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Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia (The Inheritance Cycle)
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104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
My immediate reaction to Christopher Paolini's newest book: Is this a blue edition of "Dragonology"?

No, apparently it's "Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia," a rather bare-bones encyclopedia of the history, peoples, creatures and assorted trivia of Christopher Paolini's imaginary world. The text doesn't tell the readers much that the books haven't also told them, but it's a prettily arranged book with some extremely impressive pictures and intriguing clarifications of known facts (like what the heck a shrrg is).

It opens with a little envelope with a letter from Paolini's protagonist, promising to show readers more about Alagaesia. After a brief welcome page, Paolini explores the various aspects of his imaginary world, each with their own little section: Alagaesia's maps and cities, geographical features (the Forest of Stone), plants (the Fricai Andiat mushrooms), animals (the dragonesque fanghur), the dragons and the Dragon-riders, the city of Tronjheim and the forest of Ellesmera, and so on and so forth.

It also studies the various bipedal races of Alagaesia, and (of course) the Elves are vastly overrepresented -- humans and Urgals each get one page, while the Elves get four and the Dwarves get two. Paolini also informs readers about their weapons, their homes, their language (complete with a very short fold-out "Dwarvish/Elvish for Beginners"), their clothes, and unique qualities like Isidar Mithrim (I still don't understand why it was so high up).

If you've read the books of the "Inheritance" series, then you probably will know about 95% of the information contained in "Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia." It's a prime opportunity for Paolini to expand his universe with historical, magical and character information that wouldn't fit neatly in a novel, but would work nicely in a guide. Buuuuuut... he doesn't do this. Almost all of what he tells us is in his novels -- the Menoa Tree, Blagden, and anybody hoping for New Cool Revelations will be disappointed.

But he does expand some stuff -- there's a rather bare-bones timeline of Alagaesian history, an interesting section on Dwarf mythology and gods, and he finally tells us just what "shrrgn" are.

And while the actual info is lackluster, there are some truly lovely illustrations in this book -- lovely watercolors and pencil drawings, ranging from pale pencil sketches to full-page color pictures (like Glaedr and Saphira). You can tell which creatures are evil, like the Empire dragons, the Kull and the Lethrblaka -- they're all black'n'white, spiny and scabby-looking. The highlights are the vast pictures of Ellesmera and Tronjheim -- the former is a grassy, misty-green tangle of lacy dwellings and tree houses reminiscent of Peter Jackson's Lothlorien; the latter is an epic view of the sunlit, glittering city in a circle of light, surrounded darkness, shadows, farmland and rolling clouds.

Physically, this book is made in the "Dragonology" mold -- faux scale cover, faux gems, shiny "gedway ignasia" and lots of little pockets, envelopes, fold-out sections, and hidden items (fur, a polyester flower, an elf token, paper dragon-knucklebones, "jewel" glitter dust) as well as some "letters" from Eragon to the reader.

"Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia" is essentially a glittery bonus for Paolini collectors, because virtually all of the information is pretty much old news (we KNOW the Menoa tree story!). But it has lovely, lovely pictures.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
First off i want to say i LOVE the Inheritance cycle so far. Great books, well written, and well thought out. Now the review of this book.

I was really disappointed with this book. I thought it would clear up some things and maybe give me some incite into the next book.

I'm not normally a negative person but this was a real letdown.

The information:
Even someone who has read the books just once will know everything in this book. Personally i think this book damaged my opinion of Paolini being a detailed and in-depth writer.

The art:
To me it seemed fairly obvious that several of the contributing artists either had not read the books at all or they just totally ignored all of Paolini's descriptions. One of the artists must have been a mega fantasy/World of Warcraft artist because he gave all this art spikes jutting out at every angle. In the end most of his art ended up looking more like i sticker bush than what it was intended to be.

The Cheesiness:
Really? A patch of Feldonost fur(a little piece of some fuzzy fur you can feel)? Also right under the fur it goes on to say that the Feldonost grow wool which is totally different from fuzzy fur. Their depiction of a gedwey ignasia is a hand print with a perfect oval, silver sticker in the middle. They also put in a little dragon wing to feel(glitter glued to paper). This is not only cheesy but wrong because dragon wing is described as suede leather in the books not sandpaper. Last but not least is Glader's heart of hearts(a small plastic jewl in the back of the book).

If you've read the books you wont learn anything. Unless you are reading the books to your 4 year old kids and need a visual aid this book isn't worth it.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2009
When I first saw a copy of Christopher Paolini's Eragon's Guide To Alagaesia, published by Random House Canada, I have to admit to being of two minds. My first, albeit selfish reaction was, damn this is going to cut into sales of the book, What Will Happen In Eragon IV, I had been commissioned to write by Ulysses Press last year. However, as a fan of the series I was also interested in seeing how the various artists involved would bring Paolini's world to life visually. I've not seen the video game, but having found the movie adaptation of the first book in the series, Eragon, to be disappointing not only as a retelling but visually as well - heck they couldn't even recreate some of the beings accurately in spite of Paolini giving very accurate descriptions - I hoped for something a little better in this attempt.
Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia
I don't know how much say Paolini had in the decision making process as to the art used or the artists employed for the book, for the usual practice in book publishing is the author has little or no say in things like what a book's cover will look like or the design of the book. However in the case of Eragon's Guide To Alagaesia there would have had to be some co-ordination between the artists and the author as the art and text have been very carefully integrated. Still, Paolini could have come up with the text independently, and the artists and designers worked to create the illustrations and lay out of the book based on what he had written without consulting him. Therefore, much like the movie, there's a good chance he didn't have much say in the matter, meaning there was the possibility this could have been equally disappointing.

Thankfully his publishers aren't about to mess around with one of their hottest properties, and as this book is obviously meant to tide people over until the release of book four, they have gone to great pains to be as true to Paolini's vision as possible in their selection of illustrators and illustrations. Again I'm not sure whose idea it was, but it was a brilliant stroke to have the text read like a personal letter from Eragon, welcoming the reader into the fold as a dragon rider and offering them the benefit of his knowledge of Alagaesia and its inhabitants. This allows the text to have a much more conversational tone then most books of this type. Far too often they end up coming across as a mixture of encyclopedia, dictionary, and history text, with the words and the illustrations end up existing as completely separate entities within the same covers.

The illustrations, by Fred Gambino, Larry McDougal, Ian Miller and David Wyatt, range from wonderfully detailed black and white pen and ink drawings, coloured illustrations, detailed maps, to the equivalent of full colour paintings that capture both the magical attributes and the harsher realities of the world created by Paolini. Jonathan Lambert's design has ensured the artwork is not only shown to its best effect, it also integrates the text superbly. There's always the risk in a book like this of trying to cram too much information onto one page resulting in a confusing hodgepodge of information. Lambert has avoided this through his careful use of fold out flaps to expand some pages, small, beautifully decorated, booklets that when opened reveal information specific to the subject at hand, and occasional samples of the objects under discussion, while never over saturating a page.

For example, on the page devoted to discussing the elvish people of Alagaesia the reader not only is treated to illustrations and text describing them and their home city of Ellesmera, you will find a collection of key phrases in Elvish, a description of their queen Islanzadi, and a description of their clothing in the small booklets affixed to the page. Carefully attached to these pages are also a small sample of the fabric elves use for making their clothes, while another envelope contains a small piece of elvish craftsmanship the reader can carefully remove to treasure as a souvenir of their trip to that country. There are treasures like this scattered throughout the book, ranging from an example of what a dragon wing feels like, to a very special treasure at the end of the book which I'll leave for the reader to discover on their own.

As for the text itself, well you won't find out anything new about Alagaesia, the story, or anything about the characters in the story. What you will find in each section is that all the information Eragon has compiled during his journeys about a particular subject has been summarized in easy to digest chunks. From the overall history in the shape of a timeline, the map of the continent (with accompanying illustrations of some of the story's key locations), the history of each of the four main races of beings (elves, humans, dwarfs, and urgals), and on down the list including the wildlife found on the continent, each section will gives the reader an overview at a glance and the opportunity to explore the subject in more detail through the added pockets of information.

From Eragon's letter of welcome, tucked into an envelope stuck on the inside of the front cover, to his final message on the inside of the back cover, Eragon's Guide To Alagaesia offers a beautifully illustrated history and overview of the world Paolini created for his adventure. The individual illustrators have done a remarkable job of realizing Paolini's vision by bringing the environments and beings of the world to the page in a manner that is faithful to his text. While some people or places may not be exactly as you might have visualized them in your head while reading the books, there is never any doubt in your mind as to who or what are being depicted.
What Will Happen in Eragon IV: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Becomes the Third Dragon Rider and How Will the Inheritance Cycle Finally End?
While you won't find any clues or discussion as to what the future holds for Alagaesia or Eragon, you can find that in another recently published book, for the fan of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle this book will be a visual treat and a pleasure from beginning to end. It may not be Book Four, but in the interim it will do just fine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2010
I just got this and absolutely love it. I can't believe it was done for this price. The cover is truely a work of art and I am going to buy another one for a gift. I didn't get it to glean information as I can use the internet for that after reading the books. Looking through this book is certainly a temptation for those who have not read the books as I already had someone look at mine and borrow my copy of Eragon. The pictures are beautiful and lots of clever and well done little booklets and secrets inside. I am impressed. I suppose if you buy it to learn something that is not in the books, perhaps you might be disappointed, but that wasn't my purpose. I love the beauty of this story and this book illustrates that very well. It is displayed on my sofa table with a blue dragon statue - looks great!

I also liked the way it was done as if Eragon himself was sharing the information with us. Great idea.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2010
I bought this for my sister for Christmas. She loved it. I have a copy of my own as well. The Eragon saga is amazing and we can't wait for the final book. This companion book gives you a better idea of what the author was thinking characters look like, what they wear, how the dragons look etc. As with all of the stories, this is not just for kids. This may be a good way to get someone who hasn't read the books to start. The saga itself is full of action, history and tragedy. I would highly recommend all of it to your favorite reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2013
Fabulously fun and full of such wonderful, exquisite detail this brilliant book is a wonderful edition to the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini. What began in Eragon and continued in Eldest, Brisinger and Inheritance now comes together in a single companion volume for the younger reader. Specifically targeted more towards the child/ teenager, this fact filled book is stunningly beautiful with its textured cover (blue Dragon skin) and shiny jewels as to stand-out on any bookshelf. At £17.99 (UK pricing) I do feel that it is however extremely overpriced, and so I would highly recommend purchasing a secondhand copy as supposed to one that is brand new ~ as there are only 29 pages.

Within the comprehensive guide to Alagaësia you will find...

Information on the four races ~ Elves, Men, Dwarves and Urgals. From their clothing and customs to in-depth history and languages.

A full-color map of Alagaësia

Textures (such as Feldûnost fur, petals from Ellesméra and a Dragon's wing)

Additional tokens such as a scroll from Eragon Shadeslayer and Dragon knucklebones!

The hand-drawn illustrations within this book are so splendid that they bring Eragon's world vividly to life; from the diverse array of creatures to the land and various places, mountains and oceans. There is so much that one can learn within this book and discover, which is both extremely exciting and highly entertaining hence I can honestly state that this book is highly readable. There is nothing new that is not included within the books but it is displayed in such a way as to enchant many children/ young adults, by transporting them with the pictures and pull-out treats strait into this magical world of Dragons and Dragon Riders.

I simply love this book but due to how costly it is, for the amount of content and quality of writing, I have rated it accordingly.

*Note: the writing inside is very small.*
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
My 9 year old son loved this book. Brings a lot of visuals to the mind after reading the first 3 books.Wonderful pictures. Helped me as a parent "see" what he was explaining to me about Alagaesia and the "people" who live in it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
This was a gift for my ten year old granddaughter. I do not know anything about the book, but she loved it. That is good enough for me. She does read on a very high level for a ten year old, if that helps you to decide whether to buy the book or not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2010
Got this for my husband since he is into the series and really liked the book. He liked all the info. inside and the explanations of all the different aspects og Analgasia and all that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2010
my son follows the series so for him it was an excellent guide. for me, his mom ,it was both beautiful and breathtaking!this is a visually wonderful book!
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