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    Review of ERAGON by Christopher Paolini


    Alfred A Knoff, August 2003

    Raised as a humble farmer, Eragon discovers a strange jewel--which turns out to be a dragon egg. Dragon riders once protected the land and ensured justice, but now, except for the evil King, the dragon riders are destroyed. The King's spies learn of the dragon's birth and destroy Eragon's uncle in an effort to find him and the dragon. If they can turn Eragon to the dark side, the King will be unstoppable. Fortunately, Eragon escapes and, with the help of an old bard, Eragon learns magic, swordfighting, and dragon tactics. Still, the King's power is too strong to confront alone.

    After a narrow escape, Eragon finds a beautiful elf-woman held captive by the King's shade. Together with a stranger who saves him, Eragon, the dragon, and the unconscious elf make their way to a rebel fortress deep in the dwarvish mountains. Yet the King has created evil alliances and his Urgal (Orc) subjects invade the Dwarf kingdom where all of Eragon's magic and power avail him little against the powerful shade.

    In the movie business, high-concept projects are frequently described as a combination of two well-known films. Eragon is definitely Starwars meets the Lord of the Rings. Set in a Middle-Earth world of elves, dwarves, orcs, and dragons, we have the familiar adventures of Luke Skywalker--the loss of his uncle, his aging warrior-bard teacher, the somewhat disreputable buddy, and the beautiful princess. Pretty good stuff.

    I'm torn in this review. On the one hand, it's an incredible feat for a fifteen-year-old author like Christopher Paolini to complete an entire novel, let alone an epic five-hundred pager. For the most part, Paolini's writing is competent, only occasionally drawing the reader out of the story. And the story is an exciting adventure as Eragon is thrown from adventure to adventure. On the other hand, Eragon doesn't really grow as a character. Sure he learns magic and swordfighting, but he's still the same whiny kid at the end of the story that he was at the beginning.

    Paolini is an author to watch. He's got talent and a fine sense of story. With a bit more experience in the world and some serious effort on character development, he may become a major author. ERAGON only hints at this promise, but it's a pleasant hint.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 1/02/04

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