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The Torment of Uncertainty and The Hall of the Soothsayer

Two Nasuada chapters for the price of one! Yay?

“Nasuada opened her eyes”. Great opening to the chapter.

She is tie to a flat, cold, smooth and hard surface. She is also in a room with some really interesting designs on the ceiling. However, I’m not exactly sure how she’s able to see them. Especially in such detail. Including the fact that the colors are red, blue and gold. Why? Because it’s very dark in the room.

First of all the tiles covered the dark vaulted ceiling and the little bit of light here is barely bright enough to show the size and shape of the room. The ceiling is dark. The corners are dark. Everything is dark. And as far as we know, Nasuada doesn’t have any low light vision to help her see things better. Yet she could still see those intricate patterns. Why? Because Paolini wanted to have the room be visually interesting and needed to describe it… damn be the fact she wouldn’t be able to see it!

Also, interestingly, she’s only able to feel the cold stone on her heels and the pads of her fingers. Despite the fact that she’s only wearing “a thin white shift” and so her legs and butt and back should be able to feel it.

Then, randomly, heat suffused her body. A lot of heat. “her cheeks burned, and her hands and feet felt as if they were filled with molten tallow”.

It doesn’t say from where.

Or how.

It just does.

And then, it’s just forgotten… unbearable heat and then… nothing… She goes off thinking about other things. The discomfort of the heat is never mentioned again. But it couldn’t have come from the stone! Because the stone was very cold. And she didn’t say that the stone turned warm. Just that she suddenly did.

I don’t even know anymore.

The next thing that bothers me is Nausada suddenly upset that she never had any children. The only previous instance we’ve had about Nausada and children is her wondering if Orrin would be a good father way back at the beginning of the book. And I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have to think about not having children or wanting to have children every time she comes up as a character, it just seems like it’s a set up for a potential romance with Murtagh later. Because I’m fairly certain - not one hundred percent - that there’s going to be one. Admittedly this is a good place to think about this but it’s just… I don’t know. It feels kind of off to me.

One sort of smart thing she does do is decide that she wouldn’t trust anyone she saw because it might be a trap. Even if it was Eragon and Saphira.

She also decides that she’s going to “create a new and simpler identity for herself so that, when asked questions about this or that, she could, with complete honesty; plead ignorance”. Which might work if everyone didn’t know she was the leader of the Varden and she had to know certain things about running the Varden. And it’s also quite possible that Galbatorix would be able to get into her mind anyway. Since he is very powerful and Nausada doesn’t have any magic that we know of.

Blah, blah, no sense of time. She’s hungry. Blah. Blah.

Finally the silent servant shows up. You know the guy. who doesn’t say anything and is kinda creepy looking and all they do is just feed and give the prisoner’s drink. And the prisoner tries to turn them over to their side, but it never works. Or rarely works? Or they try to break free from them and it also never works - at least at the beginning.

Yeah. That’s this guy.

There’s nothing much to say about it except that his fingernails are kinda of interesting. They’re really well taken care of. We spend an entire page on his fingernails. More than that. She wonders why they’re so nice, who might have made them so nice. That soldiers she knew seemed to be shallow and love only “wine, women and war” liked romantic poems or made wood carvings… and were real human beings, you know. And not gruff flat NPCs that just hang out in the background.

She tells him he has shiny nails and he smiles at her a creepy smile. This is a good thing because she can use his vanity as a foothold to bend others to her will. “Because if there was one thing she was skilled at, it was the ability to bend others to her will”. Oh yes, because if she was able to do that, she’d have to go through chicken cutting. Also bend people to her will is MUCH nastier sounding than convince them to her side. Bad guys bend people to their wills. Good guys convince them to help. Also it’s her sheer glee at the fact that she’ll be able to do it. As opposed to say, relief.

After a bit, the man returns again with three long irons which he proceeds to heat up in the fire.

And then…

And then...

And then we get our first look at Galbatorix.

He’s still in the dark, but “He was large: not fat, but broad-shouldered. A long black cape hung draped around him. It looked heavy, as if backed with mail. Light from the coals and from the flameless lantern gilded the edges of his form, but his features remained too dark to make out. Still, the shadows did nothing to hide the outline of the sharp, pointed crown rested upon his brow.”

Oddly, perhaps, the first thing that pops into my mind is Jesus’ crown of thorns - which I’m sure Paolini wasn’t going for with Galbatorix. The second thing is the sword throne in A Song of Ice and Fire. The third thing is the Crown of Sorrows from my D&D game, but that doesn’t count. Though, honestly, I’m fairly certain I’ve read something about a thorny crown before, I just can’t remember where.

His voice is one of those voices that you’ll do whatever he says. … It’s mellifluous which is apparently means… (because I had to look it up) really smooth sounding. When I first read it I thought he said “melodious” which is possibly the word he started out with before running it through the thesaurus. Now, I’m not at all against using words that make me go to the dictionary but again, they shouldn’t be just dropped in randomly like that because it’s jarring and out of style. If he used it all the time like Tolkien tended to, then that’d be fine. But he does, as always, just drop them in like an annoying pebble in your shoe.

Apparently having a really good voice proves that you’re king. “She had never seen Galbatorix in person, only heard descriptions and studied drawings, but the effect the man’s speech had on her was so visceral, so powerful, she had no doubt that he indeed was the king.” Now, if she meant that his voice was magical, that’d be one thing but instead she seems to be just talking about the quality of his voice much like people talk about Keith David or Morgan Freeman’s voice.

After about a page talking about how awesome Galbatorix’s voice is - including how weird his accent is - accent and diction - we get on to more interesting things of Galbatorix boasting about how he was the only one who could hold the elves at bay to protect humanity. And how young Nausada is. Things like that. It’s interesting that he says that he needs to hold the elves at bay and yet at the same time it sort of makes sense considering that all this time I’ve been of the opinion that they’re evil. But of course, since Galbatorix is evil, he would think the “good and wonderful” elves are evil.

Nausada is thrilled with fear that Galby is willing to discuss stuff with her because he’s not going to let her go. Though, from the dialogue it’s not really discussing as he’s telling her exactly how things are. And that he knows everything. He knows that Eragon has Glaedr’s heart of hearts. Their troop movements, numbers etc, etc.

And then they’re in a VERY special place, in a very special room. It’s an Oracle making place! Like the Oracle of Delphi. Complete with vapors. Though apparently the vapors have lost steam… (I am not sorry). But apparently anyone who rest upon that block of stone becomes soothsayer. I’m just not sure which block of stone he’s talking about. Is it the block of stone she’s laying on? Because that’s the only block of stone that I know of in the room. If it is, then perhaps that might explain the rush of heat that Nausda felt BUT then again… if it’s the vapors that cause someone to become an oracle then why would touching a stone make you an oracle? And there haven’t been any vapors.

So that means that Paolini has managed to contradict himself in a single page. Within two paragraphs.

By happenstance, they discovered that the vapors rising out of the cracks in the stone increased the chances that those who slept near them might catch a glimpse, however confused, of future events So. This means that you breathe the vapors you get visions. And we know it’s the vapors because the vapors lost their potency.
Then he says, Whosoever rests upon that hard block of stone becomes the latest soothsayer. . There’s no mention of vapors. The vapors don’t apparently work any more. And it’s not whosoever sleeps upon that stone, it’s rests. And resting is quite a bit different than sleeping. I’m sure he means sleeping, but what he actually says is resting. I may be being a bit obnoxious here, but word choice is important.

He says that he’s going to reshape her into someone else - likely someone who’ll do what he wishes. And, okay, the fact that he’s going to make Murtagh help torture Nausada with hot iron pokers is evil.

I will admit that.

Especially since he magically forces Murtagh to do so.

But, . I would also like to point out that I’m HALFWAY THROUGH THE LAST BLOODY BOOK before he does anything obviously evil.


Thank you.

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Kippur Critiques Bad Books

January 2016


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