I love fantasy novels. I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Inkheart, Narnia, Cirque du Freak, The Ranger’s Apprentice…all those classic coming-of-age novels. I’m always a sucker for a hero’s journey. So when I decided to read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Eragon as my summer reading the summer before 8th Grade, I thought I was making a wonderful choice. First I would suffer through Sisterhood of the Pants and all that teenage girl garbage and then I would get to the high fantasy sword-fights. Except that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants turned out to be an amazing story of loyalty, friendship, growing up, and finding oneself. Eragon, as far as I’m concerned, is about as interesting as a piece of turd. Scratch that. It’s not even that interesting.
Allow me to explain, because this is an opinion I will never waver on. I firmly hate this series with a passion. The first issue I had with this book was in the writing style. Christopher Paolini was remarkably young when he wrote this novel. Which is impressive. He wrote an entire saga at a fairly early age. Good for him. If only his writing didn’t read so….flowery? Pretentious? Stuffy? Everything is written like he cracked open a thesaurus to see how many big words he could cram in to get the word count high enough. Descriptions are overly indulgent. Books like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson are engaging because the writing style fits the age group that it is meant for. It hooks you in and it’s not distracting or overly complicated. It’s perfect for the characters and the style of the novel. Unless Eragon was going for sanctimonious and dry, I believe it missed the mark.
My second major qualm with the book was the setting. The world building wasn’t very original at all. It was textbook Middle Earth, with a little Narnia thrown in for good measure. It seemed like something a Dungeons and Dragons player could easily come up with if they were being lazy. It all just felt so stock and unoriginal. I wasn’t hooked into the world at all. It didn’t seem like a world Christopher Paolini created, it felt like a world he borrowed. And then lauded as his own. Which was irritating.
That being said, that wasn’t my biggest issue. My biggest issue with the book was that it was Star Wars. Like…it wasn’t even trying to not be Star Wars. Whiny small-town protagonist, sly self-interested ally, old mentor, irrelevant uncle, badass princess to be saved, evil emperor, his more intimidating sidekick….it was all just so blatantly the same. I love Star Wars. I don’t need to see another version of it where absolutely nothing is changed. I hear Yoda….oh wait, sorry, Oromis…even shows up in the second book.
To be fair to the series though, I never made it past the first novel. Maybe it gets less flowery and pretentious. Maybe it starts diverging the plot a little more. Besides, I did kind of like Obi-Wan and Han Solo…..er, I mean Brom and Murtagh. They were both stereotypes I enjoyed and I heard Murtagh has a decent character arc in later novels. I do know a lot of people enjoy this series and good for them. I’m just never going to be one of them. But, on the other hand, I would highly recommend Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. That is a book I definitely need to reread.