Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1) - Christopher Paolini What can I say about this fantastic beginning to one of the most popular YA fantasy series of our time that hasn't already been said numerous times? Paolini was a best-selling author by the time he was nineteen, with plenty more in store for Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, on their quest to overthrow the evil king of Alagaesia and revive the nearly-forgotten group of the Dragon Riders, who once patrolled and kept the country safe before the betrayal and rise to power of Galbatorix. What was originally planned to be a trilogy of novels has gone above and beyond to include four novels and a motion picture adaptation.

Paolini uses some well-known creatures of fantasy, such as elves, dragons and dwarves. The young author used mostly his imagination to create his own dark minions for King Galbatorix. His expendable foot soldiers are the brutish Urgals, his trackers of Eragon and Saphira, are the dangerous, dark-cloaked Ra'zac, and his elite general, of a recognizable race, is the Shade Durza.

When a young farm boy named Eragon finds a mysterious blue stone in the woods, he keeps it in hopes of selling it to help support his uncle, cousin Roran, and himself. Warned by townsfolk against keeping it, Eragon eventually discovers this "stone" is not at all what it appears to be when young Saphira, one of the last dragons in Alagaesia, hatches from it, feeling Eragon worthy to be her Rider and marking his palm with the sign of a Rider.

When his home is attacked and his uncle killed by Ra'zac searching for Saphira's egg, Eragon and Saphira depend on the local storyteller, Brom, to lead them on a mission for revenge, safety, and preparation for both to face the most powerful tyrant Alagaesia has ever suffered. Spurred by his expulsion from the Dragon Riders upon the death of his own dragon, Galbatorix raised an army, destroying all signs of the Dragon Riders besides his own fire-breathing replacement familiar.

Brom trains Eragon in sword-fighting, dragon-riding, and magic while on the run, hunted by Durza and his Urgal minions. Under Galbatorix's command, the Shade has been sent to bring the pair to him, to force them to join him, before they can side with the Varden, an underground group determined to end the King's reign. With knowledge of dragons, magic, and combat far beyond that of a village storyteller, Eragon knows he is hiding something, a secret that becomes clear to the reader long before the characters catch on- Brom was once a Rider himself. He eventually divulges that he was sent to wait for Saphira's egg to hatch, to protect and train her chosen Rider. Along their journey to track the Ra'zac and locate the hidden Varden, their group runs into various characters- some there to help, others to do them harm; some stay for only a few chapters, while others stay for much longer. After a skirmish, Brom is mortally wounded, his death means Eragon and Saphira no longer know how to reach the Varden. They later meet a young man named Murtagh, who shows them the way to the Varden's hideout amongst the dwarves, risking his own imprisonment upon arrival for being the son of the Riders' ultimate traitor, Morzan.

This novel is as much a coming-of-age story as much as it is a fight between good and evil, as young Eragon is thrown unexpectedly into manhood, and could not be a more complete introduction to the world of the Inheritance Cycle. With so many intricate events and details, no review could ever completely do justice to this well-written, engrossing novel, straight from the mind of a fellow young adult, the primary market for this series, but like "Twilight," "The Hunger Games," and "Harry Potter," the Inheritance Cycle also attracts adults, for once you pick up "eragon," no matter your age, just reading the first book is not enough. An easy five stars and a definite re-read (especially as this is my second time reading the novel). Keep an eye out for my later reviews of the remaining Inheritance Cycle novels: "Eldest," "Brisingr," and "Inheritance."