Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia is difficult to summarize, proving not so much a novel with a distinct storyline as a compilation of information on Alagaesia, catalogued by Christopher Paolini through the nom de plume of Eragon Shadeslayer. The encyclopedia is divided into several main parts, each of which is further subdivided. For example, Alagaesia is divided into Landscape, Natural History, and History. Excluding these, an abundance of pages is devoted to the predominant and exclusive races of the continent, namely the Dragons, Elves, Humans, and Dwarves. The most important cities of each race are also highlighted, detailed, and pictured through beautifully penciled maps and vistas. The author also includes a variety of interesting, divergent information, such as notable plants and cultural characteristics, all presented through the same flowing script and excellent illustrations.
As Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia proves not a distinct, plot-driven addition to the Eragon compendium, but rather an anthology of its various characteristics, the preponderance of this review will focus on the quality of the medium, and the multiplicity of the information provided. Unforunately, much of the information provided in the collection has already been represented in the Eragon novels, and there is very little information to discern for an experienced reader. However, for a reader who chanced upon the novels, found their lengthy prefaces insufficient in intricacy, and thirsted for the finer minutiae of the Eragon universe, Eragon's Guide to Alaga￫sia would serve as an excellent tool of reference. Furthermore, for all but the most hard-core of Paolini followers, Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia is an excellent compression of the cultural and historical frameworks of the previous novels between two covers, a useful volume to refresh one's memory while awaiting a new book, and an interesting reserve of wordage upon which to salivate while eyeing the main course. The quality of the presentation is, if possible, of even higher standards than Paolini's writing, consisting of a hardcover, textured manuscript and a plethora of subtle touches that together comprise an excellent addition to Paolini's authorial catalogue. Clearly, Paolini had no expense spared, as gorgeous ink illustrations, three-dimensional projections, and well-crafted commentary coalesce to flesh out the world of Alagaesia with all of its vivid, glorious perturbations and points of inflection. Indeed, after extensive perusal only one minor area of improvement could be identified, and concerned the rendering of a single map of Alagaesia, in which areas of blotchiness were identified. However, this might have been a deliberate technique by the artist to contrast draw distances and emphasize the height and size of various monuments. Overall, Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia serves as an excellent archetype of the key constituents necessary in molding a well-crafted, high quality supplement to a series while retaining its edge of interest and appeal.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Shrewsbury, MA USA