Reviews Comments: Not as Messed Up Morality as Claimed

Not as Messed Up Morality as Claimed
The Inheritance Cycle is a good series and it doesn't deserve all of the bad press it gets. It's got some cliches in it but not as much people would have you think. One of the big things that people like to talk about is how the morality in it is wrong and the Empire is actually a good place. To be frank: these are lies.

People defend Galbatorix a lot which just baffles me. They say that he is a good emperor who watches over his people and cares for them, or that he isn't worth rebelling against. These people always overlook the terrible things he does or just ignore them. For one thing he sacrifices an entire village to be killed by his mind-controlled Urgals. Also HE REINTRODUCED SLAVERY. I don't know how much worse you can get then that. Oh wait - he also feeds two of the slaves a month to two Eldritch Abominations. And he's also an immortal tyrant so it's not like there are any other ways of overthrowing him.

Another person who is claimed to be a saint is Sloan, who is a terrible terrible monster. People talk about how he heroically stood up to Eragon, proving his moral superiority. These people often forget how he ended up in that situation. Namely by (beware of spoilers here) killing a person who was on watch of a village so he could sell out that entire village to be eaten alive by the aforementioned Eldritch Abominations because his daughter was going to marry somebody he didn't like. But everybody ignores this for reasons I can't even guess at.

In short this series is much better than people say, and you should ignore them and give it a shot.


Actually none of those things can be connected directly to Galbatorix. The shade lead the Urgals. No where does it say he introduced slavery or reintroduced it. Slavery, in fact, would not be uncommon during such a setting, and it is interly possible it was around during the time of the riders. He did not feed anyone to any thing, that was the work of a cult, which, if you look into the history of cults, you'd find they are very hard to get rid off. The Romans spent much time and effort trying to wipe out a little cult called Christanity after all.

Ahh yes, Sloan. The evil man who tried to save his daughter from 1) the evil Spine which the book tells us kills people mysteriously, 2) death, or 3) slavery. Let's ignore that the village would not have been in that situation had Roran just manned up instead of hiding for days and then attacked Emperial soldiers. And lets ignore that the man suffered far more then any character in the book, but was then sentenced to a Fate Worse Than Death by the supposed hero.

You have to remember, just because the author tells us Eragon/Roran are good and Galbatorix/Sloan is evil, does not mean those fact play out in the story.
comment #8497 TheEmeraldDragon 8th Jul 11
^ It was explicitly stated that the slave trade had flourished under Gabby, bro. Eragon goes out and sees some slaves in some city or whatever and it causes him to rage. Also: slavery was not common during the era before Gabby's rule, when everything was idyllic and ruled by magical dragon-riding police officers. You know. The ones not-really-so-bad Galbatorix murdered?
comment #8520 spambot 9th Jul 11
The morality debates are only this heated becuase everyone only sees what they want to see and what the antis think they see is more easily supported. My theory is that sloppy writing is to blame for the confusion.

Sloan's case is a bit complicated and it depends very much on your point of view. You're on Eragon's side, so you think he's a dick. I am a bystander and I think his well-intentioned, albeit possibly unhealthy, affection for his daughter was what made him go over the edge and being imprisoned by the Ra'zac and having his eyes eaten was karma. People that are Rooting For The Empire claim he's doing his duty by betraying Roran. Sloan also had legitimate reasons for hating Roran: if your daughter wanted to marry a man with no money, no house, and no way to make a living, would you be happy? Again, if Paolini was able to develop more as a writer before these books were published, this probably wouldn't be happening.
comment #8552 snowfoxofdeath 9th Jul 11 (edited by: snowfoxofdeath)
^The antis case isn't more easily supported. Since views range from "Galbatorix's empire is an admirable democracy" to "Well, Sloan's kind of sympathetic," it's hard to make a definitive counterargument, though.

I'm confused as to why you think the antis would be justified in thinking Sloan's a charmer if in your own view he deserved to be imprisoned by the Ra'zac and have his eyes eaten. That seems pretty damning to me.

Sloan is sympathetic in turning against Roran, but he's not sympathetic in murdering a random watchman and betraying his entire village in a ridiculously stupid plan that a child of five could have better conceived. Sloan's motives are obviously meant to be sympathetic, but sadly the antis have created a cardboard-cut-out Paolini who creates black and white fiction intending to pit Card Carrying Villains against flawless heros. While this is to some extent true, it is not true to the extent that empathy for villains like Sloan gives the anti a chance to leap up and cry "AHA! DESIGNATED VILLAIN!" Ironically this is equally black and white thinking.

Just a general point, though. Back when anti-shur'tugal was around there were a lot of sophisticated, well thought out critiques of Eragon. While I have seen nothing on TV Tropes even approaching that level of maturity, even anti-shur'tugal had its critical slobs. That guy who claimed that Galbatorix was a model leader who could be leading a democracy, and that elves were stupid for not believing in gods, is a prime example of terribly sloppy analysis. There are many antis who are actually even less sophisticated that the beginner's fiction they aim to tear down.
comment #8622 Ckuckoo 13th Jul 11 (edited by: Ckuckoo)
^ Not that I really care, but I'm curious as to what makes you so sure that "Sloan's motives are obviously meant to be sympathetic" instead of accidentally sympathetic like the antis claim.
comment #8630 shiro_okami 14th Jul 11
^^ It is definitely easier for me to come up with things that support a "Sloan is not a Complete Monster" viewpoint, if you want me to be specific.

Many people think this is biased, and I have to agree because it does smell of Rooting For The Empire, but it brings up valid points.
comment #8634 snowfoxofdeath 14th Jul 11 (edited by: snowfoxofdeath)
^ The article explains Sloan's action from his point of view, which makes him sympathetic in the same way The Talented Mr Ripley is sympathetic despite being a greedy, cold-blooded murderer. It also creates a false dichotomy between the villagers and Sloan. Interestingly, this is the primary way the antis operate. Instead of genuinely showing why certain characters are good or bad, right or wrong, the antis tend to push characters towards opposite ends of the moral spectrum as foils for each other - where Eragon is erratic, impulsive, and anarchistic, Galbatorix is stabilising, intelligent, and an effective administrator. Moving characters into these artificial camps produces a Black/White dynamic that slots the characters into simplistic roles. Eragon, crazed psychopath. Galbatorix, king fighting against anarchy. The antis criticise Paolini for this kind of simplistic approach, despite apparently using the same approach in their critical analysis.

In this case, the most significant dichotomy the article creates is that between Roran and Galbatorix. Roran is established in the article as a jerk, and a bad hero. This is probably true. So what? This doesn't reflect on Sloan. I think it is telling that most of the article is indeed Villagers->Stupid, Roran->Jerk, Sloan->Woobie. Sloan ultimately chooses loyalty to the empire and does not betray his village? He's still letting human-eating creatures into a town filled with not just adults (allegedly partially responsible via stupidity), but also children (who have had no say in events at all, and would be victims of events even more than the poor father the article endlessly angsts over).

So lets go over Sloan's plan again. 1. It lead to some random (who wasn't making the decisions anymore than Sloan) getting killed. Considering the Raz'zac tend to eat people, the killer was likely Sloan. 2. It lead to human-eating monsters entering a town, potentially leading to children not just dying in the Spine but being eaten alive. If memory serves correctly, they may indeed have eaten someone (an adult). 3. The Ra'zac capture the daughter Sloan was desperate to protect.

Does this mean Sloan is a complete monster? Not really. But it does mean he caused a whole heap of misery and suffering, and was happy to risk the much younger kids of other villagers getting devoured by vicious beasties in the off-chance the Ra'zac were honourable when they aren't eating people. I would say this makes him either a Bad Guy, or Too Dumb To Live (and consequently not heroic, which many antis claim he is). What do you think? (<-serious question)
comment #8640 Ckuckoo 14th Jul 11 (edited by: Ckuckoo)
I have never met an anti that outright claimed him to be heroic, and I would not agree with them. I did warn you that the article is Rooting For The Empire. Also, I made it clear that Sloan's unhealthy obsession with Katrina is his motivation, and this makes him neither a hero or a Complete Monster as some fans claim. It helps me sympathize with him because I have a lot of experience with unhealthy relationships— long story. I think that it blinded him to all else, but if I remember correctly, he didn't learn his lesson because he expressed no regret. Haven't read Brisingr in a while so I can't make sure. Still, Eragon's punishment for him didn't seem completely justified. He should have at least let him try to explain himself to Katrina and Roran, and Eragon would have done well to explain to Sloan that Roran didn't mean to steal his daughter. Eragon was probably also a biased judge. Once again, my memory is shaky. It does make me sad that Paolini didn't expand on Sloan and Katrina's relationship because that would have been interesting.

Both sides do exaggerate greatly, and this confuses me, which is why I'm forcing myself to read the books again and liveblogging the journey.

Once again, I will tentatively lay the blame to sloppy writing.
comment #8643 snowfoxofdeath 14th Jul 11
It's possible to be an Inheritance fan and find Sloan slightly sympathetic rather than a Complete Monster. If you are trying to say this is a justified position, then I agree. This has very little to do with being an anti or a fan. Seeing Sloan as a hero is the position of someone who sets themself against the obvious intent of the work, and is thus an anti position. That is why I brought up whether he's 'heroic' or not, and it is the language antis in my experience tend to use (although admittedly, the focus is more on Galbatorix with Sloan as a kind of side-note - if these entries had not been nuked on the Inheritance page and others I could link you).

To be honest, I don't really remember much from the 3rd book, and the antis established this position pre-3 anyway. Roran, I think it's safe to say, is a jerk. In Eragon's defence, I don't think a guy who realises his entire village has been uprooted and almost destroyed has reason to feel anything but hatred for the man who he is told colluded with those responsible. He really shouldn't have been the judge and jury, but that was what happened in the old days/stories Paolini draws from. Paolini appears to have been going for the kind of 'poetic justice' you find in stuff like the Lay of Volund and other ancient stories, 'justice' that tends to be pretty vindictive and loaded with Values Dissonance - the hero is wronged somehow, he exacts a (generally cruel) revenge. Maybe Paolini took it completely at face value, but we haven't seen the full effects of the decision yet (the series in unfinished) so claiming Paolini sees this as laudable justice is perhaps unjustified.

The book does have some sloppy writing, but I found it entertaining when I was a teenager and I'm perplexed as to why so many people want to tear it down with what are often exaggerations and even the occasional gross distortion.
comment #8644 Ckuckoo 14th Jul 11
Maybe people just, I don't know... have a different morality than you?
comment #8651 eveil 15th Jul 11
Different morality in what sense? And why do you say this as though it should surprise me?

Different morality insofar as this is why there is disagreement on the morality of the characters and the work in general? Of course. I never claimed this was not the case, nor did I state my moral ideas are the be all and end all.

Different morality insofar as some people have a moral code that compels them to tear down what they perceive as bad fantasy even by exaggerating or distorting the known reality? That would be perplexing. And extreme.
comment #8669 Ckuckoo 15th Jul 11
The first one. But that comment wasn't even directed at you.
comment #8674 eveil 16th Jul 11
Was it directed at me or the reviewer?
comment #8679 snowfoxofdeath 16th Jul 11
comment #8680 eveil 16th Jul 11
Woops sorry, my bad.
comment #8793 Ckuckoo 21st Jul 11
<i>The antis criticise Paolini for this kind of simplistic approach, despite apparently using the same approach in their critical analysis. </i>

But here is a thought: If Paolini wrote the story with a Black/White morality, therefore did not include shades of grey, how then can critics do anything but use that same either or approach? In order to introduce grey to this media, I would have to divine it almost out of thin air.

Going back to Sloan. Based on the text, I am clearly supposed to sympathize with Eragon. Yet, if I apply the book's own code of morality to the situation, in this case [1] and the use of a True Name to force Sloan to do something against his will - things I must point out that are considered absolutely evil when done by Galbatorix - the whole thing falls apart. Eragon does what we are told multiple times, both before and after this event, and wrong. Yet we are supposed to sympathize with this?

Eragon has been set up as a Epic Hero, not a Tragic Hero or an Anti-hero. If he was, it would be different. But when the guy standing on the Moral High Ground is doing the same thing his enemies do, he should not be praised.
comment #8896 TheEmeraldDragon 26th Jul 11
Remember, Dragon, that Eragon only forced Sloan to comply because Sloan refused to listen to reason: That if he went back to Katrina, he'd be tried and hanged by the Varden(if not outright mobbed and torn to shreds by the villagers of Carvahall) for the crimes he'd committed.
comment #9749 SickBritKid 6th Sep 11
Paolini did not write the entire cycle with a Black/White morality. The first book was written with the black/white morality, but the second book - written after Paolini matured as an author - spent a lot of effort establishing the world as Grey/Black morality, emphasising that neither side would come out looking particularly "pretty", and that The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.

At the first commentor who suggests that "None of the atrocities can be traced back to Galabatorix"... I guess you could say the same about Emperor Palpatine. It was just the Imperial Officers and Anakin Skywalker under his command who committed all the atrocities against the people of the Galactic Republic.

As for Sloan, I can't comprehend how people can honestly defend him. Despite his alleged motivations, all of Sloan's actions in the second book betrayed both the village and his daughter. Eragon believed that Sloan could still be redeemed, but was too dangerous to remain free, hence his "Judgement" to Imprison him with the elves for Rehabilitation. Unless the Antis are saying that it would have been better for Eragon to kill him in cold blood instead of arrest and incarcerate him somewhere for rehabilitation, I'd hardly consider Eragon's treatment of Sloan "A Fate Worse Than Death"

The difference between Eragon and Galabatorix is that Eragon True Name-enslaved Sloan as an extreme case, while Galabatorix does it to almost everyone who has anything to do with the operation of his empire. This is similar to the same way that Murder and Slavery are evil acts in the real world, but it's perfectly acceptable to kill someone trying to kill you, execute a Complete Monster to protect others or exact revenge on someone who crossed the Moral Event Horizon, or arrest and temporarily incarcerate someone against their will for.
comment #11005 Scow2 24th Oct 11
This is similar to the same way that Murder and Slavery are evil acts in the real world,

No one except naive and hypocritical morons ever say that. Though there are a lot of them.
comment #11011 eveil 24th Oct 11
Brit, you are missing the point. If Sloan wanted to risk his life to see his daughter again, that was his choice, and Eragon did not have the right, morally or legally, to take it away. Nor did he have the right to tell her Sloan was dead without so much as a by your leave. Eragon isn't part of Roran and Katrina's relationship, nor is he part of Sloan and Katrina's relationship.

If Poaline followed logic instead of the Rule Of Cool he could have achieved the same result, and had his hero look much less like a narsaccistic sociopath. Like say, let everyone say their peace, then allow Sloan to choose if he wanted to go back or have the travel to the land of the Elves spell cast on him. And then honor that choice.
comment #11090 TheEmeraldDragon 27th Oct 11
For me, the business with Sloan is less troubling than the fact that Eragon hates the idea of hurting wildlife even if he's desperate, but then in book 3 lets some slaves get killed because it's slightly more convenient to him.
comment #11180 INUH 1st Nov 11
Why does this review call the Razac "eldrich abomination"? They are just normal monster.
comment #12346 Kaprouchka 16th Jan 12
I agree with The Emerald Dragon; it's not Eragon's right to decide Sloan's fate. Furthermore, I'd like to add this quote:

"He also wanted Sloan to feel the power that was now his and to realize that he was no longer entirely human. And while Eragon was reluctant to admit it, he enjoyed having control over a man who had often made trouble for him."

Sloan has already been broken, beaten, and disfigured for life. Eragon was not one of the people harmed by Sloan's actions, so why he personally feels the need to torment him even further is beyond. Not only that, but he admits that he's partially doing it just because he wants to feel powerful.

Though to be fair, I heard Paolini tried hard in [I]Inheritance[/I] to fix his mistakes, so it may've eventually been made clear that Eragon was not in the right for this.

"Why does this review call the Razac 'eldrich abomination'? They are just normal monster."

That's what I was wondering.
comment #16158 seven7star 16th Sep 12
Oh yeah, before I forget.

"Remember, Dragon, that Eragon only forced Sloan to comply because Sloan refused to listen to reason: That if he went back to Katrina, he'd be tried and hanged by the Varden(if not outright mobbed and torn to shreds by the villagers of Carvahall) for the crimes he'd committed."

That is bullshit reasoning. Eragon not only abandons him, a dangerously malnourished blind man who has never learned how to live without his sight, but does so in the middle of a desert without food or water.
comment #16159 seven7star 16th Sep 12

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