Book Cover
Title Eragon
Author Christopher Paolini
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Random House, Inc. - 2003
First Printing Paolini International LLC - 2002
Book Cover
Title Eldest
Author Christopher Paolini
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Random House, Inc. - 2005
First Printing Random House, Inc. - 2005
Book Cover
Title Brisingr
Author Christopher Paolini
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Random House, Inc. - 2008
First Printing Random House, Inc. - 2008
Book Cover
Title Inheritance
Author Christopher Paolini
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Random House, Inc. - 2011
First Printing Random House, Inc. - 2011
Category Epic Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Eragon, Saphira, Brom, Murtagh, Arya, Orik, Roran, Galbatorix, Nasuada, Angela, Solembum
Main Elements Dragons, wizards, elves, dwarves, urgals

Click to read the summaryEragon

Click to read the summaryEldest

Click to read the summaryBrisingr

Click to read the summaryInheritance

First of all, I want you to understand I enjoyed the book and that I have every intention of continuing the series with Eldest (which I've already bought) and by going to see the movie that comes out next week.

That said, I didn't love the book either. It wasn't that the pace was slow or anything like that, but at times I almost had to force myself to keep reading. I know that sounds terrible, and I don't intend for it to sound that bad, but it is a long book, and somehow not as gripping as Harry Potter was. But then Harry Potter started short, and by the time it got long one was already hooked.

I also found that the author could be kind of wordy, using almost too many different adjectives and coming up with as many variations of the same thing to show off his vocabulary. For example, two sentences which describes a female elf -

Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady ....
Frame by long black locks....
He already told us she had black hair in the first sentence, repeating it in the next was unnecessary. Yes, I'm being picky, but it says something that I remembered those two sentences from the very beginning of the book. He was 15 when he started the book, I have every expectation that he will be an amazing writer in a few more years and realizes he doesn't have to try so hard to impress the reader with big fancy words.

On the other hand, I was quite impressed with how freely he killed off main characters (I'm not telling who!) Even in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien only killed off Boromir, and I never liked the guy anyway. On the other hand I was kind of fond of one of the Paolini's characters who we will see no more. The Inheritance Trilogy has the making of a truly deep, and meaningful series where not everyone will live happily ever after. This book is full of tough choices and political games that Eragon must navigate, because everyone wants to use him for their own purpose, whether or not the boy wants any part of it.

You may have noticed I've compared this book to Harry Potter and LOTR. Those are high standards to meet and it is a form of praise to be compared to them, even if one doesn't quite match up to them just yet. I'm looking forward to more books from this young author.

If you don't mind having a few spoilers, here is another review with which I mostly agree, although I don't think that Galbatorix is Eragon's father, I'm betting on Morzan. :-D
Fantastic Book Reviews

December 2007

A year later and I've gotten around to reading the second book in the series. I didn't put it off this long because I thought it would be bad, on the contrary, I was told the ending left you hanging, and I didn't want to wait too long before the third book came out. When I saw a rumour it was coming out 2008, I decided to dive in.

Unfortunately I dived in right after reading Pullman's His Dark Materials. There was an author that knew how to write beautiful language, and Eldest started off feeling like the kind of fan fiction you might find on the net. Quality fan fiction mind you, but again, I found him too wordy.

However it wasn't long before I more or less accepted the rather stilted dialog between the characters (came off sounding overly formal, even when it was supposed to be formal). Maybe it even improved along the way, becoming more natural as the book progressed. Either way I ceased to notice. Though the book had a bit of a slow start, I was sucked right into Eragon's training. Paolini created such a rich and fascinating culture amongst the elves I wanted to know more. No, I wanted to go there and learn from them myself.

Roran, Eragon's cousin, also plays a much larger role. I had feared he might turn into a villain, as he holds Eragon responsible for his father's death, but I was pleased to find out that didn't happen, at least not in this book. The potential still remains however, which adds and interesting level of tension to the complex characters.

Eragon still finds himself pulled in multipled directions, bound my multiple loyaties and duties. And once again, Paolini is not afraid to be cruel to his characters, throwing them into extremely unpleasant situations. This isn't like the old Star Trek, where you knew the nameless red-uniformed crew were basically the only ones who were going to get killed off. Here, you really don't know what to expect and who will be next to fall to Galbatorix's evil rule.

My one critcism is the battle scene. Eragon spent most of his time on the ground, using his own two feet and swinging his sword, Saphira by his side. Now we get a vague inkling that the enemy magicians would make aerial attacks useless, but I still found it odd that Saphira didn't just flame them all. Maybe the reasons why they couldn't weren't made clear enough. I guess they needed a reason for him to have trained so hard with a sword, an essentially useless weapon while dragonback.

The first book asked many questions, and over the past year I've had time to come up with some plausible scenarios for some of them. I got some right, and got some wrong, and others still wait to be revealed. I won't tell you if I guessed right about Eragon's father, but you do get to find out.

I did some searching on the web, and true enough, though Eldest implies who Eragon's father is, we don't actually know with 100% certainty that is the case, there may be another potential parental figure out there!

Oh, and the ending wraps up pretty well, I'm not sure what it was about the ending people didn't like. It wasn't a happy ending, but it involved a couple of those things I guessed right, so I was expecting it and found it very appropriate, however sad it was.

January 2009

With a year between books, it's hard to remember the million details from the previous ones. In that way, I felt I lost a bit of the flow of the story. And those all important prophecies? Couldn't recall them unless they were spelled out.

But as the book was nearly 750 pages long, you don't have much trouble immersing yourself again in this complex world. What I like about Paolini's books, is that it isn't just plot driven. It is full of fascinating minute details about the workings of each culture. Though the dwarves, frankly, didn't interest me at all. I missed the elves from the second book. There are perhaps 3 or 4 main events in the book, the rest is describing the world, its people and of course, its magic. I can imagine some people would find it boring, and I have to admit the step-by-step description of sword forging was a little much. But once you finish the book, you are so much part of that world, the ending comes as a bit of a shock. What do you mean I have to stop now?

And I will say this, he is never at a loss for an adjective. As I commented about the first novel, I swear he must have a list of all adjectives and adverbs in the world and is determined to use each one at least once in every book! Ten years have passed, I had hoped this would improve.

One warning though, this book starts off really dark and very graphic. I was surprised at the blood and gore and sometimes even the sexual inuendos leaping off these pages. Although as a female myself, Nasuada's reaction to Blodhgarm was more funny than accurate. This is really a book written by a young guy, heh.

And one on earth does one fight with sword on dragonback? Think of the dragon's wingspans, and the fact they must flap to remain in the air. At what point could two riders get close enough to swing swords at each other? Even grappling dragons barely make sense, they still couldn't really be shoulder to shoulder. A lance would be more useful. I'm also reading the Temeraire series, where dragons are used to fight in the Napoleonic wars. There, to fight the crews of the dragons, one must "board" the other dragon, as you would have done an enemy ship.

Ok, two criticisms..this is the second time Eragon has raced across the entire land in some impossibly short period of time. It almost makes you tired reading about how he criss-crossed the entire Alagaesia, and then managed to still fight when he got to the other end. It was a bit much. That and Roran being able to kill 200 enemy soldiers all by himself. Uh huh.

Fine, a third. Though I actually enjoy learning about the other cultures, the Urgals came off sounding like Pacific coast native-americans when describing their villages. They flew so much in the face of the personalities it made no sense at all. That one of their tales involved a female who was too ugly to find a mate...come on, Urgals are fighters, they aren't there to enjoy the scenery. One would have expected her fighting skills to be the decision maker!

I have to say though, it was a pleasure to see the world from Saphira's point of view. I love the inside of her mind! Her thoughts go along the line of "bone-break-ground" to describe the earth or "round-eared-two-legged-herds" for group of people. Those couple of chapters were fun to read.

Like the last time, the ending was, perhaps not unexpected, but again, very sad. I didn't realize how much I liked those characters until they were gone. My reaction to their loss caught me off-guard. Though some online reviews complain that we only see the action "off-screen" I actually thought it was an interesting way of doing it...though horribly inconvenient for Eragon and Saphira, they themselves could have died while distracted.

But isn't Brisingr the most amazing made-up word in the history of made-up words? The sound of it just rolls off the tongue, and it has a definite sense of power behind it.

Hopefully the next book will be out sooner rather than later, or at the very least, hopefully someone will make Eldest into a movie to help us wait. But I have to agree with this speculation site. They made so many modifications to Eragon, that it might be hard for Eldest to make sense to moviegoers. After all, they pretty much stripped out all the parts that actually connected the second, and even the third books. I wouldn't hold my breath...

And in case you wanted to see other reviews. Keep in mind there are definite spoilers, I try to avoid them in my reviews. I don't agree with all they say, but there are things in there that I couldn't say here that I do agree with. - ImpishIdea.

December 2011

And, the series has finally ended. With such a big gap between the books, I had forgotten most of the characters, even the main ones, and several of the major events. And they kept referring to prophecies from the first book written what, 6 years ago? It was like the third book never happened for me, I could only remember the first and second with any clarity.

I must say, the first third of the book I really had to force myself to read. Perhaps being female I'm just not into reading a blow by blow account of every battle Roran gets himself into. And really, is Roran some sort of Norse God that he can run about with his hammer and mow down a dozen enemy soldiers one after another? I don't care how lucky you are, unless all enemy soldiers are untrained village idiots, there is no way they are so incapable of fighting. One man simply cannot take on an army like that, so many times, and come out alive every time. My suspension of disbelief was being strangled as it was hung and executed. Eragon yes, he was "transformed", but Roran was just some guy. Strong and brave yes, but not superman. However I have to admit I kind of like the guy.

It just took soooo long for anything to really happen. But sure enough, things eventually start picking up and I eventually started reading 100+ pages a day, which given the book was 800 pages long meant I was able to finish it in a few weeks instead of a few months as I feared it might take. I know this makes the books sound terrible, and they aren't, there is good stuff in them too, but unfortunately too buried under a bunch of details we didn't need to know. This really was a trilogy, just so stuffed with fluff it required four books or we wouldn't have been able to lift them.

And the ending? Well, the climax came about 150 pages before the end of the book. And let's just say I'm not sure I was impressed by the way it came about. Other reviewers claimed it was contrived. There might have been a little of that to be sure. But after about what felt like 50 pages of them disarming trap after trap down a single hallway to get to the throne room, I was already fed up with the big battle and wanted it over and done with and I didn't much care how. And at the time I thought there was another 100+ pages to go! And while the way Eragon succeeded at his task, I was like, really? Paolini created a god-like character here, with a dragon the size of a castle, whose head is nearly as big as Saphira, and it takes them probably half an hour to defeat them both? And the fact he attempted to give justification to Galbatorix's reign (to control magicians who had an unfair advantage over others) just didn't really work for me. He's evil, leave it at that, no redeeming qualities required. An Iago through and through. Admittedly, the way Eragon succeeded (and this isn't a spoiler I mean come on, did you think Galbatorix would win?) was probably the one and only way he could have won and was rather unique, I didn't see that coming.

So what was in those last 150 pages? Have you read Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? Well basically that. A wrapping up of loose ends, cleaning ups, partings, etc. Shouldn't have required nearly a book in-and-of itself, but I didn't dislike the ending. I found it to be appropriate, but again, too much stuff we didn't need to know.

And really, one pet peeve for me...when a magicians decides to use his magic to "not be", and he destroys his physical body and converts it into pure energy, does it really have to have the side effect of a nuclear bomb (not saying who but there were two of them)? I dunno, while an accurate side effect of that kind of event, that much scientific accuracy in my fantasy novels just came off as really weird. To have characters try to explain the effects of radiation poisoning and eventual mutation of the environment in terms they understand is odd and distracting. Just as it was glaringly obvious that the sword Brisingr was made the way you make a Katana in book 3...did not need to know every little detail, I've seen the documentary already, thanks.

So in the end? If the series were a third the length, I think it would have been really great and deserving of it's fan base, as it is, it unfortunately didn't quite live up to what it might have been. Would I read another book in the same world (as Paolini hinted, saying he didn't spend all this time creating this world and never returning to it)? Probably, especially if they were short!

Posted: December 2006


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