Quick Read: Eragon Prologue + Ch. 1

Eragon_book_cover.png

Yes, it’s come to this. Pretty soon we’ll be sporking Twilight, like all the cool blogs were doing back in 2007.

When I started doing Let’s Reads I vowed not to retread well-worn territory, but with the advent of the Quick Read format I’m not so hung up about that. And this particular candidate for scholarly analysis has a distinct advantage, in that it’s largely a mystery to me.

The Eragon “thing” seems to have been far more transitory than any of the other big YA/children’s literature crazes of the last two decades. It was popular for its time, the movie bombed, the series concluded, and now it seems as if no one really talks about the books all that much. It didn’t occur to me to write about it until last week, when I randomly stumbled onto a comment requesting a Let’s Read.

Back when the books were coming out I had recently made an attempt to get into The Lord of The Rings that failed utterly, so I never took much interest in them. I’m aware that they generated quite the hatedom in their day and read a few scathing critiques years ago, but other than that I’m more or less going into this blind. Truly, this will be a journey of discovery.

Some information up-front: Eragon is the first book in the four-part Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, and (as I’m sure you’re aware) was written when he was fifteen. Originally it was the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy, but then Paolini decided a fourth book was necessary. I’m not sure why a three-book series is a trilogy but a four-book series is a cycle; I tried googling it but didn’t find any answers because I got distracted after a few minutes.

Eragon is also “dragon” with the first letter replaced, but never mind that.

Alagaesia.jpgWE’VE GOT A MAP.

It’s like most fantasy maps, in that there’s an ocean to the west because Europe, it features a desert region, a mountainous region and a forest region, a single large lake and several locations with apostrophes in their names. On the other hand there isn’t a mountain with a name like “Frostfang” or “Worldspire” (although “The Spine” comes close– isn’t there a Spine of The World in Wheel of Time?) and the ocean does not appear to be named “the sea of BLANK” where BLANK is a colour or a random noun. I also can’t immediately tell where the Mordor analogue is.

Prologue: Shade of Fear

Excellent, we’ve got a prologue. This is already giving me everything I want in a good fantasy novel.

Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.

I know this is supposed to be portentous and dramatic, but when I hear “scent that will change the world” it makes me think someone just did a really bad fart. Scents are generally not omens of world-altering events.

A tall Shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.

That’s really not very well-written.

He blinked in surprise. The message had been correct: they were here. Or was it a trap?

The what? Who? What’s a trap? What’s going on?

Look, I know I complain when fantasy novels take ages to get going, but at least set the scene a little bit.

He weighed the odds, then said icily, “Spread out; hide behind trees and bushes. Stop whoever is coming . . . or die.”

And our first villain is a dude with red eyes who gets his underlings to obey him by threatening to murder them. This seems promising.

Around him shuffled twelve Urgals with short swords and

I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

Urgals

Urgals? Our Orc rip-offs are called Urgals? Seriously?

And yes, I know we haven’t even seen them yet. They’re evil fantasy footsoldiers commanded by a scary evil being, they’re Orcs, just like how the Trollocs and Mydrrall in Wheel of Time are Orc andNazguul rip-offs.

round iron shields painted with black symbols

What do they look like? Don’t just say “black symbols”, give us something to work with here.

The Urgals are described as basically humans with horns, but artwork depicting them, including in an official companion guide, makes them look closer to how I imagined the Trollocs upon first reading the Wheel of Time books, i.e. animalistic beast-men.

The Shade and the Urgals sit around for hours waiting for whoever the fuck they’re ambushing to arrive, which seems completely pointless. Why not just have the target appear right away? In fact why not start off from their point of view so we know why we’re supposed to care about whether or not they get jumped by these dudes?

He remained unnaturally quiet, a long pale sword in his hand. A wire-thin scratch curved down the blade.

Why are we being told about this scratch? Is it going to be important later?

“Get ready,” he whispered, his whole body vibrating.

That’s… not how bodies work. Unless maybe he’s going into hypothermia and he’s shivering really violently.

It had taken many plots and much pain to bring himself to this moment. It would not do to lose control now.

But how many Bothans died to bring him this information?

Did you see that, I did a Star Wars

Eyes brightened under the Urgals’ thick brows

Not their eyes, just eyes. They keep an extra pair of eyes under their brows for situations like this.

Three white horses with riders cantered toward the ambush, their heads held high and proud, their coats rippling in the moonlight like liquid silver.

Bad guys = red eyes and horns

Good guys = people on majestic white horses

On a completely unrelated note, did I mention this was written by a teenager?

On the first horse was an elf with pointed ears and elegantly slanted eyebrows.

So here’s what really baffles me.

Even accounting for the fact that (as stated) this was written by a fifteen year old, I legit don’t understand how someone can sit down to write a novel, their page blank, a universe of possibility before them, and decide to just trot out wispy Tolkien elves.

Do these people actually get that wispy pointy-eared magic forest elves aren’t some centuries-old folkloric concept like vampires and werewolves? They were specifically invented by Tolkien and other early High Fantasy authors in the early to mid-20th century and have more or less no similarity to their mythological roots beyond their name–original flavour elves were more like the Sídhe from Celtic folklore, i.e. fairy-ish beings that get up to shenanigans in the human realm. And if you absolutely must have an ancient wispy forest-dwelling magical race, why do they have to be elves?

And why do people feel so comfortable blatantly stealing Tolkien’s elves and dwarves, but then balk at the idea of just putting orcs in their story? We can fucking tell that’s what you’re doing, changing their name and ditching the green skin isn’t fooling anyone.

A powerful bow was slung on his back. A sword pressed against his side opposite a quiver of arrows fletched with swan feathers.

You can tell when an author has played a lot of D&D and WoW because they introduce characters by listing the weapons they’re carrying.

The last rider had the same fair face and angled features as the other.

What does “angled features” mean? Which way are they angled?

Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise.

“With poise.” So she was sitting straight in her saddle? She rode gracefully? I feel like I have to constantly fill in blanks, because these descriptions are comprised entirely of cliches. Like, I can vaguely get what sort of mental image Paolini was going for, but everything is so non-specific, there’s this frustrating barrier to understanding.

Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force.

That doesn’t actually mean anything.

Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished.

So this is the romantic interest, then.

The Shade jumped out from behind the tree, raised his right hand, and shouted, “Garjzla!”

If his speech was being translated to English a minute ago, why is it not now? Is “Garjzla” a word in a different language from the one he normally uses.

The Shade uses magics to take down the two guards, then sends his Orcals (Urkels?) after the Elf woman, who is continuously referred to as “the lady”, which sounds distractingly childish.

(Oh and no, I’m not giving this book any leeway because it’s the work of a teenager. It was sold by a major publisher for the exact same price as novels written by adults, so it should be judged by the same standards)

A cry tore from the elf’s lips as she saw her dead companions. She took a step toward them, then cursed her enemies and bounded into the forest.

Curses!

While the Urgals crashed through the trees, the Shade climbed a piece of granite that jutted above them. From his perch he could see all of the surrounding forest. He raised his hand and uttered, “Böetq istalri!”

I guess the conlang is being reserved for spell-casting. At least it doesn’t look like most conlangs.

The Shade starts a load of gigantic forest fires (a single use of the spell burns a quarter-mile section of trees) to try to stop the elf from escaping, which seems like a great way to get him and his troops killed, as forest fires tends not to conveniently stay in one place for very long.

Her head whipped around as she tried to find a way out. Seeing none, she drew herself up with regal disdain.

She’s surrounded by orcs on one side and a giant rampaging forest fire on the other; I don’t care how badass this lady is, she should be panicking at least a little bit.

The elf takes a large sapphire gem thingy out of a pouch she had been carrying and uses magic to cause it to vanish, much to the Shade’s fury, as it seems that capturing this thing was the whole point of the ambush.

Then the red fire smote her and she collapsed.

“Smote her”? Seriously?

He shot nine bolts of energy from his palm—which killed the Urgals instantly—then ripped his sword free and strode to the elf.

This is a really interesting and unique villain.

Prophecies of revenge, spoken in a wretched language only he knew, rolled from his tongue. He clenched his thin hands and glared at the sky. The cold stars stared back, unwinking, otherworldly watchers.

This prose is atrocious.

Chapter 1: Discovery

Has anyone else noticed that fantasy novels tend to start with the main character doing something outdoorsy? Here we open on Eragon hunting, in Wheel of Time it’s Rand and Tam riding to the village, in Wizard’s First Rule we had Richard out exploring the wilderness, and in The Fifth Sorceress it was Tristan throwing knives at a tree or whatever.

I guess that’s not a bad way to get across your character’s profession/general situation in life, but it also feels really boring.

Eragon was fifteen, less than a year from manhood. Dark eyebrows rested above his intense brown eyes.

“Eragon was fifteen. He had eyebrows.”

And “intense eyes” is one of the most useless and cliched descriptors in literature.

Despite that, Eragon did not fear the Spine—he was the only hunter near Carvahall who dared track game deep into its craggy recesses.

You mean like how Rand and his wingmen are the only radical teens who dare go into the Mountains of Mist or whatever?

It was the third night of the hunt, and his food was half gone.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about hunting, but is it a common practice to keep at it for days on end? Wouldn’t you run the risk of consuming more resources than you’d get back?

Anyway Eragon is about to take out an injured doe when suddenly there’s a magical explosion and the sapphire gem thing appears.

The stone was cool and frictionless under his fingers, like hardened silk.

Hey, that’s a pretty good sentence I guess. Maybe replace “frictionless” with “smooth”.

Eragon found the stone both beautiful and frightening. Where did it come from? Does it have a purpose? Then a more disturbing thought came to him: Was it sent here by accident, or am I meant to have it?

This doesn’t seem like a very realistic reaction to the situation. I think most people would be more like “holy shit what WHAT OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS WHAT’S HAPPENING.”

After some brief indecision Eragon decides to take it with him, reasoning that it might be worth something. And thus begins our epic adventure.

 

 

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32 thoughts on “Quick Read: Eragon Prologue + Ch. 1

  1. neremworld

    I actually have to stare at you for throwing that attack at WoW, because it really makes zero sense at all, and I’d like you to explain what you’re talking about. I can get the one about D&D because it’s a combat-focused P&P game, but WoW… isn’t.

    Reply
  2. Hek

    Pretty sure the thing about CP having written the book so young is false. Yes, he STARTED it at 15, but it took him a couple of years to finish, so by the time he was editing it for getting published by his parents, he should have been older and wiser.

    Reply
  3. Hek

    “Hey, that’s a pretty good sentence I guess. Maybe replace “frictionless” with “smooth”.”

    Unless you consider…why would a supposedy poor teen from a pretty poor village know remotely what silk feels like TO THE TOUCH?

    Reply
  4. Lissa

    “Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.”
    What scent? The scent of the elf woman? She’s not that important, it’s the egg she’s carrying that’s important. And even if the egg had a scent, it wouldn’t be its scent that will change the world.

    “Eyes brightened under the Urgals’ thick brows”
    “Dark eyebrows rested above his intense brown eyes.”
    Well, no shit. People generally have eyes under their eyebrows, and eyebrows above their eyes. These descriptions are a waste of words because they tell the reader nothing except the blindingly obvious.

    “Prophecies of revenge, spoken in a wretched language only he knew, rolled from his tongue.”
    HAVE I TOLD YOU THIS GUY IS EVIL? ARE YOU GETTING IT YET?

    Reply
  5. Archibald van Winkle

    Ooooohhhhhh snap, Ronan! Finally another book on your blog other than Wheel of Time! I have been staying away for quite some time until the boring and bland passed me by! Have we not all been inundated with LOTR and it’s many, many shoddy rip-offs enough?

    I am looking forward to this reading! Even if it is only a few chapters. This book was an inspiration to myself becoming an author, and I have revisited it a couple of times, very briefly, as an adult; not too impressed.
    I don’t know what I saw in it as a kid. I was probably just impressed that another fifteen year old had written a book. I was too blinded by word count and references to things I loved to be bothered with quality.

    Reply
  6. zephyrean

    > And if you absolutely must have an ancient wispy forest-dwelling magical race, why do they have to be elves?

    That’s basically the same as asking why there should be spaceships in a sci-fi novel. Elves come with a lot of cultural baggage (like, in our culture). I’d much rather read about elves and dwarves than encourage people to invent their own stupid races. Look what exactly that requirement did to space action or 4X games.

    > the ocean does not appear to be named “the sea of BLANK” where BLANK is a colour or a random noun.

    Uh, colors and random nouns (and mythological characters) are how it works in the real world. It’s only the Age of Discoveries which starts putting real people’s names on the map en masse (typically in places they have no business naming). An omniscient map of a “realistic” fantasy world (which lists local names for places, as opposed to an in-world document which would reflect the in-world creator’s cultural perspective) looks a lot like the classic “bad” fantasy map.

    > And why do people feel so comfortable blatantly stealing Tolkien’s elves and dwarves, but then balk at the idea of just putting orcs in their story? We can fucking tell that’s what you’re doing, changing their name and ditching the green skin isn’t fooling anyone.

    The answer you’re looking for is “Warcraft”. Warcraft introduced green-skin orcs (D&D orcs were pig-men with light brown skin during that era). Warcraft also introduced heroic orcs, so that people stopped being comfortable with using the race as always-evil low-level XP fodder, thus the need to invent one’s own monsters which *would* be okay to kill on sight. Basically, if you want to write a dumbass good-vs-evil racist pastiche, elves and dwarves and your own Evil Goon Race fit right in, but orcs very emphatically don’t.

    > You can tell when an author has played a lot of D&D and WoW because they introduce characters by listing the weapons they’re carrying.

    Nope nope nope. Your bias is showing. Eragon was first published in 2002, WoW was released in 2004. And while it’s probable he played D&D, defining a character by their weapon isn’t unique to tabletop. As evidence against that, however, I offer the fact that his characters are dumb fighters. The D&D he would have played during his formative years should’ve made him hate fighters and everything to do with them. We should’ve gotten a Raistlin clone. If/when we get a competent adult wizard protagonist, I’ll be the first to cry D&D.

    Also, and even more importantly, bad influence of collaborative games on writers is a baseless hypothesis. Collaborative games have an advantage on single-author fiction as story fodder, because the characters are diverse as the real people who play them. Now look at that Shannara pic from the Quick Read. Notice something?

    So stop blaming actually good and imaginative games. What breeds bad single-author fiction is bad single-author fiction.

    > You mean like how Rand and his wingmen are the only radical teens who dare go into the Mountains of Mist or whatever?

    Uh yes? It takes a Qualified Fantasy Protagonist to do heroic deeds and whatnot. The story follows the character who’s radical enough to dare to go blah blah. Now those radical teens also having clearly improbable stuff happening to them for no reason, *that* I call bullshit on:

    > Anyway Eragon is about to take out an injured doe when suddenly there’s a magical explosion and the sapphire gem thing appears.

    Yep, stuff like this.

    > I’ll admit I don’t know much about hunting, but is it a common practice to keep at it for days on end? Wouldn’t you run the risk of consuming more resources than you’d get back?

    Depends on what he’s hunting. Maybe he’s looking for big game (and will fetch the other villagers after he’s killed something). Maybe he’s after expensive furs. Finally, it’s not like the choice is “hunt and spend resources or stay home and save”. He still needs three days’ worth of food either way.

    Reply
    1. Ben

      I think both you and Ronan are cutting a bit too much slack on the onomastics of Paolini’s map. He displays an egregious excess of “my first fantasy map” tendencies: the map is the entirety of Western Europe shrunk down to a single country, so towns a couple days’ ride apart don’t even share the same orthography; town names heavily favor “exotic” consonant combinations like “gh” and “th,” while avoiding the vowel “e” except in diphthongs; absolutely no towns have the suffix “town,” “ton,” or “burg,” despite those being incredibly common in English names for towns, instead favoring “hall” and “ford” only occasionally as more “exotic” alternatives; the few descriptive toponyms are goofy portmanteaux like “Reavstone,” “Sharktooth,” and “Bullsridge” that only a fifteen-year-old would actually name their settlement; and there is simply an overabundance of words that were never said aloud, just to test if they sound good, before being committed to paper, especially “Carvahall” (carve a hall) and “Uru’baen” (are you Bane). Maybe the only good part of the map that reads like it comes from an actual, coherent place is the bottom left, where most of the island names don’t clash too terribly.

      I also think you specifically are underestimating the number of geographical features that were named for their location or the population or city nearest to them, rather than descriptive features. In Europe, we have the Red Sea, the Black Sea, and the Dead Sea, as compared to the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Balearic Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the North Sea. However, imitating any of those latter names would require most fantasy authors to have thought about the societal landscapes of their worlds before drawing their maps, so instead we get Scrabble grab-bag names for towns and flat descriptives for geographic features… or, if we’re lucky, they don’t even draw a map.

      Reply
      1. anomie

        The thing that bothers me the most is the river that flows from Teirm to Aroughs (sp?), or perhaps the other way around. Like, rivers do not work that way. You cannot have a river that flows into the sea at both ends. That would be a channel or a strait, and the water would be salty.

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      2. Hek

        Another thing that bothers me is the random placement of the unreasonably huuuuuuuuuge desert, which… just kind of stops? \in the real world, specifically hot, sandy deserts (as opposed to, say, arctic deserts) can occur near the equator, as a result of wind circulation in the tropical region that leaves the regions just beyond the tropics without moisture as the air is redirected back to the equator (layman’s explanation). The climate of Alagaesia seems largely temperate, though. So barring that, the explanation for a sudden temperately-located desert SHOULD be mountains. As humidity-laden air is forced to rise over high mountains, it gets colder and loses its capacity to hold water, i.e. the water is precipitated and the air continues over the mountain much more arid than it was before.This rain shadow effect causes deserts NEAR MOUNTAINS. But the Hadarac desert is so huge that at least the northern parts of it should be getting plenty of humid winds from the ocean through that clear landscape to the southwest, and rather than being near the Spine, they’re separated by the whole area with Carvahall, which, again, has a humid and temperate climate even though it should be most affected by the rain shadow effect. And if it’s the big mountains to the south causing the rain shadow, the desert is still too big and, as mentioned, we have no evidence of an ocean to the south. Another factor that can cause deserts is simple distance from the sea (this is the case for some desert-like regions in North America as well as Central Asia), but if the Hadarac region is a desert because it’s so far away from any major sources of humidity, why isn’t the Du Weldenvarden forest to the north, which is EVEN FARTHER away from any ocean, a desert too?

        And as mentioned above, the distances between the places are too small (don’t they cross the Hadarac desert later in less than a week, on horseback???) for the huge heterogenousness of the geography to make any sense.

        Yeah, methinks no knowledge of geography went into the making of this map.

        Reply
  7. Nerem

    I’m reminded by the other comments – the Kingkiller Chronicles sure has resigned to obscurity in the past half year.

    Reply
  8. AutoBaan

    Holy mother of low hanging fruit! Can’t say I won’t like taking a look at the awfulness of Eragon again, though.

    Since you’re doing Quick Reads again, think about doing Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. With a protagonist with more than a passing resemblance to Kvothe, it was praised by Kingkiller fans and others before the sequels got too much even for them.

    Reply
  9. q____q

    Can someone please write a fantasy story where the smell of a fart somehow changes the world (or I guess the order of society or whatever because the fart changing the planet is maybe asking a bit much)?

    Reply
  10. Alice

    “Did you see that, I did a Star Wars”

    Get ready to do that again, there are more Star Wars similarities to come.

    Reply
  11. Signatus

    Oooh! Eragon! I recently re-read it out of pure boredom and gosh it is bad.

    “They were specifically invented by Tolkien ”

    Actually, Tolkien did rip-off norse mythology elves.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6kk%C3%A1lfar_and_Lj%C3%B3s%C3%A1lfar

    Anyways, one thing that has always bothered me is how many peope aknowledge the books are pretty bad, but excuse them because they were written by a 15 year old boy. The problem is people keep excusing him even in his later books because they were written by a 15 year old boy… who was born in 1982, that makes him older than I am and I’m 31.

    I have been writing since I was 12, and I did write my own epic fantasy saga which failed as miserably as you might imagine. At least my elves were magicless beings who drove cars and lived in cities similar to our very own… which makes no friggin sense.

    “You can tell when an author has played a lot of D&D”

    I did hear Paolini had been homeschooled, which kind of shows in the fact he doesn’t seem to know how humans behave and interact. I wonder if he actually played a lot of D&D or is just taking elements from a bunch of fantasy stuff and calling it a day.

    “With poise.”

    He abuses the Thesaurus so much there are several moments where he obviously doesn’t understand the words he’s using. I can’t remember exactly the choice of words, but there were a few moments where he threw in some big words that didn’t mean what he thought they meant.

    “holy shit what WHAT OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS WHAT’S HAPPENING.”

    Unless you’re russian and a meteor is blasting over your head. Honestly, these people don’t give a shit.

    Jokes aside, this is the sort of recurrent topic you’ll be encountering throughout the book. The boy who was didn’t know shit about human emotions and all interactions and event come off as cold and emotionless or overly exagerated anger. It seems like people are either cool and calm or raging and impulsive barely capable of keeping themselves under control. Animals are not much better, and wait till you meet the dragon.

    Reply
    1. Andrea Harris

      “I did hear Paolini had been homeschooled, which kind of shows in the fact he doesn’t seem to know how humans behave and interact.”

      Now to be fair, I’ve met a few homeschooled students and they had been introduced to other humans (in fact lots of homeschoolers do take care that their kids have, well, plenty of “extracurricular” activities where they meet other kids and so on) and many of them were more socialized and socially apt and confident than lots of regularly-schooled kids (including myself). Then there are the kids who’ve been kept in various types of fundamentalist religion sealed communities. Anyway, home-schooled kids vary as much as outside-schooled kids. It all depends on a number of factors. So far Eragon strikes me as about on par with a lot of YA-lit in the “how do these resemble people instead of tv stereotypes or bad copies of other authors’ characters” and not all YA writers of such have been homeschooled.

      I think the problem for the past few decades has been that visual media like movies and television are more and more of an influence on how people see the world.

      Reply
      1. Signatus

        I have to agree with you. Guess I just let my reticence about homeschooling cloud my thinking. A lot of today’s YA literature seem to be written by people who have been living under a rock or something.

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  12. braak

    A problem that I have with giving Eragon a lot of shit is that it was written by a fifteen year old, and, like, I dunno, honestly it doesn’t seem that bad for a fifteen year old! Good job, that kid, for writing a story that largely coheres and has some stuff in it or whatever. It’s honestly not that much worse than Name of the Wind, and that was written by an adult man with a degree in literature, so.

    Reply
    1. Signatus

      The problem I have with Paolini is that he actually got worse as the trilogy/cycle progressed, and he had left the 15 behind. I’ll give the boy that, sitting down and writing a coherent story is not that easy, so he pretty much did what older people couldn’t. Then he tossed all that down the drain as his books got bigger. I have read several trilogies already and, with very few exceptions, all fail by the second book and become and mess by the third, as if the author didn’t really know what he/she was doing by the time it reached the last book. It did happen to me, I tried writing a trilogy once and even when I had everything clear I never finished the second book because it was atrocious. There is an obsession with writing trilogies and some stories are just fine stand alone. If Paolini hadn’t pushed his luck, I don’t think he would have gotten as much shit as he got. Eragon is awful, and it is awfully bad written, but compared to the other two books (never read the last one) it was even mildly fun to read.

      Eragon was never an interesting character, but in the last books he becomes a self righteous psycopath. I don’t mind psychopaths in books, but Paolini goes to great lengths to justify the hero’s behavior. One of the most shocking moments is when, by the third book, this uber powerful mage and dragon rider kills in cold blood a boy barely grown who was on his knees and pleading mercy. If his transformation into this monster would have served to make us think about whether the end justifies the means it would have been interesting, but just like in the case of Richard in WFR, the book is selling them as the noble guys who do what they have to do for the greater good.

      Reply
  13. reveen

    Du Waldenvarden seems so out of place in the middle of that sea of fantasy syllable mish-mash. I think if you’re going to do Western European fantasy with bullshit place names you should at least be kinda cool about it and make it all bullshit German. Oh well, I guess that’s what Warhammer Fantasy is for.

    Reply
    1. q____q

      Yeah, I thought that name is really out of place, too. I skimmed over the map and was like:

      „Okay so this take place in elven Netherlands/UK?“

      Reply
  14. callmeIndigo

    I was really into this book when I was nine and pretty much haven’t touched it since then, but apparently I retained it really well because this is all alarmingly familiar to me. [I think I read up until halfway through the third book, but my memory of any of them after this one is hazy, which I suspect is a mercy.] If I recall correctly there are also Nazgul ripoffs in it, which is probably the opposite of a surprise. I remember once seeing heavy criticism of the fantasy glossary in the back of the book for making no linguistic sense, but apart from that I actually haven’t seen a lot of stuff about it, because I guess I’ve been living in a cave. So I’m excited about this.

    Anyway I definitely wrote exactly like this for several years after reading it and it’s making me cringe retrospectively. And man, regardless of how linguistically sound they are, I’ve always found the place names and such really unpleasant to the ear. And I also can’t help being annoyed that like, most of them are in Fantasy Language, but also there’s places called Sharktooth and Bullridge. At least commit to your ugly conlang.

    Reply
    1. maverynthia

      I dunno. If the same people live in Bullsridge and Der Ring des Nibelungen and have the same language I can see it. However if it’s different people different places it makes litter sense unless those are the native people.
      Like here (in the US) you can have towns called Tallahasee, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville in the same state (FL) and it’s not seen as weird because there are reasons for it.
      If the same thing happened here, then those reasons may apply. It’s like we need more information?

      Reply
      1. callmeIndigo

        I’m not 100% on this because I didn’t care when I was a kid, but from what I remember there’s a kind of one-language-per-humanoid-species thing going on, so. [And now that I think of that, why does the elf forest have a Human Fantasy Language name but all of the settlements in it have Elf Fantasy Language names? I mean. If the humans are applying their own name to the forest shouldn’t they also be doing that to the stuff in it? Who made this map anyway?]

        …also this is one of those settings with a language you can’t lie in, so I’m not willing to give too much credit for that sort of thing.

        Reply
        1. callmeIndigo

          But also I’m not a linguist and like I said, it’s been about ten years since I last read this, so take my comments with a generous helping of salt. The language you can’t lie in is definitely a thing, though, because I remember being annoyed by it even then.

          Reply
  15. Andrea Harris

    Hmm. Yes, this is the crap I remember from when I flipped through it at B. Dalton (RIP) or Borders (RIP) or wherever. Generic teen ripoff of LOTR publishers hoped to make buck on (and boy did they, for a while). Even the movie was unwatchable, and I give movies a lot more leeway than I do books.

    As for the idea of elves and dwarves, Tolkien did sort of vaguely base them on Norse and Germanic legendary creatures. I think he meant elves to look like humans only extra-handsome, not weird green-skinned slanty-browed things with giant Spock ears. (His painting of Galadriel made her look rather like an old 30s movie star, Jeannette McDonald or someone like that.) I’ve always thought that the later iterations of elves was partly Disney and other artists’ renderings.

    Reply
    1. Aaron Adamec-Ostlund (@AaronAO)

      There’s also a debate among Tolkienists whether elves have pointy ears or not. Same with whether hobbit feet are really big & hairy or just hairy. Or whether balrogs have wings. Basically even when people are ripping off Tolkien they aren’t.

      Reply

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