Getting Into a Series With Your Child
As I have stated before, I am a firm believer in reading to your children. I don’t think there is a single better gift you can give to your child than that. I have read to my son every single day since before he was born (yes I was one of those weird women who read to my belly) and my son is now in the seventh grade and reading at a college level. This poses issues. The biggest being what he can read is not always what he should read. It’s challenging to find books that challenge his reading level but are not too terrible for him to read. I was told by a friend that he should pick up the Eragon series. I had had the first Eragon book sitting on the bookshelf for years but for whatever reason he never picked up the book. Now we are on the final book in the series and I can honestly say that I adore them. Yes, I know that the author follows a very predictable pattern. Orphan finds he’s the chosen one, the mentor must die, epic battle, saves the day. I get it. However, it is worth pointing out that this same exact pattern has worked over and over again. It works here.
I adore the series and especially some of the awesome characters. Angela the herbalist, Arya, Nasuada, and even Saphira are all enjoyable creations. I think that Eragon could be a more filled out character and that there are times when he appears almost flat. He does show great heart and is absolutely the quintessential good guy. I do like how Paolini does make Eragon face some very serious issues and the way he works through them. Christopher Paolini’s strength is not the male characters. As much as I am sure he enjoyed making the male characters brawny and strong, it is his female characters that make the book worth reading. Arya is a fantastic character. She’s strong, smart, and independent. Definitely a character for any teenage girl to read about. The herbalist Angela is an absolute joy to read. From the first moment we meet her all the way through the book, she will keep you laughing and wondering. Not to mention she has a fantastic name, thank you very much! Nasuada is a strong strong strong female character, one of the strongest I have ever read to be honest. She’s an amazing leader, strong willed, smart, and just a joy to read. The sexual tension (whether on purpose or not) between her and Murtagh just leaps off the page. I think Paolini should just forget writing fantasy and jump right into a lovely romance novel about these two. It’s just palpable. The werecats were just ingenious. I know he did not create the werecat mythology but he made them just lovely. They truly have cat-itude. From the first time we meet one until the epic battle, they are fully feline. The dragons are interesting but really the only one I enjoy reading is Saphira, she has heart and even some flaws. I think if Paolini spent as much time developing the character of Eragon as he seems to have spent on Saphira, it would have really pushed the books to the next level.
With all these great things, there are some things I cannot stand about the books and that really grind on my nerves. The first would be the language he invented. It goes beyond confusing and delves into the realm of ridiculous. There are words that just astound me and frustrate me all at the same time. I believe he has a very good grasp on the languages he created but user friendly they are not. The second thing I have trouble with is the character Roran. If he was a real person he would be a mix between Ashton Kutcher and Vin Diesel. That is NOT a compliment. I can’t stomach stupid. Let me just put that right out there. I cannot stomach it. While he is a natural leader and is very good with war strategies, that’s all that is there. His love for Katrina started out being noble and now borders on obsession. It’s actually quite creepy. Not to mention his metamorphosis from being a fairly normal farm boy to a murderous lunatic. I know they are in a war but does he have to have the blood lust? There’s something off there. Katrina irritates me. She’s completely at the mercy of the men in her life and never once tries to save herself. The comparison between characters like Katrina and Arya is just astounding. The only other complaint I have of the series is the gore. There’s quite a bit of it. Lopping off heads, babies being killed, and blood squirting everywhere. It is moment after moment. I think there was a lot that Paolini could have done to bring out the heart of the book a little better without lopping off everyone’s head.
If you are looking for a good fantasy series and one that won’t hurt your head too much, it’s a good read. If you are big fantasy reader and are expecting surprises, this is probably not the series for you.