Book Review: Eragon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Overview: This is a young adult fantasy novel. It was written by Christopher Paolini at the age of 15, but was first published when he was ~18 (in 2001). It is the first in a four-book series entitled Inheritence. In 2006, Fox made the movie adaptation of Eragon in theaters around the world (but the book is way better, in addition to it being very unique from the film).

Plot: The story follows a 16 year old farmboy named Eragon. One day while hunting, an egg magically appears before him, a dragon egg. Once it hatched, his life was forever changed. He instantly became part of a prestigious group known as Dragon Riders, though not many of them still lived. As rumors spread of his whereabouts, danger ensues, and Eragon finds his uncle murdered. Eragon goes on a quest for vengeance, bringing Brom along to train him in swordsmanship and magic. During his adventures, Eragon becomes increasingly interjected into the politics and grudges between evil King Galbatorix and the Varden and Eragon realizes that he must choose a side.

Review: Eragon was a fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters and their interactions, especially between Eragon and Saphira the dragon, were excellent and life like! Being that Eragon is a farmboy, turning from 15 to 16 during the events of the book, he had a lot of maturing to do in the way of combat and spell casting. As a consequence, I felt the book was on the heavy side with training. There was even a whole chapter about him learning how to read.

In addition, throughout the whole novel, Eragon almost never stopped moving. He was either chasing his uncle’s murderers (which he never did get his revenge), or he was fleeing. Last, but not least, Eragon never confronted evil, evil always confronted him. Even when he was located in a secret city that King Galbatorix didn’t know the location of, somehow an army of Urgals and Kull knew where to assault. Not that these complaints of mine are necessarily bad, but they are what prevented me from giving it 4 stars.

During my review, I always like to point out what I perceive as flaws mostly because it helps me learn as an author, so don’t let it deter you from reading this book. It was highly entertaining, a quick read, and it kept me engaged all the way to the end (and made me want to jump into the sequel!).

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Author Spotlight – Sylvia Day

This is a new post that is different from my others, and I hope to do more like this down the road, but this is especially unique since the author I am featuring is a Romance author (and I tend to focus around Fantasy, if anything). Sylvia Day is what I would consider a very successful author and regardless of genre, there is something we could all learn from any author’s success and/or failures. Since my wife is a big fan of Sylvia Day, I have come to learn a lot about this author by proxy and since today (6/4/2013) marks the release of her newest book, Entwined With You, I thought it more than appropriate to speculate on the events that occurred.

Sylvia Day’s marketing plan for her newest book was impressive. This is the 3rd book (out of 5) in her Crossfire series. To develop hype for the release of her new novel, she released a “Snapshot” for each of her chapters once a week on her social networking sites, all the way up to the release date of her novel. The snapshot was simply just a picture that was a clue to give readers what that chapter was about. She received hundreds of comments per post from all the fans guessing at what the picture infers about the story. Leveraging her 63,000 Twitter followers and over 89,000 Facebook likes, this was an extraordinarily simple and successful marketing method.

In addition, my wife has informed me that Sylvia Day can finish writing a novel in just 3 months time. Must be nice to be a full time author, right? Well, let’s look at it from this angle. According to my wife, the two main characters, Eva and Gideon, were completely different in this book from the first two. Is this a side effect of the author spreading herself too thin by having too many projects going on at once? I’ll say this, if you are an author (published or not) it is definitely something to be aware of, as spreading yourself too thin degrades the quality of your work. If you are writing multiple novels at once, you might not be as engrossed in your characters as you would be if you focused on one novel at a time.

Watching the release of Entwined With You today (6/4/2013) confirmed that my wife is not alone in her opinion of the book. As evidenced by the NUMEROUS 1 Star reviews on Amazon, Sylvia’s characters and her story took a turn for the worse. Some say that this is because she turned what was originally designed to be a trilogy into a 5-book series. It’s interesting to see the backlash from readers on this when you consider Christopher Paolini and his Inheritance series. He did the same thing and stretched his story from 3 books into 4, but he did not receive the negative criticism that Sylvia Day received all over her Amazon reviews and her Facebook page. This is why planning and outlining your story is so important, and if you must deviate from your plan, ensure that it is handled with care.

UPDATE (6/7/2013): To be fair, I shouldn’t skew my review of the events that occured as her book reviews were not all negative. However, as an author that is learning from the events that transpired, the community backlash was powerful enough that she thought it needed to be addressed. Here are two posts from Sylvia Day’s Facebook. (By the way, in just 3 days since this original post, she gained 4,000 more Facebook likes, now over 93,000 fans). Let’s look at how she has handled this situation: