Hello, I'm back, Khalim. Not saying you'll believe me, but I seriously did write half a response a few days ago. But then I simply got, well, to /bored/ to finish it. My feelings for Eragon are not passionate enough, and my love of debating isn't fueling me as well as I'd like.
However, I am back now, and I think I should at least honour your post with a response, even if the subject is starting to bore me (not to say I won't come back to it a while later, preferably after I've read Eldest and Brisingr).
I can't judge if Paolini is being preachy or not, or if he's portraying the viewpoints in religion unequally. I haven't read that far. However, /so far/, I don't think that he is in any way comparable to a director who continuously casts black people as bad guys. I think it's more of a question of intent and vibe than of pure content. Is he really saying religion sucks, or was it an unfortunate implication picked up by picky people? Of course, if it was the latter, it still means his writing needs to be improved, but that means he's being careless rather than preachy.
That being said, I realize the need to balance things out. To take the timid woman example, in one of my stories, there is a girl who is somewhat "useless" and constantly gets saved by her teammates. However, the other two main female characters (there are five main characters in all) are a lazy genius and a top-of-the-class overachiever with a dark past and even darker intentions. As for the two males, one of them is a determined idiot and the other is seen as a pretty-boy but is actually quite capable and intelligent. On top of that, every one of them gets character development, so even the timid girl and the idiot do become more complex individuals. But I stress: when I made these characters, I was not thinking on the lines of "Oh, that girl's weak, so I'll make this one strong." I simply wrote the characters the way they appeared in my head, and if there was a balance (that isn't for me to judge), it came automatically. I think a writer should be more concerned with telling a good story rather than shoving characters into roles to avoid being criticized.
Of course, a good writer would make stories that automatically don't cause imbalance.
Interestingly enough, the practice of having many more guy characters in stories or--rarely--of having many more girl characters, doesn't seem to offend many people. And even when it does offend, it doesn't stop some author from writing book after book of only male or only female characters and still having quite a following. Some male writers openly admit that they don't understand women, and they are selling millions. But that's another debate, and perhaps I shouldn't be bringing this up. I don't want sparks to fly.
I don't mind Murtagh being more interesting than Eragon. In most stories, I find side characters more interesting than heroes. A good writer can cast a regular hero-type as the hero and leave the more complicated characterization to a side character (where it won't grow too unpredictable for the plot). But it takes a fantastic author to cast a complicated, flawed, but sympathetic character as the hero, because it'll mean breaking plot conventions along with character ones ('cause this anti-hero sure as hell won't react to things like a regular hero does). And sometimes, even awesome authors make side characters better. It can serve a point, by making the audience realize, at one point, "Hey, isn't this guy better than the hero?" It'll make the audience question /their own/ misconceptions.
So, generally, I have no problem with the side character (Murtagh, in this case) being more interesting than the hero (Eragon). But I do have a problem with the hero (Eragon) being completely uninteresting. (You can be worse than the side character, but you can't be /bad/, y'know?) But anyhow, that's just me, the person who roots for the villain 70% of the time.