Language and communication? Seriously? In a book about dragons? Well, hear us out. We'd like to proclaim (hold on while we grab our megaphone) that language and communication bring the fantasy to life in Eragon. Ever wondered how to say "rock" in dwarvish? How about the magic word for "fire"? This book has the answers—just flip to the glossary at the back. No joke. This book comes with its own stinkin' glossary.
Not only do we get strange, new languages in Eragon, but we also get new modes of communication. Eragon and Saphira have a mental bond that allows them to communicate telepathically, for crying out loud. That's some serious communication if you ask us. In the end, the way our hero talks to his dragon and to the rest of the world is a direct reflection of both his own power and the power of communication in general.
Eragon's true power comes from his ability to link minds and communicate with every living being.
In Eragon, magic is not some crazy power that comes from a wand. It's the natural result of truly understanding the world and being able to express that understanding in words.
The great metaphysical poet John Donne once wrote, "No man is an island." What he meant is this: nobody goes through life on their own. In Eragon, this is definitely the case for our hero. Though he faces down Shades, Urgals, and lots of other baddies, Eragon always has peeps in his corner to help him win the day. They range from a blue dragon, to an old warrior, to a skilled swordsman with a mysterious past. In every case, their friendship with Eragon goes to show that even the most heroic among us must depend upon the support of our closest pals.
Eragon wouldn't be a hero if it weren't for the help of his friends.
Eragon shows us that friendship is earned by acts of faith and not just given away freely.
Carvahall, Eragon's home, is a sleepy little village tucked away in a secluded corner of Alagaësia. Imagine Smallville, Superman's hometown, except without any of the super-strong babies. (Heroes yes, but only the baby dragons are super strong.) But Eragon's home is more importantly his Uncle Garrow, cousin Roran, and the farm they tend together—you know, where the heart is. Our hero loses all of that early on in Eragon, and he's forced on a quest. And hey, maybe that quest will lead him to a place where he can find the same peace and security that has been taken from him by the forces of evil.
In order to truly be a hero, Eragon must leave his home behind.
Eragon can never truly abandon his home. His connection to his home, in fact, is what sustains him through his most difficult trials.
In a land ruled by an evil king, brute power is what makes the world go 'round. Eragon's Alagaësia is no exception. The strong prey on the weak, and the weak have very little to say about it. But that's where our hero comes in. Does he defend the weak with a sophisticated P.R. campaign? Not a chance. He learns how to swing a sword, cast a spell, and ride a dragon. Power—both natural and supernatural—is the currency of influence in this world. The stronger Eragon gets, the more good he can spread in the world, and the more baddies he can beat (literally).
Eragon shows us that strength without wisdom is meaningless.
The development of Eragon's powers is directly related to the development of his maturity as a person.
In the novel Eragon, Eragon is not really Eragon. Wait, let's try that again. What we mean is that the hero of our novel bears the burden (or gift, depending on how you look at it) of the original Rider, who just so happened to be named Eragon. Having your identity handed to you with your name may seem a bit of a challenge, and that's precisely what our Eragon has to work out in this book. Who is he, really? It's a question that he struggles with, and at the same time it's a question that seems to have been answered before he was even born.
Eragon would be a hero no matter what his name was.
Eragon shows us that the legacy of those who came before you will determine your identity.
The role of Fate, or a person's "wyrd," is on a lot of characters' minds in Eragon. And that means it's on our minds, too. Saphira, the dragon, sees reality as a pre-ordained series of events. As a result, she doesn't stress much—life to her seems to happen as it's meant to. Eragon, on the other hand, has a harder time accepting the role of Fate in his life. Does inheriting heroic status, and a dragon to boot, mean that he's got no free will of his own? If he does have free will, which choices are the right ones to make? Big questions, right? Luckily, Eragon's got a host of friends to help him out with the answers.
Eragon shows us that a blind acceptance of destiny is a dangerous thing.
Ironically, it's the intervention of fate that allows Eragon the chance to exercise his free will. (How about that?)
You want an epic struggle between two opposing moral poles of the universe? You've come to the right place. Eragon is more than just the story of a fellow and his dragon. They find themselves in the middle of a war to turn back an evil tide of monsters and magicians. It's not just a morality tale of rock 'em, sock 'em robots, though. Along the way, our hero must confront what it means to be evil, and how hard it is at times to be good. We think that he's a better hero for it, though, which makes him even good-er in our eyes! (Er, better…we meant better.)
Eragon exists in a universe where there is either good or evil. There is no middle ground.
Eragon's most heroic quality is his ability to question the application of terms like "good" and "evil" to explain people's motivations. A real hero looks beyond simple labels.
As a novel smack dab in the fantasy genre, supernatural is front and center in Eragon. You want elves? This book's got 'em. How about dwarves? Lots of dwarves here. Magic, dragons, evil monsters? Check, check, and check. One of the central journeys of the book (you could argue that is the central journey) is the transformation of Eragon himself from a regular old turnip farmer into a master of supernatural abilities. His world is entirely changed by supernatural forces and he must enter a whole new reality of magic and mysticism. Luckily, it's a ride that we as readers get to go on, too. Sweet deal.
Despite its supernatural elements, Eragon is a very conventional story about one boy's maturation into adulthood: this is a coming-of-age story, through and through.
Without his supernatural powers, Eragon could not be the hero that he becomes.
When we first meet him, Eragon is a simple farm boy, scratching out a living in a forgotten corner of his world. When we say good-bye to him at the end of the novel, he's transformed into a full-fledged Dragon Rider. The bulk of Eragon is about the journey he takes to make that transformation and assume the power and responsibility that he's inherited. At the end of the book, his newfound maturity can be seen as the climax, or turning point, of his story. No more turnips for this guy. He may have come into the story a boy, but he rides off on Saphira as a man.
In the book, Eragon's maturity can be measured by his abilities as a fighter. The better a fighter he is, the more mature we know him to be.
It's not his strategy in battle that marks Eragon's maturity. It's his understanding of the wider world and his role in it.
When a book begins with a map (the way our 2002, Alfred A. Knopf edition of Eragon does), you know that you're in for exploring. As readers, we follow Eragon all over Alagaësia and even beyond. Through his travels, we learn more and more about the world he lives in: its people, its customs, and its conflicts. Exploration is more than an exercise in geography, though. For Eragon, his travels are a journey that lead him to a stronger sense of self, and a deeper understanding of his responsibilities as a powerful Dragon Rider.
The most important voyage Eragon undertakes can't be traced on any kind of map. It's an internal voyage, a quest for finding his true self.
Part of what makes Eragon heroic is his willingness to explore new places and encounter new people and ideas.