Saturday, May 19, 2007

Book Review: Eragon

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

A teenage boy (Eragon) is living with his uncle, until the evil emperor's minions kills his uncle and destroys their farm. The boy journeys to avenge his uncle's death, accompanied by an older man who seems to know more about the boy than he lets on. The man gives Eragon an ancient sword. On their journey, they are rescued from a precarious situation by a stranger, and rescue a mysterious woman from prison. Wait, haven't I heard this story before? I swear, if it's revealed at the end of the second book that Eragon is actually the lost son of the emperor, I'm going to burn every copy I can find.

Reading it, I kept a count of the writer's Paolini ripped off: Lucas, Tolkein, McCafery, LeGuin. Those are only the one's I'm familiar, I'm sure there are more. The book is competently, but not artfully written. He's descriptive enough, and the characterizations are fairly good especially for the main characters. The plot moves along nicely enough. It seems to be edited pretty well. The fact that it was written by a teenager is a little less impressive when you find out the Paolini family owns a publishing house.

My favorite bad part is the language guide in the back. This is such a transparent ripoff of Tolkein. Now, Tolkein was a accomplished linguist who knew the structure and development of languages. Paolini clearly has little or no experience with any language than English. Instead of doing something clever with noun inflection or verb tenses, he just basically copies English with its degenerate tenses and cases. For example, future tense is just a participle plus the helper verb will. Pathetic.

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