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3.9 68
Young Adult Fiction 313
This Dragon's Got No Wings
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Reader reviewed by Barrister

This review is going to be long, but if you persevere, I promise to be fair and honest in presenting my opinion.

To begin, I am an exceedingly critical reader with an eye for inconsistencies, both in grammar/punctuation and plot elements. I admit I have a hard time seeing merely the potential for entertainment of any book, and thus I can recognize that some readers enjoy Eragon despite the many flaws I found within its pages.

My first big problem (and I know a lot of people have already hit on this point and that a lot of fans have tried to refute it) is the obvious replication of aspects prominent in other famous works that runs rampant in Paolinis first novel. Im going to quote the review done by Kirkus Reviews of Eragon, because I think it effectively exemplifies the point Im trying to make. Kirkus refers to the reliable motifs of elegant immortal elves, mining dwarfs, a wise elderly man, and a hero of mysterious birth. No one can argue that these are original themes (hence reliable motifs), but its true that Paolini is not the only one to utilize these stereotypes. However, when used together in one work, it begins to suggest a severe lack of originality.

A multitude of people are raring to say Paolini copied from Tolkein, but not many are willing to take the time to provide the proof. Everyone knows about Tolkeins elves and dwarves and the wise wizard, but there are some very specific similarities in names between Eragon and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that are too numerous to disregard as coincidence -- Tolkeins Imladris became Imiladris, his Valinor became Vanilor, his Isengard and Evenstar became Isenstar, and words such as Mithrim, Melian, and Turin were directly duplicated. In addition, the plot, though well-disguised by Tolkein- and Anne McCaffrey-esque settings, is practically a point-by-point imitation of George Lucas Star Wars. I wont begin on that, but if youd like to read a good article detailing the evidence of this, follow this link:

On the other end of the spectrum, a multitude of people are eager to argue that Tolkeins and Lucas works werent completely original either, or that its alright to take other storytellers ideas as long as you are willing to tell the world that you did. Neither of these arguments is solid. As for the first, if you truly believe Tolkein and Lucas borrowed from others works (indeed, Lucas cites The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell as his inspiration for Star Wars, although this book, as quoted from its very own back cover, combines the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, and is clearly not a fantasy novel from which someone could steal a plot or characters), that still does not justify Paolinis doing the same; it does not make it right for him to take advantage of what they, or the predecessors from whom it is contended they stole, created. If in trying to defend Paolinis work you assert that his inspirations are in the wrong for being unoriginal, you are simultaneously placing Paolini in the wrong as well. As for the second argument, being willing to credit others for ideas he pocketed does not give him the right to utilize those ideas. If he went through every page of Eragon and specifically cited what he took, from whence he took it, and from whom he took it, he still would not have the right to utilize those things in his own novel. Without the original authors permission, doling out acknowledgments and making citations is useless; using another persons ideas without their consent, even in the absence of a profit earned, is, as the law says it, plagiarism.

The next major issue I had with Eragon was plain old poor writing. Again, I am an exceedingly critical reader (such is my profession), so errors will stand out to me more so than to a typical person reading for enjoyment. Nonetheless (and I will be using brief passages from the first chapters of Eragon as references here), words used incorrectly, such as precipitous in the phrase precipitous ravine, corpulent in the sentence the skin around his face was dry and corpulent, and prophecies in the sentence prophecies of revenge&rolled from his tongue; redundancies such as gauged its weight speculatively, a cloud of misfortune and bad luck, persistent vigilance, and a wisp of smoke&carrying a burnt smell; and contradictions such as shrank back, motionless, moonlight cast him in shadow, and a new familiarity, all cause me to believe that this book was, in terms of quality not popularity, premature on the market. Also, the impossibilities of a fifteen-year-old learning to read in a week, of someone determining another persons identity by having heard the persons fathers voice twenty-three years previously, and of a port city having a stone wall one hundred feet high and forty feet thick, make it very difficult for me to take this book seriously.

All in all, I give Paolini credit for writing something of this magnitude, but if youre anything like me in terms of what you look for in a literary work, Id pass this one up.
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