I've finished reading Eragon. I never thought I'd say this, but I've finally read a book that uses more stereotypes and stock characters than the Belgariad. (To be fair, I quite enjoyed the Belgariad when I read it as a teenager: it must be an age thing. Also, Eddings is at least entertaining and funny, in a sitcom-ish way, whereas Eragon takes itself far too seriously for something that falls so flat).
I felt so bad after Eragon that I went out, bought, and read Neuromancer in one day, just to remind myself what good scifi actually is. I've moved on to Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, and I've got Snow Crash waiting in the wings for after that (guided by the gaps in my Sci Fi Book Meme list). Looks like it'll take the combined effort of the best cyberpunk writers of my generation to make up for the bad taste Eragon left in my mouth.
Just to update all those people who suggested more tropes to look for in Eragon:
- Yes there are dragons.
- No, there was no R2D2, nor were there Ewoks or Gungans (he may be trite, but he's no George Lucas: it takes real genius of the Colonel Kurtz persuasion to foist those on your audience)
- No, there were no tentacled creatures. Would that there were. It might have been more interesting.
My predictions were quite accurate. Yes, there is a princess, and though they do not marry (an event saved, no doubt, for Book 3, because these things come in trilogies now), they do fall in love. In an awkward, adolescent way.
- Yes, there is a climatic battle, which is indeed won by the simple expedient of killing one villain. (Why, oh why, do these armies of evil all melt away when you kill their leader? Don't they have any resilience in their chains of command? And how come each and every soldier, down to the lowliest grunt, always knows the instant Mr Big Bad is vanquished?)
- The mentor does indeed die. Whether he returns as a ghostly blue transparent figure, we will see.
- And a Prophecy? Yup: our hero's fortune is told, and great things are presaged for him.
The sad thing is, since I bought the set, I now have an unread copy of the sequel, Eldest. And, knowing me, I will eventually force myself to read it, because I am a completist. Which might be another word for masochist, in this case.