Publisher: Corgi Childrens; New Ed edition (31 Jan 2005)
This has just been released as a film, so expect to hear more of it this holiday season. But a film rarely shows how good or how bad the book it is based on may have been - there have been some frightful messes made from good books, and some pretty good films based on utter tripe.
First, an admission. I nearly threw this book across the room on the first page. There is some truly clunky writing, and when a book starts, the only thing it has going is the quality of the prose, and perhaps some great imagery. It takes time for characters to come across, and it takes time for any story to wind itself round a reader and draw him in. Meanwhile, bad writing can really put a reader off, and a good editor will tell an author where polish is required.
Happily for the author, he is quite good at telling his story. It's a far from original one - other readers have called it a mash-up of Star Wars, Pern and LotR in the way it makes use of a fairly standard monomyth structure, and (bearing in mind that Paolini was 15 when he wrote this), it could fairly be said to be a regurgitation of what the author himself liked. However, it's reasonably competently done, and far less irritating to me than some books I've read this year. It's not great — that's not what one should expect from an author this young — but a fair comparison might be to say that if you liked the Belgariad, you'll likely like this.