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Eragon Book Cover

A novel by Christopher Paolini and the first installment in the Inheritance Cycle.

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Star Wars?

  • Aug 27, 2009
Rating:
+1
Christopher Paolini is a well known writer.  Amazingly enough he was able to get a book published at a very young age.  Nineteen.  Of course, his parents owned a publishing house and that had something to do with it.  On the other hand, Paolini met success when Knopf picked up his book and published it instead.  Before long, Eragon became a runaway success.  It got some kids hooked on to reading and I can't disagree with that.  Although much of Eragon is... well... Star Wars.  Just picture Star Wars in a Lord of the Rings setting and you pretty much know what Eragon is.  In fact, if you're a big Star Wars nut you just might find the book entirely predictable. 

The book is about the title character, Eragon.  He lives on a farm with his uncle and cousin.  When he's off hunting, he stumbles upon an intersting looking Blue Stone.  Perhaps he could sell it and buy some food for his family.  It isn't long before he discovers that this is no ordinary stone, and is in fact an egg with a dragon inside.  But how did it come to him?  And who does it really belong to?  Turns out, it belongs to an empire and they're off searching for the egg.  The empire is lead by King Galbatorix, and he'll stop it nothing to get the egg back.  Eragon has been slowly raising the dragon on his own, and he's named it Saphira.  Unfortunately for Eragon, Galbatorix's servents, the Ra'zacs manage to track the egg down.  This is where the book really begins to take from Star Wars.  Eragon's home is pretty much burned down, leaving Eragon to run off.  He meets a man named Brom who informs Eragon about the Jedi.  Did I say Jedi?  I meant the Dragon Riders.  And so Brom teaches Eragon about the ways of the force.  Did I say force?  I meant magic and all that fun happy stuff.  

That's not to say it's all Star Wars like.  There's a character that obviously fills the role of Han Solo but they meet him in a very different way.  Also, much like Star Wars, you can probably guess that Brom was once a Dragon Rider and that he will die.  Star Wars itself relied heavily on Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" structure.  So does Eragon, but Eragon seems to rely very heavily on Star Wars.  At times when reading you have to wonder if Paolini got stuck and decided perhaps popping in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was what he did at certain points.  The parallels between the two stories are so similar that they're almost indistinguishable.  You, of course, can't have a Death Star, but you can do the same basic set up.  Remember the part in Star Wars where Han comes back in the nick of time to save Luke so that Luke can destroy the Death Star?  You're not getting that exact same scene, but you're getting a very similiar setup.  And from how this first book ends, the second book (Eldest, which I've yet to read), looks as though it might mirror The Empire Strikes Back.

A lot of people like to defend Paolini by stating that creating fiction is almost always about ripping off from other people etc. etc. etc.  There's a difference between inspiration, tributes, homages etc., and recreating the same thing.  Eragon isn't entirely Star Wars (given it doesn't take place in space) but its so close that you'll know exactly what happens long before you read it.  And that's really bad because Paolini takes a godawfully long time to get to the point. 

When it comes to writing, Christopher Paolini can best be described as one of those fluffy kind of writers.  This means that he uses an unusual amount of adjectives and descriptive language to describe the most basic of basic things.  There are several writers who keep getting sucked into this idea that you can never describe too much.  Paolini seems to be one of them.  He can't just mention that there was a tree.  Oh no, Paolini has to make sure to describe every leaf on every tree, and he'll find the most colorful words he can to do it.  Like Meyer, Paolini seems to be working with a Thesaurus by his side, in hopes that he can use more adjectives to describe Saphira than there are actual scales on the Dragon's body.  It slows down the story... a lot.  Worse than that, it inflates the book.  As I read I found myself skipping whole passages because they were doing nothing more than describing the most basic of basic things.  Is it descriptive and colorful?  Well, yes, but as someone who loves to read I don't like being robbed of my imagination either.  I know what a mountain looks like (I live in Colorado for heavn's sake!), why does he have to describe every rock on the mountain?  

Here's a sample of how Paolini uses description: 

The sun rose the next morning with a glorious conflagration of pink and yellow.  The air was fresh, sweet, and very cold.  Iced edged the streams, and small pools were completely frozen over.

Is it colorful?  Well, sure.  But it's also a mouthful.  Instead of just getting on with the story we have to sit through tons of passages just like this one.  It's not always a bad thing to go into great details, but Paolini mostly comes off like someone who is trying a little too hard... or like he has something he has to prove.  He has said in interviews that he enjoys using this kind of vivid language.  The problem is that while he's doing it he rarely brings out any emotion.  Put simple, if a character should cry in any of Paolini's books, Paolini would focus more on the tears streaming down the characters face, like glistening drops of rain showing the characters exotic and hurt eyes (see what I did there?) rather than focusing on just WHY the character would be crying in the first place.   When reading a book... I don't like to be reminded that I'm reading a book by being taken aback because Paolini decided he had to describe each individual tree instead of just looking at the forest itself.

His characters begin to suffer just slightly for it.  But the biggest reason his characters suffer is mostly because we can connect them all to a specific character from Star Wars.  As we read, we're not picturing what Eragon looks like or how he acts, we're more tempted to picture Luke Skywalker.  Instead of seeing Brom we're tempted to see Obi-Wan Kenobi.  It can be amusing to watch how Paolini plays the parallels, but if anything, it appears as though he hasn't really created much of anything for himself.  It can be intoxicating to read if you haven't seen Star Wars... but in this day and age who hasn't seen Star Wars? 

What was probably one of the hardest parts of the book to read was some of the dialog exchanges.  In fact, some of Paolini's dialog can make the dialog in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones look like Shakespeare.  At times it's pretty basic.  Simple exchanges, but other times, when it's trying to be complex or more than it is, the dialog can be a drag.  It just feels unnatural at times... or (as is mostly the case) stiff.  At other times dialog is in there to explain to us what would probably be best served being explained in prose (or "shown" to us in prose). 

A lot of people like to give Paolini credit because he was a success at such a young age.  And hey, he deserves some credit.  On the other hand, the book often times feels like he's trying too hard.  And he shouldn't have to.

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June 23, 2010
I agree that dialogue is unemotional, and the plot outline is predictable as any hero's journey tale, but I think that the one thing that made the book readable was the description. His vivid language is what separates this book from a screenplay. He is creating a new word, and as such we should smell and taste it.
 
April 30, 2010
This was a huge disappointment. Though I think I'll give this a 2 star rating than a 1. Great write up!
 
August 28, 2009
You've basically touched upon everything that makes this series impossible for me to take seriously. First of all the dialogue is written in a stiff awkward way and the characters only say exactly what's necessary to propel the plot. The story also lacks any originality and mines all of its contents from "The Lord of the Rings", "The Prydain Chronicles", and "Star Wars" as you say. Well done analysis, Other Other Sean (I apologize for the terrible nickname). ; )
August 28, 2009
I could probably guess what happens in Eldest.  I would imagine our two sets of main characters get separated.  One set evading the Empire while Eragon goes off somewhere and gets some training to be a Dragon Rider done.  He figures out that his friends are actually in danger and goes to save them where he confronts King Galbatorix or whatever and it turns out that the guy is his father.  Although given how Paolini seems eo enjoy mixing up family members and whatnot, it'll be his cousin or long lost brother or something.  But if he does "He's your father," that's playing it too close to the chest.  Maybe I should just read a Plot Summary on Wikipedia and get my fill from that.  I don't think I could slave through a second book like this...
 
1
More Eragon (book) reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
   If someone had assembled a checklist of every fantasty cliche ever used in any work of fantasy ever written by anyone anywhere, it would've turned into this book.      1. Elves are noble, wonderful, beautiful and wise. CHECK!      2. Dwarves are hardworking, strong, loyal and wise. CHECK!      3. Dragons are magical, powerful, impressive and wise. CHECK!      4. Evil is evil for its own sake and can …
review by . June 03, 2010
A great read!
First off my emotional reaction to this book was that it encaptured me to want to keep reading more. I felt for the characters and even cried when Brom passed away. The way he was preserved in time was almost beautiful if only humans in real life could do the same. I recommend this reading to any age because it seriously gets ones mind off their own issues and envelopes you into another world within your mind as your reading it. The setting is such a beautiful time and place and if you read the …
review by . July 27, 2010
Rewrites the fantasy genre
This book is truly an epic. I cringe when I hear people say epic now, because almost 100% of the time they make it totally out of context. But in all honesty, no other word can describe this. It's the classic 'Teenager becomes a hero' book, with more "smart" reasoning. When reading this, your emotions follow the readers emotions. You feel sad when he feels sad, excited when he is, happy and relived whenever he feels relived, and angry when he feels so. The author really mastered …
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
A interesting story but poor writing
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
this young author is so talented, he paints a beautiful world in your mind that can only be comapired to middle earth
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Great fantasy tale of dragons and magic. Simple and quick, this story was a great dessert read (as opposed to a deep, meaningful read which i consider a meal.) Who cares if it is just like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and another couple stories. We are all inspired by something.
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2010
very interesting story.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Good book with dragons and magic. Some of the characters though were cookie cutter meaning they were the sterotypical ones.
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
I truly enjoyed this book. Inspired me in so many ways. Just wish his writing could've stayed up to par.
Quick Tip by . June 03, 2010
I must admit that even as a grown up reading this book was a delight.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Paolini began writing the book at the age of fifteen. After writing the first draft for a year, he spent a second year rewriting it and fleshing out the story and characters. Paolini's parents saw the final manuscript and decided to self-publish Eragon. Paolini spent a year traveling around the United States promoting the novel. By chance, the book was discovered by Carl Hiaasen, who got it re-published by Alfred A. Knopf. The re-published version was released on August 26, 2003.

The book tells the story of a young farm boy named Eragon, who finds a mysterious stone in the mountains. A dragon named Saphira hatches from the stone, which was really an egg. When the evil King Galbatorix finds out about Eragon and his dragon, he sends his servants after them in an effort to capture them. Eragon and Saphira are forced to flee from their hometown, and decide to search for the Varden, a group of rebels who want to see the downfall of Galbatorix.

Critiques of Eragon often pointed out the similarities between Eragon and other works such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Reviews also called the book a notable achievement for such a young author as Paolini. Eragon was the third-best-selling children's hardback book of 2003, and the second-best-selling paperback of 2005. It placed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 121 weeks. Eragon was adapted into a feature film of the same name that was ...

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Details

Author: Christopher Paolini
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Knopf

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