Eragon by Christopher Paolini (2002)
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that so shamelessly displays its influences with only minor stabs at originality. It’s as though Paolini spent a weekend bingeing on Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and a documentary on Joseph Campbell and thought, “Hey, I can do that. Troubled hero + wizened guide + mystical order and associated creatures = multimillion dollar blockbuster! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!”
That type of reductive thinking is unfortunately evident throughout the book from both the author and his characters, which makes reading it simultaneously obnoxious and boring. It’s not as though Eragon is entirely bad - it’s more immature than anything else. That’s not meant to be a personal dig at Paolini (he was 15 when he began writing it), but a comment on how underdeveloped his writing feels. The sentences are pretentious. Character development is stilted. The plot awkwardly lurches forward, attempting to hit all the stages of Campbell’s monomyth. This novel needed a ruthless editor, but the only post-draft process it seems to have gone through is some serious coddling. In my opinion, you’re better off reading the source material.