Finished Eragon by Christopher Paolini tonight.
Before I get to the book itself I want to mention something that I found a little sad. Paolini wrote this book when he was a teenager. And as it turns out, his parents owned a small press (Paolini International, LLC), and it was them who first published the book. Chris then spent some time bopping around the US, promoting, and selling, the book. It was only after it became obvious that people wanted to read it that Knopf Books acquired it and published/promoted it.
Why is this sad? Not for Paolini, to be sure. For him it was a dream come true. But I can’t help but wonder how many other fun and enjoyable books never see the light of print because, though good, the books are ordinary.
Because Eragon is ordinary. Ordinary fantasy that is. Its a book about magicians and dragons and elves. About the young farmboy who becomes a hero. Eragon is thick with fantasy cliches. But y’know what? Who cares? As someone recently said to me, cliches become cliches because people enjoy them. Or something…I’m paraphrasing. But my point is, books that follow this formula became common because people enjoyed reading (and buying!) them. But now, publishers won’t touch them because they’re ordinary…
Anyway, Eragon is the name of the hero, and as mentioned, he starts off as an unassuming lad. Until he manages to befriend a dragon, that is. But the evil king wants to control all dragons, so Eragon and Saphira (that’s the dragon’s name) have to keep a low profile. And then of course there’s a quest, and much hardship, and there’s a mysterious old storyteller that befriends Eragon and teaches him to fight and to use magic.
If it sounds dull so far, then pass it by. Because the truth is, you’ll figure out a lot of what is going to happen well before it happens. But Paolini has a nice grasp of the language, and as familiar as the story is… well, was that piece of double-fudge layer cake you had last night any less yummy than the piece you had last week, or the piece you had last year? Of course not. Eragon is pleasing to the literary palette even if it isn’t terribly original.
One last note. It’s sold as a Young Adult novel, but I’m not sure why. There’s plenty of killing and drama here. Maybe its YA because there’s no sex, but from what I understand a lot of YA stuff now has plenty of sex! Whatever the reason, don’t let the YA tag stop you from reading it. Its a fine, if familiar, tale.