Posts Tagged ‘Eragon’

We finally find ourselves at the end of Paolini’s Inheritance series. What started as a self-published novel written by a homeschooled teenager–with a love for reading–ended up as one of the most widely read fantasies of our age. Received with a fair amount of criticism (some I agree with, some I do not), the three-book series turned into four, and a poor interpretation of a movie had been released. Regardless of the different opinions regarding this tale, one thing holds true: the Inheritance Cycle made a signification impact on the world of fantasy.

Story overview:
Now older, and a little wiser, Eragon and his dragon Saphira continue their quest alongside the Varden (a rebel alliance) to overthrow the wicket king, Galbatorix, and turn around his tyrannical Empire. Eragon’s cousin, Roran, also fights alongside the Varden in an attempt to keep his family safe, and in the process, he makes a name for himself along with a few enemies.

The closer they get to Urû’baen (the King’s fortress), the more apparent it becomes that Eragon doesn’t have a chance against the King in his current state. With the aid of the elf Arya (Eragon’s unrequited love), and dragon Glaedr (now living as a soul in his heart of hearts), Eragon works on improving his skills, yet he knows it still isn’t enough.

When a memory of something the werecat, Solembum, said to him in the past arises, Eragon follows up with the disgruntled feline only to uncover a larger mystery. He seeks for an answer that might give him the leverage he needs, and ultimately a way to save both Alagaesia and his half-brother, Murtagh, while removing Galbatorix from his seat of power.

My thoughts:
I quite enjoyed this final book. In fact, I thought it was the best one of the series. I really liked the first book, Eragon, and was somewhat disappointed with the middle two (Eldest, Brisingr). If Paolini had stuck to his original plan and written a trilogy, I think he would have done better. Though, instead of combining books 3 and 4, I would have merged 2 and 3 into a single volume. My biggest complaint with those books was that they were too long, and could easily have been cut down. That said, I still really enjoyed the series as a whole, and, one day, will probably read it again.

Things to consider:
I didn’t come across any foul language or sexual situations, but there was a fair amount of action violence and some gory scenes. Personally, I didn’t see anything inappropriate for this type of story. However, I was hoping that Eragon would have come to have a relationship with God, or at least an understanding of His existence, but in the end that wasn’t the case. The Elves are atheists, Saphira (Eraon’s dragon) thinks dragons are better than any god, and the Dwarfs believe in multiple deities (polytheists). Where Eragon didn’t refute the possibility of there being a deity, he did take the stance that relying on his own morality and conscience was enough. Perhaps a reflection of Paolini’s own struggles?

Opportunities for discussion:
One thing that stood out to me was the process of finding one’s true name. It required an individual to perform a great deal of soul searching. Not only would they have to perceive the good parts of themselves, but the negative ones too. In doing so, they got to know who they truly were. I think this is a good lesson to share with our youth. More often than not, teens seek out odd–sometimes dangerous–things in an attempt to form an identity. In the end, they are not really being themselves, but looking for acceptance from others. We should not shy away from who we really are, and who we were created to be. If we only ever focus on our positives, then we will never find growth. If we focus only on our negatives, then we will find ourselves in a state of depression. Coming to terms with who we really are is the first step to approaching the throne of God and allowing Him to form us into the people we were meant to be. And thus, ultimately, receive a new name (Revelation 2:17) as did a few characters in the story.

Past reviews in this series:
1) Eragon (Inhertitance, Book 1)
2) Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2)
3) Brisingr (Inheritance, Book 3)

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Story overview:
As the son of a great wizard, Traphis doesn’t understand why his mother and father have forbidden him from learning magic. Raised to tend fields, he often dreams of a bigger life–one in which he performs in front of an awe-stricken crowd.

A year after the death of his father, Traphis, now fifteen years old, spies his mother tossing a collection of magic books into a nearby creek. Unbeknownst to her, he is able to rescue them and read their contents hidden within his secret cave.

Opening himself up to the world of magic, a dark presence surfaces–one which has been seeking to track him down for years. Hidden secrets of the past unfold as Traphis joins with other trainees in hopes of learning the skills necessary to survive. The more answers he uncovers the more mysteries arise, sending him down the path of a true wizard, which is far more dangerous than he ever imagined.

My thoughts:
Ever since I can remember, I have loved the Narnia series, which was read to me at a young age. As I grew older, I was surprised at how little Christian Fantasies there were out there; the Christian bookstores had little to nothing of them. It was disappointing to say the least. Traphis, with a subtle/non-preachy Christian angle, targets fans of series like Narnia as well as secular ones like Harry Potter and Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle). It is not meant to compete with them, but to provide a new fantastical world in which youths can follow and come back holding onto messages of faith, hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

Things to consider:
Since this was written to appeal to teens and young adults, there are a few places that may be considered disturbing to younger children. No foul language or sexual situations, but there is action violence–done to enhance the story rather than shock the reader with sensationalism. Nothing inappropriate for the right ages (preteen and older). This should appeal to boys and girls; there are strong characters representing both genders–though the protagonist is a boy.

Opportunities for discussion:
Forgiveness is one of the leading elements in this story. Traphis’ need to forgive God for taking his father away, and his need to forgive his own failures. Skinny Jack learns he needs to forgive his abusive father, and Falin offers grace to his brother who rebelled many years ago. One thing this story also shows is the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Forgiveness is about releasing the power for vengeance and setting it into the hands of God, but one should not forget the past; we can learn from it and grow stronger as a result. Christians are not blind, they just learn to see with different eyes.

Availability:
Traphis: A Wizard’s Tale is currently available on the Kindle and Nook for $2.99 (which is a good price for a 155k word novel). If you don’t have either a Kindle or Nook eReader, don’t worry, you can download the story and read it on your computer, smartphone, or tablet using the free Kindle software.

Purchase the eBook at:
Amazon (Kindle – $2.99)
Barnes & Noble (Nook – $2.99)

What is an eBook? It’s an electronic book format that can be read on digital devices, removing the need for paper. Learn more about the story at: http://awizardstale.com.

BrisingrAfter Eragon and Eldest comes the 3rd book in the Inheritance Cycle, Brisingr. Originally designed to be the final book in the series, Paolini decided to go a little further and plan on a fourth book.

Named after the first word Eragon learns in the Ancient Language, which means “fire,” Brisingr becomes a significant part of Eragon’s arsenal (I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to read to find out.) 

I question Paolini’s decision to break into four novels. Why? Because Brisingr is very slow in places and sometimes seems to just drag on, particularly towards the middle. It could have easily been cut down by deleting a lot of the unnecessary political stuff–this was written for kids right? I can see them easily getting bored with those parts.

Story overview: 

As mentioned in my review of the last book, Roran’s fiancé, Katrina, was captured. Brisingr starts out with Eragon and Roran infiltrating the Ra’zac’s fortress. After rescuing her and killing every last creature, Eragon is faced with determining the fate of Katrina’s father, who had who betrayed Carvahall.

Arya eventually meets up with Eragon (who was separated from Saphira (his dragon)). They return to the Varden where he reunites with Saphira, attempts to restore the curse on Elva, and tries to locate a new sword. After fighting off Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, the Varden learn that the enemy is using an army that does not feel pain–A trick of Galbatorix. After the wedding of Roran and Katrina, Nasuada (the Varden leader) sends Eragon off on a mission of diplomacy to assist in choosing a new dwarf king, who is hopefully sympathetic to the Varden’s cause.

Eragon then goes with Saphira to Ellesméra to extend his training from Oromis and Glaedr. He learns the fate of his father, obtains a new sword, and rushes out to meet up with the Varden–whom Roran has been fighting with all this time–as they lay siege to a city that is under the control of Galbatorix. A new Shade arises in his path while his master fights a distant battle, and in the end, those left standing prepare to march to Belatona and from there the next city until they come to the fortress of Galbatorix.

My thoughts: 

Where I lost some appeal for the series between Eragon and Eldest, I lost a bit more between Eldest and Brisingr, but not enough to dissuade me from reading the fourth book when it comes out. I actually liked some of the slow political stuff, but as I said, it’s probably not so appealing to a younger crowd. There were times when I felt like giving up, and the beginning took me some time before I got into the story, but I forced my way through the thick waters just long enough for it to take shape. I liked seeing how the relationship between Arya and Eragon starts to take on a different shape, and how there still seems to be some redeeming hope for Murtagh.

Things to consider: 

If you’ve read Eldest, then you may think that Paolini insists on having Eragon become an atheist like the elves. However, Eragon is exposed to the culture of the dwarfs and sees some amazing things. The thought of a deity becomes a possibility in his mind. I don’t know how this will end, but it seems that there is some hope. Like the first two books I rate this for pre-teens +, with it leaning more towards boys. Lots of violence, but little to no swearing or sexual situations. The “Trial of Long Knives” may be a bit too disturbing for some kids.

Opportunities for discussion: 

Talk to your kids about free will. In this story, if a person possesses another’s true name, then they have control over them to make them do whatever they want. Murtagh, for example, is doing the bidding of Galbatorix by these means. Many people think that this is what Christianity is about, but it’s quite the opposite. God gave mankind a free will, free to follow or free to walk away. God wants us to chose to love and chose to follow, he is not a tyrant like Galbatorix that forces an unwilling heart. Share with your kids this type of freedom.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Eragon (Inhertitance, Book 1)
2) Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2)

EragonI’ve caught up on all three of the current Inhertitance cycle books, but I hate to post reviews of books out of order. So let me share with you the story of Eragon.

When I stumbled across this book, I was surprised at how much I liked it. In fact I liked it so much that I did research on the author, Christopher Paolini, just to see what I could learn about him. What I discovered truly amazed me, as he was only fifteen when he started writing. This encouraged me to get back to writing for myself, as I had started “A Wizards Tale” when I was thirteen. The challenge was to improve my writing skills, and Paolini’s personal story talked about how he tackled projects by educating himself. This motivated me to acquired the same books on the craft that he read, but it didn’t stop there. Since then I have greatly expanded my studies on the art of writing, and now I have even published my own book as a result. Thanks Chirstopher!

One final note: I thought the movie version of Eragon was awful. It had none of the complex character dynamics that I liked so much in the book; such as the tension between Eragon and Arya. I do not recommend the movie.

Story overview:

Fifteen-year-old Eragon, who lives with his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran on a farm, finds a polished blue stone, which appears right in front of him one day as he wanders in a wilderness called the “Spine”. To his surprise, several days later a dragon hatches from it.

Eragon learns that the dragon, Saphira, has chosen him to be her rider, and Eragon’s uncle gets killed because of it. He travels with a man named Brom to a place called Teirm in order to find the murderous Ra’zac who did the deed. Along the way Brom trains Eragon in magic, sword fighting, and the Ancient Language.

After many events, he discovers a captured elf, Arya, and frees her. They flee to the Varden, which is a group of people forming a rebellion against the tyrant Galbatorix. The Varden is invaded and Eragon finds himself fighting alongside them.

My thoughts:

I know that this story is not particularly original, in fact there are many elements of “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings” used here. However, the situations and characters kept me wanting to know more. At first I didn’t like Eragon, but as he grew so did I grow to like him, and I particularly liked the werecat, Solembum, who is an extremely interesting character.

Things to consider:

There is a lot of violence in this story, however the language and any sexual situations are very tame, if not totally non-existent. My thought is that this is more of a boy’s story; though, I do understand that a lot of girls like it too. I would age rank this one into the early teens.

Opportunities for discussion:

You can explain to your children that, even though unpleasant, difficult situations are what mold a person’s character and helps them to grow up. You can explain to them that in the Bible, God often allows things to happen so that good will abound in the end. Another good point to bring up is the importance of companionship, as Eragon and Saphira become closer and more dependent on each other. I should point out too that, this is a good opportunity to share your thoughts on fortunetelling.