except for a bird gliding on the zephyrs.” – p 331
I’ve already reviewed this book once, along with the second one by Paolini in this series. And I’ll admit I wasn’t pleased when we found my review had been deleted and if I wanted a review on my site, I’d have to read them again.
I’ve been a bit lost as to how to review this. Granted, it’s a great piece of work for someone who is 15. The ability to come up with a plot that will cover four full-length novels is impressive for any age. Yet, my first review was nothing less than scathing due to the lack of inventiveness on Paolini’s part. Interesting dichotomy of feelings going on, to say the least.
First, the good. This is a great story for someone who is just entering the fantasy field of literature to read. The plot isn’t too hard to follow, and moves quickly enough to keep the interest of a pre-teen or early teenager who hasn’t been immersed in the world of fantasy fiction. Saphira as a character is charming and wonderful. There are enough changes in venue and battles to keep a young reader involved, some good passages of description, and hints at what is to come in the plots of the next three books. You’re left wondering what’s coming in the next passage and at times it’s hard to stop reading.
Unfortunately, this shallow set-up plot comes from Paolini drawing from many, *many*, other sources of science-fiction and fantasy. There are blatant elements from Star Wars, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Series, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea, and many others. Frequent readers in these two families of literature may (some have expressed, including myself) find themselves disgusted with the lack of inventiveness on Paolini’s part. Sure, this is a great fictional story and set up for following books, but it’s great because it draws on so many great archetypes and classics from the genres. What separates Paolini’s work from these classics is that the classics have taken the archetypes found in all literature and put a twist on them which makes them their own…Paolini fails to do this. Instead he creates a mishmash of icons from all his favorite stories and uses them to create his own. There is nothing original (as of yet) to set this series apart as something special in the Fantasy genre which will keep it from being a thing-of-the-week.
The other downfall of Paolini is his word choice. He writes something that only those who have no background in fantasy genres are going to completely appreciate and embrace, only he uses words which most American children and pre-teens are not going to recognize. The best way to get your point across is to write simplistically and Paolini is frankly, too pretentious to be able to communicate easily with his young readers. He writes for adults, and well-read adults, without being able to fabricate a plot original enough to appeal to them. The two sides of the novel are not reconciled to each other and in order to gain this reader’s respect, Paolini will have to mature a great deal in his third and fourth books.
Eragon was published in 2003 by Christopher Paolini.