Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1) Eragon discussion

Paolini's Plagiarism

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message 1: by Datminv (last edited Jan 11, 2009 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Datminv Please note that I don't mean the word plagiarism as an accusation, simply a term to describe what I believe to be copying from other works.

I've noticed many 'similarities' between the Inheritance series and other, better (in my opinion) fantasy storylines, some being Jordan's 'Wheel of Time', Eddings' 'Belgariad' and 'Mallorean', Eddings' 'Tamuli' and 'Elenium', the Star Wars storyline, Lord of the Rings, and LeGuin's 'Earthsea' trilogy. Please discuss.

Also, I respect fans of Paolini and am not trying to insult them in any way. Please don't rant.

Erik Knutila Rather than plagiarism, I would call it "derivative". However, in a lot of cases many works could be derivative in some form or another.

Laura I agree. Plus, in many genres (and other art forms as well), there is often a formula that is almost required. However, it's the great writers that break that new ground or revolutionize the genre, so that the "formula" is invisible. Paolini may simply be too young to have become great, but I enjoy his books. They're simply good.

Datminv I do admit that if you shut your brains off, (which I'm afraid I do much of while reading) then Paolini's books are very enjoyable. However, if you take a deeper look, you can find flaws at nearly every turn, and many of these flaws are based in plagiarism.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul I agree with Erik. Plagiarism is a bit harsh. I think if you read enough books, you'll find some formula in many of them. It doesn't make them bad. The key is good characters. If you like them, you'll probably like the book, regardless if it's similar to something you may have read.

Alex I feel that too much has been written with similar plots to not notice similarities between Paolini's books and other author's books. I agree that it is not very innovative or new, but I think that plagiarism is a little bit too harsh.

Erik Knutila A good example is the comparison between Earthsea and these books. I assume you may be talking about the "true name" or naming of things is how you do magic. This concept has been around far longer than the earthsea trilogy. That doesn't take away from those books either.

I do think a lot of these books are hardly original, but if you use that comparison, then probably 80% of fantasy works could be considered as plagiarized works for the Lord of The Rings in some form or another.

Kandice You know, it's been said there are really only 7 plots available to writers, evrything else is just... DETAILS!

Corey The "derivative" issue I have with these books is more a matter of etomology and phonetics, in relation to Tolkine. It so happened that my dad and I were reading two seperate copys of Eldest, in the same room, on the same day, when I turned to him and asked:
"do you ever get lost for a moment, thinking that a person is a sword?"
There are many Alegasian words that are astoundingly similar to Middle Earth words, often having a single sillable tacked onto the end, or swapped. Using the same root Earth languages is one thing, but direct lifts of obscure names from tolkine, herbert, and others, is maybe something else...

Rachel I've never even heard of any of those books... Plaigarism is copy of words. I'm not stating this as a fact, but i don't THINK that he copied the exact words. He was a fabulous and fluent writer throughout the whole.

Datminv Rachel wrote: "I've never even heard of any of those books... Plaigarism is copy of words. I'm not stating this as a fact, but i don't THINK that he copied the exact words. He was a fabulous and fluent writer thr..."

I'm sorry? You've never heard of Lord of the Rings? Or do you mean the other ones? To respond to Corey, here's a list I got off of

Maybe this will change some of your minds.

A long time ago, in a galaxy
far, far, away...
A long time ago, in a land far, far, away . .
Palpatine, an evil Sith Lord, has overthrown the galactic Republic and become emperor of the new Empire.
The Jedi Knights, an ancient peacekeeping order, have been eradicated.

Galbatorix, an evil Dragon Rider has
overthrown Algaesia and become King of the new Empire.
The Dragon Riders,
an ancient peacekeeping order, have been eradicated.

Princess Leia Organa is a member of the Rebel Alliance, a group fighting to defeat the Empire. She's on a mission involving Obi Wan Kenobi, an exiled Jedi living on Tatooine.
The mission fails when her spaceship falls under attack by an Imperial star cruiser.

Princess Arya is an elf aiding the Rebelling
Varden, a group fighting to defeat the Empire. She's on a mission to
involving Brom, an exiled Rider living in Carvahal.
The mission fails when
her horse falls under attack by a group of Urgals.

Leia hides stolen schematics of the Empire's Death Star, and transports it to Tatooine.
Arya hides the stolen egg of the dragons and transports it to Carvahal.

The two droids make their way to Luke
Skywalker. He decides to go to Obi Wan. After meeting him, Luke rushes home only to find his aunt and uncle murdered by Imperial storm troopers searching for the droids.

The egg makes its way to Eragon. He decides to go to Brom. After meeting him, Eragon rushes home only to find his uncle fatally wounded by the Ra'zac searching for the egg.

Meanwhile, Princess Leia is held captive.
Darth Vader demands the location of the rebel base camp, but Leia
Meanwhile, Princess Arya is held captive.
Galbatorix demands the location of the rebel base camp, but Arya

Corey I don't think he has lifted whole passages of text, either, but coined, proper nouns. One of first, and most obvious (to me,) lifts was when Eragon was trying to find Saphira's name; one of the rejected possibilities was Valinor - you know, the undying lands in the west of middle earth... And then there is the Haderac desert, which sounds *nothing* like Dune's Kwizats Haderach; he dropped the final letter, but as an avid dune fan, it still smacked me in the face as familiar when I read it. Then there is this:
Inheriwiki - Paolini
Morgothal, brother to Urûr, was the fire god of the dwarves' religion. He was one of the creators of dragons.

Wiki - Tolkien
Morgoth was the principal agent of evil during the time of The Silmarillion (1977) and his influence lingers in the world even after he was cast from the world into the outer void. [end quote:] It was his part in the great music that directed the creation of all things evil in the world, including (tolkein's) dragons.

One syllable tacked onto the end, does not a new language make. This, or the swaping of syllables or letters, is the most common of Paolini's derivative sins.

All of that said, I like the Inheritance cycle. I just wish that Paolini had taken a few more steps away from Tolkein in particular, because I find it jarring (the whole person/sword thing,) it actually takes me OUT if the story.

Call it Tribute, rather than rip-off is you like; I will not speculate on Paolini's intent, but it's difficult to deny that more than a little similarity exists, here.

message 13: by Corey (last edited Jan 11, 2009 10:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Corey response to Akaasha: maybe he did lift whole passages of text...

message 14: by Datminv (last edited Jan 12, 2009 06:22PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Datminv Firstly, to reply to Corey, I rather doubt it to be tribute, because no mention of Tolkien is made on the acknowledgments page of Eragon or Eldest.

Take these two scenes; one from the Belgariad (which happens to be my favorite book), by author David Eddings and one from Eldest.


“What do I do?” Garion asked.
“Gather in the force,” Belgarath told him. “Take it from everything around.”
Garion tried that.
“Not from me!” the old man exclaimed sharply.
Garion excluded his grandfather from his field of reaching out and pulling in. After a moment or two, he felt as if he were tingling all over and that his hair was standing on end. “Now what?” he asked, clenching his teeth to hold it in.


“What is the cost of magic, Eragon?” asked Oromis.
“Energy. A spell costs the same amount of energy as it would to complete the task through mundane means.”
Oromis nodded. “And where does the energy come from?”
“The spellcaster’s body.”
“Does it have to?”
Eragon’s mind raced as he considered the awesome implications of Oromis’s question. “You meant it can come from other sources?”
“That is exactly what happens whenever Saphira assists you with a spell.
“Yes, but she and I share a unique connection,” protested Eragon. “Our bond is the reason I can draw upon her strength. To do that with someone else, I would have to enter…” He trailed off as he realized what Oromis was driving at.
“You would have to enter the consciousness of the being-or beings- who was going to provide the energy,” said Oromis, completing Eragon’s thought. “Today you proved that you can do just that with even the smallest form of life. Now…” He stopped and pressed a hand against his chest as he coughed, then continued, “I want you to extract a sphere of water from the stream, using only the energy you can gleam from the forest around you.”
“Yes, Master.”
As Eragon reached out to the nearby plants and animals, he felt Oromis’s mind brush against his own, the elf watching and judging his progress. Frowning with concentration, Eragon endeavored to eke the needed force from the environment and hold it within himself until he was ready to release the magic…
“Eragon! Do not take it from me! I am weak enough as it is.”
Startled, Eragon realized that he had included Oromis in his search. “I’m sorry, Master,” he said, chastised.

I see a little more than a little difference...

Corey for the record *I* never thought it was tribute, I was just trying to be generous.

I think that the bottom line sounds something like this:

Even now, Paolini is still just a kid in literary terms - and was even more so when he first developed the story. As such it would not be surprising if, due to inattentiveness, inexperience, ignorance, negligence, whatever, some (many?) of the elements of his favorite stories found their way into his own work. It would also not be a stretch to believe that, again in his young inattentiveness, inexperience, ignorance, negligence, bollox, whatever, he might choose to leave them there in their relatively unaltered form, possibly even being of the opinion that said elements are wholy his own creations. He's certainly not the first to do it, and he won't be the last. He may be one of the more obvious, owing to the commercial success of the books and film, and because many of his "inspirations" have fanatic followings of their own, (and we recognize our obsessions when we see them.)

*end* two cents...

Datminv Nice summary, Corey. I wholly agree (and I definitely agree with the first line of your comment.)

message 17: by Justin (last edited Jan 13, 2009 06:44PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Justin NO... just because Paolini is young, does not mean that he can plagiarize other great works. I fully agree with most stuff in the topic, but pitying Paolini does not float my boat.

Also can I into the direction of

Some very nice articles on there.

Corey Nice articles.

I never meant that he *can* plagarize because he is young, only that his age makes it less surprising that he *did* He certainly never asked my permission...

BTW there's no pity party comming from me, I was just trying to speculate on the how? more than why? and striving to be objective about it. Impartial.

There are only so many ways to explain how too many coincidences to be coincidence get into a given text:
If we allow occam's razor to eliminate the monkeys-with-typewriters option (true coincidence;) then we are left with two options:
A) Concious copying of ideas or text, with which he was already familliar.
B) Subconcious copying of ideas or text, with which he was already familliar.

Pick one, or both; I happen to think it was both.
It would seem that we are generally in agreement that some sort of plagarism/borrowing/ripping-off happened, whether he meant to do it or not (both?) But it also seems that, at least Justin, Akaasha and I, all read the first three books, and we will probably read the last one when it comes out; and that we will bitch about that one, too - I know I plan to - and I hope we can all have a good time doing it.

Datminv Definitely.

message 20: by Fat (new)

Fat Alberto Okay, where to begin on this matter...
There's David Edding's Belgariad and Tamuli, with the drawing-in of energy and stuff someone was already talking about from the Belgariad (not to mention the whole wystem of magic is taken from the belgariad, and changed only a little)- but there was also the bridge scene in the eleneum/tamuli and in Eragon where Brom/Sparhawk cuts the bridgekeeper's purse (the scene is taken virtually word for word...). Not to mention the Cherek Bore, and the Boar's Eye- Both giant whirlpools. Brom- totally the irascible Belgarath. Eragon, the magical farmboy of prophecy... not garion by any chance? Or maybe Rand from the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan? Speaking of the wheel of time, Roran's storyline from Eldest is definately copied from Perrin's story in Book 4 of Jordan's books. And the bond between saphira and eragon is a pimped-out warder bond. I also remember that Nynaveve had a ring she could use as a store for magic energy similar to Brom's. Gee... I could go on if I had more time to think, but this is just a rant i guess

message 21: by Jeline (last edited Dec 23, 2010 12:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeline yeah u guys are probably right that paolini probably copied the idea of the belgariad and turned it into his own novel but just so you know, paolini IS a huge fan of the belgariad and david eddings...although it kinda sucks that he copied (not plagiarized since he also has his own ideas in the inheritance cycle) some stuff from eddings' books but i still love paolini and his writing style is kinda different from eddings

paolini even praised the belgariad that it is "a classis coming-of-age epic....the belgariad will always have a place of honor on my bookshelves." I saw that one at the back of my copy of Eldest.

obviously paolini is a fan of eddings...and he's younger so he must have read the belgariad when he was a boy and became a fan.

so please dont say that poalini plagarized the belgariad.

message 22: by Jo (last edited Apr 01, 2011 12:20PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo Not only Star Wars.

Think of it. Elves that come from over the sea, hero destined to leave home, cranky dwarfs that like to drink, mine and work metal.

Everley Sharp, the Clankinist What is the belgariad?

Bjorn-The Last Viking Kandice wrote: "You know, it's been said there are really only 7 plots available to writers, evrything else is just... DETAILS!"

Its true. There are very limited resources when it comes to plot types. And another thing. There are stereotypical races. Dwarfs are almost always short. Live under ground. Cranky and so on. And elves are tall. graceful. Deadly warriors. Etc. You cant say that he was copying someones work. Every story that will ever be written has already been written and forgotten.

Everley Sharp, the Clankinist Datminv wrote: "I do admit that if you shut your brains off, (which I'm afraid I do much of while reading) then Paolini's books are very enjoyable. However, if you take a deeper look, you can find flaws at nearly ..."

Okay, WHAT? That seriously offends me. I enjoyed all the books, and I did NOT have to "shut my brains off." for someone who did not intend to offend fans, you have SERIOUSLY offended me.

Kendall Anne Everley the Beautiful Chaotic One wrote: "Datminv wrote: "I do admit that if you shut your brains off, (which I'm afraid I do much of while reading) then Paolini's books are very enjoyable. However, if you take a deeper look, you can find ..."

Me too. Just because people have different opinions doesn't make them wrong!

message 27: by Kendall Anne (last edited Apr 01, 2011 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kendall Anne The definition of plagiarism: the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.

Although everyone KNOWS what it means, read this to make sure you got the right idea.

Sara-Beth Plagiarism is deffently the wrong word.

If you look at any great text through out history there are multiple stories or novels that have simmilar story lines.
Look at shakespear. How many of his story line have been turned into movies or books.
Also, when writing a book based on mythology, there are guidelines that you should follow.
If you think of most faire books, a lot of them either have to do with farie and human realtions or changlings. And most of these books all adhere to the common mythological guidlines.

I think Paolini's books are very good.

Kendall Anne I agree completely Sara-Beth!

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Well guys, I've got to be on Datminv's side here. Who else here as such great evidence?

But anyways, think about it. How many times have most plots been used? Many, many times. But those examples that Datminv gave hit the nail on the head. Using a plot is one thing, but that is a tad too much.

And besides, I don't think Shakespeare had copyrights (lol).

Mythology runs in our blood. Humans just can't get the idea of gods and goddesses out of their heads. Plus, those mythological stories are just so dang cool that people can't help but use them themselves!

Yet this is all based on opinion. If you think Paolini's books are good, then they're good for you. If you don't, then you don't. I personally think that sure an author can copy whatever the heck they want and if they get angry people, that's their fault. On the other hand, I'm one of those angry people.

I'm right in the middle on this, but leaning towards the "Paolini-probably-should-have-come-up-with-things-much-more-original-than-that-because-what-he-came-up-with-was-a-bit-too-much-side."

Rebecca Hmm.. I'm not exactly sure what to say here.
I thouroghly enjoyed Paolini's books.
But, it does sound similar to other stories.
Really, though, how many books can you say are truly original? Most are similar to others, it's hard to come up with a storyline completeley different then anything else.
And, just because it sounds like other stories, doesn't mean he was copying. It could have been, like, an unconsious (sp?) inspriation.

I guess, what I'm saying is, that you can't single out only Paolini for copying, when basically every author does it as well, knowingly or not.

Everley Sharp, the Clankinist Rebecca wrote: "Hmm.. I'm not exactly sure what to say here.
I thouroghly enjoyed Paolini's books.
But, it does sound similar to other stories.
Really, though, how many books can you say are truly original? Mos..."

I agree.

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Mmmmm yes perfect side right there.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Mmmmm yes perfect side right there.

♥Glitter in the Air♥   I have to disagree with you, I have found almost every book EVER written follows more or less one pattern. Most book can be compared to another written before it.I am sure there were books about elves and dwarfs fighting an evil Ruler before Lord of the Rings. I am sure there were books written about people living in space that fight against an evil ruler. In fact look at those two books, I see a lot of similarities just between them. Also when you read, you don't shut off most your brain. It is proven reading exercises the brain like going for a jog would do for you body. That isn't exactly turning it off.

message 36: by Tom (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Bensley I could NOT get the Star Wars similarities out of my head!
Dragon Riders and Jedis, The Empire and The Empire, Galbatorix and Vader, Eragon's mentor and Ben Kenobi.... The list goes on!
Entertaining for me as a kid, though I doubt I could read it now.

message 37: by Anki (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anki Is Eragon similar to a lot of other stories? Absolutely. Is it plagiarism? Not really. Highly derivative and more than a little predictable are the harshest criticisms I would level against it.

Eragon follows the traditional hero cycle pretty closely. The framework of the story tends to be rather obvious, more so, perhaps, than in the works of other authors, but Paolini is hardly the first to have a very visible story framework.

I would also point out that no story exists in a vacuum, entirely lacking in outside influences. Every author draws from his or her personal experiences, and that includes all the stories they have ever read, watched, or heard. And yes, with all that stuff in your head it is possible to come up with something you honestly believe to be original, only to find out quite a bit after the fact that you patterned your work heavily on something you barely even remembered.

A general ideas and plots cannot be subject to copyright. Character types cannot be subject to copyright. Specific treatments of ideas, plots, and character types fall under copyright.

It would be plagiarism (or at the very least, bad fanfic) if Paolini had written a story about the adventures of Luke Skywalker being brought to an ancient Dragonhold by Gandalf the Gray in order to impress a dragon so he would be able to fight the evil menace from the skies and restore the kingdom to glory and overthrow Torak before marrying Polgara and retiring to Caer Dallben to raise pigs.

But he didn't. Yes, there are a lot of similarities, but Eragon is its own story. Unique, if not necessarily original.

message 38: by Sydney (last edited Jul 11, 2011 04:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sydney @TikiPaws12- I agree!

message 39: by MizziQ (last edited Apr 04, 2011 04:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

MizziQ I think that most books base off each other. Especially when it is a good selling or intruiging plot. Someone can take a old and overused base, and make it into a bestseller with creativity and more or less details. Although I have to say I have not read the books a lot of you are talking about, so I can't see similarities to unread books. Yes there have been books about elves, but people read and many enjoy the Inheritance Cycle. If you didn't enjoy it because of similarities between other books you have read then forget about 3 hours you missed and read your favorites until a new one comes along.

message 40: by Ash (new) - rated it 1 star

Ash I like it when books reference other books. Recognizing the ideas and concepts that other people came up with and building off of them is a good thing.

There's just a huge difference between referencing other work and ripping it off. There is not a single original thought in Eragon. And whatever, it's genre fiction, I could even swallow that if he was a good writer but ... he's just not a good writer.

message 41: by Hina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hina When I first read Eragon I really did enjoy it, maybe because I didn't know how similar it is to the books mentioned or maybe because I generally did like it.

I'm not sure if I'm right but if what you all say is true why haven't the authors or their relations complained about the said plagiarism? I know if someone copied my book I would be very annoyed.

But the thing is that people like me love the book and I don't think you should hate the book just because it doesn't have original ideas. Harry Potter has been said to be copied off other books too, as do many.

message 42: by Don (new) - rated it 3 stars

Don Martinez I'm not sure if "plagiarism" is the right term here. If that's your opinion of it, then you could argue (using the same definition of plagiarism) that Star Wars plagiarizes several other works. What it comes down to is, what you're citing is all works that follow a similar heroic cycle. If you're familiar at all with any of Joseph Campbell's work on myth and legend, you'd find that not only are the cycles not original, but they haven't been original since nearly the dawn of time. Similar patterns of heroic cycles date all the way back to at least the ancient Greeks. As another poster put it, there's only 7 storylines, and the differences come in the details of how they're told, what the environment is, etc.

message 43: by Hina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hina Also all work isn't original, you can relate every piece of work to something. You never know, JRR Tolkien might have used a bit of someone else's work/ideas/whatever for Lord of the Rings.

message 44: by Hina (last edited May 27, 2011 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hina As Don said plagiarism isn't really the right term to use here, let's just say that all work isn't original it is taken from somewhere say for example, conversations, surroundings, paintings, and we come to others works.

message 45: by Ash (new) - rated it 1 star

Ash As another poster put it, there's only 7 storylines, and the differences come in the details of how they're told, what the environment is, etc.

Sure. My issue with Eragon is that when I'm looking at those details that should make it interesting and original, I can trace most of them back to one specific other story. It's not, "gee, this is just like every other fantasy novel", it's "gee, this is just like Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/whatever." I don't think Paolini can get by on the "there are only seven stories!!" argument because he didn't just recycle an overarching concept, he recycled an overarching concept and filled it with specific details that other people had already used.

message 46: by Roseanne (last edited May 28, 2011 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Roseanne well i guess he did it in such a way that was awesome for his publisher ... and you can't plagiarize ideas ... ideas along with names are not under copyright law ... also no idea is original (only the premise/concept makes it "fresh" not new...nothing is ever authentically original anymore... ) ... usually in the epic fantasy world every thing is usually compared to to Harry Potter or Twilight or Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or Dune or

And I'm sorry, but everyone's missing the DRAGON part of Eragon...

Roseanne One might easily argue that Twilight "borrowing" from Sookey Stackhouse Series (which it does in the names department)... or Lord of the Rings of Dune....

Nadia Erik wrote: "A good example is the comparison between Earthsea and these books. I assume you may be talking about the "true name" or naming of things is how you do magic. This concept has been around far longer..."

Completely agree. It's very, very hard to find something new under the sun.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, seriously, can anyone name an original book written in the 21st century?? Uh, no, you can't, because every book borrows ideas from other stuff.

message 50: by Jess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jess I am learning about Intertextuality at University at this moment.

You have overt intertextuality (in which an author comes out and clearly says this book was inspired by ??? author or ??? book) there is a clear connection between books.

Then there is subverted intertextuality (where an author draws upon a book or books that they have read and unconsciously uses similar styles or plots or themes etc)

If you are really interested in exploring this subject then I can suggest researching Julia Kristeva and Allen Graham.

It is a fascinating subject and concept and I think all authors do it.

Even if it is in reverse. For example:

An author is writing their book and the next scene has a few different ways that it can play out - the author can remember something that they DISLIKE about another book and never use that in their own writing.

Even though it doesnt make it into the book - the author is subconsciously being influenced by an another author.

If you think about it - alot of books especially fantasy books. It is usually based on the underlying theme of Good vs Evil. Some are blatant about it like Harry Potter or David Eddings and Lord of the Rings etc

I believe it is impossible to write a book and not be inspire by another author. The only way you could get a completely original book today is if you raised a child and never let them read any books and then at 20 asked them to write a novel.

I am glad I read this post - I think its a interesting topic to research and I hope you look further into it.

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