Idol Chatter

I finally bit the bullet and went to see “Eragon,” the first of three films based on the bestselling “Inheritance” trilogy by Christopher Paolini. Paolini is a shockingly young (i.e., born in 1983) author who took the book world by storm as a teenager with the release of “Eragon,” a novel he began writing at age 16. He quickly followed up that much-heralded debuted with “Eldest,” Book Two of the trilogy. (Book Three is yet to come.) I haven’t read the novel–unusual for me, given that I am an utter fantasy geek, but only because I’ve heard from too many trusted writer-reader friends that “Eragon” is an impressive piece of work, for a teenager. In other words, not the best read for an adult.

But I figured it was worth my money at the box office, at least.

“Eragon” the film has all the trimmings of a true fantasy epic: a young, handsome farm boy who has a great destiny before him and must rise to the occasion; a mentor who will help him get there; arduous journeys; the triumph of evil over good–for now (we know that all that will change, of course); a one-dimensional villain-king; an evil sorcerer; magical creatures; and, last but not least, a beautiful warrior-princess, whom we all know is destined for our hero.

So, in many ways it was fun as a film, but I couldn’t help myself from checking off, one-by-one, the formulaic ingredients that Paolini made sure to include in his plot, making it clearly a member of the “classic” fantasy genre. At moments, I secretly delighted in thinking: A-ha! This is the “Harry Potter” bit here (a scar that marks our hero’s destiny and one that burns when danger is near). And a-ha! This is the “Lord of the Rings” bit now (well, basically the whole movie takes after Tolkien, complete with a Saruman-type bad wizard, his own dark stronghold with an army of weapon-building grotesque orc-like creatures, and lots of journeying across hills, etc. on horseback). And, no way! There’s even some “Star Wars” moments thrown in for good measure (think: oh no! Not my uncle!).

But when you think this was all imagined by a teenager, you have to admit: impressive indeed. He included all the proper fantasy ingredients, with even a little imagination of his own thrown in. So the movie is a nice afternoon activity. But the book, weighing in at a hefty 538 pages–I’m not sure I am geeky enough to give it a go.

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