Just a warning, this is more of a rant about other readers than a review of the story. It is hard to review a continuous series with very little break in action between books especially if you’ve read them as many times as I have. Let’s just say I’ve loved these novels since I first read them and I’m excited (and sad) for the final novel’s release, but it will be a fitting 50th book this year!
When I went to Goodreads to mark I was re-reading this book, some of the vitriolic responses to the book and the author truly surprised me. It quite upset me how rude and caustic people were being with their claims of copying other stories.
Has Paolini borrowed from other fantasy authors? Yes, but haven’t they all? Is his writing perfect or on par with the HG Wells and JRR Tolkien? No, but what were they doing when they were 19-years old? Does Paolini stretch to far and occasionally end up with awkward dialogue and too much description, yes of course he does – but did you read The Two Towers? I’m fairly certain Tolkien tells you how many leaves are on every bush in the swampland. Is The Inheritance Cycle story worth reading and does he bring something new to the fiction/fantasy genre? Yes.
It is very rare in any genre of literature that an author completely has a never-before heard story (look at religious books – Gilgamesh, the flood in the Bible…). Each story is an authors unique perspective on stories handed down for thousands of generations. Look at most fantasy novels, they can be broken down into any number of archetypes: a search/quest for something, good vs. evil (completely arbitrary most of the time..are you Empire or Rebel?), a repressive regime, a hero/heroine, and battles or wars. Yes Lord of the Rings had some of these, yes Star Wars had some of these, and yes most of the books I read growing up had some of these, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t allowed to use these archetypes or reference them—they’re called archetypes for a reason.
I will openly admit there are occasional instances where, you’re like “gee this is really similar to LotR,” but I don’t see what the big deal is. He took the stories and made them his own (yes he followed in Tolkien’s footsteps and created a language). Yes there was a dragon in The Hobbit, there were humans, dwarves, elves, and even creatures similar to the Urgal’s in the LotR’s universe, but this is where the similarities end. How many people actually read past the first novel (or even the first 200 pages) to find out what happens? Very few would be my guess.
What is most striking and impressive is Paolini had the patience and the ability to write this novel as a 15-year old. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was 15 there is now way I could’ve planned out a series and started writing the novels. I just couldn’t have. He’s created memorable characters, he’s woven intricate (if sometimes predictable) plots, he evokes emotions from readers, and perhaps most importantly he has evolved as a writer.
Recommendation: Read it. If you’re skeptical, I suggest you actually read the entire book, or the entire series. You’re either going to have a response to his writing or the plot. But look at it for what it was, a 15 year old’s attempt at creating a world and an epic story. By all means compare him to Tolkien, but keep the age in mind and the fact that Tolkien was 45 when he started LotR. Once you’ve done that then let’s have a conversation about whether he added anything to the stories he supposedly copied. There is nothing more obnoxious to me than someone critiquing a book or a series without having taken the time to finish them.