Eragon: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 1
Based on 47 reviews
Based on 203 reviews
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eragon is the first book in a four-part fantasy series called The Inheritance Cycle that first made waves due to the young age of its author, Christopher Paolini. Experiencing quick popularity, the book was soon turned into a feature film and video game. The idea that Paolini wrote the first draft of Eragon at 15 may inspire some young readers to try their own hand at writing. The story does feature gory violence, including beheadings, torture, and piles of dead bodies. Someone is called an "ass" once, and casually derogatory phrases are commonplace ("deformed beggars," "the fat one," "the bald man," etc.). And the narrative is male-centric, with female characters falling into tired clichés. On the plus side, the immature main character, Eragon, grows over the course of the book thanks in large part to positive role models around him who teach him character strengths like self-control, perseverance, and the importance of teamwork.
Could be great, but without any seeable character development, this book is only decent
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What's the Story?
Soon after the strange stone he found in the forest hatches a dragon, ERAGON finds that his life has changed forever. His home is destroyed, the uncle who raised him is killed, and he and the young dragon, Saphira, are forced to flee the minions of evil Galbatorix's Empire. Accompanied by Brom the storyteller, Eragon discovers that he's the last of the Riders, who once kept the peace and were wiped out by Galbatorix. While pursuing revenge against those who killed his uncle, Eragon learns to communicate telepathically with Saphira, and Brom begins teaching him the skills of fighting and magic. But soon Eragon realizes that he's a pawn in a vast power struggle that's tearing the Empire apart, and that he and his dragon may be the ones who can change the balance of power -- if only they can find out whom to trust.
Is It Any Good?
Young first-time author Christopher Paolini debuts with a wildly readable tale, but, much like the titular hero, he still has more to learn. Eragon received quite a bit of early publicity, and it's easy to see why: The story is epic in scope and very engrossing, full of gory action, a larger-than-life dragon, and a mysterious love interest for the 15-year-old hero to rescue. For a generation of young fantasy fans, having it all come from an author close to their age feels like icing on the cake.
It's not long, however, before readers may start to notice the book's many clichés, poorly written women, and derivative nature. Story elements seem plucked straight from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. That this novel exists is undeniably a great achievement, and many will love it. But readers looking for fresher, more inclusive, and/or stronger writing can feel confident in skipping to newer fantasy fare.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the qualities of successful authors and how to become a published writer. How did Eragon get written, discovered, and made popular? Are you interested in trying your hand at writing stories too?
What do you find appealing about Paolini's writing? Is there anything you don't particularly like? What other stories (books, movies, etc.) does Eragon remind you of?
Characters in the book display teamwork, self-control, and perseverance. Can you recall specific instances of each? Why are these important strengths to have?
- Author: Christopher Paolini
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: October 19, 2003
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 509
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Media Award
- Last updated: December 4, 2019
For kids who love fantasy
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