Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
This prologue begins with weather and an epic plot promise, which is grandiose preamble. This line hints that something is probably not right with this fictional world, though is any world in any novel ever perfect? No. One can assume there is conflict in any case, or there would be no book. The only question this opening line raises is how can a scent change the world? Those who are interested will not be able to stop reading.
The rest of the opening paragraph:
A tall Shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.
Still have no conflict, just some superfluous action, you know, some sniffing and a weak description of something called a Shade, a creature we can know nothing about. Though with a name like the Shade, some may be curious. But this is very much a weak hook. After all, there is no conflict or no concrete character we can start to love or hate.
The beginning of the next paragraph:
He blinked in surprise. The message had been correct: they were here. Or was it a trap? He weighed the odds, then said icily, "Spread out; hide behind trees and bushes. Stop whoever is coming...or die."
Here we have some conflict, but it's a little confusing and contradictory. They are here or is it a trap? Is what a trap? Who are they? Hide behind trees and stop whoever is coming. How? By hiding behind trees? These kinds of questions dissipate attention rather direct it.
Eragon knelt in a bed of trampled reed grass and scanned the tracks with a practiced eye.
This opening line feels like a movie fade in; it's not an effective story beginning using the written word as a medium. If you think it is - fine; nevertheless, there's no conflict. It, however, does reveal the protagonist and tells us something about him, that he has a practiced eye. This is the strength of the opening line. But is it enough to hook?