Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular

All comments prior to 01/02/09 refer to the 2006 version of this post.

Few things in the literary world have the ability to earn ire and continuing disbelief as readily as the success of Christopher Paolini’s plagiarism.

Those who have not visited a bookstore in the past several years might not recognize the name "Eragon," except perhaps as a misspelled version of the Lord of the Rings’ "Aragorn."

book_thumb Eragon is a young-adult fantasy novel published in 2003, written by fantasy-obsessed teenager who was only 15 when he started what would become an international bestseller. Having had the good fortune of being home-schooled, Christopher Paolini set about writing an epic adventure of a hero and his faithful dragon. Unfortunately, the story is shallow, derivative and very plainly Paolini writing himself into a borrowed world of fantasy for his own enjoyment.

Teen authors aren’t as rare as they might seem.  In fact, the only two requirements for writing a book have nothing to do with talent or creativity.  All Christopher Paolini needed — all any author needs — is dedication and time.  Whether what comes out at the end is a marketable book relies on a number of different factors.  Paolini’s home-schooling and wonderfully supportive family aren’t the reason behind his "genius," but they did have a lot to do with his success.  From the beginning, Paolini has his parents’ full support, for good or ill.

Most authors get their big break by submitting endless copies of their manuscript to publishers and learning to deal with rejection.  Paolini leapt over this rite of passage when his parents started their own publishing company to get their son’s completed manuscript into print, and to give him something to have in his hand while he gave lectures on writing and promoted his novel. Eventually, publishing house Knopf picked up his book and turned Eragon into the well-known name that it is today, rocketing Paolini to stardom with it.

That success might have continued without controversy if the book were anything more than a collection of ideas stolen from far better sources.

 

instheft

Paolini’s ideas bear clear and damning resemblance to a myriad of works: Star Wars (storyline), Lord of the Rings (names and locations), McCaffrey’s Pern series (dragonriders), and the works of David Eddings (entire scenes).  More than a few of Paolini’s names are easily confused for Tolkien’s; some come as close as "Isenstar" and "Isengard."

But the line between inspiration and outright theft isn’t always easy to identify.  Do we tar and feather every author to mention magic, or simply stick to those whose characters have special powers?  Are quests up for lynching?  Or heroes?

The argument that Paolini was "inspired" by fantasy authors isn’t necessarily wrong, but extending that reasoning to say that the Inheritance cycle is a work of inspiration is a completely different matter.

 

Star Wars

Luke lives with his uncle and aunt on a remote planet.  His quiet life changes when he happens upon droids sent by the captive Princess Leia, who entrusted one of the droids with information vital to the downfall of the Empire.  Luke meets Obi-wan, who becomes his mentor in the ways of the Jedi, a hunted and nearly eradicated group of warriors.  Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed by the enemy in their attempt to locate the droids.  Luke leaves home to follow his path as a Jedi, and to find his destiny.  Along the way, he meets Han Solo, a trouble-seeking pilot, and rescues Leia from the enemy.  Obi-wan sacrifices himself to ensure their escape.

Eragon

Eragon lives with his uncle and cousin in a remote village.  His quiet life changes when he happens upon a dragon egg sent by the captive elven princess Arya, who knew that the dragon egg was vital to the downfall of the emperor, Galbatorix.  Eragon meets Brom, who becomes his mentor in the ways of the dragonrider, a hunted and nearly eradicated group of warriors.  Eragon’s uncle is killed by the enemy in their attempt to locate the dragon egg.  Eragon leaves home to follow his path as a dragonrider, and to find his destiny.  Along the way, he meets Murtagh, the mysterious young man, and rescues Arya from the enemy.  Brom sacrifices himself to ensure their escape.

This is not the catchall hero who rescues the princess and saves the land; this is not just another Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Eragon is Luke Skywalker, with a dragon instead of a lightsaber.  It’s cloning, and lazy cloning at that.  (Read this Amazon.com review for a more thorough list of lifted plot points.)

 

fresh idea

A frequent argument in defense of Eragon is that all fantasy is derivative, and there’s no need to demonize Paolini for taking the only available course.

I will meet you halfway: lazy fantasy is derivative.

Elves, vampires, wizards and witches, and any number of other myths have been played out to exhaustion.  The old myths are the stock of fantasy writing; they are a hack author’s easy supply of comfortably broken-in ideas. 

Where Paolini deviated from this norm of most lazy fantasy was taking his races not from basic lore, but from a well-known author whose idea has become accepted as fair game.  How far did Paolini have to stretch Tolkien’s elves to make them his own?

Tolkien’s elves are beautiful, elegant creatures with pointed ears and an otherworldly air — as are Paolini’s. Tolkien’s elves live in the safety and seclusion of the forest, but become formidable warriors when the need arises — as do Paolini’s.  These are not Paolini’s elves; they are Tolkien’s creations transplanted.

Paolini was never forced to use elves.  He did not brood for weeks, turning possibilities over in his mind and doing his best to conjure a new race to use in his book.  He used elves because he liked them, and because he wanted to.

To say that Paolini had no option but to use established fantasy is worse than ignorance; it actively defies originality.

 

flattery

You will rarely hear that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" from someone who poured years of his or her life into a set of ideas, only to see them stolen.  This reasoning is the bystander’s justification.  Stealing an idea — no matter how enticing or marvelous it may be — is not flattery, regardless of how the thief improved upon the original idea or how much the audience enjoys the new version.

Ideas are not public domain.  It’s an concept that’s difficult to wrap one’s brain around in this age of instant access and copy&paste.  Good blog posts are frequently reposted; deviantART artists are copied and uncredited; even Photobucket offers print services on others’ photos, not just your own.  Thanks to the Internet, ideas lose their identity the moment they leave their creator’s hands.  This part of the reason behind J.K. Rowling’s publisher’s swiftness in quashing fan Vander Ark’s attempt to publish a Harry Potter encyclopedia.  The belief that Rowling’s ideas are free for the public to rearrange, redistribute and profit from is not an act of support. 

 

kaavya

Plagiarism isn’t limited to the academic sphere.  Intellectual property theft is a crime, and it isn’t only the critics who think so.

In 2006, 19-year-old Kaavya Viswanathan released her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life.  Much like how Paolini lifted David Edding’s bridge-crossing scene and Lucas’ characters, Viswanathan borrowed heavily from her own favorites, namely Megan McCafferty’s Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings.

But, where Paolini succeeded in staying out of his sources’ immediate ire by providing them with decades of breathing room, Viswanathan immediately butted heads with McCafferty’s publisher, who rejected her apology for her "internalization" of McCafferty’s passages.

From the New York Times article:

[The plagiarized book's publisher] called it "nothing less than an act of literary identity theft."

Due to the threat to the plagiarized author’s success, Viswanathan lost her book deal and her future as an author.  Fans of Viswanathan’s book were forced to realize — as Eragon fans someday may — that the mere fact that you enjoy a book does not justify everything else.

 

othercheek

Is the difference between Paolini and Viswanathan a double-standard?  Or simply the difference in genre?  Are all fantasy books expected (and applauded) for sounding the same, but chick lit is expected to be new and different?

According to the publishers’ statement, their objection to How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life was based on its being "an enormous distraction and disruption” from McCafferty’s new book.

Viswanathan’s intellectual property theft attracted attention because there was a direct threat to the original author’s popularity.  This is the explanation for George Lucas’ indifference, and the reason for the silence radiating from the Tolkien estate.  There is nothing to be gained from calling Christopher Paolini on his crimes, save recognition.  Lucas, especially, would only damage his grip on the teen fanbase that he and Paolini share; he stands to gain very little from claiming what is rightfully his.

This does not mean that there isn’t a crime; it only means that it’s a crime that would not be beneficial for George Lucas, Anne McCaffrey or David Eddings to cause a fuss over.  McCaffrey understands this best: Not only has she mentioned Paolini on her website (credit to Princess Stefania’s Eragon post for this information), but she writes it off entirely.  She’s happy to provide the reason for us:

So there’s some news, for what it is. I see Eragon is made into a movie and opening soon. Many kind fans have emailed me concerned about the use of “dragonriders”, but there is no need for concern — after all, mine was one of the original quotes on the hardback when it was released!

McCaffrey is mentioned on the back of Eragon — it’s free advertising.

 

prosebadly

Claims of plagiarism aside, there is plenty of discussion to be had over the quality of Eragon as a novel.  Paolini’s prose, which he himself believes strives for “a lyrical beauty somewhere between Tolkien at his best and Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf” (source), is inelegant, wordy, and occasionally nonsensical.  His attention to detail is near-obsessive, particularly when he would benefit from focusing narrative energy elsewhere.

Eragon, prologue:

Three white horses with riders cantered toward the ambush, their heads held high and proud, their coats rippling in the moonlight like liquid silver.

On the first horse was an elf with pointed ears and elegantly slanted eyebrows. His build was slim but strong, like a rapier. A powerful bow was slung on his back. A sword pressed against his side opposite a quiver of arrows fletched with swan feathers.

The last rider had the same fair face and angled features as the other. He carried a long spear in his right hand and a white dagger at his belt. A helm of extraordinary craftsmanship, wrought with amber and gold, rested on his head.

Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished. At her side was a sword, and on her back a long bow with a quiver.

Even in this short segment, the overabundance of description weighs heavily on the narration.  The first four paragraphs of the elves’ appearance in the forest are an inventory of the weapons they carry and a closeup of tilted eyebrows.  Paolini’s habit of focusing on irrelevant information is a striking issue throughout his writing.  Details that might have been more timely — such as a quick glance to check for pursuers, or a nervous twitching of the reins — would convey mood.  Elegant eyebrows serve no purpose aside from distraction.

Throughout Eragon, we see this mistake over and over.  The narrative takes a detour to describe details of items whose context has no time for such consideration.  Battle scenes, especially, suffer from an overbalance of attention to details. What good is there in describing the workmanship of a sword if it’s whistling toward the hero’s head?

The website Anti-Shur’tugal — a now-defunct gathering of writers and amateur critics — has some of the most detailed complaints against Paolini’s writing. Many of the contributors are the age Paolini was when his final version of Eragon was completed, but boast tenfold the literary awareness. In a series of essays, they demonstrate exactly what makes Paolini’s writing so weak, and why his book has no place on the shelves.

 

prodigies

A good deal of recognizing genius in children is propelled by wishful thinking.  Child prodigies are the stuff of wonder.  But, in an effort to add new child prodigies to the ranks as quickly as possible, well-intentioned fans end up with more false positives than legitimate wunderkinds.

As a highly successful young author, Paolini has had "prodigy" compliments following him for years.  Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN‘s medical correspondent, did a special on “Genius” and interviewed Paolini as an example of "creative genius." He provided Paolini with space in his CNN.com Health blog to explain his unique creativity and share the experience of being so inspired. What seems to have been forgotten amidst all the hype is the actual definition of a child prodigy.

According to Wikipedia, the standard qualification for being a child prodigy is straightforward:

someone who, by the age of roughly 12, displays expert proficiency or a profound grasp of the fundamentals in a field usually only undertaken by adults

Ignore the claims of "creativity"; even Paolini’s writing is nothing out of the ordinary for any beginning writer. Eragon is a neat, albeit unintentional, warning against poor writing. The overuse of adverbs, frequent and mystifying changes in focus, and favoring of purple prose are hallmarks of a young author eager to write and determined to impress. In Paolini’s case, this means using his book to showcase his thesaurus-aided vocabulary and little else.

Akiane Kramarik is a prodigy; Jay Greenberg is a prodigy.

Christopher Paolini wrote a book at age 15 that reads very much like a book written by a 15-year-old. Yet he has been featured on panels with Philip Pullman and in countless interviews.  Worse than the blind eye turned toward the missteps in prose is the fact that some have forgiven Paolini’s plagiarism and overall lack of skill on the grounds that he was only 15 when he started writing. Eragon would be nothing without the ideas it has stolen and pieced together, and it can’t be explained away by the mere naiveté of the author. Paolini can’t earn fame for creativity and at the same time be forgiven for not having any.

 

movie84

In December of 2006, right around the time my original Eragon post was written, the movie adaptation was released, and the resulting firestorm of mockery and disbelief from movie critics unleashed a whole new set of voices against Eragon.  Suddenly, Paolini’s audience wasn’t limited to young teens and the fantasy-obsessed; his story had to struggle for respect from people who know fresh ideas when they see them.

On movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, only 16% of listed reviews cast Eragon in a favorable light.  The overall consensus, posted at the top of the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page, is as clear as anything I could say here.

Written by a teenager (and it shows), Eragon presents nothing new to the "hero’s journey" story archetype. In movie terms, this movie looks and sounds like Lord of the Rings and plays out like a bad Star Wars rip-off. The movie spins the tale of a peasant boy who is suddenly entrusted with a dragon and must, with the help of a mentor, train, grow strong, and defeat an evil emperor. The way the critics picture it, the makers of Eragon should soon be expecting an annoyed phone call from George Lucas.

David Germain with the Associated Press put it best: "Star Wars — with dragons."

Here is where Paolini’s child prodigy status unravels most quickly.  When put up against professional storytellers, with no consideration given for age or experience, Paolini gets the sort of dressing-down that would have pushed him toward something better back when he was 15.

 

bother

What Anti-Shur’tugal, Impish Idea and I have in common is that we love books — but not indiscriminately.  Not only is Eragon a bad book, but it relieves readers in general (and children in particular) of the burden of knowing that books should be original.  We want attention to go to the authors brimming with talent and fresh ideas, but are so often trampled under the mad stampede heading for anything Paolini commits to paper.

To every person who’s stopped by to tell me that Eragon got them reading, or it is the only thing their child will read: This reflects badly on you more than it reflects well on Paolini.

Continue reading.  There is no shortage of good books; you merely have to look for them.  Then, if you really want, come back to Eragon and consider it anew.

The view may be different.

 

reading

Pixie Dust: Paolini and Plagiarism

Associated Content: Christopher Paolini – An Infamous Name in Fantasy Literature

Anti-Shur’tugal: Star Wars (compared with Eragon)

Anti-Shur’tugal: Paolini’s Multiple Myths

Impish Idea: Everything Wrong with Eragon

Impish Idea: What Would Paolini Do?

 

Christopher Paolini Eragon plagiarism Eldest plagiarism Inheritance brisingr
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~ by AyDee on December 17, 2006.

142 Responses to “Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular”

  1. Honestly, I understand where people are coming from in these rants. I myself, love star wars. I liked LOTR series and enjoyed Dragon Heart very much! However, I must say that Eragon completely blows everyone’s story out of the water!!! I hate to mention this, but the classic scenerio of a small town boy discovering his strength and saving the girl has always existed in some form or another. The roles have also been switched where it is the small town girl who finds that she is a princess and can change the world. Why? Because the heart of a hero has been placed in all of us at some time or another throughout our lives.

    I do agree that the movie Eragon was incredibly lacking the depth of themes and ideas used in the book. Since I saw the movie before reading the book, I can honestly say that it was a movie that left me wanting more. However, I had no clue about at least half of the characters, I wanted to know more about the history of the dragons and their relationship with the rider, and basically could tell that most of the book’s details were left out. How Brom died and Arya was saved makes no matter in the movie itself. But the basic story line was just too hurried with a “let’s just make money” attitude.

    • There is a difference between the “boy saving girl” theme and taking another story piece by piece and slapping it into a different locale. Even if smaller details have been changed, it’s still the same concept. I have no argument against using archetypes, especially this one. However, Paolini simply took Star Wars and reworked it into Tolkien’s world (his use of elves, in particular, is nothing short of alarming), filling in the gaps with ideas from Eddings, Le Guin and McCaffrey. These aren’t community archetypes; they’re stolen IDEAS. The fact that the result is enjoyable doesn’t stop it from being theft.

      I recommend that you read the Eragon review on this page (LINK) for a list of exactly how Eragon matches up to Star Wars. It isn’t coincidence and it isn’t homage; it’s plagiarism.

      • While this is a belated reply (very much so), the same argument can be made for Tolkien.

        Replace Palpatine with Sauron, The Alliance with the Fellowship, Obi-Wan with Gandalf, Luke with Frodo, Merry and Pippin as the kidnapped ones, and hell, Saruman can even be seen as an equivalent of Darth Vader.

        Quite honestly, every major fantasy and scifi plot can be boiled down to the same thing. Taking a summary and replacing some words proves nothing; and taking names from another work, or even a scene or two, is honestly not a big deal in a novel with hundreds of pages. It happens all the time, and nobody makes a big deal of it.

        Also, saying that he plagiarizes from Pern just because he happens to be a boy riding a dragon is bullshit. McCaffrey hasn’t sued him because she CAN’T. Not because she doesn’t want to; she got him to cite her as the inspiration, and that means she’s getting recognition for nothing.

        • Except that The Lord of the Rings really doesn’t resemble Star Wars in plot or theme or characterization and was written well before Lucas became film-making’s most lucrative toy manufacturer, you might otherwise have a point.

          I suggest that you widen your reading horizons, Rob, at least within the fantasy genre.

        • Tolkien died before Star Wars hit the theatres and long before Paolini was born. Yes, there are many Tolkien hacks out there. And what they did was terrible. From Brooks to Paolini to McKiernan, they are all hacks with the imagination of potatoes. I’ve heard Brooks is not bad if he stays away from Tolkien’s ideas, but he lost my respect with his Shannara series. I’m not touching his books.

          Paolini crossed the line into plagiarism when he stole details from other works. General plotlines are just that, general. Farmboy hero overthoiwng a tyrant is general. Details, such as the mark on Eragon’s plam, the nature of Eragon’s bond to Saphira, the bridge-crossing scene, many names of people, places, and things, to workings of the ancient language, these have all crossed the line into plagiarism.

          If Eragon just happened to be a boy riding a dragon, that’s general. Uninspired, but general. The nature of his bond to Saphira is where he crossed the line.

          The mark on Eragon’s palm that tingles? The one he uses maigc through? Garion, from Eddings, had pretty much the same thing. That is a detail. That is inexcusable plagiarism. Take a look at Holly Lisle’s article on the subject if you want to read about acceptable plagiarism. It’s quite different from Paolini’s opinion on what is acceptable.

          Not plagiarizing Tolkien isn’t difficult. Assuming one actually has creativity. Robin Hobb can do it. Jim Butcher can do it. Lois McMaster Bujold can do it. All three have amazing imaginations. Bujold has a magic system that is rare, if not, unique. They had different ideas other than Tolkien’s works. Tom Lloyd had elves, vampires, and chosen ones. Three tired, old elements seen dozens of times. But he managed to use those old ideas in new ways. So what happened with Paolini? Why can’t he add freshness to old ideas? Why are his ideas plagiarized from half a dozen other ideas? Simply put, Paolini doesn’t have fresh takes on anything. He just uses other people’s details.

          • I think the biggest problem with Paolini is the blatant plagiarism, too. He literally took Tolkien’s Elvish, changed it slightly, and called it his own. That is stealing. Stealing is wrong.

            Tolkien himself based a lot of his ideas on mythology. He didn’t invent elves. He popularized an image of them. The problem is that people are looking to Tolkien and basing their elves, dwarves, etc., off of Tolkien and aren’t even bothering to look at where they originated.

            While Tolkien reinvented the fantasy genre as we know it, there IS a way to not blatantly rip him off. Tolkien deserves much more respect than that. He was a master storyteller, a brilliant linguist, and his stories of Middle-earth are beautiful and, sometimes, tragic. The Lord of the Rings is the tip of the iceberg, but it’s his most poignant work, exposing the very real horrors of war and industrialization and placing them in a fantasy setting. Paolini can’t hold a candle to the professor. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy Paolini’s work, but it seems that he’s being over-glorified for just copying.

  2. Huzzah! It is good to see the word spreading about the plagiarism of Paolini and what he has done to what could have been a very good story. AyDec, I believe your name is? A very good and well-thought out rant. Despite my time at Anti-Shur’tugal.com, I have learned some new things from you, such as adults being horrified at what they saw. I, personally, used to be in the margin of people that thought his work was good. And I think I know why.

    When I read a story, it is for entertainment. I read it to have fun, relax and get sucked into a world. My mind is very good at taking in the words and sucking my mind into a mental movie, if you will. It did that with Eragon. Now, I saw some things wrong with it but I put them aside, saying that they were faults, yes, but it was overall good stuff. When I read AS and realized what was going on, those faults become bigger. The characters…..can I even call them that? More like robots, that do one thing and one thing only. The plot, which is horribly copied, and the thing which destroys my faith in humanity the most, the purple prose.

    All come together to make, as you said, a book a 15-year-old would make. Now, it is an entertaining read, yes, but is it a good and professional one? No. In the end, this is just a pretty good fanfiction or roleplay, no more. If he had taken the stuff he “tributed” from Tolkien, McCaffrey, Jeremy Thatcher’s Dragon Hatcher, David Eddings, Geogre Lucas, and the other places he stole from, and changed what he took and made it his own, he would have done well. An example would be J.K. Rowling taking the elves and making them small, squeaky, ugly, mortal, and subservient to humans, the basic opposite of what they are in LOTR.

    So, there are too many things wrong with it to view as a good fantasy novel. Everything is perfect for a fanfiction, or just something entertaining to read.

    • Hrm. I really must consider redoing my signature. It’s meant to be “AyDee,” not “AyDec.” My fault, I suppose.

      Anyway, I’m glad you feel like my rant shed some new light on the issue. I’ve realized that it’s really a rant best read by those who don’t know much about Eragon either way, rather than those who have already formed their own arguments. I’ve been shoving it at my coworkers, friends and anyone else who’s heard about the trilogy written by a young author but don’t know much else about it.

      I think some people are finally starting to realize that Eragon should never have been published. It’s fanfiction – and not terribly well-written fanfiction at that – and has no right to be standing on its own.

  3. Unlike you, I didn’t think it was written poorly. Not only that, I’m a major optimist who really wanted Eragon Trilogy to be really good, and original. I read the first book believing that while he obviously stole most of his material, this could really take a twist and go somewhere new. I have just read the second book, and now I realize it went no where knew. Eldest was Episode V through and through. It’s so disappointing I don’t even know where to begin. Basically Eragon goes to a “secret place” to receive training, from an old dragon rider, defiantly the oldest alive, who has grown too feeble to fight himself. He gives Eragon his training, however that training stops early because through his new powers, he discovers his friends need his help. So he takes off to save them promising to come back and finish his training. I could go on, but whats the point. All the skeptics lose, you were right.

    Can’t Lucas sew this brat?

  4. I am so glad that I am not alone in this! I have not even finished the book. I am a writing professor and I have to tell you, I was on the first page and I saw errors. He has adjective phrases out of place, misplaced modifiers, incomplete thoughts, muddled metaphors that just don’t work and that is just the topper. I hadn’t even started reading it and I saw the blatent plagiarism in the map! The connection to Dr. Tolkien is shameful, but unfortuatly it is shameless. I can’t believe it even got published. I was initially bothered by JK Rowling’s similarities to Tolkien and then I was reminded of a wise professor I had years ago who said: “There are only about 10 original storylines and everything else is a variation on the same themes.” She was right. JKR has more originality then borrowed ideas, and she knows how to use Standard English Grammar. AyDee, the book Eragon is a sham, you are 100% correct. Sure it is a good story, but it isn’t different in the least, and it isn’t his. There is very little originality in it. The problem is, as you mentioned, that most movies are imitations of already done deeds. “Cars” is “Doc Hollywood” with little variation, I could make a very long list here, but I won’t. As a teacher, most of my students don’t see the problem with cheating as long as they get good grades. It’s shameful. We are producing a generation of individulas where some are honerable and others are clueless to rules, restrictions and integrity. I’ll finish the book, but I’ll never like it.

    I was very bothered by the fact that the author seems to be a recluse with possibly limited social skills who lives in a fantasy world created by others. He isn’t a prodigy, he’s a mimic. My nephew is a prodigy. He is 9 and taught himself three languages, reading and writing; that’s a prodigy.

    I would never permit a 16 year old to publish a book unless it was scrutinized. The publishing company, name escapes me, should not have published it, but like most companies, they are out to make a buck (or quid if your in the UK) Sad.

    Bravo for your statements!
    KC

    • As much as I agree with everything that you are saying, I feel as though I must make the following comment: if you are going to criticize someone else’s grammatical and mechanical errors, then you had best read over what you wrote and make sure that you have none in your own claims. Especially if you are a professor of writing. In one quick glance I noticed “unfortuatly,” “individulas,” “honerable,” and the worst error, “your” where you need “you’re.” Some of these are obviously typos, some not so much. I agree with everything you say, but every critic of grammar must be above reproach in their own.

  5. Ah, someone intelligent. Do me a favor and parse this for possibility: There may be three phenomena occuring in the question, “How could this have happened?” FIRST. Andy Warhol’s infinite reproducability (Campbell’s soup cans) has allowed any Tolkien (et al) fan with a lot of time and HTML/XML/PHP to drum up indexed alphebetized glossaries of every last authentic idea (and derivative) from the author’s texts. What this does is reduce the value of each additional unit of authentic creativity. During the Battle of the Somme and as he lay up with trench fever, Tolkien was composing tales, terminology, linguistic structures, phonemes and syntax that would later be incorporated into the Silmarillion, (long before The Hobbit was a gleam in anyone’s eye). The effort that used to be represented by those words, which are now so easily accessed without reading even one complete volume, has evorporated into the mists of time. I.E., there is no necessity spoken or otherwise that phonetic representations of imaginary things must be based on some valid bit of personal and meaningful authorial experience. The Warhol principle conversely raises the expectation that each new author must comply with a preset form or MAD-Lib of the genre, to the extent that filling in the MAD-libs is more important than the originality or personal significance of the content. The tolerance is raised for older original content to be derived/modified by one or two consonants or vowels and redeployed in a new worldframe. (There may be issues of Freud’s familar/heimlich/homelike as well as the Helsinki Syndrome.) SECOND. The generation old, seasoned, battle-scarred enough (WWII/civil disobedience/Vietnam/Cold War) to truly grasp the issues feeding into Tolkien (fascism/industrialization/decline of Empire/environmentalism) are qualified to understand what he was getting at and how he was “original” in his derivations of earlier original sources (Kala vala/Greek/German/myth and Anglo Saxon/Welsh/Finnish linguistics). Today’s children, their young-ish parents and their young-esque pre-school and elementary teachers are not necessarily qualified to understand how Tolkien was original. He is so remote that his own immediate derivations (Jordan et al) have gained ‘legitimacy of numbers’. The pressing necessity is that each generation, per the speed with which it matures (itself a function of computer processing power per Moore’s Law), desires to have something by which they can distinguish themselves from their predecessor/preceeding/parent generation. More often than not, they are not qualified to assess the wide-scope objective quality of the derivation. But it’s theirs. They will not be convinced otherwise short of a painful and indepth exposure to far too many texts for their available time to allow. These individuals probably are not qualified enough to even be attacked by individuals seeking to set the record straight in regards to true measures of originality. (((As for your list of clearly plagiarized terms, I’d defer to the teacher’s observation above that the next (Imperial American) generation in general is being exempted from previous expectations of hard work, due dilligence, integrity.))) THIRD. The viciously well-meaning intellectual dishonesty of his parents is just the tip of a large American iceberg. They are hovering stage parents who will benefit in their own circles from their progeny’s successful maintenance of the sham of quality literary craftsmanship. This sham will only ever be put in its place when (1) enough people who are now the children and their young parents/preschool/elementary teachers are well-read enough to distinguish previous craftsmanship from this peeling veneer, and (2), and not until (2), an actual prodigy delivers a product that attracts the literary (not just publishing world and entertainment industry). A merely brilliant and complex adult text won’t do it. I am happy to be wrong.

  6. In response to your much-appreciated comments:

    Vance,

    One problem with Paolini’s writing is that at first, it appears to be impressive. He uses a large number of big words and metaphors, and many readers are beaten into believing that more of a good thing can never backfire. Unfortunately, Paolini doesn’t know when to stop. His writing is too heavily influenced by the use of a thesaurus (I would like to point out his bewildering use of the word “thews”). Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events) introduced words and promptly defined them, thereby making it known that he understood that A) his readers were mainly children; and B) English is a very silly language, indeed. Paolini, on the other hand, tosses unusual words into his writing in a fervent attempt to impress. The Inheritance trilogy is undeniably a set of children’s books; why is Paolini writing as though he’s practicing for the SATs?

    Other than that, I obviously agree with you on the lack of originality. XD

    KC,

    I have half a mind to compile a list of current child prodigies to make the differences between the real thing (such as your nephew) and Paolini painfully obvious. I don’t understand where this blind faith in proposed child prodigies comes from, but I despise it.

    concerned citizen,

    I’d always wondered what a computer-oriented English major would think of Paolini; you’re my answer. I think you’ve got a good rant going here. You’ve got some good points and potential explanations in there for the Eragon phenomenon. Ever considered blogging?

    (Unless, of course, the above was all sarcasm. I’ve never been good at recognizing satire. Like you, I rarely credit human beings with the ability to be all that capable of…well…anything, much less satire.)

  7. paolini sucks! I wasted my money buying his horribly written book, when I read that piece of trash I was shocked!, I was like…this is it?, I thought I was the only one who found the book terribly difficult to read. Now I love reading a lot, but reading Eragon was more like hard work, it wasn’t enjoyable, his writing style…just doean’t flow…very rigid…mechanical…I cant explain it, I’ve tried to read the book slowly each day but I’m on the brink of giving up, It doesn’t excite me at all, the characters are so wooden and really shallow, Eragon is not a likeable character, infact he’s rather annoying, if paolini killed off Eragon it’s the only moment that’ll put a smile on my face. I can’t believe all the hype, haven’t these people ever read a good book before? What’s worse young writers will believe it’s okay to “heavily borrow” from other peoples work, thats not right, the way they are praising and awarding this thief is sending the wrong message to young writers, by the way he’s no longer 15 and his work isn’t improving at all, so much for talent! I hate that book!

  8. Greetings to AyDee. You have my thanks for posting this; I had been waiting for people to start seeing the light, at least as far as Paolini the Plagiarist is concerned. When I first read Eragon, I saw it for what it was a blatant theft of ideas and storyline of the first Star Wars saga, Tolkien’s Rings, and the Dragonriders of Pern. Yet, I went on the internet and saw…nothing…from anyone…about this being the case. Being a somewhat timid (or lazy, depending on your point of view) person, I chose to not write anything and just generally stayed out of it – with the exception of fervently warning all my friends not to waste their money on it. When the second book, Eldest, was published – aka Star Wars: Episode 5 – the plagiarism was undeniable, but still no one arose to battle this damnable hobgoblin of shamelessness and thievery.

    Well, I guess I’m going to put an end to my little rant, but let me just say that I am very, very glad that people are starting to notice.

    With any luck, Lucas and Co. will sue the kid.

    Cheers.

  9. While I am in no way trying to defend him, stealing ideas (at least to this extent) is not illegal. However I do think his work is less than tastful and very un-original. I was very displeased

    • Plagiarism is illegal.
      He stole Tolkien’s Elvish. He changed it up a bit, but tweaking something doesn’t make it yours.

  10. I would just like to say; thank you cydee. Thank you! If could reach our and hug you right now, I would. You’ve made me extremely happy. FINALLY, FINALLY – an answer to all these children rushing about on CBC Kids: My Two Cents Eragon saying how great it is cause his 15.
    I could rattle on and on about it, but I just don’t need to! Thank you!

  11. I mean, adyee, lol! And once again… thank you!!!

  12. seriously does it really matter it’s not like anything will happen if you don’t like the boook then don’t read it.

  13. Eragon. Sounds like when a little kid can’t pronounce “Aragorn.”

  14. I swear to God Paolini stole “Galbatorix” from “Ganondorf”. That and the whole “nephew living with uncle, uncle dies, nephew overthrows evil king” storyline from Zelda as well as every freaking fantasy novel from the planet.

    • No no, I’m pretty sure ‘Saphira’ was derived from ‘Yoshi’ and ‘Arya’ from ‘Peach’…

      Seriously, I kind of understand where you all are trying to get at by criticizing the Inheritance cycle. But then, I’m not sure you all really want to believe that “Ideas are not public domain. It’s an concept that’s difficult to wrap one’s brain around in this age of instant access and copy&paste.”

      This is surely a very pleasant idea when it comes to arts (books, music, etc.) but a very funny one when applied to other domains. For example, say like some random car company (which we’ll name Toyota(tm)(c)(r)(do I know what)) invents the steering wheel. Then, car company (Volkswagen) invents the gas pedal.
      Now, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to have to choose between a car with a steering wheel (but in which you must shovel coal or pedal or whatever) and a car with a gas pedal but which must be driven using strings or (insert funny driving idea here).

      Anyway, let’s say we were/are only talking about arts/literacy here and let’s suppose Paolini’s work is a blatant copy of Tolkien’s or whoever else’s work. Well then, we might want to consider flagging Tolkien a copycat too since he didn’t invent the fantasy genre (and maybe also because he didn’t “invent” writing and what not). Yeah, I know, I’m stretching it too far, but that’s my point: such criticism can be stretched to infinity.

      On the other hand and as a final note, I guess you are right in saying Paolini is not a creative as was Tolkien but that’s a inevitable consequence of history: the more ideas were created before yours, the more likely to be inspired/related to one of them is your own idea.

      P.S.: Feel free to mock my English, this is not my main language.

  15. Following Lovelygoat’s comment:
    I’ve always thought Paolini got the name Eragon from that.
    But my friend pointed out to me the other day that “Eragon” is simply “Dragon” with the first letter removed and replaced by the letter that comes after “D”, which is “E”. Please, Paolini, let’s see some creativity in the third book.

  16. 1. 1st scene: Female elf magically transports a dragon egg, hiding it from evil doers. (Princess Leia sends a droid to an escape pod, hiding it from evil doers.)
    2. Eragon lives on farm with uncle. (Luke lives on farm with aunt and uncle.)
    3. Eragon’s parentage unknown. (Luke’s parentage unknown.)
    4. Riders possess magical powers and were wiped out by Galbatorix. (Jedi possess magical powers and were wiped out by Vader and the Emperor.)
    5. Galbatorix is a former Rider who enlisted another to destroy Riders. (Vader is a former Jedi who was enlisted to destroy the Jedi.)
    6. The Empire rules all and it threatened by a small, mysterious band (Vardens) who “constantly raided and attacked the Empire.” (The Empire rules all and is threatened by a small, mysterious band, the Rebel Alliance.)
    7. Galbatorix learned “dark secrets” from a Shade. (Vader and Palpatine learned the dark side from their mentors.)
    8. Vrael defeated Galbatorix but “hesitated with the final blow.” (Obi-Wan defeated Vader but did not kill him.)
    9. Eragon stumbles upon the egg. (Luke stumbles upon the droid.)
    10. The dragon hatches, releasing powers Eragon didn’t know he had. (The droid runs away, leading Luke on a journey that releases powers he didn’t know he had.)
    11. Evil men looking for the egg burn Eragon’s farm, killing his uncle. (Evil men looking for the droid burn Luke’s farm, killing his aunt and uncle.
    12. Eragon goes out for revenge and old, gray Brom goes, too. (Luke goes out to return the droid and old, gray Obi-Wan goes, too.)
    13. Brom speaks to dragons. (Obi-Wan has powers, too.)
    14. Brom presents a sword to Eragon. (Obi-Wan presents a lightsaber to Luke.)
    15. Brom secures horses for transport. (Obi-Wan secures the Falcon for transport).
    16. Eragon is the first in a new line of Riders. (Luke is the first in a new line of Jedi.)
    17. On the journey, Brom teaches Eragon to fight. (On the journey, Obi-Wan teaches Luke to fight.)
    18. They come across a destroyed village, all inhabitants dead. (They come across a destroyed planet, all inhabitants dead.)
    19. Brom asks Eragon to levitate a rock. (Luke’s training included levitating rocks.(
    20. The egg was supposed to be sent to Brom. (The droid was supposed to be sent to Obi-Wan.)
    21. Brom lived incognito in Carvahall to look after Eragon. (Obi-Wan lived incognito on Tatooine to look after Luke.)
    22. Brom reveals himself to have been a Dragon Rider. (Obi-Wan reveals himself to be a Jedi.)
    23. Brom and Eragon cross paths with Murtagh, slightly older than Eragon, who does not “owe allegiance to anyone but” himself. (Obi-Wan and Luke cross paths with Han Solo, slightly older than Luke who only looks after himself.)
    24. Brom sacrifices himself to the Ra’zac to save Eragon. (Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to save Luke.)
    25. Brom was friends with Morzan, a Rider who turned to evil. (Obi-Wan was friends with Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi who turned to evil.)
    26. Brom took Morzan’s sword after he defeated him in battle and gave it to Eragon. (Obi-Wan took Anakin’s lightsaber after he defeated him in battle and gave it to Luke.)
    27. Eragon wants to find a beautiful, mysterious woman who is being held prisoner. (Luke wants to find a beautiful, mysterious woman who is being held prisoner.)
    28. Eragon and Murtagh rescue an elf woman from prison. (Luke and Han rescue Princess Leia from prison.)
    29. Arya holds information vital to the success of the Varden. (Leia holds information vital to the success of the Rebels.)
    30. Arya was ruthlessly tortured to reveal the location of the Varden. (Leia is ruthlessly tortured to reveal the location of the Rebel base.)
    31. Attempting to return Arya to the Varden, Eragon and Murtagh are pursued all the way to the secret base, which takes them in. (Attempting to return Leia to the Rebels, Luke and Han are pursued all the way to the secret base, which takes them in.
    32. It turns out that Arya was the one who sent the egg to the Spine. (Leia was the one who sent R2-D2 to Tatooine.
    33. Murtagh reveals that he is the secret son of Morzan, Galbatorix’s most faithful follower. (Darth Vader, the Emperor’s most faithful follower, reveals himself to be Luke’s father.)
    34. Urgals advance on Tronjheim. (The Death Star advances on Yavin.)
    35. Eragon destroys the Shade. (Luke destroys the Death Star.)
    hmm this was from that link sum1 posted earlier
    I didnt write it , it was from that amazon review which i agree with. although haha i still liked the book and am probably gonna read the 3rd

  17. Alright ….this is retarded…sorry but i have to say that i have never liked a book more than i like Eragon. There has been so much writing in the last century, it leaves almost no ground uncovered. When it comes down to it, there are a million books all about the same thing, so why aren’t you attacking them? A fantasy obsessed teenager wants to write a novel…he wants to get out of his body through his mind, so where does he start. really all this proves is he did his research well before writing the book. Lord of the rings was great but it doesn’t cover hardly anything about dragons, Star wars was awsome but it was in a technologically advanced future. Neither of these stories cover the exact ground that eragon does. For dragon lovers this is the perfect story. It does have depth, it messes with your emotions, and has a great story line. Think about it, star wars and lord of the rings are similar to eragon and each other. So what does that tell you about star wars and lord of the rings. It tells me that they did the same thing chris did, research. The only reason you are attacking eragon is because it is very popular. The point being, Chris did nothing wrong, and if you don’t like the book, than stick to star wars, don’t read it and shut up please. and i don’t read it cause’ he’s 15, i read it because i love the dragons and the story line,

  18. Oh and i would just like to ask, Where do you think complaining a bout this on the internet is going to get you. The third book is still coming out in September and theres nothing anyone who doesn’t like it can do about it..so i was just wondering where you think attacking Christopher is going to get you.

  19. Wondering how Dakota could have possibly missed the point of this post.

    Yes Paolini must be applauded for his detailed, intensive research. The plot from Star Wars, names of characters/places from Lord of the Rings, scenes from the Belgariad, Malloreon and Elenium, concepts from Dragon Riders of Pern, Rules of Magic from the Earthsea novels, battle tactics from the Wheel of Time series… I’m impressed! Really, I am.
    Eragon has the depth of a kiddie pool, but I’ve always been generous that way.

    And Dakota, ‘retarded’ did refer to your comment, didn’t it?

  20. “Alright ….this is retarded…sorry but i have to say that i have never liked a book more than i like Eragon.”

    And that’s almost everything we need to know about Dakota.

    Seriously, after three attempts at reading Eragon I gave up. The prose was horrid, turgid even. As a committed reader brought up on Hemingway (the Anti-Paolini, I think!) Faulkner, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Vonnegut, Herbert, Dickens, etc., my mind just couldn’t handle the slop page after page.

    That’s why, AyDee (did I et that right???) your review is an eye-opener for me. I never got far enough into the book to recognize the plagiarism for what it is. Very sad, really, and sadder still to see so many not only buy into, but make excuses for it once it’s exposed.

    Dakota, if you take the time to actually read a few other fantasy books, you’ll find that new ground is being uncovered every publishing season, by truly gifted authors who have actually come up with their own ideas and are telling timeless truths in brand new ways.

  21. I’m so glad someone else saw this. Even from the beginning when I started the book, I thought this was a rip off of Tolkien and Star Wars. xD I could immediately tell that this book was a badly done crossover fanfic of several different stories. The book, however, was getting such high aclaim that I thought I was just reading too much into it.

    I think, also, that it should be pointed out that while he has a decent technical grasp of writing, one can’t truly say that it’s his writing. It’s under his name, yes, but you know how parents are. There’s no telling if they reworked it to make it more palitable. He certainly doesn’t have any grasp on the fundamentals of story telling. xD

  22. The first time I read this book I loved it. I continued to love it, and bought the sequel and read that, truly believing that Paolini had created an original, well-crafted trilogy that deserved the success that it accrued. Please forgive me, I was only twelve at the time. But I can’t quite forgive myself, especially since even then I was an avid lover of Tolkien. I had read Lord Of The Rings about four or five times by the time I was eleven. I adored Star Wars – the old trilogy – but hadn’t put together the similarities between these three works. It took a book review of Eragon for me to see the light.

    Not that I hate the books. In fact, I think they’re very good. They were detailed enough to absorb me, and even though the characters were flat and bland and forgettable, I really did enjoy these books. There are some pages littered with purple prose, overdone imagery and stereotypical races (eg Elves, Dwarves, etc) but it’s a good book for kids. Let them read it and enjoy it, since it’s pretty palatable. LOTR is sometimes chock-full of pages and pages worth of description, and the problem with it is that it’s very hard to get back into the middle of the story after you’ve left it for a while. Even then, it’s much better than the Inheritance series. I almost puked at the second book: it was so goddamn cliched. I read it once and halfway through it I forced it onto a friend so it wouldn’t waste space on my bookshelf.

    So what I’m trying to say is that the writing is good, but not amazing, the plot is tired and plagiarized, and the characters have been put down on paper long before Paolini was even thought of. But I still have mixed feelings about it. Please forgive me if I contradict myself.

  23. asdf – are you Paolini the plagiarist in disguise?? You CUT AND PASTED that from an AMAZON review. It’s all 100% true, but sheesh, you are just like the devil Paolini.

  24. I completely agree. You have hit the nail on the head. I have read Eragon and Eldest, and am furious with the lack of creativity. How can one be a prodigy if he did something typical of his age, just a tad bit further? His writing is in no way special, and his ideas are not original. I give him credit for following his dreams of being an author, but maybe he should have withheld from the general public first.

  25. Aydee, the link you use when speaking of scenes lifted from the books of David Eddings is invalid; that site doesn’t function any more. But you can find the review you meant at it’s original site, here:
    http://telpenori.blogspot.com/2007/02/paolini-and-plagiarism_28.html

  26. I’m not a follower of Star Wars, and I zoomed through Tolkien when I was 12, but even I knew the story was plagiarised. Badly plagiarised, too. The writing is confusing, the hero is annoying, and the story has no spark. I assure you, I’m just as befuddled as to why it’s doing so well… I struggled to end the first book, and have not the slightest inclination to continue.

  27. I completly agree with you. It is a complete ripoff of star wars and Tolkiens work. (although i did not notice even the obvious ripoffs from tolkien, because i have only read LoTR and that was 3-4 years ago) However, im not going to lie. I really liked Eragon and Eldest. Im reading Brisingr now, and i like it. But i agree that it is a ripoff

  28. Idris – I’ll go ahead and ask: Why is the fact that it’s a ripoff OK?

  29. Why do you care so much if the book has become popular? Have you ever written a story before? When writing if you have recently read a book or have a certain one on your mind at the time you will write a similar story and this is pretty much unconsciously. And doesn’t every good story get copied at some time? Is imitation not the greatest compliment? So the plots are similar, who cares. I personally think he wrote an excellent novel that I couldn’t put down when I first read it. For me it has to be a pretty good book not to bore me. As for Paolini being a prodigy, you don’t have to be a genius to write well. Even Idris admitted to liking it.

  30. Because, ah, Anonymous, it’s STEALING. PLAGIARISM = STEALING. I can’t take the lyrics from a Madonna song and the music from Metallic, smush it together, and call it my own. Nor can I paint Van Gogh’s ‘sunflower’ series and call it my own. It’s as simple as that. You LIKE it because he had the fortune of STEALING from the masters out there, not because he’s a decent author himself.

  31. Why do you care so much if the book has become popular?

    Because Paolini is being rewarded for intellectual property theft.

    Have you ever written a story before? When writing if you have recently read a book or have a certain one on your mind at the time you will write a similar story and this is pretty much unconsciously.

    Learning to recognize others’ ideas in their own work is an important skill for writers — it gives them the opportunity strive for their own creativity and to break from the mainstream. Paolini, three books into his series, has never bothered to do so. And if you’re still claiming that the similarities between Paolini’s work and Tolkien’s, Lucas’ and McCaffery’s are all unconscious, you’re deluding yourself. He feels they’re free game; and he’s wrong.

    And doesn’t every good story get copied at some time? Is imitation not the greatest compliment?

    Every good story has been copied by hacks. Only those who imitate feel that it is flattery; the creators feel otherwise.

    So the plots are similar, who cares. I personally think he wrote an excellent novel that I couldn’t put down when I first read it.

    That’s a lot like saying shoplifting is acceptable because it’s fun.

    As for Paolini being a prodigy, you don’t have to be a genius to write well.

    I never called him a prodigy; others have. And, despite Paolini’s claims otherwise, he simply does not write well.

    Even Idris admitted to liking it.

    I suppose I missed the part where Idris — or any of Paolini’s fans — hold the rights to the material that Paolini’s stolen. If you or Idris are secretly overseers of Tolkein’s estate, please do let me know, and I will delete this post.

  32. This may be late, but everyone forgot to mention that even the little things in Paolini’s work often turn out to be copy-pasted. For example, Solembum the Werecat is of a fantasy race that somehow migrated from the works of Garth Nix to Alagaesia, as I recall. And I seem to remember Garth Nix writing about a white raven who somehow makes its way into Eldest in order to spout gibberish that is essentially meaningless and fly off. Seriously, what?

    You know, I think the last fantasy “epic” that I enjoyed was Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Good SRPG, excellent story, and some fairly original characters, even if many of them were archetypes and the plot was similar to other fantasy works. Time was put into the game. Effort was put into the characters- and this in a game where there’s no gurantee that any of them will survive to the end. When video games end up becoming more creative and original than fantasy novels, something is wrong. Seriously.

  33. I hate his writing, I am bored by his characters and I get distracted and furious by his plagiarism, but even though I keep putting it off, I will still eventually read the third book because I want to love the story and I keep hoping it will magically happen. I am not proud.

  34. [...] Rowling, and several other lesser known fantasy writers. You can do your own comparisons: Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular Matchstick Pixie Dust: Paolini and Plagiarism ERAGON And that’s just the first three links Google gives at [...]

  35. Sometimes, as I surf the web, I find things that make me feel rather naive. Still, in no other book this was more noticeable than in Eragon.
    I read this post (and others like it) and I was shocked. The words: “How on earth did I miss this?” kept running through my mind. Despite that, I think the books are not as horrid as many people say.
    I must admit that some parts of Paolini’s writing are a clear copy of other works. Also the characters are terrible and Eragon is the worst of all, I really don’t like him and, despite I know it is not going to happen, I’m hoping Galbatorix kills him in the end.

    Now for what I did like: I liked the world itself.
    I read the critics about the use of Elves and such, but in that point I disagree. Elves, dwarfs, and the other races are largely part of mythology, they weren’t created by Tolkien. I think that, at most, the modern vision we have of this races was Tolkien’s creation. I have seen these races appearing in so many books, films and games that the only critic I can point is not one of plagiarism but rather one of unoriginality.

    I enjoyed the deep of the background of the different races, their different costumes, perhaps slightly based on Tolkien, but different nonetheless (if my fault at failing to see similarities with other works is showing once more please correct me on this).

    I especially liked the extremely detailed magic system. It is, for lack of a better word, consistent. Eragon finds the details of spell casting at a certain pace, and along with him, so does the reader. At first I found it a basic magic system as the ones in so many other works, but as I kept reading I found the most complex and well thought magic I have seen in fantasy yet. Tolkien, where I simply did not understood how magic works, cannot compare, and don’t even dare compare it with the Force, it is totally different.

    You have also written extensive critics to Paolini’s writing style. On that point I cannot comment directly, since I only read the portuguese version. It seemed OK, with a bit of over-embellished words, but nothing as bad as your posts describe. Personally, Tolkien’s overdiscription made it harder for me to follow The Lord of the Rings than Paolini’s use of uncommon words.

    In conclusion: Do I think of Paolini as a genius? No! There is nothing special about him except that he wrote a successful book. Still, I found the books entertaining and intend to keep reading (although I really am hopping that the story breaks from Star Wars a bit).

  36. Wow Aydee, for an article that was written on 17th December 2006, I’m impressed with the response that this has generated the latest being a mere ten days ago prior to this. I just had to leave a message and will watch this keenly for any further developments. It’s exciting ;)

    Truly this book and Paolini has caused some consternation in many of the general public and fantasy readers worldwide.

    I myself am an aspiring writer that has been a fan of fantasy since I was seven. Since that time I’ve read the works some of those who I consider the greatest writers of the genre. Tolkein, Feist, Eddings, Jordan, Martin the list goes on. Actually, Homer is great too even though its more epic poetry.

    Really though, whilst I thought Eragon and the now Inheritance cycle have been less than exemplary, in addition to having common concepts with the above mentioned writers, why do people continue to rave and rant about a writer that is now well established within the genre whether for good or bad. I’m curious. Do you have nothing better to do?

    Just teasing but seriously.

    Write a better book people. Top it. Blow him out of the proverbial water.

    Really, this is more than exciting, it’s just funny.

    Oh, and by the way guys, Tolkein did not come up with the idea of elves. They are key in Norse mythology as far as I am aware and who knows where else.

    Tip: Read all of our races mythology (that’s the human race kids) and find out who we were…Once upon a time.

    Then tell me that Tolkein, a host of other authors, script writers and whoever else didn’t replicate some ideas or concepts.

    I mean who is tired of the same old stories. Look at Vampires. Isn’t that such an old concept. How many times and in how many forms can these creatures be written about?

    Who ever heard of a vampire that didn’t die when you throw holy water on it?

    And don’t you just get frustrated when a vampire, or zombie for that matter, doesn’t die when you chop off it’s head?

    I do hate it when people don’t always stick to the rules. If they do it well though, that’s a different story.

    My point of writing this long winded rant, which I do hope people read, is that we are all human. Humans are the products of our experiences. Many of our experiences are not always physical, they can be often through the written word. The written word can usually be read by millions of people. This can then be carried to others through word of mouth. Sometimes if you are really lucky it will be sent telepathically.

    Elves, fairies, goblins, dragons, etc are a product of humanities imagination not of Christopher Paolini. Maybe they were real in this world a long, long time ago. God I hope so.

    Who cares if he screws it up or copies it? Boycott the book, the movie and the merchandise. Hit them where it hurts.

    I’m not a fan of Paolini. I think his books are simple, colloquial and yet weirdly elaborate at the wrong times.

    Unfortunately, I’m a person who can’t seem to stop watching a bad movie let alone reading a bad book. They are like train wrecks, you just want to keep investigating the scene for as long as possible to see how much damage was inflicted, as horrible as it is. Even if that damage is my brain. Hell I drink way more than I ought to and I am still able to remember my phone number. What was it again?

    That said, I really want to see how this writer develops. He’s…ahhh…sorta gettin betta…

    Look, Paolini was probably just successful because of his age yes. Oh and he had a big friggin DRAGON’S HEAD on the damn cover. He’s an idea virus for certain http://www.ideavirus.com.

    It is unfortunate that he mimicd themes and scenes from many, many well known authors. But, didn’t they take some ideas and concepts in some way as well? Maybe from mythology, history or human experience?

    I’ve seen enough comparisons between authors and Paolini to laugh out loud. It is truly the height of flattery to be imitated though. I’m sure David Eddings is thinking the same thing. I mean come on, anyone who ready Pawn of Prophecy knows the first time it’s mentioned that the Gedway Insignia and Garion’s Mark of the Orb are one and the same.

    Christopher Paolini is definitely a product of these writers and he pays them homage…however badly.

    Yes, even the amazing George Lucas, bless his heart.

    And if you are envious of his position or feel like he shouldn’t be as successful as he is, as I said before…

    please, please, please write a better book.

    I love to read.

    - Linc

    P.S. Brisngr was still disappointing. I hope the next one will be better

    Chris mate, do some writing courses!

    • I don’t have to be able build a car to know that the brakes just failed.
      I don’t have to be a professional chef to know that food is burnt.
      I don’t have to be an architect to know that the roof just caved in.
      I don’t have to be a medical expert to know that the guy who had his head cut off is dead.
      I don’t have to be a writer to know that a book is little more than trashy fanfic turned plagiarism.

      As for the jealousy, are all of us deserving of publishing? Not neccesarily. My first novel sure isn’t. Just like Paolini’s. Am I jealous of Paolini? Heck, no. I feel kind of bad for him. Yes, he has some money. Yes, he got published. But if I’m going to bother being jealous, I’ll be jealous of Tolkien’s language skills, Robin Hobb’s world-builiding skills, Bujold’s character development skills, Jim Butcher’s narrative skills, And C. J. Cherryh’s plotting skills. Now there are some authors to be jealous of, if one is into being jealous. I don’t criticize Paolini out of jealousy, I criticize him to make sure I don’t do what he does because what he does is just awful. And money? Heck, I’ll be jealous of Bill Gate’s money. He has so much more. So I repeat: I do not want anything Paolini has.

      Tolkien wasn’t the first one to think of the word, “elf.” He was the first one to describe them the way he did. Other elves before Tolkien’s were short. Tolkien’s elves were tall. Tolkien took an old concept and applied creativity to it. He made it his own through details. The details are the product Tolkien’s Why can’t Paolini do the same? Because he has all the imagination of a rock. So Paolini steals other people’s details.

      I do like your idea of boycotting. Too bad there’s so many people who got dazzled by the ridiculous amount of adjectives.

      To address the “homage” argument, homage is supposed to show respect to something. Paolini doesn’t show respect to any author. He steals their ideas and calls them his own. To use a metaphor (a bit ill-fitting, but bear with me) Paolini went to a grocery store, grabbed an entire plateful of free samples, and is now selling them as if he cooked them himself. That’s not respectful. Using the same ingredients as the free samples is acceptable. Why, one can even throw in a few different ingredients. To take something someone else cooked and present as one’s own is unethical. I don’t care how many people do it. To describe Paolini’s work even more accurately, Paolini went to half a dozen grocery stores, took all the free samples, a frozen turkey (without paying), a few cans of soup, and a cash register. He threw it all in one pot and is now advertising that pot as his own creation.

      If one takes out all the “homages,” we’re left with nothing but five chapters and a couple of instruction manuals. That’s not respectful. That’s a slap in the face.

  37. I’ve enjoyed all three books and expect to enjoy the last one.

    My answer to all these critics is “Please point me to *your* books that we can criticise them in the same way!”

    Ripoff, plagiarism, fan-fiction or not the books *have* been written… *have* been published… *have* been enjoyed by millions! When your books are ‘out there’ for public scrutiny… even if they are ‘shamless plagiarism’… *then* come back and bleat about how this ‘kid’ is abusing other people’s ideas.

    Fiction is there for people to read and enjoy. If we like it then it’s ok. If you can do better then get to it – we’ll read your offering as well!!

  38. Wow Welsh Dog. Congratz goes to the most obsurd arguement! -claps-

    We shouldn’t catch serial killers unless we have serial killers on our side, right? It’s just not fair! How can we appricate their work without first killing 10 people on our own! D: And that goes for the rest of the world! Certainly can’t be typing here without shiny degrees in computer science, right?!

  39. If you makes you guys feel any better, you could even say that J.R.R Tolkien got his idea for The Lord of the Rings from:

    “Der Ring des Nibelungen” and his version of the Elves and Eldamar from Germanic Mythology and “Álfheimr”.

    We live in a world that expands upon ideas and embraces that concept. Whenever a new idea is created, people generally scorn it or judge it at first. Look at the history of most artists. Misunderstood and under appreciated, it didn’t become “Art” until many years later.

    Plagarism aside, Tolkien wrote a great series but copied the ring of power.

    So have many other authors since have done similar things. It’s called inspiration.

    Paolini is getting better. Hell, Star Wars is the hero archetypal story with a bunch of knights with magic killing each other.

    To date, I’ve finished Brisingr.

    Chris’ writing style has improved …

    … it’s still not fantastic though, he’s now 25. Let’s see where the fourth book goes.

    P.S.

    If you want to read a really great epic, check out “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.

    This guy can really write!

  40. hmm. Some themes are so common as to be impossible to escape. Fantasy names, ditto. None of this bothers me — plagiarism classically was using another’s academic work — in fiction we’d narrow it to exact words. If I wrote fantasy today, I couldn’t escape Terry P., Conan, Tolkien, Amber, Xanth, etc. all sources in what I wrote. Some scenes would be similar, others different. What I liked is that my son was able to read the books — something I found much harder with Tolk. My son is 8-10 years old. Tolk was much harder going for me at 12 — but now I can ladder him into it. But to be upset that “we stand on the shoulders of giants” — Augustine, 4th Cent, is silly. Perhaps you are jealous or upset that the reaction is it is good writing? No, perhaps the poor critics have never read Tolk. etc. but that’s pretty heavy stuff for the generation raised on video games. That there are winners in the marketing game — yeap. That a cute kid will be one — again, no surprise, to stand out with so many books published, one needs an edge. I’ve enjoyed Robert Jordan — but even his stuff seems to recycle itself, but his Conan stuff is great. Not quite Howard, but good. I’ve started on Martin which everyone recommends, but can’t connect… go figure.

    As for Tolk. I’ve heard wonderful reviews — he was using a TON of old English stories. But honestly, the Simmillion-sp is nearly impossible to read — and his publisher knew it. It’s a cool back story, and I’ve read it twice, but at the end of the day, I don’t mind Eragon for kids, without bad language, etc. it’s cute.

    If you’ve read the source material, or even authors like Moorcock you quickly can see the difference between fluff writing and people with fantastic talent — but the later is also a development over time. I’m hopeful for P. that he will do so, as I am for my own artistic efforts, such as the free music.

    http://www.clousfamily.com for free music.

  41. Haha, what a bitchy, sour post this was. The movie wasn’t even done by Paolini, but Fox- he had no input.

    The book draws on elements of other fantasy, but it’s not like Star Wars was ever original.

    Cry some more- maybe it’ll do some good …..cough.

  42. I personally like the Paolini books. They were some of the first fantacy books I really read full-length. While they are not the best I’ve read by far, they were a good way to get into the genre. I honestly don’t like to hear so much coming from someone who hasn’t gotten the same level of fame. If J.K. Rowling wanted to come out and publish this article, I’m all for it; if another of the authors I love wrote this, I may see it differently. However, I am forced to admit, and I think that you will as well, that most of the people complaining about the plagerism haven’t been published. Regardless of how “unoriginal,” “not-thought-out,” or “starwars – with dragons”ish his books are, the fact is that they are making money. People need to like them for them to be making money.

    I also feel it is entirely possible for anyone to come out and find similarities between various books in the same genre. If you want to bitch about something bad enough, you’ll find a reason. Maybe the books aren’t your cup of tea? That’s great, and more power to you. However, the accusations of violation of copyright, which may potentially be liable, are a bit uncalled for. If Tolkien and his copyright holders had as much of a problem as you do with the theft, would they not have sued by now? It is a somewhat well-known fact that people who do not defend their intellectual propertery can lose the right to defend it in future. Clearly, if the series (which gets more original in the second and third installments) is as big of a ripoff as you claim it to be, I will eagerly look forward to seeing a copy of the legal complaint.

  43. Ok, I bought Eragon when it first came out in 2003, and I thought it was pretty good. I was however unaware as to what a good book truly is. Since Paolini took so long to copy Star Wars, I looked elsewhere and found Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. This of course left any thoughts returning to Eragon in the dust because it was just so mediocre compared to Goodkind’s talent and skill.

  44. Yes, I do agree that Christopher Paolini copied lots of writing. But isn’t all writing in their own way connected? Paolini might have drastically plagiarised, but its not the first book. For example Kaavya Viswanathan had a best selling book till her plagiarism was recognized. But is it Paolini’s fault if the authors don’t choose to take action? And when it comes down to one thing, if Paolini is lacking originality so is every other book created on this earth. Because when it comes down to it, every book took the idea from other classical books. It’s not a lack of creativity, as it is flattery for the book. And in my opinion I think we are in no place to lash out at Paolini. If we chose to buy the book, its our own fault if we weren’t satisfied, while thousands of others still are. Also, if the victims of the plagiarism aren’t complain, and choose not to take action, who are we to get angry at Paolini.

    • Sure, we all cook with food, but Paolini went to a grocery store, grabbed an entire plateful of free samples, and is now selling them as if he cooked them himself. That’s not acceptable. Using the same ingredients as the free samples and then putting them together himself is acceptable. Why, one can even throw in a few different ingredients than the recipe. To take something someone else cooked and present as one’s own is unethical. I don’t care how many people do it. To describe Paolini’s work even more accurately, Paolini went to half a dozen grocery stores, took all the free samples, a frozen turkey (without paying), a tv dinner, a few cans of soup, and a cash register. He threw it all in one pot and is now advertising that pot as his own creation. That’s not flattering to the grocery stores and Paolini is not flattering towards other authors.

      Those who can sue him have very little to gain from an expensive endeavour. And yes, I’ll get angry at Paolini. That “author” has no integrity, no respect, and no talent.

  45. ehh… really like it )

  46. what would you call a series of paintings that mimiced Van Gogh’s sunflower series almost to the last petal but was produced by a man/woman who had never encountered them, or even heard of them.

    They now have to live with being called a plagiarist, and the work, genius (that it wasn’t, but that’s a seperate note) will now go unoticed.

    This argument does not involve the Eragon issue, no one here knows what he read or saw before writing the Inheritance Cycle, but what say you on pure originality that just happend to ‘copy’ someone elses work.

    • I’d call it a coincidence. But Paolini has heard of the works he stole from. He said so himself. He said he had already heard of Tolkien, Eddings, Star Wars, Nix, and LeGuin. And when a scene happens the exact same way as someone else’s scene, as seen with the bridge-crossing scene, then the label ‘plagiarist’ suits them just fine. If one doesn’t wish to be called a plagiarist, one must make certain to use imagination and think of their own details. Paolini just took everybody else’s details.

  47. This is directed to everyone who is defending Paolini. Are you kidding me. AyDee did a phenomenal job documenting this tragedy.

    In no way can you defend Plagiarism.

    That’s it. Plain and simple.

    This website or blog, whichever it may be, has nothing to do with Paolini’s fame. Well I regress, it does in a way. This way being, how, with his fame, is Paolini getting away with plagiarism.

    It’s disgusting any way you twist it.

  48. Die in a hole, preferably on fire. It’ll hurt more. I didn’t even bother to read this whole piece of mindfuck that you call a review/article. Every fantasy novel EVER has the same kind of elves and such. Why are you picking on specifically eragon? How the hell can you even begin to say that eragon was stolen from star wars? Go to hell.

    • You’re telling somebody to die because they criticized (in an unusually objective tone) a fantasy novel? That speaks to the quality of the sort of people who like Paolini.

      And your claim that “every fantasy novel ever” uses the same racial constructs as Tolkien merely shows that you’ve never read anything by Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, or Robert E. Howard, all of whom were fantasists who were preceded or were contemporary to Tolkien. In fact, it’s clear that you haven’t read much in the way of fantasy, or much of anything else.

  49. No offense, but Tolkein’s elves were elves taken from folklore, and are the same as every elf you see now in fantasy. Also, Basically any hero story starts out the same way, people have pointed out the same thing regarding Star Wars and Tolkien and Harry Potter. Tolkein’s entire storyline was a combination of folklore tales that he combined and added to, so isn’t he plagiarizing as well?

    • Tolkien’s elves were his own invention.

      Yes, they were inspired by the elves in Norse mythology, but if you’ve actually read the mythology it should be obvious that Tolkien’s elves are entirely unique.

      And Tolkien’s entire storyline was not a combination of folklore tales.

      Only the concept of a “cursed ring” was taken from preexisting folklore.

      If I’m wrong, please enlighten me. Which bit of old folklore involves a group of heroes throwing a cursed ring into a volcano to destroy an evil spirit?

      • You do have to remember that Gandalf falling from the stone bridge was a symbolic connection to Odin’s falling from the world tree as well as Tolkien’s personal “re-enlightenment”. I could go on for hours citing small examples but I think it’s clear to both of us that Tolkien is a legend so I’ll save myself the embarrassment.
        All fantasy is “unoriginal” because nothing that is written is without some sort of human experience. In this case the difference is that Eragon is comprised of only stolen and borrowed concepts.

  50. i think that you have a little too much time on your hands. it sounds to me like every single other sci fi adventure movie ever made. if you watch any of the star wars movies, the setup is the same every single time.

    are you scorned that a 15 year old has more money then you?

    • FYI

      Paolini was not 15 when he wrote the books.

      He started writing Eragon when he was 18, and finished it when he was 19.

      He was 15 when he “imagined” the books.

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