Eragon vs. Star Wars
**Warning** There are spoilers here for both Eragon and Star Wars.
Not too long ago I read the break out novel by Christopher Paolini, Eragon. Today I completed listening to the unabridged audio book of Eldest, the second book of the Inheritance trilogy. (My job allows me to listen to whatever I want, and so it was easiest to listen to this book rather than read it.)
First of all, let me say that Paolini has a way with words and writes very well. However, I do have some misgivings about his story structure and overall presentation… but that is not what this is about. I’m not here to do a critique of his writing ability, rather I discovered something… something almost akin to plagiarism. Maybe plagiarism’s too harsh a word – I’ll let you decide.
Eragon is Star Wars. Do you doubt? I will give a point-by-point comparison of the first two Eragon books vs. the first two Star Wars movies, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Then I’ll make predictions about the last Eragon book based on what I know of Return of the Jedi. We’ll see how close I am when that book is finally released.
But for those of you who are skeptical, allow me to describe the opening scene of one of these stories without using any specific names. When I’m done, feel free to tell me which story I’m describing – Eragon or Star Wars.
We open upon a scene where a Rebel Princess and her entourage are trying to steal away from the clutches of the evil Empire. At great cost, the Rebels have stolen a secret from the Empire that could give the Rebels a great advantage in defeating them. The Princess has been given the responsibility of transporting this dangerous secret. However, the Empire has tracked them down and sent fighters, under the leadership of a powerful General, to stop the Princess and retrieve the secret. The Princess is ambushed and captured, but at the last second manages to send the secret away in the hopes that it will come into the possessions of a former warrior that once helped the rebellion.
So, Eragon or Star Wars? It’s both. They’re the same story. And the resemblance doesn’t stop there. The only difference is that Paolini makes his story go painfully slower than Star Wars and that he occasionally uses multiple characters to achieve the story line where Star Wars only has one character. Also, there is no Star Wars duplicate of Saphira the Dragon – I consider Eragon and Saphira to be one character. To make things simpler, I’ll give you a cast list.
Luke Skywalker = Eragon and Saphira
Princess Leia = Arya
Han Solo = Murtagh, and later Roran
Obiwan Kenobi = Brom
Yoda = Oromis
Darth Vader = Durza, and later Morzan and Murtagh
The Emperor = Galbatorix
R2D2 = Orik, the Dwarf
Eragon… A New Hope
After our opening scene, we learn that Eragon (Luke) was a poor farm boy raised by his uncle. He comes across Saphira’s egg (Death Star Plans) accidentally. Brom (Obiwan) eventually finds out about Saphira and thus learns of Arya’s (Leia’s) capture. The Empire closes in on them and they escape. Brom trains Eragon in the ancient Rider (Jedi) ways. Brom winds up dying to save Eragon. Eragon meets a renegade warrior named Murtagh (Han Solo) and with his help they rescue the beautiful Princess. Eventually they flee to the Rebel base where a great battle ensues. Eragon (Luke) is on the verge of failing to deliver the fatal blow to the enemy forces (killing Durza or destroying the Star Destroyer, pick one) when from nowhere there is a distraction that allows him to complete the task. No, not the Millennium Falcon swooping down to shoot Vader, but Arya riding Saphira distracting Durza so Eragon can make the fatal blow. Thus ends the first story.
Eldest… The Empire Strikes Back
We start at the end of the fight in the last book. Whereas, Empire Strikes Back presents this as a new location and new battle, Eldest makes the end of Eragon and beginning of Eldest the same location and battle. Regardless, here at the beginning of Eldest, the Rebels flee their base in favor of a new location and Eragon (Luke) leaves to begin his formal training. Eragon is presented to Oromis (Yoda), an ancient Rider (Jedi) master who is in hiding, for his formal training. (I kept waiting for Eragon to levitate Orik with his mind, but was disappointed.) After learning that his rebel friends are in danger, Eragon leaves Oromis and promises to return to complete his training. During this next battle, Eragon has to face a new rider… who turns out to be Murtagh (who will now be playing the role of Darth Vader). After schooling Eragon in the art of magic (the Force), Murtagh (Vader) begins a vocal rant that equals to, in no certain terms, “If you only knew the power of the Dark Side”. After which, in dramatic fashion, Murtagh reveals, “Eragon, I am your Father… er, Brother.” We also learn from Murtagh that when Eragon was born, his mother fled from his real father Morzan (who was playing the role of Anakin/Vader when Murtagh was little) and Eragon was born in secret and raised by his uncle. One last thing… Before this scene is over, Luke loses his hand and his light saber. Eragon, likewise, loses his sword. They each will have to get new weapons at the beginning of the next installment.
There is one thing we’re missing from this story though. What about Han Solo being captured by a bounty hunter? Well, earlier in this book, a girl named Katrina was captured by the Ra’zac, mercenaries for hire (hmm, bounty hunters maybe?) in the employ of the Emperor. Roran, Eragon’s cousin was engaged to Katrina. Roran and the other villagers (Solo, Leia, and Chewbaca) are chased by the Empire and seek refuge in a place where they think they will be safe from the Emperor’s clutches (Surda or Cloud City). It is at this point that Solo is captured, but in Eldest the capture has already happened, remember? Roran also hopes to rescue Katrina, and this will come into play in the final book. There is even a scene where both stories come into contact with something in nature that they barely escape, but without which they would not have eluded the Empire’s pursuers… The Millennium Falcon flew into a cave that was really some giant space worm, and Roran’s ship dares to traverse a dangerous whirlpool. So there, now we have all the elements in place from the Empire Strikes Back.
Predictions of the final book… Return of the Jedi.
Here’s what I think will happen, if the current trend of Star Wars plot lines and characters continue through the last of Paolini’s books. First, we will start out with a dramatic rescue. Star Wars rescued Han Solo and Eragon will rescue Katrina. In the process, they will destroy the evil Ra’zac the Hut. After this, Eragon will return to Oromis (Yoda) to complete his training. Shortly after his arrival, however, the ailing Jedi, I mean Rider, will die. But before he does, he will pronounce Eragon the last of the Riders (Jedi). Then Eragon (Luke) will rejoin the Rebels where they will hatch a daring plan to invade and destroy the Empire. At some point, they may need a small strike force to cause a diversion or call upon the aide of some indigenous unknown race. Eragon (Luke) and Arya (Leia) will probably lead this force. On the main battlefront, the Rebels will be lead by Roran (now playing the part of Lando Calrissian). In any event, Eragon will be captured or will give himself up to Murtagh in an attempt to turn him back to the good side. Murtagh (Vader) will take Eragon before the Emperor Galbatorix, where he will try to turn Eragon to the Dark Side. In the end, Galbatorix will try to kill Eragon and it will be Murtagh, who realizes he really is good, the will destroy the Emperor. Murtagh, however, will not survive.
Now the Rebels have won and the Empire has been overthrown. Eragon and Luke are the last of their kind.
So, do you agree? Those of you who are Star Wars fans and have also read Eragon and Eldest, let me know your opinions. I’d like to know if I’m way off the mark here or if I’ve hit the bull’s eye.
**UPDATE** July 7, 2009
There have been many comments about the Hero’s Journey and how Eragon and Star Wars both merely typify that process. I would like to clarify that the Hero’s Journey is NOT a plot construct, but rather a series of benchmarks that the hero of a story must accomplish. Plot is by no way defined by the Hero’s Journey. In fact, almost every good book or movie follows the Hero’s Journey, if not completely at least in part. What my above post is meant to demonstrate, is that the PLOTS of both Star Wars and Eragon are almost identical. For more information on the Hero’s Journey and how it can be applied to very different plots, see my post on the subject… CLICK HERE=> The Hero’s Journey.