1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Paolini's Inheritance Cycle

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Aravelle, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Going over what went wrong is important. It's like watching game film, you go over what the other guy did wrong and right. You hone in and learn. But to make the critique valuable you need to do both.
     
  2. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,705
    1,134
    163
    Excellent, excellent. Let us all guide Master Phillip on his journey to the Dark Side.

    But seriously, I think it's great that you love those books, but are willing to admit they have mistakes in them. When I first read them, I sort of mindlessly loved them. I knew they weren't perfect, but I tried to ignore that and swept the mistakes I noticed under my mental rug, so to speak. I didn't have the degree of self-awareness then to be able to like something while acknowledging its imperfections. That naivety led me to feel betrayed when I discovered just how bad the books were, and paved my way to becoming a raging anti-fan. Oh well, you gotta learn somehow...
     
  3. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

    281
    37
    28
    I will jump in here and say that I love Eragon. It is my favorite book in the series even if it is technically the weakest. I am another of those people that was inspired to start writing because of Paolini. The series may not have the greatest writing or the most original story, but as an introduction to fantasy it is excellent.
    As a reader I did not notice (or did care to dwell on) the writing's level of quality. Unless a book makes me wince or struggle to understand what the author is attempting to convey I do not discount the writing as bad. I never had any trouble reading Eragon (or any of the subsequent books).
    The series, as I have said, is not perfect. Compared to the giants of our genre it may even appear poor. But I would never say it was bad. It succeeded in delighting and inspiring millions of readers the world over, and if a book can do that than I consider it a complete success.
    I would call it good.
     
    Philster401 likes this.
  4. Philster401

    Philster401 Maester

    687
    50
    28
    I agree completely
     
  5. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,943
    937
    113
    This is absolutely key. For the majority of readers, unless there is something objectively bad about the prose (such failing to make the story clear) then they don't care. Writers who go around talking about "bad writing" in popular books are failing to understand readers and what readers' priorities are. It doesn't matter whether you as a writer enjoyed the book or not, there really is nothing objectively bad about Eragon. It's all a matter of taste. And the fact that you don't like a particular book is not a good reason claim that it is bad, which indirectly is insulting many, many readers' (your own potential readers, if you write fantasy) taste.
     
  6. I never understood this sentiment. How can one be insulted if someone else thought a book was bad. I have read from several people here that they dislike Sanderson's novels, but that doesn't insult me. I may think less of them as a person and wish that they go jump in a chasmfiend's mouth, but I'm not insulted. (That last sentence was tongue in cheek btw). Seriously though, how can someone be insulted about a difference of opinion. And why should writers have to tip-toe around their own opinions so that they don't offend their "audience." It's just weird.

    In any event, I don't think his books are bad. Offensively mediocre certainly. And that ham-fisted reference pulled me out of the story so much I didn't want to finish the last fifty or so pages of the whole series, but it's not bad just bland as milquetoast to me.
     
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    447
    83
    ...And you lost me. There is plenty objectively bad about Eragon, starting with outright stealing plot elements, names, and concepts from other stories without reinterpreting them or adding much original material (at least in the beginning). And the writing actually does make me cringe with its pretentious vocabulary, one-note characters, boring protagonist, bland villain, purple prose, and half-baked attempt at Ye Olde Englishe. The writing is so bad that after reading Brisingr my own writing skills took a hit and I had to write for a couple weeks just to get back into form. Of course I was in high school and my writing style was more malleable than it is now. But still, it's going a bit far to say that books like Eragon and Twilight, its female equivalent, aren't bad just because people like them. People liked Jupiter Ascending (though not enough to make it decent money). People liked Transformers 2 (including me, before I actually started thinking about it). Some people even like Batman and Robin. All of those films are capital-A Awful. Same goes for books like Eragon. Everyone has something terrible that they like. Doesn't make it any less terrible.

    I mean, what is this?

    Seriously?!
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  8. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,943
    937
    113
    It's because people DON'T say "I thought this book was bad" or "I didn't like this book". They just say "this book is bad" or "this book is terrible". They make an absolute statement about the nature of the book itself rather than a statement about themselves. There is a difference, whether the speaker means it or not. And when you make a statement about the book itself, people who did like the book feel that you are basically saying they have bad taste. I would strongly caution writers about making such statements, and be careful about what words you use when talking about books that a great many people like. You won't make many friends and you'll earn fewer readers if you insult other people's favorite books.

    But writers should also be careful about how they look at books they didn't personally enjoy. Obviously you should be mindful of the things that didn't work for you. But you should be even more mindful of the fact that your assessment is subjective and many reader like the things you don't like and thus the things you don't like are not "bad". I really think it's far more healthy for writers to look for what works, both for them and others, rather than focus on the negative.
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,943
    937
    113
    I'm not really sure what you find so terrible about the phrases you quoted. What, specifically, is bad about them? Please be precise.

    Also, once again, your opinion is 100% subjective. You really need to keep that in mind as a writer. Respect the readers and their tastes.
     
  10. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    447
    83
    Okay. I'm going to try to address this without flipping out again. I'll defer to Brian's opinion in this respect: Eragon is not bad in the way that, say, the Eye of Argon is bad. It's closer to what Brian said: offensively mediocre. It does make me cringe and roll my eyes, but it's not an utter travesty. And I've previously said there's some neat ideas in there. But I'm going to keep calling it bad for simplicity's sake. Now then, what's all this rubbish about subjectivity? I'm not following this logical leap from "everyone has different tastes and opinions" to "there's no such thing as bad". People can- and do- like bad things. That doesn't make them any less bad, as I demonstrated with my litany of examples. As for that quotation, where do I begin? The fact that reading it makes me want to punch something, facepalm, and set the book on fire all at once is already enough to condemn it. But if you want to go line by line:

    What does this mean? Really. Does it mean anything? I look at this and I derive zero helpful information. I am boggled by the sheer nonsense of it. The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living? So... the dead are mourning for the living? The living are lamenting dead singers? The dead people wrote songs for those who survived them to sing at their funerals? What? WHAT?! INFORM ME, DANGIT!

    Okay, this is a little easier to decipher, but it also fails to connect to the previous sentence in any way, shape, or form. What does destiny and the start of war have to do with the aforementioned dead people and mourning? The sentence structure implies a connection. What is it? And time to put a dollar in the pretentious vocabulary jar. "Grey-eyed Destiny now weaves apace"? Are you kidding me with that? This feels like a line from a bad translation of a Greek tragedy yanked out of its context and shoved in here to make the writer sound cool and well-read. This is quite possibly the purple-iest purple prose I have ever seen. Charles Dickens would facepalm at this.

    Movement flickered through what? This isn't just a matter of style, this is basic grammar. Pronouns need antecedents, otherwise they don't mean anything. And since there's nothing in this entire passage that could be something that movement flickers through, this pronoun doesn't have one. And without knowing what (or whose) movement is flickering through what, the simile about the bird and clouded moon is meaningless.
     
    Gryphos and Tom like this.
  11. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,705
    1,134
    163
    Oof. I'd forgotten just how purple the prose is. I've never been able to figure out those first two sentences. Especially the first one. Just...really? It's supposed to be profound, but I don't even know what it's supposed to mean. "The dead have found relief while the living must suffer on"? That's probably the general gist of it, but you could say it so much more clearly--like I just did.

    And the second one--just plain purple. Wow. Even if I didn't hate the over-used cliche of Destiny in fantasy, I would still consider this an excess. Why is it relevant to know that Destiny has gray eyes? Why is that "apace" in there? Just use "swiftly", like the rest of us; it's clearer. And there should be a semi-colon dividing the two halves of that sentence. The second half sounds alright, though if the note "echoes", it shouldn't also be "resounding". Resounding is kinda what echoes do, so that's redundant.

    And that last sentence...not even touching it. Waaaaaay too overwrought. Can't you just say "Movement flickered through it" and leave it at that? Or if you want to modify it, how about saying "like a bird across the sky". It keeps the general feel of the original, but eliminates the purple prose.

    Whew. I forgot how tiring/frustrating it is to wade through those books.
     
    Mindfire likes this.
  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    447
    83
    My thoughts exactly. Now, I pulled this from TV Tropes to use as an example, so there's a possibility that these lines come from different places in the book. Maybe. But even given that benefit of the doubt, the sentences are just painful to read.
     
  13. Every time I hit the worst purple parts I skipped them by summarizing thusly, "METAPHOR." I think that helped me.
     
    Mindfire likes this.
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    447
    83
    My guess? A hamfisted reference to the Graeae, aka "Grey Sisters" or "the Fates", of Greek myth.
     
  15. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    2,888
    447
    83
    That's actually very helpful. I'll probably make that a running gag if/when I get around to reading and reviewing Inheritance.
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,481
    3,009
    313
    It looks to me like someone had an English teacher who was a little too generous.
     
  17. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,705
    1,134
    163
    Hamfisted reference is hamfisted. And I think he totally missed the point of the Grey Sisters. They weren't literally gray; they were called that to symbolically represent their neutrality. They were Fate, impassive, favoring neither good nor evil. All were subject to their rule no matter what path they took in life.

    ...And I bet that went right over Paolini's head.
     
  18. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,943
    937
    113
    Wait, you pulled individual lines without context from tv tropes so you have no idea where they even are in the book and that's your proof of bad writing? I just can't even process the bad logic in this. I can't believe you think this means anything at all except that you are determined to dismiss the writing for bad reasons.
     
  19. Philster401

    Philster401 Maester

    687
    50
    28
    Id say those lines are moat likely from angela she seemed to like making lines that madw no sense to anyone but her and that's part what I liked about her is there were times that it was near impossible to understand what she meant.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,481
    3,009
    313
    While you have a point for that one experiment, I tried to read some of the book; it's pretty bad. My wife wanted me to read them, because she had when she was younger, and I couldn't. Believe me, I've got to find a book pretty bad for me to turn her down.
     
Loading...

Share This Page