This fantasy shows the influence of Tolkien, perhaps C.S. Lewis, maybe a little bit of J. K. Rowling, (and I could not help but be reminded of Bruce Colville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher), but as I read Eragon the thing that kept leaping out to me was STAR WARS! There is an evil kingdom called Alagaesia (the Galactic Empire) now ruled by evil king Galbatorix (Emperor Palpatine). This kingdom used to be protected by Dragon Riders (the Jedi Knights) but they all disappeared or were killed. Into this milieu comes an orphaned young man, Eragon (Luke Skywalker) who finds a dragon egg and hatches Saphira. Chased by a Shade named Durza (“shades” of DarthVader), Eragon finds a helpful ally in Murtagh (Han Solo). As they are seeking to escape to the Varden (the Rebel Alliance), they rescue beautiful young elf-woman Arya (Princess Leia). Urgals attack the hidden underground city where the Varden live with the Dwarves, but the combined efforts of Eragon, Saphira, and Arya defeat the Urgals, and Eragon must go with Arya to the elves to complete his training.
We have seen all the Star Wars movies and have read many of the books. One thing about them I do not care for is the attempt to inject some Zen Buddhist beliefs, but when considered solely as science fiction-fantasy, they are not too bad. I do sense a strong good versus evil theme in the book. There are a few questionable items. Quite often it is said that someone cursed or swore, although on only a few unnecessary occasions are actual curse words used. (One vulgar word referring to questionable parentage is used as an epithet, and used in another place in accord with its standard meaning, which I would not necessarily consider vulgar in that case). There are several references to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. The worship of “gods” is mentioned. Reference is made to an earl’s having three mistresses, Eragon’s having to control his thoughts about Anya’s body as he is touching her using his special powers to heal her, and the possibility of Murtagh’s having “bedded the wrong woman.” There may be touches of relativism in that when Eragon says that stealing is wrong, Brom replies that it depends on one’s point of view, and after Eragon objects to Murtagh’s killing a defenseless enemy and says “There aren’t any answers that make sense,” Saphira replies, “Sometimes there are no answers.” Some may be troubled by the use of magic, which may not be given quite as prominent a place as in Harry Potter, but seems to be a little more emphasized than in Lord of the Rings. And after his uncle is killed, Eragon turns toward the heavens in frustration and says, “What god would do this? Show yourself!” This is not a book for small children, especially since some of the killing scenes are a little gruesome, though not overly gratuitous. All in all, given the caveats mentioned, I enjoyed reading the book. The story continues in book 2: Eldest.
As you may know, the author was still being homeschooled when he first self-published this book. Thanks Wayne for the very thorough review!
Eragon comes to theaters: December 15th, 2006