Two of my best friends here in the Peace Corps are avid fantasy readers. And while I’d peg quite a few of the people in the Peace Corps as fantasy readers–after all, this is an endeavor that ensures that for two years you will have nothing resembling a normal social life–my friends don’t very much seem like the type to go on dates to the Renaissance Fair, and thus I have lessened my scorn and have recently been asking them to educate me about fantasy books. This education was fruitless, as apparently all my stereotypes were correct, and fantasy books are all set in some vague medieval past and contain magic, elves, forests, swords, quests, wineskins of dew-water and what have you. I did read Redwall when I was little, and liked it. I have also read Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, although the latter shouldn’t count. But I am really not into this kind of thing.
It was against my better judgment that I picked up Eragon from the Peace Corps library, but I saw John Malkovich on the cover (apparently he was in the movie adaptation) and that tipped the scales. I later learned from Wikipedia that Eragon the movie is the highest-grossing film with a dragon at its focal point–awesome–and that the book was the second-best-selling paperback of 2005. I then actually read the book and again, died of disappointment that something so boring became so popular. I don’t even want to explain how bad this book is. It was written by a fifteen-year-old, which is impressive, since when I was fifteen all I wrote were diary entries about how my cheerleading uniform was getting too tight. But it’s clunky and unoriginal and all I got out of it are the following observations.
Page 480: “White mist wafted up from the water, like blood steaming in winter.” Oh. Good. How helpful, using something no one has ever seen before to explain something that everyone’s seen at least once. Also I never knew that white mist looks like STEAMING BLOOD.
Page 671: “Plain black leather clothed her shapely frame, poor raiment for one so fair.” Yes, of course. Plain black leather, the ubiquitous peasant fabric of twelfth-century Imaginary Earth. The junction of fantasy books and sexual fantasies is something I hope to never begin to understand.
Page 735, the glossary of “Ancient Words”: “Fethrblaka, eka weohnata neiat haina ono. Blaka eom iet lam. Bird, I will not harm you. Flap to my hand.” I… can’t possibly do justice to how funny this is on its own. FLAP TO MY HAND.