I don't understand why some people hate this book and I don't understand why some people love it. I myself am 'meh' about it. It's an ok book.
I'm not going to discuss its orginality or lack thereof in this post. I already addressed that in another post (Originality and Tradition). This review post will be exclusively about the book itself, standing alone.
I find no fault with the plot. There's a cause and effect from point A at the farm to point B on the road and point C traveling to the Varden's HQ. Even the reason for Arya to send the dragon egg to Eragon's general location is given a reason.
The book gets extra points here for the development from Farm Boy to Rebel Fighter. Instead of jumping straight into fighting The Empire, he's more into revenge. Considering his uncle has been killed by agents of The Empire he's more interested in killing them then heroics. For a boy of his age and upbringing, I can imagine he would more interested in that. A good deal of the book is spent in this regard. In addition to character action I also like this because it provides time for training. A few months while traveling isn't as a good as traditional knight training but it's more realistic than sending him straight into combat fresh off the farm. He learns about the empire outside of his remote northern village and comes to the conclusion that fighting the empire is a just course of action but this takes time.
Some parts are dry and some are boring. Training and traveling are interesting but after a while I'd like something to happen to move the plot along. There is not enough to sustain my interest with world building and at the same time enough to bog down the plot.
Other parts I'd like to cut out entirely. The one about the three mountains and their cult was interesting from a world building perspective but it was made to be more important than it was and the plot point connected to it wasn't significant enough to qualify as red herring. The search for the uncle killers dragged too long for so little plot movement. I'd shrink that by a third or more.
The final battle is pretty cool but the book ends on a mysterious not-quite-cliffhanger moment. The battle is won but there's little sense of resolution. It's a prod into the next book which I always find distasteful.
Characters are good too. I don't understand why Eragon is called a Gary Stu. Yes he has magic and a dragon and is a fast learner but he still needs help from allies and can't resolve anything by himself. At the end of the first book his list of solo acomplishments is zero. Brom does a fine job as the Mentor Archetype. Murtagh makes a great foil; world weary, iron willed but non-magical, etc. Arya distinguishes herself beyond the role of Herald or Damsel in Distress and takes part in the final battle.
The problems are the villains. They're missing for some 90 percent of the book and that's why a lot of it is boring. Villains provide conflict and without conflict there is less of a plot.
Eragon is not present at his uncle's death and only catches glimpses of his murderers before the plot moves on.
The Shade is not formally introduced until way into the plot (some 200 or so pages) and only makes two appearances.
The Big Bad, Emperor Galbatroix, doesn't appear at all. I once read about a fanfic that uses this to support the notion that Galbatroix isn't involved in any of these events, that everything was done at the Shade's orders and Galbatroxi isn't evil at all. In my experience, that is an easy argument to make.
I was wary while reading this book because I've heard of clumsy scene changes and purple prose. I found little of either. Spelling and grammar looked good too.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Eragon" a C
Click here for the next review (which wasn't a review request): Never Trust a Dead Man
Click here for the previous review (which was a review request): "The Amber Treasure"