It would be very easy to characterize this as a mish-mosh of genre fantasy: Tolkien base, with Star Wars plotline and Dragonriders mechanics.. .. But that wouldn't be fair. It isn't that Paolini doesn't clearly borrow from these sources (and more!), but he does it creatively. He doesn't rely on those sources to do the heavy lifting, just the background.
I'm impressed by the ways he establishes the rules in his world, thinking throught the meaning/uses of magic. He thinks through consequences, too. A fun book, and good adventure. I look forward to the next installment!