Bestsellers to Blockbusters: Failed Adaptations

Inheritance Cycle; Books 2002/3-2011, Movie 2006

Eragon Characters

First off, let me say that I haven’t read these, but for different reasons than why I haven’t read the others.  Part of it is I haven’t gotten to them and there have been other books I’ve wanted to read more, and part of it is I have heard a mixed bag of things about them, not all of it good.

Starting with Eragon, the books tell the story of a teenage boy named Eragon and his dragon Saphira who are fighting to over through an evil king.  OK, I’m game for that.  Written by a fifteen-year-old boy.  OK, that makes me take pause.  I remember having to write a children’s story in tenth grade English.  I also remember most of my classmates stories being stupid and not well written, after all we were only 15 and 16.  I had the best one, if I do say so myself, but then again, I’m the only one I know of to go on to study English and Writing.  People equally praise Paolini for being published at a young age, and then others criticize that it was only self-published by his parent’s publishing company (that’s the 2002 date above) giving them the credit for getting the book out there.   But I believe in giving credit where credit is due, to popular Florida based adult and young adult author Carl Hiaasen who discovered him and brought the book to his publisher.  It was then released by Knopf in 2003 and became a bestseller.

I’m ok with it being self published first, but having your parent’s publish it at their company is a bit of a conflict of interest in my opinion.  Also, while I have no problem with Paolini reportedly finishing high school at 15 and writing Eragon instead of starting college at such an unusually young age (a mature decision I do give him credit for), the writing a teen is a far cry from that of an adult.  I’ve been writing for years, and looking back at stuff I wrote as a teen or in my first college writing class at 20, I cringe.  I’m embarrassed by it.   The other criticisms the books get is that they draw heavily, and obviously, from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  While reviews say his writing has grown from book to book, they repeatedly cite that they “borrow” from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and even Dune.  Having critics say that you are clearly influenced by someone else’s work is fine, but if they can see too many similarities, you start to have a problem in my opinion.  After all, when creating your own fantasy you want your world to be unique as you can make it.

Then there is the movie.  Only Eragon was ever adapted, but it was not successful and was critically panned.  While I thought it was quite interesting, I did see a few similarities to Star Wars.  The farm boy who has a destiny.  The old teacher.  The Princess.  The rogue bad boy.  The evil emperor and his right hand man.  They are all there.  It’s also quite odd that the character that is supposed to be an elf doesn’t have elf ears.  And there were the same criticism’s that the book received.  It does have some familiar faces though: Jeremy Irons who I hope needs no explanation, Ed Speleers who plays Jimmy Kent in series three of Downton Abbey, Robert Carlyle who plays Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time, and John Malkovitch who I also hope needs no explanation.

This is just on of those series I have put on the back burner for now.  I’ll read it eventually, but with so many others out there getting more praise or gaining in popularity, it may be a while.

Inkworld Trilogy; Books: 2003-2007, Movie: 2009

Inheart movie poster

I’ve actually read all three of the Inkworld books, Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath and loved them all.  Shocker, I know.  I found Inkheart in my community college’s library and was immediately intrigued by it.  It tells the story of twelve-year-old Meggie Folchart and her father Mo, who have the ability to read books to life when they read aloud.  When Meggie was a little girl, Mo accidentally read three characters out of a book called Inkheart, the villain Capricorn, his lieutenant Basta, and a fire dancer named Dustfinger, but something must go in to replace what came out and Meggie’s mother disapears into the book.  Now, Capricorn wants them to read out the rest of his minions and all Dustfinger wants is to go home to his family. Other characters include Meggie’s book obsessed great-aunt Elinor – who I loved – Fengolio the author of  Inkheart, Farrid a boy from the Arabian Nights, and a host of other interesting characters you meet over the course of the trilogy.  In the second book, Meggie finds a way to enter the ‘world’ of Inkheart, and adventure ensues for the whole family and their allies and enemies.  I loved the concept, I mean who wouldn’t’ want to read their favorite hero to life or find themselves in the middle of their favorite book, literally.  The books are extremely popular in their native Germany, and I found myself waiting impatiently for the third one to be published and then translated to English.  I remember reading once that they were second only to Harry Potter in Germany.  They were also named one of the National Education Association’s “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”

The movie on the other hand, fell short.  While I couldn’t wait to see it adapted, it just wasn’t the best adaptation that they studio could have made.  Too many things were changed, particularly the ending which would have made it hard to make the other books into movies had the first one been successful.  The casting was perfect for the most part, Andy Serkis was great for Capricorn, and I can’t think of anyone better to play Dusfinger than Paul Bettany, Brendan Fraser for Mo (the author’s pick as he inspired part of the character), or Helen Miren as Elinor.  But when you start to change things, fans are going to notice and word will spread.  But movie barely broke even and was not well accepted critically, and as a fan, I don’t accept the movie.  It was like two different entities almost.  No matter what though, Inkeart will always be one of my top favorite YA books and I look forward to reading Funke’s other books when I get time.

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4 thoughts on “Bestsellers to Blockbusters: Failed Adaptations

  1. I read the first two Eragon books. I thought they were fine, but what bothered me was that I would be hooked reading them, but promptly forget almost everything about them a few months later. In my mind – that’s a popcorn novel and not very good. I did see the movie, but again, can’t remember anything of it except thinking the baby dragon was so cute! I have no problems with a 15 year old being published – props to him. I didn’t know it was his parents company though.

    Also – as for taking elements from LotR and SW, I feel that’s natural in some ways. When you’ve dabbled in the fantasy/sci-fi universe enough, it’s something that draws people to that universe to begin with…namely a quest.

    I have not read the Inkworld books but I’ve heard great things about them!

    • If it’s not memorable, than yeah, that’s not good. I don’t have a problem with a teen getting published either, but the fact that it wasn’t his own merit that got him published, but his parent’s and then a popular author getting him published is a bit odd to me.

      I have no problem with being influenced by LorR, or SW, or any other SciFi/Fantasy series, because it is natural, but being influenced by and having clear points were people can pick out and say that it sounds a lot like a plot point or character or name etc from another writer’s work is not good. A character that is almost a carbon copy, or an event, or place that is, it’s not considered a good thing among writer’s.

      I’ll probably still read them thought, eventually. My interest is to piqued not to. If just to see if what the critics say is true.

      The Ink books are awesome!

      • The movies are so much better! I finished the books only because I wanted to see how it ends. I have to see the final movie though before I talk about them, and I’m trying to do this in order or movie release since it seemed easiest.

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