Dr. Dan's Elixir
|Potent Magic for Young Minds|
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Random House, Inc., Copyright © 2002
497 pages, $9.95 Trade Paperback
Age Group: 12 up
Truly a remarkable book in more ways than one. From a young author comes a
book with the complexity of the Lord of the Rings and the readability of The
Sword of Shannara.
I remember my first reaction to hearing that Eragon had been written by a
fifteen-year-old. I reminded myself that I hadn't written anything decent since I
was ten, which was titled "The Giant Earthworms of Mars." Having written this
masterpiece it was easy for me to think there was no need to investigate Eragon
because it could not possibly compare to my worm story. I was wrong. Dead
wrong. Eragon turned out to be one of the finest fantasy novels I've ever read. I
hope that it finds it's way from the young adult section to the regular science
fiction section in local bookstores because it's too good to miss as I almost did.
Eragon finds a large gemstone in the mountains. He takes it home thinking it
would be good for barter for food and other supplies for the coming winter. To his
surprise, no one was interested in trading for the giant stone because they could
not possibly know if it had any value or not. So Eragon took it home. Imagine his
surprise when it hatched and a baby dragon came out. The stone was an egg and
the dragon was of infinite value in a world where dragons had near become
extinct. Not to mention the rise is status that Eragon experienced when he found
himself a Dragonrider. The office comes naturally with the ownership of a dragon.
Dragonriders are nothing to frown upon or question. For hundreds of years they
kept the peace until a war among themselves drove them to extinction. The evil
Dragonrider who was the cause of that war is now king and not a good one at that.
He would kill Eragon and his dragon in an instant were he to learn of their
Eragon sneaks away to seek his destiny as a Dragonrider. He takes with him one
named Brom who has been the village storyteller and lore master. Eragon later
discovers that Brom knows so much about Dragonriders and their history because
he had been a Dragonrider himself. Brom is instrumental in helping Eragon learn
to ride, communicate and care for his dragon.
From this point on the book is full of elves, dwarves, magic and mayhem. There is
intrigue, single handed combat and wars that one can only imagine. Much heroic
Having finished Eragon I went back and read my twenty-five year old work on the
worms of Mars. It's more than obvious to me why my worm work is still in the
round filing cabinet. Christopher Paolini is a master of his art, a creative writer
and a true wordsmith. I look forward to reading the other volumes of this series.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
HarperTeen, Copyright © 2007
328 pages, $16.99 Hardcover
Age Group: 12 up
What a delightful story, but not one you can merely sip from. Marr's book calls to
fairies everywhere to wake up and smell the roses. It's the 21st century, and
human women have been liberated. No longer are the fey free to take human
women to be their consorts, slaves and even their queens. Women today want
options. They want to see the whole benefit package as well as the salary scale.
Women are no longer satisfied to fill one role. Gone is the homemaker and
welcome to the professional mom. Isn't it little wonder that when the Summer
King chooses Aislinn to become his queen, he discovers a woman who wants
more out of life?
Keenan, the Summer King, has been searching for a human woman to become his
queen for nine centuries. It's quite complicated as there is a catch 22. Should the
intended queen be validated by the Winter's Queen's staff (a process I don't
pretend to understand, somehow the staff knows), she must leave her home and
family forever. If the Winter Queen's staff doe not validate the intended queen,
she is cursed to become a fairy and must leave her home and family forever. Either
way the human girls lose.
As stated above, Keenan has been searching for a Summer Queen for nine
centuries. He has chosen many times but the Winter Queen's staff has never
validated a prospective queen. Each has been forced to accept the lesser station of
a summer fairy or girl. There is a great deal of conflict between the Summer and
Winter courts. The Winter Queen is the Summer King's, Keenan's, mother and
worst enemy (another catch 22). He needs a queen to balance the power in the fey.
During the time of the book, the Winter Queen's power is growing and soon she
will freeze both the world of the fey and the world of the humans. A summer court
is needed to balance this equation but that requires a queen. Hence, Aislinn.
Aislinn is cursed with the ability to see fairies. She can see them everywhere she
goes and is in a constant danger should they discover that she can see them. Thus,
Aislinn must be on guard constantly to never draw the attention of fairies to
herself. The following three rules help:
Rule #1: Don't ever attract the attention of fairies.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible fairies.
Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible fairies.
Aislinn was taught to follow these guidelines by her grandmother who also has the
sight, as did her mother (who was once a candidate for Summer Queen). As far as
I can tell, having the sight is a major liability. It's very difficult to avoid looking
especially when a fairy is wearing glamour and appearing as one of us. Even then
they are so pleasing to the eye that one can hardly turn away.
It is this ability to see fairies that makes Aislinn a grand candidate for summer
queen. Keenan knows there is something special about her and when he discovers
she can see him in any form, he is committed to obtaining her for his queen.
Furthermore, the sight seals her fate as looking upon Keenan begins to turn
Aislinn into a fairy.
The ability to "see" has also been a major drag in Aislinn's life. Anywhere she
goes she must act as if she sees nothing out of the ordinary. She cannot let it slip
that she sees the myriad of fairies that are everywhere. This takes great control and
Aislinn is not opposed to being queen but she doesn't think it's fair to have to give
up all the other things she loves such as her family, her boyfriend Seth and the
opportunity to go to college. Aislinn must convince Keenan that she can be both
Summer Queen and college freshman and friend instead of lover. She must
convince him that she can do the "job" and that's all he really needs.
Rife with plot twists, great character development, crisp dialog and a truly modern
point of view; this is one of the best reads I've had this year. I recommend it to
you without reservation; confident you will find it as refreshing as I did.