Eragon - Should I pick up the books?

A friend of mine has been trying to get me to into Eragon for a while now, and the film version that’s coming out looks prett nifty. Anyone who’s read the books (there’s two of three already out, right?) care to sell me on them? I’m not entirely sure what kind of fantasy style they are, but I like a wide range of things so really the selling point for me is a) good writing b) good story and c) characters I give a crap about, rather than if they have magic or dragons or whatever.

I haven’t read the books yet, but I did play the game of the movie, and I have to say : I am really unimpressed with this.
Apparently it has been written by an 15-year old ?!?!?
It sounds to me like very standard Fantasy stuff.

At Wikipedia it also shows a lot of negative reviews, but also a few good ones.
The bad ones call it thoroughly uninspired, the good ones say that hopefully the later parts are better. :dubious:

Well, I liked the first one. It was somewhat derivative of other fantasy works (elves, dragons, evil sorcerer, hero travelling with wizard mentor, princess rescued etc.), but an enjoyable read. The second one, however, was so awful that I would tell you to avoid the series altogether.

It was terribly bloated, used stilted, forced-sounding wording (“morning ablutions”, anyone), and went off into rambling off-topic tangents that probably were on the author’s teen mind at the time but had nothing to do with anything whatsoever. (Elves ranting on atheism? WTF?)

Instead, I would recommend the Farseer Trilogy or its successor, the Tawny Man Trilogy, which is vastly superior in terms of a), b) and c)…

I haven’t read it, but a number of my friends have, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s not bad for being written by a 15-year-old, but that it’s a very derivative work made out of every fantasy cliche and popular work that you can think of. Also, his being published at age 15 is apparently not as big of a deal since the first publisher was his parents’ publishing company.

Yeah, I’m kinduv an Eragon fan, but if you’re picky about the style of writing you read, and aren’t a big fantasy fan, maybe better to give it a miss.

I’d possibly have not gotten through the first one (and never even considered Eldest) if I’d been reading them in print. However, I was looking for fantasy picks on, and they’re passable entertainment as read by Gerard Doyle, whose voice does seem to add something to the experience.

As a bit of an offshoot, can anyone specifically pick out other works that Paolini borrowed heavily from, to add to this list: (Thought about spoiler-ing it, but decided not to - I don’t suspect anyone coming in here will mind if we give away a few plot points, and the list might help the OP know what to expect better.)

Tolkien’s middle earth - lots of stuff about the general population of Allegasia - passionate but often narrow-minded humans, gruff and hearty dwarves in the mountains, mysterious song-singing elves in the forest who are strong and great at magic, ferocious ork-like Urgals, who even have a super-Urgal variant.

Ursula LeGuin’s earthsea - Most of the structure of magic stuff - a language in which everything has a true name and is used to manipulate things in spells. An ‘internal strength’ of magic-users which complements their vocabulary in the magical language to indicate how powerful spells they can cast.

Anne McCaffrey’s pern - The basic idea of dragon riders, as an honored subculture, human riders being determined by who the hatching dragons consider to be suitable partners, working together to protect the land and the people from dangers.

Star wars - The overall plot, with the dragon riders filling the role of Jedi. I think I will spoiler this part actually

Once, the riders kept the peace in an era of peace and prosperity (old Republic,) but one rider with darkness in his heart (Sidious,) overthrew the order and nearly annihilated it through treachery and seducing the talented, impressionable youth. Established himself as ruler of an empire, dealt with rebels with a cruel hand. Then, a young farmboy being raised by his uncle finds himself heir to that old legacy - uncle is killed by minions of the Empire, and the farmboy goes off on an adventure with one of the ex-riders who has hid himself through disguise on the fringes of the empire. After that first mentor has died, and after he’s met an elven princess, the rider goes to a place of nature to find his last living possible teacher… and eventually finds out that he’s descended from the traitor responsible for the fall of the Riders.

Agree on the derivative part - the parallels with Middle Earth and Jediism are pretty blatant.

That said, I enjoyed the first two books because they have some nice touches:

  • the common people (the non-magic-using people, whether taking part in the conflicts or just having the plot happen in their midst) aren’t just two-dimensional background; you get a sense of everyone being the centre of a whole world, as real people are.

  • moral problems are pretty well handled - the protagonists don’t get away with ‘moral clarity’ i.e. the ideological conviction that being on the right side takes care of all moral questionns.

And it sold a few copies because his parents took him on a “book signing tour” through tiny towns in the Great Plains region - creating a buzz since most of those towns had never been visited by a “real author”. Those early sales figures were then represented as evidence that “Eragon” was something that the people in extreme middle America responded to.

Well, I have read both books and they’re not fantastic, but they’re better than a lot of the crap that gets published (mentioning no Eddings or Brooks). Don’t buy them unless you have a deep and abiding love of all things sword’n’sorcery related and a need for a few hours easy reading. Having said that, if you’re looking for something to kill time in economy class and can’t find much else in the store, they’re acceptable generic McFantasy - but there are hundreds of better books in the genre that Dopers can recommend.

I thought it was some of the worst fantasy I’d ever read. Right up there with that atrocious Black Jewels trilogy.

I got through it. But only because I was gleefully annotating the book with mean comments to publish on my blog. Which I have to get around to, actually.

Thanks, all. I’ll give them a miss then, unless I really enjoy the film.

I couldn’t finish this book, and I’m a fantasy fan. The most annoying part (other than how derivative it is) was the annoying names. Makes you appreciate how naturally the names flow in a well written book.

That being said, the reluctant readers at the high school where I work seem to enjoy it; and the girls at the junior high where my daughter goes think the lead character is “hot” [no, not the dragon].

Amazing writing for a boy his age. But not on a level for any of the greats with a few decades on him. He does show great promise.

I would think that the fantasy writings of a 15 year old boy would be ripe for Mary Sue-ness (mine certainly were!). Is there anyone in the book who jumps out as being one?

Oh, Eragon himself is an unabashed Gary Stu, or whatever… Paolini has come right out and said that the guy is an alter-ego for himself in Allegasia, and he passes most of the tests for Mary Sues that don’t specifically deal with how an original character deals with more established fandom characters. (Not really applicable there, since it’s an original fantasy realm.) The list of things that this guy is incredible at goes on to a fair length… powerful magician, one of the best swordsmen in the land after a few months of training at the age of 15… romantically linked with a beautiful Elf princess. Even by the standards of the superhuman dragonriders, he’s considered a prodigy in more than one way.

On the other hand, there are definitely some sincere attempts to round off his more unrealistic edges and give him failings and depths more appropriate to a realistic hero. How well they work overall is probably a subject open to debate.
tschild - I definitely agree with both of those recommendations. I’ll add another one closely related to the first one, which is that I definitely felt that a lot of the descriptive passages were very powerful and grounded, giving a real sense of what it might be like to live in a medieval fantasy realm and experience some of the things that are glossed over in other fantasy books… like visiting a simple rural fair, passing through the grand gates of a bustling, walled port city, or getting your first look at a secret Dwarven stronghold. :slight_smile:

Definitely. The books (the first two at least) were wonderful.

And if you didn’t know he was a 15-year-old boy, I bet you wouldn’t guess. If it is Mary-Sue, it doesn’t detract at all.

The emotion between Eragon and his dragon will really, really make you want a pet dragon too.

I thought Eragon was very poorly written and derivative. Nice job for a teen, but subpar as a novel. Having just read a truly dreadful Pern book by Todd MacCaffery, though, I have to say Eragon now looks slightly better to me. For my money, don’t bother. There’s plenty of well-written fantasy out there.

It’s also apparent he spends a lot of time wanking off to the Liv Tyler Arwen. Not to mention I could swear one character in the book is Mace Windoo (is that Sam L. Jackson’s characters from the Star Wars prequels?).

Really I shouldn’t be awful because he’s a millionaire while I’m a humble wage slave…but I couldn’t stop laughing out loud at this book. I guess it was worth its price in terms of what I got out of it in malicious pleasure.

I believe so.

If I know the character you’re thinking about, then his role in the plot is actually more similar to Leia’s father… or actually, whoever is the leader of the rebels at about the time that Luke meets up with them.

RT, do you want mine? I’ve only got Eragon, the first, but I’m happy to send it to you. Drop me an email with your address - my email’s in my profile.

To call these books derivative is being kind to derivatives. Maybe it’s an achievement that he wrote it so young; I don’t know. I do know that had this book been written by an adult, there’s no way it would’ve ever been published. It thoroughly and liberally rips off everything and anything fantasy, without ever adding a new idea. All authors borrow, I don’t have a beef with that, but most add something of their own idea, which Paolini doesn’t. By now, I’m understating, but I was not impressed.