kippurbird: (Default)
I picked up Inheritance again yesterday and then had to put it back down with a "Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!" after reading the following: "Reaching out, he traced the diamond-shaped hole on the left side of her snout, where the object of her consternation had so recently been ensconced."

where the object of her consternation had so recently been ensconced

Saphira has lost a scale on her snout and is angsting about it. And that is the object of her consternation and where it had so recently been ensconced.

And I'm like "How am I supposed to take this seriously?" Did he play Six Degrees of Separation with the Thesaurus? It's just... silly!
kippurbird: (>:D Heh)
*just leaves this here*


kippurbird: (What would Eragon Do?)
As part of Nano, the organizers have solicited and gotten published authors to write pep talks for the writers gunning for 50k.

One of them is Christopher Paolini. His is written very earnestly, he really wants to be helpful, but misses the mark in a lot of cases.

Shall we take a look at it?

Paolini's pep talk )

So, those are my thoughts on his advice. Right or wrong. THEY ARE MY OPINION.
kippurbird: (Flowers will get me.)
Noodle Incidents.

I was thinking this morning about Mary Poppins, the Disney film. In the musical number "Step In Time" with the chimney sweeps. When they end up going back into the Bank's home the head housekeeper screams 'Not again!" when she sees all the sweeps dancing around the living room. This makes you want to know 'what the hell is she talking about? What happened before that apparently involved dancing chimney sweeps in the living room". It's never explained, but... yes. Apparently at some point in the past the head housekeeper had to deal with dancing chimney sweeps in the living room. This is a noodle incident. Here's the TVTropes entry on what a Noodle Incident is. The thing about noodle incidents is that there something that happened in the character(s) past that we the readers/viewers don't know about, but clearly was something they don't want to talk about, regret or well, you know it is kinda funny now... but it wasn't there.

They're a way to give history to the characters, giving them a life before the story takes place. It's a "remember that time when..." or "You promised never to bring it up again" or "Oh great... not again.."

And I bring this up because I realized, upon further thought, there are no noodle incidents in the Eragon series and there should be some. There is the "Sloan doesn't like the Spine or things that came from it" but that's explained away. There are no character mysteries. Roran and Eragon should have tons of them since they grew up together as siblings.

Roran never says anything like "Hey, this is just like the time you got dunked in the horse trough" or "At least this time she didn't slap you". Eragon never teases Roran about that time he made a complete ... why did you just kick me? incident.

Saphira and Eragon don't have any.

Arya and the other elves don't have any. You would think there'd be one for the blue furred elf whose name I've forgotten and can't be bothered to look up. I mean, he's a blue furred elf. And no one mentions it beyond, "Oh yeah. We're elves. We think anything can be beautiful. God is he sexy." I mean, we the reader want to know why he looks like that but there's no hint of an explanation beyond, "Oh he felt like it".

The closest we get to it, I think, is the two random women heroes who show up and ask for Eragon's blessing and then are told "their story doesn't intersect with yours".

Everything of interest in the books happens once Eragon gains Saphira. Then we meet people, then things start happening, but there's never really references to things in the past that have to do with weird every day life memories.

Also, I realized that Eragon doesn't have any friends back in the village. There didn't seem to be anyone he was friendly with, a girl he was attracted to. There wasn't anyone he regretted leaving behind when he fled with Brom. He doesn't worry about Roran because Roran is gone. He has absolutely no history beyond 'angst' in his home village.

His life doesn't begin until Saphria shows up. Which makes him an empty and soulless puppet. But we already knew that, didn't we?
kippurbird: (Awakward Roran)
SO!

Inheritance has come out. The last book in the Eragon Story.

I am not touching it until after November. The last thing I want is my brain to go all Paolini prose on me. I had a PDF copy... but it appears to have vanished on me... ;|

In the meantime; the chapter titles and some commentary.

LIST )
kippurbird: (Fantasy writers)
I have been rereading Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch. In it Samuel Vimes ends up going back in time to when he first joined the Watch and ends up having to mentor himself by accident. There is in the book one part where Vimes goes into one of the watch house’s jail room and finds that it’s been pretty much turned into a torture chamber. He finds people in there that have been hurt so badly that they just aren’t there any more and he puts them out of their misery.

While reading this there is one point where Vimes, contemplating the horror before him, finds and picks up a tooth. I immediately flashed back to Eldest when Eragon is walking amongst the fallen in the battle field and picks idly picks up a tooth and bouncing it around in his hand with his typical blandness.

The differences between the two scenes, though they have a similar action - that of the tooth in the midst of appalling things - their reactions are completely different.

Vimes is actively disturbed at what he finds. He’s fighting back the rage to do things to the few people he’s found in charge.

In a strange kind of dream, he walked across the floor and bent down to pick something that gleamed in the torchlight. It was a tooth.

He stood up again.

A closed wooden door led off on one side of the cellar; on the other, a wider tunnel almost certainly led to the cells. Vimes took a torch out of its holder, handed it to Sam, and pointed along the tunnel -

There were footsteps accompanied by a jingle of keys, heading toward the door, and a light grown brighter underneath it.

The beast tensed...

Vimes dragged the largest club out of the rack and stepped swiftly to the wall beside the door. Someone was coming, someone who knew about this room, someone who called themselves a copper...


He doesn’t bash the guy coming in with the club. The sight of his younger self - Sam- stops him. But still there’s a certain anger that you can see in these words. Vimes lives and breathes being a watchman. It is what he is deep down to the bone and these men have violated this. There’s a certain tenseness in the language and the tooth encapsulates what it is that is wrong here. But he doesn’t play with the tooth. It’s a symbol here, not something to be held and played with.

In Eldest, on the other hand, the tooth is picked up and used much like you would hold a pebble contemplating something. He finds the tooth and no significance is attached to it. It’s just a tooth, much like a pebble would be a pebble in a stream. It’s put there as an action for Eragon to do, but there’s no reason that it has to be a tooth.

He bent and plucked a tooth, a molar, from the dirt. Bouncing it on his palm, he and Saphira slowly made a circuit through the trampled plain. They stopped at its edge when they noticed Jormundur - Ajihad’s second in command in the Varden - hurrying toward them from Tronjheim. When he came near, Jormundur bowed, a gesture Eragon knew he would have never made just days before.


Now honestly, you really could swap out “tooth” with “stone” and there wouldn’t be any difference in the paragraph’s impact. (Also, looking at the sentence I have to wonder why “in the Varden” has to be there. Is Ajihad in charge of other things that require second in commands?) There is no reason that this has to be a tooth. There’s no reason it should be a tooth.

The tooth in Nightwatch is symbolic of what has happened there and what Vimes is going to face. The tooth in Eragon is nothing but an object found in the battlefield but has no significance placed upon it. Which, as a tooth belonging to a human - at least I think it is a human - should at least bring some comment beyond the fact that it is a molar.



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kippurbird: (Please Stand By)
Here is the official blurb for Inheritance. Shall we looksie? ([livejournal.com profile] torylltales already gave their two cents on [livejournal.com profile] antishurtugal this is mine)


Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest.

Nine months to a year, I think considering that Horst's wife is pregnant and still hasn't given birth yet. Yeah. That's not very long. Saphira was only a "blue stone" oh god, yes. Wouldn't it have been better just to have said a blue egg? Though the entire thing is stupid. Also she was only in the forest for about a day. Eragon found the egg right away. This makes it sound like she hung out in the forest for years waiting to be found.

Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.

Which one? XD I mean you've got the elves, the dwarves, the Varden, the people in the Empire, the urgals, the folks from Sudra, the weird Emo Chicken People, the werecats. That's at least eight civilizations going on there. So, which is the lucky one and which ones get the shit end of the stick. READ THE BOOK TO FIND OUT!

Actually that might be interesting to read. Eragon having to choose which civilization survives and which ones are utterly destroyed. Definitely a moral conflict going on there. How do you choose something like that?

Beyond that, it's one of the most cliche lines ever.

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss.

Okay, yes. Months. It should be years. Why? Because months shouldn't be enough to train you up to do anything required to do the work that Eragon is doing. He needs to learn - needed to learn - how to become a master of the sword (which was what in the books, two months?) and a spell caster (which was what another four months) things that require years of training for normal people. And yet he's somehow managed to get a lifetime's worth of training or at least training that he should have started very young and still be working on mastering in a few short months.

I think years would be more impressive. It would make it sound like it was something he was working for his entire life towards. I mean, look at say Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Their books took place over several years - Potter over seven years and Jackson over five years. - which explored their training and fighting the small battles to get them ready for the big ones. This isn't to say that I would like to have these books sprawl out any more than they already have, but at least put him at a respectable learned level.

As for heartbreaking loss? Eragon gets over that rather quickly, why shouldn't we?


And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix.

Finally.

When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances.

Maybe they should wait until their dragon and rider isn't half trained then? Oh wait, they can't. Galbatorix is gunning for them. Which is smart of him, it should be easier to kill the rider before he knows what he's doing. Sadly that won't happen with Eragon because he's just that special.

Why can't there be second chances? There is that green egg out there. They could always try again with that one. I mean, hey, it worked with Eragon right?

The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope.

Thanks to an incredibly lazy GM and a munchkin player! :D

But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia?

Yes.

What? We all know it's true. Otherwise what would be the point? How is a better question. At least that's something of a mystery.

And if so, at what cost?

Unfortunately not Eragon's life. Probably Murtagh's.Though I'm sure at the end there will be some sort of epilogue about Eragon and Arya leaving together with their dragons and talk of the end of the time of Dragon Riders, much like there was in the Lord of the Rings and the end of the Third Age.

This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

Yay.
kippurbird: (*_* SHINY!)
... Oh double balls: Paolini's considering writing a prequel and a stand alone sequel to the main series I guess I'm not going to be out of work any time soon.

In any case, theories and thoughts for book four?

I know you have them!

Here's a list of confirmed facts from the site

Looking at the list I'm thinking the following:

My thoughts, let me give them to you )

And that's what I've got.
kippurbird: (Octopus)
Title Rumors
Fandom Eragon/Inheritance series
Summary The Rumor Mill at work
Notes No Meat involved.
Notes the second So... what is the other side thinking about Eragon. In a rational world.


It started before Fienster )
kippurbird: (What goes on in Kippur's head)
Two more chapters left.

And there's no build up to any final conflict. No tension. No we have to get this done or else... two chapters left to the end of the book.

Nothing happens.

I was flicking through it, got to the end and went "wait, what? That's the end? That can't be right."

There was no climax, no denouncement. At least no real one. There was a climax to a fight scene which may or may not be dramatic (as you'll see) and then the clean up from it. But it has absolutely nothing to do with what Eragon was working for the entire book.

Of course, that's the problem: Eragon wasn't working for anything the entire book. He had no over all goal. There was no build up to anything, no build up to Eragon needing to get to the town to help with the siege or being conflicted if he should go with Oromis or go and help the Varden or... any sort of choices. The entire book was just a series of interconnected scenes that only had bits to do with each other.

Thus the ending of the book is unsatisfying because it doesn't end so much as stop and roll credits. Randomly.

I should be able to finish this by the end of the month.

Yay?
kippurbird: (Witic)
Why Oromis’ statement that Galbatorix’s confidence would be shaken learning that he’s still around won’t work, but Paolini thinks it might because this is what happened in Star Wars.


Long title.

In our chapter entitled Leave Taking, Oromis says that Galbatorix might believe that there are other dragon Riders still alive when he learns of his existence. This comes, likely, from the idea in Star Wars where after Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi are dead, other Jedi come out of the woodwork once the Empire is defeated. Also there have been smaller resistances of Jedi in various places during the war, it’s just for their own safety they had to remain hidden.

This is possible for one reason: the Star Wars universe takes place in an entire Galaxy. Galaxy which means hundreds of thousands of planets and hundreds of billions of people. Trying to find several thousand Jedi who may have survived the purge is like trying to find a needle in a haystack the size of Montana. Not all Jedi would have been working on the front lines with the Clone Troopers when Order 66 went down. Some Jedi might have survived the attacks, like Yoda did. The thing is, when you get down to it, there’s no real way to know who lived and who died with any certainty. Especially when you consider “I am not the Jedi you are looking for” at their disposal.

With a galaxy so large, the Jedi were able to hide away from the Empire as long as they were smart about it.

Now lets look at Eragon’s empire. For starters it’s only on one continent. Not even an entire continent. Varying sizes exist, but it can’t be more than the size of North America. This makes it a much smaller territory to explore and try to find people in it. The second part is that the Riders have... you know... dragons.

Dragons are big. They can get to the size of a mountain big. Or so we’re told. In any case they’re pretty hard to hide. That’s why Saphira couldn’t leave the Varden. People would notice she was missing. There are only so many places that a dragon could hide in safety where they can be taken care of and their riders can be taken care of. Remember, they require lots of food to eat. As we’re told by Oromis that he’s the only one with the elves, the Riders would have to live else where.

Where exactly would you hide a dragon?

Admittedly, they could have also hidden with the elves, but then that leaves us with this problem. If they were hiding with the elves, then why? Shouldn’t they still be out fighting the evil empire? After all there’s now only Galby and he’s just one man. If Eragon, not even quarter trained as he is, is supposedly capable enough of destroying Galbatorix with maybe six months at the most training, what could three or four dragon Riders who have had full training be able to do?

If Galbatorix had half a brain, he’d be able to figure this out rather quickly.

But for some reason, if the dragons decided to hide, where would they hide. If you had a bunch of dragons with the elves, their territory isn’t large enough to support them. They would need cattle or other domesticated animals because the native forest life like deer wouldn’t be enough to feed them. The domesticated animals would be noticeable because they need a place to graze. Forests don’t have good grazing grounds. Forests aren’t grazing grounds, if they were we wouldn’t need to deforest things. It’d make life a lot easier.

So, the dragons couldn’t have hidden with the elves. They most certainly wouldn’t have been welcomed with the dwarves. That leaves... well, very few places to hide where they wouldn’t be seen and Galby’s men would have picked them out. If the dragons attacked the men, then it would get back that hey there’s something eating the men over that way. Again, not good for hiding.

Therefore they couldn’t have been lazing about hiding somewhere in safety.

Then why even mention it?

Because that’s what happened in Star Wars. There were Jedi in hiding and the Emperor knew about it. That’s why he had Jedi hunting squads like the Inquisitors and his Hands. He had people searching out young Force Sensitives so that he could bend them to his will and change them to the Dark Side. There was always a possibility for there to be more Jedi to be turned against him. Case in point: Luke Skywalker.

Even though, in Paolini’s world it’s impossible for there to be more Riders, the idea must be brought up for that’s what happened in Star Wars, the Inheritance novel’s template. While it may bring some moral bonuses to the common folk, (I think I’d be more pissed off that they were hiding a Rider all this time) it shouldn’t do any harm to Galbatorix’s confidence.

At least, it shouldn’t if these books were written in some sort of logical manner. However, we’ll never know for certain, I don’t think, because we never see Galbatorix’s point of view.
kippurbird: (Writer Porn)
I've decided to add a recommended books page to the Eragon Sporking wiki site.

Suggestions?
kippurbird: (Octopus)



Taken with the webcam on my new laptop.


Quick survey:

Do people think that Brom turning out to be Eragon's real dad was Paolini's idea from the very start or something he retconed to get away from the Star Wars critics?

What is Brisingr about? The plot, I mean. (Cause I'd really like to know).


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kippurbird: (Hippie elves)
I am amused. After all that long ramble a few entries ago about how I felt more comfortable writing in third person instead of first, I've ended up writing a story in first person. Of course the main character is an egotistical son of a bitch who really won't tolerate third person. Everything has to be from his thoughts.

Bastard.


Anyway, for something a bit different, a look at the preview of chapter four of the fourth Eragon book. It was in the back of the soft cover Brisingr I got.

King Cat - A sneak peek at Untitled (could someone please help me name this? I rly need a name for this. plse?) R&R!!!!



We are given here chapter four, so there are about ... one hundred pages of text I'm missing (Okay, kidding, maybe more like fifty... ) so I'm going to do some guessing as we go. WILD MASS GUESSING IS A GO!

The chapter begins with Eragon having a waking dream -he's hallucinating Garrow yelling at him to get the horses brought in. First off, the long standing complaint that Eragon really wasn't that poor now was he if he could have multiple horses to be brought in? Now second thing. he's having a waking dream, and hasn't been sleeping. This is a fairly typical thing to happen to Heroes. They always go through their bout of Not Sleeping For Some Reason. Be it nightmares of all the deaths they caused, indigestion, can't sleep others need me to stay wake and save them all, I won't sleep until every last one of you is dead! the moment I close my eyes I am haunted by the villains telling me to join them, the angels will get me if I shut my eyes. Heroes usually have a lot of sleeping problems it seem like, doesn't it? Anyway, he hopes that no one notices how exhausted he is as he puts his hand on Brisingr's pommel - which for some reason it has to be pointed out that it's sheathed.

Does he often touch Brisingr's pommel while it is unsheathed?

And in public?

But seriously, there's no reason to mention that the sword is in its sheath. It's sort of a default setting for sword. You don't go swinging them around at people all bare steel, it's dangerous. People might mistake what you mean or why you have it pointing at them. People generally don't like having swords pointed at them. Sheathed or unsheathed. Mostly unsheathed though.

Jormundur is standing on the other side of Lord Bradburn's throne. I have no idea who he is. I'm going to assume he's some poor shmuck that Nasuada and the Varden kicked out of his house and took over the place. Also, why would a lord have a throne? Isn't that what kings are supposed to have? Jormundur is bleeding from under one of his bracers. He must have been playing emo-chicken. He must currently be playing emo chicken because he's not noticing it. Or pretending not to notice it. He shows no sign of pain. Not that this is such a big thing.

I got scratched pretty good by my cat a few weeks ago, didn't even notice the blood until I was pulling out of the garage to go to work. Even then it didn't hurt.

Nasuada is sitting in poor kicked out of his house's Lord's throne, wearing a green and yellow dress. There apparently was a fight earlier - battle I'm guessing - not that dangerous I'm also getting because she only has a bandage around her hand. She is hoping that they can 'gain their support' whoever they are. I am going to assume that we'd know this from previous chapters. Jormundur says that they've got no money to offer "Them". And we know why that is, Nasuada gave it all away or spent it on clothing.

Eragon suggests they offer them cream.

They, it should be known, are werecats.

Then we see where all the money went.

Then a flaxen-haired page dressed in a tunic stitched with the Varden's standard - a white dragon holding a rose above a sword pointing downward on a purple field - marched through the open doorway at the far end of the hall, struck the floor with the ceremonial staff he carried, and, in a thin, warbling voice, announced, "His Most Exalted Royal Highness, Grimrr Halfpaw, King of the Werecats, Lord of the Lonely Places, Ruler of the Night Reaches, and He Who Walks Alone."


White cloth is very expensive, and hard to clean. Purple is supposed to be hard to make, though I will give a point to well maybe not in Eragon Land. Also - a quick thought - if they could make lace out of thin air, why couldn't they make gold?

But now to the kitty cat's name. Grimmr, how do you even pronounce that? King of the werecats. Okay, domestic cats do live in colonies. I don't think they have rulers though. Of course since they're were cats perhaps they take on some human qualities in their running of lives? Though if he's going to be walking alone, it's hard to be a king. Espeically since he comes in with four other cats.

Grimmr is a cat boy.

Grimmrr Halfpaw, however, looked unlike any person or creature Eragon had ever seen. At roughly four feet tall, he was the same height as a dwarf, but no one could have mistaken him for a dwarf, or even for a human. He had a small, pointed, chin, wide cheekbones, and, underneath upswept brows, slanted green eyes fringed with winglike eyelashes. In the front, his ragged black hair hunglow over his forehead, while on the sides and back, it fell to his shoulders, where it lay smooth and lustrous, much like the manes of his companions. His age was impossible to guess.

The only clothes that Grimmr wore were a rough leather vest and a rabbit-skin lioncloth. The skulls of a doze or so animals - birds, mice, and other small game - were tied to the frong of the vest, and they rattled against one another as he moved. A sheathed dagger protruded at an angle from under the belt of his loincloth.. Numerous scars, thin and white, marked his nut-brown skin, like scratches on a well-used chair or table. And, as his name indicated, he was missing two fingers on his left hand; they looked to have been bitten off.

Despite the delicacy of his features, there was no doubt that Grimmr was male, not given the hard, sinewy muscles of his arms and chest, the narrowness of his hips, and the coiled power of his stride as he sauntered down the length of the hall toward Nasuada.


YOU DO NOT HELP YOUR MAIN CHARACTER'S CASE OF HETROSEXUALITY BY GOING ON A PAGE LONG DESCRIPTION OF A MALE CHARACTER, INCLUDING THINGS LIKE NARROW HIPS, HARD SINEWY MUSCLES, NARROW CHEEKBONES, AND SHEATHED DAGGERS IN LOINCLOTHS. UNLESS YOUR POV CHARACTER IS A FEMALE THERE SHOULD BE PERFUNCTORY DESCRIPTIONS OF WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.

PLEASE STOP LOOKING AT THE HAIRLESS GROINS AND LOOK BACK AT THE BOOBS OF THE WOMEN.

THANK YOU.

So... the cats notice Angela who has the ability to knit with six needles. Unless she grew two extra pairs of hands, I don't think that's possible. But since when has reality and logic ever started bothering Paolini? The cat's notice Angela and the king hisses at her. She cheeps back.

Obviously she has a history with them.

She has a history with everyone it seems like.

Probably it has to do with whatever happened for her to gain the company of Serious Ass.

Or because she's Angela and annoying. God, I hope she dies.

I bet she turned someone into a bird.

Once that is done he gives Nasuada a tip of the head, displaying with his bearing the supreme confidence, even arrogance, that was the sole province of cats, dragons, and certain highborn women. Can't really be sole if three types people can do it?

Nasuada wants to know why they have come to visit because they've remained neutral and secretive for all the other conflicts. Even more like a myth than anything else. OooOOO... they're like Jedi? Or Yoda? Yoda when he was younger?

Anyway, they say it's because of Eragon -of course- (who was busy hallucinating again. I mean having a waking dream, this time about a dwarf, an urgal and a pair of ice swords) at the time.

Because Galby won't kill him.

Apparently the Werecats also want to kill Galby. Though there have been no mentions of him ever going after them. But they want revenge for something and want to make him fear and hate them. So he doesn't even fear them. Probably doesn't even acknowledge their existence, which is is probably irksome for a cat. I think that it's too straight forward for a cat. Especially one who walks alone and things like that. He should say things like, "My reasons are my own and not for you to know. Know this, we will fight for you as free agents and we will help you achieve your goal to destroy Galbatorix but you shall not know why."

But, he doesn't. Instead he says, Long have we waited for this opportunity, and seize it we will. Galbatorix will learn to fear and hate us, and at the last, he will realize the extent of his mistake and now that we were the ones responsible for his undoing. And how sweet that revenge will taste, as sweet as the marrow of a tender young boar

Revenge. Revenge, revenge. Of course revenge. Might as well just go and hack a hairball up in the guy's shoe.

The werecats can also command regular cats or one-shapes, because cats admire the were-cats. Cats admire nothing but themselves.

As for Grimrr's terms for joining their army? They want a suit of armor for their cat and their human forms, a dagger to fight with if they don't have one, a bird to eat once per day and a bowl of chopped liver every other day, even if they don't eat it, they must be presented with it. When the war is over and if they win, they must keep a cushion by the throne for a werecat to sit on if they so wish.

Nasuada agrees to this, except saying that they can only have one set of armor. The potential waste of food? Nah, that's okay. She just wants to be sure they have enough liver for all the cats. (Depends on how big the bowl is).

No wonder the Varden is broke. Really. Broke and starving their men.

The final thing is that Nasuada wants their minds read to make sure they're not killers or spies. That's fine -foolish if the Varden didn't - as long as it's not Angela.

There is clapping and everyone is happy, except the cats who look bored.
kippurbird: (Sylar stole Spock's brain.)
Pacifism in story telling.


Okay, it needs a better title than that, but it sort of gets to what I've been thinking about the last couple of days. A couple days ago I finished reading Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. It was an ARC I got at Comic Con, the actual book coming out on September first. I say that because it is a good read. I enjoyed the story, the world and the characters. The basic plot in one sentence is: an urban fantasy where a changling (half fairy in this world) tries to solve the murder of one of the full blood fairies. While I have my nitpicks and things about the book, those are not going to be discussed here. I don't think it's fair to criticize a book when people can't read it for themselves yet. I did notice one particular thing though that really bothered me and which I'd like to look at a bit more. The main character, October Daye was passive.

What do I mean by passive? She solved the mystery not by actively searching things out but more like following leads that people gave her. "Go here" or "Do this" she was told instead of "I bet if I go here..." or "Maybe I should do this". In essence she was lead around and pointed in the right directions after talking to people about what happened to her instead of coming up with the realizations on what to do on her own. This didn't detract from the story as I was reading it, but it did occur to me later in a Fridge Logic moment. (Aren't you glad I didn't link to TvTropes?)

As I started to think about it I noticed that other people like Eragon, Tristan and Bella also had this passive hero trait.

In Brisingr recently Nasuada told Eragon that he must go to the dwarves and make them pick their king sooner than later. He is told to do this and then he goes. It makes him feel like an errand boy. But wouldn't it be much better if he went to her and said, "I need to go to the dwarves to make sure they pick the right king" and she tried to convince him not to? There would be active conflict instead of him saying "I think that's a bad idea". It is, I think, better if the protagonist is the start of the conflict as opposed to the one who is given the conflict. I don't mean starting a fight so much as making a decision to do something which at the time might not seem wise but later will play out to be... whatever. At least the protagonist decided to do something instead of have something done to them.

Tristan basically stands around like an idiot for the entire book unless someone hits him. Really what did he initiate? Nothing. Wigg basically took him around and told him stuff that he needed to do. Sure there was the Prophecy that said pretty much anything Tristan does is the right thing, but it is for most of the book, Earwig saying "we need to do this to stop the great big evil and here's how" and not Tristan saying, "Okay these people killed my parents, kidnapped my sister and destroyed my country we need to stop them and you're going to help me".

Twilight, with Bella, has a different form of passiveness. She does go out and do things to discover who/what Edward is, but in her relationship with Edward she doesn't do anything. She lets him set the rules. She doesn't say no to him. Anything he wants to do to her is okay. She never says no. Which in this sort of novel, one that focuses more on romance than killing things, is an important part in defining their relationship. The fact that she doesn't say no to anything renders her blank with no preferences to anything in how she sees the world or how she wants a relationship to go. The only thing she has is "I want" which isn't very deep.

On the active side of things, Peter David's King Arthur series comes to mind. These books are about King Arthur in modern times. In the first book he decides that the best thing he can do to help people as a king, is to run for mayor of New York city. And he does. He takes the initiative, even though Merlin thinks it's a bad idea and is constantly calling him an idiot, and goes for it. He tries. Even with his faults of being scrupulously honest and never lying. Refusing to lie even if it might make him look like a total crackpot. Despite the risks, he does something about a problem he sees.

Imagine if Tristan did that. If he was eager or at least willing to take on the throne. If he was willing to throw himself out to protect his people, his family, instead of just standing around with his thumb up his ass. He would forced Wig to tell him about those evil sorceress and who they were and what they wanted. Or if Eragon decided that they needed to go to the Varden instead of Brom saying they should go.

Stories should be about people doing things. Having adventures, falling in love, making choices. Choices are what should drive the plot instead of events happening that make them react. Then it just feels like a series of events. Which is the biggest problem with books like the Inheritance Trilogy and the Twilight Saga. The protagonist never decides to do anything. They never have any wants or desires. The never do anything. Sure they move and talk and do things, but the things they do are just reactions to being told to do something. And who wants to read that?

>.> <.< >:D

Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:22 am
kippurbird: (meat!)
Night had fallen sending the sky into a blackness covered with a splay of glimmering white stars. Behind them loomed the great mountain of the Heligrand, a dark shadow staring down at them daring them to try and probe its depth and gain its inner most secrets. Here though, in front of the campfire, things seemed a bit warmer.

Eragon could see Roran tending to his meat.

Stiff on the stick, he turned and twisted it, touching it to make sure it was well done. Roran did love his meat. The noises he made while eating it was pure pleasure. And then he savored the final juices licking them from his fingers. Sucking them to make sure he got every last gooey bit off.

Alone, by himself, though, Eragon twisted his staff absently -nervously- as he watched. It looked so good. He could remember the feel the meat deep in his throat, taking it down, the juices over flowing; leaking out of his mouth and dribbling down his chin. The taste of it, so good, so warm.

Oh! How he wished he could share Roran's meat!

As if noticing his studious gaze, Roran stood up and held his meat stick; pointing it at Eragon.

"You want this, don't you?" he said, waving it temptingly. Oh so temptingly!

Eragon waved his hand. His voice horse, "I can't Roran, I swore off it. It's not good to eat meat." He didn't sound convincing to himself and to Roran.

The meat stick waved closer so that he could smell it! "I know you want it Eragon, we always shared our meat back home. It was so good on those cold winter nights as we huddled together. Take it! I want to share with you!"

Eragon shook his head, turning away from the meat trying to quell his longing for it.

If you don't wish to have Roran's meat, then I shall," Saphira interjected. Her great head reached for the meat and sucked it off so quickly Roran only had time for a loud gasp of surprise.

If possible, she had a smirk on her face. "You have good meat, Roran Stronghammer. I shall
wish to enjoy more of it later.


Breathing hard, Roran could barely say, "Yes... it's good to know that someone enjoys it."

Epicness

Feb. 25th, 2009 01:27 pm
kippurbird: (Heroes)
Today's question: What makes something epic?

It occurs to me to ask this question because of Paolini's assertions that he is trying to write an epic like Beowulf and the Lord of the Rings. However his work is clearly not epic. But why then? What makes something epic?

The dictionary definition isn't very helpful.

One definition is thus:

epic

A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds. The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations, the world, or the universe, and the action is important to the history of a nation or people. The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are some great epics from world literature, and two great epics in English are Beowulf and Paradise Lost.
[1]


Most of the other definitions refer to poetry as well. But something can be teased out of this. "The setting is vast in scope covering great nations, the world, or the universe and the action is important to he history of a nation or people." An epic is supposed to be huge. Not in the number of pages but in the scope. In the What Is At Stake.

Some examples that could be considered epic in today's fantasy writing are Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. While Mercedes Lacky on the other hand has written more books, they tend to fall into more personal stories. There is not the "end of the world" urgency in them like there is for Goodkind's and Jordan's books.

If, for example, Richard Rahl, in the Sword of Truth, doesn't stop the Evil Emperor Jagang all of magic will be destroyed and their freedom and way of life will be ground into a bloody mess. In Lord of the Rings, if Frodo doesn't get rid of the One Ring then Sauron will be able to take over the world and enslave everyone.

However in the Inheritance Cycle there is not this urgency. There is no urgency. Three books in and there is nothing to stop. Eragon doesn't have to stop Galbatorix from taking over, he's already done so. He doesn't have to stop the emperor from doing anything to destroy the world. Galbatorix is a completely passive figure in this books. Everything Eragon does is small things. Nothing he does will stop Galbatorix from gaining more power.

Eragon is not a threat.

What does he do? He destroys some minions, the Ra'zac and Durza. But Galbatorix has more and it could be said that Murtagh and Thorn are even more effective than the Ra'zac because he's a dragon rider. He has access to more power. He fights off an army, but it's not a battle for anything. There's nothing at stake.

And this is why it's not epic. This is what makes something have the potential to be epic. The stakes.

The bigger the stakes the more dangerous the challenge that the heroes have to overcome and the harder it is for them.

If something is to be epic in scope then it has to include things that are more than personal trials. It's not one life at risk. It's entire cities at risk.

Admittedly a lot of times it seems like only the Chosen One can stop the Great Evil or End of the World, but that's part of what makes it epic. The overwhelming forces against the one person. There are the armies to help, but it's only the One who can stop the Evil Overlord.

Using the definition the Harry Potter books could be considered an epic. It's Harry, a teenage boy vs. Voldemort, a man who wishes to enslave the non-magical population. The battle fields are small, but the stakes are high.

Again back to the Inheritance Cycle. What is the problem Eragon has to solve to stop Galbatorix in Eragon or Eldest or Brisingr? What does he have to do to stop Galbatorix from gaining more power. In Eragon he got the dragon but that doesn't stop Galbatorix, he has two more eggs. In Eldest he gets magic training but that doesn't prove a threat to Galbatorix he has Murtagh, someone who wasn't even revealed until the very end of the book. Eragon never has to try and get training so he can best Murtagh. And in Brisingr? He gets a shiny sword. Which... is a shiny sword, but not an issue for Galbatorix. These are small and personal problems.

The language is the language of a would-be-epic, written in an "elevated style". But even that isn't done well. It's trying for epic. Paolini gets too wrapped up in describing things in interesting metaphors that he forgets the bigger picture of things. He's "fallen in love with the fly" as Natalie Goldberg says in her book, Writing Down the Bones[2]. He lovingly describes an arrow wound which stalls the story instead of giving it more depth. His lyricism is that of un-rhyming poetry, jolting and haphazard. Images appear but aren't connected to anything. The point of the elevated style is to create a fully painted image of the world and the people that live there.

What happens ultimately is that Paolini tries for epic, but because there are no stakes ultimately he has a hollow story. A story that is a mere shadow of what an epic could be but with no substance.



--------------



[1]
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Epic


[2]
Goldberg, Natalie; Writing Down the Bones. Shambhala Publications; 1986

kippurbird: (Durza)
Stolen from [livejournal.com profile] antishurtugal It's the supposed book jacket information for Brisingr, or however you damn well spell it.


"Forces collide in Book III of the phenomenally successful Inheritance Cycle.

I thought it said Episode Three here for a moment and wondered why they were talking about Star Wars. That's never a good thing.

Eragon represents the greatest hope for a better Alagaesia. Can this once simple farm boy rise to become a leader who can unite the rebel forces and defeat the King?

Why does he need to be the leader? I'm just curious. Every one always seems to be the leader in these things. I would think being the leader would be detrimental to being the hero because the leader needs to lead people not run off on side quests. Leaders are supposed to lead, which means all that boring shit that comes around like making sure people aren't fighting, there's enough food for the forces, things like that. Eragon is definitely not the leader. He's more like the face of the rebellion, not the leader.

Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives.

*snorts* They weren't even really injured. They fought like morons, but they weren't really injured in any life threatening manner. Just exhausted

Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep, including Eragon's oath to his cousin Roran to help rescue Roran's beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix's clutches.

What promises? I dun remember any promises.

But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength, as are the elves and dwarves.

Varden = Dwarves and Elves.

When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices - choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice. Conflict, action, adventure and one devastating death await readers as Eragon battles on behalf of the Varden while Galbatorix ruthlessly attempts to crush and twist him to his own purposes.

may lead to unimagined sacrifice and one devastating death awaits. I would think that neither of these things should be spoiled. However I would say if I had to spoil one, it would be the sacrifice and not the death. If you do, you keep on wondering who's going to die and not focus on the story or let it be a shock. Death works better when you don't know it's coming.

Rich with a thoughtful examination of Eragon's maturing psyche, "Brisinger" explores how Eragon must come to terms with his role as a leader and the moral obligations that weigh heavily upon his young shoulders as a Dragon Rider."

As we all know that Eragon is a psychotic mass murderer with the inverse morality of a tribble's birthrate, I'd hate to see what his maturing psyche has in store for us.

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