It seems that the discussion here comes down to whether Paolini copied McCaffrey or was inspired by her. This is difficult to know.
I read the Pern
books or what was published when I was fourteen years old... I think it was about five books. Now, I've just read Eragon
Similarities... Sentient dragons. Dragons and riders are psychologically and empathically bonded. Both series are continuously open-ended with their authors adding as they see fit. Both authors may be exploring their own place in the world through written characters... Lessa and Eragon.
Differences... On Pern, the dragonriders are battling their environment for the survival of their race while the dragonrider of Alagaesia is fighting a geo-political/racial war.
All stories carry pieces and parts of previous stories... both intentionally and unintentionally. People can claim that the character Eragon is Luke Skywalker of Pern, but what if that was unintentional on Paolini's part. What if he consciously was trying to retell My Father's Dragon, The Yearling,
or the story of David in The Bible
In no way do I think that Paolini has plagiarized or stolen McCaffrey's intellectual property. Paolini is closer to plagiarizing names of places from The Bible
(Gilead) and The Silmarillion
(Mithrim, Beor). But do we really need to fish out the origin of every detail? In Star Wars
, the antagonists are the Sith. Does it seem strange that Goodkind's and Tad Williams' antagonists are the Mord-Sith and the Sithi, respectively?
How can we get to the bottom of where Paolini's story originated?
The cultural impact of Star Wars
has been tremendous. Tech, speech, myth, shared experience, and story-telling have all been indellibly marked by George Lucas' epic. But where did Star Wars
come from? The web page, Star Wars Origins: How did George Lucas create Star Wars?
is very interesting. It talks about how... Lucas was inspired by Flash Gordon
which was inspired by Buck Rogers
... Lucas was inspired by Akira Kurosawa, but Kurosawa was not original either... Lucas was inspired by Tolkien who was inspired by MacDonald and Dunsany, et al... Lucas drew from personal experiences, but don't we all?
When an author has many sources or draws from a story from antiquity, we say he/she had inspiration. When an author has one source and the story is not even thinly veiled, then I call that plagiarism.
Here's a synopsis of the first part of a fantasy story. See if you can guess which one... A short young man and his faithful friend are warned by a wizard that they must flee their pastoral home to escape black creatures. The young men meet a ranger who guides them through adventures to the secret refuge where the representatives of the Elves, Dwarves, and Men are formulating a plan to overthrow the Dark Lord. The young man, his faithful friend, the wizard, the ranger (who is actually a prince), and another prince (this one from the border kingdom that has borne the brunt of the Dark Lord's assault) form a Fellowship. The Elves and Dwarves send their representatives along with the fellowship. The Fellowship battles their way past goblins and a nameless monster until they find themselves under the foundations of an ancient city. When a huge Fire Demon threatens the Fellowship, the wizard fights it alone... both Wizard and Demon fall into a bottomless pit.
Did you guess The Fellowship of the Ring
? If you did, you're wrong. This is The Sword of Shannara
. I could do this again with The Iron Tower Trilogy
of The Wheel of Time
, but you get the point. I'm sure Brooks, McKiernan, and Jordan would claim that they had many sources of inspiration...
And how much did Tolkien lift straight ouf of Beowulf? Where does it end?
I felt Eragon
was good story-telling from a teenager. It was actually better than some fantasy written by adults. Eragon
was enjoyable, but not really as satisfying at the Pern