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Rudely into the Light

Miss me?

I know I did.

We begin with Eragon feeling concern for Elain as she screams in agony and labor. Actually, the exact line is, “He had spent the better part of the day watching men fight and die—killing scores himself—yet he could not help but feel concern as he heard Elain’s cries of anguish”. So, apparently he thought that watching people die and killing uses up concern? Or is he so blood thirsty that he didn’t think that he’d be able to feel concern for her? Or even though he wasn’t emotionally invested in what happened around him during all the fighting he’s surprised that he can feel concern for Elain.

I think what gets me is the phrase, “yet he could not help but” … put after the fact that he watched all sorts of people die. He didn’t feel concern when they all died, because they didn’t matter. But a person he knows matter. It’s all about known NPCs and Minions. Minions aren’t allowed to have emotional responses from the hero.

He, Roran and Elain’s sons sit around listening to her scream and are useless. As well are other men from Carvahall who are friends with Horst. While the women are helping the midwife with Elain. CROWD THE TENT.

She still hasn’t given birth yet.

People are worried that she hasn’t given birth yet.

Arya comes out and Eragon talks to her. He wants to know how the birth is going. She says it’s going badly so he wants to know if she can do something. Arya says that she could have sung the baby out in a half hour, but she can only use the simplest spells to help. The women are afraid of her and her magic. Eragon has a brilliant suggestion.

“Then tell them you mean no harm. Tell them in the ancient language, and they’ll have no choice but to believe you.”

So, basically he’s telling her to talk in a language they don’t understand to tell them that they should trust her. Sure she can’t lie in the ancient language, but how do they know she’s telling the truth. She could be saying the sun is warm, or Eragon is an idiot or hey look I see the ground and they wouldn’t know the difference! WE through Eragon know that you can’t lie by speaking the ancient language, but THEY don’t. And even if they did, they still don’t know what she’s saying.

Arya doesn’t say that. Instead she says that if she tried that they would think she was trying to charm them against their will and send her away.

This pisses Eragon off and he decides he’s going to go in and do something about it. But Arya stops him saying that disturbing them would be disturbing “customs that are older than time itself”.

I’m not really sure how that works.

I don’t even think the Doctor could pull that one off. The only thing I could think of that could possibly even remotely do that is Galactus. And that’s because he was actually an alien that was at the end of time and then was shoved into our universe at its big bang, if I recall correctly, from some Comic Book Means. Other than that the only other person I could think of who could do that is Alec, but he doesn’t count because he’s a Gary Stu and not even a published character.

:P I love you too.

Oddly the second reason that Arya gives for not disturbing them is that it would embarrass and anger Gertrude, the midwife. Traditions are more important than embarrassing someone. And embarrassing someone and traditions are more important than saving the baby’s life. Because the women will totally hate you if you save the baby and mother’s life.


Right then.

She goes back into the tent and Eragon goes back to sitting around twiddling his thumbs. ISN’T THIS EXCITING!? I know I’m tense. What’s going to happen!?

Meanwhile The color of the sun shifted, becoming orange and crimson as it approached the terminating line of the earth. The few tattered clouds that remained in the western sky, remnants of the storm that had blown past earlier, acquired similar hues. Flocks of swallows swooped overhead, making their supper out of the moths and flies and other insects flitting about.

Why is it so hard to say “horizon”? What is wrong with the word “Horizon”? The terminating line of the earth brings nothing to the description beyond me imagining a large “x” on the horizon. (I don’t know why, but I do.) This is yet another instance of Paolini trying to go for descriptive and just ends up looking silly by overdoing it. More words do not make it more descriptive. Sometimes - such as in this case - it completely ruins it.

This is also silly: When the sun touched the earth, it spread out along the horizon, like a giant yolk oozing free of its skin. Comparing the sun to breakfast is never really a good thing unless you’re trying to be ridiculous.

Or inspired!

Yolk Sunset by ~Kippur on deviantART

The baby is born... and it gets... weird.

It ended as the loud, hiccupping wail of a newborn child emanated from within the tent—the age-old fanfare that announced the arrival of a new person into the world. At the sound, Albriech and Baldor broke out grinning, as did Eragon and Roran, and several of the waiting men cheered.

Their jubilation was short-lived. Even as the last of the cheers died out, the women in the tent began to keen, a shrill, heartrending sound that made Eragon go cold with dread. He knew what their lamentations meant, what they had always meant: that tragedy of the worst kind had struck.

The wailing and lamentations that is going on here reminds me of the sort of things that I want to say happen in less technologically developed cultures. The ones that are … well like the Orcs or possibly Nasuada’s Emo Chicken folk. Eragon’s people strike me as more like yea old stereotypical fantasy culture which corresponds to roughly Medieval Europe. If I were to try to describe their unpositive and tragic response to something I would use words like “cries of despair”. And are they just crying out or are they saying anything? Keening is a word I often associate with animal noises.

In any case, something bad has happened.

Arya comes out and grabs Eragon. The men try to ask her what happened, what’s wrong, but she just says that Eragon needs to come with her now. Inside the tent, Arya tells him what’s wrong. The child was born with a “cat lip”. I think that’s a cleft palate.

Then Eragon understood the reason for the women’s outpouring of grief. Children cursed with a cat lip were rarely allowed to live; they were difficult to feed, and even if the parents could feed them such children would suffer a miserable lot: shunned, ridiculed, and unable to make a suitable match for marriage. In most cases, it would have been better for all if the child had been stillborn.

I am honestly unsure of how to react to this paragraph. It appears that Eragon’s culture will kill babies with cat lips; “they were rarely ALLOWED to live” as the text indicates. So that means that someone has to choose to kill them or let them die.

Now I know that babies with this problem are hard to deal with. My uncle was one such child and he died when he was about two. (I think. My grandmother went a bit crazy after he died and sort of expunged all signs of his existence. It was only after she died did we find a sign of his existence; one single framed photograph. My dad remembered because he was older.) And I know that they often die without help and what Paolini is saying here is correct about the baby. (Though I’m not sure about the stillborn bit.) It’s just that this is suddenly very harsh and grim and there for a Terrible reason.

Why is it there? So Eragon can heal it.

Yes. Paolini has inflicted this horrible thing on this baby JUST so Eragon can heal it. How do I know this? Because Arya tells Eragon that he has to heal the baby. Eragon wants to know why she can’t because she’s obviously better at healing than him. Says the guy who cured a person from cancer. IDK.

I just don’t know.

Has Eragon forgotten all the healing he’s done? He fixed a guy’s scars. He cured cancer. He did all these things. And NOW suddenly he’s having healing inadequacy feelings? Why? So he can feel like he’s done something amazing, I guess.

Why can’t Arya do it? Because apparently elves are suddenly child thieves. Elves who were considered to be paragons of everything good and the dragon riders and based on Tolkien’s elves and we’re suddenly throwing in fairy lore into this mix? Four books in? Have we seen any dislike for elves from the Varden and all the Good People?

So where the hell did that come from?

The hell of “I need an excuse to make Eragon and not Arya heal the baby so he can look awesome to put in some false tension into the story.” It’s a special hell. Worse than the one they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

Reluctantly Eragon agrees to do it, but he’s afraid to be responsible for such a thing. Unlike the time he cured cancer.

Look, once you cure cancer, I don’t believe that you can’t heal anything. I don’t forget what I’ve read in previous books. You cured cancer. This should be a cakewalk for you.

I have no sympathy.


Zero. Zlich. Nada.

The fact that this is put in here, complete with clog dancing over canon, just so you can look good doesn’t help matters either.

So, Eragon goes into the tent and everything is horrid. The women are crying and rending their clothes. I don’t think making such a big production of of this is such a good idea. I mean, the baby’s just been born, it hasn’t had a life yet. By making such a big production, when they’re possibly going to kill it, will make it harder on the mother as she forms an attachment. What would have been better is that they take the baby and deal with it quietly. Then they tell all the men that the baby died. It’s buried quietly and done. I know I’m the one sounding callous here but it’s more realistic, I think, than what’s happening here.

But they’re making like the eldest son has come home dead. And blah blah. Babies died a lot in societies with their technological levels. This shouldn’t be causing such a fuss. The intentionally killing it thing is probably a bit much... but babies died even without the cat lip normally. Infant mortality was high back then. It sucked, but it was a way of life. This is overly dramatic and unrealistic. It’s only there because, as previously mentioned, Eragon needs to be made to look good.

He goes to where Horst and Gertrude are - Elain is nearly out exhausted - and Horst wants to know if Eragon can do something for her. Eragon says he hopes so (he cured cancer). Then he takes the baby and say Gertrude wants to go with him to make sure someone who knows how to take care of a baby is there just incase. Eragon doesn’t want her to come along but then realizes that she’s probably insisting to make sure the baby isn’t swapped out as a changeling child.

And they couldn’t do this with Arya beeecaaaaasuse?

Oh, right. Eragon has to be the Hero.

So, he takes the baby. And they decided to walk ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CAMP to Eragon’s tent. People are pointing and staring at them as they go. Because they couldn’t commander a nearby tent. They have to go ALL THE WAY through the camp to get to Eragon’s tent. Why? So Elva can glare at Eragon meaningfully. Meaningfully in the “Don’t screw this up like you screwed me up” glare meaningfully.

Even though this is totally different. Eragon blessed Elva and but he’s basically doing a cure cancer thing for the baby, which he’s done before. Why is this here then? So that we can introduce Elva.

And then he walks into his tent vowing that he doesn’t want to hurt the child.


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Kippur Critiques Bad Books

January 2016


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