Sword fights, elves, dragons – it’s all here in “Eragon.” At 509 pages, this epic is the incredible debut of Christopher Paolini, the 19-year-old writer of the fastest-selling fantasy novel since “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Like “Harry Potter,” “Eragon” is the first of a series. “Eldest,” the sequel to “Eragon” and the second book of Paolini’s Inheritance trilogy, is still being written. But there’s no hurry – Eragon is still flying off the shelves and has enjoyed 21 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List.
The story starts out with an ambush. A beautiful elven girl is brutally attacked by a gang of Urgals, beasts that look like 7-feet-tall men with horns. As she’s being attacked, she removes a large, sapphire-colored stone, mumbles a few magic words and the stone vanishes.
Hundreds of miles away, the stone resurfaces in a forrest where our hero, a fifteen-year-old boy named Eragon, is hunting. Unable to capture any game, Eragon decides to take the stone into town and sell it to buy enough meat for the long winter ahead.
However, when he returns to his hometown, Eragon finds himself in a bind; no one will buy the unusual stone. No one can identify it or determine how much it is worth, so Eragon travels to the neighboring town of Carvahall with his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran in the hopes that a merchant will buy the stone.
In Carvahall, the story delves into a world that only a 19-year-old author could create. Thanks to an old storyteller named Brom, the reader learns that the people in Eragon’s neck of the woods are at the mercy of a ruthless king named Galbatorix. Galbatorix was a member of an elite troop known as the Dragonriders.
They were men who lived and fought beside dragons. When his dragon was slain in battle, the future king, enraged, sought for the other Dragonriders to join him in his evil deeds or to be destroyed. A few riders joined Galbatorix but many and their dragons were slaughtered.
On that note, Eragon and his uncle and cousin go to their lodgings and rest. But, when Eragon is suddenly awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, he finds the stone in pieces and a sapphire-colored baby dragon staring back at him. His decision to keep the dragon leads to a world of marvelous opportunities but it comes with many sacrifices.
An addictive thrill ride from beginning to end, Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” is a worthy adversary for the “Harry Potter” novels and, come 2005, any movie that dares to compete for box office glory will have its work cut out.
Fox 2000, a division of the Twentieth Century Fox film corporation, has already bought the rights to “Eragon” and will likely buy the rights for the last two books of the Inheritance trilogy.
Actors have yet to be cast, and no director has been asked to helm the project, but if Eragon the movie lives up to “Eragon” the novel, Christopher Paolini and his creation will crush world records faster than a boy and his unstoppable dragon.
Marta Rusek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.