Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia by Christopher Paolini

I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s house and reading some kind of Narnia encyclopedia that they had on their shelf. Straight through. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do with those sorts of things, right? I had a map of Narnia on my wall. I don’t know Elvish, but I have watched a lot of the special features on the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions DVDs. And also I look at the maps a lot when I read the books. I will totally buy J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Encyclopedia if she ever actually writes it. We have hardcover copies of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. In other words, I guess this is yet another way for me to say that, yes, I am a nerd.

You may recall that I have had some mixed feelings about the Eragon series – I thought Eragon was okay and Eldest was much too long, but I enjoyed Brisingr, and it got me really excited to see how things end. When I opened the box from Random House and saw the Guide to Alagaesia, I was similarly excited. It’s full of illustrations of Alagaesia, its people and creatures, its landscape, information on its history, and even some “secrets.” Even better, there are flaps and letters and tokens to pull out of envelopes. It’s an experience to look at the book, but it’s also got plenty of helpful information. When I started Brisingr, it had been quite a while since I read Eldest, so I was hazy on some of the details. A book like this would have been ideal, and I plan on keeping it handy when the fourth book comes out. Especially for the maps. I love looking at maps while I’m reading a book. Did I mention that before? The maps were the first thing I turned to in this book.

If you have a fan of this series on your Christmas list, this would be a worthy purchase. Especially if they are a little bit nerdy. These are the kinds of gifts that I most appreciated when I was a teenager – gifts that showed that someone was paying attention to what I liked and that gave me a new and different way to enjoy it. Meanwhile, my copy and I will be waiting for the fourth book to come out.

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