Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Eldest Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Christopher Paolini
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Inheritance Book Two
Pages: 668

Buy on Amazon!

(Spoilers for Eragon below).

I didn’t care for Eragon when I read it, but I decided to give its sequel Eldest a run.


I thought maybe Eragon’s lack of originality was due to the author’s young age and that maybe he matured while he wrote the sequel.  I thought maybe the author would deviate from the Star Wars centric plot from Eragon.  I thought maybe I had been a little to hard on Eragon when I wrote my review.

All of these things inspired me to pick up Eldest, and give this series another shot.  I sorely regret that decision now.  Eldest in no way redeems the lack of originality found in Eragon, in fact it seems to take a step backwards.  The additional narrators don’t add much depth to the story, conflicts are quickly solved without the characters having to work their way through their problems, and the ending’s big revelation is a joke. Needless to say I don’t know if I will finish this cycle, but it will be awhile before I decide to pick up another one of these books.

After saving the rebellion against Galbatorix from destruction in Eragon – Eragon and Saphira head to Ellesmera, land of the elves, to complete his training.  Meanwhile, Roran, Eragon’s cousin, becomes the first target of Galbatorix who’s looking for vengeance on Eragon for leading the rebellion against his army.

In Eragon, Paolini basically used the plot to Star Wars A New Hope to tell his story … well, in Eldest he uses the plot of The Empire Strikes Back.  It’s hard to believe that the author decides to continue with his Star Wars knock-off plot after the first book rather than deviate the story and take it somewhere else.  I’m sure like most authors, Paolini mapped the entire structure to the Inheritance Cycle out before he began writing, but surely he could have made some changes to the story. What Eldest confirms is that the Inheritance Cycle won’t deviate from its course, and if I have to guess, the final two books of the series will also be highly derivative.

Where Eragon had metaphorical characters from Star Wars like Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, and the Evil Emperor – Eldest now adds Yoda and Darth Vader to the mix.  Plot-wise, Eragon’s training with the elves is not much different from Luke’s training with Yoda.  The only real difference from the Jedi training sequence being, Eragon is trying to pursue a romantic relationship with an elf (gasp – like his namesake Aragorn did in Lord of the Rings) and the training in Eldest is not secluded like it was in The Empire Strikes Back.  This means that Eragon gets to develop rivalries and friendships with the elves he is training with. Unfortunately these relationships feel like additional burdens that the reader must suffer through in order to make it feel like the characters in the book are being developed.

There is one huge pop culture moment in Star Wars that everyone – whether they’ve seen the film or not knows about – and that is when Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father.  This moment is probably the single most infamous moment in any science fiction and fantasy story – book, film, comic, video game etc. Unfortunately, Christopher Paolini, in his lack of wisdom, tries to recreate a moment similar to this at the end of Eldest – and the results are embarrassing. To recreate a moment as iconic as the “Luke I’m Your Father,” scene is just a no-no in any story telling format that isn’t a parody.

When Paolini isn’t bastardizing the plot of Star Wars with his characters; he’s shoving his beliefs down readers’ throats via the elves.  Paolini’s elves act as the embodiment of what the author believes the world should be like. While it’s true, nearly every writer incorporates their own beliefs into their stories, they tend do it with SUBTLETY.  Paolini beats his beliefs into readers with a two-by-four.  I should also mention he does the same thing with his metaphors and similes.

Like Eragon, Eldest should appeal to younger children who’ve never read a fantasy book before, or to people who aren’t familiar with Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.  But, like Eragon, if you value creativity and originality in your stories then Eldest is not the book for you.

Score: 4.5

No comments:

Post a Comment