Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eragon's Waking Dreams (Brisingr)

While on site in New Jersey I finished up the audiobook of Brisingr. This was supposed to be the last in the trilogy, but was extended to the second to last in the cycle. The author, Christopher Paolini, had been unable to resolve the plot within this book and so extended it one more novel.

In truth, Brisingr felt a lot like the seventh book in the Harry Potter series. Perhaps that was because I was still expecting to see a resolution to the trilogy until about halfway through when I scratched my head and asked aloud, "So... when do we see Galbatorix? Are we going to get to the end of the book only to find out he had a mysterious heart attack?" That's when I got down to business and found out what had happened after a few minutes of "google research".

I won't give any spoilers but I will say this: if I heard the phrase 'waking dreams' one more time I swear... someone was going to get hurt. For all the flourish that Paolini's vocabulary seems to have, he still repeats many phrases throughout the book. It's deceptive at first. But then you realize that even though he's using some of the more rare words of the english language, he still abuses them as if they were any of the common words that average writers often abuse. Another descriptive phrase I seem to recall being used a few times was 'bone-crunching ground', but there were several.

Don't get me wrong, he's a decent story teller, but his plot resolutions and twists often come about a bit too easily. I had hoped this would get better as the books moved forward, but success is hardly ever a good teacher.

It's a common thing, I hear, for writers and aspiring writers to critique harshly the work of other published authors. There is a fine line between critiquing harshly for the sake of ego and learning from another's mistakes. Each book I read, or listen to as the case may be, I try to take away things that I both liked and what I think could have been improved. In this, I learn valuable insight that I hope I can apply to my own writing. Whenever critiquing someone else's work, always try to keep an open mind. Don't forget to see the forest for the trees. A book isn't always the sum of its many flaws. Sometimes the power of the story is compelling enough to allow the reader to ignre the prbelms in odrer to gte to the haert of the story, to its essence. (Yeah, I did that on purpose.)

In truth, it's easy to be a crusty ol' bastard and poke fun at others from the outside, yet they are out there, published. Somehow, though we may refuse to believe any sane editor or publisher would ever have had a hand in it, someone deemed their work worthy to send to the masses. Perhaps that means there is hope. If someone else was able to sell shoddy work, it could just be a matter of time before some publisher sees the value in your own labor of love. Afterall, you'd never make the same mistakes as they did, right?

My advice? Keep on keepin on. And beware those horrid waking dreams.

Creative Writing Prompt:


Jena Isle said...

Brisingr seems a strange title, hello Brady, where are your short stories? I am looking for more.

Good review, but do write a short story.


Ken Armstrong said...

My Son is reading it at the moment - he loved the first and stuck with the second, I'll see how 'three' goes.

I'm also trying to get him to do me a post about 'Spore' which seems very interesting.

Unknown said...

Thanks Jena! I am currently working on a project and hope to be able to post a short story in the near future. I don't want to say much about what I've got in the works just yet since it will be a while in the coming and there's no need to build anticipation when there won't be much visible progress from the blog point of view until it is very near done.

Ken, I think these books are great for teens. They open up a lot of words that just don't get used in text messaging and television. They have interesting Young Adult themes (though there were a few adult innuendos, but no more than there were in The Road to El Dorado - a cartoon for kids).

I've heard a lot of things about Spore. It has been a very eagerly anticipated game, though I must admit I haven't played it.