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Book Review

This fantasy adventure is the first book in " The Inheritance Cycle" by Christopher Paolini and is published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House Books.

Eragon is written for kids ages 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fifteen-year-old Eragon lives in the village of Carvahall with his Uncle Garrow and cousin, Roran. While exploring in an outlying area called the Spine, Eragon discovers a strange blue stone. One night, the "stone" hatches, and Eragon becomes the owner of a baby dragon. Eragon hides the dragon from everyone, including his family. He casually consults Brom, a local storyteller, for information on dragon lore.

Brom shares accounts of the Dragon Riders of the past. He tells how the evil Galbatorix, now king of the Empire in which Eragon resides, lured the Riders to his side and destroyed them. Eragon names his dragon Saphira and cares for her in a hiding place in the woods. As she grows, she and Eragon develop a mental bond that allows them not only to talk telepathically to one another, but also to draw upon each other's magical powers.

Galbatorix's henchmen, called Ra'zac, appear in Carvahall inquiring about the blue stone. As Eragon tries to hide Saphira, the Ra'zac kill Uncle Garrow and destroy the family's farm. Eragon vows to avenge his uncle's death by tracking down the Ra'zac. Brom, who has discovered Saphira, asks to accompany them on their journey.

Eragon is slow to trust Brom, but he begins to realize the older man possesses surprisingly detailed information about Dragon Riders. Brom trains Eragon to use ancient words to produce magical outcomes. He gives Eragon a sword once belonging to an enemy of the Empire and teaches the boy to wield it in battle. Eragon also learns to ride Saphira. Their connection becomes so strong, it's as if they're one being.

As the journey progresses, the trio battles the king's foot soldiers, creatures called Urgals. They learn that the king's armies have attacked many of the villages in the Empire. They visit Brom's old friend, Jeod. Both men have spent their lives striving to overthrow the king and ensure that a rebel group called the Varden gains victory. While visiting Jeod, Eragon meets a witch named Angela who reads his future. Her werecat, Solembum, becomes a friend and ally to Eragon and Saphira.

Eragon begins having dreams about a beautiful woman in a dungeon. In the city of Dras-Leona, the Ra'zac reappear and capture Eragon and Saphira. A man named Murtagh rescues them and helps care for Brom, who has been injured. Despite Eragon's attempts to save Brom through magic, the mentor — whom Eragon has since learned was a Dragon Rider — dies. Now Eragon is unsure whether to trust the mysterious Murtagh, who travels with them. Eragon and Saphira search for the Varden to partner with them.

Murtagh proves to be a good friend and ally in battle against Urgals. Eragon is captured again and finds himself in the same prison as the woman in his dreams. She's an elf named Arya. She has been drugged and tortured by a Shade named Durza, a powerful villain possessed by evil spirits. Murtagh and Saphira help Eragon escape and rescue the still-comatose Arya. They travel even more quickly to find the Vardan, knowing Arya desperately needs medical attention. The terrain is treacherous and Urgal armies pursue them. When Eragon, Saphira and Murtagh finally find the Varden's city, Arya receives treatment and recovers, and Eragon meets with a leader named Ajihad and tries to learn how he can now aid the Varden without giving up his own freedom.

The Varden face the king's army in an epic battle in which Eragon kills Durza. Eragon hears Osthato Chetowa, the Mourning Sage, calling him, but the words come from inside his head. The Sage offers help and guidance. Eragon decides to seek out Osthato Chetowa to decipher what his next task should be.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

As a Dragon Rider, Eragon discovers he has magical powers and abilities. Brom helps him hone these skills. Eragon learns that using the right words from an ancient language allows him to kill, heal and otherwise manipulate his situation. He communicates telepathically with Saphira. The two have a magical synergy that lets them combine their powers for added strength.

After Eragon discovers he can communicate telepathically with animals besides Saphira, Brom informs him he can do the same with humans if he trains his mind. Brom suggests that with the right instruction, anyone can talk to someone else mentally. Brom says Eragon's magic is not like that of a Shade, who allows spirits to live in him. Eragon also isn't like regular witches, wizards or magicians who rely on spells and potions.

Brom offers words of warning along the way. For example, he urges Eragon to use discernment and caution when infiltrating the thoughts of another human. (Eragon does this to Arya when she's comatose in an effort to save her life.) Brom also instructs the boy not to attempt certain feats, such as raising another human from the dead. He says there is an abyss beyond life where magic means nothing and the Rider's powers will fail him. Saphira, too, warns that magic can yield unexpected results when the ancient words are combined in new ways. She reminds Eragon that magic can protect him where speed and luck fail.

Eragon thanks the gods, known and unknown, when he finds Saphira healthy one morning. Brom says some believed the Dragon Riders had the powers of a lesser god. After his uncle's death, Eragon demands that the god who did this would show himself. The slaughter of the townspeople at Yazuac makes him ask himself what a person's existence is really worth if life can end this way.

Eragon has a (correct) premonition that his uncle will die. As he grieves and wonders what to do, Saphira tells him his heart can be his only true guide and that its desires must lead him. His heart leads him to exact revenge on the murderers, and that becomes the focus of his quest. Brom says Eragon "deserves" revenge for his uncle's death.

A witch named Angela tells Eragon his fortune, only after she's warned him of the dangers and he's consented. She uses the knucklebones of a dragon to read his future, saying that unlike tea leaves, crystals or divining cards, they have true power and do not lie. In the midst of her reading, Eragon is thoroughly convinced of the woman's power and ability. She tells him he's one of the few who can truly choose his own fate. She sees a terrible omen that indicates he must leave his land. Angela's werecat offers Eragon a further warning: If his power ever seems insufficient, he is to go to a certain rock and speak his name to open the Vault of Souls. Before Brom dies, he touches Eragon's forehead and gives him his blessing. He also tells him some powerful ancient words that he can use when he's in great need. Brom's death further proves to Eragon that Angela's fortune telling was real and correct.

At a strange, rocky mountain range, Brom tells Eragon that people in nearby towns pray to the rock formations and engage in cruel religious practices. They drink human blood and make flesh offerings. Many priests have severed their own body parts, believing the more bone they give up, the less they're attached to the mortal world. Eragon kneels, bows his head and pays homage to a cathedral's physical building, but the narration notes that he does not pray.

The Varden have magicians that probe people's thoughts before they'll let them into the city. Preparing to test Eragon's magic skills, they draw a pentagram on the ground.

During a bad dream, Eragon prays for someone to lift him out of his nightmare. He says no one comes to guide him. Then he hears the voice of the Mourning Sage. The Sage promises to help Eragon if he will follow.

Shades, such as Durza, practice the most unholy magic after necromancy. Angela says ordinary sorcerers are just like her; they use magical strength to control spirits and the spirits' powers. Shades, however, relinquish all control and allow their bodies to be controlled by spirits to achieve the greatest power.

The story also contains references to bad or "black" luck.

Authority Roles

Eragon's mother, Selena, came home to Carvahall pregnant and alone after six years of living in larger cities. Explaining little, she wept and begged Eragon's uncle to raise the boy. Once Eragon was born, she disappeared, never to return. Brom says he knew her and that she always helped the poor, no matter her situation.

Eragon has no idea who his father is. He says Brom, who trains and mentors the boy, is like a father to him. Murtagh's father, Morzan, was an evil man and an enemy of the Varden. He used Murtagh's mother as a tool for his evil schemes but didn't marry her. When Murtagh was 3, Morzan threw a sword at him and split open Murtagh's back in a drunken rage.

Profanity/Violence

A few uses of the phrases d--ned, a--, h---fire and b--tard appear, and gods is used with the word above. Brom tells a story about the evil Galbatorix killing an ally in a bloody slaughter and driving him to madness. Later in Brom's tale, Galbatorix kicks someone in the crotch and removes the person's head with a blazing sword. Brom and Eragon ride into a town where the citizens have been slaughtered — their stiff, blood-soaked bodies are left piled in a heap. A barbed spear that sticks out of the heap has impaled a baby. Blood spurts everywhere as an Urgal is rent in two. Arya's body reveals that she's been severely beaten, branded with hot irons and repeatedly tortured, almost to death, by Durza. During battle, the Varden army kills Urgals by scalding them with flaming hot pitch. Saphira tears through, disembowels and smashes Urgals, and Eragon breaks an Urgal's neck using magic. He also lops off several Urgal heads. He kills Durza by stabbing him in the heart. In a dream, Eragon sees piles of innocent bodies slaughtered by the Shade. Other creatures lose arms and legs in battle.

Though Eragon kills his enemies, he tries to avoid killing others and reprimands Murtagh for killing an enemy that didn't need to die. Saphira sides with Murtagh, saying that men who buy and sell other humans get what they deserve. She says she would have liked to tear the enemy apart herself.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

While questioning townspeople about other matters, Brom learns that one of the local earls has three mistresses who all live in the same wing of his castle. In trying to learn why Murtagh has so many enemies, Eragon asks him if he bedded the wrong woman.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics :

What motivates Eragon once his uncle is killed?
* Should people do things to get revenge?
* What are some possible dangers when a person acts out of vengeful motives?
* What does the Bible say about revenge?

Why does Eragon have a tough time deciding whether to let Angela tell him his fate?
* Would you want to know your future? Why or why not?
* What does God say about your future?
* What does God say about people who try to tell others their future?

What does Ajihad mean when he tells Eragon the boy must retain his freedom because it's his true power?
* What can happen to a person who devotes his allegiance fully to another human being?

How does Eragon's power and responsibility as a Rider change him?
* To what qualities and bits of advice from his past does he still cling?

What does Saphira mean when she tells Eragon that he needs to put aside his fear in order to accomplish his responsibility to the future?
* What is your responsibility to the future (or, those who come after you on this earth)?

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: People drink beer in the taverns while listening to storytellers. At a dinner Eragon attends with his uncle, people consume a lot of heavy ale and the atmosphere becomes boisterous. In one town, Brom and Eragon drink too much beer and wake up feeling hung over. Brom recovers by having them drink a lot of tea and ice water washed down with brandy. After Eragon has gone without water for some time, he gulps down beer he finds in a nearby glass.

Other substances: Enemies drug Eragon and Arya so they cannot think clearly enough to use their magic.

Smoking: Brom and Orik, a dwarf, frequently smoke pipes.

Lying and stealing: Brom and Eragon lie often and sometimes take items to keep themselves safe and alive on their journey.

Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review.


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