Dragons, War and Magic: A Flock of Books Like ERAGON
First published in 2002, Eragon is the first in Christopher Paolini’s beloved fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle. It’s such a fun and epic fantasy romp following the story of young hero Eragon and his dragon friend Saphira, who encounter elves, witches, and warriors as they are drawn into a war that will change the world. The Inheritance Cycle was a beloved series for many fantasy fans, who loved the rich world Paolini crafted, the exciting political intrigue, and, of course, the core relationship between a boy and his dragon. If you want to recapture the magic of this series, then this list of books like Eragon might pique your interest.
Books About Dragons
One of the most appealing things about Eragon was Paolini’s take on the figure of the dragon. Dragons have appeared in many different guises in fantasy. Some are dangerous antagonists, like Smaug in The Hobbit, while others are friends and allies, such as the dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s seminal Pern series. Dragon fans can find all different kinds of these fantastical creatures in the following recommended books like Eragon.
And, find even more YA books about dragons here.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Best known for his Thursday Next series, Fforde creates a new, magical world in The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange, a teenager working for an employment agency that tries to get work for wizards, discovers that she is the new Dragonslayer, and has to contend with magical and political upheaval, corporate greed, and the capricious nature of the last dragon.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
This fantasy debut is set in a world torn apart by magical war, where some people have the power to call down dragons, to devastating effect. It follows the story of Tau, a young man without magical powers who braves the dragons, demons, and magic of this fantasy world to get his revenge on the people who murdered his family.
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Set in an alternate history version of the Napoleonic Wars, Temeraire is the first book in a series following the adventures of Captain William Laurence and his dragon, the eponymous Temeraire. Like Eragon, William finds a dragon egg and unexpectedly ends up taking care of a new young dragon – but in this series, this turn of events has him leaving the Royal Navy and joining England’s air force as a dragonrider.
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Unlike many dragon books, Dragon Rider focuses much more closely on the dragons themselves. The story follows Firedrake, a young dragon who discovers that humans are plotting to wipe out his clan, and sets out on a quest to find a safe place for dragons to live. Readers who are a little too young for Eragon will love Dragon Rider as an introduction to stories exploring the relationship between dragons and humans.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
In Seraphina, we find some of the most unusual dragons I’ve ever encountered in fantasy. These dragons can disguise themselves as humans, are almost Vulcanesque in their attitude to metaphor and frivolity, and are constantly under threat, as they have been outlawed by a repressive, autocratic human society. Seraphina, a young part-dragon woman trying to find her place at court, must negotiate backstabbing aristocrats and unmask a murderer.
Warring Worlds and Political Intrigue
For many Eragon fans, the best part of the series was the backdrop of an ongoing war between good and evil, complete with many different political factions trying to achieve their goals in this complex world. Here are some books like Eragon that have a similar sweeping political context.
Nightblade by Ryan Kirk
Following three protagonists struggling to survive in a warring kingdom, Nightblade takes a brutal look at the impact of war on the lives of ordinary people. One of the protagonists, Ryuu, is taken under the wing of an older mentor – much like Eragon and Brom’s relationship – and is taught how to be a Nightblade, part of a legendary group who combine warrior training with magical powers.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
This fantastic debut novel follows Bree, a recently bereaved girl who finds herself caught up in a war between Arthurian figures and otherworldly demons. As Bree learns more about the Legendborn warriors and the dangerous forces that they fight, she realises that she has an important role to play in the battle to protect humanity and defend the world from monsters.
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
In this alternate history, a war between two empires forms the backdrop of the story. Shen Tai, the son of a general who died in battle, has spent his mourning period burying the immense number of dead from the wars, but he soon discovers that the peace which has been established is fragile, and that he has a role to play in stopping the world descending into chaos again.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
First in a series, The Poppy War is an alternate history novel based on the second Sino-Japanese War. It follows the story of Rin, a young woman with shamanic powers, who has to decide whether to use her magic to save her country at the potential cost of her humanity.
The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang (as JY Yang)
First in the Tensorate series, The Black Tides of Heaven follows twins Mokoya and Akeha, who find themselves on opposite sides of a rebellion. The sweeping fantasy and backdrop of an embattled state will appeal to fans of the war plot of The Inheritance Cycle.
Rich Fantasy Worlds
If you loved the worldbuilding of Eragon and are on the lookout for some similarly well-imagined, so-real-you-could-touch-them fantasy worlds, here are some suggestions. These books like Eragon contain brilliantly idealised worlds and magic systems that will appeal to every fantasy fan.
A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
Second in L.L. McKinney’s fantastic Nightmareverse series, this modern retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland delves even more deeply into the magical world that protagonist Alice must negotiate in order to save both Wonderland and her own reality. In A Dream So Dark, we get to see even more of Wonderland, a beautifully drawn world that is as fascinating as it is terrifying.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
A fairytale-style story, complete with a wickedly powerful Evil Queen, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns has rich world-building and a cast of characters that fantasy fans will fall in love with. With a magic system that pulls no punches, this story puts an unforgettable spin on the Snow White story.
Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris
Fans of Norse mythology as well as fantasy will love Runemarks, a book that begins with one of the greatest lines I’ve ever read. Set after Ragnarok, the story follows Maddy, a young girl who must tread the line between the new religion, The Order, and the old gods who are now living as outlaws.
The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton
While all the action takes place in the titular hotel, instead of over a vast fantasy landscape, Thornton’s debut novel subtly builds a rich and complex magical world. Seth, a kitchen boy, is framed for murder, and while trying to clear his name, discovers a society of wizards and magic users that have more influence on the world than he could possibly have imagined.
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
The queen of British children’s fantasy, Diana Wynne Jones is best known for novels like Howl’s Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci series, but in my opinion Dark Lord of Derkholm is an underrated masterpiece. A loving parody of the fantasy genre, it follows a family living in a magical land who have to deal with tourists from the real world. When Derk, a wizard, is chosen to be the Dark Lord for the latest tourist season, the chaos that follows threatens to upturn both worlds.
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