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Coming of Age
At first glance, Eragonhas all of the characteristics of a classic bildungsroman (or ‘coming of age story’). The titular young protagonist’s journey begins on the relatively humdrum town of Carvahall, and his life is thrown into disarray when he discovers the dragon’s egg containing his dragon Saphira. Soon afterward, his uncle is killed and he is forced to flee his childhood home with Saphira and Brom (who fulfills the role of the grizzled mentor). Eragon spends much of the novel learning from Brom, developing his bond with Saphira, and generally going through a transition from boy to man while on a classic coming of age quest. Many of the challenges he faces come not from those pursuing him, but from his own inner doubts and immaturities, which slowly fade as he comes into his own near the novel’s conclusion.
When the reader is first introduced to Eragon, his pool of friends is quite limited. He only really interacts with his uncle and brother, and the nearby villagers of Carvahall have reactions to him ranging from cordial to downright hostile (in the case of Sloan the butcher). After finding Saphira’s egg, he has a companionship he has never before experienced, and as the novel progresses, he gains new allies and becomes much stronger for it. Murtagh, Brom, Angela and Arya are just the most blatant examples, but without the friendships he develops, Eregon would not have survived many of his more dangerous encounters.
At the novel’s beginning, the reader knows as much about Eragon as he does about himself (which is to say, not much). He believes that his mother and father are dead, and he lives with his uncle and brother in Carvahall. However, after finding and hatching Saphira’s egg he discovers he is one of the dragon riders of legend, and this casts much doubt on the validity of his old identity. Eragon goes through the same crisis of identity thousands of protagonists have gone through before him, wondering about his parentage, his powers, and his place in the world. He wants to be a hero of sorts, but he remains unsure of just what exactly that means, and he makes plenty of mistakes throughout his journey.
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