Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Book Review: Eldest (and Eragon) by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini started writing his first book, Eragon, at the age of fifteen. He became a New York Times bestselling author when it was published in his nineteenth year. I read Eragon, and thought it was a wonderful book. I'm not a big fan of fantasy (to be a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy does not require that you be a fan of fantasy), but something about the book intrigued me when I first saw it. I picked it up and couldn't put it back down.

Christopher Paolini weaves a tale of action, adventure, and mystery, and creates truly believeable characters in truly realistic worlds, much as Tolkien himself did. After reading Eragon (which I highly recommend), I eagerly awaited book two of this author's planned trilogy - Eldest.

I'm sad to say that I made it through 116 pages of Christopher Paolini's latest addition to his Inheritance trilogy. I found Eldest to be a much more difficult read than it's predecessor. The author seems to try to delve deeper into the Tolkien style and goes so far as to create his own language for the book -- a language which he uses frequently as characters converse with no direct translation for the reader. Not only is it very exhausting trying to phonetically sound out the arcane words, but there is no reward to the task as you have no idea what you've read when you reach the end of a sentence. Of course, the author has planted some contextual clues throughout to hint at the conversation, but after a few sentences of gibberish, I found it difficult to remember what the context of the story was. That's the main reason I didn't finish Tolkien's Silmarillion.

Unfortunately, I don't anticipate that I'll be finishing Eldest, and I assume that means it will be difficult for me to read book three in the trilogy when it is published. I may try anyway. I'm sure Mr. Paolini is quite a gifted author, but I prefer my reading to be a pleasant relaxing experience, not a taxing test of my ability to decipher code. Eragon was a very pleasant read. Eldest, on the other hand, was not.


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