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The Way of Knowing

What are we knowing?

Who knows.

Knowing that this book will never end?

What we get is some lovely telling. No really. We’re told that Eragon asks after her and that she answers briefly. Really. That’s pretty much it almost word for word. With all the other expositing and rambling Paolini does in this book, a brief exchange between two main characters right before they spar is too much? How does Eragon greet her? The text says, “as he had done every day since arriving at the city”.

Which is how?

They then start their spar, using shields this time because “it was closer to the reality of actual combat, and it introduced a welcomed element of variety into their duels”. While I don’t really have a problem with them using shields and I do think it’s going to be used in combat, the two of them have been in combat before and I don’t recall them using shields

Eragon’s fighting style doesn’t require the use of shields.

He’s done fine without using a shield.

There’s nothing wrong with using a shield but it’s the reasoning that I’m having an issue with. This reasoning makes it sound like all the other combats they’ve been haven’t been real combat. It’d be one thing to say so that they could learn another style of combat but no… everything else they have been in hasn’t been real combat.

This is one of those things that is easy to skip over but in the actual narrative and word choice is important. It sounds like they’re preparing for combat, which they are, but the language doesn’t take into account that they’ve already been in combat. By using the word “real” it invalidates everything else as real. But in this use - if you ignore everything that’s gone before - then it really does sound good. Like they’re trying to get ready for real combat, for real fights.

Arya beats his ass in seconds.

Eragon wants to know why.

And then… and then… Oh I can’t believe this is actually In here. Arya’s response is “I’ve had over a hundred years of practice. It would be odd if I weren’t better than you, now wouldn’t it?”

This is possibly the first sensible thing I’ve read in this book. First logical thing. I want to put it in a box to protect it. Because we all know that Eragon’s probably going to end up better than her for … Reasons.

Eragon, you’ve been fighting for less than two years and you can hit her occasionally.

This is a big accomplishment. Shut up already.

The interesting thing is they’ve been doing these fights daily and they beat each other silly each time. Like literally. Eragon ends up with welts. They fight until beyond exhaustion. And yet they’re still find the next day. This isn’t a one time thing. The text indicates that they do this daily. So, how is Eragon still standing. How is he healing so quickly that he can do regular things the next day? this is a bit silly to do when you’re waiting for someone to attack. It’s one thing to spar, but it’s another thing to spar into exhaustion and beyond. Then you’re putting yourself and the people who depend on you in danger.

Unfortunately, before they can kill each other Glaedr decides to come out of his own box and tells them to stop. He wants to know why Eragon and Arya are beating each other senseless and says that Eragon should work on mastering his mind because Volde - I mean Galbatorix is really dangerous because he can get into your mind and make you do what he wants you to do. Eragon’s mind skills are woefully underdeveloped. Which really reminds me of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in some ways. But this is probably just a coincidence.

Eragon says that he’d rather learn how to beat people senseless. Because if he can hold him off with his mind then maybe he could kill him with the sword. There is logic in what he says, except that’s why he shouldn’t be focusing on the sword. He needs to work on his mind skills first. After all, if Galbatorix gets into Eragon’s head then it’ll be a crubstomp… in theory.

Because EVERYTHING is in theory with Eragon.

Blah. Blah. Eragon is over ambitious and trying to stretch himself wanting to do impossible things that he’s already done. Like, “Trying to outmatch a Shade is like trying to fly higher than the sun”. And Eragon’s killed two.

Then Glaedr wanted to know why the elves haven’t been continuing Eragon’s training. Apparently they didn’t want to presume on training a rider since it wasn’t their place and Glaedr was still around even if he was in a fugue state and not actually doing anything. SO, basically the elves were like, “We don’t care if we don’t know when/if Glaedr will ever get better, but since he’s still around we’re not going to do anything about training Eragon. Fuck trying to keep him alive so he can fight Galbatorix.”

Apparently it was a ploy to get Glaedr pissed off and wanting to do something about shit. But still, they still didn’t know when/if he’d return and in what state he’d be in when he did. They should have been doing something beyond twiddling their thumbs up their asses.

Eventually they convince Glaedr to teached Eragon to be a better fighter. This is done by bribery and begging. Saphira bribes the dragon in a jar by offering to fly with him. So that he can “feel the currents of air rising beneath you once more”. If I recall correctly, one of the problems of being in the jar is that he can’t feel anything. So what could would flying be if he can’t feel it? If anything I think it would make things worse.

But it sounds good.

So. Eragon and Arya are, in theory, dead exhausted from their fighting and so instead of resting their going to continue training.

… And then Eragon wonders “how much the dragon really knew about sword fighting”

/thunks head against desk.

You just spent five-ish pages trying to get him to teach you and now you’re wondering if he knows how to teach you? I know what you’re trying to go for. But after being so certain about this, you shouldn’t be having second doubts like this. You must have thought he was able to teach you or you wouldn’t have asked him so fervently.

AAaaaaand then Glaedr says that the reason why Arya has been defeating Eragon all this time is because she understands him.

Not because she’s had over a hundred years of experience to his two.


It’s because she understands him.

Look at Arya. Why has she been able to beat you again and again? Because she understands you, Eragon. She knows who you are and how you think, and that is what allows her to defeat you so consistently. Why is it Murtagh was able to trounce you on the Burning Plains, even though he was no where near as fast or strong as you?

Because he used a method of fighting that didn’t require being fast or strong.

See, the problem I’m having with this is that basically, yes you’re supposed to know your opponent. In that you should study their fighting style and figure out their weaknesses. But that’s different than understanding a person to their very core to know how to fight and defeat them. And I imagine that part of acquiring technical proficiency with a weapon is learning how to use it against other people.

But, in any case, they fight again. After long bits of exposition about how Eragon needs to SEE to fight. To think without thinking (WTF?) and other fun seemingly intelligent but utter nonsense like that.

Apparently no one ever told Eragon that he needs to study a person to learn their weaknesses and apparently he’s not been doing that before. Because now, finally, he’s trying to study how Arya actually fights and her weaknesses and how he could use that against her.

They keep on fighting and SUDDENLY, after Eragon realizes this, he starts winning. He empties his mind and he starts winning. He’s beating over like 200 years worth of elf experience because suddenly he’s looking at her.

Oh, and Glaedr has them fight until they’re beyond exhausted. Because, you know, that’s what you want to do to a person when they’re waiting for a possible conflict that could come at any time and they’re one of the heavy hitters.

Maybe Glaedr is working for the enemy?

Anyway, the chapter ends with Eragon being all Symbolic by saying, “I see you” all deep and growling. And Arya has a twinkle in her eyes.

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Kippur Critiques Bad Books

January 2016


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