I’ve started many books which I’ve stopped reading before they were finished–some after only a few chapters, others when I was halfway through–but there has only been one where I read far more than half and then decided that I had wasted enough time on it. That was Eragon; I only had 50 pages left when I stopped and never looked back. I quit because at that point, the rest of the book was clear and my hope that it would get better was fully crushed.
I thought I’d bring this up now since the last book in the series has just started dominating the best seller lists, like the fantasy equivalent of another Adam Sandler movie: dishearteningly popular despite total stupidity.
Speaking of movies, in a footnote (see #71) to his scathing review of the Eragon film, which somehow managed to be even more bland and lifeless than the novel, Eric D. Snider pinpoints the imaginative failure of this story:
Here’s what happens in the movie version of “Eragon.” A petulant young man without parents lives with his uncle on a remote farm. The boy finds an object belonging to the imperial ruler, and the ruler sends soldiers to the farm to retrieve it, killing the uncle in the process. The boy then meets with an old man whom the locals consider crazy, and he explains the boy’s destiny, training him in the ways of an ancient art that is no longer practiced but which was once a powerful means of keeping peace in the world. The old man himself was once a practitioner, and in fact so was the imperial ruler; they were friends, even. But the ruler suffered a great personal loss and turned to the dark side, becoming evil and standing by as nearly everyone who practiced the art was killed. It is now up to the young man to be trained in these ways so he can do battle with the imperial ruler and defeat his evil empire.
You will note that the above paragraph doubles, word for word, as a description of “Star Wars.” If it doesn’t remind you of “Star Wars” in every particular, then the only possible conclusion is that you have never seen “Star Wars.”
But I think the worst plagiarism actually occurs after all that, though, which is precisely why I stopped reading right before the big final battle. There was no reason for me to finish the book: I’ve already seen Star Wars. The climax is set up by Eragon fleeing the enemy’s stronghold (Death Star) and rushing to safety in Farthen Dur (Tattooine) where he seeks to aid and get help from the Varden (Rebel Alliance). But the bad guys have followed him there and now there will be a big fight! Will our plucky young hero somehow be the standout warrior among all these other warriors?
It’s the Exact. Same. Story. Honestly, I’ve wondered why George Lucas didn’t sue.
Hopefully the rest of the series is better than the first book, but I just don’t care enough to find out.