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The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales of Alagaësia, Book 1: Eragon

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales of Alagaësia, Book 1: Eragon Book Poster Image
Promising series launch brings back dragon riders.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This is a fantasy series, but along the way it's generated numerous beings with their own languages, many of which crop up in this book. Author Paolini helpfully supplies a glossary and pronunciation guide.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of friendship and family, of stepping up and accepting the responsibilities you've taken on, of seeking help and wisdom when you need it rather than letting yourself be overwhelmed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eragon takes his responsibilities seriously as he grapples with tasks that involve a lot less mortal combat and a lot more rebuilding. Dragon Saphira snoozes through much of the book but keeps a benign eye on things and offers wise advice. The elder dragons offer support and comfort. Eragon's estranged half-brother, Murtagh, helps a kid in need with magic, as he and Eragon think kindly of each other.

Violence

Part of the story involves efforts to restore the sanity of dragons driven insane by events in the Inheritance series -- and to keep them safely imprisoned till they're healed. One of the tales finds a dragon devouring villagers and their animals, surviving numerous attempts to stab him in the eye -- and then even more fearsome monsters come along. In another, a mean girl gets her victim to push her best friend into a water trough -- in part by threatening the victim's parents. There's a bar fight involving a lot of stabbing and bashing: "Essie had seen plenty of end-of-harvest brawls, but this was nothing like a drunken fight between laborers. It was far worse: sober men trying to kill each other in open combat, and it frightened her many times more because of it."

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One tale is set in a tavern and involves drunken (and not-so-drunken) brawling. Characters occasionally drink alcoholic beverages in the course of stories.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm is a collection of three new stories by Christopher Paolini, launching a new Tales of Alagaësia series and featuring appearances by many of the characters from his Inheritance series. The story arc finds original series hero Eragon struggling with the work of restoration and rebuilding after four volumes' worth of combat and killing. In each episode, a tale comes along to give him insight, perspective, and courage. Also to hint that we may be seeing more of these characters in future volumes. One of the tales involves a bashy, stabby bar fight, while another features a dragon who devours people, livestock, and produce before doing battle with even worse monsters. Due to curses and other evil forces, not all human and dragon characters are of sound mind. But there's also a hint of redemption to come in the reappearance of a past character looking to change his ways.

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What's the story?

Following the events in Inheritance, series hero Eragon finds himself challenged with the daily tasks, petty details, and annoying issues of restoration as he launches his grand plan to build a new academy and home for dragons and dragon riders. Three tales --THE FORK, THE WITCH, AND THE WORM -- offer Eragon wisdom and perspective, and offer the reader a few life lessons about dealing with bullies, being a true friend, and choosing your battles.

Is it any good?

Christopher Paolini's fans will rejoice at the return of human-dragon duo Eragon and Saphira in the launch of a new series set in the land of Alagaësia. The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm contains the three title stories, each of which finds Eragon overwhelmed with doubt and worry about the work ahead, when a story about something else entirely brings wisdom, courage, and a smile or two. The stories offer plentiful hints that we'll be seeing more of many characters from the Inheritance series, especiallly those whose stories were left hanging a bit. Along the way, there are some relatable moments and life lessons about bullies, friendship, and choosing your battles.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the human-dragon relationship in The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm. How has that relationship been portrayed in stories and art over the years? How do the stories in this book compare with other dragon stories you know?

  • If you've read the Inheritance series, how do you think these stories compare with those books? How have the characters changed or evolved, and how have they stayed the same?

  • It's often said that it takes much longer to build or rebuild something than it does to destroy it. Have you ever put a lot of work into something, only to lose it or have it destroyed? How did you deal with that?

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