I finally got around to reading this one, and I mostly read it because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. This book and its sequel have been almost constantly on hold at my local public library since they were published.
As I read Paolini’s Eragon, I was surprised at how well he wrote. His dialogue is very Tolkienesque and often stilted, but his plotting is very impressive. His worldbuilding is outstanding. The world of Eragon is incredibly detailed and learning more about Eragon’s world was part of what pulled me in.
That said, this book is very, very derivative. I can see a lot of Tolkien. I can even see some of the old epic literature that I read in my English Literature and Classical Literature classes. Some of the passages in Eragon sounded almost identical to passages that I read of Beowulf and The Iliad. (Check out that Wikipedia link to Beowulf to see a reproduction of the first page of a very old version of the poem. Cool!) Plus, it has a ton of fantasy tropes in it. There’s the journeying about from place to place, the wise elder who won’t tell you more than is absolutely necessary, the Evil Empire, the untrained boy how is destined to bring down said empire, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs (basically), etc., etc.
In spite of all that, though, I got hooked and read the book in two days. Tcha.