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How is Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle Unique?

Hey everyone.

I was talking with a friend of mine recently and she was saying that she and her mother have read all of the books in the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance) and that she saw a lot of concepts that she felt were taken from other authors.

This made me wonder, 'How much does Paolini's work really stand out?' What I mean by this is; If we take classic fantasy authors who've been around for years and years on end i.e. J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, or David Eddings, and compare his work with theirs how unique is his work?

I'm not saying his stuff was bad, I loved the books; but having read so much fantasy stuff over the last few years I've been noticing similarities between other authors and Paolini's work.

What are your thoughts? Does this even make sense?
The general consensus seems to be that he took the world of LOTR, the plot of Star Wars, mashed them together, and added dragons. I don't think that is exactly accurate. (Disclaimer: I only read the first book. It didn't interest me enough to compel me to read the others. My guy friends keep bugging me to read the rest.) First of all, stealing the plot of Star Wars isn't actually a thing since the plot of Star Wars is THE classic fantasy story plot. It's better if it's mixed up a little, but that basic frame has been used for countless stories. It's foundational. Also, the world of LOTR (the elves, dwarves, magic swords, Wizards, dark lords stuff) has been stolen so much by RPGs, video games, and books that it's hardly worth calling out. (Personally, I hate elves, dwarves, magic swords, and all the classic fantasy tropes that came from LOTR. But that doesn't mean they can't be done well.)

Calling out an author for stealing their ideas annoys me, because you'll find that the people they stole from ALSO stole their ideas. Original ideas don't actually exist, really.

So...no idea is completely unique. You get ideas combined in ways you don't expect, you get ideas given a new coat of paint, you get ideas used in unconventional ways, but you don't actually get new ideas. They all come from our own human experience, and basic human nature hasn't changed over the centuries.

Christopher Paolini deserves more credit than just stealing from LOTR and Star Wars. He stole from a lot more places than that. I remember thinking the magical language was cool, but of course that has been used elsewhere. Same with dragon telepathy.

Oh! Angela and the werecat(s), I don't recall seeing anything like that anywhere else. (Her name was Angela, right?)

I don't remember much about Eragon, I read it when I was like 12, and never felt compelled to read the sequels. Nonetheless, I'm excited for the sci-fi he's working on...

You are right, I didn't actually think of Star Wars being a part of the plot (although, now that you've mentioned it I can see several similarities.) Angela is probably my favourite character in the whole series.


The overall use and aspects of magic.

Magic was a danger to the caster, as a slip in the pronunciation of the incantations, or trying something too big or fancy could cripple you or get you killed.

There was also, if I recall, much more freedom with the magic other than the typical list of spells. Having a good, creative, imaginative mind a key tool for a mage to have in his books.

And the telepathy. Already established between dragon and rider, this was expanded on more when mages fought each other. If I remember correctly, mages could overpower each other just by crippling their mind via telepathy. I even remember Eragon being taught mental exercises to increase his telepathic defense like clearly imagining a brick wall in his mind for his opponent to break through.