The Inheritance Cycle is often noted for its good descriptive language. As such, I’ve decided to compile a bunch of quotes that I consider to be absolutely horrendous descriptive language or bouts of silliness. I’m not attacking thesaurus abuse too heavily, because that’s been bashed enough already. This is more about insane tangents and weird similes, though, if I can attack serious plot problems and language at the same time, I will.
Chapter 1: The Gates of Death
which loomed over the surrounding land like a black dagger thrust out from the bowels of the earth. (p.1)
He’s trying to convey the extent to which Helgrind looms over the area by comparing it to a dagger from the bowels of the earth. Having never seen nor heard of a black dagger thrust from the bowels of the Earth looming over things, I’m not sure what to make of this.
when they stepped forward with their right foot, producing a dolorous cacophony of notes (p.2)
…thus raising the question of what kind of footwear these people are using to create sad noises when they stomp.
while the other half shook their frames when they advanced upon the left foot, causing iron tongues to crash against iron throats (p.2)
throbbing of the bells (p.2)
Hopefully this isn’t taken any further.
moaning of the bells (p.2)
whipping the congregation into such a frenzy, they jumped and yelled as if they had taken leave of their senses. (p.4)
‘As if’ they had taken leave of their senses? Doesn’t the first part imply that they had already done so, more or less? Or at least were in the process of doing so?
It was a tool designed for but one purpose: to hack through armor and bones and sinew as easily as through a bulging waterskin. (p.5)
That is quite an all-encompassing one purpose.
Insects and animals alike (p.6)
In Alagaesia, insects are actually robots.
Roran was watching him with the expression of a starving wolf. His grey eyes burned with a mixture of anger, hope, and despair that was so great, it seemed as if his emotions might burst forth and incinerate everything in sight in a blaze of unimaginable intensity, melting the very rocks themselves. (p.7)
This is a great example of a spot where all but the first sentence could have been cut off, reducing this excerpt to 1/5th its length, and have it express the point more effectively. Also, Roran’s facial expressions must be pretty weird.
They seemed cold and sharp, like bright shards of ice. (p.9)
This is describing constellations.
Chapter 2: Around the Campfire
coals throbbed (p.10)
Those are some strange coals.
Normally, he never had to tell her what he had been doing, as thoughts, feelings, and other sensations flowed between them as easily as water from one side of a lake to another. (p.10)
So, in other words, the thoughts flow really slowly and aimlessly. Unless Inheritance uses a different definition of what a lake is than I do…
The name alone generated a welter of confused emotions in Eragon. (p.12)
A welter is a confused mass. The name generated a confused mass of confused emotions. This calls on people to open up their dictionaries only to find redundancy. This sentence essentially whips anyone who looks up the word welter while reading it. It’s cruel.
She flew nonstop until the sun had traversed the dome of the sky and extinguished itself behind the horizon and then burst forth again with a glorious conflagration of reds and yellows (p.15)
In addition to being the weirdest description of the daily sun cycle ever (extinguished?), this is an obscenely long description for something very mundane.
You must learn to think without thinking (p.24)
Impossibilities for the win!
The branch Roran had added to the fire burst asunder with a muted pop as the coals underneath heated the gnarled length of wood to the point where a small cache of water or sap that had somehow evaded the rays of the sun for untold decades exploded into steam. (p.27)
The fire crackled.
A riotous combination of colors mottled his skin, as if Eragon were an exotic fruit that was ripening in uneven patches from crabapple green to putrefied purple. (p.30)
In addition to that not making any sense for an impact injury (I’m not sure why exactly a bruise would be crabapple green), the bruise also terribly inconsistent as far as the plot goes. Let us back up 56 pages:
Careful not to impale himself on one of her spikes, Eragon maneuvered himself back into the saddle, welcoming the return of gravity as she pulled out of the dive. (Eldest, p.642)
This does not sound like he got destroyed in the, uh, fork of his legs. He also shows no sort of pain in this scene, so the whole bruise thing seems to not have been made up until Brisingr was being written. There’s bad prose and inconsistency in the same words.
Chapter 3: Assault on Helgrind
A fan of golden light flared into existence as the top of the sun crested the horizon. In an instant, the full spectrum of colors enlivened the previously drab world: (p.38)
It would have to be quite a fast sunrise for the light coloration to be described as instant by a human observer. Does Alagaësia have 10-minute days or something?
The jagged buttress magnified the boom produced by each stroke of her wings until it was as loud as a thunderclap. Eragon’s eyes watered as the air pulsed against his skin. (p.39)
This makes it sound like Saphira is a massive hummingbird.
nor shrubs, grass, or lichen, nor did eagles dare nest upon the tower’s broken ledges. True to its name, Helgrind was a place of death, (p.39)
In Alagaësia, lack of life is the same as death.
Eragon grimaced. It had never occurred to him that Galbatorix might have hidden the Ra’zac’s lair with magic (p.40)
Does he grimace every time that he’s humbled?
Like mysterious keyholes, five low tunnels pierced the sides of the cave (p.41)
As opposed to understood keyholes.
His blind flight ended as abruptly as it began when something hard and flat rammed against the back of him (p.41)
It can’t ram against his back. No, it has to ram against the back of him.
resembled the sort of overpowering stench one would get from tossing a half-dozen pounds of rancid meat into a barrel of sewage and allowing the mixture to ferment for a week in summer. (p.42)
I can totally relate to that.
Perhaps the Ra’zac could conceal themselves from the minds of humans, their prey, just as spiders conceal themselves from flies. (p.43)
That comparison doesn’t make any sense. Spiders conceal themselves by using subtle traps, not by having innate total invisibility to specific kinds of detection. This is the difference between good tactics and god mode.
was a metallic blue-green, not unlike the verdigris that forms on aged copper (p.44)
One of the cool things about that verdigris is that isn’t very metallic.
Each sentence he uttered, and they were legion (p.45)
In a rather detached way, Eragon noticed that the Ra’zac’s tongue was barbed and purple and writhed like a headless snake. (p.46)
Yes, that is quite detached. Not just for Eragon, but for the fight sequence in general. Especially since said enemy is all over him at this point in time. At least the book is admitting that it’s full of random comments, though.