Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)
(No Major Spoilers, And Yes It's Far Better Than The Movie)
Eragon is a tried and true fantasy novel to its core: A heros journey, a coming of age, master-apprentice tensions, power struggles, and yes most importantly dragons and magic. Same old, same old right? What makes Eragon unique is the twists Paolini adds, all of which are welcome if you're a fan of the genre. Everything has personality, especially the staring lady Saphira (Suh-fear-uh) who adorns the cover. There are few completely mindless creatures. The typical baddies are replaced with familiar yet unique counterparts, no orcs here folks. Magic is treated more so as a tool than a way to immediately solve every problem the protagonist faces. Here the use of magic comes with a price which gives it more impact when it is used. This element is especially refreshing for those tired of the typical deus ex machina sort of magic used to make up for bad writing. I would only classify one or two moments in Eragon qualifying as Deus Ex, where as some series are littered with it.
Some critiques harshly accuse Paolini of ripping off Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Firstly I wonder if they have ever seen a Star Wars film as any comparison is slim at best. They also likely haven't read the myriad of Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels that inspired George Lucas, very little of the franchise is original. Secondly as far as Lord of the Rings goes of course it inspired the Inheritance Cycle, just as it has inspired most of Modern Fantasy.
This is hardly a detriment as Eragon is far more accessible to younger audiences in terms of readability. For some it may seem daunting at ~157,000 words according to the author. Even so I find that it is appropriate for children and adults alike where as other staples such as The Lord of The Rings may be a bit too advanced for younger individuals. Chapters are laid out in a way that will please those who read in short bursts as well as those that prefer longer sessions. At no point do you feel that things are over written and boorish nor do you feel they are so short and rushed that it becomes too shallow for immersion.
Paolini wrote Eragon in his late teens and it was his first novel, and in fairness to an extent it does show. However to disregard it for that fact alone would be a big mistake. It may not be the apex of Fantasy but it is a great read and very approachable, especially given the writers age and experience at the time. Far too many fantasy novels end up being too daunting or too simple, few are "just right" in the way Eragon is. Though, as with all books that appeal to both children and adults it doesn't quite go the extra mile in either direction and it lacks the true originality that would of earned it five stars . I am critical about the books I keep and Eragon has earned its place on my bookshelf most definitely. I would recommend this over other well known fantasy series like Harry Potter any day and if you are looking for a more digestible fantasy series of the Tolkein variety, this is it.
I've been dreading sitting down to read since I first started it.
A fun, exciting read. Some story elements definitely pulled from other popular sources - that could be a good conversation with younger readers and an excellent segue into reading other books/series.