chapter  7
17 Pages

Simplified Minds

Empathy and Mind-Modelling in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle
ByLydia Kokkola

The last century has witnessed the publication of several fantasy series which have sold more than thirty million copies: J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series; Stephanie Meyer's Twilight quartet; J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings; Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tales of Earthsea; George Lucas's Star Wars; and, more recently and derivatively, Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle. Like their older counterparts, the contemporary bestsellers simplify complex issues, most insidiously in the expression of racial difference in the form of speciesism. Blakey Vermeule suggests that the fascination with both celebrities and fictional characters derives from the insights that can be gained from shared knowledge about human behaviour. The triggering of mirror neurons is inhibited in autism, but not in sadism. Like most fantasy heroes, Eragon initially seems an unlikely person to defeat the villain. Eragon knows he cannot defeat Galbatorix by magical, physical, or mental force.