So I’ve actually decided to look up the writing of Eragon, and Paolini started it when he was 15, and his parents published it when he was 16. Then the re-published version (I assume that’s the one I’m reading based on the cover) was published when he was 18 or 19. That’s what I can gather from Wikipedia (I could be wrong). I’ve always been curious because people always seem to harp about his youth when defending the bad parts of the writing, but I’ve never actually known how old he was. Not gonna lie, my writing at 16-17 was better quality than Eragon at its worst (although you can tell by my author-age analysis that my English was light years ahead of my maths). Then again, my work was marked repeatedly by English teachers. Who knows, eh?
Whatever. Eragon is brilliantly captivating when it’s good and a little bit cringe-worthy when it isn’t. That’s it. Once again, yes, I love these books. I also like looking at everything with a critical eye. It’s fun.
We open this chapter right away with some wonderful descriptions of dawn. When Paolini does description well, he does it well. This first paragraph is downright beautiful.
After this, Eragon exits the Spine. We get a bit of exposition during his walk about how King Galbatorix lost half his army in the Spine, but it feels natural. It feels like it’s the kind of thing Eragon would ponder on his journey. Plus, this little tidbit will be relevant to two plot lines in two of the later books, so it’s good that it’s introduced so early.
When Eragon arrives at Palancar Valley, it’s another great moment which reminds us how isolated he is. He describes how he can see his entire world from his vantage point. This description is quite interesting on a reread because when he leaves Carvahall in the first book, Eragon never returns to Palancar Valley until the very end of the series after travelling to almost everywhere else on the continent. So seeing him in this tiny little world after finishing the last book recently (I have literally just finished rereading the entire series before I went right back to the start for another go) is a fascinating comparison to make; he still feels like the same character though.
Once we get into Carvahall itself, unfortunately we get a bit more of the ‘Eragon enters a room and the action immediately stops so we can be told about everything in that room’. It’s a phenomenon that happens a lot in this books. I don’t usually mind it because I have no standards when it comes to reading something and I quite like description anyway, but be warned that this is a frequent part of the series. Basically, Eragon walks into the butcher’s shop and Sloan is there. I’m not the biggest fan of Sloan as a character because he does seem to be painted as a villain without any redeeming qualities. He loves his daughter, but even that’s presented in a very negative way. It also seems a bit weird that Eragon grew up in Carvahall but has no idea why Sloan hates the Spine or even that he hates it at all. It’s a small town, and Sloan certainly seems vocal about it, so surely he would have come across this at some point?
Also, Roran and Katrina are adorable. I love the idea that Roran just gives Eragon these cheesy little messages to give to her. The way Eragon says it and Horst’s reaction make me think that it’s a regular occurrence, which just seems hilarious to me.
When Eragon approaches his farm, there’s another stop-everything-and-describe moment, but it actually works here. Eragon sees it from the crest of a hill bathed in moonlight so the description seems natural. He’s also been away for several days so it’s nice to get this description of his home; he probably missed it terribly and he’s exhausted.
Also, this must be my eighth or ninth reread of this series, and I’ve never realised that the family only moved to the farm after Eragon’s aunt, Marian, died. Shows how much more you can get out of a book if you keep going back to it!
I like that we immediately get a scene showing Garrow’s pride. Eragon and Roran both show this trait as well during the series so it’s interesting to see where it comes from. Considering Garrow is only a part of the story for a short amount of time, it’s nice that we are shown these traits so that when Eragon and Roran exhibit them later, we know where they come from.
One last thing: I have no idea what season this book is in at the moment. I’m going to hazard a guess at late autumn? I don’t know the first thing about harvests or whatever but if it’s just starting the freeze on the ground, I’m going to guess November. Just making a note of this so I can try and keep some vague approximation of a timeline.