- Eragon by Christopher Paolini
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
After an another unsuccessful hunt in the treacherous Mountains of the Spine, the young Eragon is forced to return to Carvahall, empty-handed. Unfortunately for Eragon this means his family will have to go hungry, as the meat from each of his hunting expeditions was the only thing keeping the family from going hungry and starving during the winter. However by some miracle Eragon happens to stumbles into a small clearing on his decent. Resting in the middle of which is an oblong blue stone, the likes of which he’s never seen before. Maybe everything wasn’t so bad after all. Surely someone was willing to trade with him for such a beautiful object.
With renewed vigour Eragon returns to Carvahall, content with the fact that the strange stone could be traded for meat in the local butcher. Upon his arrival, Eragon finds himself and his stone subject to scrutiny from the village Butcher, because of the many legends and stories associated with the Spine. The Butcher, like the majority of the Carvahall will not have anything to do with the cursed Spine, even indirectly. Luckily the village blacksmith, Horst solves Eragon’s food problem, trading Eragon’s labour for meat.
Despite the rock’s obvious beauty, Eragon’s Uncle wants nothing to do with it, apart from trading it for sustenance, as hard as that could end up being. Stranger still, the rock seems harder than any stone or even metal, Eragon’s see or heard of before! Certainly a sign of how valuable an artefact it truly was.
That very night Eragon wakes startled to find the precious rock broken in pieces on his very bedroom floor. And a…dragon sitting in the centre of the destruction! Maybe it wasn’t a rock after all, maybe it was an egg. A dragon egg! As awesome as that would be how was Eragon supposed to care for such a creature, when the family already struggled to survive as it was? Could this dragon be the same dragons from the tales of old? The tales which talked of a Dragons and their Riders. Surely they were mere stories and fanciful tales conjured up in the mind of the village story-teller, Brom? And if there was more to them than mere stories, did that make Eragon a…Dragon Rider!?
Eragon’s fears are confirmed with the arrival of two contorted and hooded strangers in Carvahall, both asking about the rock’s or more accurately egg’s whereabouts. Before long it’s clear that the dark strangers are not entirely human. Upon further questioning Brom and his stories, Eragon finds that these creatures are as he feared. according to Brom the creatures are most likely the legendary Ra’zac, ancient servants of the tyrant and King, Galbatorix.
After rising tensions between the villagers and the hooded ‘men’, Eragon goes into hiding, fearing for his dragon’s very life. When he return he finds his Uncle Garrow, dead, lying in the ruins of his humble farm. With the aid of the storyteller Brom, Eragon sets out on a journey to avenge his Uncle’s death and bring his killer’s to justice. One which he may never return from if Brom’s stories of the Ra’zac are to be believed. Either way Eragon must try, after all it was his fault Garrow was dead, wasn’t it?
AGE RATING: 13+
TEEN RATING: 5/5
TEEN OVERVIEW: A simply astounding piece of work from Paolini, the sheer dept of his world putting the majority of the fantasy genre to shame. Eragon had me totally and absolutely glued to the pages, from the very beginning.
2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender or more formally, Andrew Wiggin, is the International Federation’s (IF’s) only hope of ever destroying the Aliens, who twice have tried and failed to colonise Earth. The Aliens or Buggers, as they’re more commonly known as, came to earth with the hope of colonising it and expanding the reaches of their intergalactic species and to ensure the lasting survival of their race. The Alien’s or Bugger’s were both times only marginally defeated and by little more than chance no less. To ensure the survival of the species and the safety of the human race and our ancestral home, the International Federation(IF) was founded. All human’s regardless of race, skin tone or cultural background all came together under one banner. Former enemies became friends, fighting together for the survival of their children, of their friends, of their countries, of their world. The world was now united on a scale never before seen.
To fuel an army designed wholly to destroy and wipe from existence an entire species, far more sophisticated than ourselves, an army of geniuses are needed to command it. From an extremely young age every kid is subject to constant surveillance through a monitor implanted in the back of their neck. The monitor is in order to find the exponentially bright minds required to lead such an army to victory and to destroy the buggers once and for all.
Ender’s brother and sister both showed immense promise for such a task but, they both were respectively either too brutal or too compassionate. The IF, feeling like they were on to something allowed, Ender’s parent’s to have a third child, a legal rarity in such a society, as all parent’s were only limited to the possession of up to two children and no more. Because of this oddity Ender was bullied not only in school but, at home too. His parent’s love him with all their heart but, know they cannot ever live a normal life with a third in the family. That’s why at nearly seven years of age Ender decides, himself that it’s best for everyone if he went to battle school to train to become the commander the IF have always wished for, and destroy the Buggers once and for all.
AGE RATING: 13+
TEEN RATING: 4.8/5
TEEN OVERVIEW: An incredibly written story, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Each to keep us guessing, at where the final destination may actually be in the grand scheme of things. If written differently Ender’s Game could easily have become incredibly boring and an easily forgettable story. Fortunately for us, however, Orson’s writing technique and his ability to leave us all in the dark makes Ender’s Game and sensational read. Leaving you lost for words, deep in thought and wishing for more.
3. The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
Ever since the coming of the Doranen and their magic to Lur, the Olken have all but forgotten they too have a magic, of a kind, of their own. Only a select few Olken still know the secret of their heritage, these select few call themselves the Circle. The members of the Circle, are lying in wait for the prophecy of The Innocent Mage to be fulfilled and their heritage reignited. Guided by Jarvale’s heir and her loyal assistant, The Innocent Mage, Asher, is on his way to fulfilling Jervale’s prophecy, becoming The Innocent Mage, the Circle have been waiting for.
As you’d expect, Asher is destined to face evil of a sort, as part of the prophecy. In this case the destroyer of the Doranen’s homeland and the once lover of Barl, the Godlike protector of Lur( the Doranen’s current home) is that evil. However the journey to this point in Jervale’s prophecy will no doubt be long and arduous, full of challenges, hardship and defeat. Throughout this journey to fulfilling prophecy, even at the direst moments, Asher, The ‘Innocent’ Mage, can never find out his destiny and part in the prophecy or else he will no longer be an ‘innocent’ mage, altering the prophecy and dooming them all. Thus making the job of guiding Asher, The Innocent Mage to defeating evil, all the more difficult. Jervale’s heir has to silently and effectively bring the seventh son of a lowely Fisherman into employment in the royal household, without revealing her hand of her cause, to anyone, Asher or not. If she fails the whole of the free world is doomed, never mind her precious Circle. No pressure!
AGE RATING: 14+
TEEN RATING: 4.7/5
TEEN OVERVIEW: Hilariously funny. However strangely (when in comparison with other similar novels), Miller built up the tempo and intensity of the book, only to have the resulting climax in the subsequent novel. However unorthodox the approach to writing a novel or short story, the lingering uneasy effect it had on me changed over time. I was now fully capable of seeing the whole story for what it was made of and not the route it took. In other words by stepping off the beaten track, Miller as avoided any sense of ‘déjá vu’ by avoiding creating a cliche story line, which would take away from the mastery of her ‘build up’ to the climax and the actual content of her novel. As strange as it sounds, it’s effect actually seems to have worked, for me at least! Will it work for you?