The Inheritance Cycle: Eldest

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This is my essay/review about Eldest by Christopher Paolini. I read the book shortly after it came out but just didn't have the time to devote to writing this essay until over a year later, I'm afraid. But now it is here. Read on, and beware a few spoilers.


"Is it better than Eragon??"

Lots of people have asked me if I liked Eldest better or thought it was a better book. The answer is 75% no, 25% yes. Reluctantly, I will give this praise to the book: The writing was more coherent and sounded a little less like it was written by an inexperienced person, and some of the perspective changes made it a little easier to read. But to tell you the truth, that isn't really much of a compliment. If a writer doesn't get better on his second book or as he gets older, he's kind of failing, eh?

And the main reason I say that 75% of my brain dubs Eldest to be no better than its predecessor is one thing: The audience factor. Chris was quite a bit more (painfully) aware this time that he had an audience, that his book's arrival was being anticipated with bitten nails, whining, and drool. He therefore did even more of that language dress-up and song-and-dance, more of that irritating demonstration of his belief that the words themselves should be the art rather than the art being the story they describe.

If you would like to see how the author talks to his fans regarding his writing, follow this link and read the letter he wrote to be read at the national laydown events for the book's release. It's full of modesty that rings false and a bunch of "poetry" that is supposed to be epic but mostly just sounds really silly. Not to mention that the dude opens and closes his letter by writing to the fans in his made-up elf language. It's quite an underwhelming introduction to an appropriately mediocre book.

This essay will be divided into several main sections. You can choose one now by a link and go straight to it, or you can just read in order and take them all in.

Topics to choose from:

Author Ridiculousness * Bad Narration * Bad Dialogue * Stuff stolen from other fandoms * PLOT ISSUES: Ridiculously Predictable Events * PLOT ISSUES: Nonsense, Holes, and Contrived Events * GOOD Stuff * My personal commentary


This section is in some ways riddled with opinion, but my basic assertion here is that Paolini appears to be convinced that talking in pseudo-archaic language is grand and epic rather than, well, SILLY. If you haven't looked at it already, my
copy of the promotional letter he sent with the release of his book is a good example, but here I'd like to quote some very silly things the guy has written that he obviously thinks are quite impressive and majestic.

But first I have to say that one thing stuck out as the silliest, most pointless thing in the book--an obvious goofy author choice that no one had the good sense or the observation skills to identify and tell him to TAKE OUT.

The "barges" comment.

At one point a character says "Barges? We don't want no stinking barges!"

Would anyone like to explain to me why a 1935 movie reference is slipped into a pseudo-medieval fantasy novel?

I submitted this to the Stinking Badges page because I thought it was so screwed up. Take a look if you want.

Bad, bad little Chris. Pop culture references are very very silly in this kind of book.

On to the ridiculous mediæval spæk.

In the author's notes: "Stay with me, if it please you." I'm afraid it does not please, thank you, kind sir. More about this later.

Name of the king's group of assassins: "The Black Hand." Oh yes, that is very likely. Rulers often consider themselves "evil," and enjoy naming their helpers very sinister things. Is this any different than Tolkien naming Sauron's mountain "Mount Doom"? No, not really. [Note: Two people have mentioned to me that the "Black Hand" has actually been used before as the name of an actual historical group of assassins. I think that's pretty ridiculous too. If you give yourself a name like that, you must be *trying* to be sinister.]

In talking about the novel's inconsistency with place names: Chris claims that all of Alagaësia's different areas are sorta mix-n-match because all the places were settled by different races. Umm . . . in real life, usually if that is the case then each race or culture has a name for each area, and depending on which language the map is in, you will see different names. English maps don't identify Japan as "Nihon" or Germany as "Deutschland." On a Spanish map, you will see "Estados Unidos" instead of "United States." If a bunch of different races named the places, each would call the areas different things.

"While this is of great historical interest," he writes, "practically it often leads to confusion as to the correct pronunciation. Unfortunately, there are no set rules for the neophyte." Oh yes, everything's so much more confusing because the local populations altered spellings--it doesn't have anything to do with author inconsistency or not wanting to be held to any conventions. He goes on (and this is practically unbelievable): "The enthusiast is encouraged to study the source languages in order to master their true intricacies." The source languages? The ones that are in your head?? Dude, no one is convinced by this ramble that there is actually an alternate world where these languages are spoken. EVERYONE who reads it, including little kids, knows it is a fantasy book, so it's just silly to pretend there is something you can study if you want to speak Paolini-Dwarfish or something. Oh my God, this is worse than the people who learn Klingon . . . because someone actually bothered to lay out laws for the speaking of Klingon. You CAN actually learn it, and while its vocabulary is a bit restricted unless you want to talk about war, it has pronunciation conventions and a grammar structure. Odd how instead of doing his homework, Paolini makes up an excuse for why homework is not necessary in this instance.

"When I first conceived Eragon, I was 15--not quite a boy and not yet a man--just out of high school." Ahh yes, that middle age when you are no longer a boy, but not an adult . . . wait, we all know what a frigging teenager is. Just talk to us like a person, please. And "just out of high school" makes it sound like you actually "went to" high school rather than being homeschooled; shouldn't you have said you "finished" or something like that? I have no doubt that someone who spends as much time on cultivating his words as Paolini does could have found a more accurate statement to describe his schooling. Not that it matters--I think he did it just to draw attention to the fact that he was done with high school at age fifteen. Hint, hint, check it out--I must be a prodigy if I finished school at fifteen! (Except that the very essence of homeschool is that one sets one's own pace and streamlines one's own education to natural interests and tendencies where possible; in fact, I would imagine that most of the average above-average publicly schooled folks reading this essay would have finished high school early themselves if they hadn't had to deal with the inevitable bogging-down that comes with public school's tendency to teach to the middle. How much of your life did you waste waiting for your classmates to finish their tests so you could go home? Mightn't you have written a book in your free time too?)

And then he says this: "One more volume to go and we shall reach the end of this tale. One more manuscript of heartache, ecstasy, and perseverance. . . . One more codex of dreams." I'm going to die. Codex of dreams?? "Stay with me, if it please you, and let us see where this winding path will carry us, both in this world and in Alagaësia."

I'll tell you where it's going to lead us. Read The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell, go watch Star Wars, study some Lord of the Rings and some obscure mythology, steal some words from ancient languages and pretend they're magic words, and read Story by Robert McKee and The Writer's Handbook, and then write a book ganking one or two aspects from all the other high fantasy you've read and liked. That's the formula. It should work for you too.


These are things that seemed utterly out of place and bizarre to me. They are things about which I would have thought an early editor would say to Paolini: "Wait . . . this makes no sense." Sometimes they are minor, such as people acting very different from their previous characterizations for no apparent reason, but often they are full-blown apparent contradictions. Unfortunately Paolini's style is to write off contradictions with goofy excuses instead of actually taking the time to make his world a believable, seamless whole.

Here is my list.

  • A random Urgal attack kills the Varden leader, and Eragon is neatly chosen to be in charge . . . instead of choosing the second-in-command. Huh?

  • Despite her apparent general lack of confidence and lack of actual power, Nasuada says things like "leave me" and displays a calm and cool disposition. She comes across like she is two different people sometimes.

  • Instead of calling a spade a spade and saying Murtagh and the Twins are "dead," the narration "sneakily" refers to them as "gone." That way, after the characters have lamented their kidnapping and apparent death, Paolini can rejoice in the fact that he tricked us into thinking they were dead, but then point and laugh when they reappear on the battlefield and say "HA, see I never SAID they were dead!" We know you didn't. As soon as they found no bodies, we knew they were coming back. This was not a surprise.

  • Some guy wanders up to Roran out of nowhere and gives him "Gertrude's salves . . . in case you injure yourself." Oh gee, is he going to?

  • Saphira's magic powers. It's been said throughout the books so far that magic comes from dragons and whatnot, but that Saphira and other dragons don't really use it the same as elves and humans do. It's pointed out several times that the "rules" for dragons performing magic are not set--I suppose that's so that whatever Saphira wants to do, she can do, period. (Don't you hate when the laws of magic aren't defined, or when there are all these exceptions for no apparent reason?) Anyway, then all of a sudden at one point Saphira promises to perform a piece of very complicated magic in the future, and comments, "I can do it if the need is great enough." Since when? And I guess if she is unable to help someone or just doesn't, it's because they didn't NEED it enough? Even if they die, which is often the case? Weak.

  • Also, Saphira was involved in the whole scene where the Star Rose got broken and pissed everyone off. But if she heals it, she'll be honored for "uncounted generations." Does this bother anyone else? I would think that the dwarves would pretty much reluctantly agree to tolerate her presence if she undid the damage she helped create and maybe kissed up to them for a few thousand years. I somehow doubt that she'd suddenly be a hero just because she's willing to clean up her own mess.

  • "I've been trying to wake you for almost an hour." How does that work? It's one thing if they wander into your room every fifteen minutes and tell you to get up and walk away, but unless you're DRUGGED or something you don't lie asleep for almost an hour getting constantly shaken or whatever. What was he doing still lying down if it was urgent almost an hour ago that he get up?

  • At one point a young boy named Jarsha calls Eragon "sir," and he goes on about how surprised he is about being called "sir." Too bad the first time Jarsha called him sir was 50 pages earlier. He asked the kid's name and replied, "That's a good name. You carried your message well; you should be proud." Umkay.

  • The Ra'zac tell the citizens of Carvahall that they have two choices: They can stop hiding Roran and give him up to them, at which point they will be "spared" by being SOLD AS SLAVES . . . and their other choice is NOT giving Roran up and being EATEN. Then . . . the Ra'zac . . . LEAVE. Like they're going to give them time to decide. Now, faced with two choices that are hideously unacceptable, how likely is it that they're going to just sit there and wait for the Ra'zac to return? GIVE ME A BREAK.

  • At one point there was some dissent among the dwarves about whether Eragon should be welcome in their city. Some found it very insulting that Eragon was wearing a special helmet given to him by the big cheese. Based on the dwarves' attitude, they decided to "get out of sight before blood was shed." . . . HE'S WITH A GIANT DRAGON. NOBODY IS GOING TO ATTACK THAT.

  • The citizens of Carvahall decided to build a wall of protection around their city. They did this with . . . SIXTY TREES. I see no possible way anyone could get through that! Especially not with, oh, fire or an axe. Or hell, just flying over or climbing it. C'mon. Building a wall with trees. You gotta be kidding. As if the Ra'zac are going to wander up, see a wall, and go "Aw, maaaan . . . well, we can't get through that. Let's go home. Forget slavery or eating their young."

  • Here's another thing I don't get. The elves are usually described as being ageless. And yet at one point there is an elf with a face described as "old." Apparently they can't be the wise mentor type teacher unless they look like Yoda.

  • The talking raven. Who can speak warnings, but only in rhymes or songs. I don't even know . . . this is just so goofy. And when you become aware of the raven and what it can do, it's also obvious that Eragon is going to receive important information from it. In this sort of book you don't create a character like that and then not use it; it's just not done.

  • Helzvog, a god of the dwarves, is said to have a nude statue. But somehow later someone swears on his girdle. Huh?

  • I'm starting to see signs of patchwork, late editing here; in other words, I'm seeing evidence that questions came up suggesting contradictions--either submitted by others or Paolini realized them himself--and he attempted to fix them by slipping in silly excuses. For example, Brom's name was never mentioned in the Forsworn's deaths. OH, but that's because evil king Galbatorix didn't want it publicized that any living person could have done such a thing. Sure. (It also would have been a bit of a giveaway since it was pitched as a revelation that Brom was a Dragon Rider.)

  • "The majority of those blessed with magic have little or no appreciable talent, they struggle to heal even so much as a bruise." Buuut . . . "Every elf looks exactly as he/she wishes to." Why do they look like their parents, then? Isn't that incongruous? Wouldn't there be a bit more variation if that was the case? This doesn't make any sense.

  • I think my BIGGEST problem is with the apparently incoherent magic system. Now, in this book, Eragon studies magic in depth. His teacher, Oromis, says it is the thoughts that matter; "Sound has no control over magic. Saying a word or phrase in this language is not what's important, it's thinking them in this language." Why is it, then, that Eragon's slight misunderstanding of the language when he was more inexperienced caused him to CURSE instead of BLESS a child? He used "shield" instead of "shielded" in a spell to protect a child, and as a result the girl ended up BEING a shield from harm instead of being shielded from harm. Is this consistent with the suggestion that it is the thoughts that matter? Surely Eragon did not mean to curse this child; he was horrified by it when he found out what he'd done. So how is it that intent is what's important, yet add the equivalent of "ed" to the end of what he SAID but not what he MEANT warped the kid's life? The answer is: DING DING DING! We have our Alia-from-Dune character. (What's her name? Elva? Hmm.) It's convenient, and serves a purpose in the plot. Doesn't matter if it's actually inconsistent with the magical rules, after all, since the dragon is already breaking them whenever she wants. I'm standing by for a justification of how Eragon's words somehow took precedence over his meaning in that instance in particular. It also completely destroys any argument someone could have over how Eragon could have surprised HIMSELF in the first book by "accidentally" causing fire with magic by uttering the word "brisingr." If anything, he was hollering a panicked curse word; however, if magic really depends on MEANING "fire," he shouldn't have been surprised when he created it with magic. You can't have both, dammit!


A lot of people have either said this book is NOT predictable--which tells me they probably have never read another high fantasy book--or they make up a bunch of excuses why it's okay to be predictable because this is a basic story type. Sure, by all means, excuse it for all its faults because it is a hero "type" story. Which of course means that he should do the same things in the same order as every hero of myth and fantasy from Odysseus to Luke Skywalker.

A book should not be so based on a story "type" that it feels like it is following a template; every "revelation" in this book is more of a confirmation of a suspicion than an actual surprise. Before opening the book, I knew Eragon would find out information about his parents and that it would turn out that his dad is on the "evil" side; of course he is, because Darth is always going to be Luke's father. (Paolini "undoes" this revelation in the next book, Brisingr, changing the story so his brother is actually mistaken about them having the same evil father, but all that changes is that our "Darth Vader" character is essentially his stepdad instead of his dad, that Eragon is only related to him through his mother, and he's still being "betrayed" through his kin . . . details changed, essence the same. Surprise!)

Before beginning the story, I knew that Eragon would have to be sequestered in a special training environment with a very wise and very accomplished yet very old tutor, and of course it happened, because we had yet to have a Yoda in this book. And before I started the book, I knew he would have to overcome the physical damage he encountered in the first book--AND I knew that success would come to him not because he worked hard or made a personal breakthrough, but because he was given a supernatural gift of some kind. I didn't know this stuff because I'm psychic or just a really good guesser. I knew because it is part of the story map for this kind of story, and Chris Paolini doesn't so much invent a story as he does figure out what to name the pieces before he puts them together in the same layout that was predetermined by someone else's jig saw.

In the synopsis of the book, it says "Nothing is known of his father." Unless you've ever studied the hero's journey story type. Nothing is known, except that nothing is known . . . so therefore, the father will be significant (and usually turn out to be evil, at which point he will have to be fought by the hero). In the book, Eragon answers the question of whether he has any family with "Only a cousin." Well, and a mother who's missing and a dad he doesn't know. What are the chances that they're both dead and no one will ever know what became of them? Riiiight.

Now, in my original Eragon essay, I suggested that Eragon would have to fight his father. That's the classic story type. And then after Eldest came out, I got all kinds of triumphant razzing because Eragon's father couldn't possibly fight him, since Murtagh told him who their father was and that guy was, ya know, dead. Now. The Darth Vader thing isn't over yet; just because Vader is already dead does NOT mean that he isn't a bad guy, or that his turn to the Dark Side did not have effects on Eragon. No, he does not fight his father. Instead, he fights his BROTHER, whose betrayal was a direct result of an older betrayal. That is exactly the same thing in different clothes. If a person thinks I'm off-base in my evaluation of this as being a hackneyed, overused plot just because the line was changed to "Luke, I am your BROTHER," that person would be mistaken. It would have been a stroke of originality only if maybe Eragon hadn't been betrayed from within his family, or maybe wasn't betrayed at all, or perhaps did something himself to upset a good character and cause the betrayal. But no, it's the same old thing: Hypnotized and brainwashed, his brother was taken and turned against him. Same old.

More predictable plot points: In the beginning, Murtagh and the Twins randomly get abducted, and Eragon's search for them turns up with nothing . . . not even a body or three. Consequently, what does he do? Assumes them dead. But not me! If they were dead, in this sort of story we'd have found a body for Eragon to cry over and sprinkle rose petals on, and maybe Saphira could have encased someone else in diamonds. But no; he has to have his romantic "nooooo, whyyyy!" moment when any discerning reader KNOWS they're not dead. I wrote that down in my notebook at the beginning: "Murtagh & Twins missing but not found dead. That means they're alive." I was right. Surprise. Important characters that an author like Paolini spent a long time developing in book 1 do not disappear without a trace in book 2's beginning, lost to death. Something like that would only happen in REAL life or a realistic book. And while it would be disappointing to lose a character who had a lot of personality and whatnot, it is important that writers don't cheat their readers by turning them into functionally immortal people whose impenetrable shield is the role they play in the story.

"Whatever my fate may be, I don't aspire to rule." Of course you don't, Eragon. This story type always involves the hero fighting valiantly and emerging victorious, and being offered leadership of something but declining with a "who, me? No, not me, I want my simple life back" line.

In the hero's journey, there is always a "meeting the goddess" and a "temptation" bit, which of course drives suspicion and anger between characters. Would you believe that Eragon meets a goddess-like woman and apparently pledges himself to her aid, and also is tempted by a woman and it pisses his dragon off? Nah, never would have seen that coming.

Also, in the hero's journey, there's this annoying bit about weapons. He receives very common fantasy items as gifts in this book; I almost thought I might be playing Final Fantasy or something. He received a belt, a drink, and a scroll, and a bow from Galadriel--I mean Islanzadí. Feh.

And then there was the bit where some characters are about to be in serious trouble trying to go across a stretch of dangerous water called the Boar's Eye. Just like in the first book where Eragon is racing to save Arya from slow-acting poison, I was in no way worried that anyone was going to die. If this was an original and well-written book, there would have been reasonable doubt about whether the characters would make it. After all, this is written in third person; the story could easily go on even if a catastrophic event has occurred. But because the plot is set up in such a way that characters are assigned specific roles and those roles have certain parts to play, they *cannot* die before they perform certain actions. Eragon's cousin Roran has not performed all his deeds yet by the time this impending tragedy occurs. So obviously he is going to survive. Knowing that someone is going to survive something like that does not just make me excited to see how it's going to happen; it makes every "hopeless" situation seem that much more contrived.

In one of my favorite children's series, Artemis Fowl, characters have a funny way of getting out of rather difficult situations, but because of the way Eoin Colfer writes, you're never sure if they're going to make it. And this gnawing suspicion that someone just might die is brought home when in one of the books a main character is killed pretty much without warning. Not in a particularly heroic way; not to directly save someone else; not in a place where his death was the only way. It just kind of sucked, and it was shocking. And there was no setting him up as a tragic character whose death provides the necessary motivation for a hero to succeed; there was no reviving him at the end; there was no reason he had to die for the story to move forward. Except that his death promoted exactly the kind of uncertainty that such novels need in order to stay exciting. When nobody important dies except at the point they're supposed to--such as Brom's convenient death occurring just as Eragon got everything he needed and acquired a new traveling partner--it stops being an adventure and starts being more of a farce. Notice how in books like Harry Potter, characters who have important roles do die; they're characters that people have grown to like, they're characters whose deaths come at fairly unexpected times, they're characters whose futures seemed assured until we realized that--gasp--this author kills people! Suddenly no one is safe. Even Harry might die. See how that's different?


There's an awful lot of this, so instead of rambling about it and trying to describe it, I will just quote it and maybe give a little editorial advice as to either how to fix it or why it is mind-numbingly, well, bad.


I won't go into this one too much because I already discussed the subject so much in my previous essay. But I wanted to point out a few more things that caught my eye that were snatched from the classic fantasy story:


This is mostly just a list of quotes from characters talking and either bombing their attempts at grand archaic speak or just saying really silly things. I probably won't have to explain why they're so out of place and impractical; just read them and I think mostly it will be self-explanatory.

  • Arya: "I scryed both Murtagh and the Twins, and saw naught but the shadows of the abyss." (Not only does that fancy language serve to make this character seem stiff and unbelievable and, well, made up . . . it's also deliberately misleading. More of Paolini's "Ha-HA, I never said they were DEAD, now DID I??")

  • "'All is not bad,' she reproached."

  • "I feel once more a reason to rule and live." Okay, there's a war on and the thing you're most worried about is your heirloom.

  • "'Wake, knurlhiem!'" Why is it that characters who have other languages frequently use their foreign words with others for greetings and insults? Truth is, when you learn someone else's language, the first things you learn are usually "hello" and "&@#$* YOU." I also think it's goofy that that translates to "stonehead," and the dwarves respect the stone, don't they?

  • Saphira gets drunk and does not feel real well after she passes out. When she is addressed later, she replies, "A pox on all mead!" Very cute, Chris. But MEAD CAN'T GET POX. IT IS NOT ALIVE.

  • "Beware the rotten stone." Buuuut stone . . . is . . . not . . . organic. . . . How can a stone be rotten? [Apparently, given the several times I've been corrected on this, "rotten stone" is indeed a thing, but normally it's . . . actually something useful that's used as a polisher in woodworking, and I don't think you need to beware it. Some climbers have also said they call stone rotten if it flakes or crumbles when you climb on it, so I guess you could "beware" that, though that's not the context this was used in. To be honest I'm kinda sick of everything the dwarves say having some stone-related origin; it's like watching The Flintstones.]

  • "I have no desire to squander what time we have when a whim of fate could tear us apart." I wonder why every attempt at a dramatic phrase instead makes me want to laugh?

  • "You needs must fly there." Now, is that a typo, or is that just another one of the many attempts to render the dwarves' speech in a way that is charmingly off-kilter? Making them sound like Tarzan does not work here.

  • "Draw thy sword and guard its edge as your first master taught you." Did you just use "thy" and "your" in the same sentence? I've said it before, but if you're going to try to write in your crap attempt at ancient phrasing, you should at least be consistent.


Now I'd just like to say there were a couple things I thought were good about the book. I do like to give credit where credit is due, and while I think this was a book that was basically a chore to read and was not deserving of most of the recognition it got (besides my aforementioned nod from Entertainment Weekly), I'll be willing to say there were a couple things the guy did right.

The introduction of Roran as one of the main characters provided a little bit of variation in the plodding journey that is a blueprint-written novel. Watching Eragon go through all the steps in his role as the epic hero gets old real fast, but since Roran is NOT the epic hero, he is not held to quite as strict of a plan, and therefore there is a little wiggle room for his adventures to be more interesting. He still has his Han-Solo-esque role to play, but since he only has to show up for his parts and is free to do whatever for the rest of the book, he actually does sometimes do whatever. (In a really limited way, unfortunately. But some of his lifestyle choices and whatnot are not quite as cookie-cutter as Eragon's.)

An amusing line from Saphira: "Go apologize, Eragon, or I'll fill your tent with carrion." That image was just funny to me. I'm not sure why.

A sort of cool idea he came up with: Nasuada realizes that she needs to raise funds for the Varden or something like that, and makes use of her group's magic users in an interesting way. Because magic takes the same amount of energy out of a person that it would take to do that action the regular way, she comes up with an idea: Get magic users to do something that takes a long time but not much energy, and sell the product. She makes money on her magic users using their talents to create lace, a time-consuming but not-very-strenuous task, and she sells the product. I thought that was kind of inventive--though I don't know how original it is--but regardless of whether it was an original idea I did think it was kinda amusing that her group's rebel efforts were funded in part by LACE.

And the one thing I thought was the BEST bit of the book was an unusual bit of realism. For once, a rag-tag rebel leader tells the fighters not to stand and fight soldiers because they want to be heroes, because . . . they will be fighting trained soldiers. I thought it was really cool that he actually recognized that a group of villagers with no real fighting training would be very unlikely to best a group of trained soldiers, and that ego and pride and obliviousness would not be able to overcome a group whose JOB is fighting. However, I feel kind of annoyed about making this observation, because it's essentially, "Congratulations, Chris, you DIDN'T do something poorly." I'm so used to him NOT taking practical considerations into account that I'm surprised when he actually refrains from falling into traps.

Yup, and that's it for my praise. Um, besides that the cover, again, is pretty. And that is a compliment for John Jude Palencar, not Paolini.


This is just a little bit of my philosophizing on the book itself--some simple things that don't fit into any category but I feel need to be said. It's mostly my collection of retorts to the most common arguments I have gotten since first posting my essay about Eragon.

This also functions as my list of critical points people have submitted to me to try to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. It's interesting to read, but it is not really part of the essay and has a slightly different tone. If you plan to send me a comment, you might want to read it to make sure I haven't already answered this question or argued this point before.

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