I completely fail at making my comments short and to the point, you know? I was checking out this blog when I came across a post about the Inheritance series. Curious, I read through the post, then concocted my own review in the comments.
Apparently, I’m allowed to post comments of 5,000 characters or less, and I exceeded that. Oops. So I’ll just copy that review here and give that author a link, shall I?
Anyway. My response to Eragon:
I could go on for AGESANDAGESANDAGES about how awful it is, but there are blogs and stuff out there dedicated to that so I won’t go there. My big issues with these books can be summed up into the following:
1. The themes. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice the reason for Roran and Katrina’s wedding (well, the “let’s do it NOW” reason :P). That’s basically teaching kids and teens that it’s okay to cover up one’s mistakes (and perhaps even make them in the first place). Then there’s what I see as the Theme of the book: loss of innocence. Eragon wins because he’s lost his innocence and taken up so many other things that make him who he is. He’s a hardened war-hero. He doesn’t care about killing people, and in fact enjoys it. There are no psychological issues coming from this (as there should be if he really did go through all of these things IRL). No PTSD. No depression. Just… he’s an unrealistic character. And I realize my rant on themes turned into a rant on Eragon’s character–that was actually my next point.
2. Eragon is flat. He’s nothing special. I actually care more about the slightly villainous characters than I do about him, believe it or not (*cough*Murtagh*cough*). He’s just another every-day, ordinary kid who also has other issues (like “the world revolves around ME!” complex, for instance).
3. The prose. Sweet socks, the PURPLE PROSE. He goes on and on into random meaningless details which leaves us no room to determine which details are actually important. He’s trying to sound smart and Tolkien-ish by doing this, but the truth is Tolkien knew what was important and stuck to it. He didn’t bore us with random descriptions of the wood grain of a table. The Inheritance books read like they were written for NaNoWriMo with all the filler and add-ins still present.
4. I add to this the gory descriptions of war. I understand that Paolini may be trying to demonstrate what war is really like, but it’s way over the top. I normally don’t get queasy while reading or even watching movies/TV, but his descriptions of the bodies and Eragon’s actions, motives, and emotions sicken me. It’s part of the whole loss-of-innocence thing I talked about earlier, as well.
5. This sort of goes with the Theme section, but Paolini specifically states that the personal beliefs of the characters do not reflect his own. Either he’s a liar, or he really doesn’t believe in what he’s written. If he’s a liar, then I shouldn’t listen to anything he has to say about the Positive Ideal. If he’s telling the truth, then I have no reason to take to heart a theme the author doesn’t care about. He doesn’t have a personal investment in the hero’s Positive Ideal (if Eragon even has one, which is debatable). The end result is a story filled with junk food for the brain, as Mr. S puts it.
6. Plagiarism. I believe there are several scenes he directly takes from David Eddings, with only a few minor changes. In addition, many of his names are identical or very similar to Tolkein’s (Arya, Arwen, etc.). Then, if you take the basic plot of Eragon and replace the names with Star Wars characters, it’s the /exact same thing./ I didn’t realize this until I actually watched Star Wars, but it’s true. 😛 It’s one thing to admire an author(s), but it’s entirely another to take someone else’s plot and insert your own setting and characters. See this post for an extensive list of plagiarized stuff.
Now, the series does have redeemable qualities, IMHO. The side characters, for one. Brom is quite possibly one of my favorite characters of all time (pretty sure he’s based off Belgarath, and I bet that’s why, but still). He’s the best character in the entire series. Then there’s Sapphira, who is at least an interesting character. I also love Murtagh. But really, who wouldn’t?
It’s also entertaining. I will admit, I loved the series before I started OYAN (I liked a lot of things before OYAN, I notice…) and learned to distinguish a good story from a bad one. Inheritance isn’t a very good story. At any rate, it kept me busy for a long time and it’s interesting. It’s just.. not very good.
I can’t really think of anything else good about it, except that I agree with your suspicion that it fulfills the reader’s fantasies. Twilight molds the “perfect boyfriend” (EDWARD IS ABUSIVE, kay? 😄 Not a perfect boyfriend) into the character of Edward Cullen, and girls seem to want that, though why they do is beyond me. Inheritance takes the idea of a wonderful fantasy world and lets the reader step inside it. Eragon, while one of the blandest characters on the planet, allows the reader to insert him/herself into that Heroic role and take on Galbatorix and the Raz’ac (sp?). In that aspect, Paolini succeeds indeed.
However, my overall opinion is that while I did enjoy the series as a youngster, the negative elements overwhelm me to the point where I can’t enjoy it anymore. I’ve become to critical and picky in my book choice, I think. I get distracted easily by poor writing, terrible characters, and annoying plots.
Has anyone else read the Inheritance books? If so, what did you think of them?