Discussion in 'NON PRATCHETT BOOK DISCUSSIONS' started by discaimer, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. discaimer New Member

    My niece lent me this book and I didn't enjoy it at all. The writing is crisp but soon becomes monotonous as he recounts events each sentence the same as the last. I stopped halfway through but it felt like a decent RPG retold by a fairly coherent teen. This book is a major hit in America, can the fantasy genre be in such a sorry state? Was I just in a bad mood when I tried to read it ?Pterry ruined me for genre fiction and forced me into the litterature section. Is this what fantasy has become?
  2. Rincewind Number One Doorman

    I thought it was ok. Nothing amazing, and didn't really try to add any thing new to the genre but a solid story, nonetheless.
  3. RebelwithoutaPause New Member

    I picked it up a couple of weeks ago.
    I read the bio of the author and I think the fact that he is a teenager affected my opinion and possibly made me more forgiving of any flaws in the writing.

    It was in the childrens literature section and to be fair whilst the writer does need to mature his style a little I think it belongs more in the fantasy section than in the childrens section.

    If I remember correctly he was 14/15 when he wrote this... I think its a good sign for the future of fantasy literature that we are getting this stuff out.

    The book I picked up had stills from the film in the centre as well and since then Ive seen the trailer on TV for the film of the book. I'll definetly watch the film at the cinema...heck it cant be any worse than Dungeons and Dragons the movie.
  4. Hsing Moderator

    Then again, no film could.
  5. Tephlon Active Member

    I submit "Ghosts of Mars".

    I got to watch it for free and walked out. that's 1 hour I'm never getting back....

    back on topic: Haven't read Eragon yet, but I'd like too.
  6. Rincewind Number One Doorman

    I've heard the film is terrible. The trailer looks awfull. It's like the director picked up Dungoens and Dragons and said ' I want to make something exactly like this'.
  7. chrisjordan New Member

    When I went to see Casino Royale, I saw a cardboard stand display thing advertising Eragon in the lobby. My thoughts were immediately: 'Oh look, Lord of the Rings but with kids.'

    I won't be reading the books or seeing the movie, purely based on my possibly-incorrect assumption that this is just another Tolkienalike.

    In other news:

    Dungeons and Dragons = BEST FILM EVER.
  8. Saccharissa Stitcher

    I hope you are just being surreal, Chris. Or it's Ba's kitchen duty for you.

    I read both Eragon and Eldest. I saw the plot twists coming a mile away, but I understand why teenagers would like it; they don't have the political, or life, savvy to fully appreciate Terry Pratchett at that age ;)
  9. discaimer New Member

    If can summarize the answers. Was I too hard on the book ? Maybe a little. Is modern fantasy this sad? Yeah pretty much. I should have included a poll. Talk and hope of a good fantasy movie is another topic. Good film /tv fantasy is so rare the only one I can recall off the top of my head is The Princess Bride. I didn't realize how many people suffer from insomnia till they handed Peter Jackson an academy award. It may help to remember that cinema genres are different than litterary ones. Good fantasy film? Try Amelie or Shadow of the Vampire
  10. mowgli New Member

    um... I'm STILL trying to wrap my brain around the Shadow of the Vampire! Most of it seemed interesting, albeit so cynical it burned a hole in my brain, but then the very end... it was just a great big WHAT THE ?!!!
  11. discaimer New Member

    Sorry the cynisism is just me pretending to be smarter than I am .The movies we're off the cuff. Anyone can mention bad fantasy films but good ones ...Princess Mononoke!
  12. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    first off, don't ask for opinions and then ask people to sumarize them. that's just rude.

    as for being too hard on the books, no, if anything you weren't hard enough. keep in mind, this kid wrote these books by taking everything he liked from other works and combining them into something new.

    eragon is Star Wars with a liberal helping of Dragon Riders of Pern, Dune, Dragonlance, and Lord of the Rings.

    its not 'derivative', its a blatant rip off work.

    you can complain that robert jordan is just cashing in on the tolkein world building exercise by writing a 12 volume version of the silmarillion, but at least some of that world building is slightly original. the kid who wrote eragon's never had an original thought in his life.
  13. Angua_rox New Member

    Garner, I would disagree with you there.

    No, they're not very skillfully written, and no, they aren't very original, but I would still think that they are not that terrible. They are well done for a teen.

    Sacharissa, I would disagree, yes they are more suitable for teenagers who haven't read that much of the genre, but I don't think that teens don't have the life/political savvy to appreciate pTerry. I would say that a large part of his genius is that you can read it and not get a large amount of the jokes while still finding it funny. I would agree with you that the more life/political savvy you have the more of his jokes you will get, but I don't follow that savvy necessarily comes with age.
  14. chrisjordan New Member

    Blah to that. Either he writes well, or he doesn't. This whole 'for a teen' business is irrelevant; if he doesn't simply write well, without any supposed mitigating factors coming into it, you can't say that it is a good book.

    And the fact is, if his ideas are just rehashes of Tolkien's or George Lucas', being a teen doesn't excuse it. It's still plagiarism, and he's still getting money for it.

    And if they're not skilfully written or original...what's left? The fact that he's a published teen? Then...why is he a published teen?
  15. Tephlon Active Member

    My thoughts exactly.

    Was it published because it was written by a teenager?

    Because then it's just a marketing trick.
  16. Saccharissa Stitcher

    Teens are from 12 to 18. A large portion of them have no political savvy, period.

    Besides, it's the way minds work at that age. When I was 12 I read Shakespear's Julius Ceasar and I took that bit where Marc Athony was making the speech standing over Ceasar's corpse at face value. Some years later, I read in another book about how skillfully manipulating that speech was, inticing rebellion while saying how honourable Brutus was. I felt like a tool then and made a point of learning the basics of politics and so many funnies and jokes made sense after that.
  17. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    It's a marketing blurb. People said 'oh my god, he's fifteen and wrote this amazing thing' and never stopped to ask 'wait, haven't i seen something else where a farm boy grows up in the shadow of an evil empire, then accidentally gets his hands on the one secret key that could defeat the empire, then has to take this to some wise old mystic who happens to have known the farm boy's real dad, and offers to train the farm boy to be a mystical knight-thing like the boy's dad, and they go off to fight the empire with a cocky scoundrel type of character, only the wise old mystic gets killed by some evil henchman of the evil emperor, and it turns out (later) that the evil henchman is actually the farm boy protagonist's father'

    i dunno... i mean, sounds kinda like its been done before.

    then there's anne macafree or whatever her name is. dragon riders of pern, etc.

    i mean, i'm not putting down derrivative work. like i said earlier, i enjoy Robert Jordan, warts and all. i enjoy star wars, even though it was basicly a rip off of a couple of japanese films by kurosawa, set in space.

    but if you're gonna rip off star wars, at least do it a bit better than this guy did. I mean, it's just blatant.
  18. chrisjordan New Member

    Pfft. I have enough political savvy to know that one day I'm going to take over the world. :cool:
  19. KaptenKaries New Member

    How come you claim twelve year olds as teenagers, but not nineTEEN year olds?
  20. Saccharissa Stitcher


    Sorry about that

    Anyways, rip-off though it may be, it's light-years ahead of Terry Brooks' "Magic Kingdom for Sale-Sold!".
  21. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    I haven't read Eragon, but I have read an interview with the author, who said that he took all his favourite bits of his favourite stories, which he listed - I remember him mentioning Star Wars and LotR, among others - and rewrote them into one story. In other words, the world's most successful multi-crossover fanfic.

    Nuff said.
  22. Maljonic Administrator

    Abernathy was nice. :)
  23. RebelwithoutaPause New Member

    At the risk of being lynched here...

    blatant commercialism ripping of classics is not neccesarily bad.
    It brings new fans and so new ideas into the genre.

    Yes the kid wrote the same book that a million other authers have already written but if he can grow from that its good for the future of the genre.

    The writing itself wasnt that bad either, obviously some of you on here are very technically adept writers ( I've read and enjoyed a lot of the work on this website guys props to all of you) and so maybe this guy annoys you cos he isnt.
    Now Me I aint'nt as good a writer as you clever chaps...but I am a punter who buys books and I liked what a I read see .....well mostly a little maturity wont do him any harm.
  24. chrisjordan New Member

    Like I said, I haven't even read the books, so I couldn't comment on his writing style. I just couldn't find the logic in some earlier comments where it was being said that the books weren't very skilfully written or original but were still good because they were 'good for a teen'.

    And I still don't see why he's published if this is the case. I don't see how poorer quality versions of the same story filling up the shelves in the fantasy section is a good thing for the genre. If he's a competent enough writer, and like you said 'he can grow from that', then let him grow from that and develop his own ideas before he gets published. That way, he actually might contribute something worthwhile to the genre.

    While it might bring more kids to the genre purely through its commercial presence, new fans doesn't mean new ideas. If anything, it's going to encourage other competent writers to sink into the same mould. Then the genre loses its innovation. I actually don't read all that many fantasy books because I glance at the blurbs and so many of them sound the same.

    Plus, why should this guy be making money from ideas that are so blatantly not his? I just think there's something wrong with that, whether his books are well-written or not.
  25. TheJackal Member

    I liked the film but not the ending, which didn't seem to complete the story.
    But then I was told it's a trilogy so I guess I'll have to read the books to see what happens. Don't think they will make any more films.
  26. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    i suppose we can be thankful for THAT at least.

    i dunno, i mean, this kid rips off star wars, pern, and a half dozen other fantasy settings and then he gets to sell the rights to this plagirism for god knows how much to the movie studios?

    meanwhile, where the hell's the film adaptation of Neuromancer or, hell, even Xanth?

    lets face it: book publishers want to publish books that will sell for big money. this kid took a lot of successful ideas, put them in the blender of his imagination, and (more than likely) cast himself as the hero. this is teenage fantasy audience gold. sure its glorified fanfic, and the kid never should have gotten a publishing contract for fear of a hundred different lawsuits, but maybe its just 'original' enough to avoid that kind of problem.

    and, after all, the book publishers just want to sell books.
  27. Hsing Moderator

    It's the pity, actually: LOTR prooved you could make good* films out of fantasy books and lure lots of people into the movie theatres. And instead of giving all the good books a chance, they ruin it with films like these.

    *Good in terms of moviemaking. Some will never like to see the book of their heart on the screen, and every film could be more perfect. But in terms of movie standards, the LOTR series was really good.
  28. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    I agree with everything CJ just said.
  29. RebelwithoutaPause New Member

    Exactly! So much of what is written is rehash pf previous stuff so other than being slightly more obvious how is he any different?
    My favourite fantasy series is the Belgariad by David Eddings. Amazing story telling, brilliant characters and writing that can make me laugh and cry. I read the rest of his stuff and enjoy it as well, but purely for the writing and the characters because he tells the same damn story everytime ( I have a theory that he does it for a reason to do with the constant battle between good and evil but thats a conversation for a different topic)

    I read fantasy for escapism, every now and then I fall on something close to unique and if its written well I count myself blessed for finding it, but I dont expect everything to be unique , just enjoyable to read.

    there is another arguement as well but Im not educated enough to make it... something about there only being 7 stories to tell or something? Dunno if any of you who can clarify that or not.

    Musicians make money on cover versions. Peter Jackson made money telling Tolkiens story, I could go on for ever with examples of people making money from others idea's. (though to be fair just cos I can give examples it doesnt make it right)
    THing is he can only make money from it if people buy it, and much as people may dissaprove for whatever reasons the fact is more people are giving him the money.

    Chris if you want to read it in order to make your mind up for sure if its well written but dont want to "sell out" by giving him your money let me know andI'll send you my copy:)

    I have no idea if his writing is technically good or not. I spotted a few things that "I" would have done differently especially in fight scenes etc but then I couldnt have written it in such a manner as people would enjopy reading it ( believe me Ive tried plenty)[/quote]
  30. KaptenKaries New Member

    I must have missed something, I tortured myself through the series and came out on the other end feeling I had been raped.
  31. Tephlon Active Member

    If a musician covers another musician's song he has permission, either from the musician, or -more likely- from the copyright holder.
    Peter Jackson (or MGM or whoever made those films) had permission from Tolkien's estate.

    Guess who is also making money there?

    This kid just took the ideas that he admits he saw lying around and constructed his own easy digestible version of it.

    He's being published because he was a teenager when he wrote it, not because it's a good or original story.
    And that should irk some people, like CJ, who are actually competent and original storytellers that don't get published because they are teenagers.
  32. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Because 'slightly more obvious' is an important difference. Because he is making a lot of money simply by stealing other people's ideas. Because those other people are not making any money from his theft of their ideas, as Bauke said.

    It's one thing to say that there are only a handful of story themes in the world, but there's archetypes and then there's plagiarism. If someone lifts your story wholesale, that's essentially theft. Now, I'm not going to accuse the writer of Eragon outright of plagiarism, because I haven't read the book and can't cite plagiaristic passages. But I do think, even if he has changed the wording enough to avoid charges of plagiarism, this is still a barrier to Eragon being called good writing. That's not good writing, it's good research and good PR.
  33. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    The following essays are taken from

    Star Wars

    By Arget Hackslayer

    Warning: Spoilers for both series below.

    There are two main parts to this argument, and they are:
    --What an archetype is and how Inheritance goes beyond it

    This article intends to lay out in a very simple manner the arguments that Anti-Shurtugal has concerning these two points; it is also the intent of this article to address the common counterarguments we have heard.


    Read the following plot summary:

    A boy of foggy origins lives with his uncle in a remote place of a vast empire headed by an evil Emperor and his right hand man, who was once prominent in an ancient order of guardians with mystical powers.

    Through fate or luck, depending on your point of view, this boy comes into the possession of an object vital to a rebellion against the Empire; this object was inadvertently sent to him by a princess in the rebellion, who had attempted to send said object to an old man who once belonged to the same order of guardians as the Emperor’s right-hand man.

    This boy seeks the old man to learn of the ways of this ancient order, but eventually has to return to his uncle’s farm, which, the boy finds, has been destroyed by fire, and his uncle killed. The boy then sets off with the old hermit, who also gives him a sword which belonged to his father. As they travel, they train. The boy meets up with a rogue who is full of surprises, but turns out to be fiercely loyal, for all his proclaimed selfishness. The boy also begins "seeing" a beautiful woman imprisoned and in need of help.

    The boy decides that he needs to rescue her, even though he doesn't know her; further, he thinks of her only as beautiful (Luke's first words are, "Who is she? She's beautiful?" Eragon can't stop thinking about her beauty). Long story short, the old hermit dies to protect the boy, the boy and the rogue help the beautiful damsel escape.

    They then set off to the rebellion to give important information and return the object which the princess had sent the boy. They were followed by the Empire, and prepare for a giant battle that will either save the rebellion or annihilate them.

    The boy proves his worth with heroics during the battle, but his crowning achievement is his destruction of a noun of much power that has the ability to destroy lots of things. The boy is aided in this by one of his friends, who arrives at precisely the right moment.
    The boy is lauded a hero.

    The boy has a hallucination of a powerful master who can teach him more of the ancient order. The boy travels to the powerful master to learn the ways of the ancient order's mystical power. While there, he grows very powerful. While he is away, the Rebellion regroups in a new area.

    Just when the boy is on a roll with his training, and has grown very powerful, he has a vision of his friends in great danger. He decides he must go to help them. His master warns him not to go. The boy promises that he will return. He leaves.

    He finds his friends just in time and is able to distract the enemy so that his friends will remain safe. He finds out that his father was the right-hand man of the Emperor--his father was the one who betrayed the ancient order and helped kill them.

    The boy is shocked and ultimately defeated, but not killed. He finds out that someone dear to him has been taken by evil people, and promises to find this person.

    Now, is that the plot of Inheritance, or StarWars?

    The fact that we can create such a detailed outline of the plot and it fits both works should speak for itself, however, many people don't seem to hear.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the Inheritance Trilogy reads like Paolini took a plot outline for StarWars, wrote in his own names, shuffled things up slightly, and slapped his name on it. It isn't just the plot--characters in Inheritance remind me of those life-size cardboard standups of movie characters at the movie theatres; they resemble the ones from StarWars closely, and yet they have none of the depth present in the real thing.

    People will argue that it doesn't matter if the stories are similar; stories have been borrowed since the dawn of time. In addition to pointing you in the direction of the Originality section of Anti-Shurtugal, I would like to say, here and now, that stories are unique in the way they are told. Concepts may be shared, but details comprise the story and make it worth reading. So, in its most basic form, StarWars is a story about a hero who comes into his own and restores peace to a corrupt government. That story can be interpretted so many different ways. For example:

    Meet Dallen. He is a young man--twenty-two or so--who is the son of a senator. His father is killed when the king dissolves the Senate and claims complete control. Rumor has it that the king is crazy, and rumors only escalate when he raises taxes and initiates a draft. Dallen is unwilling to comply with either decree, and so flees to the western mountains, where he crosses into a no-man's land, hoping to find a place where he can live without the king's oppression. He meets a small group of rebels against the king who have been secretly resisting him for years; when the Senate was dissolved, they fled the country and have been regrouping ever since. Dallen joins them and begins rising through their ranks. After years of hard work, Dallen has attained a position of some power within the rebel group. They have gained much support the last couple of years as the king's tyranny has increased. Then, after several hard skirmishes, the rebels plan an attack on the king's castle, relying mostly on stealth and good tactics than strength in numbers, which they don't have. They depose the king via assassination whilst their ragtag group creates several diversions in key places.

    Does that sound like StarWars to you? The very basic story is the same.

    Instead of spending a few extra minutes on creativity--because that's all it took to come up with that plot--Paolini took the quick and easy path. In being "inspired by" something, he took more than he needed to. Details matter, ladies and gentlemen, and derivative work should not be excused.

    Archetypes and Beyond

    "An archetype is an idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated.

    The term archetype is sometimes broadly and misleadingly used to refer to a prototype, a stereotype, or an epitome. It may thus indicate a type of person, e.g. a mother, a father, a hero, a warrior, or a martyr." -

    StarWars follows one particular archetype, known as the Hero's Cycle, or the Hero's Journey. For a detailed explanation, see this website:

    In perusing that website, it is evident that there are certain things--known as details--which makes StarWars a unique story. For instance, the Hero's Journey does not state that the hero must be a farmboy; nor does it state that the hero/farmboy must live in the remote reaches of an evil empire. It also says nothing about the hero being the son of a major villain. And so it goes.

    The problem with the Inheritance Trilogy isn't that it follows an archetype--it's that it follows StarWars. The details which sets StarWars apart are also present in Eragon and Eldest. Again, I point you in the direction of the plot summary above. It is detailed--far more detailed than any archetype, and yet it fits both Inheritance and StarWars. Coincidence? I think not.

    In closing, I would like to submit for your attention several other stories which follow the Hero's Journey, and let you judge whether they bear more than a passing resemblance to StarWars--the way a distant relative may turn out bearing your nose or something:

    --The Matrix
    --The Lion King
    --Harry Potter
    --Chronicles of Prydain
  34. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    just a side note on that essay:

    The Lion King is, much as this pains certain ethnic groups to hear, a retelling of Hamlet. Disney has, for pretty much its entire history, made a fortune out of using stories from the public domain for their own works and then copywriting their take on them. they've managed on numerous occasions to lobby congress to have the duration of copyrights extended in order to preserve their winning tactic.

    Harry Potter follows, in many places, the archetypes for the christian story. So does the Matrix (which, by the way, was not written by the wakowski brothers, however its spelled, but by some black woman who submitted the script years earlier, which they then stole after rejecting - and they got sued for it and lost).

    When Frank Herbert and David Lynch sat down to plan out the movie for Dune, they found several points of similarity between Dune and StarWars, but chose not to persue a plagarism suit against george lucasm, i believe largely because those points of similarity were not distinctly original enough to Herbert's work. Its worth pointing out as well that Lucas was inspired heavily by akira kurasawa as well as the western chrsitian redemption archetype, and that Dune was, at least partially, a novel exploring the messiah mythology.

    there's an awful lot quasi or outright theft of ideas in there. but note: either those ideas were in the public domain (in the case of shakespeare), the ideas were genuinely used in new enough ways (in the case of star wars), or the theft of intellectual property was exposed and punished (in the case of the matrix).
  35. chrisjordan New Member

    Yeah, I've heard about that. I know nothing can be truly original, but there are different extents of using ideas. There's a difference between taking a very basic premise for your story (such as good vs evil) and giving it your own spin and perhaps something a bit different, and then making a carbon copy of somebody else's work with just enough tweaks to make it legally your own (see parallels between Eragon and other works that Garner already pointed out).

    I agree with what Tephlon said about this.

    No thanks, I already read the blurb. ;)
  36. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    On Originality

    by Fragon Calfbreaker

    We've discussed the number of ideas/concepts/etc. that Paolini has "copied" from several writers in the Plagiarism section. This article, therefore, is intended to address the issue that fans (again, repeatedly) bring up: that is, nothing in the world is original anymore, hence, Paolini is justified for what he has done.

    I agree with the first half of that statement.

    Yes, nothing in the world is "original" in that sense, and if you believe that you're either God in disguise or are fooling yourself. (Kenneth Eng, wipe that smug smile off your face). Everything has already been done in some manner or form, particularly if you stretch or generalize enough. People who go to great lengths in order to reduce 'influence' on their work are fighting a losing battle. How many times, after all, have people come up with an idea, thought it was genius, wrote it down, and then found out, months or years later, that a writer they've never heard or read about has done the exact same thing?

    Nothing is original; everything has already been done. And yet, not quite. Not quite.

    There is perception, and in that a writer has all the power in the world to make the reader then believe that what they are writing is in fact, the first and the last time it will ever be done--at least until the last page.

    That is the problem with Paolini's work. He has taken ideas and structures from various sources, perhaps altered them a bit, but he has neglected to put his mark on them. He did not show his world and story as he might have seen it, being more concerned in what the great writers before him had done. There are some of the opinion that he has created a 'new twist' in some of his ideas, but this 'twist' can often be found in another shape or form in another story. What Paolini did, therefore, was less writing and more of a mix-and-match type of deal. He copied and pasted and jumbled them up, rather than writing them from his heart and soul as he ought to have done.

    When I was growing up, I was limited in books and entertainment, coming from a lower-middle class family in the Philippines. But I never got tired of reading the stories I had. Each reading was almost a different experience. I also never tired of asking people for stories, even if it was the same story, only told by someone else. It was so different each time. My mind conjured different images for each telling.

    The same goes for everything. You probably know that game where you tell someone something, and they whisper it to the person beside them, and so on, and the message you get at the very end is different? That works on the same line too. People are different--their perceptions are different--the stories they tell, if they tell from it as they ought to have told it and not as someone else might have, will be different, fresh, unique.

    It's not the fact that Paolini took ideas from others that make his works so difficult to swallow. It's the fact that he failed to make them his.
  37. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    On Why Inheritance Isn’t Well-Written

    by Hackslayer

    I. Flow of language

    The flow of a story is, essentially, the rhythm of your words. It is what draws a reader in and makes them turn the page. Authors utilize flow by arranging their words and sentences in such a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the reader. The prose becomes more like a thought process than a narrative. In a nutshell, it flows.

    Upon opening Eragon and Eldest, I was immediately struck by the sentence structure. It was a chore to read more than a few pages because the sentences were choppy and abrupt, with no segue leading into each other. Nothing seemed to fit, in my mind, and I often found myself rearranging and rephrasing the prose.

    The reason for much of this is covered in my next point:

    II. Info-dumping

    Info-dumping is a phenomenon in which an author stops the movement of the story for description, like so:

    Insert character A. Insert character A’s description. Insert setting A. Insert setting A’s description. Insert character B. Insert character B’s description. Insert action sequence. Insert setting B. Insert setting B’s description. Insert character C. Et cetera.

    Any writer worth his salt could tell you that this is a huge no-no. It keeps your story from having any kind of flow, it messes up your pacing, and can lead into purple prose.


    "A tall Shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.

    "He blinked in surprise."--Eragon, page 1

    (Notice how all action stops for a description, and then Paolini resumes telling the story)

    "Around him shuffled twelve Urgals with short swords and round iron shields painted with black symbols. They resembled men with bowed legs and thick, brutish arms made for crushing. A pair of twisted horns grew above their small ears. The monsters hurried into the brush, grunting as they hid."--Eragon, page 1

    (Notice how all action stops for the description, and then Paolini resumes telling the story)

    "He remained unnaturally quiet, a long pale sword in his hand. A wire-thin scratch curved down the blade. The weapon was thin enough to slip between a pair of ribs, yet stout enough to hack through the hardest armor.

    "The Urgals could not see as well as the Shade; they groped like blind beggars, fumbling with their weapons."--Eragon, page 1

    (Notice how all action stops for the description, and then Paolini resumes telling the story)

    "Three white horses cantered toward the ambush, their heads held high and proud, their coats rippling in the moonlight like liquid silver.

    "On the first horse was an elf with pointed ears and elegantly slanted eyebrows. His build was slim but strong, like a rapier. A powerful bow was slung on his back. A sword pressed against his side opposite a quiver of arrows fletched with swan feathers.

    "The last rider had the same fair face and angled features as the other. He carried a long spear in his right hand and a white dagger at his belt. A helm of extraordinary craftsmanship, wrough with amber and gold, rested on his head.

    "Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished. At her side was a sword, and on her back a long bow with a quiver. She carried in her lap a pouch that she frequently looked at, as if to reassure herself that it was still there.

    "One of the elves spoke quietly..."--Eragon, page 1

    (Notice how all action stops for the description, and then Paolini resumes telling the story)

    Less is more, when it comes to description. Leaving things up to the reader’s imagination creates more intrigue and mystery, and doesn’t hinder the plot from moving forward.

    Our next point covers this a bit more, as well.

    III. Amateur description/purple prose

    Purple prose, as defined by Wikipedia, is:

    “A term of literary criticism, purple prose is used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensuously evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader's response…Modern critics use "purple prose" to refer to any writing that is undermined by its overstylized and formulaic nature.”

    Purple prose is, more often than not, marked by amateurish description. Paolini falls into both traps, as illustrated below:

    "It was too dark for any human to see, but for him the faint moonlight was like sunshine streamining between the trees; every detail was clear and sharp to his searching gaze."--Eragon, page 1

    "Three white horses cantered towards the ambush, their heads held high and proud, their coats rippling in the moonlight like liquid silver."--Eragon, page 2

    "His build was slim but strong, like a rapier."--Eragon, page 2

    "Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, but her beauty was undiminished."

    “It was three days since the Varden and dwarves had fought the Urgals for possession of Tronjheim, the mile-high, conical city nestled in the center of Farthen Dûr, but the battlefield was still strewn with carnage.”—Eldest, page 1

    “Eragon ran a hand over his face and looked up at the stars showing through Farthen Dûr's distant top, which were smudged with sooty smoke from the pyre. Three days. Three days since he had killed Durza; three days since people began calling him Shadeslayer; three days since the remnants of the sorcerer's consciousness had ravaged his mind and he had been saved by the mysterious Togira Ikonoka, the Cripple Who Is Whole.”—Eldest, page 1

    Incidentally, most of the above examples are also

    IV. Cliche

    Cliches aren’t always a bad thing; clichéd plotlines or character types can be great fun in the hands of a competent author. Cliché descriptions, however, are never all right.

    They are painful for the reader and should be shameful to the author. They are usually a side-effect of purple prose, which Paolini’s work is rife with.

    ‘He blinked in surprise. The message had been correct: they were here. Or was it a trap? He weighed the odds, then said icily, “Spread out; hide behind trees and bushes. Stop whoever is coming . . . or die.”’—Eragon, page 1

    This particular example is cliché mostly due to the death threat. Darth Vader could get away with it (because, let’s face it, he was darn scary), but it isn’t very effective here, because it was done to death, firstly, and secondly because I just don’t feel scared of the Shade. Why should I?

    “Three white horses with riders cantered toward the ambush, their heads held high and proud, their coats rippling in the moonlight like liquid silver.”—Eragon, page 1

    If I didn’t know that this came from Eragon’s prologue, I would say that you could find this sentence in any number of pulp fantasy novels, because it utilizes old and tired descriptions that no longer do anything for me.

    “Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished.”

    This statement was so riddled with clichés that I decided to bold them all. Again, this is nothing I haven’t seen before in just about every pulp fantasy novel I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

    V. Telling, Not Showing

    I have often had people tell me that Paolini must be a good writer, because he follows the, “Show, don’t tell,” rule. Astounded, I usually inquire further and find that these people are blissfully unaware of the fact that this rule does not refer to showing description (which Paolini does in abundance); rather, this rule refers to a technique wherein the reader is shown insight into a character’s life or mindset.

    Amateur writers tend to gloss over a lot of character development, either because they don’t know how to properly show that development, or because they want to skip ahead to what they consider to be the “meat” of the story—usually, this is when the hero kicks serious butt.

    Examples of telling rather than showing in Inheritance:

    “They continued with the exercises throughout most of the day. When Eragon finally stopped, he was tired and ill-tempered. In those hours, he had come to hate the pebble and everything about it. He started to throw it away, but Brom said, “Don’t. Keep it.” Eragon glared at him, then reluctantly tucked the stone into a pocket.

    “We’re not done yet,” warned Brom, “so don’t get comfortable.” He pointed at a small plant. “This is called delois .” From there on he instructed Eragon in the ancient language, giving him words to memorize, from vöndr, a thin, straight stick, to the morning star, Aiedail .

    That evening they sparred around the fire. Though Brom fought with his left hand, his skill was undiminished.

    The days followed the same pattern. First, Eragon struggled to learn the ancient words and to manipulate the pebble. Then, in the evening, he trained against Brom with the fake swords. Eragon was in constant discomfort, but he gradually began to change, almost without noticing. Soon the pebble no longer wobbled when he lifted it. He mastered the first exercises Brom gave him and undertook harder ones, and his knowledge of the ancient language grew.

    In their sparring, Eragon gained confidence and speed, striking like a snake. His blows became heavier, and his arm no longer trembled when he warded off attacks. The clashes lasted longer as he learned how to fend off Brom. Now, when they went to sleep, Eragon was not the only one with bruises.

    Saphira continued to grow as well, but more slowly than before. Her extended flights, along with periodic hunts, kept her fit and healthy. She was taller than the horses now, and much longer. Because of her size and the way her scales sparkled, she was altogether too visible. Brom and Eragon worried about it, but they could not convince her to allow dirt to obscure her scintillating hide.

    They continued south, tracking the Ra’zac. It frustrated Eragon that no matter how fast they went, the Ra’zac always stayed a few days ahead of them. At times he was ready to give up, but then they would find some mark or print that would renew his hope.

    There were no signs of habitation along the Ninor or in the plains, leaving the three companions undisturbed as the days slipped by. Finally, they neared Daret, the first village since Yazuac.”—Eragon, page 150

    This glosses over a lot of potential development of Eragon and Saphira. We skip from Eragon being an incompetent swordsman, possibly because Paolini did not want us to see Eragon be less than perfect, or possibly because Paolini simply wanted to get to the action of the story, and so sacrificed character development.

    “The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living.

    So thought Eragon as he stepped over a twisted and hacked Urgal, listening to the keening of women who removed loved ones from the blood-muddied ground of Farthen Dûr. Behind him Saphira delicately skirted the corpse, her glittering blue scales the only color in the gloom that filled the hollow mountain.

    It was three days since the Varden and dwarves had fought the Urgals for possession of Tronjheim, the mile-high, conical city nestled in the center of Farthen Dûr, but the battlefield was still strewn with carnage. The sheer number of bodies had stymied their attempts to bury the dead.

    In the distance, a mountainous fire glowed sullenly by Farthen Dûr's wall where the Urgals were being burned. No burial or honored resting place for them.

    Since waking to find his wound healed by Angela, Eragon had tried three times to assist in the recovery effort. On each occasion he had been racked by terrible pains that seemed to explode from his spine. The healers gave him various potions to drink. Arya and Angela said that he was perfectly sound. Nevertheless, he hurt. Nor could Saphira help, only share his pain as it rebounded across their mental link.”—Eldest, page 1

    This passage skips over a lot of potential development for Eragon. We had a great opportunity to see his pain and suffering by directly witnessing his first seizure. Instead, Paolini chooses to briefly mention it.

    Because he chose this method, I had no idea about the depth of Eragon’s injury until well after he was in Ellesmera. Why? Because this passage hardly does his injury justice, because it retells an event that already happened—a summary, if you will—instead of letting we, as readers, see for ourselves.

    VI. Permutations of “Said.”

    This is one of the most obvious signs of an amateur writer is that he or she will avoid the word, "said," like the plague. When they do use the word, "Said," they often attach an adverb or other modifier to it, instead of letting the dialogue speak for itself.

    In the prologue, there are six instances where a character says something. Only once is the word, "Said," used, and then the adverb, "icily," is tacked onto it. Instead, the Shade shouts, whispers, utters, screams, and barks.

    Well-written dialogue speaks for itself. You know from the dialogue that the character is screaming/shouting (exclamation points usually give it away, too). You know from the dialogue itself when a character is angry or annoyed or whatever. Using words like Paolini does is tacky and a cop-out.

    And let's not even start on, "I'm sorry," apologized Brom.

    VII. Deus ex machina

    For a definition of deus ex machina:

    Deus ex machina runs rampant in Paolini’s work. At every turn, the protagonist is miraculously saved by some twist of fate: he is miraculously not home when his house is burned down, is miraculously able to turn into a master swordsman in a matter of months, and miraculously gets knocked out at every battle, only to wake up safe and warm. I find it tiring to read a book with no real struggle; at no point during the book are we actually worried for Our Hero, because we know this formula; he will always be saved.

    Eldest is even worse, with the Blood Oath Ceremony.

    It is the sign of an amateur author when he cannot bear to let his characters be faced with any real struggle.

    Edit by Buzzfloyd to remove extra words jumbling one of the sentences and making it unreadable.
  38. chrisjordan New Member

    OK, I didn't read all of that, but I'd just like to comment on two things.

    I make no claims to being anywhere near ready to getting anything published, but seriously...I wrote like that when I was twelve. It's just not good writing. It's half-baked, and the kind of thing you read when people are describing their own characters in those online roleplay threads.


    I take it the Urgals are orc-like creatures? You know, what with being described as almost exactly the same as they were in LOTR? I remember this description distinctly. This isn't just a stolen plot. I really don't see how this isn't outright plagiarism. This is just one example in an entire trilogy, true, but still much too close to Tolkien's exact words for comfort.
  39. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    dunno man. dude's got a lot of fanboys for it, though.

    and i'm rather surprised at how long that last post was. didn't realize how much i'd cut and pasted.
  40. Katcal I Aten't French !

    Why do movies get made ?

    Because movie makers want to make money. The same may be more or less true for books, but still, not the same public. Eragon seems to me like what the film will probably be : a hollywood mash-up. It's spectacular, it's fast and graphic. Does it matter where the ideas come from or whether the writer had any literary talent ? Nope. The kids like it.

    They gave out extracts from the book at the cinema as teasers for the film, I read a little, the translation may just help it sound ok, but the story itself wasn't that great, I must say. Pretty unoriginal stuff.
  41. RebelwithoutaPause New Member

    Ok I think what it boils down for me is that outright plagiarism or not, technically well written or not (I think not is the general consensus of opinion:) ) the fact is I read it and enjoyed reading it.

    It didn't tax me, it didn't make me sit up and think, but it passed the time while I was waiting to go under the knife.(Maybe the thought of the impending operation dulled my brain lol)
    There is plenty of literature that falls under the heading of classic and technically amazing that I’ve tried to read and its bored the heck out of me.

    Maybe this guy is un-deserving of his success, but I don’t begrudge him. Heck I don’t begrudge anyone anything.
  42. Maljonic Administrator

    I haven't read it myself, nor do I know anything about it, but a guy in my writing circle said he enjoyed reading it and fully intends going to the movie - though he doesn't expect it to be fantastic. He does like reading fantasy novels anyway, so I guess that might make a difference.
  43. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Right. I've often followed book recommendations by other Pratchett fans, assuming our mutual love of Discworld means we have similar taste, only to find that they've been the kind of genre fans who will read any fantasy indiscriminately.
  44. Katcal I Aten't French !

    Oh well, off to see the movie this evening. Good job I don't actually have to pay for it I guess...
  45. TamyraMcG Active Member

    I find it very interesting that Star Wars is being singled out as being ripped off. When Star wars came out there was a lot of talk about how unoriginal the story was. It was called a space opera, a western set in space. It had been "done" time and time before. The originality was seen to mainly come from the way the movie looked, the way George Lucas used special effects to show us the "distant galaxy, far far away". The disappointing prequels sort of prove to me the importance of originality in all aspects of film making.

    As for David Eddings, he wrote his fantasy books in the hope they would find the same sort of audience that JRRTolkien had. His writing is decent but the plots of his books have been recycled. JKRowling has been blasted for her use of pre=existing plotlines and well worn conventions. Lots of writers use the plotlines of ancient works to support thier own variations on the theme. Musicians do that sort of thing for practice.

    I do think the line between paying homage and out right plagiarism is getting very thin these days. Sampling has been a problem in the music industry, and things like Eragon are anything but new in the world of literature. I guess if publishing companies can satisfy themselves that they are putting out stuff that is at least partly original we can still hope the book we pick up will not be the same exact thing as the book we picked up last month.

    Fortunately reading is as creative as writing is. We get different things out of books depending on our moods and circumstances.
  46. Katcal I Aten't French !

    Well... saw the film it was... Well, I'm sure anyone not old enough to spot the enormous flaws in the costumes, special effects and fight scenes would have had a good time.
  47. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    Starwars wasn't terribly original as a story, no. its based heavily off of akira kurosawa pictures, moreso than its deliberately an exploration of any concept of archetypes. lucas isn't that clever - the archetypal business was an accident rather than design.

    however, eragon is a direct rip off of star wars, regardless of if star wars was original or not.
  48. mr_scrub New Member

    I liked Eragon cuz I am a teenager and I didn't notice the paralell because I haven't seen Star Wars 4, 5 and 6 in 10 years and now you've gone and stolen my enjoyment. :cry:

    I saw the movie and enjoyed picking out the numerous flaws. Angela reminded me of Hilta Goutfounder in that she sounded like a percussion band falling off a cliff. And the funniest part of the entire book, the werecat was not there. Me and my friend compared the movie to a pot. The developers smashed the pot, lost half the pieces and put it back together with a glue stick.
  49. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Heh. That can be fairly enjoyable. Garner, though scathing in his indictments of some awful movies, has a soft spot for such idiocies as Spaceballs.
  50. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    but Spaceballs can't hold a candle to Ice Pirates. now THAT is classic cinema.
  51. roisindubh211 New Member

    I've read Eragon and Eldest, and found them very entertaining. That said, they shouldn't have been published. They aren't great books- the movie was even worse but I had fun annoying other cinema goers by laughing at all the wrong places. Waste of some good actors- it had the potential to be good, the plot is simple and could have translated well with care. Slipshod work though.
  52. Arrowcat New Member

    I've read the first two eragon books and I've got the third coming in the mail at the end of this year. The first was pretty good, I mean it was just your basic "fantasy book", but if the guys works on his writing he could be a good writer one day. The second book was terrible. Borning, had a lengthy start and didn't really get into the action until the last 3 chapters - these were pretty good actually. I was willing to give it the benefit of a doubt, second books in series aren't always that good anyway and so I bought the last book. (fingers crossed for something good)

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