As I pointed out to Lady Geek Girl the other day, more than a month has passed again since I last addressed this topic, so it’s time to revisit my favorite series. I’ve spent agood long whileharping onThe Inheritance Cyclein the past, and while it does have plenty more problems that I could go into, Paolini did do a decent job every once in a while. This series has a good number of avid fans and followers, and I highly doubt that would be the case if the books had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. We could argue all day about whether or not they’re good books (they’re not), but even if you don’t like the series, it’s hard to deny that there is an appeal to it.
So today, I’m going to talk about some of the things that I genuinely enjoyed, or at least appreciated, about the series.
There really are just too many things to talk about in these books, and hey, it’s been over a month since I’ve visited the series, so it’s time to talk about it again.
Throughout literature and mythology, dragons have been interpreted and portrayed many different ways. The word “dragon” can be quite broad in its definition, and depending on where you go in the world, people will always have different images and ideas that they associate with dragons. The dragons that we’re most concerned about today are European Dragons, who are typically portrayed as evil and greedy, with a few exceptions, especially in modern literature. Here in America, European Dragons are what we tend to be most used to. They are big scaly lizards with large wings. They breathe fire, kidnap virgins, steal gold, and live in caves. With the exception of being innately evil and kidnapping virgins, this is the kind of dragon that The Inheritance Cycle uses.
Although I obviously knew about dragons before The Inheritance Cycle, Paolini’s books were my first real foray into their mythology, and so I’m more familiar with his interpretation than I am with others. Additionally, despite my love for dragons, they tend to bore me, because they’re often portrayed exactly the same over and over again. Paolini’s dragons were new and unique to me at the time, so naturally I fell in love with them (though I do hear that they are ripoffs from The Dragonriders of Pern). But because I’m so under-read in this matter, it is hard to compare them to other dragons and actually say what Paolini did that makes his dragons unique and worth your time. Like all things in his books, he occasionally hints at creativity with his dragons, but ultimately their magic tends to only happen for plot purposes.
In Brisingr, during Orik’s coronation to become the new Dwarf king, Eragon sees a vision of the Dwarven god Gûntera. The vision—or rather, the manifestation—of the holy being is brought about by a Dwarven priest saying a prayer in the Ancient Language, the language of magic. This has led me to believe that this wasn’t a vision or something otherworldly. This particular scene undermined the Dwarven faith, instead of enhancing it, since it potentially provides proof to something I thought they believed simply through faith. Additionally, it could also go to show that their faith isn’t real and only the result of magic. I really disliked this scene, because I actually thought the Dwarven faith was really well done.
I’ve harped on Inheritance Cyclequitealot, and that’s mostly because, despite it being my favorite series, it could have done so much better. Most of its flaws could have actually been strengths had the author been aware of them. For example, had Paolini been aware that he madeEragon a sociopath, the books would certainly have been more interesting.
The Varden would have needed to recognize having Eragon around as a necessary evil with which to overthrow a bigger evil. Eragon wouldn’t have been a beloved hero, but a terrifying anti-hero on whom people were forced to rely. Additionally, had the books been self-conscious about both the Varden’s and Eragon’s unethical practices and ideals, the Varden would have had to work harder at justifying their actions. Instead, the books assume that we’ll automatically agree with Eragon and the Varden, while simultaneously hating Galbatorix and the Empire.
That right there is a sure sign of terrible writing, especially because our main villain, Galbatorix, and his followers, the Forsworn, don’t seem anywhere as evil as the books make them out to be.
It has been at least four months since the last time I got on Inheritance Cycle’s case, which is entirely too long. So it’s time to rectify that now. A longstanding complaint of the series is the lack of culture within the world of Alagaësia, specifically among the humans of Carvahall. One of the ways Paolini could have fixed this would have been by adding more religion, which is surprisingly absent for a good portion of the first book, despite the fact that there is no logical reason for religion to not play a larger role in the narrative.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about Eragon’s disability during the events of the second book, Eldest, in the Inheritance Cycle series. Originally, I had been torn between writing about that, or writing about whether or not Eragon is a sociopath or a psychopath. While I do believe that Eragon displays many sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies, at the same time, he was also written to be a hero, and so his character becomes confused due to the fact that Paolini tends to tell one thing and show the opposite. As such, Eragon is left with many conflicting personality quirks that make it hard to understand his character.
For example, Eragon seems to have no trouble killing other human beings, to the extent that he rarely has any kind of emotional response to the people’s he’s killed, but as of Eldest, he becomes a vegetarian, because killing animals for food is wrong.
So while Eragon comes across as a horrible murderer sometimes, other times he can come across as a relatively decent guy. Relatively.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the abomination that is this series, so let’s talk about it again. When it comes to Eragon, I sometimes don’t even know where to begin. Christopher Paolini’s books are shit, and Eragon himself is so obviously a self-insertion, that I’m not sure if the author was ever able to separate himself from the character.
Unfortunately, because Eragon is a self-insert for Paolini, his character is given a lot of leeway and is handed rewards for almost no reason except that the author thinks he deserves them. Nowhere is this more apparent than near the end of the second book, Eldest, when Eragon is magically healed from a restricting handicap.
I cannot get enough of this fandom, and considering that this is Inheritance Cycle, it comes as no surprise that we’d get a fic that is by far much better than the original source material. Of course, that could be said for anything. There will always be Harry Potter fanfiction written by people more skilled than Rowling, and there will always be LotR fanfiction better written than LotR. It happens. There’s always someone better. But these kinds of stories tend to be few and far between, and so I am happy to share this one with you guys.
So I didn’t grow up reading a lot of English literature, and as such I sometimes don’t feel too qualified with talking about published works. However, there has been one obnoxious trend that keeps rearing its ugly head, and unfortunately, it always does so wherever I feel the need to get my daily dose of fanfiction reading. Yes, our subject today is purple prose.
So sometime between writing our The Dark Knight Rises review where we briefly talk about making Talia al Ghul a man and discovering a game on Facebook called Dragon City, I’ve been thinking a lot about gender lately. Lady Geek Girl and I used Talia as an example in our post. Someone at one point had mentioned that it was a good thing that her ethnicity and the ethnicities of two other villains had been changed to white to avoid racism. The point we tried to get at was that that wouldn’t solve racist stereotyping any more than changing Talia to a man would have solved sexism.