06 April 2011

E for Eragon

This post is brought to you by the letter E.
Inheritance will finally be released
on November 8, 2011.

I have been eager for November 8, 2011 since I learned that Inheritance, the last book in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle will be released that day. Eragon arrived in my possession some seven or so years ago. It was a gift from my Aunt and Uncle, and I'd never heard of it before. This was before it became wildly popular, but after it had been picked up by Knopf, an imprint of  Random House. (Quick background: the book was originally published by Paolini's parents.)

That's right, I liked Eragon before it was cool. I was behind the jump on Harry Potter, but gosh darn it I beat the band to the wagon on Eragon.

Joking aside, the time of my original reading is important because I was in high school, working on my own first original novel, and here was a book landing in my lap written by someone only 5 years my elder. Written, in fact, when the author was younger than I was at my first reading of it.

I felt like I was falling behind. I should already have a novel out! I thought the nice thing about being a writer was that you could be 30 and be hailed as a "young new writer." But here comes Christopher Paolini and his "I wrote this when I was 15" epic quest book. Ruin everything, Christopher. Please.

I did enjoy Eragon, and I have enjoyed all of its sequels. They are enjoyable reads. And rereads. But thankfully (for my ego and sanity) they do have some issues. It was kind of clunky. Phrases were awkward. It felt like it was trying too hard to be an epic quest. I frequently felt like I being taken on a tour of fantasy/mythology/epic quest tropes instead of being left to enjoy the story in peace.

I would be reading along and then Paolini would shake my shoulder.

"Look, it's the captured princess trope! It's the half-mad old hermit trope! LOOK HOW I USED THE EVIL FATHER TROPE!"

"Yes, Christopher, you did good. Now hush up and let me read the story."

And the made-up languages were a bit over the top. I hate using glossaries. All foreign words should make sense in their context. I hate having to stop reading to look up a made-up word. I will do a lot for Tolkein that I won't do for anybody else, including Christopher Paolini.

Truly, the reason these things bothered me was because I was REALLY enjoying the story. Yes, in many ways it is a rehash of components of many great stories. In some ways, it's fanfiction at its finest. (Shakespeare did this too, so it's hardly an insult.)

But I am so impatient for November 8, 2011. I have waited a long time for this, Christopher. And yes, I will reread all of your books before then. Because I can't remember exactly who died at the end of Brisingr and I want to feel superior to everyone who needs the recap that I'm sure you'll include in the first chapter of Inheritance.

I've been giving Paolini a bit of a hard time here, but I respect him. For one thing, he finished a novel -- and soon he'll have an entire series published. And lots of people like it.That's pretty amazing.

But I hope that one day Christopher Paolini will look back on Eragon and wince. Because what I think Eragon, and indeed the entire Inheritance Cycle, indicate is a huge amount of blooming potential to write much greater works. I plan to keep a watchful eye on Paolini. I can clearly see in Eragon an extremely interesting mind, and I look forward to what he will write in ten, twenty, and fifty years.

Now You!
What have you thought of Paolini's Inheritance Cycle thus far? Have you pre-ordered a copy yet?

Update: If you liked this, you might like my later post Book Review: Eragon grows up in "Inheritance," so does Author Christopher Paolini. (I worked hard to make this post free of spoilers of any of the big events in the book.)