BREAKING DAWN by Stephanie Meyer was just released, with quite the extreme response. People either love it or hate it, and some clashing discussions have erupted as a result.
The last time I saw such a bi-polar response to a book was ELDEST by Christopher Paolini. I find this interesting because the only thing these stories have in common is that they’re popular, part of a series, and heavily backed by their respective publishing houses.
In light of this similarity, and since the third book in ERAGON's series is coming out next month, I decided to revisit ELDEST.
Plot Summary: Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle–one that might put Eragon in even graver danger.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
I read ERAGON when it first came out because I was curious what this fifteen year old kid had produced, and I enjoyed it. His youth shone through the writing and plotting, but it was clear he had worked hard to create this world. When ELDEST was released, I decided to give it a try. I was sadly disappointed.
The main character, Eragon, didn’t go through much struggle in this story. He needed recover from injuries inflicted by the seriously nasty Durza in the previous book, he needed to learn how to become a dragon-rider-warrior by overcoming his human limitations, and he needed to learn how to better use magic.
He got all of these things, but had to work for none of them because they were literally wrapped up in a magical gift from the dragons. Sure, he had some difficulties early on, but he never had to really suffer or figure out how to become what everyone needed him to be. It was just, poof, there.
When I read a book, I want to see the characters struggle as much as I've had to struggle in my own life. There's no magical gift-giver waiting in the wings to help me get through my life, so I have a hard time connecting with characters who have to struggle for nothing. And if I can't connect with the characters, then I'm shut out of a huge part of the book-reading experience. For me, no amount of cool plot points or flashy story telling can overshadow that. I had this same problem with the Twilight series.
But we're here to talk about Eldest... The ending wasn’t as climactic as I think it was intended to be. The relation between Murtagh and Eragon had been (not so subtly) hinted at way back in the first book. Which made it kind of obvious that Murtagh had killed the Varden leader, having an agenda of his own.
The most interesting character in this series is Solembum, the werecat. He’s mysterious, hilarious, and dangerous all in one. What’s not to like? I was hoping to see more of him and his purpose in the story, but he was as elusive as ever.
I think Paolini’s youth is still shining through, and I think he still hasn’t found his Voice. Still, I give him credit for attaining this much success at such a young age. I hope he keeps writing, and I wish him luck on his journey.
On a separate note, I’m very curious what’s going to happen with the release of BRISINGR next month. Will there be another bi-polar reaction? Or will it be more temperate? Only time will tell, I suppose.