If I were to make a list of terrible books, Eragon would not be on it. It’s not that it’s better than other books that would make the list—Wizard’s First Rule, Eclipse, The Lost Symbol—but that it’s just too boring to bother putting on such a list. It’s a throwaway novel that brings nothing to the table and can’t even manage to do anything fun with the tropes it batters and abuses for far too long before it thankfully ends.
I’ll try and start at the beginning, but I can’t remember much of it because there’s nothing gripping or interesting about it. Eragon is a farming kid who lives a pretty normal life on the outskirts of some town. He likes to go off into the woods to hunt, and everyone in the town fears the woods because they are superstitious or something. It doesn’t matter. One day he goes off and finds a dragon egg.
The first leg of the book is Eragon raising his new dragon in secret. It’s as fun as it sounds, which is to say that it doesn’t sound fun and isn’t any fun. At some point he talks to the old wiseman about dragons who oddly knows quite a bit. A few hundred pages later we find out that this old wiseman was once a dragonrider and no one is surprised because it was painfully obvious. It wouldn’t surprise me if the old wiseman was actually Eragon’s real father, though I won’t bother going further into the series to see if that’s true or not.
Just when dull starts to transcend into boring, Eragon’s uncle and house are destroyed because the evil empire is after the missing dragon egg and finds out he has it. He swears revenge and sets out after his foes with the wiseman who becomes his teacher. None of that is surprising either.
The second and third legs of the novel meander around as the world Eragon lives in is introduced to us. The wiseman teaches Eragon all about dragons and magic, and Eragon picks up on things quickly even though he’s stupid and makes stupid decisions. Eventually we all forget about the revenge plot until later when it needs to come back into play. By this point, our heroes have spent time digging around shipping records in an effort to track these mysterious foes. Eragon is also taught how to read in a week because why not.
Everything about this book is dull, even when it’s trying to be interesting. The “between” sections of exposition and learning are boring and have been done in better novels, but even the parts pretending to contain action are boring. There’s no reason to care about anyone; there is no character investment. Eragon and his wiseman friend might die, but so what? Eragon is boring and so is his wiseman friend. Even his dragon is boring.
The relationship between Eragon and his dragon had potential, but none of it was realized. The two can communicate to each other telepathically, so their connection should be an interesting kind of intimate, but their ability to communicate is nothing more than a plot device. Sometimes they are friends, sometimes they are family, but mostly the dragon is just overprotective and calls Eragon a “hatchling” while being overbearing. Sometimes she’s sarcastic because why not, but mostly they act as dull players in a story that has been done before.
At some point in the novel, Eragon and the wiseman are captured and the first real moment of tension happens, but then a mysterious stranger with a turbulent past saves them at the last minute. They all team up and when Eragon gets captured again and we think the mysterious stranger with a turbulent past might leave because he thinks about himself and his own survival more than others, he comes in at the last minute and saves the day because the two have become friends. Eragon is but the constant beating of a dead horse with clichés.
Eragon also sometimes dreams about an Elf woman and doesn’t know why. When he meets her, she can’t explain the visions so it must be magic. Either way, he saves her and they probably become a couple before the series is over.
It is said early on that being a dragonrider means living a life filled with mystery, for the connection between dragon and rider can create odd, unexplainable magic. This is a nice and lazy plot device that comes into play once and probably shows up more in later books. I’d be upset at such writing, but I can’t manage the effort to care.
Another nice plot device is how often Eragon gets knocked unconscious or faints. By the end of the book, my only thought was, “he really needs to see a doctor about all these concussions. That’s not good.” I’m surprised the poor kid can remember anything at all. His wiseman friend should really buy him a helmet.
The dialogue is poorly written, often dragging on and on and not feeling natural, adverbials are abused, and it seems like our author took to a thesaurus one too many times. Some passages are overly descriptive when they don’t need to be while others are barren when more information is wanted. The one or two good ideas are overshadowed by everything else.
Normally when I read a bad book, I have the urge to seethe about it for pages and pages until every example of bad writing is noted down and I nod my head in satisfaction. In this case, I just don’t care. Eragon is bad, but mostly it’s boring. Plenty happens, but it’s all so forgettable and just not worth reading. There’s a battle at the end that ends how you’d expect, and there are bad people that are most likely traitors in future books because that’s just how this all works.
The only thing spectacular about this book is how dull it is. I’d say the movie adaptation is batter: it might be a terrible ripoff of Star Wars, but at least it has that going for it. The novel is just…not worth anything, let alone emotion.