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Reviews Comments: In Which Fantasy Tropes Are Reclaimed From Star Wars Inheritance Cycle whole series review by Glixinator

Personally I did not see the similarities to Star Wars until they were pointed out to me on this site and I had already thouroughly enjoyed the three books curruntly released, but then I'm not in the habit of compairing Science Fiction to Fantasy. The two genres are completely seperate in my mind and I favour Fantasy, probably influenced by [[Characters:Jackie Chan Adventures magic must defeat magic]]. However, now that it has been brought to my attention I must address it. The plot elements drawn from Star Wars are based on trope that are Older Than They Think. After all it was George Lucas who turned Space Opera from a derogatory term for all Science Fiction to the Sci Fi equivelent of High Fantasy. While I also enjoyed the Star Wars films, including the prequels, it was the criticism of them that made me realize that though an important step in taking Sci Fi mainstream they were only ever So Bad Its Good, and anyone claiming otherwise is just looking through their Nostalgia Filter. With that said, in addition to taking the story elements back to their roots, the writting is much better than in Star Wars, or at least the delivery of its writing. The series is also not without its own twists and innovative new takes compaired to both Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings, the other work it has been compaired to.

Now the Lord Of The Rings comparison is only natural given that it has taken Star Wars elements back to their original High Fantasy genre as codified by LOTR. Now Chistopher Paolini is the first Author I have read since Tolkien to have fictional languages as well developed as Tolkien's. Giving his Medieval European Fantasy a Norse feel was a nice touch and while Urgals may fill the same niche as Orcs, they are distinctly different in ways that are interesting to discover. The use of modern english, which is much easier to fallow than Tolkien's writing, is also a boon to his work.

The descriptive text, such as when they enter Teriem, moves the story along, draws you in, and foreshadows, unlike the snarl the Hate Dumb makes it out to be when compaired to works like Dinosaur Summer which I gave up trying to read when I couldn't remember the protagonist falling into the water, or for Pacing Problems like the repetitive plot in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Rule Of Cool abounds, putting the Epic back in Epic Fantasy.


  • DarthGangsta
  • 30th Aug 11
I am baffled. Paolini's language is not even remotely close to being as well developed as Tolkien's. Oh, and Tolkien also had a heavy Norse influence, particularly in writing his language. While no story can be 100% original nowadays, Paolini made it painfully obvious just how derivative his book was. He even stole the name of the Dwarven King Hrothgar right out of Beowulf! Tons of contemporary epic fantasy novels existed before Inheritance, written by much more talented authors. R.A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, Harry Turtledove (he wrote a fairly weighty high fantasy series), and Margaret Weiss just to name a few.
  • Glixinator
  • 27th Oct 11
You call Tolkien's language well developed, well it cetainly shows the work he put into it, but it is also difficult to read due to the old timey feel he gave it, which I'm sure is accurate, but never the less more difficult to read than modern english. As for the invented languages, no they aren't on the same level as Tolkien's, he was well remarked for his talent in inventing languages, but it comes a lot closer and shows a lot more work has been put into it than any other work I've read. Most just use Translation Conventions and the occassional foreign sounding word, and don't require extensive appendixes on the rules of the languages. As for the Authors you named, I recognize their names and may or may not have read any of their work (the probability differs by the author, for instance I'm almost certain I've read something by R.A. Salvadore), in any case I can't call to mind any of the titles to their works either, while Poalini's writining just drew me right in.
  • Eyclonus
  • 8th Dec 11
Incy wincy minor point: Star Wars is Space Fantasy/Science Fantasy Space Opera, its nothing close to Science Fiction, thats why the tropes fit so well. If it was Science Fiction it would run, as a setting, according to semi-solid scientific principles, it is a fantasy novel that put on a space suit and decided that the world was not a lot of islands on a boundless ocean, but planets in space.
  • Mikowmer
  • 30th Apr 13
Did those writing the comments read it completely, or just the bits that suited their opinion? The tropes used in Star Wars are "Older Than They Think", to quote. Also, you don't seem to realise that Space Opera is a very specific genre of Science Fiction. It is not a Fantasy In Space! Another thing: You say CP is guilty of Purple Prose? I gave up on Tolkein's The Fellowship of the Ring before they had even gotten to a town other than the Shire, it was that slow, despite me being a book lover who usually devours these sorts of books. The Purple Prose actually WORKED in the Inheritance Cycle and drew me in, proving Tropes are not Bad! Oh, and one final salvo: Creating a language is hard. Maybe CP took shortcuts, but it produced a language that was complex, and was also a minor plot point at one stage.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 30th Apr 13
Okay, the story of Star Wars/Inheritance/LOTR/etc are all reinterpretations of a literary theory called the monomyth. Basically, it's a structure that every epic can be applied to. As for the prose...Tolkein's purple prose is different than Paolini's. Tolkein's work is very much a retool of older writings, especially Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The language in those writings was purple because the story was meant to be memorized and recited. Purple prose allows leeway for a speaker to add or subtract based on the audience. Tolkein was trying to go for that. I really think Paolini wasn't really trying to do something like that when he wrote the book, as he was a teenager at the time. As for a fictional language, Paolini's language functions along the lines of a substitution cypher, with description behind subjects. Tolkein's languages had their own grammar and idioms much like a real language, that's the reason people still study it in linguistic academia. That said, if we go death of the author, then it's all up to personal taste.

SPOILER ALERT However, if we are to compare LOTR and Paolini further, we get the elf queen in Paolini saying lines like "I am diminished" very much in the vein of "I will diminish" from Tolkein. We have the ending where Eragon goes to travel on a boat, leaving his friends behind with one of his old mentors (Glaedr) very much like Frodo leaving on a boat with Gandalf. Finally, there's the names of numerous people and places that either were directly lifted from LOTR or just with a couple letters changed. Angrenost the LOTR city becomes Angrenost the King, Beorn the LOTR Giant Bear becomes Beorn the bear species, Celebdil the mountain becomes Celbedil the temple, Elessar the title becomes elessari the council, Eriador the province becomes Eridor the dragon, Fornost the city becomes furnost the Alagaesian town, Harad the LOTR desert becomes Hadarac the Alagaesian desert, Inzilbeth the queen becomes Inzilbeth, Galbatorix's home province, Valinor the home of the gods becomes Valinor the Dragon.

I really have to dock Paolini's writing a lot of points because of the sheer amount of names he copied. So, I consider Tolkein the better writer.
  • Wryte
  • 30th Apr 13
@Mikowmer: The problem isn't that Inheritance used the same tropes as Star Wars, it's that it xeroxed the plot wholesale. There's following the hero's journey, and then there's being able to write a detailed plot synopsis that's virtually indistinguishable between the two stories save for the proper nouns. Nowhere in the hero's journey is it stated that the hero must be a farm boy raised secretly in a rural backwater by his uncle in order to avoid detection by the evil empire his unknown father was the right-hand in creating and under the watchful eyes of an old man who is secretly the last of an ancient order of magical knights whose legacy now rests in the hero until a princess fleeing the evil emperor's right-hand man sends the last hope of the rebellion to the old man, only for it to fall into the hands of the hero instead, resulting in the empire's servants murdering his uncle and providing impetus for him to go on a journey with the old man. That's not following the hero's journey, that's blatant copying.

Tolkien's purple prose was dense and off-putting, true, but once you get past the prose there's an expansive, fleshed-out world full of fleshed-out cultures and a compelling story with a well-crafted moral. Once you get past Paolini's purple prose, though, all you uncover is a lot of haphazard copy/pasting of other authors' worldbuilding and plot, flat and unlikable characters, and some rather disturbing morality. Tolkien's prose is excusable because other elements of his work were good enough to make up for it. Paolini's work has no such redeeming qualities, so his purple prose is merely too much icing on the inedible cake.
  • darrenw1
  • 29th May 13
Wryte - I completely agree about the Star Wars thing, at least as far as book 1 goes (and, of course the "twist" at the end of Book 2). I came into Inheritance in Book 2, where they give you Book 1 in synopsis form, and I remember thinking the same thing "Holy, this is Star Wars". Then Arya had her twist halfway through book 2, Eragon meets Yoda in the elf city, and then that twist at the end (Luke I am your father/ Eragon I am your brother). It's very obvious that Paolini was heavily influenced by Lucas.

This would be absolutely inexcusable if he didn't bring anything else to the table, but fortunately he did. While the setting leaves something to be desired (elves and dwarves, hurray, there's no way we're sick of them yet :/ ), the magic system and the way Riders and their dragons work were original and well done enough to revitalize my interest. Also, Roran's storyline ended up being really interesting.

If I were to officially rate this book, I'd say it deserves the praise it got - it's good fantasy, if not fresh fantasy. It isn't worthy of a movie trilogy, and it won't go down as a classic like LOTR, but I think we were overdue for some High Fantasy - the current zeitgeist of fantasy is very cynical and grounded in reality (like Game of Thrones).
  • Wryte
  • 30th May 13
@darrenw1: Actually, the magic system is copied almost directly from the Wizard Of Earthsea series (not to mention being horribly inconsistent in its rules and wavering between useless and brokenly OP in its application), and the dragon riders/dragons from Dragonriders Of Pern. I liked Roran's story a lot the first time I read Eldest, but unfortunately, a later re-read showed me that I only liked it so much because it gave me a break from those damn elves (I still credit Eldest as the book that ruined elves for me forever), not to mention that there's no logical reason it should have happened in the first place: if the people of Carvahall had just lied to the ra'zac and said Roran was dead when they showed up asking questions, instead of lying that he was out of town and that he'd be back later, it would have ended right there.
  • Wryte
  • 30th May 13
Whoops, wrong pothole. Should have been Earthsea Trilogy.

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