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Monday, February 25, 2013

Eragon: Book versus Movie

*Updated as of 3/10/2018*

Eragon: Book versus the Movie

I sat down and watched the movie Eragon after having read the book. I did this while book was still fresh in my mind and I was ready to takes notes. I wanted to pay close attention to the little details that were either in both versions and what was changed and/or omitted. It is my first attempt to compare two mediums and right off the bat I was rudely awakened to how much of a difference there was.

It was quite the viewing, I must say. 

I was very angry by the end. There were a number of points left out of the movie (some with reason of course) and some blatantly incorrect information presented as fact. I will take you and a trip through my viewing and what I consider to be a thorough review of the movie and the book.

Before I begin, there will be spoilers! If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book proceed at own risk! You have been warned!

Emotional outrage aside, there are some things that I can accept in movie adaptations:

          1. There is a time limit! A movie is only so long and logically you can only put so much into said movie.
          2. Sometimes you have budget constraints. You can only film what and where you can afford to film at/where.
          3. There are director’s cut. Directors have a right to pick and choose what gets in the movie. They can also adapt the story to fit their needs, or budgetary demands are.

So, there are things that even if they are not what is presented in the movie that I could and would ultimately forgive for not being correct to the book. The things in the movie that royally anger me range from the omitting of crucial details or flat out presenting incorrect facts.  Eragon is guilty of these two items on numerous occasions.

To start off with the biggest peeve of this movie is that they blatantly disregard a character that is critical for the second book, “Eldest”. In the book there is Eragon, Roran-Eragon’s cousin, Sloan-the butcher, and Katrina his daughter who is in love with Roran. She is not included in any of the movie. First, if you don’t include Katrina, then how are you going to continue the movies series? When (for those who have read the book) she appears in “Eldest” (the book) as the reason Roran and Eragon leave the group to go and search for her. It is frustrating because she is to become a central character (for those who have read the books). But, something else, Katrina has interactions with Roran and Eragon. Without these interactions at the very beginning in Carvahall (Eragon’s home) I feel that something is lost. Of, course if you haven’t read the book then you would know this. I just happen to know of a bunch of fellow readers who agree with me on this.

Speaking of Roran, in the movie he tells Eragon he is leaving because he is of age to be recruited to Galbatorix’s Army, which he doesn’t want. While in the book Roran is being apprenticed out to Dempton, a Miller from Therinsford (a nearby town). This is because Roran wants to marry Katrina, but doesn’t have the money to do so. By becoming Dempton’s apprentice, Roran will be able to save up money with which is can then ask Sloan for Katrina’s hand in marriage. This causes Eragon a bit of stress knowing that Roran is leaving (in both versions). Not only that, but now Eragon has Sapphira, his dragon, that creates a whole new tension; and this part of the book is non-existent in the movie and is confusing to me. You feel for Eragon, in the book, but in the movie the whole scene feels rushed. Eragon’s and Roran’s relationship is barely developed in the movie.  Even Sloan has only ONE short scene with Eragon in the movie (plus one very short scene with the Ra’zac).

Speaking of characters that are misplaced in this movie, there are at least three scenes throughout the movie that feature Galbatorix directly, while in the book he is only referenced and never actually shown. This feels like a distraction in the movie, because the story is supposed to be focused on Eragon and HIS journey. But you have this King who is not critical to the actual story plot (he is just a referenced plot point) who has his own scenes and it kind of becomes distracting. You don’t need to have Galbatorix when you have the Ra’zac, Durza (the shade), the Varden, Brom, and Murtaugh, all of whom actually interact with Eragon. He learns more about all of these characters as he goes on his journey, hence the concept of a JOURNEY. You don’t need to bring in Galbatorix, unless you just promised John Malkovich a role, when clearly he isn’t even interacting with Eragon directly.  In fact, here’s another point, Galbatorix in the book doesn’t learn of Eragon’s existence until about halfway through the book. By then, he has sent his army of Urgals to track and catch Eragon and Sapphira. I feel that getting John Malkovich to play Galbatorix was just reason to get more butts in the movie theatre seats. His scenes do not even add anything to the story, more of an exposition dump.

Okay, let’s focus on the plot now. The purpose of Eragon leaving Carvahall is because his uncle (Garrow) had been killed by the Ra’zac. In the book has Eragon is angry at the Ra’zac, he wants to kill them for Garrow’s death and the destruction of his home. He also has a dragon and guilty about what Roran will think. The presentation is wrong in the movie has Eragon is afraid of the Ra’zac and is now fleeing for his life. This irritates me when movie makers change a character’s motives. I like how Eragon is angry at Sloan, at Roran, and even Garrow (to an extent), but when he realizes that what the Ra’zac are and that they have done, he wants revenge on them. The movie changes the dynamic of the story. I feel that you lose something when the story is changed like that. Also, Eragon’s character is a boy on the cusp of manhood, faced with a cruel and changing world. He has to react and adapt, grow up, and deal with these changes. The book shows his changing and growing emotions, whereas the movie just glosses over many of these points. Eragon in the movie is already the character he is by the end of the book.

Speaking about weakened character development, let’s talk about Brom. He is an awesome father figure to Eragon, and is an enigma at the beginning, but is grows and develops throughout the story (in the book anyway). While in the movie he gets the short end of the stick. In the movie, his role in Carvahall is not even explained. So, when it’s revealed that he was a Dragonrider with the Varden and his dragon was killed in battle, and he went into hiding/was shamed by fleeing to Carvahall. This isn’t even correct! In the book he came to Carvahall to act as a watch for the Varden. Also, what setting they show of life in Carvahall doesn’t mention much of Brom let alone anyone else in Carvahall. Did you know that Brom was masquerading as a storyteller? You couldn’t tell in the movie. You don’t get his motive explained. The storyteller point is a set up for Eragon to get more information from Brom on dragons. The movie uses the opening narration to give us most of this information. This feels like cheating, because Brom is supposed to be a teacher and a father figure to Eragon. You don’t get invested in Brom in the movie because of this. You don’t even get Brom teaching Eragon much of anything, except a bit of ‘sword fighting’ with sticks and a magic vocabulary.

Now for Arya. Forced character development is something that this movie used easily to get you vested into Arya’s character. She is the lady who originally rescued Sapphira’s egg from Galbatorix. In the book you see her at the beginning fleeing from some of Galbatorix’s men (as with the book). The difference is that in the book she is captured and tortured. She only interacts with Eragon through telepathy, yet in the movie she is awake and an active member of Eragon’s journey (still captured and needs to be rescued in both versions) instead of another character in the story, Murtaugh who is Eragon’s traveling companion in the book. Arya is a FRI (forced romantic interest), similar to Arwen in the Lord of the Rings movies (even though Arwen was already a love interest, so to speak).

       Movie: Eragon has a dream with Arya and Eragon talking together in a forest.
       Book: Eragon has a dream of a woman who is imprisoned and being tortured.

This is very trite and overused in many modern movies. Also, Arya is an elf, but you wouldn’t know that from the movie, would you? She has no pointed ears, nor are her ‘people’ referred to as elves anytime in the movie. She claims to be from Ellesmere, but you know nothing of the people of Ellesmere or of her people.

Another point, there are also no dwarves in the movie. There is ONE line from one of Galbatorix’s scenes that mention elves and dwarves. Only one!!

The whole movie feels forced and lacking in character development for most of the characters that are in the story. Also, there are characters not mentioned such as Katrina (explained earlier), Orik (Hrothgar’s nephew), Hrothgar (the Dwarf King), and the Twins (mysterious magic users); while Sloan (the butcher), Horst (the blacksmith), Angela (the fortune-teller), and Murtaugh (outcast) are barely touched upon in the movie. There are those who are like Eragon, Brom, Sapphira, and Durza who are not fully developed and that loses something for me while watching the movie. You don’t feel connected to the characters.

There are facts that are incorrect, or stretched, such as when Eragon meets Angela in Daret (which is by what looks like a  lake) in the movie. While in the book originally Angela resides in Teirm (which is by the sea) with the were-cat Solembum (also not mentioned in the movie). These are things that, in my opinion are crucial to the story. I found that their lack of inclusion or distortion of the facts made the story weaker as a whole.

I must also note that when I first watched Eragon in the theatres back in 2006 I enjoyed the movie immensely, as I am fan of fantasy movies and books. When I read the book, much later, I was surprised by the differences, but hardly as upset as I am now having really compared the two in greater detail. The part of the absent Katrina in the movie still frustrates me (after I had read “Eldest” and realized what had been done). Still I thought that I could live with both, after all I have seen some poorer movie adaptations or sequels made, but still found them enjoyable to watch as a stand alone movie. It’s hard to watch Eragon now, knowing how vastly different the book and movie are from each other.

To those who like the movie. Go ahead and like it! I did (for a while anyway). It’s a decent movie if you have no connection to the book. It’s still not a good movie. In my mind,  the characters don’t feel fully development and there are many forced plot points that are too trite for my taste, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth personally. I will stick with the book on this one. If I must watch the movie, I will watch the Rifftrax version nowadays, because that IS funny and really entertaining to watch.


  1. You need to edit your post before you post. There were so many typos, I stopped reading because it seemed unprofessional.

    1. I appreciate the input, and will review the post to correct those errors. I do strive for quality. I want to point out that post was from 2013 and I have grown as a writer and proof my posts now.

  2. If you go through the deleted scenes of the movie, you will see that the twins, Katrina and many more crucial plot points had been cast, filmed and had included the CGI of Saphira, then cut.

  3. also something that annoys me is that on all the well known movie review sites (like rotten tomatoes) they comment on the book being bad. its so untrue, the book series is a worthwhile, enthralling read and the critics just trash it. the books are very big, sure, but the amount of detail in the stories is immense! argh it gets me going.
    leaving out solembum in this movie is like when they left out peeves in harry potter. they need to make it into a TV series or remake the movies because itd definitely do well in the cinema/on Netflix if it had the right budget, director, cast etc.


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