Eragon sucks, right?
Once upon a time, this troper ended up in an Internet catfight with someone on this very subject. Eventually, the other party dared me to write something better.
It was a pretty stupid request, and probably something I shouldn't have wasted my time on. But once I actually thought up an idea, the whole thing ballooned enormously. What started as a simple short story eventually evolved into my first novel and became a deeply personal quest to discover my literary limits. The connection to Eragon doesn't go beyond a few general plot elements and occasional Take Thats. However, one of my big goals for the writing process was to show that a writer could be influenced by other works without being outright derivative.
The story takes place in a former Standard Fantasy Setting called the World. About twenty years earlier, four mysterious super-powered beings appeared to protect people from a sudden outbreak of monster attacks, natural catastrophes and other problems. They consisted of a master scientist, his telekinetic wife, a militaristic mastermind with ice powers and a monstrous, dragon-like warrior. After a complicated chain of events, the foursome ended up as benevolent dictators in control of most of the planet. Their leader, Stephen Sinclair, was crowned King and led the World through enormous technological advancement, massive social reform and an order of philanthropy. He also created the Royal Guard, essentially a group of superheroes led by his best friend Jackson Goodman, to fight off radical new menaces. Sinclair's ascent kicked off an unparalleled golden age.
In the present day, all this has changed. Against all odds, a coup takes place. Two of the four are captured when their unquestionably loyal forces turn against them. Sinclair and Goodman find themselves on the run, hunted by an army of millions and 88 super-powered agents. Even worse - they're stuck with Garreth, a dim-witted, annoying, horrible young trainee of the Royal Guard who might just be their only chance to beat the odds.
Contains Examples Of:
- Affably Evil: Pynis. He's basically so affable he comes across as more evil than he is.
- Alliterative Name: Stephen Sinclair, intentionally picked to evoke superhero names.
- Alternative Calendar: The inhabitants of the World previously lived in Edroc's Time (ET). When Sinclair came to power, he revamped the system and established the New Era (NE) Calendar. The story itself takes place in 15 NE, during the month of Monary, which is roughly the equivalent of December. Also, days have 25 hours (from 0-24) and start at "noon". This might not really make sense.
- Badass Normal: Garreth's (and also Eller's) powers are very low-key compared to other Royal Guards. And yet they perform surprisingly effectively against all sorts of powerhouses.
- Barrier Warrior: Tifarey.
- BFS: Used and lampshaded. Garreth has a sword called Forsmythe - later renamed Slicer - that's too big to carry around and too heavy to use. Even though Sir Jackson mocks him for it, he manages to hang on to it for a while and use it with improbable effectiveness. Finally, it becomes too tiring to use and he has to discard it.
- Book-Ends: The story begins and ends with Garreth getting superpowers.
- Chekhov's Gun: Applied liberally, such as with the doomsday device in part I.
- Code Name: Members of the Royal Guard have monikers/titles associated with their powers and reputations, like Magnet-Meister and Dragon Knight. Garreth eventually decides on The Magnificent One.
- Convection Schmonvection: Averted. One Royal Guard is splashed with super-heated acid and is instantly killed by the heat, despite her force field. Others catch fire from several meters away.
- Cryptic Conversation. Occasionally.
- Cursed with Awesome: Garreth mostly just bitches and whines about his ability to master any skill almost instantly.
- Deconstruction: Garreth deconstructs Mary Sues to an extent - not that it's very hard. His super-power is literally being extremely good at everything. He has an immensely unsympathetic personality and often acts in morally ambiguous ways - but people react to it not with admiration, but with realistic exasperation. He's only barely tolerated by the people he respects most, and the girl he's in love with hates him. Despite being the protagonist and dominating the plot, he's only a hanger-on and ultimately irrelevant to everything.
- Evil Genius: Pynis, obviously, but Sinclair also qualifies.
- Evil Laugh. Surreptitiously pops up.
- Expy: The Nameless Four are expies of the Fantastic Four. Garreth is 50% expy of Eragon and 50% Mary Sue archetype.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Sinclair and Pynis both.
- Genius Ditz: Garreth, technically. He's The Ditz with artificially enhanced brainpower, giving him perfect recall and near-perfect combat skills.
- Gray and Gray Morality. Used quite effectively, to be honest.
- The Hero: Garreth thinks he fits the bill.
- Humongous Mecha: Pynis has a secret army of robots.
- Idiot Hero: Garreth.
- Implausible Fencing Powers. Deflecting crossgun bolts with a sword is said to be possible, but extremely difficult in the story's universe. Powered Garreth learns to do so.
- Info Dump: They're prevalent. In fact, it's probably one of the story's bigger problems.
- Insufferable Genius: Sinclair can get pretty arrogant, especially when someone compares him to other smart people.
- Ironic Echo: In chapter 2, the Four make the impossible possible.
- Jerk Ass: Garreth's sole redeeming feature is his incredible loyalty. This also doubles as his biggest flaw.
- Karma Houdini: Garreth.
- Made of Iron: Several Royal Guards, including Jackson, Ieremis and Ramiel.
- Meaningful Name: Pynis is named after the Estonian word "püünis", which means "trap".
- Meet Cute: Slightly subverted. Garreth meets Eureka by bashing her in the face with a door. Turns out the plan was that they simply bump into each other.
- Moral Dissonance: Garreth has no problem with killing enemy non-combatants if he's in a bad mood. He's also toyed around with a giant robot in crowded streets. Sinclair has engaged in some subtly questionable behavior as well.
- Mary Sue: The entire point of Garreth. His superpower is that he can instantly become an expert at anything. He combines the following Sue types:
- Noble Fugitive: The basis of the plot. A coup forces the King to go on the run, accompanied only by two bodyguards.
- Oh My Gods!: Since science has mostly supplanted religion in the World, characters typically swear by the elementary particles quarks and leptons. However, several characters after the revolution return to their old polytheistic beliefs and start mentioning "gods". Jackson is the only one to reference Earth religion, with exclamations of "Jeez!" for instance.
- Ominous Floating Castle. The capital of the Kingdoms, Arcadia, is an enormous, double-sided flying city.
- Only One Name. Quite a few. Last names are apparently not as popular in the World. Garreth does have a surname - Thelonius - but it will never be revealed. For some reason.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Religion in the World has been slowly phased out.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Sinclair's robots.
- Red Herring: Two major ones - firstly the implication that the rebels betrayed Sinclair because they'd been brainwashed (when in fact the opposite is true), and secondly that the being who orchestrated the coup was an Artificial Intelligence.
- There's some hints that Jackson is under the enemy's influence, but they're so subtle that the reader probably wouldn't notice.
- Required Secondary Powers: Common. Refa in particular has a degree of invulnerability to survive his Super Speed. Diemenner's brain can process information faster, since he has to coordinate up to hundreds of copies of himself.
- The Reveal. The entire plot hinges on the fact that Sinclair is the bad guy. Neither Garreth nor the reader realizes this at first. Garreth is far too dim to realize or care, but there's enough Foreshadowing that the reader could figure it out.
- Schizo Tech: The World was a simple pre-industrial planet before Sinclair introduced certain technologies he felt were appropriate. As a result, technology is a bit mixed up. There is no television, but people can purchase private satellites. The state uses teleporters to move its armies, who mostly use swords and steam-powered crossbows. Pynis's gadgets are even crazier.
- Shout-Out: Numerous. Some of them are there to imply connections to the real world. Most are gratuitously subtle nods, but some things stand out awkwardly.
- Take Over the World. Stephen Sinclair literally took over The World, in a more or less benevolent manner.
- Thanatos Gambit: Pynis pulls a minor one. One of the messages broadcast to White Bastion after his death tips off all of Sinclair's enemies to his likely whereabouts.
- Two First Names: Inverted. Jackson Goodman has two last names.
- Vibroweapon: Garreth gets one from Sinclair.
- Villain Protagonist.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: White Bastion certainly seems a lot like this trope.
- You Are Number 6: 88 of the Royal Guard.