Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So, I finally got my book from the library. Yeah!

It was a little hard to get into at first, after reading six unrelated books between the second book and this one.

But now, the book is done (although apparently not the series. What a let down. I had no idea there is going to be a fourth book. Good thing though, since the ending would have been terrible if the third book was the final one.)

Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm calling these books the Dragon books. Technically, they are called the Inheritance Cycle (yes, "cycle," not series.) But the only people that know what they are called are the ones who've already read the books. But since everyone has seen the big, fat books with different colored dragons on the cover at Wal-mart, Barnes&Noble, or any other place you can buy books, that's what I'm calling them.

I read these books because I've been on a semi-fantasy/science fiction kick lately (with a little Austen mixed in.) They haven't reached Twilight or Harry Potter popularity, so I hadn't heard anything about them, and figured I could read them without anyone passing judgment (as comes with reading Twilight in a house full of boys. And I was intrigued once I heard that they were written by a home-schooled, 15 year old boy.

Brief synopsis (with minimal spoilers, hopefully): The main character is a boy named Eragon who finds a dragon and raises her. Unfortunately this act brings a variety of horrible things to happen to him and his family. He eventually finds himself fighting, side by side elves and dwarfs, against the evil king who rules the land and wants to kill Eragon and his dragon.

Hope that's brief enough for you.

So, first what I liked...
It has the epic adventure fantasy style of Lord of the Rings and Wizard of Earthsea that I love to read. The basic idea and adventure is intriguing. The books, especially the first one, is an excellent option for younger readers, for whom other fantasy books are too dark, violent, or otherwise "questionable." They are an easy read and fun.

Unfortunately, that is about there the list ends.
Especially during Eragon, it is painfully obvious that the author was only 15 years old when he wrote the book. While the writing itself is decent, the depth of characters is lacking. The characters, regardless of their age, have as much insight and strength of experience, as, well, a 15 year old boy.

The books could use a good editing. While I applaud Paolini for thinking through all the details of his story, there is something to be said about leaving something to your readers' imagination. (Seriously, an entire chapter on the making of a sword?) There are times when it felt like reading Numbers in the old Testament, when they are sounding off all the measurements of the temple. Okay, we get it already; it's a big building.

However, the thing that I disliked the most, to the point of distain, was Paolini's reliance on other, far superior fantasy writers. From the use of true names from Ursula K. Le Guin, to the surroundings of elves and dwarves from J. R. R. Tolkien, I felt that he stole many of his ideas from major fantasy series and had very little to offer that was truly unique.

So, in summary, will I recommend them? Um, not really. Will I read the fourth book whenever it comes out? Of course.