Epistle the ThirdEdit
Birds of a Feather… or, Immature Fans for an Immature WorkEdit
Since he first became interested in reading debates and criticism for the Inheritance series, the Epistler has seen and experienced a great deal that has disturbed him. Every debate between fans and critics that he has seen has degenerated into insults and name-calling, almost always on the part of the fans, and there has also been worse. As noted elsewhere on this site, fans of the Inheritance series have on several occasions resorted to threats and blackmail in order to silence those whose opinions differ from their own. This behaviour, quite simply, is unacceptable. It is the very reason why this site was first founded – because those who objected to the Inheritance series on moral and artistic grounds were tired of being persecuted. Even here the fans still refuse to leave them alone, as can be seen on the hatemail page. The Epistler will put it simply; the way in which some Inheritance fans act is immature. Why is this so? There are legions of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans to be found on the internet; however, they, in the main, conduct themselves in a much more mature manner than Inheritance fans do. On the Harry Potter site Mugglenet, fans debate the relative quality of the different books in the series they love so well, talk over which characters they like or dislike, and are generally civil and respectful of each other’s views. In other words, they have no problem with criticising the Harry Potter books. By contrast, on the forums at Shurtugal.com, which is one of the biggest Inheritance fansites, criticism is not tolerated in any form. Any user who posts something less than complimentary about the books is likely to be banned, and criticism threads are mercilessly deleted, leaving only sycophantic and repetitive praise behind. Although Mike, the webmaster of Shurtugal.com, denies that he is intolerant and insists that criticism is accepted on his site, there have been many, many instances of he and his fellow administrators treating critics like heretics. People have been banned, stalked, blackmailed, threatened, sacked, flamed and slandered, and the solid core of fanatics behind places like Shurtugal.com act as if this is their right and duty.
And what of the books themselves? And the author? Despite his better feelings, the Epistler could not help but realise that both the books and the author were, in their own way, almost as immature as the fans are. Is it, then, a case of birds of a feather? Are the fans attracted to the books because the books are as immature as they are? It is certainly true that very few fans demonstrate much knowledge of literature and publishing. And though the Epistler feels harsh in saying so, he cannot ignore the fact that nearly all of the more die-hard fans demonstrate an inability to use correct spelling and grammar, as well as poorly-developed reasoning and debating skills.
Epistle the Third will discuss, using examples, first the immaturity evident in the books and the behaviour of their author, and secondly the immature behaviour of the fans. It is not, as the reader will see, a particularly flattering picture.
Signs of Immaturity in the BooksEdit
An Excess of Adjectives
Something commonly found in beginner’s writing – over-description and the use of too many adjectives. For the benefit of those who slept through English class:
ad·jec·tive n. Abbr. a. or adj.
1. The part of speech that modifies a noun or other substantive by limiting, qualifying, or specifying and distinguished in English morphologically by one of several suffixes, such as -able, -ous, -er, and -est, or syntactically by position directly preceding a noun or nominal phrase.
2. Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as “white” in the phrase “a white house”.
(thanks to Dictionary.com).
Too many adjectives is probably the most common sign of an immature writer, and Paolini floods his prose with them. Example:
Between these two rode a raven-haired elven lady, who surveyed her surroundings with poise. Framed by long black locks, her deep eyes shone with a driving force. Her clothes were unadorned, yet her beauty was undiminished. At her side was a sword, and on her back a long bow with a quiver. She carried in her lap a pouch that she frequently looked at, as if to reassure herself that it was still there.
Our first introduction to the lovely Princess Arya. Putting aside the overly worshipful terms in which she is described, let us instead turn our attention to the number of unnecessary adjectives and over-descriptions in this paragraph. First of all, ‘raven-haired’ is immediately followed by a mention of ‘black locks’. Sorry… what colour was her hair again? The Epistler grows confused. Many of the other descriptive words simply make no sense. ‘Deep’ eyes? And how can someone survey their surroundings with ‘poise’? Poise refers to a way of holding oneself, but examining something only requires a person to move their eyes. And what, exactly, is a ‘driving force’? The next sentence is even worse – ‘unadorned’, followed by ‘undiminished’ in the same sentence. The two words, used together like this, are simply clumsy. Everything about this paragraph proclaims its writer to be young and inexperienced – similar prose can be found on Fanfiction.net with minimal effort. In fact, here in an extract from a piece of Lord of the Rings fanfiction:
Silence stretched across the lands, the silence accompanying the brewing storm. An unbearable screech pierced through it, leaving buzzing echo behind, to drive out anyone that is unwanted. But the torment is unmoving to the owner of those piercing grey eyes. Slowly she approached the alarmed city. Archers and watchers looked upon the vast plains warily. Something disturbed the blissful emptiness behind her. She looked back.
Rows and rows of her kin marched, equipped with bows, arrows and blades, and she recognized the leader. Yes… it had been too long. Haldir, handsome as always, lead the elite elven warriors. They are walking towards their end. She slipped away, yielded by the shadows of the setting sun. Noticed by no one, she called upon her servants. An Uruk-hai spotted her and walked over. She nodded, and whispered commands in the Black Language. The Uruk-hai inclined its head and retreated.
Bear in mind that this was written by an author who says of herself “Please excuse my illiteracy, I am only 14 years of age, and English is my second language.” Ignoring the changes of tense, the style is strikingly similar. In other words, the work of a fourteen-year-old fanfiction writer is strikingly similar to that of… a nineteen-year-old fanfiction writer.
The excess of adjectives shows up even more so during dialogue – witness how, in the land of Alagaësia, few ever say anything. Instead they snap, enquire, comment, remark, retort and proclaim. For example:
“Sorry,” apologized Brom, and continued over the bridge with Eragon.
“Why didn’t you haggle? He skinned you alive!” exclaimed Eragon when they were out of earshot. “He probably doesn’t even own the bridge. We could have pushed right past him.”
“Probably,” agreed Brom.
So, saying sorry is an apology. The Epistler learns new things every day. Although The Far Side and Oscar Wilde have their attractions, they are not necessary – we have comedy gold right here. Although Paolini lacks the sophistication to include subtext in his writing, the unwritten message here is that he is immature enough to think that every line of dialogue needs an adverbial qualifier – even one as preposterous and redundant that lets us know that saying sorry is an apology. This is simply not done by professionals. Those looking for similar mistakes would be advised to try Fanfiction.net.
And speaking of fanfiction, let us not forget why most of it is written…
Wish Fulfilment/Mary Sueism
Knowing that Inheritance is essentially published fanfiction, it is unsurprising to note that a fair chunk of it is geared toward wish fulfilment and, by association, Mary Sueism.
And to stave off any protests, the Epistler hastens to add that this has been confirmed by Paolini himself. On numerous occasions he has publicly stated that Eragon was modelled after himself, and that he does the things that he himself would like to do. In other words, he admitted that Eragon is a self-insert. The other name for a self-insert character is, yes, Mary-Sue. Fanfiction writers who create sue-fics do so because they love some book or movie to the point that they wish they could be a part of it. So they create a character to stand in for themselves, and write a story concerning this character entering the canon and doing there all the things the author would like to do. In other words, wish fulfilment.
There is no particular crime involved in doing this. However, Mary-Sueism is a major sign of immaturity in writing because it is done for no other reason than to stroke the author’s ego. Everyone has personal fantasies, but sharing them with others is rarely a good idea. People read books to be entertained, not to witness the author’s stand-in being praised and adored by another author’s transplanted characters. There is no escaping the fact that Eragon is a Mary-Sue. Arya is also a Mary-Sue. Both are good-looking, powerful, adored by others, never make mistakes and have no believable flaws. Writing comes from the heart. Done properly, it can express truths about the writer’s soul in a way that only art can. The Epistler is revolted by what Inheritance may be revealing about its creator’s soul. He will leave that road of speculation to others, because he is not vindictive by nature, but he will draw the conclusion that it reveals a great deal of immaturity.
Nearly everyone important in the Inheritance trilogy is immortal. The dragons are immortal. The elves are immortal. Eragon is immortal. The ‘evil’ King is immortal. Even Angela, the comic-relief herbalist, may well be immortal. The Epistler could not help but wonder why. The matter of immortality is never delved into – it’s just there. Eragon never looks at the people around him and feels a chill at the thought that he will outlive all of them. In fact, the immortality he gains from his bond with Saphira is skipped over so casually that the reader can’t help but feel that it doesn’t really count for anything. Immortality can be a fascinating thing if handled correctly, but here, needless to say, it isn’t. This being so, why is it even there? Almost nothing would be changed if Eragon and his friends remained mortal.
However, the Epistler has a theory to explain why. It’s because the author is young. Young people, as a rule, do not like the idea that they will grow old one day. Young, as far as they are concerned, is better. Therefore, when setting out to write a wish-fulfilment story, they would certainly do away with that little inconvenience known as ‘time’. A proper Mary-Sue must have everything – good looks, power, a magical weapon, sparkling eyes, an extremely sexy significant other, an amusing talking animal companion and fashionable clothes. It’s not much of a stretch to add immortality to that. Mary Sues cannot be held back and cannot have weaknesses – and the prospect of ageing and dying counts as a weakness. Hence it must go.
The Immature Mind Behind it All
And finally, the bow to wrap around this parcel – the author himself. We have witnessed obvious signs of immaturity in the books themselves, but if these do not convince, look no further than the Prodigy himself – Christopher Paolini. The upshot – in a manner of speaking – of all the public exposure he has had (these being in the form of television interviews and countless magazine articles) is that he has had ample opportunity to display his personality. And what a ghastly display it has been. He has demonstrated his immaturity at every turn, along with an ego the size of a planet. The Epistler has never witnessed an interview with this man that did not make him wish to break something. Nearly everything Paolini has said on the subject of writing has been egotistical, laughably incorrect, or both, and his arrogance is clear as glass.
Here are some examples:
When asked if characters came to him naturally, or were created out of necessity, he answered “characters are born out of necessity” – in other words, they are plot devices. This is simply idiotic. But it fits with the way the characters turned out – flat, hollow, and none able to do anything more than what the plot requires, regardless of whether it makes sense or not.
When asked if he had any advice for young writers, he advised them to read as much as they can, including books on how to write books, and to put aside their pride and listen to criticism. This is lame and hypocritical, since he has repeatedly stated that he does not read reviews for his books, and spends much of his time in interviews boasting about their greatness – along with his own. Here is the most obvious example of his boasting:
“Eragon is an archetypal hero story, filled with exciting action, dangerous villains, and fantastic locations”
His own words. The Epistler does not feel the need to add anything to that.
>At one time Paolini was called upon to write a review for J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Here he revealed his arrogance again – perhaps unintentionally – when he said:
“One of the greatest pleasures of reading this series is seeing J.K.Rowling develop as a writer, and she certainly spreads her wings here”.
This is nothing short of scandalous. Paolini is so convinced of his superiority that he feels he can talk down about the great J.K.Rowling. By talking about her in this way, he makes it clear that he believes he is a better writer than she is, and he does it without embarrassment, in public.
When confronted about his derivative writing, he counters with the exact same argument that his fans use – the old chestnut of “nothing is truly original, therefore it’s all right” Immaturity much? In spades.
Ken Paolini The father of the Prodigy.
Kenneth Paolini deserves a section to himself in this Epistle.
Due to the fact that controversial posts and threads have a tendency to be deleted, the Epistler is unable to provide quotes and direct evidence in order to indict the man who is manager and apparent one-man secret police force on behalf of his son. However, he has received direct testimony from others to the effect that Kenneth Paolini has been guilty of persecuting critics in much the same way as the fans do. It has been reported by sources which the Epistler considers trustworthy that Mr Paolini a presence on the Shurtugal.com forums, and that at on at least one occasion he was directly responsible for the banning of a number of critics. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he is also to blame for shielding his son from criticism and, by association, keeping him in ignorance of what the literary world is actually like. In other words, it would appear (the Epistler is drawing this conclusion based partially on guesswork, but the evidence is still fairly convincing) that he is partially to blame for allowing his son to remain immature and spoilt – having raised him in isolation and now denying him the opportunity to mature emotionally. The Epistler finds this shocking.
Wishing to be certain, the Epistler contacted someone who was involved in the Shurtugal.com incident, and was kindly provided with the following message.
Kepao, or Kenneth Paolini for those unfamiliar with the shorthand name, is known around the Shurtugal.com forums for being extremely callous towards all who criticize Eragon and his son's ability to write. About a year ago a few others and I got together in a thread to discuss the problems with the work in general – that is, without bashing anyone.
Quite simply, we discussed the problems with grammar and the similarities with other works we've read throughout our lives. However, the big man (who goes by the name Awakoa on Shurtugal.com) just wouldn't tolerate constructive criticism. As a thanks for what we said, the thread was closed, some members were banned from the board, and some of us just left in the end out of disgust.
To sum up the end of this, Awakoa, or Kepao, was not even an administrator of the website Shurtugal.com or its Forums when this occurred. To my knowledge, he still doesn't really have deciding power on the website and forums. Basically, this man is probably out to squash any sort of word against Eragon and his son, demanding apologies from the people that exercise their freedom of speech.
Thanks to the correspondent. No thanks at all to Kenneth Paolini. If this tale be true – and the Epistler is inclined to believe that it is – then it would seem immaturity runs in the family.
…And the Immature Behaviour of The Fans
The Epistler acknowledges that the internet is not known for inspiring good spelling, mature behaviour and intellectual discourse. However, he has noticed a significant difference between fans of Inheritance and fans of, say, Harry Potter (the Epistler has chosen to compare and contrast using Harry Potter on the grounds that it, too, has children as fans). Here are some typical examples of things written by some Inheritance fans, quoted from a fan forum:
“could the dragon healing have been a form of the vault of souls. like the vault of souls contains all the souls of the dragons and somehow eragon finds a way to tap into that power source. If you remember what the dragons did for him not even the elves could do. If that was the vault of souls and eragon could use it he would most definatly be the most powerful rider ever.”
“I don't know about the dragon soals thing, but other wise it could be possible.”
I've just had the best idea about the VOS. you know in book 2 when they'er flying over the desert and they see the mountain were all dragons went to be born, mate AND DIE. that place is the VOS and when a dragon dies its essence is absorbed into the VOS”
“i dobt he would do that in the book”
All of these posts display a slender grasp of proper spelling and grammar, and are at best vaguely coherent. By contrast, here is an example of a debate on a forum thread at the Harry Potter fansite, Mugglenet
Ron and Hermione not turning back is no new piece of information that makes them "stronger then ever". They have been doing that since book 1 when Harry planned on going through the trap door alone. Since this is nothing new and they have been doing it since book 1, I don't see how it is proof that they have overcome any differences such as Ron's jealousy.
You are comparing 11 year olds to 17 year olds here. People grow up and learn from their experiences, and Ron had learned his share of valuing his best friend after that fight in GoF. And after all that Ron had been through with Harry and especially after finding out what Harry's up against, do you honestly think that small trivial things like getting jealous of fame and fortune will matter?
You agree that Ron has faults as do other characters, that is good. As it is obvious. But some here seem to think GoF was the end of Ron's jealousy of Harry. Then they go on to contradict themselves and say it ended in HBP. Bottom line is that the jealousy is still there.
Incorrect again. No one here thinks that Ron's jealousy persisted till HBP. His jealousy towards Harry ended right then and there in GoF. And that quote from HBP says that Ron, who would've been jealous about Harry being followed by girls before, does not envy him anymore. There's no point in twisting canon here again because Ron does not feel jealousy towards Harry and he will betray him.
This example is very impressive, and there were many others to be found on the site. The fans at Mugglenet, in the main, write clearly and show evidence of intelligent analysis of the books they love. This happens very rarely among Inheritance fans, at least as far as the Epistler has experienced, and be assured that he has spent some time trawling through various forums in search of evidence.
The Epistler does not wish to be guilty of stereotyping, but he cannot help but have noticed again and again that the majority of Inheritance fans do not know how to write properly. Whether this is a sign of their young age, or a simple lack of maturity, the Epistler does not know. However, a much more disturbing trend amongst the fanbase follows.
Intolerance, Verbal Abuse, and Worse
While poor English skills can be excused, this behaviour cannot and should not be. Time and time again, Inheritance fans have been guilty of attacking critics, and they are highly immature in doing so – being apparently unable to live with the notion that not all people love Christopher Paolini’s books. Every criticism posted on the internet attracts flames from fans sooner or later, and if said flames are insufficient to make the critic back down they are often followed – with depressing regularity – by threats. Even if this stage is not reached, the flaming is of the worst kind – the fans who indulge in it almost invariably resort to personal attacks and insults, and repeat the same refuted counter-arguments over and over again. Some examples are below:
first off... didn't realize that there are two , count 'em, TWO! launguages completely made up[. Generally making up an entire language requires thought, weather or not the language is good or not (weather you like it or not is your opinion)
Sewcond: do you have a problem with home schooled kids. geeze! I guess it didn't occer to you that 1) it was probably his parents choce, and he didn't have a say 2) public schools aren't for everybody, just as privatye schools aren't for everybody.
I think you have the smallest brain on the planet if you didn't think of that! If you couldn't understand Eragon, you are so stupid. sure, it takes some people time to finish it, but if you don't understand the depth of the story. I personally think that whatever extra details I can read, the better. ofcourse, you could be too stupid to understand that. See, you got me mad. And you don't want to see me really angry. I'm warning you. if you don't like the book, keep it to your self! Because if there's someone who hates it, there's some one who loves it.”
ok i dont fully understand why you all dont like it so much i thought it was rather good and detailed. i like that he made new languages and everything ive also been waiting for a good book with dragon riders.
anyways i think it was rather good. eldest was by far better and i feel it matches if not dominates harry potter.(i still love hp though) and i so have a vision of gimli from lord of the rings as orik XD but with black hair and it was pretty well written(eragon that is) but he was still young when he wropte that number two is much better written.
“In regard to your Eragon hate essay: Hey dude or girl- whatever, but yeah this is a intriguing book and your just hatin cuz ur jealous, but first of all you guessed that “he's going to somehow find his father, and his father will then give him up to the bad guys.”- ERRR- WRONG. You don’t know nothing– even I knew that wasn’t gonna happen. Secondly you said, “And as soon as those who killed his uncle are destroyed (robbing him of an immediate goal), just in time, he starts having convenient dreams about a woman in a dungeon--who he of course has to rescue.”- ERRR, guess what- wrong again. Those who killed his uncle are not destroyed in the first book OR the second book. So, you better get your facts straight b4 you start talking all this.”
“HI. WOW, YOU ARE STUPID. DO YOU NOT REALISE THAT THERE ARE NO ORIGINAL IDEAS LEFT? ERAGON IS THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITEN. I AM SORRY IF YOU DO NOT REALISE THIS AND HAVE NO IMAGINATION. YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO LIFE, OTHERWISE YOU WOULD NOT BE HEAR DISSING ERAGON.”
“Wow, your an ass. You don't like the book so this is what you say "omfgthisbooksuxkkthxbye" What is your problem? I thought this was an excellent book, and if you don't like it fine, I won't try and change your mind; However, you go to this and make an essay on how much you despise the book. That's just low and stupid. AND! You make a Hatepage...you have some serious problems. But back to the topic. This is a fantsy novel, I have no idea why your making such a big deal over it. I'm just sending this comment to just show what a complete ass you are. Hey, how about next, you do this for Harry Potter! Yeah, makes thousands of people hate you just because YOU suck at writing so YOU have to critize others writing and so YOU can look like a complete ass to the entire world. You stupidity in making this site is only exceeded by your crappy comments and most likely, crappy writing. Thank you, and have a nice day.”
“u r retarded ok if u r going to argue with everything about this book fine but find other ways of doing it. so its a little over dramatic with the said things and mabe it doesnt quiet equal tokien but it was a good book and the second was spectacular it has absolutely nothing to do with lotr and for your info i have read alot of great fantasy books and this falls into 3 Lord of the rings inheritance aka eragon eldest ____ now stop being retarded dont make a whole webpage about a book u dont like.”
What a flattering portrait this paints. These flames are absolutely typical of Inheritance fans – misspelt, crude, obnoxious and positively reeking of stupidity. These examples were posted in response to Ivy’s criticism essay (a link to it can be found on this site), and all of them contain irrelevant personal attacks intended to ‘discredit’ Ivy and, by association, invalidate her essay. However, since said personal attacks are limited to the highly intellectual ‘ur so stupid’, and ‘u have no imagination’, and the old favourite ‘ur just jelus!’, they do little beyond imply that fans of Inheritance are idiots.
On another occasion, as many already know, the webmistress of Anti-shurtugal.com was the victim of an attack where someone posted her personal information in two public forums – having got hold of it through who knows what means. The someone referred to him/herself as ‘Kapu666’ and posted the information on the IMDB.com message boards and on the Anti-shurtugal LiveJournal. Both have now been deleted, but the post is as follows:
[Webmistress's Real Name],
Does your mommy and daddy know what you are doing with your free time?
Your biggest fear is that you will disappoint your family and your God. Does this make you happy? Will it make God happy? Choose the Right.
ANTI-SHURTUGAL.COM The data contained in Go Daddy Software, Inc.'s WHOIS database, while believed by the company to be reliable, is provided "as is" with no guarantee or warranties regarding its accuracy. This information is provided for the sole purpose of assisting you in obtaining information about domain name registration records. Any use of this data for any other purpose is expressly forbidden without the prior written permission of Go Daddy Software, Inc. By submitting an inquiry, you agree to these terms of usage and limitations of warranty. In particular, you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible, dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and solicitations of any kind, including spam. You further agree not to use this data to enable high volume, automated or robotic electronic processes designed to collect or compile this data for any purpose, including mining this data for your own personal or commercial purposes.
Please note: the registrant of the domain name is specified in the "registrant" field. In most cases, Go Daddy Software, Inc. is not the registrant of domain names listed in this database.
Registrant: [Webmistress's real name and address]
Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com) Domain Name:
ANTI-SHURTUGAL.COM Created on: 22-Mar-06 Expires on: 23-Mar-07 Last Updated on: 23-Mar-06
Kapu666 also remarked:
If the person who runs anti-shurtugal.com thinks she can run a public hate site and remain anonymous, she is dreaming.
Warped9, another fan considered ‘dangerous’, was apparently involved in Kapu666’s actions in some way, which is unsurprising as he has a history of stalking and blackmail. He posted the following at IMDB.com:
[Webmistress's Real Name] (yes the news has spread)…
The use of our webmistress’ first name may not be in itself threatening, but the way in which it was used was obviously intended to frighten and intimidate her because of its unspoken rider – we know where you live.
The Epistler would now like to pose the question to his readers – are these the actions of a rational, mature person? His own opinion is no, definitely not. He believes that they are the actions of people who are immature, insecure and dangerously obsessed.
Of course, these are in a minority and the Epistler does not wish to imply that span all Inheritance fans are disturbed stalkers. He merely wishes to let it be known that, yes, there are those among the fanbase who act like this, and if the more worthy fans wish to be taken seriously they would be advised to make it clear that they do not endorse what the likes of Warped9 have been doing.
So what does all this mean? Do the flaws of the Inheritance series mean that only those who are immature are attracted to it? Is it Paolini’s own childish behaviour that sets an example for them? Are the fans nothing more than illiterate flamers?
The Epistler does not himself believe that this is true, although he himself has suffered similar attacks and has the scars to prove it. He is willing to respect those who do not share his views, even if some of the fans do not.
The supreme irony in all of this is that, if the Inheritance fanbase were not so intolerant and over-sensitive, Anti-shurtugal.com would not exist. If critics were allowed to voice their opinions in peace, as every person in the free world should have the right to, or were simply ignored, they would most likely have simply lost interest by now. However, the refusal of the fanbase to allow critics to voice their opinions unmolested is precisely what brought about this extreme response. Anti-shurtugal.com came into existence because critics were sick and tired of being treated like criminals and decided to form their own site where they could discuss their objections in relative peace. The more fans protest and carry on as they have done, the more they inflame their opponents – witness the famed power of prohibition at work. The instant someone is told they may not do something, the more they will want to do it. Thus they are responsible for creating what they regard as their own worst enemy. And so the battle goes on.
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