Today has been a very busy day, so I’m totally copping out on this post. IMHO, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon is one of the most overrated books of all time. I detailed why in an earlier entry, “10 Bad Books“. I’ll be nice and post the portion on Eragon here.

“One word, dear friends – overrated. I wanted to like it… I really did, but it was painfully obvious the Paolini has merely copied every other book in the fantasy genre instead of coming up with his own ideas:

  • Elves who live in a secluded forest, are basically immortal, infinitely wise, and in possession of lore lost to the rest of the world (Can we say, Tolkien, anyone?)
  • Evil overlord who is threatening the entire known world and whose right-hand man just so happens to be the main character’s father (Welll… hel~loo, George Lucas!)
  • Hidden sibling that he didn’t know about (Lucas again!)
  • Special sword (Sword of Shannara, Zelda, the list goes on… this is nothing new… goes back to Norse myths, for crying out loud!)
  • Psychic bond with your dragon that causes great emotional pain and even madness if broken (Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern)
  • Naïve small village farm boy stumbling across some mystical item and being inadvertently thrust into the path of the Enemy (Need I even start the list? Tolkien did it, Terry Goodkind did it… with wit, zest, and originality, I might add… just about every fantasy author out there uses this plot device)

These are just the horribly obvious ones that I can think of offhand; there are many others. I should say that I don’t mind writers using traditional components from their genre, but I do take issue when it is done in so wholly an unoriginal way. In my opinion, the only reason that Eragon received the hype that it did was because Paolini was 15 years old when he wrote it… and trust me, in the mechanics of writing and choppiness of style, it showed. Paolini wrote like a 15 year-old would, with just the basics of writing down. Sure, he had good grammar and spelling, but he had very little sense of timing, of suspense, and of what truly makes for good characters, something that he will hopefully gain as he gets older and reads more books – both in and outside of the sci-fi/fantasy genre.”

So, there we are. I feel that Eragon shows a great deal of potential, but it reads like a rough draft. Now that he’s written a few more books and grown and matured, I’d love to see a re-write of it. Perhaps now, Paolini could add more to his stories than just the basic fantasy elements.

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