Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Reviews on Christopher Paolini's Works...

I've been doing a bit of internet research on Christopher Paolini, Eragon, and Eldest. I found some reviews that mirror my own thoughts and feelings on the author and his two books:

"Some reviewers have accused Paolini's 'hero on a quest' plot line and characters that include dwarfs and elves of being derivative of fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings." (Vancouver Sun)

"Billed as the first of the 'Inheritance' trilogy, 'Eragon' borrowed wholesale from J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' and Anne McCaffrey's 'The Dragonriders of Pern' series... Critics and kids alike embraced 'Eragon,' awed perhaps as much by Paolini's inspirational back story as by the book's mythic scope and noble teen hero. Caught up in the hype, I read 'Eragon' to my two sons and found it ambitious, exciting and flawed, the work of an obviously talented but unseasoned author still feeling his way around language, pacing and original character development. So I was especially interested to see how Paolini had matured as a novelist in his sophomore effort [Eldest]..." (Denise Hamilton of The Los Angeles Times)

"Read [Eldest] if you liked the first one, or want a quick throw-away fantasy with more plot movement than fresh ideas." (Books Blog)

Monday, September 26, 2005

The World of Alagaesia

I'm almost finished reading the second installment of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy. There are three storylines in Eldest. The first several chapters follow the adventures of Eragon and Saphira. Then there are several chapters on the trails and tribulations of Eragon's cousin, Roran. Then there are a couple of chapters about what Nasuada, Eragon's liegelord, is doing as the new leader of the Varden. The storylines alternate all throughout the book. That reminds me of the Lord of the Rings and the parallel storylines of what Frodo and Sam were doing and what the rest of the Fellowship were doing. I have to say though, I'm much, much more interested in what Eragon is doing than in what Roran or Nasuada is doing. I know that what Roran and Nasuada are doing is very important to the whole plot of the book/trilogy, but I expected the book/trilogy to be just about the Rider and his dragon. I think the best part about the Inheritance Trilogy is the relationship and the heroic deeds of the Rider and his dragon. So I feel kind of impatient when I am reading all those chapters about the other characters. But I am still thoroughly enjoying Eldest. =) I love being in the world of Alagaesia and I resent it when I have to leave Eragon and his world in order to return to my own world. =(

So how is Christopher Paolini as a writer in Eldest? It's funny, when I read Eldest it's almost as if I can hear Paolini reading the words out loud to me/telling me the story. Many times I feel as if I can sense which parts of the book are taken from or influenced by Paolini's own life. For example, Paolini has said that Montana (where he lives with his family) is the inspiration for Alagaesia. So whenever the land of Alagaesia is being described in Eldest, I think about how Paolini must have seen similar places in Montana. I consciously and unconsciously think about the writer of Eldest while reading it. I don't usually do that while reading a book.

As a writing teacher in a university, I have to say that Paolini's writing is more sophisticated in Eldest. The problem is, it seems like he is trying too hard. It is too obvious that he is working to make his writing more sophisticated. And Paolini's secondary world is too obviously influenced by other fantasy stories. For example, Eragon's (so far futile) pursuit of Arya is reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings' Aragorn's pursuit of Arwen when he was still a young man. It's a good thing that the very essence of the Inheritance Trilogy is the telepathic connection and love between a Rider and his dragon. That, I think, is something original from Paolini and the best thing about his story. Take that relationship between dragon and Rider away and Paolini is offering nothing new to fantasy lovers. Take that relationship away and his books would be a flop.

I should slow down while reading Eldest because I am almost finished reading it and I know that I will be sad when the story is "over." =( =( =( I already can't wait unitl the third book is out!

Friday, September 23, 2005

September 21, 2005

I have an eye infection, apparently because of my contact lenses. So I can't wear my contact lenses for while. On Tuesday I woke up looking like Quasimodo - my left eye really swollen. I looked like a freak. Anyway, it was a blessing in disguise. Because of my eye infection I couldn't really work this week. So I got a little break from work this week. =)

My eye infection didn't negatively affect my birthday, thank God. Mike called me midnight to greet me Happy Birthday. He was officially the very first person to greet me on my birthday. (He was also the very first one to greet me on my birthday last year.) You're the best, Mike! =)

A lot of other friends, relatives, colleagues, and students texted me on my birthday. I was actually surprised by some of the text messages I received. There were some people who I really didn't expect to greet me - I thought that they would forget my birthday or that they didn't even know when my birthday was. So I was pleasantly surprised and really touched by the text messages I received on my birthday. I was especially touched by the birthday greetings from my students. A special hello to my La Salle and Ateneo students! I love you guys!!!. =)

I had my birthday lunch with Peter in Bubba Gump's. Man I really stuffed myself there. I had my birthday dinner with Brian, Mom (she's visiting me from Gensan), Dad (he's visiting me from the States), and Tita Baby at home. Again, I stuffed myself. I felt like my stomach was going to split open!

My dad bought me a cake and roses. I was so shocked and really touched when I saw my dad holding roses for me. (He's never given me roses.) I almost cried. I was so happy. =)

I don't think a birthday is complete without people singing Happy Birthday to me, cake, making a wish, and blowing out candles. Hehehe. And I am so grateful and thankful that I had all those things for my birthday. =) =) =)

Today I was able to have a belated birthday celebration with everyone in the ALLC. I brought pancit for everyone. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. =) I'm really happy. =) People singing Happy Birthday is really important to me. =) Hehehe.

Right now I'm going to have a belated birthday celebration with CY and Corinne. =)

I'm really happy!!! =)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sky High!

Last night Peter and I watched Sky High in SM North. We watched Sky High because the trailer showed that it was a movie about super heroes. I wanted to watch it because I wanted to look at super heroes from possible new angles. (I am VERY, VERY, VERY interested in fantasy, science fiction, and comic books/graphic novels, remember?) Peter wanted to watch it because he enjoys watching movies about super heroes/comic book characters. (Well, so do I but I actually didn't think I would enjoy Sky High. I just wanted new insights on super heroes.) I didn't think the movie would be very good. I don't know what Peter was expecting. But the movie was a very pleasant surprise for me. =) It was surprisingly delightful. =) I think Sky High is cute, so nice. And I'm not using those words for the movie to sound trite. I mean them ("cute," "so nice") in a VERY positive way. =) I actually want to watch the movie again. It's like a combination of The Incredibles, Harry Potter, and The X-Men.

Peter and I enjoy watching Disney movies. =) And I'm looking forward to the day I can watch Disney movies with my own kids. =) Peter says that all Disney movies are cute and nice. I have to agree. I remember I watched the Disney movies The Pacifier and Herbie: Fully Loaded with Peter even though I thought they were going to suck. I just watched them out of curiosity and boredom. But I found the movies entertaining! =) They were... cute and nice!

P. S. My new ALLC students (for Module B) are Mayumi and Sr. Rosalie (from Japan), Saul and Lucas (from Bangladesh), Hannah and Kai (from Korea), and Fr. Dominic (from Vietnam). I think my students from Module A Pra and Nai (from Thailand) will be joining my class for Module B. My new students seem to be nice and serious about improving their English. I hope we all will enjoy this new class. =)