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There's a new movie coming out called "Eragon" which you may have seen the commercials for. It's based on a novel by the same which you probably haven't read but have given as a gift to a niece or nephew in the last few years. They probably loved it, which led to the writer writing the sequel.

If you haven't read the book because you were waiting for the movie, I have good news for you: you don't need to spring for the $10 to see the movie if you already have a copy of the original "Star Wars". (This is, of course, assuming the movie has even a nodding acquaintance with the novel, which may well be an unfounded assumption because when has Hollywood ever gotten a book right?) For years, people have been remaking Shakespeare and retelling his tales as westerns, comedies and science fiction. Maybe this just marks the "true cultural significance" of "Star Wars" if people are already retelling it for a new era--or maybe it just marks lazy editing.

Seriously, I have never understood how the guy who wrote "Eragon" the novel got away with not paying George Lucas large sums of money because the book follows "A New Hope" like a Clinton after a photo-op. Young, somewhat nerdy farmboy's family is wiped out while he's in town hanging with a mysterious wizard who may be the last member of an ancient fighting order. While traveling the country and trying to save a princess the boy has seen visions of, they take up with a rogue who seems to care only for himself but eventually shows signs of both courage and maybe even selfless community. Oh, and did I mention that the boy has unexplained special powers and there's a hint that the bad guy might somehow be related to the farmboy? Instead of a lightsabre, though, he has a dragon; a character that is a modern fictional marvel in that it receives so much print and winds up with less personality than a lightsabre.

Now, it's possible that in the second half of the book the author takes the characters in a direction that wasn't so clearly plagiarized. I'll never know (unless one of you writes to me and tells me) because this was one of those rare books I couldn't even finish. No, he wasn't a bad writer as far as individual sentences go, but even my rejected novels weren't based on whatever movie was playing in the VCR when I started writing. Of course, I don't have a relative working for the publisher who can get me an "in", either, so I'll just have to settle with coming up with my own stories!

Readers have been voting with their pocketbooks for quite a while and have, therefore, voted this a very popular book. Maybe it is true what we've always been told: that true readers don't waste their time at the movies because you'd think some of them would have figured this out before now. Then again, maybe not. Sometimes I think I'm the only person who realized that "The Lion King" was just an animated version of "Hamlet".