Bullitt's Bros

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I hated myself in high school. Therefore ...

I also hated this kid.

See, Eragon is causing me some cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, it's a big budget fantasy movie, and the fantasy geek in me can't help but be interested. But on the other hand--and this second hand is much heavier--everything I've read about it (which is: almost nothing) indicates to me that the writing will be, uh, kidtastic!

Like, check out this glossary:

Alagaësia: a kingdom stretching from the western coastal wilderness of the Spine into the inland Hadarac desert, which spreads to the southern summits of the Beor Mountains. It is a world of humans, sorcerers, monsters – and mighty dragons.

The Ancient Language: a form of communication that enables certain people to use magic.

Beor Mountains: a huge mountain range in the southeast of Alagaësia, where the Varden make their home.

Carvahall: Eragon's hometown; a small town near the Spine.

Dragon Riders: those who help maintain peace in Alagaësia with the help of their dragons.

Gil'ead: a heavily guarded city where Arya is imprisoned by Durza.

Ra'zac: demonic mercenaries that serve Durza.

Shade: a sorcerer possessed by evil spirits.

Spine, The: Vast mountain range covering almost all of Alagaësia's west coast.

Urgals: loathsome and brutish troops who serve Galbatorix. Their faces are grotesquely patterned with scars.

Varden: a group of rebels based in Farthen Dûr.

Zar'roc: Eragon's sword, given to him by Brom.

I particularly like "Ra'zac" and "Zar'roc".

See, what's troubling about this glossary--and it is troubling; it's like looking for a house and being shown the burned-out husk of a museum--is that dollars to doughnuts says this fifteen year old kid (he's twenty-three now, but when he wrote Eragon, or whatever the first book is called, he was fifteen) chose the names he did because they sounded cool.

Now, he's probably read Tolkien, but while there might be a surface similarity between, say, "Mordor" and
"Carvahall", from what I gather Tolkien was actually quite a gifted philologist. He, like, knew Gothic and crap; he taught at Oxford; and he had a good reputation as a philologist. Plus, he was nuttily entranced by his own creation of Middle Earth and so spent a good deal of time on it, and the kind of consistency and backstory a super-productive scholar of languages and mythology could give to his fantasy world is probably, well, a lot better than that of a twelve to fifteen year old.

So, I'm giving this movie a preemptive "it sucks!"


  • I have to agree with you on this one, bobcat.

    I could find names just like those you listed -- perhaps even 'cooler' ones (e.g. 'Aphoria'; 'Rylindar'; 'Ilden') -- on any one of the stack of AD&D campaign maps that I produced between grades 6 and 10. (Yes, I still have a few of them stored away in my parents' basement.)

    Notice also that the author does the cheap trick of coming up with names by changing a single letter in a word -- 'Eragon' is just 'dragon' with the first letter advancing one space up the alphabet. Lame!

    By Blogger Akrasia, at 10:18 AM  

  • I also like how Eragon sounds nothing like Aragorn.

    F*ckin' kids.

    By Blogger BIG, at 1:45 PM  

  • I've heard that this sort of thing happens in publishing every few years;

    A publisher that's never read a fantasy book in his/her life reads a kid's fantasy novel that LOOOVED Tolkien. Said kid gets book deal.

    In this instance, it actually took off and sold some copies.

    Given, I heard this from a rather bitter novelist that has written over 40 books...37 or so of them all Battletech novels, so take it as you will.

    By Blogger Mikey Y, at 2:27 PM  

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