Surprisingly given that the author is a teenaged lad, one of the most interesting and intriguing things about these two books [and it’s set up to follow into the third, if I read the plot aright], is the recognition that evil is not an equal and opposite force to good; that evil is perpetrated by people seeking the good as they see it, or at least choosing an evil for the sake of a greater good. Thus the human hero Eragon bestows a blessing which out of his ignorance blights the life of the child it is bestowed on. Good intentions were not enough and the evil was unintended, in fact good was intended. The dreaded and monstrous kull turn out to be a bit like vikings, only really wanting to be able to live and raise families, bearing no ill towards humans except in as far as humans interfere with their well-being. This emphasis on the ‘humanity’ of the enemy is welcome in a genre more known for simplistic divisions into goodies and baddies. As such it is teaching an important lesson for these times troubled by demonising those designated enemies.
Eragons route into such wisdom is through empathy, beginning to see the world through the eyes of the enemy. Empathy brings understanding and understanding reframes the moral perspective.
So, quite a good way forward and a good story largely well told. If I have a negative assessment it is that the writing can be a bit uneaven. Every so often the style slips, usually because the writer seems to have found his word of the week and is determined to use it regardless of how well it fits. But that really is a minor issue.
There’s an interesting mysticism, and it would seem that the underlying take is that there is no God behind it all. However, it may be that there is more to come since that is simply based on the sympathetic portrayal of Elvish belief. The dwarves’ polytheism is the only other alternative so far and that is not unsympathetically handled but, given our cultural bias against polytheism, it is not given enough ‘oomph’ to make me feel that it is being presented as anything but a statement of ‘fact’ about dwarves. God[s] don’t appear to be on the menu, really.
That said, the stuff about magic seems to be yet another version of a kind of ‘Word’ theology remniscent of Stoicism and of Christian mysticism based on the notion of a ‘force’ that holds things together. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s what becomes of it and how it will play out with notions of good and evil when the final confrontations come.