Swankivy’s review of Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Somnite (new)

Somnite Ahahahaa!!!!!!

Wheeee! What a review. I have to say I agree with every word, and found your review more entertaining than the book itself.

message 2: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Wow, well thanks. Perhaps you'd want to read the full review version on my site, then; there's a character limit in these, so I had to truncate it.


Thanks for reminding me there are sane, discerning readers out there. :)

message 3: by Katy (new)

Katy Don't you think that's a tad...harsh? I mean, it wasn't moronic...it had a basic plot, engaging characters, and I rather enjoyed the metaphors that you mocked. I mean, come on. The first line is obviously a reference to the pain that death leaves behind...I thought it was fairly straightforward. Perhaps he isn't as phenomonal as Tolkien or one of the epic visionaries of the past, but his books are entertaining and marvelously written...for someone of his AGE. One point I do agree on is that the ancient language is a bit overdone, but at least he's creative! I don't know about you, but I think it would be tricky to create, oh, you know, a LANGUAGE! Anyway, thanks for reading and for the interesting review.

message 4: by Swankivy (last edited Jan 19, 2009 05:40PM) (new)

Swankivy This was, bar none, one of the worst books I ever read. It is partly BECAUSE he's trying so hard to impress us with his thesaurus and his permutations for the word "said" that I disliked it so much. Now, if you were to publish at a young age, would you want to forever be known as "good . . . for your age"? Or shouldn't I be able to expect that anything that's published is above a certain standard? This book fell flat in many ways, and I went into detail on what I thought those ways were, backing up every claim.

Paolini also did not "create a language." He created a few ciphers and then warns us in the author's note that Eragon has horrible grammar so if we do try to translate it and it makes no sense, that's the character's fault, not his. A lot of the language he "created" is based on real ancient languages. He is not a linguist and it shows.

Notice you write things like "it wasn't moronic" or "his books are entertaining and marvelously written" but don't say why you think so. Every time I'm saying that I believe the opposite, I'm giving you a reason why I think that. I'm not being harsh. I'm being truthful. And it doesn't surprise me that something this bad also got into the publishing arena in the roundabout way it did--are you aware of the nepotism and connections that were involved in publishing these books?

And lastly, the bit about how that metaphor is "obviously" a reference to the pain death leaves behind . . . death is a song? What? If it truly does make any sense whatsoever, it's so convoluted that it's anything but "obvious."

message 5: by Katy (last edited Feb 08, 2009 06:12PM) (new)

Katy I see your point...the "for his AGE" wasn't fair.

I still think that there's nothing wrong with how he uses the "ancient language". Sure, it's difficult to understand, but does it really matter? Does the reader need to decipher every word to be able to believe the plot? It's a language he uses to create this alternate reality...I don't think it needs to be pristine in it's structure.

No, I am not aware of the "nepotism and connections" involved in publishing his novels. I would hope that you aren't just repeating a juvenile rumor, and that you have substantial proof to back up your claim.

I guess with metaphors, you have to use a little imagination to understand. You can't see death as a song of mourning? Sigh. Sometimes you have to go beyond the literal meaning.

Personally, I believe that Paolini created a believable character with traits that people can relate to, an entertaining alternate world, and a book that may be similar to the plots of other books, but has many redeeming traits. I say as much in my review. You can view it via near the top of the "Eldest" page.

message 6: by Swankivy (last edited Sep 25, 2009 10:25PM) (new)

Swankivy Re ancient language: The plot itself has little bearing on whether the language is handled well. That's neither here nor there. The ancient language being unrealistic and hackneyed is just one more thing that makes everything about the book feel hollow to me. If I read a book whose made-up language FEELS made up, yes, that affects my enjoyment. Not that there weren't already a billion things that affected my enjoyment in the novels.

Re the nepotism and connections: The way you phrased your rebuttal in a tone approaching scolding indicates that you don't believe me and you assume this is some nasty mudslinging I'm choosing to believe in order to discredit him. Before you challenge another person's credentials, it's a good idea to do your own homework. The book was published by his parents' publishing company and you will find no attempt to hide this fact if you look at any interview Chris Paolini has done. The parents then took their son on a family-sponsored book tour, and on one of the many, they happened to meet Carl Hiaasen, a published author. Hiaasen was impressed that a teen wrote a novel (see a pattern?) and bought it for his stepson. When the stepson liked it, Hiaasen talked to his publishers (though I don't believe he even read the novel himself before doing this) and slipped it in that way. None of this is junk I made up and none of it is being hidden. Does it just sound that much like an unbelievable story that you assumed people who hate Paolini cooked it up? If so, it's probably because we all know this just isn't how things are DONE in publishing. And yet, this was done. Oh wow.

As for the metaphors, it's not my lack of imagination that's causing the difficulty here. See, metaphors are meant to compare one thing to another for better understanding. Hundreds of times in Paolini's novels I see similes and metaphors whose main purpose is to sound fancy. If anything, they distract the reader from what he is saying (such as "tears like liquid diamonds"--nono, Paolini, if someone's crying I want to know more about how their sorrow FEELS, not how pretty it looks. That's not the point, for God's sake.).

And lastly, "a believable character"--meh. That's pretty much just laughable. I'm not saying you can't have your opinion, but Eragon is written as a borderline psychopathic, selfish, unrealistically-badass Mary-Sue who basically reads like the author's fantasy novel wish fulfillment hero, and I can't believe in him as a person even in the slightest. Everything about how he's written feels wrong, and instead of working harder on bringing out the reality of his characters, Paolini has decided instead to introduce contrived moral dilemmas that don't actually match up with anything he's feeling (e.g., crying over dead ants but having no trouble committing murder on the battlefield without flinching). Wallpapering the whole thing with thesaurus fondling just takes the cake.

message 7: by Katy (new)

Katy While I understand your opinion about the "ancient language", I still think that it's a minor element of the novel blown out of proportion. I don't see why his language is any less believable than any other language. Sure, the roots aren't straightforward, but who says they need to be?

I apologize if I caused you to feel attacked or "scolded" with my last comment about Paolini's connections. However, you still haven't given me any solid proof, merely vague comments like "you will find no attempt to hide this fact if you look at any interview" and "though I don't believe he even read the novel himself before doing this". Huh? How is that even slightly legitimate? It doesn't sound unbelievable, but it does sound like a series of events blown out of proportion (see a pattern?) by people who aren't fans of his work and are looking for an explanation. The truth is, whether the connections helped or not, sometimes bad books are published. I mean, have you ever read "Twilight"? If that rag got published, anything can. But that isn't the point. The point is, whether you feel that this is true or not, rock hard evidence is the only thing that actually proves that.

I wish you would have backed up your misgivings about the character of "Eragon", instead of hurling out a few insults. I liked your point about the paradox of ants/humans killing (which I will admit, stuck out to me as well as something strange), but then instead of bringing to light what you didn't like about it, you veered back to the "thesaurus" point. Sigh.

I hope that I have not offended you by offering my opinion and in turn debating yours. I think it is wonderful that books have so much material that readers can intelligently discuss. Picking apart "Eldest" is fascinating for me. I don't harbor any ill feelings toward you personally, however.

message 8: by Swankivy (last edited Sep 25, 2009 10:35PM) (new)

Swankivy Re ancient language: I had one bit about it in my review. You decided to take it to a paragraph, so all of my further discussion was in response to your commenting on it. Since you picked that detail out and decided to expound on it, I countered you.

That's not "blown out of proportion." In any case you're making excuses, and it is not surprising that you don't see why his language is less believable than other fantasy languages. You are the kind of reader that Paolini's hack attempt at making a language is fooling. He does not have to have high standards because people like you don't know the difference. As I said before, he is not a linguist and it shows, but here you're saying it's good enough if he plays one on TV, you know? If everyone gets sparkly eyes and says "OooOOOoo, he created a LANGUAGE!" when he does what he does, he has no reason to try to make the languages have integrity.

I am also not a linguist, but my field does involve language intimately (I've been an editor for over ten years), and because of this I notice certain trends in languages that perhaps someone with your level of experience could not. I've created a language on a very small scale for my webcomic, but I didn't pretend that it was something I'd actually created in full that could be conversed in, because that wasn't the point. The words weren't the point; it would have been overkill in that situation to create a language and then use it constantly just to show everyone I did it and force people to look up the translation. When it was necessary--when characters who spoke different languages were talking in the same room and needing translation and whatnot--I did use my made-up words. In those cases, the grammatical structure, phonetic trends, and word use were consistent and realistic with regards to how languages really develop. I will not (could not realistically) give you a linguistics lesson to try to help you understand all the holes in what Paolini has put out there, so if you don't trust that someone with much more experience in the field than you have might actually know what she's talking about, I suppose that's your business. This is a case of your failure/refusal to understand that there is a problem, not a case of there not being one.

Now, re Paolini's connections: No, I don't "feel scolded." I see that you are lecturing me about something you evidently feel you have learned and I have not. The paragraph you offered on the subject this time is even more (sorry, but) laughably full of tut-tutting. "Oh, if you're going to say anything bad about someone, you have to PROVE it! Back it UP! Give PROOF!" While I of course agree with the sentiment that any critique one gives needs proof or else it is mudslinging, I was not aware that in this case you were going to expect me to do your homework for you. This is infantile.

Perhaps I made an assumption in thinking you were ready for a discussion like this, but no, I don't think it should be *expected* for me to annotate my comments to you when I am giving you information that is true. My discussion with you is not a research paper which needs to have footnotes, and you've attempted to put the burden of proof on me by shaking your head and saying I've got to prove it before you will even entertain the ideas. Do I ask you for "rock hard evidence" on whether water is wet? No, because I know you can go touch some and find out. If you actually were interested in whether the things I say are true, all you would have had to do was look it up yourself. Since you are apparently either too lazy or too devoted to this story to do anything but insist I PROVE it or else my true statements are not "even slightly legitimate," I will gladly show you.

At the following links, you will find numerous references to Paolini International (his parents' publishing company), his very modest success until Hiaasen came along, the story of Hiaasen getting the book for his stepson, and one mention of Hiaasen saying he got on the phone to his editor after his kid finished it, prefacing his recommendation with "I don't know anything about him, but Ryan burned through it in no time and said it was one of the best kids' books he's ever read."







If you need me to get you a personal telephone interview with Paolini before you will accept these references as "rock hard evidence," I'm afraid I do not have the connections to appease you. These will have to do.

And on the subject of Eragon as a character who is not believable, I really don't like how you're trying to put me in a box with people who don't back up anything they say. This is often a good point when someone criticizes a book, because there are those who do just say "It sucks! Because it sucks!" There is nothing resembling that attitude in any of my reviews or writings on the subject of Inheritance. I did NOT "hurl out a few insults." I gave reasons why I think Eragon is not a believable character, and you are writing them off (perhaps because I did not paste the paragraphs in which his borderline psychopathic, selfish, unrealistically-badass Mary-Sue-ness is apparent?). Actually, do you know what a Mary-Sue is? That should give you a very good idea of why I see him as a non-character.

He is controlled by his author's puppet strings, acquires abilities and talents that have no explanation even when one takes into account the fact that he's a Speshull Dwagon Ridaarr, talks in the same ridiculous stilted way all Paolini's characters talk in despite the fact that some of them are of royal bloodlines and others are previously illiterate farmboys (he only isn't because he learned to read in a week, ahh, and remember when he talked in the Ancient Language to someone he didn't know and was able to discuss directions to places he'd never been in the framework of a language he'd only just learned?). He's described as a poor farmboy in a poor village, but then has his own room (unheard of amongst poor commoners at the time) and his town has multiple features you'd only see in very rich areas. Paolini's choppy writing style and emphasis on language style versus language effectiveness causes the narration that depicts Eragon's thoughts to read like a forced, dippy teenage poem; the way he thinks and reacts and talks do not reflect anything I've seen in realistic people (including other fantasy characters written by authors who know what they're doing).

It is very frustrating to see you trying to use arguments against my points that do not apply to me. Do not accuse me of not backing up what I say (e.g., "instead of bringing to light what you didn't like about it, you veered back to the 'thesaurus' point"); I have done so to the point where it is reasonable (and sometimes it is even overkill). The places where I did not do so were where I *thought* my points were self-evident (as in, saying you should read an interview to see I'm telling the truth, to which you replied that I needed to lead you right to the water and make you drink). You can't just spring canned criticism on people when it doesn't apply. I am not banging on about the thesaurus because I don't have a valid point. I mentioned the thesaurus a second time because it is part of what makes the writing feel forced and unrealistic. I will not quote from the book to give you examples that reflect my evaluation; I've done that in spades in my original review. Did you read all of it to see my dialogue examples? Illustrations abound.

message 9: by Katy (last edited Feb 09, 2009 09:24AM) (new)

Katy Unfortunately, I suppose I made the assumption that you could handle an intellectual discussion without insulting or degrading me, as well as providing evidence to your points. Though you claim to be experienced, you seem to not grasp the point that despite the fact that your review is "not a research paper", sometimes a little structural evidence goes a long way in credibility. When I pointed that out, you flew off the handle. Why don't you try behaving like an adult and not a whiny preteenage kid?

It is absolutely unnecessary and completely out of line for you to suggest that you have more experience than I in this particular field. You don't know a thing about me, and although you may think that you are better than I, that certainly doesn't make it true. Just because you have a "webcomic" and have been editing for a long period of time, does not diminish my own literary accomplishments. I am both displeased and disappointed in your immaturity and loss of temper. I would hope that you do not treat all that visit your page in this rough and nasty manner...but I'm sure it's only those that criticize you. It's a real shame that a friendly discussion had to turn into a heated rant so quickly.

message 10: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Katy, you've just rambled for two paragraphs about how my comments are insulting YOU, assuming about YOU, blah blah blah. You are the one who is taking everything I'm saying personally and then projecting your insecurities onto me (claiming I'm intending this to be taken that way).

I do not have to know your literary background to be able to tell certain things about it. You're trying so hard to show me that I have no ground to stand on when I make observations, but you're not actually considering that I have a point. If you say certain things about flawed works that indicate your inability to see their flaws, I can safely say that you do not know what I know about the subject. It's not a value judgment I'm making.

It is not an insult to suggest that you don't know as much as I know about a subject. It is demonstrably true and it is not an assumption. This is something I can see and you cannot BECAUSE of my experience and background. You can't see how I know this because you are not there, and you will not be able to see it until or unless you get there. A master musician does not have to "know a student's background" in order to listen to them play and hear where their experience is lacking. This is what I am observing in how you write and what you say. It's also how I've come to some of the conclusions I've come to about Paolini. I've been there and I've done that. I wrote my eleventh novel last year. I know something about it, and I can tell when someone's trying to act like s/he knows but does not.

I notice that you shout about how I DON'T KNOW YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS (no, I don't) but do not identify what they are, which is still more evidence that mine outrank yours (what with your history of requesting "evidence" for all claims). Again, this is not being pitched as an insult, and is not any of the following that you called my previous communication: 1. insulting, 2. degrading, 3. flying off the handle, 4. acting like a whiny preteenage kid, 5. thinking I'm better than you, 6. indicative of immaturity, 7. a loss of temper, 8. rough, 9. nasty, or 10. a heated rant. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don't know as much about literature as your literature professor. It is also your prerogative to disagree with said literature professor on whatever terms you wish, but putting your hands on your hips and claiming you should be viewed as equal to your professor on their subject of specialization despite having less experience does not hold up well in court. Nobody's saying your literature professor is therefore "better than you," nor is anyone trying to insult you when the professor corrects your work. If you'd stop being so bent on whether doubting your credentials is offensive, maybe you'd start to see where they actually do fall short, and begin to improve yourself or come to a better understanding. Capisce?

My mention of my webcomic and my editing career were not made TO DIMINISH YOU. You requested backup for some of the things I said, so I identified myself as a type of language expert as well as a person who's created something of a language herself in order to bolster my credentials. Why would you go on about wanting proof and then call it ten kinds of insulting when you get it?

You can take what you will from my comments, but it seems you're determined to bellyache about how *I'm* making this whole thing personal. I don't see any personal insults in my dialogue with you. When you show that you are ignorant, I will say so as a statement of fact. It's okay if you're ignorant about something. It's not okay if you try to pretend you're not and then demand that someone who knows their stuff prove it to you (and, again, kick and scream about insults when they give it to you in a no-nonsense way). If some of my comments seem a bit like overkill, it is because you kept asking for more from me. If I didn't go into detail, you went on about how I didn't prove it. You asked for it and I gave it, and now you're engaging in a classic misdirection scheme to scream about how immature I am. This has nothing to do with maturity. It has to do with experience and knowledge. If I know more than you do about something and you are challenging me, it isn't wrong of me to tell you "No, you're wrong (or at least not completely right)."

You are correct that "a little structural evidence goes a long way in credibility." But it's ludicrous to expect research-paper-style citing in a casual comment. You apparently believed my information about Paolini's publishing connections was a crock from the beginning, and you lectured me about repeating rumors without backing them up twice, with an overtone of "you know you can't prove that's true." I was really surprised to see you demanding proof a second time after I told you the story, when you could have easily looked for it yourself, but this had become more about me having to trot out evidence than whether the claim I'd made was true from the beginning. I have now showed you what you asked to see, and you don't have a thing to say about it except how rude it was for me to give it to you in the manner I chose. More misdirection--a technique very often used by people who want to distract their debate partners from the actual issues.

I really doubt you have anything else to say on the actual subject, because I have provided the evidence you kept bothering me for before you'd admit I'm justified in stating my educated opinion. If you have anything else you want to bring up with me on the actual *issue*, you can go right ahead. But this silliness with accusing me of "flying off the handle" just because I gave you what you asked for in a no-nonsense way needs to stop. I am by nature very thorough with my communications, but I am especially so if someone asks me to be (as you did). My method of addressing your concerns does not constitute any nasty attitude or inability to have an "intellectual discussion" without insults. There is absolutely no deliberate insult in what I have said, but here you are taking offense that I would dare to claim to know what I'm talking about. I have not talked down to you whatsoever, and your inability to see that that's so reinforces my belief that if anyone is unable to handle an intellectual discussion without slinging mud, it's you.

message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark I am now ready to have a passionate love affair with you. Best review ever. =)

And people who think this trash is even worthy of the slip of my eyes are either mad or just plain morons.

Thank you. There is hope for mankind after all.

message 12: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Mark:

You're welcome. Feel free to leave gifts of devotion on my doorstep. (But nothing really creepy please.)

Thanks for reading my rambles, and if you like my review you might appreciate the longer version of it on my site. (Surprise; even as long as the review was, it's actually supposed to be even longer. Character limits are my enemy. You might appreciate it for the extra information and the visual aids.)

message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael I think this is an excellent review, probably because it echos my thoughts exactly. Some of your commentary had me laughing out loud, which indicates that I enjoyed it more than all of Eldest.

message 14: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Michael: Much appreciated. It's nice to know I'm not one of the only people who thought it was abysmal. Thank you for the props.

Spider the Doof Warrior I agree with you Swankivy. I simply cannot get through this book. It's as if he's soooooo in love with his prose he fails at writing a decent story. I want to say to him, I have bad news for you, you are not TOLKIEN, dang it!

message 16: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Absolutely right. Paolini is really quite in love with himself--you can practically see him writing these sentences and then grinning from ear to ear while drooling a little, saying "Ahaha, it's PERFECT." I know he was kinda young when he started this junk, but he really should have learned by now that one doesn't describe ONESELF as a genius or compare oneself to them. I wouldn't have finished the dang thing if I wasn't keeping myself awake by making fun of it.

Spider the Doof Warrior I slogged through Eragon, but when I tried to read Eldest in the bathroom, I'd just put it down in disgust and frustration.
I wrote all sorts of stories as a kid that were just rip-offs of other stories, but I'd play around with them until they were, well, unique. I probably won't publish these stories, but perhaps someone should have made Paolini not only chill with the flowery floral prose but also work on the stories until they become original and not inferior carbon copies of better books!!!!

message 18: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Right. And the point is that when we're learning, we all make silly mistakes like Paolini has. We all write things that are a little unoriginal, "ripping off" (or emulating) our favorite writers who inspired us to love literature enough to want to participate. We also try out our wings on fancy language before we find our stride. This is all wonderful and should be encouraged.

But not published.

When Paolini's parents decided to self-publish and MARKET their son's early "masterpiece," they did him a great disservice. It's very unfortunate--probably for no one more than Paolini himself--that he got "discovered." Because due to the crazy response, he believes he already HAS achieved mastery. Now he probably never will, because rejection and disappointment won't kick him back to the drawing board.

Amusing that you mention reading Eldest in the bathroom. I've got a photo posted of the book being set for use as toilet paper.


Spider the Doof Warrior Yeah, I'd like to become a writer, but I work on a story a lot, tweaking it, trying to make it original, shaping characters. I just want to make a decent story, but it's amazing how much drivel gets published, even if it's terrible.
It's rankling. If that was my son I'd make him tweak that story some more until it was REALLY good. Dragons and stuff are totally cool too. Elves and things. But all of the dialogue and Ayes were enough to make me literally scream out lines of cheesy dialogue in aggravation.

message 20: by Dakota (new)

Dakota White I have to disagree because of course this is his first series he has ever made and after a couple of trys he will become a better writer. Is Stephen king a good writer, yas but he has writen many many books and I think that Christopher could become as good as Stephen King.

message 21: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Dakota: You're free to disagree with me. But the problem here is that published books are not supposed to be a developing artists' gallery. If it's published, it needs to be up to a certain standard. Of course the first things a person writes aren't going to be great, but that's also why the first things a person writes aren't usually published.

Stephen King's first book, Carrie, was very very good. He deserved to be published at that level. Christopher Paolini paid money to a publishing company to produce it and sold them on his own--which isn't the same as getting a publishing contract. He got that later through a rather weird series of events that I can tell you about if you're interested, but he never went through the process of submitting it to publishers and getting dozens of rejections. It was always because of who he knew, and he got lucky.

He might become a better writer as he practices, but so far the public response has taught him he's already doing well enough, and he has no reason to think he needs work based on his sales. That's probably why as his series goes on his writing becomes more flowery, more self-indulgent, and less and less impressive for his age. . . .

message 22: by Julian (new)

Julian I agree with most of the points you brought up in your review. I think some of them were a bit picky but that's probably just you being your thorough self (got that from that argument up there, which actually was a fun read).

Despite all that, I still think this book is a good/fun read. I now know all the bad things, after reading your review, but I'm still anticipating the final book (and he's taking his sweet time to get it done...). It's probably because this whole story seemed original to me since it was only the 2nd book series I read on my own accord, with the first being Harry Potter.

Either way, good review. I look forward to your Brisingr review... and the 4th book (does that make sense?).

message 23: by Cows (new)

Cows This is the kind of review that I look for and admire, and I must say that I agree with it. My highlights were when you went over the similes, personally.:)

message 24: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Glad you liked the similes, Cows. Interestingly, whenever I FINALLY get around to finishing Brisingr, I'm going to have a "hackneyed simile and metaphor count" at the end. I've noticed a peculiar tendency for Paolini to use similes and metaphors that have geological origins. It's really odd.

message 25: by JellyInAJar (new)

JellyInAJar It may be the worst book you have ever read, but remember that just because someone else likes it, they are not insane, or moronic. We all have different tastes, clearly this book wasn't one of yours. Questioning the intelligence of someone just because they enjoyed the story is... well the only word that comes to mind is incorrect. If it is a bestseller, I imagine there are quite a few people who found it entertaining.

message 26: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Jessie, if you'd like me to defend this position, please quote me where I said someone is insane, moronic, or unintelligent because they liked the book. If you could do that, we'd have something to talk about. Since you can't, though, and these opinions are clearly things you've projected onto me from inside your head, I encourage you to argue against points I actually made if you want to have a discussion with me. I don't subscribe to ad hominem attacks, thank you.

Spider the Doof Warrior Yeah, I don't think Swankivy said if you don't like this book you are insane or ect.
She just pointed out flaws with the book.
Flaws that drive me up a tree.

message 28: by Russell (new)

Russell I enjoyed your review better than the book! And don't for get his "deus ex machina" moments, the healing during the elves drugged induced frenzy, for example.

message 29: by Roxy (new)

Roxy My my my, what a review! Why, you don't even need to read the book now! Goodness! You must be an impressive individual, and quite intellectual to have so much to say. I'm impressed!

message 30: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy I dunno about "impressive" or "intellectual," though you're free to make your own interpretations of whatever I say. I just said what I thought, and I really can't remember encountering too many other books I had this many problems with, so I said so. If you like my reviews on this one, you might enjoy the other reviews on Paolini books, as they're similarly thorough. Thanks for the compliments.

message 31: by Roxy (new)

Roxy My personal feeling on the book, and you may have said this and feel free to chastise me for redundancy, was that Paolini did everything we expected him too. The BIG resolve at the end was what I'd been thinking all along the story line. Nothing really surprised me. That Ayra got the dragon was what I'd been thinking but hoping Paolini wouldn't write the whole time. It was like a Disney movie! When the beautiful girl who looks like she's about to explode with innocence and unrealistic proportions regarding cleavage suddenly realizes that she doesn't need the guy who looks like Ponyboy from the Outsiders (great book, by the way) and sees her best friend who happens to constantly have a perfect cute brown hair curl on his gleaming forehead and a chest that grows no hair is the perfect guy for her. This happens while I'm sitting there, begging for him to die, or for her to move to east Africa and fall in love with a cannibal with a heart of gold, anything but the best friend! Hook up with a cannibal, hook up with a cannibal.....

To come back to eldest, dreadful. Didn't even regret Izlandi. In fact, I'd wanted something to happen to her. Insufferable character.

All in all, thank you. That review was spectacular.

message 32: by Roxy (new)

Roxy And, may I say, how nice you constantly respond to comments. That is quite kind.

message 33: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Roxy, actually he originally intended it to be a LOT more Disney--was grooming Eragon/Arya for a relationship, intended the dragon hearts to make Eragon more mature in an instant so he could be worthy of Arya and on her level so to speak, all kinds of silly Disney things were intended.

I find myself wondering how the heck you give a book like this 4 stars if you think my review is so appropriate.

message 34: by Roxy (new)

Roxy Actually, to tell you the truth, I haven't been on in a while. I had just started it when I rated the book. I started reading the series and loved it, for I saw how it could have so much promise. I got through the books, enjoying the interesting characters, then was sorely disappointed in the end. I do respect your review though.

message 35: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Hahah. Um so I totally get where you're coming from. Everything you say is true. However, I still really like the book, and if you read my review I just posted you'll see why.

message 36: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy I don't know about that. I don't exactly "see why." I can understand your thoughts on the matter, but nothing you said made me think of the book differently. For instance, you said that even though 80% of the book was Eragon learning stuff, "the stuff was interesting." I disagreed. None of it was interesting to me. It read to me like Paolini reciting crap he made up in an incredibly indulgent way that most writers learn to stymie once they mature. Good writers know what details to include and what details to invent but not shoehorn in. Just because you invented it doesn't mean you have to tell the reader all about it.

I didn't feel that it was authentic compassion that had Roran remembering the number of men he killed, which is kind of how you framed it. Actually, in the next book he kills almost 200 soldiers and then bellyaches about how disappointing it is that he didn't get to that nice round number. In the fourth book, he declares the rush of battle to be better than love. This attitude was there in the second book too, but I think Paolini was just trying to make all the right noises to make his protagonists not look like psychopaths. He did not succeed, because all he did was make them look written and inconsistent.

Regarding your opinion that Arya should "get over herself and love Eragon," I think that would have been the worst mistake Paolini could have made. Arya doesn't fail to love Eragon because she's on a high horse. First off, unlike certain sparkly vampires, Arya kinda legitimately acts like she's a lot older than the new kid on the block, and being able to legitimately love someone who has no maturity would suggest Arya's kinda creepy. There's also a disturbing tendency for women in fantasy to be things that are won rather than people with agency. I don't like the idea that "Arya should love him because, you know, he likes her and things he wants should be his because he is after all the hero." Actually, I adamantly dislike anything that frames female characters as people who demonstrate steadfast lack of attraction to a man and then get won over by the end because of a male character's persistence. It teaches readers--male and female alike--that it is the male's desire that matters, and it's the female's job to just quit denying him what he deserves.

I can understand being wowed by the "OMG brothers" revelation if you really didn't see it coming, though it does surprise me that this wasn't kinda obvious to everyone. I'm sure not everyone saw it the same way.

I'm glad that even though you enjoyed the book and I thought it was a hot mess, you can see the truth in what I pointed out and you can refrain from looking poorly upon me because of our different opinions. Not very common from people who rate this book five stars, unfortunately.

message 37: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Swankivy wrote: "I don't know about that. I don't exactly "see why." I can understand your thoughts on the matter, but nothing you said made me think of the book differently. For instance, you said that even tho..."

Well, these are my thoughts from reading the book for the first time. I don't know yet what happens in the next two books, and that's just what I think right after reading it.

As for Arya, when I say "get over herself and love Eragon" I'm talking as a 19 year old girl who loves romance, not as a reviewer. I just want some romance, but of course I see why it's not happening.

The brothers revelation might have been obvious, but I still found it shocking, so I enjoyed it. There are many things about the books that are obvious and NOT shocking, but I was startled by that part.

It's interesting to talk about why different opinions exist. Obviously everyone can't think the same way. We could be looking at the book from totally different angles and backgrounds, and that's intriguing.

message 38: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Yeah, I only read each book once too.

Regarding Arya and your comment about not voicing your opinions about her as "a reviewer," do keep in mind you're necessarily a reviewer if you review the book in public. I know what you're talking about, though, of course . . . and honestly, you can root for the romance all you like. I suppose it's a pet peeve of mine, though, when I hear someone say that it's the woman's job to stop feeling what she feels and start feeling what the hero wants her to feel, or implies that there's something wrong with a woman if she doesn't respond to being loved by reciprocating it.

The brothers revelation, for me, was not a revelation primarily because a) Eragon's parentage was mysterious; therefore, in a story like this, the author would undoubtedly use it to create contrived revelations; and b) Star Wars, with the line changed to "Luke, I am your brother."

And I'm certain we're looking at it from different angles, of course. I'm a professional editor, and I'm in my thirties. I've seen a lot of stories and story types (though I figure you must have too--aren't you majoring in English? Thought I saw that when I clicked on you to find your review), and I have no patience for what I consider cheap shots. I find Paolini's cardinal sin to be his storytelling, though, not just his plot.

message 39: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen My tumblr and goodreads page are not professional blogs. If I were to write a review for a website or newspaper, I wouldn't include my thoughts on the romance, but because it's a bit more personal, I feel free to include my opinions on whatever I like. And when I said it's Arya's "job" to love Eragon, I only meant that she's the one resisting his love. If it were the other way around, I would have said it about Eragon.

Yes, but did you really see it coming that Vadar was Luke's father? And even if you did, wasn't that part still great? I think I was shocked more by the manner in which Murtagh told him, just casually throwing it out there, than the revelation.

I am majoring in English, but it's English Adolescence Education. When I read a young adult novel, I'm looking for what the author is saying to teenagers.

As for his storytelling, I agree with you there. I think Paolini is trying his best, I really do. It's just that his best still comes off as a obnoxious and arrogant. I'll link you to my first review of Eragon, because I absolutely hated it. I think you'll find it amusing. I think the things I can't stand the most are the names of the places and the chapter titles.


message 40: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Oh, I know these aren't professional--but they're still reviews, so you're "a reviewer," writing reviews. (I took them for very casual, informal thoughts on the books, which is apparently what you intended--they have a personal flavor, a few language mistakes, and yeah, personal opinions that you weighed against the book's quality. Pro reviews rarely read like that, though technically when you say "if you were writing a review for a website," well, this is a website.)

The problem with "it's Arya's job to love Eragon" is not that you would have accused Eragon of the same if the roles were reversed. The problem is that in fantasy, THE ROLES ALMOST NEVER ARE REVERSED. In a woman's fantasy, her QUEST is to get the guy, the end. In a man's fantasy, he goes on an adventure and beats some people and kicks some asses and also gets the girl as part of the spoils. The girl is part of the winning. I tend not to like it when women are portrayed as being unreasonable because they aren't attracted to the hero--who loves her at first sight and never wavers--because that's a formula for later falling like a ton of bricks. Women can't be trusted to have consistent feelings; men's first impressions are enduring; women actually will change their minds eventually; persistence in romance will be rewarded (aka no means yes). All really terrible messages. I don't like it. (I wrote about the sexism in these books a little in my reviews, but I wouldn't have as big a problem with it if so many other books didn't do it too.)

Regarding did I see it coming that Vader was Luke's father--I actually can't answer that, because Star Wars was such a defining feature of my generation that it was all over pop culture (the spoiler, I mean) before I ever saw the movie. I didn't see it until my late teens, because I wasn't interested. But Star Wars is based on probably the most oft-used story template ever: the hero's journey. And yes, that whole story element is built into that story template. I used one of the most famous examples, but really, it is the Hero's Journey that I'm actually citing. Glancing over its story elements, you'll see a surprising number of them mirrored in Eragon and Eldest. Sometimes in the same order.

Cool on studying education. I have a degree in that! (Elementary ed, though.)

Funny first review. Looks like his writing style pissed you off. I find the thesaurus-fondling and adjective-sprinkling completely obnoxious.

message 41: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Swankivy wrote: "Oh, I know these aren't professional--but they're still reviews, so you're "a reviewer," writing reviews. (I took them for very casual, informal thoughts on the books, which is apparently what you..."

Hah. Yes, this is a website, but I think you know what I mean!

I completely agree with you here. Of course there are great novels with heroines, but they follow a different formula. But, to mildly refute your point, Libba Bray's "A Great and Terrible Beauty" has a female heroine who focuses only on her quest and not the male love interest, and when she does think about him, she believes he's completely uninterested.

Well, of course Eragon's story is a hero's journey. What else could it be? It's a coming-of-age story plus a hero's journey, and I wouldn't be surprised if Paolini was using that model as a template. I don't think we can critique a novel for following standards that almost every novel before it has followed, though I'm sure you'll disagree with me. :)

Yeah, it's been pretty fun! I don't think I could do elementary ed., props to you.


message 42: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy It doesn't "refute" my point when I said "almost never." Books do exist with a female heroine who isn't all about falling in love, and that's why I said "almost." Being able to think of a few token examples where the overused themes actually aren't used doesn't mean it isn't a problem. It means those authors were actually cool enough to not reiterate the status quo.

When you discuss the "hero's journey" bit above, it kinda sounds like you aren't very familiar with the story arc. It's the monomyth. Joseph Campbell. Hero With a Thousand Faces. (I wouldn't be surprised if there are at least a thousand stories currently circulating today which have the pattern.) Identified and discussed explicitly under this title since the 1940s, but examples stretch back to antiquity (an example you're familiar with: The Odyssey). It's pretty interesting to search for the journey "steps" and put them together with stories like Eragon. I'm not saying it's BAD to do Yet Another Hero's Journey According To This Template, but if you're going to do it AGAIN, you should be bringing something new to the table. . . . The only "twist" in presenting Murtagh as his brother is that the "Atonement with the Father" step is once removed. He still has to face and struggle with the fact that Morzan is his father. Which, like pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENS TO HIM, is a struggle whose purpose is removed not through his own ingenuity or agency, but through circumstances beyond his control. Eragon is so reactionary. . . . It really bugs me. ANYWAY, that's why I wasn't surprised to see something like this. I actually did think his father would turn out to be alive, because that makes more sense in the template, but Murtagh being related to him was something I suspected. (And I won't spoil the future "revelation" about his parentage, either. But it's silly.)

Spider the Doof Warrior She actually does seem to have a really rich life full of creativity. I doubt a person needs to get a life just because they want to expose how BAD these books are.

message 44: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Ah, of course! People who disagree with you or have different interests deserve derision and mockery. Feel free to explain to me which attributes the new life I should be purchasing should contain. I'd love to tailor my new life to look as much like yours as possible! Your opinion is dear to me! Truly!

How limiting and sad it must be to live in your head.

message 45: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy LOL. So you're commenting on my huge article and therefore YOU have nothing better to do? That's not how things work. Sometimes when I read things that suck a lot, I like to explain why so people can understand why I hated it. Same as when I love a book, I explain in a detailed fashion why I love it. Literary criticism is a waste of time? How much television and video games do you play? More than an hour a day? It look me less than an hour to write that article. I don't watch TV or play video games. And I don't tell people that if they choose to do those things, they're therefore wasting their time because they don't choose to spend it how I want to spend it.

How about instead of making judgments on how other people should spend their time, you say something useful about my evaluation? If you dislike my content, explain why. If it's just not that important to you, ignore it like you're saying I should have ignored the source material.

message 46: by Sam (new)

Sam Well I read your "argument" with Katy and I have to say I'm impressed with your command of the language. I don't know how I feel though because I enjoyed eragon when I first read it. However that was when I was in 5th grade and idk if I would be able to enjoy it after reading your critique lol.

message 47: by Swankivy (new)

Swankivy Thanks Sam. I'm glad you think I have a decent command of the language. Let's hope publishers reading my work agree with you. :X

If my critiques draw your attention to elements of the books that affect your enjoyment, I guess that means you can't enjoy something unless it's well conceived and properly executed, so being able to still enjoy inferior works doesn't strike me as much of a loss . . . but at the same time, just knowing what's terrible about something doesn't necessarily mean you can't enjoy it for what it is!

message 48: by Hannah (new)

Hannah You my friend, have summed up my opinions of this book better than I ever could. And with much more humor!

message 49: by Rhea (new)

Rhea Swankivy... you're awesome.

message 50: by Emilee (new)

Emilee Waltz I started reading this book and I agree with most of your statements, of course, I haven't finished the book. I don't like the fact that he doesn't say that some of the people don't die and then come back later. It makes sense, but probably only to him. I wanted more to happen to some of the other characters, and some of his wording didn't make sense to me. So far, I have my likes and dislikes about the book, but I can agree with 90% of your statements and that would have probably been how I reviewed the book.

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