THE VOICE OF ERAGON
An Analysis of Christopher Paolini’s novel, Eragon
by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco
That some books are inspired by other classic and more renowned books is nothing new to me. It is to be expected. As million books are published every day, it is not surprising that some have the same content, almost the same story, and even with the same characters garbed in a different attire and name. When I read professional and non-professional reviews on Eragon saying it is but a fanfiction of Lord of the Rings, it did not affect my desire to read the novel. After all, fanfictions are there for fans to enjoy. There are some readers who don’t get satisfied with how stories end and they resolve it by making up stories. A story about dragons and a fanfiction of a trilogy I really love made a perfect formula. I was excited to see what Paolini had cooked up. Or so I thought.
Eragon‘s likeness to Lord of the Rings is quite evident. Brom looks like Gandalf, a very inconsistent Gandalf. Sometimes he speaks like an old man, another, a rude old man. Eragon is a combination of a less sophisticated Legolas, an indecisive Aragon and a braver Frodo Baggins. Urgals have a resemblance to Uruk-hai. However, story-wise, the novel has a great potential. Every page of the novel has made me wonder if there is something more to being a Rider. Alas! I have to read the sequels to learn more.
What only bothers me is the consistency of the voices of the narrator and even the characters—it is irritating. In the first few pages, Eragon has made himself appear as a hero, in the next, a reluctant hero, and in the last pages, a love-sick hero. There are times when he and his dragon, Saphira, act like mother and son as presented in Saphira’s endearment “little one.” They act like lovers, too, as exemplified in the following lines:
“I love you too.”
“Then, I’ll bind you all the tighter.”
If it isn’t a combination of bestiality and S&M, I don’t know what to call it.
I have expected the blue dragon to speak in a language of the old, a dragon that has experienced a lot of things. There are some pages that give me the satisfaction to see this side of Saphira. It is disappointing to see her switching back to a bickering dragon. Perhaps comparing Saphira to other dragon-stereotypes is unfair but she does sound like a weakling to me. I have to consistently remind myself the novel has been entitled Eragon and not Saphira.
I also am waiting for the time when I can distinguish the language of the elves from the dwarves and from the human beings. Establishing their nuances is challenging particularly when there have been so many books that have already done-or attempted doing-that. However, LOTR‘s elf language is still different compared to the others. As a writer, Paolini can still improve that aspect of the novel.
It has been quite remarkable for a person that young to have published novels. I commend Paolini for that. However, with age comes maturity and experience. This brings another question to my mind. When should a writer stop editing his /her work? I have felt Paolini’s genius and inexperience in Eragon. Still, with the number of people he has been able to reach through his novel, and the growing number of those who want to read his novel, having people judge his work compared to other classic fantasy novels out there is inevitable. He cannot alter the story anymore. It is out there waiting to be devoured. What he can do is improve its language.