Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eragon - Telling a consistent story



If you want to convince your public that your world is real you have to be consistent. You can't just change the rules in the middle of the story. Let alone doing it multiple times after each other. Case in point? The movie Eragon.

Eragon is about a boy who finds a pretty stone. Not long after the "stone" breaks open a cute, tiny little dragon appears (very similar to the dragon eggs found in A Song of Ice and Fire). I have no problems with fantasy so I'll happily buy dragons, wizards and elves. What I won't buy however is that as soon as the tiny dragon flies ten metres up in the air it suddenly changes into a huge dragon. Seems like some very powerful dragon magic... and a convenient way to prevent us from having to wait twenty years until the dragon is fully grown and the boy no longer a cute movie star.

Sadly from there on it only gets worse and worse. At one moment the protagonist decides to go rescue the girl even though his mentor tells him it's a foolish thing to do. He mounts his dragon and flies off to the castle that's at the other side of the country. He rescues the girl and right when he's about to get his ass kicked his mentor storms in and saves him! Huh, how did he get there? Five minutes ago he was at the other side of the country riding a horse. Are dragons as slow as horses? Possibly but later in the movie we see the dragon thundering over horses at speeds which would make a jet pilot envious.

The mentor gets wounded while saving the boy and his wounds need to be healed by the rebels who are of course at the other side of the country where they started in the first place. No problem I'd think, jump with three on the dragon and off you go. But the dragon can't fly a long time with three people on his back! The obvious choice would be to tie the man with ropes to the dragon and let them fly at Mach 1 speed to the rebels. That would be too simple of course so they decide to ride all the way to there on a horse...

Once they're there the big battle against the evil king is right around the corner (where do the baddies suddenly all come from?). The rebels "work all night" to create a magnificent armour piece for the dragon which shields it from tip to toe. Wait a minute, the dragon can't wear three people but she can wear full plate armour and have a fully armoured rider on her back? Sigh, talk about consistency. Once the baddies do arrive the dragon can suddenly also breath fire from one minute to the next. And the battle itself? A dragon which flies high above the ground and is able to burn a hundred soldiers at once doesn't really offer a challenging fight. I rather felt pity for the poor fellows on the ground.

It's sad to see all these inconsistencies. Once you start seeing one you start seeing one after the other. So if you do write a story then please think it through. At least try to come up with an explanation why key characters sometimes move from one place to the other or why the dragon can suddenly fry and fly. I do hope that the book is better then the movie but I won't find out any time soon as the movie has made me loose all interest in the series.

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