I picked up Christopher Paolini's first book, Eragon, a while back and actually finished it a few weeks ago. Eragon got a fair bit of press attention because Paolini started writing it when he was 15 and it was published in the mainstream when he was 19. It isn't a bad book. I've read some bad derivative fantasy over the years, largely thanks to reading stuff too closely related to D&D to be healthy. Bad derivative fantasy. In contrast Eragon is pretty good derivative fantasy.
Eragon is the story of a farm boy who lives in the backwoods of a country ruled by an mad evil Dragon Rider. After finding a mysterious stone on a hunting trip deep into the wilderness, Eragon becomes first new dragon rider in centuries. The book is largely about his coming of age and the many groups who wish to use or kill him.
The main problem is that Eragon is a somewhat original story constructed largely from unoriginal parts. It is as if Paolini read a lot of fantasy and adapt the best parts to his own work. Eragon's world has "true tongue" languaged-based magic just like Le Guin's Earthsea novels. There are the familiar looking dragons, dwarves, and elves from Lord of the Rings and D&D. The dragon riders themselves borrow heavily from McCaffrey's Pern books.
The book itself is enjoyable. The writing isn't amazing, but it is good enough that I stopped paying attention once the story actually got going. I'm sure I'll pick up the sequel, Eldest, once its out on paperback. And frankly fantasy literature is pretty unoriginal stuff these days. When did fantasy come to mean swords, wizards, elves, and dwarves? At some point these things stop being fantastical and just start being cliche.