it, many “undiscovered” writers hate—err—are intensely jealous of
Paolini. As a high school kid, he self-published his first book, Eragon,
and with his parents drove around the country, selling his book by hand
until he got picked up by a New York publisher. Just how often does
someone with the right publishing connections pick up a self-pubbed
book, and in a moment of high fever fall in love and badger that
publishing connection with “You gotta buy this book NOW!”?
So, do I feel vindicated when I
picked up the latest book, Brisingr, and after
about ten screens on my Palm, my growing reaction was “Ummm, why
exactly did I like the first two books?” (This job is not
easy. I want to like books when I read them.
Irritate me and fail my expectations, and I get really cranky. Of
course, being the perceptive readers you are, you already figured that
out a long time ago, right?)
Way too much talking and pretty
language. As Sam C. said online recently, (I paraphrase) the problem is
that an uneducated, sixteen-year-old farm boy talks like Aragorn in Lord
of the Rings. Hmm, Eragon . . . Aragorn . . . a coincidence?
Nothing new under the sun? (Sam and others said they couldn’t finish
the book. Are you proud of me because I did?)
The flowery, fifty-dollar words
and wordiness slowed the action. This is about war. It’s action not
philosophy. It’s desperation and self-sacrifice. The last two books
have been building up to world-in-peril battle. Don’t give me
“litra-chah” when I open up a book and expect battling dragons and
dwarves lopping you off at the knees and action.
Remember those too-pretty lines
in Star Wars? Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke sit on the
cliff (in a heroic pose) looking out over Anchorhead, and Obi-Wan says
something like, “A more wretched hive of scum and villainy . . .” But
he gets away with it because, hey, he’s British, and that kind of
language just sounds more natural with a British accent! (Why do
filmmakers assume fantasy has British accents? Ancient Rome? British
accents. Bronze Age Greek? British accents. The leaders in the X-Men
movies? British accents. Feel like filing a class-action lawsuit on
behalf of other accents?)
Yeah, have Arnold or Vin Deisel
or Hugh say, “A more wretched hive of . . .” and they’d get laughed out
of the theater!
There’s too much of the
exceedingly pretty language:
“Eragon stared at the dark
tower of stone wherein hid the monsters who had murdered his uncle,
Garrow.” Who, except Bible teachers stuck in King James, uses
normally inaudible flow of air seemed preternaturally loud to
with his heightened sense of hearing, one of many such changes wrought
by his experience during the Agaeti Blodhren, the elves’ Blood-oath
Celebration.” Wrought? Blatant info dump/exposition.
“I dare not explore Helgrind
with my mind until they leave, for if any are magicians, they will
sense my touch, however light, and our presence will be revealed.”
Okay, he’s been studying with
the elves, but would his vocabulary change? You can almost hear his
snooty British accent, and see his cousin scratching his head,
wondering if those new pointy ears did something to Eragon’s brain. The
only problem is good old Roran Stronghammer sounds like he’s channeling
Or how about this one: “Half of
the young men gave their frames a vigorous shake when they stepped
forward with their right foot, producing a dolorous cacophony of notes,
while the other half shook their frames when they advanced upon the
left foot, causing iron tongues to crash against iron throats and emit
a mournful clamor that echoed over the hills.”
Eragon and Roran are spying on a
self-mutilation worship ritual, and I’m thinking, Umm, aren’t
they in a hurry to rescue Katrina from durance vile? (Sorry,
Funny thing—I pulled out Eragon
to check if the opening of the book was that elegant and sloooooow.
There was also a waiting scene in the opening. At least there was a
sense of tension and menace in that opening. You knew the Shade was
trouble without being slapped by a lavender-scented handkerchief to
make you pay attention.
Writers, don’t listen to the
literary snobs who want you to believe that pretty words and convoluted
language are more important than plot and stories
that go somewhere.
Who’s to blame? The literary
snobs who convinced the author to make his language “more mature and
intellectual”? Or the editor who should have slathered red ink all over
this manuscript and made the language easier to read, invisible, so the
reader fell into the story instead of tripping
over “wherein” and “dolorous”?
There’s a fourth book—I thought Brisingr
was supposed to be the last—and I honestly don’t know if I want to
spend even my Buywise points at Fictionwise to get it.
The title, Brisingr,
is “ancient tongue” for “fire.” There were times during the reading
when I thought, “Yeah, come on baby, light my fire—please!”