Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)
by Christopher Paolini
published by Knopf Books for Young Readers 2003

I’ve always been fascinated that young readers have some of the best literature written for them.  The authors that cater to these youth seem to have an inside feel toward what will keep a generation of youth entertained and interested.  J.K. Rowling did well with her Harry Potter books, Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) did well with his “Series of Unfortunate Events” and Stephenie Meyer (although I didn’t like those books) kept the teens entranced with the “Twilight” series.  The fascinating thing is that adults, myself included, can read these books and be entertained as well.  But these are all adults writing for a younger audience, so they know how to include the adults as well.  But with the “Inheritance” series featuring the new dragon rider Eragon the books have a little extra to offer.  These books are written by a member of the audience he is aiming for.  Christopher Paolini wrote this first book when he was only 15 years old.  In “Eragon,” Paolini not only created some fun fiction for youth but as with most good fiction it branches out to all ages.  I found this first book very enjoyable and wondered why I hadn’t read the book sooner.

The story begins with a young farm boy, Eragon, out hunting for food for his family and just as he is about to down a buck there is an explosion that frightens the deer away and scorches a part of the forest.  Eragon goes to find the source and instead finds a a blue and white streaked stone.  The stone has to be man made so with the unsuccessful hunting trip he decides to take the stone into his hometown of Carvahal and trade it.  After learning the local butcher wants nothing to do with the stone the local blacksmith comes to his aid and purchase the food for Eragon to take back to his family.  He also tells Eragon to hide the stone.

Soon a traveling band of merchants come to Eragon’s hometown and Eragon and his uncle decide to try to sell the stone.  One merchant is known to deal with rarities but even he has never seen such a stone.  During the celebration, of sorts, that surrounds the travelling merchants, Brom is introduced as an old story teller.  Brom tells the audience, which Eragon is part of, a tale of the Dragon Riders of Alagaësia and how King Galbatorix wanted all the power and killed all dragons and kept the eggs to himself.

After a few days the stone soon reveals its true nature when a dragon hatches from the egg.  When Eragon touches the newly hatched dragon he becomes marked with what is later learned to be the Gedwëy Ignasia, or “shining palm”, a white/silvery oval of skin located on the hand with which the Rider touches a hatchling.

Two of King Galbatorix’s servants, the Ra’zac, come to Carvahall looking for the egg. Eragon and Saphira manage to escape by hiding in the forest, but Eragon’s uncle is fatally wounded and the house and farm are burned down by the Ra’zac. Once Garrow dies, Eragon is left with no reason to stay in Carvahall, so he goes after the Ra’zac, seeking vengeance for the destruction of his home and his uncle’s death. He is accompanied by Brom, who insists on helping him and Saphira.

Eragon learns how to be Dragon Rider through his bond with Saphira and the training with Brom. On the journey, Brom teaches Eragon sword fighting, magic. Their travels bring them to Teirm, where they are able to track the Ra’zac to the southern city of Dras-Leona. Although they manage to infiltrate the city, Eragon encounters the Ra’zac in a cathedral and he and Brom are forced to make their escape. Later that night, their camp is ambushed by the Ra’zac. A stranger named Murtagh rescues them, but Brom is gravely injured. Knowing that he is about to die, Brom tells Eragon that he used to be a Dragon Rider. His dragon’s name was also Saphira, but an evil Dragon Rider named Morzan killed her. Brom then avenged Saphira’s death and killed Morzan. After telling Eragon this, Brom dies.

Murtagh becomes Eragon’s new companion. They travel to the city Gil’ead to find information on how to find the Varden, a group of rebels who want to see the downfall of Galbatorix. While stopping near Gil’ead, Eragon is captured and imprisoned in the same jail that holds a woman he later discovers is an elf and has been receiving dreams about.  Murtagh and Saphira stage a rescue, and Eragon escapes with the unconscious Elf. During the escape, Eragon and Murtagh battle with a Shade – a sorcerer possessed by evil spirits – named Durza. Murtagh shoots Durza between the eyes with an arrow, and the Shade disappears.

After escaping, Eragon contacts the unconscious Elf telepathically, and discovers that her name is Arya. She tells them that she was poisoned while in captivity and that only a potion in the Varden’s possession can cure her. Arya is able to give directions to the exact location of the Varden: a city called Tronjheim, which sits in the mountain Farthen Dûr. The group go in search of the Varden, both to save Arya’s life and to escape Galbatorix’s wrath. When they arrive in Farthen Dûr, Eragon is led to the leader of the Varden, Ajihad. Ajihad imprisons Murtagh after finding out that he is the son of Morzan. Ajihad tells Eragon that Durza was not destroyed by Murtagh’s well placed arrow, because the only way to kill a Shade is with a stab to the heart.

Eragon is able to get a short rest, but a new invasion is imminent. As the battle begins, the Varden and the Dwarves are pitted against an enormous army of Urgals, deployed by Durza and Galbatorix. During the battle, Eragon faces Durza again. Durza, having gravely wounded Eragon’s back, is about to capture him but is distracted by Saphira and Arya. Durza’s attention is diverted long enough for Eragon to stab him in the heart. After Durza’s death, the Urgals are released from a spell which had been placed on them, and begin to fight among themselves. The Varden take advantage of this opportunity to make a counter-attack. While Eragon is unconscious, a stranger contacts him telepathically and tells Eragon to come to him for training in the land of the elves.

Some great excitement in this introductory novel.  Now I HAVE  to read the other books.

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