by Christopher Paolini
In a Nutshell
Memo to all you turnip farmers out there: adventure awaits! Eragon tells the story of a little ol' turnip farmer whose world is turned upside down when he finds out that he's destined to be a Dragon Rider. (You don't even need to know what that is to know it's epic.)
And get this. Christopher Paolini, the author of Eragon, also had quite a surprise coming his way. He wrote this colossal fantasy when he was a teenager. No joke. (What are you doing with your life?) His book was self-published, but then—ka-ching!—Alfred A. Knopf snatched it up in 2002 and shared it with the world. And so the Inheritance cycle was born.
That self-published novel is now a New York Times bestseller. And no wonder—it combines elements of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, mixes them up with a swashbuckling tale of epic conflict, and then dumps the whole kit and kaboodle into an amazing land filled with supernatural danger and wonder.
Oh, and did we mention there's a dragon? Not just any dragon, mind you. Saphira is a blue beauty that is as loyal to Eragon as she is fierce to the evil-doers. The pair is bonded telepathically, and together they take on monsters and magicians in their travels all across the magical world of Alagaësia—and beyond.
Given the action-packed, sweeping scope of this tale, it's no wonder that Eragon was adapted for the silver screen in 2006. Don't start there, though. The book has it all, so dive into the pages of this fantastic yarn to see what millions of readers and fans worldwide are raving about.
Why Should I Care?
Okay, okay. Let's just pretend for a minute that you don't think a magic-wielding elf is just the coolest thing ever. Let's just hypothetically agree that you don't see how riding a dragon through the air at 100 miles an hour while casting beams of energy from your bare hands could possibly be any fun. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that you're not thrilled to discover a hidden dwarf city in the middle of an extinct volcano.
Well, how about this? Eragon is much more than just a (wonderfully cool) fantasy story. Even though the story's hero is a dragon-riding magic user, you two may have more in common than you think. Look at it this way: Eragon never really asks to be a hero. He's given this "Dragon Rider" title long before he knows what that means, or what the world expects of him.
Starting to relate? Do you ever feel like the world has unfair expectations of you? Don't you wish you could just go back to a simpler place and time, and escape the pressures of the future? Well, now you know how Eragon feels (minus the telepathic dragon mind-link, of course). This story is, at its core, the story of one fifteen-year-old's coming-of-age.
As the book progresses, we see Eragon's character transform from a sheltered, country bumpkin into a mature, sophisticated Dragon Rider, capable of inspiring others and, importantly, making his own way in the world. That, ultimately, is the measure of his success. He has to figure out how to meet the world on his own terms, how to become an adult.
That process is something that all of us go through, whether we're Dragon Riders or just regular teenagers. It's called "growing up" and, frankly, a good deal of it is a pain in the butt. It's a frustrating, scary time, but it's something that needs to happen to everyone so they can truly stand on their own two feet.
So, maybe slaying Urgals is not your bag, but we're guessing that you'll find some common ground with Eragon as he struggles to find his way in the world. Often, it's a comfort to know that it's not just you alone who's dealing with the challenges of this "growing up" business. Everyone, even heroes, has to deal with it. And surviving it? Well, that makes heroes of us all. (How's that for inspiring?)