When I began this blog, I knew right away that I wanted to re-read Eragon for it, mostly to see if the book I loved as a teenager was as bad as everyone said it was. I did have one pretty big hang-up about getting it started: the length. Almost 500 pages long, reading a book this size was no mean feat for a fourteen-year-old, and might prove to be even more of a challenge for an adult with a full-time job who spends most of her weekends either traveling or working. Sometimes both. And this book gets pretty heavy as a carry-on. Plus, the table of contents alone is 3 pages long. That’s a lot of chapters to review.
Flipping through the book, I realized that the chapters don’t have even lengths. The first chapter is about 2.5 pages long, as is the second. They’re fairly quick reads, and though I expect some big, fat chapters later on in the book, right now it doesn’t seem like such an intimidating project. But I do have a good backlog of posts, so…let’s give it a shot.
Chapter one introduces us to the titular protagonist, Eragon. We learn that he’s just a teenager (because of course he is), who’s a skilled hunter and tracker. The prose isn’t bad, but there’s just something about it that feels lacking. It seems like Paolini was reaching for flowery language, but prose that is still easy to understand.
What doesn’t feel lacking is just over-the-top. Three paragraphs in, and I’m already scoffing over Eragon’s description:
“Eragon was fifteen, less than a year from manhood. Dark eyebrows rested above his intense brown eyes.”
It’s the “intense brown eyes” that gets me. That’s the kind of phrase I would have used in fanfiction when describing a character. It’s a description that just doesn’t make sense to me. When someone has “intense” eyes, I can only picture a person whose eyes are unearthly–in that they’re glowing, or can hypnotize you with a stare. For me, it’s just too vague to actually mean anything.
However, his ridiculous eyes do lead him to a blue stone, the same one that the elf was carrying in the prologue. I think that there’s supposed to be suspense here, but anyone who read the inside flap of the book can tell you right away it’s got something to do with the blue dragon on the cover. However, it does lead us to the first sentence that made me laugh out loud in this book.
“The stone was cool and frictionless under his fingers, like hardened silk.”
It’s another case of trying to using flowery language, except it backfired hilariously. I know that he’s trying to say that the stone is really smooth, but “frictionless”?
If it were truly frictionless, Eragon wouldn’t be able to hold it. It would be sliding out of his hands, slipping through the forest, and no one would ever be able to catch it. The mental image of that–a huge blue stone, forever moving across the world–is funnier than it should be to me. Maybe because right now I’m wishing that’s what would really happen.
…maybe that’d be a better way of keeping the stone safe, rather than teleporting it somewhere where it might never get found, or worse, fall into the wrong hands?
And that about does it for the first chapter. Like I said, it was pretty short. Moving on to the next…
The first two pages of this chapter are nothing but description. It’s not bad, and it wasn’t even that boring. We’re also introduced to Sloan, the butcher. I never liked Sloan; as a kid it was because he’s a dick. Now, it’s because he’s a dick to just the main character. He hates Eragon, and the reason that’s given is because Eragon isn’t afraid to venture into the mountain range where Sloan’s wife was killed.
I read the first two books completely, and almost finished the third one in this series. Some major shit happens to Sloan, and I think it’s meant to be his comeuppance for being an asshole to Eragon. It’s a pretty disproportionate punishment for just being a jerk. Even Eragon, who’s supposed to be our hero, punishes Sloan right after saving him.
I guess I should just be focusing on this book, and this chapter, but Sloan’s treatment gets taken too far.
We also see the farm that Eragon lives on, with his uncle and cousin.
Okay, I’ll accept dragons and magic and elves. I cannot accept that a farm has only three people living and working on it. If they can’t afford farmhands, shouldn’t Uncle Garrow have, like, eight kids? A farm is freaking hard to run, especially when you only have three people working on it, and one of them seems to be hunting in the woods more often than not, if Sloan’s dialogue is any indication.
Also, this is our first description of Garrow:
“His worn clothes hung on him like rags on a stick frame. A lean, hungry face with intense eyes gazed out from under graying hair.”
SO INTENSE. What does that even mean?