Written by Christopher Paolini, and published in 2002, Eragon quickly became one of the most popular young adult fantasy novels on the market – developing into an enduring series of books that continues to attract fans to this day.
Telling the story of a young farm boy called ‘Eragon’, the novel sees him venture into the mountains, where he finds a mysterious stone that catches his eye.
Later discovering that the stone was a dragon egg, the egg eventually hatches, revealing a young dragon – which Eragon later names ‘Saphira’.
Having a pet dragon is not something you can keep secret, and Saphira soon gets the attention of the evil King Galbatorix, who assigns monstrous servants to track the dragon down and bring it to him.
After fleeing their home, and hitting the road, Eragon and Saphira eventually encounter a near-extinct group called the ‘Dragon Riders’ – whose remaining member teaches Eragon the ‘ways of the rider’.
If you adore young adult fiction and fantasy in the same vein as Eragon, then you will love Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, and the other books on this list! So with that in mind, why not check out our top 5 picks?
Themes Within Eragon
Within the Eragon series, there are a few main themes that first spring to mind.
Coming Of Age
Firstly, we have the ‘coming of age’ theme – a common element within young adult fiction (for obvious reasons).
The book itself begins with humble beginnings, with the young, overlooked protagonist (Eragon) seeking something to set him free from his boring life.
This is when he is introduced to Saphira, who offers him the change he was looking for – albeit at the expense of his old life, and the relative safety that it offered him.
This narrative is very much linked to the ‘hero’s journey’, but also to one of growing up.
The second major theme within the novel is friendship – more specifically the importance of friendship to the prosperity and happiness of one’s life.
Within the context of the novel, this notion of friendship is also the catalyst that ‘saves’ him from his boring life and grants him the adventure and excitement he so desperately craved at the start of the story.
There is also the idea that looking out for your true friends is an important thing – as evidenced when various townsfolk show fear and hatred towards Eragon and Saphira, causing the former to protect the dragon.
Another common theme of YA fiction – and a prominent one in this novel – is the idea of ‘identity’, and how important that can be to young people.
In our teenage years, we are very much discovering who we are, and Eragon himself undergoes his transformation throughout his adventure – from the unremarkable to the hero he always idolized.
5 Books Similar To Eragon
Now that you know a little more about the Eragon series, and the themes and plot points within the book, it is time for us to take a look at some similar works by different authors – many of which have become modern classics in the same fashion that Eragon has itself.
Fantasy, especially YA fantasy, is a very diverse and multifaceted genre, and as such stories within the genre can take many forms.
However, we feel that these five picks represent the best of what the market has to offer and are perfect for fans of the Eragon series.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Thematically similar to the Eragon series (for obvious reasons), Dragon Rider revolves around a human boy called ‘Ben’, a dragon called ‘Firedrake’, and a brownie (or hobgoblin) called Sorrel – all of whom embark on an adventure to find a haven for dragons to relocate to, following the discovery that humans plan to flood the Scottish valley they call their home.
Based on the importance of friendship, kindness, and heroism – the character of Ben is a kind but average boy, who rises to the occasion and rescues his otherworldly new friends.
- Good for younger readers
- Minimal peril
- Less suited to adult readers
- Less developed world-building
Themes: Friendship, heroism, fantasy, good vs evil
In modern fantasy, Brandon Sanderson has made a name for himself as a master of his craft, and the Mistborn saga is the culmination of countless years of preparation and work.
Separated into seven novels over two distinct ‘eras’ within the story world, the Mistborn saga focuses on a group of ‘allomancers’ (magical beings who ‘burn’ metal to fuel mental and physical powers) who come together to take on a dystopian, totalitarian regime.
Just like Eragon, the Mistborn saga focuses on ideas of right and wrong, defending the innocent against evil, and the importance of friendship in the fight against darkness.
- Well developed world
- A vast range of characters
- Unique concepts and underpinning themes
- Well written
- Less suited for the general reader
Themes: War, politics, good vs evil, fantasy, friendship, heroism
The first book in the beloved, humorous Discworld fantasy series by Terry Pratchett, The Color Of Magic follows the largely inept but surprisingly lucky wizard (or ‘wizzard’, as is written on his hat) ‘Rincewind’, who after an encounter with a tourist named ‘Twoflower’, and his enchanted, toothed luggage that walks on dozens of little legs, are thrust onto a cross-continental adventure – an adventure which, unbeknownst to them, is a board game being controlled by some especially bored yet competitive gods.
This description alone should be reason enough to enter Pratchett’s rich, vibrant fantasy world – one that truly stands as alone, and as firmly, as the four continent-carrying elephants that adorn the shell of the great world turtle A’Tuin on its journey through space.
Pratchett’s series is one of unlikely, everyday heroes, misfits, and good-hearted rogues, and is jam-packed with enough magic, adventure, and wit to make anyone a lifelong fan.
- The extensive, immersive world-building
- The humorous, clever writing style
- Fully fleshed-out characters
- Unique characters and narrative
- Rich, ‘alive’ world
- Harder to define
- Complex plots
Themes: Magic, unlikely heroes, adventure, friendship, good vs evil
A titan of the fantasy and science fiction genres (If you like the fantasy and science fiction genre, check out the works of Authors Like Charles Stross), Ursula Le Guin’s work has long captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of countless readers and writers.
This novel, Earthsea, focuses on a young mage named ’Ged’ – a being destined to one day be one of the most powerful magic users in the world.
After attending magic school, and inadvertently sparking a rivalry between himself and another student, he accidentally summons a dangerous shadow creature – one that plagues him for the following years as he travels the world in search of answers, freedom, and the destiny that is laid out for him.
As with Eragon, the Earthsea saga focuses on ideals of honor, right and wrong, and – as in many YA fantasy novels – the idea of the unremarkable rising to their full potential and blossoming into something else entirely, be it for good or ill.
- Well structured work
- Solid world-building
- A distinct narrative voice
- A fresh, unique take on fantasy
- Hard to classify
- Less accessible
Themes: Honor, good vs evil, fantasy, change, unlikely heroes, magic
Last on our list, but by no means least, R.A Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard is focused on the exploits of outcasted dark elf ranger ‘Drizzt Do’Urden’ – a figure shunned by many of the settlements he encounters in the narrative world of Icewind Dale.
With his only friends being a group of dwarves, Drizzt unwittingly finds himself combating barbarian hordes, ambitious dark magic users, and fearsome warriors, as he becomes embroiled in a quest to find the infamous crystal tower.
This novel borrows much from classic fantasy, as well as features of the YA fantasy genre – featuring lowly outcasts, who go from their simple and unrewarding lives, towards something world-changing and heroic.
- A fresh, unique take on the fantasy genre
- Strong world-building
- Unique narrative space
- Some derivative ideas
- The protagonist is sometimes hard to engage with
Themes: Solitude, outcasts, fantasy, magic, quests, friendship
And there we have it, everything you need to know about ‘Eragon’ by Christopher Paolini, and our picks for the best similar books on the market!
The fantasy genre is indeed broad as a whole, and there are numerous avenues writers and prospective readers can go down when exploring new fiction.
However, few can claim to be as engaging and widely successful as the Eragon series – at least when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of young readers.
So if you are looking for a new fantasy book to sink your teeth into, then why not give some of these a try?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Eragon Worth Reading?
Eragon is worth reading – if only as a staple of the genre, and a book that has spawned numerous other titles within the young adult fantasy genre.
Is Eragon A Series?
The Eragon series is known as the Inheritance Cycle and is composed of 4 books: Eragon (book one), Eldest (book two), Brisingr (book three), and Inheritance (book four).