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A Maze Without End

This is… This is an interesting chapter. This is a chapter of Eragon dealing with Consequences and fears of becoming the leader of the Varden. Which is actually a legit thing. He spends the chapter wondering why him? Why did Nasuada do this to him?

Which we know the answer to: Only PCs can take control over the Rebel Organizations even if they’re fifteen, sixteen years old and have no experience with it whatsoever.

The entire chapter, the entire conflict could have been avoided if Nasuada actually did something sensible and gave the job to Jormundur her second in command. The guy who has been helping her run things and knows the ins and outs of everything that the Varden does. Besides? Isn’t Eragon needed for doing Fighty Stuff? I’m fairly certain he is. So he’s incompetent and in charge and can’t give up the position because he’d look weak. And GOD knows he can’t look weak.


Eragon gets advice from Jormundur, Roran and Ayra and Jormundur says, rightly, that the council of elders will cause problems because they don’t consider him as skilled in politics as Nasuada is. Mind you, Nasuada’s idea of skilled politics is playing knife chicken where two people cut their arms until one of them gives up. (Does this mean that Eragon will have to play that too? Should I be hoping for this? Nah. That’d be annoying and take up more pages in an already overly huge book.)

So. We get Eragon being anxious. We know he’s anxious because he felt “as if he had been struck in the chest. He sat there for a while, sweating and thinking, until the strain of his overactive thoughts caused him to spring upright and hurry outside.” I can say that this is a legit thing. All sorts of crazy thoughts going around in your head when stressed and anxious.

And not being able to sit still. He goes and tries to find some place of comfort - in Saphira, which is also nice. That he can look to her for such things. That he’s using her for a place to hide for safety. Something that a kid his age would probably do when getting all that dumped onto his shoulders.

This is sort of the most realistic chapter I’ve seen in this story. I have no idea if anything will carry on to after this chapter - because things don’t tend to - but it’s still fairly realistic.

Most of what he’s thinking about is Why Me and how can they have done this to me though and not How am I going to do all of this. But again, reasonable responses. As he thinks at one point:

Over and over, he returned to the same impossible, incontrovertible fact: he was the leader of the Varden. He, who had been nothing more than the youngest member of a poor farming family, was now the leader of the second-largest army in Alagaesia. That it had happened at all seemed outrageous, as if fate was toying with him, baiting him into a trap that would destroy him. He had never wanted it, never sought it, and yet events had thrust it upon him.

I can take issue with a great deal of these statements - which again are reasonable I will continue to say this - but also completely avoidable. He didn’t need to agree to take on this position. If I remember correctly (I probably don’t and don’t care enough to check) he had similar feelings at the time he agreed to the decision. And there was no reason for him to do so beyond he was a PC and the Hero so no one else could do it even though it would be logical for someone else to do it. This was, and I know I keep on reiterating this, a completely avoidable plot problem.

However it’s also a required plot problem that Paolini feels like he needs to put in because that’s how these stories go, isn’t it? Something happens to the leader of a group and so the hero must step in to take over.

Though it’s interesting that he considers the Varden to be the second largest army in the area. It originally started off as a small rebellion didn’t it? I guess because they managed to absorb King Orrin’s army they grew into a threatening size. But yeah, people legitimately seem to expect a fifteen year old boy who didn’t even know how to read until a year ago with absolutely no qualifications beyond he’s the Hero and a dragon rider to lead them to victory. The only reason why this will work IS because Eragon is the PC.

And theeeeen he starts going into Waking Dream Lands with rainbow *sniggers* visions. (Is he still on that happy mushroom drink? I feel like he is.) And theeeeen he gets Uber Spesul vision.


It’s your typical vague vision of vagueness.

A dark and lonely plain lay before him, cut by a single strip of water that flowed slow-moving into the east: a ribbon of beaten silver bright beneath the glare of a full moon. … floating on the nameless river, a ship, tall and proud, with pure white sails raised and ready…. ranks of warriors holding lances, and two hooded figures walking among them as if in a stately procession. The smell of willows and cottonwoods, and a sense of passing sorrow… then a man’s anguished cry, and a flash of scales, and a muddled of motion that concealed more than it revealed.

And then nothing but silence and blackness.

First off. Everyone repeat after me: A lance is for cavalry not infantry. A lance is a completely different weapon, even if it looks similar to a spear. A commander who gives their infantry a lance for a weapon is a complete and utter moron and deserves to have their army defeated.

The rest of this? Is just gibberish nonsense - yes, I realize it’s supposed to be a prophecy or a vision - but at this point I just want the story to get on with it. I don’t care about his visions. They’re just taking up space and don’t really add anything to the plot. It’s also completely random. I can’t recall (and I could be wrong) Eragon having visiony things before. The closest thing this reminds me of is Angela’s prophecy thing from book one - what with the white sailed ships and all.

But. Honestly, I don’t care about it. And the only problem it appears to cause Eragon is that he can’t sleep anymore so he goes out of Saphira’s wing and back to his tent.
As he goes back we learn that one of Nasuada (and now Eragon’s) guards was mind whammied by the elves when he tried to read the elves’ mind and is now has a “dreamy quality” to his gaze. Yeees… so lets put a guy who isn’t completely there in charge of protecting the leader of the Varden. What could go wrong? Or at least in command of a group of them.

Amusingly, there’s discussion in the beginning of the chapter about how dangerous Eragon is and how easily he can kill people and is tougher than normal men etc. And then they say that they need a whole bunch of people to guard Eragon - when Eragon would be the least likely of all of the people in the camp in need of help. BUT apparently he needed a whole lot of protection anyway. Because they’ll be so much help against another dragon rider - like Murtagh.

Anyway. He goes back to his tent and continues to have a panic attack. He does have the reasonable idea that he shouldn’t go and rescue Nasuada as much as he’d like to because the war is more important.


His panic attack continues to the point that he ends up rocking on the floor. Which is again reasonable. And he wants to pray to the dwarf god to take away his problems so to speak. But doesn’t because it felt “wrong to pass off his responsibility to anyone else, even a god - or the idea of a god”.

I’ve mentioned this before but it is strange that the humans of this world don’t have any gods or religion. And why would you pray to an idea of a god…? The idea of praying to a god is because you believe in a god and you think you’ll find comfort and help in it.

He thinks that he can deal with running the Varden but not the fighting and destroying Galbatorix.

SO! He remembers something Solembum told him in the first book about how “when all seems lost and your power is insufficient, go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak your name to open the Vault of Souls”

Not sure what that means he mentally pokes the werecat and asks him to come over and visit because he needs help. Oh. And apparently Eragon has asked Oromis and Ayra what the vault of souls is but they never told him.



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Kippur Critiques Bad Books

January 2016


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