Flawed fantasy about the first new Dragon Rider in ages in the fight to withstand an evil king. The influences of JRR Tolkien are evident throughout the story, but Paolini's characters are just not the equal of those they attempt to emulate (in particular, Brom is a pale shadow of Gandalf). I found the shift in plot around the appearance of Murtagh quite jarring.
And then, you read the author blurb at the back, which says that the majority of the book was written when Christopher Paolini was still a teenager, and you think "not too shabby for a novice writer."
I've not seen the film, and I'm curious to see whether my 4th grade fantasy-mad son loves it or only sees the flaws.