Lauren Cono, 129 TESS
Title: The Inheritance Cycle: Books #1-4
Author: Christopher Paolini
Background on my current state of mind:
When I applied for English books for my school’s library, I was sent the first 3 books of a young adult fiction series. Knowing not only that the reading level was way above my Mathayom students’ or even teachers’ levels, plus the sheer size of the large novels, were enough for me to conclude that no one would care if I took the volumes home to read.
I have been in-between several books for some time: I pick up Jack Kerouac’s iconic On the Road, every time I am traveling on the road by public transport, but the gallivanting journey often makes me homesick for the wild American frontier and driving freedom, so I start to crawl through Henry David Thoreau’s Walden again which bares so many resemblances to the isolation of Peace Corps that I start to hibernate in my room and ponder the philosophical implications of my existence, so then I read a paragraph or two out of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which reminds me to stop reading and be present instead of fantasizing about what is not NOW.
Naturally, without a new season (OR BOOK) of Game of Thrones to quench my burning heart’s desire to fantasize instead of face the realities of real life (I’m not allowed to drive, I’m isolated, and I’m in this moment now), I took to the 3 volumes, each containing an average of 600 pages, with illustrations of dragons on their covers, like one ravenous for the taste of cheese after 2 years of eating nothing but rice.
It is a simple coming of age story told through the third person omniscient perspective of a young boy named Eragon who matures into a formidable Dragon Rider. The saga takes place in a fantastical land that mixes some traditional Lord of the Rings creatures, with a Star-Wars-esc struggle against an Empire, with a magical Harry-Potter-like orphan/hero appeal, to create an easy to read, enthralling adventure. The lore of the land Alagaesia, its rules, languages, and histories, are threaded throughout the narrative, as we follow our hero Eragon, watching him battle monsters inside and outside of himself; he is an admirable character, yet riddled with many flaws and sorrows that he must work through in order to achieve his destiny, a seemingly insurmountable task to destroy the evil King Galbatorix.
I really love that dragons are more than just fire-breathing creatures in the novels, but characters with intelligent thoughts and unique personalities. There are many strong and prominent female characters from Arya the warrior elf and love interest of Eragon (who never allows the love to grow past friendship), Nasuada the young woman thrust into power after her father is killed who grows into the fearless leader of the rebellion, to Angela the herbalist a fortune-teller and one of the most powerful and quirky magicians in the land.
It is not Harry Potter, but it doesn’t need to be. It has an absorbing storyline, with lovable characters, and real philosophical considerations. Lots of battles are written in detail, but so is the landscape from the view of Eragon on his dragon, and there are plenty of twists you can’t quite predict. Like most fantasy or sci-fi books, the fictional world reflects the troubles of our real world, yet skews our lenses so that we may see what life could be like in a world of different magical creatures, instead of only different human races, who try to live in a peaceful society.
I recommend these books for anyone who would like to ride on the back of a dragon. I will be adding these three volumes (Book #1: Eragon, Book #2: Eldest, Book #3: Brisingr) to the Peace Corps library for anyone to pick up. (You can download the fourth book for free (Book #4: Inheritance) from this website: http://en.booksee.org/).
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