You’ve no doubt seen the trailers on TV; a large dragon, a blond boy, creepy black things. Eragon, a movie based on the book of same title by Christopher Paolini, released in theaters yesterday.
First self-published by Paolini Inc, Eragon was later picked up by Random House, given a new snazzy cover, and promoted to death. Rising to the top of nearly every bestseller list, it was (and still is, for the most part) spouted as the new “it” book of children’s lit.
My opinion, as those of thousands of others, are not so positive.
Okay, first I admit to reading both of the books in the Inheritance trilogy by Christopher Paolini. I grabbed the first one because I saw the picture of the dragon on the front, and I thought it would be interesting. I read the second, Eldest, because I thought “Hey, he’s older, perhaps his writing has gotten better.” I was wrong on both accounts.
There is an interesting thing about the Inheritance trilogy; the fact that nothing in it is interesting…or unique…or creative…. It is Star Wars plot with Tolkien characters. If you have ever watched/read either of these, you can not argue that Inheritance isn’t a rip-off of them. Paolini did not even attempt to veil the similarities. Without revealing too much, here’s a little snippet:
Eragon is a poor farmer boy. He doesn’t know his parents. He lives with his uncle. He finds out that he is special. His uncle dies. He is guided by an old mentor.
I’ll stop here because I don’t want to give away the (I gag upon writing this word) plot. But if you want to know what happens without reading the books, go rent the original Star Wars movies-you’ll find everything out, and in a far more entertaining way.
Okay, okay, whilst I could continue ranting forever on my hatred for this book (and believe you me, it is a deep, permeating hatred emanating from the core of my being) I will get on with the list.
- It has no original plotting, none whatsoever. It is as if Tolkien sneezed on Star Wars, some fifteen year old rubbed it around with a rancid hanky, and we are handed the resulting mess.
- The characters are flat, with no deep meaning, conviction, or goals. They are merely made to fill the obligatory voids in the story. It seems as if characters were kidnapped, given lines of dialogue to read under penalty of death, and then dragged behind the plot by a chain through the fodder of overused adjectives.
- Pacing. The pacing is horrible. (Insert two paragraphs of how I gently tap each finger onto the keyboard, wipe the sweat from my brow, get a drink, use the toilet, pause to contemplate the cosmos and world morals, etc.) It is often over done and extended with useless descriptions.
- The ancient language. Paolini fancies himself as some kind of linguist. He talks about inventing this language, and how it is based on ancient Norse and whatnot. Common! Despite all the arguments against it, the biggest one would have to be that this language has nothing to do with the plot of the book. It could be completely removed, and the book would lose nothing more than two-hundred pages of crap; unfortunately, I don’t think there’s enough enema’s in the world.
- Thou art wise and strong, benevolent Rider. Strike ye fast and true, causing me to suffer naught. Ye chivalrous and overly forced dialogue hath done that enough
- Having no goal. I read these books, but when I actually think about them, there is no goal. Good is just good and evil is just evuuull!! and of course good has to squash evil. I remember pages and pages of Eragon reasoning why he shouldn’t eat a rabbit, yet never once actually deciding which path-‘good’ or ‘bad’-he would follow. There is no grey matter. He just found a dragon and was instantly ‘noble’ for the ‘good’ path.
Me thinketh Eragon is an anagram for ‘programmable robot designed to spout Paolini’s personal belief’s,’
- Crappy sentence modifiers. How many times has it been said “dialogue should speak for itself”? Paolini seems to be afraid of the word said. Instead he insists on using descriptive sentence modifiers where none are needed. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. Well, yeah, saying sorry is obviously apologizing. We’re not stupid, Chris. Why not tell us the grass Eragon steps on is green, and the snow is white, and the blood is red? Oh wait, you do.
- “…and then he gingerly touched the porous walls with ghastly remorse for the voluptuous creature, Garbaba, whose rank and tepid stench of profuse death permeated strongly in the vast cavern of morbid shale.” Paolini, you’re addicted to adjectives. Lay off! [Note: that wasn’t an excerpt from the book
- Paolini is a full of himself, or at least very naïve, most likely a mixture of both with the latter being most prevalent. Is it ever desirable to “toot ones own horn?” No? Well, here’s a statement made by Paolini: ‘Eragon is an archetypal hero story, filled with exciting action, dangerous villains, and fantastic locations.’ Nah, his opinion isn’t biased.
How about “…I strive for a lyrical beauty somewhere between Tolkien…” Stop right there! Is he really trying to say that he comes somewhere even close to Tolkien, that he is even worthy to imagine that he is in the same ball field?
Or how about the statement he was to give on the Half-Blood Prince? “One of the greatest pleasures of reading this series is seeing J.K.Rowling develop as a writer, and she certainly spreads her wings here”. I’m not even commenting on this one.
- Paolini screwed up the only character worth anything in his book, Murtagh! He’s the only character that has any sort of mind, that actually contemplates things like a human, that makes any sense at all, and Paolini has to have him disappear for the entire book and then come back acting like a brainwashed drone!! *pauses to take deep breath and control emotion* Ahhhh!!!!!!
There are many, many more things I could go on about, but I feel a migraine creeping on.
With all of this said, I want you all to understand something. I don’t hate Christopher Paolini. I hate the Inheritance trilogy. I can respect Christopher’s love for writing, and his dedication to write such large books, and think that one day he may write something that is really good. But Inheritance is not it, and I am tired of it being hailed as something more than it is.
All aspiring young writers have written books exactly like Inheritance-mixtures of their favorite stories all meshed together; borrowing from others to make the story they wish they could create. Fortunately, most of those stories remain sitting on the shelf, a reminder of what has been learned, not achieved.