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Eragon
by
Christopher Paolini

Publishing Information: Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2003
ISBN: 0375826688 / 0375826696 (PB) / 044023848x (Mass PB) / 0606337288 (Turtle)
Pages
: 528 p.
Ages: 12 & Up

Summary:
In Alagaesia, a fifteen-year-old boy of unknown lineage called Eragon finds a mysterious stone that weaves his life into an intricate tapestry of destiny, magic, and power, peopled with dragons, elves, and monsters.

Book Talk:
IWhen Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Dragons
Elves
Fantasy
Magic
Young Men

Awards & Reviews:
Arizona Young Reader's Award-Nominee, 2006
Beehive Young Adults' Book Award (Utah), 2005
Bluegrass Award-Nominee, 2005
Book Sense Book of the Year, 2004
Buckeye Children's Book Award-Nominee, 2007
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 2005
Colorado Children's Book Award, 2005
Evergreen Young Adult Book Award, 2006
Golden Archer Award (Wisconsin), 2006
Nene Award, 2006
Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Award-Nominee, 2006
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award, 2005
Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award(Illinois), 2006
SCASL Book Award (South Carolina), 2006
Sequoyah Book Award (Oklahoma), 2006
Volunteer State Book Award, 2006
Young Reader's Choice Award, 2006


Gr. 7-12. It's an impressive start to a writing career that's sure to flourish. 
--Booklist (Starred Review), August 1, 2003
 
This solid, sweeping epic fantasy crosses vast geography as it follows 15-year-old Eragon from anonymous farm boy to sword-wielding icon ....A slight tone of arrogance running through the narrative voice will hardly bother readers busily enjoying the reliable motifs of elegant immortal elves, mining dwarves, a wise elderly man, and a hero of mysterious birth.  --Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003

Eragon by science fiction and fantasy enthusiast Christopher Paolini is a vigorously written high fantasy epic of Eragon, a young man armed with a mythic red sword, accompanied by a beautiful dragon companion named Saphira, and the recipient of Brom's old storyteller wisdom. Eragon is highly recommended for dedicated fantasy enthusiasts.
--Midwest Book Review, November 2003

[An] impressive epic fantasy.  The fantasy bildungsroman* has the brave youngster learning about exile, magic, love and his own destiny, and Paolini promises his saga will continue in two more volumes of the planned Inheritance series.  
--Publishers Weekly , April 4, 2005
Bildungsroman is a novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character, from the German word bildung (formation) and the French word for a novel, roman.


Grade 5 Up--Eragon does not approach the depth, uniqueness, or mastery of J. R. R. Tolkien's works, and sometimes the magic solutions are just too convenient for getting out of difficult situations. However, the empathetic characters and interesting plot twists will appeal to the legions of readers who have been captivated by the Lord of the Rings trilogy and are looking for more books like it.
--School Library Journal, September 2003

Discussion Questions and Ideas:
Family and Home

  • Eragon's family is very important to him, although he never knew his parents. Who do you think Eragon's parents were? Why is his father's identity a mystery, and why did his mother bring him to her brother to raise and then disappear? Could Eragon have prevented his uncle's death?
  • What was Eragon's life like before he found the dragon's egg? How did his discovery of the egg change his life? Do you think Eragon found the egg or the egg was deliberately sent to him?
  • Why was Eragon comfortable exploring the Spine when everyone else in his village was afraid of the place? What does the Spine represent to the other inhabitants of Carvahall?
  • Does Brom know that Eragon is special from the beginning? Has he been watching Eragon all along, knowing what his destiny will be? Why do you think Brom settled in Carvahall as the village storyteller?
  • Do you think Eragon will ever be able to return to the Palancar Valley and Carvahall? He longs for his home in the midst of his adventures, but will he return to the farm when his adventures are over?

Destiny and Responsibility

  • The first line of the story reads: "Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world." What does this opening tell you about the meaning of destiny in the tale? What does the author mean by "a scent that would change the world"?
  • Names are very important in this story. How does it affect Eragon to learn that his name was also the name of the first Dragon Rider? How does he choose Saphira's name?
  • What does Saphira mean when she says, "It is our destiny to attempt the impossible, to accomplish great deeds regardless of fear. It is our responsibility to the future"? Is this true for everyone? What is the responsibility of each of us to the future?
  • Why does Eragon's magic diminish his own strength every time he uses it?
  • Angela the fortuneteller says, "To know one's fate can be a terrible thing." Would you want to know your future if someone could tell you? Why does Eragon decide to hear her predictions?
  • What does she mean when she says, "That freedom [to choose your fate] is a gift, but it is also a responsibility more binding than chains"?
  • How does Eragon feel about his fate as a Dragon Rider? What are the benefits of his new life? What are the dangers? Would you choose to take on the responsibilities Eragon has--caring for Saphira, rescuing Arya, helping the Varden, fighting the Empire?

Trust and Fear

  • Why does Brom want to travel with Eragon when he is forced to leave his home? How does Eragon know that he can trust Brom?
  • Who are the Ra'zac and what do they represent to Eragon?
  • When Eragon realizes that Arya is an elf, does it change his feelings about her? Why does he rescue her from the prison even though it puts his own rescue in jeopardy?
  • How does Eragon feel when he learns about Murtagh's parentage? Does the fact that Murtagh's father was Morzan affect Eragon's trust of him? Does it affect your feelings about his character?
  • When Eragon finds the stronghold of the Varden, he is confronted by the Twins. Why does Ajihad trust the Twins? Why do they treat Eragon with suspicion?

Good and Evil

  • Many fantasy novels deal with the struggle between forces of good and evil. Discuss the ways in which Eragon explores this theme and which characters represent good and evil.
  • The story begins with the Shade and his ruthless ambush of the elf Arya. How did this Prologue affect your anticipation of the story to come? Why is the Prologue titled "Shade of Fear"?
  • Are there characters who represent pure good and pure evil? Discuss the ways in which an author shows us a character's true nature. How does a character's life experience shape his or her actions?
  • How did Galbatorix establish his rule of Alagaësia? What experiences turned him into a cruel and feared ruler? What do we learn of the Shade's past when he is killed?
  • The Urgals seem to be completely ruthless, yet Eragon is hesitant to kill them with his magic in Chapter 30. Why does he only use his magic to stun them? Why is he so upset when Murtagh kills Torkenbrand, the slave trader?

Connecting Fantasy to Real Life

  • What kinds of good and evil do you hear about in the news? Discuss examples from news stories that report events representing the good and evil in our society and around the world.
  • What circumstances can bring people together to become friends and what can make those friendships grow and develop? What circumstances can hurt a friendship?
  • Do you feel that some people have a destiny to fulfill or a special reason for living? Name people in history who had a strong responsibility to a cause for good or evil. (Possibilities would be Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King for good causes and Adolf Hitler, Attila the Hun, and Josef Stalin for evil.)

Related Websites:
The Offical Website of Christopher Paolini - http:www.alagaesia.com/

Read-a-Likes:
Dragonflight by Anne Mccaffrey, 1978
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, 1995
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, 1988
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937
The Hunting of the Last Dragon by Sherryl Jordan, 2002
Rise of a Hero by Hilari Bell, 2005
The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn, 1994
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farm, 2004 (2006 RITBA Nominee)
The Wizard if Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968

Other Books by the Author:
Eldest, 2005

About the Author:
Christopher Paolini was home-schooled and graduated high school at 15 years old.

He says "I wouldn't have changed it. Something a lot of people don't realize is that in order to write a book, you have to have time. When I graduated from high school, I had time to just write. I think I had a wonderful childhood--my parents put a lot of work into my sister and me, and it's all turned out for the best so far."

He began work on his debut novel Eragon , the first in a planned trilogy, when he was 15.  When it was finished the family had the book printed by Lightening Source, an on-demand printing company.

Eragon slowly started to gain a cult following and, as a result, came to the attention of a major publishing house, Knopf, (part of Random House) who published it in hardcover in August 2003.  The first editions are now collector's items - copies of the Lightening Source version are available through dealers for around $1,000 and the copies of the first edition from Knopf are offered at around $300.

Eragon debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, which was followed by an appearance on the Today show.  At the time of writing (Jan 2004) Eragon is #1 on the children's bestseller lists nationally, with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at #2.

In 2003 the 19 year old Paolini did a 16-city tour for Knopf, in early 2004 he toured Britain for the UK release of the book, then back to the USA for more tours.

Paolini says "I'm still trying to get used to it--but I'm not sure if I really want to get used to it, because there's no guarantee it will last. It's been an extraordinary experience. Readers have fallen in love with the book, thousands of people are reading it--I really can't ask for more as an author."

When asked if the Harry Potter books influenced him he says "I actually didn't read the Potter books until the fourth one came out, and by then I had already written Eragon," he recalls. "Of course, once I started, I devoured them. What Rowling has done is really wonderful."

He says that the top three authors who influenced him were Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin and Raymond Feist (with Feist's novel Magician making a particularly strong impact on him. 

Now 19, he lives with his family in Paradise Valley, Montana, where he is at work on Eldest , the next volume in the Inheritance trilogy, which is due to be released in August 2005. A movie based on Eragon is scheduled for release in late 2005. Copyright BookBrowse LLC 2005. All rights reserved.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair