Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini

I like this one. I think, in this one, Christopher Paolini's writing style made it to adulthood. It doesn't have stiff or contrived dialog, not as much as the first one. Yeah, there's still a lot of Star Wars paralells, and some derivative characters, but I like where he's taking things, especially as Eragon matures in his use of magic. I'm excited to see where it goes in the future. There are elements of mystery in here, as he uncovers and learns secrets from the past, and it left me wanting more. Also there's a parallel plot involving his cousin, Roran, that I thought was gripping. Of course, he leaves one plot hanging and switches back to the other, but I had a hard time putting it down.

Of course, I know people who got bored. It's not a fantasy book for everyone, but I liked it, and so did my wife, who's not a fantasy guru. She got bored by Lord of the Rings, which I think is awesome.

The audiobook is good. The narrator is the same as the first book, and he also seems to have settled down a little in his style. Out of 10 (Harry Potter being a 10 of course) I'd give this audiobook about a 7.5.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

The first book of the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon gets a lot of bad reviews. Critics say that it's too derivative of other stories. And a lot of it is true. It's very similar to Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. Just put different names to the characters and make it fantasy instead of science fiction. And a lot of ideas are also found in the dragons in Anne McCaffery's Pern series, Tolkien, etc,.

As far as the Star Wars similarities, yeah, they're hard to miss. A lot of it is due to the epic storyline that he's used. The other borrowed ideas are also understandable, since I haven't seen many original ideas in a lot of these dragon/medieval fantasy epic type stories since Lord of the Rings defined the genre. But if you're not looking for a groundbreaking fantasy book, but rather an entertaining read, this book isn't bad. Personally I like the epic storyline books with a young character who gains or discovers magical powers and rises from obscurity as an orphan to save the world. I think it's fun.

No, I don't mind the derivative nature. My only complaint is that the youth of the author shows in the dialog between characters, especially in the beginning of the story. Some of it seems a little contrived or forced. However, by the time you get to the end, you feel like you know the characters and you want more, which is good since there are sequels. And it is nice to read a book without sex, swearing, or other material that I don't enjoy having to take in in order to get through. This book is very safe.

As far as the audiobook goes, the narrator has a British accent, which is pleasant especially for this genre, but he's not as dynamic as Jim Dale. He tends to speak as if every moment was exciting, whether the plot justifies it or not. Don't bother with the movie though. It changed too many important details from the story, skips ahead very fast, and leaves you feeling irritated at the changes and unsatisfied about what was missed.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a waste of time to read, five being average, and 10 being the best book ever, I'd give this a six or seven.