Review of Eragon! A traditional book review PLUS a review of the audiobook narration!

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

The Story:

At its heart, Eragon is a coming-of-age story. A fifteen-year-old farm boy discovers he’s destined to become a Dragon Rider, but the grown-up world of politics and war are a lot more than he bargained for.

One of the best things about this book is that the life lessons are so accurately portrayed. Even when they’re painful. Eragon argues passionately for his beliefs, standing up for his ideas of right and wrong, only to realize later, through his own experience, that things aren’t always so simple.

That’s part of growing up, with or without dragons.

Movie clip of Eragon riding a dragon

If you think you know the book because you saw the movie, think again. Books are always different, but this book is really different. Characters, events, timing… so much has changed from one to the other that it’s more like they’re two entirely different stories taking place in the same world.

As a book, it’s magnificent—a young adult read that’s appropriate for the entire range of YA readers. (The YA section currently includes everything from 12 to 18, despite the tremendous difference between the two ends of that spectrum, which is why there’s so much discussion about the trend toward upper YA titles with a Game of Thrones bite, including graphic sex and violence.)

This one is clean but realistic, addressing some of the most difficult aspects of growing up and leaving home, set against an exciting background of dragons and adventure.

Story rating:

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The Narration:

The narration of the audiobook was fantastic, with one exception.

The pacing was excellent. The narrator used just the right level of emotion, conveying suspense or sorrow or excitement without going over the top. That’s so critical to good audiobook narration, and we thought that aspect of the reading was fantastic.

But the dragon’s voice…

It just didn’t fit the character for us. Yes, it’s a dragon—some growl to the voice is more than appropriate. But she’s a female dragon, and there just wasn’t anything feminine about it. At all.

Still, at least we can say there was no question when the dragon was speaking. Clarity is good, and it didn’t detract so much from the story that we couldn’t enjoy it. It did, however, make us giggle in places that were meant to be serious.

Overall, the narration is one of the better ones we’ve heard: a rich, enjoyable voice with a good tempo and enough variation to show appropriate feeling for this magnificent story. We recommend listening to this one, as long as you can accept that the dragon is… well…

Narration rating:

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