[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters A Twin Disaster, the Council of Elders


"The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living. So thought Eragon as he stepped over a twisted and hacked Urgal, listening to the keening of women who removed loved ones from the blood-muddied ground of Farthen Dur." (Eldest 1)

This is the first lines of Eldest, our introduction to the second book of the Inheritance Trilogy and our trip into the land of Eragon. Let us look at these two lines. First of all the songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living. When I first read this sentence I thought that the dead were singing, lamenting for the living. Which would indicate that the dead were not so dead. And thus the extremely wounded crying out for a healer. Either that or Eragon is hearing voices, if he's hearing the dead. But really, why would the dead sing? And while we're at it, this is an awfully purple prose thought to have. Who really thinks such things when they're walking through a field ridden with corpses? I would think they would comment on the smell, the sight of carnage, the countless dead, but not lamentations of the dead. Which moves us to the second sentence "So thought Eragon" who writes like this? It's pretentious and stilted. It's trying to move the story into a higher ground of language that isn't supported by the text. Paolini continues to try this by inserting the word "Keening" instead of "crying". Keening may be the correct word to use, but it feels out of place.

And that's a paragraph for the first two sentences. We're moving along quite well, aren't we?

Eragon ponders the dead. There are a lot of them. But they don't smell. (This reminds me of Miss Formulaic's Gaint Womb of Doom, that also didn't smell. Both were amateurish writing... coincidence.. I think not.) And he has back problems. Apparently the scar he has (twin to Murtagh's as the Eragon summary points out so it must be important) every so often causes him great pain and causes him to go into spasms. Now, what other person has a scar that twinges mysteriously? Why Harry Potter. Though Harry's scar hurts for particular reasons, ie when Voldemort is feeling strong emotions. Eragon's scar hurts just because. Why, because it is something neat and supposed to be something interesting for Eragon to have. Three times he tried to assist in the recovery effort but every time he starts spasming. So it seems like this wound kicks in when ever he tries to do some heavy labor. At least this is my guess from what the text tells me. Either that or Eragon is saying that he's having spasms to get out of work.

We learn that Eragon's uncle was killed several months before and that one death apparently prepared him for the ravages of a battle field. Now, I admit to having absolutely no experience with these things, but I would think that one body, which wasn't horribly physically injured does not at all inure you to a battle field of cut up body parts. But Eragon isn't too terribly bothered by all the dead people. Instead he's thinking about himself.

He thinks about how he's hurt, how he only survived by luck and that he seriously needs more training. He then picks up a molar he finds on the battle field and starts to play with it.

No. Seriously.

And I quote, "He bent and plucked a tooth, a molar from the dirt. Bouncing it on his palm..." (page 2) Earlier he was commenting on the need to respect the dead, but here he's playing with one of their body parts. He's absently mindedly playing with tooth, proving that he doesn't really care about the people around him. This is something that a sociopath villain would do.

We're two pages into Eldest, and we've already proven that Eragon, our hero, is completely detached from reality and a budding sociopath. Somehow I don't think this is what Paolini was trying to go for.

The tooth vanishes. It obviously wasn't important, except for maybe to show what sort of person Eragon is. Meanwhile Eragon is summoned because Ajihad is returning with Murtagh and the twins. Arya is there. There's a lovely bit of description of her, "The white bandage around her upper arm gleamed in the darkness, reflecting a faint highlight onto the bottom of her hair." This is a piece of utterly useless description that doesn't really describe anything. Eragon is very excited to see her though, getting a "small thrill".

We learn about the Star Sapphire, and Eragon is filled with sorrow like the dwarves. The dwarves however aren't shown to be sorrowful and neither is Eragon. We're just told that he is. They wait for Ajihad, Murtagh and the twins. Where do they wait for him? A couple of miles away from the tunnel. Why don't they wait for Ajihad at the entrance? Because then we can't have this following dramatic scene:

The group see Ajihad and his friends leave the tunnel, and then see Ajihad get attacked by Urgals. Something magical happens as Eragon and Saphira rush to his rescue but they're too late. Ajihad dies giving Eragon his final command. It's very dramatic. Sort of. Completely avoidable though, if they had been at the entrance of the tunnel in the first place. This is something that is a sign of some of Paolini's sloppy writing. He wants to kill of Ajihad (for some reason) and get rid of Murtagh and the twins. And he needs Eragon to get his last command. If Eragon had been there he could have stopped this all from happening. But since he needs it to happen, he contrives for something illogical to happen. After all, who waits for someone a couple miles away from the entrance, when they could wait at the entrance.

Murtagh and the twins are apparently missing though. The Urgals took them. But they don't take prisoners. So they must be dead. Because the Urgals don't take prisoners. Arya goes after the Urgals into a maze of tunnels with no way of knowing which way they went. Jormundur (Ajihad's second) says something long and inspiring about Ajihad and we get our first mention of the gods.

Saphira, we learn, is a budding pyromaniac constantly setting things on fire. We're told this, instead of shown it. We could have had a cute scene of Saphria setting something on fire and being scolded, thus delving into her personality some, but instead we just get two sentences about it.

Arya finds some of Murtagh's and one of the Twin's clothes. She can't scry on them. So Eragon gets to cry for Murtagh's death. He cries dramatically. "Darkness enveloped the liquid turning it into a small dot of night on his silver palm. Movement flickered through it, like the swish of a bird across a clouded moon... and then nothing. Another tear joined the first" (page 10). It's a very lovely sentence... but I have no idea what it's supposed to be describing. It's just useless bit of description that could have been easily cut.

Eragon then has a pain spasm. There isn't any particular story reason for this to happen. It just happens. Though Eragon gets to be dramatic and say things like, "We have to. We're obliged as dragon and Rider to make a public choice regarding the next head of the Varden, and perhaps even influence the selection." (page 11)

They eat discussing who the next leader of the Varden could be. It goes on for a bit, and they're afraid that the next leader will be a puppet. But a puppet for whom, it doesn't say. They meet a small boy who takes them to the village Elders...sorry the Varden Elders. I don't know why I wrote Village. One would think that in a resistance movement like the Varden there would be a strict hierarchy of leadership, since it should be more militaristic than democratic. In Eragon it's said the people in the dwarf city are the fighters and not the civilian population who were elsewhere. Therefor it would be assumed that the Varden at the dwarf city are military. So it should be obvious who the next person in the succession is. And there shouldn't be a council of elders either, since this is a military operation. The second in command, whoever that is, should be next in command. There shouldn't be any sort of discussion.

In any case Eragon talks to the council of Elders and they talk about who they want to be in power. They obviously want the power for themselves, but they want it through a puppet. The puppet being Ajihad's daughter Nasuada. Personally, what I would have done, is have the council take over the Varden and rule over Varden that way. A council is perfectly capable of leading the Varden as a single person. But there's something less dramatic about a council instead of a single person leading the Varden into battle. So, they need a single person to be their leader.

The council makes Eragon promise to swear fealty to the new leader, Nasuada.

The chapter ends with Nasuada accepting the offer of leadership.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Truth among friends, Roran


So, the council scene continues. Ayra offers her people's support to Nasuada. And Nasuada kicks the council out, wanting to talk to Eragon alone. Eragon continues his odd way of speaking, he casts a spell to prevent eavesdropping and then says, "There, now we may speak without being overheard by man, dwarf or elf". It'd be a lot easier to have said "Now we may speak without being overheard by anyone." It's another example of Eragon being superfluous. Nasuada's way of speaking goes from formal to informal from sentence to sentence.

Then we get to an interesting bit. When Ajihad died he charged Eragon with keeping the Varden from falling into chaos. Eragon decided to keep those words a secret, because Eragon doesn't know what he meant.

Hi. Me again. Alec? You all remember me, I'm sure. Now, let us look at what has happened here. Eragon has been given a job to do. Keep the Varden from falling into chaos. He doesn't tell anyone this because he's afraid people will think that he's supposed to be the one in charge. However, this is not the case. If he were intelligent, he would do the following. He would let people - the council of elders- know what Ajihad's last words were and say something like, "We must do what Ajihad said and keep the Varden strong and together. We mustn't let our petty rivalries and desires for power cloud our vision from the real problem, the king Galbatorix. We must keep this goal and mind and do what Ajihad wanted us to do, keep the Varden together!" Or some sort of bullshit like that. But that's just what this Stu would do. But since he hasn't done this, we create this false need for secrecy and who can we trust thread where he's trying to build tension but is failing.

Thank you Alec. Back to the story.

Nasuada and Eragon talk about what to do and she says that he should go with Arya to train with the elves. Nasuada also says that Eragon should keep Ajihad's secret. This isn't such a big secret. I don't know why it's being kept a secret, except as Alec mentioned. She also cries a single tear while talking about her father and his plans. This is the second time this happens in the book. Eragon trusts her because she speaks from her heart, according to Saphria. Which I think is a pretty flimsy reason to trust someone. Especially in a business transaction, which is basically what this conversation is. Nasuada and he are talking about what his position in the Varden is going to be and he has an idea, which he trusts with her because she speaks from her heart.

His idea is to swear fealty to Nasuada in private. And there's this lovely scene where they talk about her being his master... which if you were dirty minded enough could lead you into interesting places. Then there's dialog exchange:

"Good, that will take care of the council. Now, until then, leave me. I have much planning to do and I must prepare for the funeral... Remember, Eragon, the bond we have just created is equally binding; I am responsible for your actions as you are required to serve me. Do not dishonor me."

"Nor I you." (page 24)

Which makes absolutely no sense. What is he saying "Nor I you" to? And what is "I am responsible for your actions as your are required to serve me" mean? These are words, but they don't make any sense, together or in context. I'm not even sure what it means. It's as if something in the conversation got cut.

Eragon leaves her emotionally drained. He then goes and talks to Arya but not before getting scorched by Saphria who has trouble controlling her flame. She says, "I didn't expect it to happen. I keep on forgetting that fire will come out if I'm not careful. Imagine that every time you raised your arm, lightening struck the ground. It would be easy to make a careless motion and destroy something unintentionally." (page 25)

Verra says this is very sloppy and that if she were any sort of proper dragon she wouldn't be randomly exhaling fire as this is dangerous and any smart species would have evolved so that they don't randomly set things on fire when they're not paying attention.

Saphira then tells Eragon that she will break his promises if she feels it's necessary, because she's not bound by it. Which basically means that she has no sense of honor or care about what Eragon has said. Which then goes against the fact that they're supposed to be partners and equals. They aren't partners, I don't know what they are, but they aren't equals or partners.

Also Saphira now appears to have no trouble going anywhere within the Dwarf City, where before there were places where she couldn't fit.

Arya is not happy with Eragon and lets him know. Eragon also finds out that Arya is over seventy years old. He thinks about this instead of paying attention to what she's saying. He thinks that she looks good for her age. We get our second mention of the color of her eyes. I should start keeping track of this. They talk and we learn that Arya has "Not lived in [her] family's house since I left for the Varden, when the walls and windows were draped with spring's first flowers. The times I've returned were only fleeting stays, vanishing flecks by our measurement." (page 27). Now, this sentence doesn't tell us anything except that she left home in the spring. But it doesn't have anything to do with how long she's been away. It's pretty sounding, but she could have only been gone for a year by that sentence. If she really wanted to prove how long how long she had been gone she should have said something like, about a tree being small is now tall or something. But talking about flowers in the spring only indicates a year or a season.

Eragon then goes on to prove that he's even more detached from humanity and reality when he makes it seem like he's not apart of the human race any more by saying to Arya, "It must be hard to live among all these dwarves and humans without any of your kind."

"She cocked her head. "You speak of humans as if you weren't one."

"Perhaps..." he hesitated, "perhaps I'm something else -a mixture of two races..." (page 27)

He's obviously no longer thinking that he's human. If he's not human then he's not apart of the people around him. And he doesn't have to empathize with them. He's not one of them. He's detached, they aren't him, he doesn't have to care about them. They're below him, obviously.

Arya, then leaves him with a blessing.

We then switch chapters.

The next chapter begins as thus.

"Roran trudged up the hill." (page 29)

Now this is a perfectly legitimate sentence, so why do I call it out? Because it is not, as much as I hate to admit it, in the same style as the rest of the book. Paolini tends to use long overblown language with extraneous thesaurus stolen words. This sentence looks like he was channeling Ernest Hemingway for a moment and pulls the reader out of the story by the sudden change in tone. A better sentence might have been, "Eragon's cousin, Roran trudged up the hill by his home." or something longer, because that fits more with Paolini's style. Roran is visiting his old homestead that's now burnt to the ground and pondering about his life and future. For about three paragraphs he thinks about how this is all Eragon's fault, but then he forgives Eragon within the train of thought. Eragon is once again the center of attention even when he's not there. Roran then angsts about not being able to marry Katrina because Sloan doesn't like him and he doesn't have the means to support himself. Except for rebuilding the farm.

However he's been living with Hurst apparently. If we recall from the first book, Hurst was looking for someone to help him in the forge because one of his sons were leaving. He offered that job to Eragon. However he doesn't offer that job to Roran, even though Roran has been helping him in the forge. It would be logical that Roran take the job at the forge and get money that way. But this opportunity seems to have vanished and he gets to angst about not being able to marry his girl.

Theres a weird bit about one of Hurst's kids being mistaken for someone who stole an scythe. There would be no reason for him to steal an scythe because he's obviously a blacksmith and would never need a scythe.

Roran goes to the local tavarn and hears some rumors about what's been happening outside the world. He laughs heartily at the idea of there being another dragon rider. This is, of course, Paolini going "hee hee aren't I clever, Roran doesn't know what his cousin is really up to" which is of course obvious and well... obvious.

He and Katrina then meet and cuddle and she gives him an ultimatum. Talk to my father or else.

This of course makes him sad.

What we've learned in these two chapters is several things. First of all that Poalini is trying for a different Point of View by using Roran. Though he's angsty and seems to be running through the motions as opposed to actually doing anything.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters The Hunted Hunters, Saphira's promise


Roran and Baldor (one of Hurst's sons) go hunting. While this is a lovely scene of rustic people trying to survive and make their way in the world, let us look at this logically for a moment with the reset of the data we have about Carvahall and Hurst. Hurst is, from what we've been able to tell, the richest person in Carvahall. He has a large two story house and plenty of money, after all in the first book, he was able to pay for Eragon's meat. There is also a butcher in Carvahall. Sloan, if we will all recall. So, if there is a butcher with meat in town why would they need to go hunting? Why plot contrivance of course! Roran and Baldor need to discover that the King's men are near by with the Ra'zac. That's pretty much the entire point of the chapter.

Roran is furious about seeing them and thinks, "Why did Galbatorix countenance my father's torture". Since when do ignorant farm boy who doesn't have a college education and probably doesn't know how to read think the word "Countenance"? I don't even know what countenance means.

After they discover this, Roran and Baldor go running back to the village after figuring that the soldiers are after Roran. After all they were after Garrow and Eragon so they must be after him when they probably don't even know he exists. Of course, the entire village wants to help Roran because he's just that wonderful of a person. And of course they have to fight the evil empire. Because it's evil and the king is evil. So we must fight against him.

Roran escapes into the woods of the Spine and hides. The soldiers make camp outside the village but they don't say why they're there. Just that they're on the King's business. And they keep on asking questions about Eragon and Roran, of course.

Roran has become the center of attention in Cavarhall. We haven't been given a reason for why the king is evil, once again. Roran once again believes that this is Eragon's fault. But it's okay because Eragon probably had a good reason for running off. Roran gains no personality or character in this chapter, he's just there to discover the soldiers and runaway.

We then switch back to Eragon. Apparently he can't stand being out of the spotlight for long. We discover him oiling Saphira's saddle and trying not to overexert himself. Why is he trying not to overexert himself? The last time we checked effort doesn't set off his scar, it appears to happen randomly. He also hasn't been doing anything requiring effort. He's just been talking to people and cleaning things.

Dwarf comes in and tells him that the king of the dwarves wants to talk with him. Saphira is still able to go down the smaller corridors and not get stuck. Dwarf King tells Eragon that he can keep the armor that was given to him and Saphira. They talk about who is going to be the successor of the Varden and Dwarf King wants Eragon's opinion on it.

Then there's the matter of the Star Sapphire which is in utter rubble. The King Dwarf is very sad about the destruction of the stone. His "eyes grew mournful, deepening the surrounding lines that splayed like spokes on a wagon wheel" (page 48). This is a wonderful simile but it makes no sense in context and is completely distracting from the story. Paolini could have just stopped at deepening the surrounding lines. It's not even an action that requires a simile. But in an effort to be artistic, it's put down.

Saphira feels sorry about what she did, much to Eragon's surprise. "He sensed several emotions in her, but what surprised him most was her remorse and guilt. She truly regretted the Star Rose's demise, despite that it had been required." (page 49) Now, look at this. Earlier we learned that Eragon felt sorrowful that the stone had been broken, mourning just as deeply as the dwarves did. And he was also telling Arya that he and Saphira were one, "We share feelings, senses, thoughts, even to the point wherre we are more one mind than two." (page 27) Yet here he is, surprised that Sapphira feels similar. If they are so connected this shouldn't be a surprise to him. He should have just known it. Thus he disproves his claim that he and Saphira are one, by his own thoughts as opposed to his words. Eragon also gains another point towards sociopathy by thinking that you don't have to mourn the destruction of something if it was necessary to destroy it.

Then from the bag of Dues Ex Machina Saphira tells the Dwarf King that she would able to repair the stone if they manage to put it back together and not have a single piece missing. The Dwarf King says he can do that. I'm not really sure how that's possible. But the King is happy. Saphira apparently knows that she'll be able to do it, if the need is great enough. If that's not Dues Ex Machina, I don't know what is.

In an interesting turn of events, Ayra's involvement in the whole stone breaking is not at all mentioned. One would think that since it was really her fault the dwarves would be livid and want her out. After all this is like their oh so special stone, and they're mourning it. Yet they're not at all upset about this. Instead they're over joyed that maybe one day, if they get all the pieces together,they'll get their rock back.

Dwarf is enthusiastic about it and declares that there will be lots of drinking. Because that's how dwarves celebrate. They also bow down and kiss the ground by Saphira's feet when they hear the news of what she's going to do, maybe, if they find all the parts. They all get drunk. Even Saphira. I'm not sure what the point of this is.

But the dwarves have a good time dancing, singing and getting drunk. It ends with Saphira and Eragon passing out. So, that's the first time Eragon passes out. Though Eragon passes out not from drinking but because of a pain in his back. In any case the chapter ends with them both unconscious.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters A Sorceress, a snake and a scroll; Hrothgar's gift


Our chapter begins with Eragon meeting a girl. Actually it is a woman of indeterminate age. We know that she is tall has dark hair and startling blue eyes. But as to her age we are left guessing. This is of course important as we'll see in a bit. Her name is Trianna and she is a Sorceress. She wants Eragon to join the Du Vrangr Gata (which sounds like Paolini was hitting the keyboard to come up with that name) the magic users of the Varden. She tells him that she wants him to take control of the group and Eragon thinks that she's friendly and charming. Nothing about her indicates friendly or charming. Polite maybe, but nothing in her speech indicates that she's trying to be charming.

"And battle mage and spy and anything else the Varden deem necessary. There aren't enough magic users, so we each end up with a half-dozen tasks." Displaying even, white teeth, "That's why I came today. We would be honored to have you take charge of our group. You're the only one who can replace the Twins." (page 64)

That bit of dialog is followed by Eragon think that she's friendly and charming. Nothing in that paragraph indicates friendliness or charm. Unless we are to consider that smiling and displaying teeth is such an indication. If she had smiled charmingly or invitingly or any number of different adjectives then we could have had reason for her to be considered charming and friendly. However as it is presented here, it is merely business like. Still, Eragon gets all hot and bothered by their conversation.

We also have a classic example of when the Stu gets undo praise during their conversation. Eragon does the equivalent of aw shucks I haven't done anything great and Trianna feeds his ego by saying that he's too modest and that he should be proud of his accomplishments. She even tells him that the Varden have made up songs about him and sing them every night. There are also rumors that Eragon's going to take the throne from Galbatorix. Which he denies and told that this is the right thing for him to do. So, still, he's doing nothing wrong and no one is disagreeing with him.

Trianna then gets a little bit too friendly by asking if he's betrothed. And then changes the conversation for some bizzare reason to show off her bracelet that can turn into a snake. I think the only reason that this little section in here is so that Paolini can say, "look, she has a bracelet that can turn into a snake, innit neat?" It completely disrupts the flow of conversation and is utterly pointless. They talk a bit more and then Eragon offers to go and eat with her.

Saphira disapproves of this greatly and scares the sorceress off with a very long threatening growl. We then devolve into bestiality and lots of innuendo that really shouldn't be between man and dragon. Saphira calls Trianna names like "slattern" and then tells Eragon this:

You don't understand. She refused to meet his eyes.
Don't understand! Will you prevent me from ever having a wife and children? What of a family?
Eragon. She finally fixed one great eye on him. We are intimately linked
And if you purse a relationship, with or without my blessing, and become... attached... to someone, my feelings will become engaged as well. You should know that. Therefore- and I warn you only once - be careful who you choose, because it will involve both of us(page 67)

If we look at this conversation carefully, it is insinuating that Eragon can not be in any relationship unless it will be "the One". He's not allowed to have any sort of fling or even a relationship with someone who is not the one, because Saphira will be involved. It's not like he can get into a relationship with someone and then later on discover that they're just not right for each other. No, he has to make one choice and that's it. This goes back to the idea of One True Love, and Eragon's destined lover that was prophicised by Angela. He's not allowed to discover what it means to love, or have a bad relationship or even what it's like to be with another woman. He's not even allowed to discover how to find a woman he likes. He's just supposed to know who to choose. And he's not allowed to chose more than one person. This is forcing Eragon into a corner because he's not allowed to grow and learn about people, about women about relationships. He is going to be in one relationship and somehow he's just going to know who the right person is before getting to know them. He doesn't even get to discover if he's gay or not. Not that he would be. This would be an affront to Paolini's masculinity. He has to be a big macho hero type which means that being gay is completely out of the question. Archetypal Heroes are not gay at all. They meet their Designated Love Interest and that's the end of that.

After this lovers spat, and yes, I declare it a lovers spat because Eragon goes and sleeps on the metaphorical couch because he doesn't want to be near Saphira, the two of them make up and avoid the subject all together. While they're eating lunch a boy, Jarsha, comes and tells Eragon that Nasuada wants to see him. Now while this seems innocuous enough, I've been thinking about something. They're staying in a city, as has been constantly stated. It may be in a marble mountain but it's still a city. Eragon has been given free rein to walk all over the city as he pleases. How utterly difficult would it be to find one person in a city? Especially if you don't know where they are? I'm just saying, that's all.

Moving on!

It takes a half an hour for Eragon to get to Nasuada's office. I feel sorry for that kid who had to find Eragon in the first place. Nasuada and Eragon talk. The Varden are leaving the dwarves and going to Surda. Eragon is going to Elf land. Elf land has a name besides Elf land but it is long and has interesting accents so I'm not going to bother to reproduce it here. Arya is going with Eragon to Elf land to make sure he can get in. He's to leave in the morning. They talk some more about the Varden and what they're going to do. It's all exposition and nothing really happens.
Eragon and Saphira then go flying. Why do they go flying? So they can run into Angela. They have a conversation about toadstools. Or frogstools, as she calls them. This goes back to her earlier argument that there are no such things as toads only frogs. Of course the fact that toadstools have nothing to do with toads is besides the point. This is Paolini trying to be clever, of course. However they do point out a certain kind of mushroom, "Fricai Andlar" where the stalk is instant death and the cap cures most poisons. This will probably be brought up later. It's highly unlikely that Paolini would put this in without it having some sort of meaning or use later on. Then Angela just leaves, thus ending the entirely pointless chapter.

Our next chapter begins with the Fellowship of the Ring leaving Rivendell Oh wait.. my bad... wrong book. Our next chapter begins with Eragon, Dwarf and Elf Sue leaving the Dwarf City. Before they do that, Dwarf gives Eragon back his armor. It's all nice and shiny now. And there's something special about the helm. It has the King Dwarf's family symbol on it. If Eragon wears the helm he's agreeing to be adopted into the King Dwarf's clan. This has never happened to a human before, but he's just that special that he gets this honor.

Today's special word is Otho. It is used in this sentence, spoken by Saphira, "It may be intended as a gift, though, another sign of Otho, not a trap." Otho, at first, I thought was Paolini abusing the thesaurus again. But Dictionary.Com defines it as the name of a pope from almost 1000 years ago. This of course makes no sense in context. So after some discussion with other people it is discovered that Otho means faith in dwarf. It's in the back of the book under the dwarf language. Since it is a dwarf word, one has to wonder, Why is Saphira, a dragon who has never used any sort of dwarf word before, suddenly using it? How does she even know what it means? And why does she use it instead of faith? The answers to this, we will probably never know, but it could just be that Paolini is once again, trying to be clever and go, "Look! I have my own language!" Unfortunately the word has absolutely no context and instead of showing how clever he is, merely confuses the reader and pulls them out of the story as they wonder, WTF could that possibly mean? Since it is spoken by Saphira they will probably not think to go to the back of the book and look in the language section but instead go to the dictionary and not find it's meaning at all, thus leaving them in a state of confusion.

Eragon, of course, joins the dwarf club. In joining the club he gains the right to give voice on every issue that is brought before the council. This is probably important and will come into play later on in this book or the next one. Eragon is now Dwarf's foster brother. Dwarf is coming along because the King Dwarf thinks it's only fair that a dwarf be present at the training of Eragon. If we recall correctly from the previous book the dwarves wanted little to do with dragons and their riders. But apparently all of this is forgotten because this is Eragon and everyone wants a piece of him. In fact Nasuada even remarks on this fact when she learns that Eragon is now part of the dwarf club, saying that all three races have a hold on him. I suppose we're supposed to feel sorry for Eragon because he's caught in the middle of all these manipulating forces. But it honestly doesn't feel like that.

As they leave Elf Sue says, "“Come,” said Arya, gliding past them into the darkness of Farthen
It is time to leave. Aiedail has set, and we have far to go.” Looking up the word "Aiedail" we discover that it means morning star. So I speculate that the morning star must be the Sun, however this makes no sense because they're supposed to be leaving at dawn. So what this morning star is... I don't know.

The chapter ends with the Fellowship the group leaving through the mountains and Eragon musing to himself that he is "abandoning the few things he had grown accustomed to among the Varden in exchange for an uncertain destiny" (page 82). But he's only been with the Varden for less than two weeks, that's hardly enough time to grow accustomed to anything, especially since he spent most of the time by himself. But it's probably just Paolini trying to make the upcoming journey sound foreboding and dangerous.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapter Requiem, Fealty


Our last chapter ended with Eragon fainting. This, if we remember from Eragon is Paoini's way of changing scenes when he doesn't know a good way to do it naturally. He didn't even faint because of drinking too much. He just did... because his back started to hurt. Since he's unconscious he has to be woken up. Dwarf does this. Apparently Dwarf isn't very good at waking people up because it takes him an hour to do so. It doesn't say how he tried to wake up Eragon, but it doesn't look like he tried very hard. After all a good way to wake someone up is to shake them or dumping water on them which is always classic. Dwarf apparently just yells at him, and perhaps not very loudly because of how long it takes him to wake up Eragon.

Dwarf then gives Eragon new clothes to wear to the funeral . In traditional Sue fashion we have a description of the fancy clothes, "a billowy white shirt with ties at the cuffs, a red vest decorated with gold braiding and embroidery, dark pants, shiny black boots that clacked on the floor, and a swirling cape that fastened under his throat with a studded brooch. In place of the usual plain leather band, Zar'roc was fastened to an ornate belt." (page 54) We also have Paolini's usual sense of word placement with a "swirling cape". Capes do not swirl as an adjective. Capes may swirl as an action, but not as an adjective. As it is placed here, the cape swirls by itself.

When Dwarf tells Eragon and Saphira about their funeral customs Saphira remarks that it is, "An odd custom". Saphira has been alive for six months. She has never seen a funeral before. She has nothing to judge odd from. There's nothing for her to base her knowledge on odd. She has never expressed funeral customs. And there's nothing in the dwarf customs that seem odd. It's not like they dance the bodies around while naked and singing bawdy songs and then painting it like a clown and sitting it on the top of a cone before pissing on it. See, that would be an odd funeral custom. Having a procession that doesn't stop or else the dead person's spirit cannot rest is not odd. It actually sounds like a legitimate belief. Eragon, of course, agrees with her. In Carvahall, we learn that when the dead are buried lines from certain ballads are recited and a feast is held afterwards. This makes no sense, as usually when you recite something at a funeral it has to with religious significance. Ballads generally speaking are not religious in content. They're stories told in narrative form. It's not something that would be recited at a funeral. This is an odd custom. It's as if Paolini is trying to come up with a non-religious but folksy sort of custom that the folk of Carvahall would do.

Ajihad is laid out on a marble bier that's held up by six men. Let me repeat that. A MARBLE BIER. Lifted up by six men. They've got to be really strong men. To lift a marble bier. Especially in while they're wearing armor. In any case, they have to carry this marble bier a half a mile to its resting place. Which they do, they must be zombies to do it.

The group around Ajihad are all wearing "suitably remorseful expressions". Why they need to wear suitably remorseful ones, as opposed to just remorseful expressions, I don't know. The funeral progresses with the beating of drums. They lay him to rest in a chamber near where all the dwarves are buried.

After the funeral they go and chose the leader of the Varden. The Varden, apparently, are a rebellion group that has leaders like kings. At least, they get crown. One of the people in the crowd thinks that Eragon should do it. Nasuada gets it instead. There is approbation for ten minutes. I'm told it means approval. I don't like looking up words in the dictionary.

Eragon then offers his fealty to Nasuada. Apparently this is a shocking thing and is going to cause a lot of problems. I'm not sure why it is. After all Nasuada is the leader of the Varden and he's basically saying that he's going to serve the Varden, and this is what the council wanted him to do several chapters back. Apparently they forgot this and are now livid. People tell Eragon that he did a drastic and dramatic thing and he now has to watch out because he's made enemies. It is as if Paolini is trying to create political turmoil, but is forgetting what he's already said in an effort to create a web of political ... stuff. When there really isn't any. But Eragon has to be opposed to the council or at least at odds with them, because he's the rebel without a cause who does what he wants and will not conform to the council's wishes. Even though he just did. Obviously Paolini needs to learn how to write political intrigue.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Az Sweldn Rak Anhuin Sounds like someone let the cat on the keyboard, Celbedeil


Switching back to Eragon, we learn that he's been walking for two days in the dwarf tunnels. Nothing much happened during that time, but we learn that Elf Sue is a vegetarian. She also tells Eragon, rather arrogantly, that once he's done with his training with the elves he'll become a vegetarian as well. Why? Well, she can't say in words, but he'll understand later. While being insanely vague, one has to wonder, what is wrong with being a meat eater? And why can't it be explained with words? What is it about being a vegetarian can't be explained? While these are all interesting questions, one must also look at something else. Elves are Paolini's favored race in Alagaesia. He wants to be like them, and Eragon, his self insert, will later become like them, as he is a dragon rider and this is what happens to them after a long while. Since they are his idealized race then they should have qualities that he feels are important. Paolini is a vegetarian. Therefor his elves must be vegetarians. While this may not be a problem, we must remember something else, elf sue wears leather. Now, most people become vegetarians because they don't wish to harm animals. They feel that not eating meat is kinder to animals. So, if this is the elves belief then they wouldn't hunt animals. But they must hunt animals to get their leather. Once they've skinned the animals, what do they do with the carcases? They don't eat it, so it must go to waste. Which seems to be crueler to the animal than just eating it. I think this goes back to Paolini not realizing where his food comes from, ie it doesn't come from the store prepackaged, but it has to die somewhere. To fully actualize this discussion, however, I will have to wait until we learn exactly why Elves are vegetarians.

Tarnag is the new dwarf city that they have come to. Near it is a great lake that flows northward.

Let us look at a map of the world.

Tarang is up in the Beor mountains. The river (in pink) that is near this city flows north. North is away from the ocean. The continental divide is an elevated terrain that causes water to seperate and flow in one direction towards the ocean or the other. If we look at the pink line, it flows north, which means the red line should also flow north, which would take it away from the ocean and into a lake that doesn't have any drainage. But if the red line flows south, then it runs into the pink line which is going in the opposite direction also away from any ocean or sea to drain in. Not only that, but if the lake is starting point then it has two drainages both heading in the opposite directions. As a side not, it would appear that the rivers flow north to south, if you look at the yellow line, where the river starts in the lake and then... just ends in the middle of nowhere never reaching the ocean. A river can't just start in the middle of nowhere and flow into a lake.

But enough with the maps. Onto the city itself.

Here the dwarves had reworked the seemingly immutable Beors into a series of terraces. The lower terraces were mainly farms -dark curves of land waiting to be planted- dotted with squat halls, which as best as he could tell were built entirely of stone. Above those empty levels rose tier upon tier of interlocking buildings until the culminated in a giant dome of gold and white. It was as if the entire city was nothing more than a line of steps leading up to the dome.

Gandalf passed now into the wide land beyond the Rammas Echor. So the men of Gondor called the out-wall that they had built with great labour, after Ithilien fell under the shadow of their Enemy. For ten leagues or more it ran from the mountains’ feet and so back again, enclosing in its fence the fields of the Pelennor: fair and fertile townlands on the long slopes and terraces falling to the deep levels of the Anduin. At its furthest point from the Great Gate of the City, north-eastward, the wall was four leagues distant, and there from a frowning bank it overlooked the long flats beside the river, and men had made it high and strong; for at that point, upon a walled causeway, the road came in from the fords and bridges of Osgiliath and passed through a guarded gate between embattled towers. At its nearest point the wall was little more than one league from the City, and that was south-eastward. There Anduin, going in a wide knee about the hills of Emyn Arnen in South Ithilien, bent sharply west, and the out-wall rose upon its very brink; and beneath it lay the quays and landings of the Harlond for craft that came upstream from the southern fiefs. [...]

For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain. (Return of the King page 733)

I think that speaks for itself.

In any case, Tarnag is the home of the greatest Dwarf temple run by the priest clan of Quan. This is the first mention of religion in the two books. Humans appear to be religion-less and the elves are an unknown quality as we haven't spent any time in their culture. However Elf Sue has blessed things before so that might hint at a religion. Dwarf mentions to Eragon that she has great arguments with the dwarf priests and that elves do not hold with muttering into the air for help. More on this later though.

As they proceed to the city, they run into a sentry on a dire goat. The sentry and Dwarf have an untranslated conversation in dwarf. Untranslated until you go into the back of the book to see what was said, which of course completely disrupts the flow of the story. This happens a lot in this chapter and is basically Paolini masturbating to how clever he is that he's created a language. Even if the language looks like a cat walking across the keyboard.

At the front of the city they're met by an honor guard on more dire goats who take them into the city which has five levels (so it's totally not copied off of Tolkien.) As they walk, Eragon is surprised that no one cheers his existence. Dwarves do come up to him, bow and say "Shadeslayer". The fact that he is expecting to be cheered shows that he believes that it is his right to have accolades by the random people of the world. That he should be considered a hero of renown even though he's barely done anything. His ego knows no bounds.

However the dwarves become angry when they discover that Eragon has become a remember of the ruling clan. They shout imprecations. (Which is today's Thesaurus raped word of the day) However Eragon is not bothered by this.

When the finally reach the end of their journey they are met by a group of veiled dwarves, which immediately brought to mind the deep down dwarves from the Discworld. These dwarves don't even speak in common. Instead we get a long conversation in dwarf (Which, now that I think about it, puzzles me. Why would dwarves call their language dwarvish? Dwarf is the human word for their people. It would make more sense here to have a special word for their language, like Quenya for Tolkien's elves.) Once again, I am too lazy to look in the back of the book to see what just went on, so I can't tell you the content of the conversation. But the upshot is that those veiled dwarves really don't like Eragon and are now his enemy. (Ten bucks says that by the end of the series this gets turned around).

After these veiled dwarves leave, they meet with the leader of the city. Who welcomes the humanoids but ignores Saphira. If anything this sort of goes back to the idea that the dragons aren't really partners with their riders, but instead talking mounts. After all if they were, they wouldn't be ignored, but instead greeted with the others.

Eragon gets a feast though. And we learn about the veiled dwarves. Apparently they lost a great deal of people to Galby and his Forsworn and now, rightfully so, hate dragon riders and see the fact that Eragon is member of the ruling clan as an insult. However, the leader of the city thinks that they're wrong.

Our nonsensical phrase for today is, "Dawnless morning". If there is no dawn then it's not morning. The dawn causes morning to happen. It is an impossibility to have a dawnless morning. Even if you can't see the dawn, it still happens.

Because the veiled dwarves are hot to trot about Eragon, he can't go wandering around the city. Instead he gets to go to Celbedeil, which is apparently the temple. In a lovely bit of characters knowing something that only an author should know, Eragon sees a dwarf and immediately knows the dwarf's name, even if they haven't been introduced. This is sloppy writing. An author must remember that even though they may know the character's name, the other characters might not, especially if they've never been introduced. And Eragon is never introduced to Gannel (the dwarf). He just knows who he is.

Gannel wants to introduce Eragon to dwarvish beliefs.

In a cute bit, Eragon learns about coral, which Gannel tells him grows like plants. Eragon then comes to the conclusion that rocks must grow and that's why they keep on showing up in the fields.

But moving on through the beliefs, we see several dwarf gods and then this happens"

Gannel's voice dropped to a low rasp: "Guntera may be King of the Gods, but it is Helzvog who holds our hearts. It was he who felt that the land should be peopled after the giants were vanquished. The other gods disagreed, but Helzvot ignored them and, in secret, formed the first dwarf from the roots of a mountain

When his deed was discovered, jealousy swept the gods and Guntera created the elves to control Alagaesia for himself. Then Sindri brought forth humans from the soil, and Urur and Morgothal combined their knowledge and released dragons into the land. Only Kilf restrained herself. So the first races entered this world."

Eragon absorbed Gannel's words, accepting the clan chief's sincerity but unable to quell a simple question: How does he know? (page 116)

Now, I'm going to say some things about religion. I talked to my mother who got her degree in comparative religions, so I'm not completely making this up off the top of my head. Religion is basically the expression of the greatest concern of a society or person. If a person is a miser then their religion is money, because that is their greatest concern. Religion also creates order in the world, explaining how things came into being and gives a society a commonality. The dwarves have a religion. Their basic concern is unknown, but they have a religion. The humans of Paolini have no apparent religion, at least not including the folks of the evil mountain and even then their religion appears to be more of a mockery than anything else. They don't have any way of explaining how the world came into being or anything to bind them together as a culture and society. In a world with their technology level, they wouldn't have science to explain how the world works, so they should have some other basis to explain this. Eragon should, instead of thinking, "how does he know" be thinking something along the lines of "Well that's not what I was taught." Instead he's this complete blank slate. This makes the humans and their culture very flat, since they don't have their own mythologies and customs to explain the world around them. They're just there with no ideologies. They're not a real society.

Looking at what Gannel said, in other aspects, he says that one of their gods created the elves on Alegesia, but the elves did not come from Alegesia but from somewhere else. Same with humans. So, Paolini is contradicting himself and his world's history.

Gannel gives Eragon a shiny pendent that will prevent people from scrying on him and explains that humans got their written alphabet from the dwarves.

They then go and see these long murals which explain the the history of the dwarves and the land that they live in. The dwarves were apparently nomads originally. Which makes no sense as nomads are generally not known for being good with stone. They can't afford to bring it with them as it's heavy and would slow them down. Also why would it be important to bury their dead in stone if they have nothing to do with it until they're driven into the mountains? It seems then like the dwarves are only good with stone or born from stone because dwarves are supposed to be good with stone, even if their origins have nothing to do with stone.

Elf Sue shows up and she and Gannel have an argument about their beliefs. Elf Sue accuses the dwarf priests of being materialistic and shouldn't be spending money on a monument to their own wistful thinking. While Gannel is angry and shouting, Elf Sue is calm and rational, while implying that the gods don't exist and that anyone who goes to a temple is a nitwit.

She and Eragon then leave and hang out in a courtyard all night but don't leave until the morning. Which is silly and not a good way to prepare for a long journey. It ends with them boarding rafts and heading down stream.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Hammer and Tongs, Retaliation


Our next to chapters deal with Roran and Carvahall. They start off rather slowly as they stick with Roran and Roran is doing nothing except pacing. Literally. It would have been far more interesting have a POV of one of the established persons in Carvahall, like Hurst or Sloan. Having a character that is no where near the action is pointless. Especially when he doesn't do anything introspective. Instead he just watches Carvahall and can only guess at what is happening. By keeping the POV with Roran we slow the story down and is just pointless words. We don't learn anything about Roran. All we see is him walking around. It doesn't push the story forward. So removed from the action is he, that we too become removed from the action. We don't care what is happening in Carvahall because we aren't there. We have no emotional investment in it, because Roran is not emotionally invested in it.

In in fact Paolini ends up telling us what is happening by Roran getting information, instead of us learning what happened first hand. These are just infodumps. Roran asks what has been happening and his visitor tells him. For instance, the brewer Quimby dies and is eaten leaving only bones for his widow. The horror that this could be is completely lost because it's told third hand. The immediacy of this action, this horrifying action is utter lost because we don't see them discovering the bones that were broken up to get the marrow. It's completely blunted and doesn't feel real. It's not scary. It just is.

Eventually Roran is brought back into the village for "hammer and tongs". This apparently means to go at it with great force and energy. I had to Google this. A casual reader isn't going to know what this means and it seems completely random. Unless they are familiar with blacksmithing they're probably not going to get where it comes from. However we now understand the where the chapter title comes from even if we don't understand what it means.

Apparently a group, eleven to be exact (including Roran) of the villagers have had enough of the soldiers and the Ra'zac and have decided to drive them out. I shall now go into my D&D manuals and point some things out.

Commoners suck. They aren't proficient with any sort of weapon, except a simple one (those being something like a pitchfork, a knife, a staff) and they probably don't know how to use that for defense or fighting. They don't have any armor or any sort of protection. Warriors or soldiers are fighters. They've been trained in the art of warfare. They know how to use weapons. They wear armor. Their job is to kill and destroy the opposition. There are eleven commoners and thirty soldiers plus two Ra'zac which would be considered high level soldiers. Which means they're exceptionally good at killing things.

Keeping this information in mind we move on. Hurst tells the group that they just want to scare the soldiers and not kill anyone. Hi, um, I'm just sort of interjecting here on my thoughts of warfare and what not. I don't think that scaring the soldiers who have been previously shown to be completely uncaring to human life rowdy and dangerous would work. If anything it would make them very annoyed and most likely retaliate with deadly force. If you are going to be attacking the soldiers you shouldn't do it to wound, but to kill, making sure no one gets out alive that way no one gets out to tell other soldiers to bring reinforcements. After all they're basically defying the king's orders when they attack the soldiers which is grounds for treason. Which means they're going to get everyone killed.

Weapons are distributed and Roran chooses a blacksmith's hammer. He choses this because he recalls a story about Gerand, the greatest warrior of his time who killed with a hammer and not a blade. This action here also reminded me of something. But not of a great warrior, but instead of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. In it there is a character, Perrin, who is a simple blacksmith and ends up with a hammer as one of his symbols. Perrin also is the one who rallies his village into rousting the bad creatures from attacking them and sending them fleeing into the dark. He eventually becomes Lord Perrin and is basically, reluctantly, given charge of the people.

The commoners ambush the camp at night with lots of yelling and screaming and then rout the soldiers sending them fleeing. Yes, the trained soldiers' moral breaks by the fierce onslaught of ten men and a thirteen year old boy and they run. The Ra'zac don't even get into the fight because they're swept away by the fleeing soldiers. No one is seriously injured and only one soldier dies. The thirteen year old boy kneels by the dead soldier and stabs him repeatedly, crying. No one is horrified by this. They just sort of shrug and say it was the kid's right.

After they do this, they have a logical discussion about what they did and how the fact that since they just committed what amounts to treason the king is going to send more men after them and likely kill them all. When someone asks why the did this without asking the entire village for approval, the guy is told that he's a coward. Thus goes the voice of reason.

The village decides to fortify itself. They use wood, easily burnable wood, to help make walls and barriers. The soldiers and the Ra'zac come back, of course, and they go about slaughtering people and setting fire to things. The soldiers, of course, have no problems with killing people. If the commoners did it right the first time, they would have killed the soldiers for every soldier that is dead is one less soldier that can kill them when they retaliate.

This time the entire village gets into the defiance act, throwing stones and things. At one point Roran throws his hammer and it hits a Ra'zac's shield. He and Murtagh must have taken the same lessons in weapons. Bludgeoning weapons are not throwing weapons. Once again the soldiers lose the battle, though at least this time they were properly out numbered. The Ra'zac leave but not before giving Carvahall this choice, Give them Roran and they'll be sold as slaves, protect him and they'll get eaten. Lovely choice in the matter, I think. It's definitely a no win situation for the village. If anything such an offer would only incite them to rebel even more, because they don't want to be slaves and the certainly don't want to be eaten. They now have nothing to lose. And people who have nothing to lose are very deadly.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Tonight's disclaimer: I've had fourish glasses of wine tonight so I may not be making as much sense as I usually do. However, I bet that I'll still be clearer than Paolini so there shouldn't be too much to worry about. Happy Passover!

And Onward!

Chapters Diamonds in the Night, Under a Darkling sky.


Two chapters later and we're back to Roran again. Anyone care? No. Why? Because we're not emotionally invested in the character. All we've seen of Roran is that apparently he's wanted by the king and he ran away and did nothing. Then he fought some soldiers in a rather stupid maneuver. We don't feel for anyone in the village because we don't know anyone there. We know that there's Roran's girlfriend Katrina, but she shows up and does nothing interesting and then leaves.

The people of Carvahall are now worried about what the soldiers are going to do them, what with the Ra'zac's ultimatum of give us the boy or we'll eat you all. Of course if the attacking group, (remember them) hadn't been complete and utter idiots and actually had killed the soldiers instead of trying to scare them then they would have had more time to actually mount a defense because then the Ra'zac would have to go back to get more men. However if they had been REALLY intelligent they wouldn't have done that in the first place.

A group of the village leaders meet at Horst's place and try to figure out what to do. For some reason Roran is invited. He's not a prominent member of the community and he's not at all that important except for the fact that he's the one that everyone wants. But he has to be there so that he can be given the job of over seeing the town defenses. Why would someone give Roran that job when he has no experience or anything near it to know what would be good for a town defense. If anything you would need a man with military experience or someone familiar with such a thing to build decent and fortifiable defenses. Even if they had read it in a book. Roran is a farmer. What he knows is how to is farm and milk cows. He doesn't know how to build defenses.

Pushing this aside we get our description of Carvahall funeral services.

Ten white-swathed corpses were arranged besides their graves, a sprig of hemlock on each of their cold chests and a silver amulet around each of their necks.

Gertrude stood forth and recited the men's names: "Parr, Wyglif, Ged, Bardrick, Farold, Hale, Garner, Kelby, Melklof, and Albem. She placed black pebbles over their eyes, then raised her arms, lifted her face to the sky and began the quavering death lay. Tears seeped from the corners of her closed eyes as her voice rose and fell with the immemorial phrases, sighing and moaning with the village's sorrow. She sang of the earth and the night and of humanity's ageless sorrow from which none escape. (page 127)

A very lovely custom, but let us not forget something. The humans have no religion. If you recall, Eragon did not have an opposing view point to Gannel's teachings. There are three symbolic things given to the dead here, the sprig of hemlock, the silver amulet and the black pebbles. These are probably things to move the dead into the afterlife better. But usually cultures with an after life have a religion. They do not, so these are meaningless gestures. Logically the humans should just bury the bodies without any sort of tokens of protection. The reason you would put the tokens there is because you believe that something will happen to your dead on the way out. Eragon has already proven that the humans don't believe this. You don't do things to the dead unless they mean something. While this is a nice stab at a culture for the people of Carvahall it is ultimately meaningless because there is nothing behind it.

To oppose this custom I'd like to point out the way the dead are treated in the Abhorsen Trilogy. There the biggest fear for people is to die and come back to life as an undead servant. A zombie of sorts no longer allowed to complete their journey in death. They have a specific ritual done with magic that burns the body into ashes so that the body cannot be used again, as well as sending the spirit on it's journey. This is a perfectly logical outgrowth of that world's customs and fears and is sort of their religion though religion is not really touched upon in the books. The rites however have meaning because we know why they do it and what are the reasons behind it.

Roran starts counting the people he's killed. Two now. This is strikingly similar to what Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time does. Rand does it because he's a twat and it's Jordan's way of trying to give him a flaw, making him feel guilty about all the women he's killed, even though he doesn't. Roran seems to be doing the same thing. Though he seems to be more conscious of the fact that he had taken a life than Eragon. Eragon never thinks back to all the people he randomly kills, Roran does.

Then we get to Roran's brilliant plan of defending the village. He's going to put a wall around Carvahall (good so far) by laying big trees on their sides and sharpening their branches. One layer of trees. With sharp branches. Not the best line of defense around. And not that great of a wall. Even if the trees are sharpen the branches are still avoidable... or even climbable. They also dig a ditch behind the "wall" of trees. Though it's only two feet deep.

The village manages to do all that in less than a day.

That night after crying over what had happen to him the past few days (a surprisingly human thing to do) Roran asks Katrina to marry him.

Paolini starts to channel Hemingway again for a sentence and then devolves into his usual purple prose talking about pregnant clouds and cords of rain. Roran is happy because he's engaged to Katrina and wants to send her away so she doesn't get hurt. Roran actually gets some character development here in these two chapters because he has reasonable reactions to events and showing some sort of emotional depth. Of sorts.

There's a small bit about one of Hurst's sons arguing with some men and maybe starting a feud but it's only to get the information across that the ways out of the village are being watched so they can't evacuate the women and children.

Then the soldiers attack the village. In the rain, not really a brilliant idea, but no one here seems to be that intelligent. So, the soldiers attack in the rain when visibility isn't that great. However they manage to blow up some of the trees and make a breach in Roran's wonderful line of defense. Roran and Sloan go and defend the breach.

Sloan throws a meat cleaver and manages to crush a guy's skull after splitting the man's helm. Cleavers are not throwing weapons. Even if you did manage to throw it well, it probably couldn't split open a helm and crush a man's skull. To crush a man's skull you need a bludgeoning weapon. Crushing indicates blunt force trauma. Knives are not bludgeoning weapons. Clubs, morningstars, maces and flails are bludgeoning weapons. Cleavers are slashing weapons. Sloan goes into some sort of battle frenzy rage and goes around killing people left and right.

Roran then has the strangest encounter with one of the soldiers.

Left weaponless, Roran was forced to retreat before the remaining soldier. He stumbled over a corpse, cutting his calf on a sword as he fell, and rolled to avoid a two handed blow from the soldier scrambling in ankle deep mud for something anything he could use for a weapon. A hilt bruised his fingers, and he ripped it from the muck and slashed at the soldier's sword hand, severing his thumb.

The man stared dumbly at the glistening stump, then said, "This is what comes from not shielding myself."

"Aye" agreed Roran, and beheaded him.

Now why would a soldier stop in the middle of the fight and say something like that? Why would that even occur to him? Not only that but Roran somehow managed to behead the guy in a single stroke from the ground. Beheading someone is a messy business, it's not something that can usually be done with a single stroke, after all you have the neck and and bone in there. Look at Nearly Headless Nick, from the Harry Potter Series. The tried to chop off his head and it took forty five strokes and they didn't get it all the way. A sword is not going to be sharp enough to cut through all that even if he was standing. He'd have to hack at it to get it off. The soldier should have had time to move away from Roran, even if he had his thumb cut off. But apparently time stands still for Roran to get up off his ass and cut of the guy's head.

After this is done, Sloan manages to move three large pine trees back into position. He must be taking steroids. A sort of truce seems to form between him and Roran as Sloan talks to him civilly and doesn't seem to be angry at Roran.

Roran wanders back to the rest of the villagers where he discovers that a ten year old boy was killed. This begs the question of why was a ten year old boy any where near the melee? He should have been told that when a fight starts he should hide away. But apparently his parents were utter idiots and didn't tell him that or they let him in on the fight and now he's dead. This is of course not touched upon and instead gives Roran a reason to angst about what if something like this happens to Katerina.

It ends with him trying to figure out how he's going to have to protect everyone.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Down the Rushing Mere-Wash, Drifting


Our chapters begin with the statement that Eragon made an effort to learn his guards' names. This comes off as sounding as odd to me in two different ways. One is that he believes himself above the guards and therefor actually has to remember that they have names as opposed to calling them "you" or "dwarf" or that he's so detached from reality that he's making himself try and act human. The point that I'm trying to make here is that he has to make an effort it's not something he would do naturally, at least that's what the text implies by calling it out. If the text had said something like, "The Dwarf names were difficult to remember because of their pronunciation," that would be different. The dwarf names are, "Ama, Trihga, Hedin, Ekksvar, Shrrgnien -which Eragon found unpronounceable though he was told it meant Wolfheart, Dûthmér and Thorv." (page 140) Once again it looks like the cat was on the keyboard for the names. And if Shrrgnien means wolf heart which part is wolf and which part is heart? And doesn't it mean that one of the words won't have any vowels? If you are going to give a name a meaning that is a compound word remember that the name has to break up into two distinct words.

Once past the names, Paolini forgets how to transition between two sentences as he writes, "Each raft had a small cabin in the center. Eragon preferred to spend his time seated on the edge of the logs watching the mountains scroll by." The missing transition should be the word "however" or "but" because otherwise there's no connection between the two sentences. And another thing about the second sentence is the anachronism of "Watching the mountains scroll by". Scrolling by refers to the action of moving the scrolling bar in a computer window to see more of a page. It's something that's computer specific in its use, and something that only a computer culture would use. The fact that it's used by Eragon (for we are in his point of view) is ridiculous because it's not a way he would think to describe the passing of the mountains.

We learn that Brom helped found the Varden. In a stunning amount of coincidence he was the only rider left alive after Galby became king.... rather like Obi-Wan Kenobi, last of the Jedi Knights after the purge, yes? No, it's only my imagination! These similarities between Brom and Kenobi are just the fabrications of my over wrought mind! I banish them into the darkness! BEGONE FOWL THOUGHTS! (and yes, I mean Fowl, with lots of feathers and everything. Now leave me alone and let me be in my happy place.)

Dwarf also tells Eragon that his parents are dead and that Dwarf King adopted him and made him his heir. Instead of feeling any sort of emotional response to this, Eragon thinks about himself and how the Dwarf king has been kind to him. Eragon then tries to chat up Arya.

He asks her what the name of his sword means. She tells him "Misery is your sword. And so it was until you wielded it." This name is of course appropriate for the Sword of Morzan the man who betrayed the Dragon Riders and killed a whole bunch of them...except for one problem. Morzan got his sword at the end of his training. Which would have been before he betrayed anyone. There is no reason to name the sword "misery" before the rider has done anything horrible with it. This indicates that the elves who made his sword and named it knew that he was going to do something horrible with it... so why did they give it to him in the first place instead of, I don't know stopping him? It would have been better to have renamed the sword after all the bad things that Morzan had done with it. Much like Aragorn's sword Narsil got renamed Anduril once it was reforged.

Eragon and Saphira then go flying together and have a Randomly Generated Encounter with three small dragonish creatures. That are telapathic. Fire-Lizards anyone? They fight and then it's over. There was no purpose for that scene at all.

Then we learn about a strange Dwarfish custom of drilling holes into your hand so that you can put spikes in them.

As Shrrgnien pulled off his gloves and held his scarred hands over the flames, Eragon notices that a polished steel stud - perhaps a quarter of an inch long- protruded from each of the dwarf's knuckles except on his thumbs.

"What are those?" he asked.

Shrrgnien looked at Orik and laughed. "These are mine Ascûdgamln... mine 'fists of steel'." Without standing, he twisted and punched the bole of an aspen, leaving four symmetrical holes in the bark. Shrrgnien laughed again. "The are good for hitting things, eh?"

Eragon's curiosity and envy was aroused, "How are they made? I mean, how are the spikes attached to your hands?"

Shrrgnien hesitated trying to find the right words, "A healer puts you in a deep sleep, so you feel no pain. Then a hole is -is drilled, is drilled through the joints..." he broke off and spoke quickly to Orik in the dwarf language.

"A metal socket is embedded in each hole," explained Orik. "Magic is used to seal it in place and when the warrior has fully recovered, various sized spikes can be threaded into the sockets."

"Yes, see," said Shrrgnien, grinning. He gripped the stud above his left index finger, carefully twisted it free of his knuckle and handed it to Eragon.

Eragon smiled as he rolled the sharp lump around in his palm. "I wouldn't mind having 'fists of steel' myself." He returned the stud to Shrrgnien.

"It's a dangerous operation," warned Orik, "Few knurlan get Ascûdgamln because you can easily loose the use of your hands if the drill goes too deep" He raised his fist and showed it to Eragon. "Our bones are are thicker than yours. It might not work for a human."

"I'll remember that." Still, Eragon could not help but imagine what it would be like to fight with Ascûdgamln, to be able to strike anything he wanted with impunity, including armored Urgals. He loved the idea. (page 145)

What ever happened to brass knuckles? Sam Vimes used them quite efficiently and you can get spikes on them, without the need to drill into your hands. And putting them into the joint would be impossible to still keep the use of the hand. But we already realized that Paolini failed Biology. And then there's that lovely last paragraph. Where Eragon loves the idea of being able to strike with impunity. He's actually looking at the idea of causing bodily harm and possibly even death to another living being and loving it. This is not a normal human behavior. Usually when someone has a liking for extreme violence there is something wrong with them. But here Paolini has Eragon revel in the idea, making him appear to be callous and blood thirsty.

Our purple prose award tonight goes to this description of Eragon falling asleep, "He closed his eyes and sank into the warm dusk that separates consciousness and sleep, where reality bends and sways to the wind of thought and creativity blossoms in its freedom from boundaries and all things are possible" (page 146)

Eragon then has another vision, of a hand pointing down at a dead person, rather like the vision of Arya. So this is just another speshul power that Eragon has, the ability to see the future in his dreams.

To give us a bit of dwarf culture, Paolini wrote us a song,

Down the rushing mere-wash
of Kilf's welling blood
We ride the twisting timbers,
For Hearth, clan and honor

Under the ernes' sky-vat,
Through the ice-wolves' forest bowls.
We ride the gory wood,
For iron, gold and diamond

Let hand-ringer and bearded gaper fill my grip
and battle-leaf guard my stone
As I leave the halls of my fathers
for the empty lands beyond

(page 147)

It sounds rather like the elf poetry that Brom chanted to Eragon in the first book. The same lack of rhyme and meter, same stilted verse, same odd word usage. If the words weren't things that were typically associated with dwarves "iron, gold, diamond, stone, clan" I wouldn't know that this is a piece of Dwarven poetry. In fact there is nothing to say that it's not Elf poetry except for the fact that everyone knows that elves aren't into gold and iron and stone. Trying to read it out loud it's stumbling and awkward. Any sense of flow is continually lost. Also most poetry and songs in Medieval cultures tended to rhyme or have a repeating pattern in it to make it easier to remember and sing. This song has none. It has more in common with modern free verse than something in a fantasy culture would have.

Arya and Eragon then talk about his vision where she tells him that it's something that is linked to the very fabric of magic and only a few people can do it. Oh, and we learn that the dragons do have a hive mind. Or ancestral memory. I like hive mind better. But while this supposedly gives Saphira a lot of information beyond her years which could be interesting, if it was used properly, like if Saphira kept on getting memories of things and being amazed at what she remembers. After all it would be pretty strange to remember something before you were ever born. But instead it's completely brushed off as a side note and probably never referred to again.

They drift some more and then one night Eragon goes and practices his sword. He does some fancy maneuvers with his sword when all of a sudden his back starts hurting again and he faints. So that's three fainting incidents. One mention of Arya's eye color, one random urgal attack ... and what else was I keeping track of? Never mind. Eragon angsts about the pain and bitches at everyone who tries to be nice to him. Dwarf goes and talks to him a little and then gives him a shiny to distract him. It's a puzzle ring and Eragon is immediately entranced by it. In fact the ring is so distracting it makes him forget the terror he just endured. Unfortunately I'm not sure what terror he's referring to because I can't recall anything terrorish happening to him.

The next morning Eragon Saphira and Ayra watch the sun rise. It's all very pretty and then, "Arya looked at him. Eragon met her gaze, and something lurched within him" (I don't know about you, but we call that an erection down in my parts) "He flushed without knowing why, feeling a sudden connection with her" (and that would be lust) "a sense that she understood him better than anyone other than Saphira," (you're a teenage boy looking at a hot girl there's not much that needs to be understood here) His reaction confused him, for no one had affected him in that manner before (it's called a crush. Did Garrow never explain to you the birds and the bees?) (page 155)

Eragon ponders his crush or "odd sensations he could not identify" for most of the time while working on the ring. When they make camp Dwarf goes hunting with a composite bow. That is a bow made of horn or other stiff material like bone. Eragon is impressed with that bow and feels like his isn't good enough. It's smaller but a lot sturdier making his seem thin and weak. When he asks Arya about elven bows she says, "We sing our bows from trees that do not grow". I have no idea what that means. But I do know that Ogier from the Wheel of Time can also sing things from trees. I imagine we'll learn what exactly that means when we reach the elven lands.

Apparently traveling by river is slower than traveling by zombie horse because it takes them days to travel the same distance that it took to reach the Varden on horse back.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Arya Svit-Kona, Ceris


Just a bit of a warning. There's more poetry in this analysis.

Now that we're all properly frightened (makes you wish this was another Meat fic, doesn't it?) let's get started.

Arya is a zombie. She refuses to ride a donkey and instead is able to run faster than a horse or a donkey and keep up at it all day without getting tired. Or maybe she's an elf and this is a super special elf ability. Tolkien's elves could do that. So, Paolini's elves can. I like the zombie theory better. In any case they make their way to Du Weldenvarden, which apparently is a forest that stretches the length of Alagaesia. Either Alagaesia is really small or ... well... Paolini is really bad with geography.

One night Arya comes to him. But not in the way that Eragon would like. She wants to have a private chat, but not about that. Instead it's about Politics. Elven politics. And courtesy. Since they live so long they can't afford to give offense when a grudge may last for decades. Our Thesaurus raped word of the day is Fecund. The elves are not fecund. And I quote, "Nor are elves fecund, so it's vital that we avoid conflict among ourselves." (Page 160). Fecund, I am told means capable of having children. If elves are not capable of having children the question is, how do they reproduce? Now it could be argued that Paolini may have meant not very fecund, but that is not what he said. And we can't go by assuming things, only what is on the page. This is where Mark Twain's quote, "The difference between a right word and an almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug" comes in handy. The thesaurus, while a useful tool, does not give words that mean exactly the same thing. And this is what Paolini fails to see, so caught up in his cleverness. And even still, he should have realized what it is that he says. Back to our original reproduction question. How do they then reproduce. Well, they could split like amoebas or perhaps even do budding. Little elves growing off the parent elf at odd places until they've fully developed and then falling off. I like that image. So, now we have budding elves.

I now want an icon that says, "My fandom has budding elves and zombie horses."

Apparently, according to the elves, Eragon is expected to know the intricacies of their social norms, and more harm will come to him if the elves discover he was rude out of ignorance than if he was rude on purpose. As Ayra says, "Far better to thought rude and capable than rude and incapable, else you risk being manipulated like the Serpent in a match of Runes." (page 161) Now I have no idea what the Serpent in a Match of Runes is, so the simile makes no sense to me. I am supposing that he's referring to a game, but I have no context. Terry Pratchett used the game of Thud as a political metaphor in his book, Thud, but before he made it as a metaphor, he brought it up several times in different books. Vimes, commented on the game. We knew about the game, what it was about, so when Pratchett started using it as a metaphor for what was happening in Thud we knew what he was talking about. But I digress. We're looking at Elven politics, which are starting to sound rather like the Game that is played by the nobby folks in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books. (What is this, the third reference so far?)

Eragon shows his uber learning skills again, absorbing all sorts of niceties of elven culture with in several hours. We even learn the elven greeting which translates as "May good fortune rule over you, peace live in your heart and the stars watch over you." While sounding like something a bunch of corny fluffy wiccans would say, one has to wonder, why would the stars watch over someone? The stars are non-sentient. They would only be sentient things in a culture that has a religious philosophy, like they're they souls of the departed or the eyes of the gods or something. But for an atheist culture referring to the stars in such a manner makes no sense. In many ways this is just as ridiculous as the dwarves belief in the gods. But at least the dwarves have religion to back their sayings.

Arya then gets bitchy at Eragon when he asks if she's all right. She says that he shouldn't be so familiar to her when they're in the elf kingdom. She then leaves him. Saphira has a rather cute line when she tells him to go after her and make amends. She says that if he doesn't she'll fill his tent with carrion. He goes after Ayra and makes amends. She accepts his apologies and tells him that she's afraid before wandering off again.

On the fourth day there's a completely random conversation between Shrrgnien and Eragon involving the number of toes each race has. Dwarves have seven on each foot. Apparently Shrrgnien had a bet with the other dwarves about something. Eragon only saw them exchanging money. My guess was if the could get Eragon to take his boot off.

Anyway, they finally reach the elves.

Ayra talks to some of the elves at this meadow and the elves get all excited to see her and start dancing, singing and laughing around her like a bunch of stoned hippies. "The elves dropped from the trees and embraced Arya, lauging in clear, pure voices. They joined hands and danced in a circle around her like children, singing merrily as they spun through the grass" (page 166)And these are Paolini's chosen people. Don't you want to be like them? They must have dropped their weapons to do this because they're all holding hands. But they manage to pick them up... or never have dropped them to aim at Saphira when they see her. Ayra talks to them and they start laughing.

In fact they really don't stop laughing. They do it incessantly. And sing and hum. They sing as they make food for the dwarves and Eragon. They laugh as Eragon and the Dwarves walk through the forest. And the only difference between the four elves that we meet is that one has black hair and the others silver. They eat and then one of the elves starts to play the pipes and another sings.

And now, because I hate you all, the elf's song:


The day is done; the stars are bright;
The leaves are still; the moon is white!
Laugh at woe and laugh at foe,
Menoa's scion now is safe this night!

A forest child we lost to strife;
A sylvan daughter caught by life!
Freed of fear and freed of flame,
She tore a Rider from the shadows rife!

Again the dragons rise on wing,
and we avenge their suffering!
Strong of blade and strong of arm
the time is ripe for us to kill a king!


The wind is soft; the river deep;
The trees are talk; the birds do sleep!
Laugh at woe and laugh at foe,
The hour has arrived for joy to reap!

Well, it rhymes, which is a step up from the other poems. And it almost has a meter, but in the third verse the meter is completely forced. And then look at the actual lyrics. First of all who is Menoa's scion? Second of all how do you get caught by life? Freed of flame makes no sense at all, was someone on fire? Third stanza appears to be talking about Eragon. Do they actually think that because they suddenly have one fledgling dragon rider on their side that they'll be able to defeat Galby who KILLED OFF ALL THE OTHER RIDERS with only thirteen people to help him?! Of course, I forget, this is Eragon we're talking about. The birds do sleep, what about owls? And the whole laugh at woe, laugh at foe makes them sound a bit sadistic and psychotic.

Eragon goes to sleep. He wakes up as the dwarves are preparing to leave. They promise to take care of Snowfire for Eragon, saying that he'll be fat and sleek when he comes back. Most riders do not want their horses to be fat.

The elves are going to take Arya, Eragon, Dwarf up the river in two white canoes. Yes, the elves have white canoes. I can't really comment any more on that without getting upset.

So, they go upstream into the lake and when he pauses to rest, he starts to play with the puzzle ring again. The elf in the canoe with him asks to see it and Eragon gives it to him. It takes him a few moments to solve the puzzle. Eragon is of course upset at this show of intelligence. But in the end he wants to be able to figure it out on his own. This puzzle ring is starting to puzzle me. I'm beginning to think that Paolini is going to use it as a symbol of Eragon's development and only when he reaches his height will he be able to solve the puzzle.

We'll have to see.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
ChaptersWounds of the Past, Wounds of the Present Oooh symbolism.


First of all, for starters, because I'm just that bizzare I've been RPing Eragon on a multi-fandom RP site. I played him tonight, having him randomly faint. Someone wanted to know if he was related to a fainting goat. This amuses me greatly.

Icon: My fandom's hero is a fainting goat.

So, our next too chapters, so cleverly named, go back to Roran. The last time we saw him he actually got some character development. Watch it all go away in these two chapters.

It's three days later and everyone is talking about the big battle and how to get out of the situation. Everyone's trying to figure out a way to survive. Some say kill the Ra'zac others say surrender. No one really knows what to do. The Ra'zac have apparently retreated because they only have eleven men left.

Roran is listening to everything and keeping his own council, because of course, he's so brilliant and all. Roran also has a lot of authority with people, because apparently killing someone makes you a great leader. And here I thought leadership abilities were actually needed to be a great leader. Perhaps they're afraid that he'll kill them next? He also gets the spiffy nick name of Stronghammer! Sounds like a dwarf name.

It pleased Roran, that name.

There's more discussion on what to do and then Roran suggests that they should get the children and infirm out of the village and hide them in the Spine. No one came up with this suggestion earlier. It's been three days since the attacks and no one has come up with this suggestion. Oh there's shouting and Sloan of course says that he'd rather die than do that. But eventually the all come to realize that Roran is of course right. They argue about it some more, Sloan protesting a lot. And then Sloan leaves and everyone makes plans. Roran decides since Sloan doesn't agree with him, he's now the enemy. That's the way you want to look at your future father in law.

Roran leaves later and talks to Katrina. He wants her to go up into the Spine with the others. She says no, she wants to stay and be with him and her father. They argue about it and Katrina eventually gives in on the condition that if such a situation ever occurs again, she will not be asked to leave him. He reluctantly agrees. I think this is foreshadowing. No, I know this is foreshadowing and it's not very cleverly or subtly done. Especially after the two and a half page discussion Roran and Katrina have about it, and Katrina crying a single tear. I think that's three now. So some time later in this book or the next Katrina will not leave Roran's side and something horrible will happen to her because of it. Don't you just love it when you force your true love to make large generalizing statements that may sound good now but are actually idiotic when you think about it? But it's not very romantic, practically is.

And I just had the image of Paolini writing a Bodice Ripper. *scrubs brain*

So the next day arrives and people are getting ready. Paolini used circumnavigated instead of circled when talking about the trench that should have been outside the wall... which should have been built a long time ago. Never mind. Roran notices Sloan standing and watching the gathering of people getting ready to leave.

Sloan sees Katrina, and justifiably gets pissed off. After all his daughter is defying him. Roran tries to interfere. Sloan tells him he has no right. Roran says yes I do, we're engaged. Sloan actually has a human reaction!

Surprise and a deep, inconsolable pain sprang onto Sloan's vulnerable face, along with a glimmer of tears. For a moment, Roran felt sympathy for him, then a series of contortions distorted Sloan's visage, each more extreme than the last, until his skin turned beet red. He cursed and said, "You two faced coward! How could you look me in the eye and speak to me like an honest man while at the same time, courting my daughter without permission! I dealt with you in good faith and here I find you plundering my house while my back is turned."

I like Sloan. A lot. He's upset, but he has a reason to be upset. He's been wronged, and is having a reasonable reaction. Of course he's wrong.

Roran, being the kind and loving forces Katrina to chose between him and her father. She choses him. Sloan gets upset, of course, and Roran knocks him to the ground. Sloan then disinherits her. Katrina cries.

You know there's not really anything interesting happening here. I don't feel like I'm properly examining the text, but there's nothing really to examen. Nothing particularly bad happens. But nothing really of interest happens.

They go up into the Spine. They make camp. Roran talks to the kid who killed a soldier and asks him to protect Katrina when she shows up. Which is a brilliant move on his part. And he leaves.

The next chapter has Roran in it too. Joy.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters His Enemy's Face, Arrow to the Heart


Now, of all the chapters that I've looked at so far, in Eragon and Eldest, I can't say that anyone bothered me particularly much. Oh they were annoying, idiotic and just graaagging. His enemy's face? I hate.

It begins with Roran going to check up on Katrina. The two of them are cute together. And Elain, Hurst's wife, sends Katrina to bed. She then gives Roran an earful. It's the typical Katrina just gave up everything for you so you better really love her and this better not be some sort of youthful fancy speech and makes him promise that he'll care for her without grudge or resentment. She then brow beats him for not telling Sloan sooner and tells him that he has to go and apologize Sloan or else he'll regret it.

Roran goes to bed thinking about what Elain said to him and Katrina shows up in his room. I imagine they had sex. I will now express my eternal thanks to God that Paolini did not try and write a sex scene. Or if he did, it didn't make the cut. Thank you God for saving us the terror of reading a sex scene by Paolini. From the terrible similes that he would have used in reference to the act of sex and the horrible purple prose of Katrina and Roran finally feeling complete and knowing each other better than they ever knew each other before. You are truly a wonderful and awesome God who has spared us, your lowly readers and for that we give you our eternal thanks. Amen.

Later that night Roran and Katrina are attacked by six soldiers and the Ra'zac. Somehow they managed to make their move silently checks, despite the penalty of wearing armor and swords and everyone in the house failed their listen checks. The Ra'zac have Roran. They're telling the soldiers to tie him up. And then Katrina jumps them. She bites and claws them and manages to draw blood and they're not able to subdue her.

Six trained soldiers are unable to subdue her.

Thus giving Roran a chance to get his hammer and he becomes invincible because Katrina is in danger. He goes around smashing helmets in and is the unstoppable Juggernaut. So, the Ra'zac kidnap Katrina. When Roran goes after them, one of them grabs him by the wrist and he can't break free. It then bites him and Lets. Him. Go. The Ra'zac are obviously stronger than any one man. They could have easily taken down Roran by themselves. Hell they could have drugged him like they did Eragon and then taken him, without the need of soldiers (since their move silently checks are so awesome) and slipped off into the night with no one the wiser until the morning. Instead they break loudly into his room, thus giving up the element of surprise after managing to SNEAK quietly into the house, allow Roran near his weapon and kill off most of the soldiers or at least incapacitate them, kidnap the girl instead of getting him, and then when they have him in their hands, BITE him and let him go.

That is an utter fiasco. That is the most idiotic way I've ever seen to get someone you wanted.

But, it gets worse.

No, really.

Instead of taking Roran (who is probably bleeding to death) to the healer, they stopper up his wounds and let him come with the Katrina Rescue Party. Roran is injured. He is a liability. It may be his future wife that has been kidnapped, but he is still a liability and he should realize that it would be better for Katrina that he not go. But he has to be all manly and ignore the pain and go after her. They discover where the Ra'zac and soldiers got in. Apparently no one noticed a bunch of trees getting moved. This village must have a negative modifier on their listen checks or Paolini's loading his dice. And the watch doesn't make rounds so they didn't discover the Large Gaping Hole in their wall and raise the alarm. But of course, we couldn't have the alarm raised because then the Ra'zac couldn't have sneaked into the house and kidnapped Katrina. So Paolini deliberately makes his guards blind and dumb to move his story along instead of finding a probable way for them to capture Katrina.

When they reach the outskirts of the soldiers camp, the soldiers are rebelling against the Ra'zac. Which doesn't last long when the Ra'zac attacks the leader and kills them. The Ra'zac then say that they're going to go and that reinforcements are on the way. They call their rides, which are some sort creature that I'm not really sure what it looks like despite the awfully long description. They then go into a tent and take out a bound Katrina and Sloan.

Who is not tied up.

Why? Because he betrayed the village. He went to the flesh eating monsters in an effort to protect his daughter. Instead of trying to work things out with the man his beloved daughter loves he went to the flesh eating monsters.


Because he's evil.

Sloan protests them taking Katrina so they knock him out and take him too. He'll probably end up sacrificing his life for her and Roran at one point and giving them his blessing before dying... or end up the Ra'zac's snack.

The Ra'zac fly off and finally, Roran passes out. Why do I say finally? Because it's the most dramatic time for him to do so, just after seeing his beloved get carried away and betrayed by her own father. And Paolini needs to do a chapter end. So, our POV character goes unconscious.

So, this total and utter ruining of what little character Sloan had, as a man utterly devoted to his daughter gets completely pissed down the toilet in the name of drama and plot contrivance. And we're never given a reason to explain why Sloan does this. Sure, he protested a lot of the ideas that the village had, but he was also very big on protecting the village and his daughter. But all of this goes away, because he's evil. Why is he evil, because he doesn't agree with Eragon and later Roran. And in Paolini's cut and dried world, that's the only thing that can be.

Our second chapter goes back to Eragon.

The elves are still stoned. They act like Saphira is the most fascinating thing that they've ever seen and talk only about her when she's around. She must look really interesting in the drug haze. Maybe they're on LSD? They're also perpetually smiling, laughing and singing.

We get a wonderful infodump about the elves and about the humans. About eight hundred years ago the humans with their King named Palancar (also the name of the valley where Eragon grew up). Palancer was an idiot. Why? Because he attacked the Dragon Riders. Yes. He attacked the elves with the Large Flying Beasts that Breathe Fire and Can Do Magic. Three times.

The King's nobles being more intelligent than the king, sign a treaty with the dragon riders and get the king usurped and him and his family exiled. They stayed in the valley and the blood of kings still runs in the villages of Therinsford and Carvahall. Now, what Paolini is trying to do is make us, the readers go, oh the blood of kings! Eragon might be descended of usurped royalty! And so is Roran! But what good is it to be descended from kings, if the king was bloody useless? And being descended from a king doesn't give you any special properties, unless you're like Captain Carrot. Even still, why would you want someone descended from this particular king? He's obviously mentally unstable and useless. But this isn't what Paolini is going for. Instead he's trying to recapture the old cliche of the poor farm boy descended from exiled kings who discovers his destiny and becomes the rightful ruler of the land. It's probably going to be Roran.

This incident also made the Dragon Riders decide that they need to allow humans into their club. Not really the smartest idea. After all the humans haven't proved themselves to be trustworthy or intelligent. But then again, if they weren't allowed into the club then Galby couldn't have become a rider and if he didn't become a rider then he couldn't have betrayed them all and then Eragon couldn't have gotten his egg. Mmm... the logic astounds me.

We also learn that the elves became immortal. They weren't born that way. An interesting concept, but one that isn't delved into.

There's some more talk about where the humans came from and if they could get reinforcements from there. And then Saphira shows up from hunting so the conversation goes back to admiring her.

The final scene of the chapter involves Eragon finding a gyrfalcon with a broken wing and Arya shooting it through the breast. When Eragon asks her why she did it she says, "It was too injured for me to heal and would have died tonight or tomorrow. Such is the nature of things. I saved it hours of suffering." Some how I find this hard to believe. First of all, she didn't even examen the bird close up to discover the extent of its injuries. Second of all Eragon has healed worse with his magic. Surely Elf Sue with her even more magical abilities could have done something for it. A broken wing should hardly present a challenge to her. Yet for some reason it was beyond her abilities and she didn't even allow Eragon a chance to try. She just killed it. I think Paolini was trying to show how cold Ayra had become. But to be honest, I'm not really sure what he was trying to do here.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
chapter Queen Islanzadi, Out of the Past


Well, I'm a third of the way through the book, and I still don't know what's going on. Oh the events are clear enough, but I don't feel any tension. No one is in danger. There's no threat. Sure Galby is around... somewhere. But again, he's not being threatening. Things are just happening one after another for some reason, that reason being that they are steps on the Hero's Journey, but they don't really move the story forward.

In any case, Eragon is overawed by the fact that Ayra is a princess. And to hammer facts home even more, he remembers Angela's prophecy that he would love one of noble birth. So, not only can he not choose he would love or have many of them, but it's already destined. He's just stuck with this one choice. And that's not really fair to him. But I'm sure it's not supposed to be seen that way. Instead it's supposed to be a wonderful thing of True Love and happily ever after. Because you only need one person in your life to love and you don't need to discover them. It just happens.

Meanwhile Elf Queen and Elf Sue make up. The Queen is apparently very sorry about having done something. Ayra appears to be reluctant to make nice, but the queen gets what she wants.

Then the raven speaks, in doggerel. "And on the door was graven evermore, what now became the family lore, Let us never do but to adore!" (page 227) I have absolutely no idea what that's supposed to mean. It's just words strung together that look like they were horribly born from the raped body of Poe's the Raven. After all they all rhyme with "nevermore". But other than that, I've got nothing.

The queen the turns and pays attention to Eragon (least we forget that he's the main character of our story) she gets Eragon and Saphira's names. Eragon's name gets a lot of attention because it's such an uber rare name. Dwarf appears to be ignored completely. They don't even ask his name. Instead they ask for what happened to Eragon until he got there. He tells them. He shows them this scroll that Nasuada gave him to give to the Queen. Eragon then asks the Queen to reestablish relations with the Varden. Since the only reason why they stopped hanging around the Varden is because they thought Ayra was dead, and she's not, they agree. It seems rather shady to me. After all the main goal of the Varden and the Elves is to rid the world of Galby, because he's evil and they're good. So, despite the fact that they thought that Ayra was dead, the alliance should have still continued, because the greater good is more important, the cause is more important than one person. Even if the person is your daughter.

Eragon is then named an elf friend. Why? Because he helped Ayra and the Varden. Once. He's done one thing and all of a sudden he's an elf friend. Previous mentions of this have led me to believe that it's very difficult to become an elf friend. But Eragon is just that special that he becomes one with only one great deed to his name. Their standards must have gone down or maybe it's like what they give people who donate a certain amount of money to a campaign. First level is elf friend, second level is elf lover, third level is elf's trusted secret love slave and bondage partner.

When Eragon asks about his training, he's told because of the damage done to him by the Shade he's not allowed to be trained. As long as his infirmity persists he can't be trained and will only be a figure head. Paolini has written himself into a corner here. Eragon needs to be trained, but he can't be trained because he has that scar. He can't get rid of the scar because no one can see what's wrong with it. So... he's stuck unless he pulls something out of his magic hat.

After all this, Dwarf finally gets addressed. They don't even ask him his name. No one seems to be very interested in him. If I were dwarf, I'd be very insulted by all of this. After all, he's there as a representative of his people to a group that traditionally didn't get along with his, and they're ignoring him. This is another mark down in the black book of why dwarves dislike elves, at least according to me. But it's not looked at like that, because Dwarf is not Ayra the Sue or Eragon and therefor not important.

Ayra then tells her story of torture and imprisonment without any difficulty. She just tells it in a complete monotone. This woman has almost been raped numerous times. She was beaten and tortured. But she has no difficulty in retelling what happened to her. She shows no emotion at all. Now, there's repression, but Ayra, as far as we know, has told no one about what happened to her. She never even talked to Eragon about it. But she's able to tell people an intimate and horrifying experience in a completely calm manner without breaking. She shows all the emotional range her of a piece of cardboard. Here was a chance for Paolini to show how this tragic event effected his heroine and he totally blows it.

The elves then celebrate Ayra's return and Eragon's existence with a long dinner with no meat. The dinner drags on for pages. Eragon at one point gets annoyed that more people are paying attention to Saphira than to him. The meal goes on and the Raven speaks again.

Dragons, like wagons
have tongues.
Dragons, like flagons
have necks.
But while two hold beer,
the other eats deer.

Apparently the elves are mortified at such a verse and are afraid that Saphira will be offended. I'm not really sure what's there to be offended by. It's not like the Raven compared Saphira to a small rock lizard that got run over by a drunken wine merchant. It was just a bit of bad poetry. Saphira was not offended so it's all right.

Apparently the raven is very special. He once saved Ayra's father by pecking out the eyes of an urgal. No one knows why the bird did that. It just did. So to reward the bird it was given intelligence and long life. I'm not sure exactly how that's supposed to reward a bird. I mean it's a bird. It was probably a fluke that it decided to attack that urgal. The bird doesn't need a reward. It's non-sentient. In fact he had to make it sentient. Rewards are something that sentient creatures need, not random birds. A better reward would have been to declare that all ravens were holy or not to be hunted or special in someway, as opposed to rewarding the individual bird. In any case the magics made the bird even more special by making it white and to be able to predict certain events. Yes. The raven can foretell the future. Kinda like Odin's ravens. Hrmmm... I wonder where Paolini got that from.

There's also a werecat among the elves. You can call her Maud. She knows Serious Ass.. and that sounded wrong. I suppose she'll become important later on. Or she'll just be there for some random reason.

Elf Queen shows Eragon to his quarters. They're up in a tree. It's lovely and magical. Saphira and Eragon discuss what had happened for the day and come up with that they don't know anything. They go to sleep. The night is liquid.

They wake up. They eat. There are new clothes for Eragon and they're special, like nothing he's ever felt before and were specially made for him. Dwarf shows up and tells him that the elves want to see. Apparently they're being shady about something.

The Queen makes Eragon, Dwarf and Saphira promise in the ancient language that they'll never speak of what they're about to see to anyone without her permission. They promise, after some reluctance.

What the queen wanted to show them was a very large gold dragon.

But all the dragon riders were killed! OH NOES! HOW COULD THIS BE! Could this be Yoda?! I think so!

We'll have to wait though to learn more because next chapter is back to Roran.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters The Dagshelgr Invocation, the Pinewood City


So, while we did escape with our lives and didn't have to see what a sex scene written by Paolini was like, we do get some other fun stuff in these chapters.

We begin with Eragon trying to catch the elves waking up. Apparently he's never seen them asleep or even with their eyes closed. I'm going to assume that the elves do blink however. Elf one and Elf Two talk in tandem. They don't have any sort of personality that makes them different from one another. Paolini has always referenced them as having the same reactions to everything. People on drugs don't really have much on personality either. Du Weldenvarden is starting to sound like Mirkwood, "magic permeates the air, the water, and the earth. In places it has affected the animals. Sometimes strange creatures are found roaming the forest, and not all of them friendly." (208). Or any sort of generic fantasy forest while we're at it. Nothing really special.

Before we can get too deep into what sort of creatures are there, someone is scrying on Eragon. His hammer gets hot. That would be the silver hammer pendent that Gannel gave him to prevent people scrying on him. And if someone is scrying on him, it'll heat up. Now, the hammer runs on Eragon's magical powers, which seems rather silly. Gannel said that if it gets to hot or starts to drain his powers he has to take it off. Which means that it's no longer protecting him. Which means that some one can scry on him. Which defeats the purpose of the anti-scrying device.

Eragon tells Ayra and the two elves and Ayra says something portant which include "Events in Alageisia move apace," which I could swear is from somewhere. Anyway after that small interlude they go on until they run into a waterfall. They have to carry their supplies up a path. Saphira suggests taking them all by herself to which one of the elves says oh no that would be dishonorable! She does it anyway and we get Ayra laughing for the first time. She sounds like a mockingbird. Not quite the thing I would want to be compared to. I've heard mockingbirds and they don't really trill. It's a sort of harsh hacking noise. I think he was trying for Nightingale, sort of bird but picked the wrong bird.

Wikipedia describes the mocking bird's cry as such, "The Northern Mockingbird, in addition to being a good mimic, is also one of the loudest and most constantly vocal of birds. It often sings through the night, especially unmated males, or when the moon is full. It sings year-round except sometimes for the late-summer moulting season. Individual males have repertoires of 50 to 200 songs; females sing as well, but more quietly and less often than males. Mockingbirds usually sing the loudest in the twilight of the early morning when the sun is on the horizon.

In addition to its well-known song, the Northern Mockingbird utilizes a variety of calls to communicate specific information. As with its song, these calls are among some of the louder sounds produced by birds of its size. Mockingbirds make a harsh, raspy noise when chasing other birds out of their territory. A similar but distinct call is used when defending against predators like a hawk or falcon. Other calls include a wheezing noise, a "chuck" note, and a very piercing series of notes "high low" repeated twice."

Not really something pleasant. I have a friend who hates the mockingbirds around his house because of their cry. Eragon loves it. Obviously Paolini's desire to have Ayra compared to Luthien kinda fell wrong.

So, they go up the cliff and walked to where they meet up with Saphira again. Ayra then tells Eragon and Saphira that they have to keep hidden until they meet with the queen, because they're going past an elf city. Saphira is loathed to leave him because of his crippled back. Eragon's back is not crippled. His back has a scar on it. The scar randomly hurts... but he's not crippled. If his back was crippled he wouldn't be able to get up and walk around straight.

They make camp for the night. There are a lot of mosquitoes. And then Eragon starts hearing singing. It's apparently a holy night... um... wait... not holy night, that would indicate a religion. It is a saturnalias. Which according to Dictionary.com means " unrestrained revelry; orgy." It also means, "the festival of Saturn, celebrated in December in ancient Rome as a time of unrestrained merrymaking." So, basically the stoned hippie elves are having an orgy. "We sing in the ancient language, and the lyrics weave spells of passion and longing that are difficult to resist, even for us." (page 213)

"It is to keep the forests healthy and fertile. Every spring we sing for the trees, we sing for the plants and we sing for the animals. Without us, Du Weldenvarden would be half its size." As if to emphasize her point, birds, deer, squirrels -red and gray- striped batgers, foxes, rabbits, wolves, frogs, toads and tortoises, and every other near by animal forsook their hiding and began to rush madly about with a cacophony of yelps and cries. "They are searching for mates," explained Arya. "All across Du Weldenvarden, in each of our cities, elves are singing this song. The more the participate, the stronger the spell, and the greater Du Weldenvarden will be this year." (page 214)

Now, I'm fairly certain that's not proper forest management, making all the animals hot and horny at the same time. Animals have natural cycles and different times of the year that they do the mating thing. Forcing them to get all hot and bothered on one night of the season or something would throw them out of whack. Plus, it might not be a good thing to have all the animals giving lots of birth if the forest can't sustain the life, say because it's a drought season or something. After all it takes more than just magic words to make a forest grow.

Ayra protects Eragon and Dwarf by putting a spell on them. Eragon and Dwarf have a sleepless night because of all the hot and heavy sex going on. The two elves react the same way to not being able to join the song. They pace in circles. They really don't have distinct personalities. They're cardboard cut outs with pointy ears.

Then Saphira shows up, all hot and bothered. No, really.

"The forestshe said, is alive. And I am alive. My blood burns like never before. It burns as yours burns when you think of Ayra. I... understand!" (Page 215)

Now, before I get to this actual line, in it's context, let us remember that Eragon and Saphira are supposed to be more like one mind than two. (Isn't that what Eragon told us many pages ago?)So, shouldn't Eragon be feeling all hot and bothered too? With his blood burning and jumping with Ayra. Mrr... now I have the image of Saphira jumping Ayra and molesting her. Actually, that's all I can think of to say about this line. But I'll get to it more later.

Eragon, instead of having Ayra put a spell on her so she's not affected, just sort of stands there with her. And Ayra stands with her on the other side. It's symbolic, you see. Saphira in the midst of her sexual desires is connecting Eragon and Ayra, thus showing that they will eventually become sexually involved.

The next morning Saphira is no longer horny and she needs to think about what she just felt. Ayra tells one of the cardboard elves to go ahead and get them horses. The horses are like unicorns without the horns. All of them are proud stallions. There appear to be no geldings or mares in Algeisia. So, that only leaves the possibility of Male Pregnant Horses. Male pregnant zombie horses.

Our Mpreg Zombie Elf horses respond to commands in the ancient language and you will not fall unless you deliberately throw yourself off. They bare a rider only as long as they consent to. They're perfect and wonderful.

Saphira then gets mopey about not having a mate. She says some doleful things like, "Every creature, no matter how pure or monstrous, has a mate of their own kind. Yet I have none." (page 217). It's very sad and Eragon feels sad for her, reminding her that there are two more dragon eggs in existence. She then gets even more whiny saying well what if they don't hatch or what if they're not male or if they'd be fit mates.

But then instead of dwelling in such emotional and potentially character developing thoughts she stops saying she shouldn't be feeling such things. Eragon gives her some platitudes and they're off. When Eragon mentions it to Ayra she says something deep and meaningful. "It is one of Galbatorix's greatest crimes. I do not know if a solution exists, but we can hope. We must hope." (218)

We then get some meaningless description of the really big forest. Which is really big and green and Eragon gets confused as to which way is which. There's time passing but I don't know how much time has past. So, they could have been in the forest for days, weeks, or a couple of hours. From looking at the map, I would guess a couple of weeks. But knowing Paolini's odd way of doing things and abuse of horses I could be wrong. And probably am.

In any case they ride, it's green and mystical feeling. And then they run into an elf.

In the late afternoon, the gloom lifted to reveal an elf standing before them, sheathed in a brilliant ray of light that slanted down from the ceiling. He was garbed in flowing robes, with a circlet of silver upon his brow. His face was old, noble and serene.

"Eragon," murmured Ayra. "Show him your palm and your ring."

Baring his right hand, Eragon raised it so that first Brom's ring and then the dedwey igasia was visible. The elf smiled, closed his eyes, and spread his arms in a gesture of welcome. He held the posture.

"The way is clear," Said Arya. At a soft command, her steed moved forward. They rode around the elf -like water parting at the base of a weathered boulder- and when they had all passed, he straighted, clasped his hands, and vanished as the light that illuminated him ceased to exist.

Who is he? asked Saphira.

Ayra said, "He is Gilderien the Wise, Prince of House Miolandra, wielder of the White Flame of Vandil, and the guardian of Ellesmera since the days of Du Fyrn Skulblaka, our war with the dragons. None may enter the city unless he permits it." (page 221)

Now, besides the fact that Paolini has just put a ceiling in a forest this passage confuses me greatly. This elf shows up out of nowhere and vanishes just as suddenly. Was he really there? Did he teleport? Or was it an illusion? And how does he know where people are going to show up? He must be a really busy elf always popping in and out whenever someone shows up to enter. And the city is in the middle of a forest. It wouldn't be too difficult to, I don't know, ride around somewhere else and enter it that way. I mean there are no walls that are baring their entry. (It kinda reminds me of that wall the French built to keep the Nazis out). The elf appeared to be unarmed (and kinda stoned). If I were an invading force, I'd just take with me a bunch of men with me and charge. Unless there are other protections around him. Eragon should have asked about that.

And then there's the whole "wielder of the White Flame of Vandil" that sounds suspiciously like a religious sort of thing. Vandil being a god. But we know that the elves don't believe in gods. So, who is Vandil and why would Gilderien be wielding his flame. (Unless we were to take it into a sexual connotation, then it would make sense.) But Paolini has dropped a pseudo-religious sounding concept into his non-religous elves, much like the stars watching over people. It's almost as if he's trying to give his elves a deep and mythical heritage which contradicts their supposed atheist beliefs.

Then, as a parting note, there's that simile that he put in there, the one about water parting around a boulder. Which was completely superfluous. That didn't need to be there and completely jarred me out of the story.

They enter the city. It's amazing. All the trees and houses seem to be melded into one. The elves are happy and singing and dancing and stoned. They praise Saphira (somehow knowing that she's female, despite the fact that Eragon didn't). The party goes to a particular tree and climb up it to meet the queen. There's a white raven that can speak. And a long sueish description of the queen. They all kneel to her and it turns out that Ayra is the queen's daughter.

Anyone see that coming?
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Conviction, Repercussions


It seems that Paolini's way of introducing Roran's chapters after dealing with Eragon's is to begin them with a short sentence beginning with "Roran did something or another." It's almost as if Paolini is uncertain that we won't know who's POV we're in unless we get Roran's name right off. It's not like we wouldn't be able to tell by the change of scenery or the mention at someone else in Carvahall.

Roran is back in Horst's house. He's been patched up and is upset that the people didn't attack the soldiers as opposed to you know, saving themselves and not fighting with the Ra'zac and their giant Nazgul flying monster like things. Horst tells him that he can go and kill people when he's well.

Roran then broods. He thinks about how his family is dead or gone, his farm has been destroyed and his betrothed has been kidnapped. He wants to go after the Ra'zac but he doesn't know how to find them. And he can't leave the village either, because that would be abandoning his people. He cries a lot. More than a single tear too.

He then tries to think of what to do. He thinks and thinks. And decides well, he should go to the Varden. But he doesn't know where the Varden are. So, then there's always Sudra, which apparently everyone knows likes the Varden and not the king, even if it's a big secret. So, he comes up with the brilliant idea of taking everyone with him to Sudra. As he thinks, "Also by bringing the villagers to them, he would earn the Varden's confidence, so that they would trust him with the location of the Ra'zac. Maybe they can explain why Galbatorix is so desperate to capture me." (page248) Now while more bodies are good thing for, the Varden have been doing their thing for a long time. And it's not likely they'll want to trust Roran so quickly. And having all those people suddenly show up would cause problems. It's three hundred people that they suddenly have to take care of.

So, on the strength of his vision, Roran gets out of bed after nearly dying and bleeding the day before and staggers out. With one word, "come" he gathers people around him. For a moment Carvahall turns into a town, when Roran goes to "the center of town" (page 249) but then with the village all around him he starts getting very elegant in his speaking abilities. Really, Shakespearian actors should take notes from him.

When most of Carvahall stood before him, Roran fell silent, tightening his left fist until his fingernails cut into his palm. Katrina. Raising his hand, he opened it and showed it to everyone the crimson tears that dripped down his arm. "This," he said, "is my pain. Look well, for it will be yours unless we defeat the curse wanton fate has set upon us. Your friends and family will be bound in chains, destined for slavery in foreign lands, or slain before your eyes, hewn open by soldiers' merciless blades. Galbatorix will sow our land with salt so it lies forever fallow. This I have seen. This I know." He paced like a caged wolf, glowering and swinging his head. He had their attention. Now he had to stroke them into a frenzy to match his own.

"My father was killed by the desecrators. My cousin has fled. My farm was razed. And my bride-to-be was kidnapped by her own father, who murdered Byrd and betrayed us all! Quimby eaten, the hay barn burned along with Fisk's and Delwin's houses. Parr, Wyglif, Ged, Bardrick, Farold, Hale, Garner, Kelby, Melkof, Albem and Elmund: all slain. Many of you have been injured, like me, so that you can no longer support your family. Isn't it enough that we toil to the whims of nature? Isn't it enough that we are forced to pay Galbatorix's iron taxes, without having to endure these senseless torments?" Roran laughed manically, howling at the sky and hearing the madness in his own voice. No one stirred in the crowd.

Very stirring. Though, there are some problems with his speech. For starters, if you salt a field it's not going to lay fallow, it's going to be barren. A farmer, like Roran claims to be, should know that. Then the slavery in foreign lands. What foreign lands? Sudra? But Sudra is the good kingdom and probably doesn't have any slavery because its good. There's the land of the evil mountain, but that's part of the empire. Not really foreign land either. They don't appear to have any contact with anyone else, so Roran's just being overly dramatic here and stirring pots that shouldn't be stirred. And the iron taxes bit. They're part of a kingdom. They have to pay taxes. They should begrudge the king money to pay for an army that's been protecting their borders and letting them live in peace for a hundred years? The only wars have been with the Varden, who's attacked the kingdom and not the other way around. Then there's Roran laughing manically. Manically means insanity. Non stable. Not the sort of person you'd want to follow around and have lead you off away from your homes. No, maniacal laughter is usually reserved for the Evil Kings, not the Farm Boy Hero.

He talks some more, being very dramatic, about rather having his eyes plucked out and hands chopped off than seeing Galby triumph. He talks about the epics that will be sung of their village the only one that was brave enough to defy the Empire. Of course, my idea is that, if no one has protested this before then there probably isn't a problem with the empire or the king.

Then the culmination of Roran's speech,

Tears of pride flooded Roran's eyes. "What could be more noble than cleansing Galbatorix's stain from Alagesia? No more would we live in fear of having our farms destroyed, or being killed and eaten. The grain we harvest would be ours to keep, save for any extra that we might send as a gift to the rightful king. The rivers and streams would run thick with gold. We would be safe and happy and fat!

"It is our destiny."
(page 251)

What we have here is the Right of Kings. That is, the Right King will make everything Right. Because everyone knows that the Right King is always Right and Good. He's never a bad person because he's the one who's family was king and bloodline determines everything in making a good king. The Right King (who is not Galby) will never have taxes, abuse his power or have costly wars to land grab, he won't be power hungry or evil. He will be Good. Because he is the Right King. And everyone will be happy to serve him because he is the Right King. And the king will be happy to take what his people give him (as opposed to demanding it in taxes) because he is the Right King. It will be a golden age, much like the time before Galby because he is the Right King. (I'm not sure where the rivers running with gold comes from though. I know that kings can heal people with their toenails or something but making rivers run with gold is a new one for me. And isn't that a bad thing, rivers of gold? Because you can't really drink gold... I'm just saying.) This bothers me a lot. It's like an instant band aid. Have a problem? No worries, you've just got an Evil King. Get the Right King and everything will be fine! Being born of royal stock doesn't mean that you will be a good king. It just means that your ancestors were brutal enough to get into the top position and stay there.

But! Let us not forget that the blood of kings flows through those who live in Carvahall. Roran is obviously being set up as the Right King. He has the Right Ideas. He already has the kingly name of Stronghammer. He has the Right Ideas. And this is a Right Obvious Set Up. Paolini couldn't be any more blunter if he wrote in on Roran's forehead.

When Roran is done speaking, several other people come up and say, yeah, you know what, I don't like the idea, but I'm going to do it.

As Roran is walking back Hursts says that he could have convinced an Urgal to become a farmer. Another power of a king is mysterious charismatic speaking powers. Which Roran suddenly posses. So that's another check in the "he's going to be king" column.

The next chapter is pretty uneventful. People are getting ready to leave Carvahall. Roran kind of wanders around helping. Then he gets his shoulder looked at and Gertrude the healer makes this lovely comment, "Your family heals at the most extraordinary rate. I could hardly believe my eyes when Eragon started walking about after having his legs skinned and spending two days in bed." (page 257). Yes, it's been confirmed. Eragon is Wolverine in disguise.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Exodus, On the Crags of Tel'Naeir


I'm kinda annoyed right now. I bought an MP3 player and tried to install it and it refused to install properly. I am apparently completely covered with Technology Gremlins. I can not get any piece of tech to work by myself and I require my dad's help to do it. Even when I follow the instructions. So if I sound kinda bitchy during this, that's why.

Our first chapter begins with Roran. He's still going around talking to people seeing if they're coming or not. He's talking to Morn the tavern owner. Looking at the name Morn, I'm reminded of another Morn who is associated with drinking establishments. This would be Morn the alien from Star Trek Deep Space Nine who was found often in Quark's Bar, sitting silently on a stool drinking. With all of Paolini's other plagiarisms I find it hard to believe that this is just mere coincidence. Morn is bemoaning the loss of his liquor. Or what will happen to it if he leave? When Morn's wife, Tara, scolds Roran for stirring everyone up, Roran says that he always considered them friends and he doesn't want them killed by the Empire.

He then goes to the well and drinks, where he's met by Birgit, Quimby's widow. They talk for a moment and Birgit tells him that after the Ra'zac are killed, she will have her compensation from Roran for her husband's death. So that's three mentions of Quimby's death. After she leaves Roran has this lovely thought of, "Afterward though -if an afterward existed - he would have to pay her price or kill her. That was the only way to resolve such matters." (page 261) I'm sorry what? He's going to kill Quimby's widow because he can't do what's needed to be done to make reparations? There isn't a third option here? It's either satisfy her needs or kill her? What about her children? Is he going to be responsible for them after killing their mother? And Roran is supposed to be upset at all the killing he's been doing, yet here he is, thinking 'oh, I may have to kill her' and not feeling bad about it at all.

There's more talk about how they're going to feed all the people and that they're going to have to bring the flocks. So we're having about three hundred people, a bunch of sheep and goats all traveling through the Spine down to Sudra, while trying not to be noticed by the army that's sure to be following them once they discover that Carvahall has been abandoned. I'm not sure exactly how this is going to be done, but I'm sure I'll be horribly surprised.

The next morning people are ready to be off. Not everyone is leaving. Three families are staying behind, but the rest of the village is going. So, say that's about two hundred and fifty people at the most. When someone asks one of the people who are staying what they're going to do when the soldiers arrive they reply, "give them a fight they'll remember". Which is basically a suicide mission. Better that they go up into the Spine and let the soldiers have the village. That way, at least, they'd survive.

In any case, Roran is give a mighty staff to lead his people off into the wilderness with. Putting aside the obvious um phallic imagery here, Roran is now Moses, leading his oppressed people out into the wilderness to escape the evil King and take them to the promised land of Sudra. He'll probably part water somehow at one point. And since Roran is now Moses, Eragon will probably end up as Jesus at some point.

Moses and the Israelites Roran and the Villagers then head out into the great unknown.

Meanwhile back in the land of the Happy Stoned Elf Hippies there is a large gold dragon (and they're not hallucinating either). The large gold dragon, however, is missing his right foreleg. The dragon's rider is an elf. Elf's proper name is Oromis, but for purposes of this analysis we shall call him Yoda, because that's who he really is. Elf queen is upset that Yoda knew of Eragon's existence before she did. She bitches at him about withholding information and he tells her that she wasn't ready to hear it and wouldn't believe it anyway. He says that she's been blind to the world and if she really wanted to, could have scryed upon Arya (not that it would have done her much good, because it wouldn't have told her where Arya was, just that she was alive). After Yoda is done scolding her, Elf Queen's "anger drained away, leaving her face pale and her shoulders slumped. "I am diminished," she whispered." (page 268) This echo's Galadirel's comment from the Lord of the Rings after Frodo offered her the One Ring, where she said,"'I am diminished, and will go into the West, and remain Galadriel'". Now with Galadriel it makes sense what she's saying. She's no longer going to be this great powerful elven lady, but instead she's willingly relinquishing her power and leaving Middle Earth. Elf Queen however, is not giving up any power. She's not gotten any smaller and she's certainly not a body part that has gotten smaller because of disease. There is no reason for her to be diminished. But Paolini obviously wants to draw a parallel between her and Galadriel and so uses this line, even though it makes no sense in context.

Gold Dragon's name is Glaedr and here Eragon can obviously tell that the voice is male. Which is unusual, because previously Eragon has been unable to tell the difference between the voices in his head. He couldn't tell if Saphira was male or female, then later unable to tell that it was Brom speaking to him, and after that he wasn't able to tell the difference between Solomnbum's voice and Saphira's. And yet suddenly he's able to tell. There is no explanation for this sudden change. In fact if I didn't know better, I would have assumed that Paolini forgot about Eragon's inability to tell who's talking to him.

Glaedr tells Saphira the dragon that she has the heart of a true dragon. One would certainly hope that Saphria the dragon has the heart of a true dragon, because otherwise I'm wondering whose heart she has. It makes no sense to tell the dragon that they have the true heart of a dragon, because anything a dragon does with their heart is true to being a dragon because they're a dragon and it's their heart. This is supposed to let Saphira know that she has been doing the right things even though she has been raised alone without any dragons to shepherd her, but the way it's said is ridiculous and makes no sense. Unless he means that she has an actual heart in a jar somewhere.

Dwarf then asks why Yoda has been in hiding all this time and not defying Galby. The obvious answer is that if Yoda was defying Galby then Eragon couldn't be the last dragon rider to defy and defeat Galby. The story reason is that he couldn't risk being killed because otherwise there would be no one to train the new riders. And because Yoda and Glaedr cannot fight, Glaedr because of his leg and Yoda because of a head injury that makes it impossible for him to do big magic. The head injury happened when he was a captive of the Forsworn. Now, one must wonder, why would the dragon rider killing Forsworn take Yoda captive? The answer is so that way he can escape and while becoming injured in the process go back to the elves and wait around for Eragon to show up and be trained.

Yoda and Eragon then go off to contemplate their navels. They sit around at Yoda's hut and just sort of sit there for several hours enjoying the day. This is to show that Eragon has learned patience. Yoda does a palm reading for Eragon, telling him what weapons he's used and that he hasn't written or drawn very much at all. They talk about how Eragon likes overcoming challenges and about the silver hammer that Eragon got from the dwarf priest.

After talking about why Eragon is here (to learn more about himself and what he's capable of doing) Yoda has a sort of spasm. When Eragon asks about it, he's told that Yoda is basically being held together by a bunch of spells and that he's not long for this world. Obviously he'll die in a scene rather similar to what happens to Yoda in Star Wars. In the mean time he bitches Eragon out when Eragon says that he too is infirm because of his pain. It's rather nice to see. Except that he doesn't really bitch him out as he says it sympathetically. Still, it's nice to see Eragon being told that he shouldn't wallow in pity. Eragon, of course, immediately ruins it by thinking, that yes the pain is worth it because he is the only hope the people have for defeating Galby. With out really a second's selfish thought.

Yoda then has Eragon take off his shirt. But there is absolutely nothing sexual in nature about this at all. Yoda just wants to take a look at Eragon's scars. Really. However Saphira interrupts Yoda's peepfest by asking if Brom knew him.

Brom knew him and so did Morzan. Yoda taught them both.

Then the shirt comes off and Yoda spends a lot of time looking at the scar. He then has Eragon do some stretching exercises to see how flexible he is. There is nothing sexual about that. Saphira also has to do some stretching exercises. There's nothing sexual about that either.

When they break for lunch, Paolini takes the opportunity of Eragon's ignorance to infodump us about the world around them and then tell us about Brom and Morzan. It's amazingly shippy. First we learn that the Dragon Riders were really a bunch of cruel snot nosed kids because they used to tease Brom for some of his superstitious habits. Because everyone knows that superstitions are for the foolish and god believing people and the smart ones don't do that. See, this is the reason why Brom died a failure, he gave up his religious beliefs and the gods punished him.

"Morzan was my greatest failure. Brom idolized him. He never left his side, never contradicted him, and never believed that he could best Morzan in any venture. Morzan, I'm ashamed to admit- for it was within my power to stop- was aware of this and took advantage of Brom's devotion in a hundred different ways. He grew up so proud and cruel that I considered separating him from Brom. But before I could, Morzan helped Galbatorix to steal a dragon hatchling, Shurikan, to replace the one Galbatorix had lost, killing the dragon's original Rider in the process. Morzan and Galbatorix then fled together, sealing our doom.

"You cannot begin to fathom the effect of Morzan's betrayal had on Brom until you understand the depth of Brom's affection for him. And when Galbatorix at least revealed himself and the Forsworn killed Brom's dragon, Brom focused all his anger and pain on the one he felt responsible for the destruction of his world: Morzan." (page 280)

Now that sounds like a lover's spat to me. Now Paolini may have been trying to show deep brotherly affection between the two of them, but it comes off as sounding extremely sexual. Especially of Brom's reaction to Morzan's betrayal. The fact that Morzan is the one person he focused on seems to indicate that it was more than friendship.

Saphira, meanwhile, is flirting with Glaedr, which surprises Eragon. Yoda tells him not to worry about it and that she'll get over it in a few months. He doesn't seem to think about her wanting to maybe continue the dragonic race with his dragon. Because that would probably mean that Eragon and him would be in bed together at some point. Which of course Paolini would never allow. Even though his subtext seems to indicate otherwise.

When Eragon asks about why elves don't eat meat, Yoda tells him that they can get whatever they need from the plants and trees and it's barbaric to hunt for animals just for an extra course on the dinner table. Eragon then points out that the dragons have to eat meat and Yoda then replies that he doesn't needlessly inflict pain. This reminds me of keeping Kosher. One of the important parts about a Kosher animal is that when it is killed it cannot feel any pain and cannot know that it's going to die. The Kosher butcher has a knife so sharp that it can cut a piece of paper dropped on it. And that knife has to be kept in pristine condition. Kosher slaughter is considered one of the kindest ways to kill an animal. If it was the needlessly inflicting of pain that the elves were worried about, they could have developed similar methods to killing their animals. Or Paolini could have just taking Kosher Slaughter and given it another name. But instead, Paolini is so focused on his Vegetarian agenda that he ignores what he says in favor of pushing it.

After lunch Yoda tells Eragon that he needs to bathe every day. When Eragon complains, saying that the water is too cold for that, Yoda says that he needs to make the water warmer. Eragon says that he can't warm the entire spring. We then learn that the elves have invented the shower and have put them in their tree houses. There is no explanation as to how the water is piped in or kept hot or anything like that. The elves are just that good. They've used magic for technology. Yoda also tells Eragon that he needs to shave. Being told this is apparently a blow to Eraogn's pride. I'm not sure why it's a blow to Eragon's pride, we're just told that. So it must be.

They're then told they can leave, but they have to come back in the morning, an hour after sunrise. (If they have no clocks, I'm not certain how he'll know when it's been an hour, but that's besides the point).

Our next chapters have the Hairless Groin Scene!
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com

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Chapters the Secret Lives of Ants Or as I like to call it, the Hairless Groin Chapter Under the Menoa Tree


Our chapter begins with Saphira gushing over how wonderful Glaedr is. How shiny his scales are. How big he is. Just every little bit about him. She's like a girl on her first crush. Which is kind of cute. She doesn't pay any attention to Eragon which makes him feel really lonely.

The next morning Eragon stares at himself in the mirror.

I look older. Older and worn. Not only that, but his features had become far more angled, giving him an ascetic, hawklike appearance. He was no elf, but neither would anyone take him to be a purebred human, if they inspected him closely. Pulling back his hair, he bared his ears, which now tapered to slight points, more evidence of how his bond with Saphira had changed him. He touched one ear, letting his fingers wander over the unfamiliar shape.

It was difficult for him to accept the transformation of his flesh. Even though he had known it would occur -and occasionally welcomed the prospect of as the last confirmation that he was a Rider - the reality of it filled him with confusion. He resented the fact that he had no say in how his body was being altered, yet at the same time he was curious where the process would take him. Also he was aware that he was still in the midst of his own, human adolescence and its attendant realm of mysteries and difficulties.
(page 286)

He appears to be in the midst of the transformation that most Mary Sues or Gary Stus go through in a lot of fan fiction, when the author decides that their "normal looks" aren't special enough and they have to be even more special. Common versions of this are the Hermione make-over and the Mary Sue who turns into an elf once she comes to Middle Earth. These show that the author is uncomfortable with the way they look and they wish they looked better, different, so instead of transforming themselves they transform their self inserts.

Eragon then tries shave for the first time. When he cuts himself for the first time, he decides to give up on using a razor and use magic to get rid of all the nasty hairs. "Composing himself, he reviewed his store of words from the ancient language, selected those that he needed, and then allowed his invented spell to roll off his tongue. A faint stream of black powder fell from his face as his stubble crumbled into dust, leaving his cheeks perfectly smooth." (page 287). This is obviously Paolini who's cut himself shaving a bit to much wish fulfillment.

After this Eragon goes back to visit Yoda who gives him a new saddle for Saphira. Saphira then goes off with her crush and Eragon and Yoda do something called "Rimgar or the Dance of Snake and Crane" which is a series of poses developed for warriors but now everyone does it for health and fitness. It's Yoga. The Stoned Hippie Elves do Yoga. Eragon is initially reluctant to do the yoga because he's afraid his back is going to act up. Of course it doesn't, because it's not dramatic for it to happen.

After that we have the beginning of our Porno scene. "Let us wash the sweat from our limbs". Yoda says to Eragon.

Going to the stream by the house, they quickly disrobed. Eragon surreptitiously watched the elf, curious as to what he looked like without his clothes. Oromis was very thin, yet his muscles were perfectly defined, etched under his skin with the hard lines of a woodcut. No hair grew upon his chest or legs, not even around his groin. His body seemed almost freakish to Eragon, compared to the men he was used to seeing in Carvahall -although it had a certain refined elegance to it, like that of a wildcat. (page 289)

Now, looking at this scene, it seems a bit innocuous. Eragon is curious to see what a naked elf looks at. But what brings out the homosexual undertones to the front of this section are the words used to describe what Eragon sees. He lingers over Oromis' body, over his muscles and groin area using similes to describe them. And he even notes that he's paid attention the other men of Carvahall. Something that someone who isn't interested in men wouldn't pick up on. If anything, to get rid of the homosexual feelings it should have been something like, "Eragon noted that Oromis appeared to have no body hair, unlike the humans of Carvahall."

After they bathe Yoda takes Eragon to a hollow in the woods and tells him to sit on a stump and empty his mind. The object is to listen to what's around him using his mind. He discovers ants. He listens to the ants. We get minute descriptions of what the ants are doing. For two and a half pages. When he's done listening to the ants he goes back to Yoda and tells him what he learned. But apparently that was not the point of the exercise. No the point was to become aware of everything that was around him, "when you can watch one and know all" is what Yoda tells him. So apparently Eragon was supposed to become one with the universe. I think he needs some more of the elves' drugs.

Yoda then tells Eragon that he doesn't have to become fluent in the ancient language but he has to be able to use it without thinking about it. This leads into a lesson on grammar and then Eragon commenting that he's always been really good at doing magic with only a few words. And then to the fact that he blessed a child in the ancient language. This makes Yoda alert and it is discovered (after a short linguistics lesson where Paolini shows off that he has made a language with different tenses.) that the small baby that Eragon blessed in book one, is really cursed. There's some babble about how you can't gainsay a word's inherent nature but you can twist it and then Yoda learns that Saphira gave the baby a mark on the forehead.

Yoda gets shell shocked, "One who bares the sign of the Riders, and yet is not a Rider," he murmured. "In all my years, I have never met anyone such as the two of you. Every decision you make seems to have an impact far beyond what anyone could anticipate., You change the world with your whims." (page 295) Which means that Eragon is just that special that he's managed to surprise and shock an old elf who has practically seen it all and done it all. This is a classic Sue trait here. Being told that he's done something that no one has done before and that he has an impact on the world that no one could anticipate. He's a world changer, as if we didn't know it before, it's now been hammered in one more time.

After the discussion of the child, where Eragon learns that he's now in charge of her fate, they go back to their lessons and at the end of the day we learn that Saphira should have learned what Eragon had learned and Eragon what she did. They should have been mind melding the entire time.

Before they go for the day, Yoda give Eragon an alarm clock. No really. It's a small clockwork device that will wake him up at the proper time as long as he keeps it wound.

When Eragon gets back to his tree house, Arya shows up and offers to take him on a tour. As they're walking around Eragon asks Arya what elves do for a living or a profession.

"Arya answered just as quietly. "Our strength with magic grants us as much leisure time as we desire. We neither hunt nor farm, and as a result we spend our days working to master our interests, whatever they might be. Very little exists that we must strive for." (page 300)

Now my first thought after reading this was "Oh dear lord, they really are hippies." My second thought, however, was what's the point of having a society where you have nothing to strive for? The elves exist in a state of luxury but they do nothing but peruse their own selfish interests. They claim to be powerful magically but they do nothing to help the rest of the world. Wasn't it Arya who chastised the Dwarf Priest for spending money on the temple and not on the poor? What about the elves? They have plenty of time on their hands, they have nothing they need to strive for to live, so they could be going out and helping those poor. They could be out there singing food for the unfortunate, helping farmers grow their crops, making clothes for the needy. Paolini is trying to make the elves seem so wonderful and powerful, but instead he's just shown them to be hypocrites.

We then get to visit the smith who made all the Dragon Riders' swords. She took a vow never to make another sword again after what the Forsworn did with them. This means that Eragon isn't going to be getting a new made sword from her. The swords were apparently all destroyed by the Forsworn as well. Though Brom's sword was "lost" and not "destroyed". This is probably important.

When they're done talking to the Smith, Arya mentions that a special celebration is coming up that celebrates the pact made with the dragons and that it's auspicious coincidence that Eragon is going to be there for it.

We then get to the Menoa tree. This is the tree that Serious Ass mentioned to Eragon where a weapon would be hidden when he really needed it. He opens his mind and discovers that the tree has an intelligence! Why? Well... Ayra tells us a story.

Once upon a time, before the war with the dragons, elves weren't immortal. Apparently the bonding of a few to the dragons made the entire race immortal. No, I'm not sure how that works. Anyway. One of these not so immortal elves was a lady who never was in love with anyone until one day she was older and she met an young elf dude. They fell in love, or she fell in love with him. He obviously wasn't in love with her because she was old and he went and found a younger cuter chick. When she found out about this, she killed him and then merged herself with the tree.

The moral of this story is apparently you should only fall in love with someone who is suited for you. This of course is going back to Paolini's original thesis that there is only one true love for a person and that you shouldn't experiment to learn who it could be. You're just supposed to know.

They talk some more afterwards, about how Arya doesn't have to become Queen if she doesn't want to be, because the elves feel that you should only be queen if you really, really think you should. And Eragon tells her about the baby. Meanwhile the white raven is back screeching "Wyrda". Right after Eragon says, "I wonder what will become of the child".

I believe we'll find out, in our next chapter which appears to go back to the Varden.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters A Maze of Opposition, Hanging by a Thread


These two chapters by far are the most pointless that I've seen in the book. They're basically setting up Nasuada as the leader of the Varden and showing what she has to deal with. They're supposed to make her look like a leader and able of making decisions as well as the troubles that the Varden are facing.

We begin with Nasuada holding court. Two men are before her. One stole and ate thirteen chickens in four days. She comments about how it's an unlucky number, thirteen is. And I know that thirteen is an unlucky number in our world, but there is no reason why it has to be an unlucky number in Alagesia. This feels like he's using the number thirteen because of the implications that it has on our world, but there hasn't been any sort of indication here that would indicate that it's bad here. But in any case, the guy who has been accused of stealing the chickens does not deny it.

Which then kills any sort of potential tension in the scene. If you're going to be doing a scene between three characters. You need tension, something to keep the reader interested in what's going to happen. But if you have everyone agreeing to everything, the scene becomes dull to read. After all, who wants to read a scene about people agreeing with each other?

"You did something wrong."

"Yes I did."

"Okay then. I'm glad we got that settled."

See? There's no where for the scene to go. It just ends. At least in normal books. Here it kind of drags on. They talk about why the guy stole the chickens. (Because he was hungry and didn't have the money to pay for them.) Which leads Nasuada to think about how poor the Varden is and how everyone is stretched thin for money. She makes him pay for the chickens, but not at the chicken's price but at what the thief can afford. The chicken owner protests that he's not getting paid market value but then when Nasuada says he's lucky he's getting what he's getting, he stops. Though what I what I would do is make the chicken thief pay full price for the chickens and even if he couldn't pay it right away, make him do it anyway. Allowing him to pay within his means isn't a punishment. He stole something. It's against the law, he should pay for it. In fact what should of happened is that he should have paid for the chickens and something more to compensate the chicken owner for his loss. What Paolini is trying to show here is that Nasuada is a fair and just ruler trying to look out for the people and their interests, but instead what she comes off as a ruler who doesn't know how to mete out punishment. What she did wasn't fair at all to the victim.

After the chicken people go away, Nasuada calls her maid/secretary Farica and tells her to have the chicken thief reassigned and make sure he has full rations. Apparently he was a quarry worker and not on full rations. Which is idiotic. If you're going to have people doing heavy labor, they damn well better be on full rations. But apparently such logical things don't work in Eragon land.

Farica then tells her that king Orrin wants to see her. So, they go visit the king. The king is a budding chemist. No really.

Mentally bracing herself, she entered the laboratory with Farica. A maze of tables laden with a fantastic array of alembics, beakers, and retorts confronted them, like a glass thicker waiting to snag their dresses on any one of its myriad fragile branches. The heavy odor of metallic vapors made Nasuada's eyes water. Lifting their hems off the floor, she and Farica wended their way in single file toward the back of the room, past hourglasses and scales, arcane tomes bound with black iron, dwarven astrolabes and piles of phosphorescent crystal prisms that produced fitful blue flashes. (page 315)

Nasuada is apparently on equal rank of a king. I didn't realize that rebel leaders were on equal standing with a king. Apparently Paolini isn't certain as to what sort of organization the Varden is. First they were a group of rebels founded by Brom to fight against Galby. But then they have an inherited leader. There is no basis for her to be on equal ranking, especially since he's sponsoring and helping her group survive.

Orrin shows off some neat tricks... like being able to blow smoke out his ear. Which isn't really a good thing. He's also discovered a vacuum, by using a quicksilver experiment. But apparently the elves already knew about a vacuum. So basically the humans aren't inventing anything really on their own, they're confirming what the elves already know. So the humans aren't even allowed to discover things on their own. Human ingenuity has been thrown out the window. They're just playing catch up to the elves. Though Orrin seem the sort to invent gun powder. He probably will, in the third book.

Nasuada chastises Orrin for playing around with quicksilver and smoke through his ears when he's supposed to be doing important kingly things and isn't there a war with Galby too? And he tells her she needs to relax or she's going to go crazy. They talk some political stuff about how Eragon has thrown everything into chaos. And when is Galby going to attack? And how the Varden need more money. Orrin suggests that they try and earn it. Nasuada doesn't like this idea. God forbid she actually have to support her own people. She seems to have this idea that the Varden should be given what they need because they're fighting against Galby. Which isn't at all fair, after all Sudra is also apparently fighting against Galby as well and Orrin has an entire country to run and finance. Nasuada leaves in a snit fit knocking over a beaker spilling some contents on her dress.

When she gets back to her rooms, her dress is starting to dissolve. She gets it off quickly and they manage to save most of the dress. Nasuada wails about not having a nice dress anymore to wear to court. They take apart the ruined dress and she rips some of the lace.

She then has a brilliant idea. The magic users could make lace (which is very expensive) and they could sell it to people in the Empire cheaply. Thus they would make money. Oh there's some other stuff about how she doesn't like magic and that Galby really needs to die. But she apparently thinks that by selling lots of lace cheaply she'll make a fortune to help fund the Varden. And really that's all there is to this chapter. Oh and they should try and come up with magical ways to help the Varden. Why they weren't doing this before, I don't know.

I almost fell asleep doing these two chapters. Watching paint dry would have been more entertaining. I could have gotten high from the fumes.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Elva, Resurgence


This is a fun chapter where we get to meet an uber speshul character.

We begin with Nasuada getting a visit from Jormundur, her second in command. Apparently he wants her to visit the baby that Eragon blessed. Apparently there are special things happening around her. People have been saying things about her. Amazing stories and things. Great things are in store for her. But Nasuada believes it won't happen until she's older and after the war with Galbatorix is over. But Jormundur says the were-cat told him to take her to the baby. And not doing what a were-cat says can be dangerous or foolish. So she goes to see the baby.

When she gets to the baby's door there are lots of gifts. They knock and announce themselves. The person on the other side of the door asks, "Be you true of heart and steadfast resolve?" To which she responds, "My heart is pure and my resolve is as iron." And she's allowed in.

It's very new age fortune teller inside the room. Lots of layers of dark fabric, the room is cool despite it being exceptionally hot outside, there lots of multiple colored lanterns and things. Angela, Solomnbum, an old woman and a girl who looks to be three or four years old. Nasuada wants to know where the baby is.

The girl says that she is. She has violet eyes. And speaks with the experience and cynicism of an adult. Apparently there is a character in Dune just like this. But has blue eyes. Since she has violet eyes and not blue, she's obviously not the same character. She learned how to talk a week before. She just knows things about people. She knows exactly what to say to a person to make their fears go away. She made herself bigger because as a baby she couldn't do nothing. See, apparently she has to protect people from pain no matter what, and so being a baby she couldn't do that, so she made herself bigger. I'm not really sure how she did this. Magic, she says. Magic can make a baby realize that she needs to get bigger to help people. I don't think that babies have that sort of awareness, but Elva is just that speshul that she knows this.

She tells Nasuada that she'll fight for the Varden because she says if the war doesn't end it'll drive her insane to have to deal with the agonies of war.

So, she can see into the hearts of men, has violet eyes, she can see into the future three or four hours ahead and has some unidentified magical abilities. Her fortune, according to Angela is a hopeless quagmire. And nothing like this has ever happened like this in the history of magic. She is, without a doubt, a bone fide Mary Sue. She is a very Suey Mary Sue too. After she wasn't special enough as a baby touched by a dragon. She had be made even more special. And I'm not sure what purpose she's going to serves. She just feels like something put in there because Paolini felt that she was neat. She feels artificial and placed. There's no reason for her to exist except because Paolini wanted her there.

Nasuada tells Angela to watch Elva and then leaves.

We then go back to Eragon. It's a very short chapter. Three pages. The long shot of it is that Eragon faints again. So that's three fainting spells. That was the only point of this chapter. To have Eragon faint again. It's windy. Eragon closes his window. Goes down stairs to close the other window. Faints. Wakes up and goes back to sleep. That's the entire chapter. There's a bit where Saphira gets stuck in the stairwell... but really that's secondary to Eragon fainting. It's a completely pointless chapter. There's no reason for it to be there. It doesn't move the plot forward in anyway. It's just there. I could go on about this, but there's nothing really to say. Because it's just there. And that's it.
[identity profile] kippurbird.livejournal.com
Chapters Why do you fight? Black Morning Glory


We get some meat in these chapters. But not in my sense, but in story sense.

Eragon wakes up to Yoda's alarm clock. He's very sore. He goes about his ablutions but that's not our Thesaurus Raped word of the day. He goes to Yoda who asks him what Saphira learned and he answers. And then Yoda notices that Eragon isn't up to par.

"As the dragons departed, Oromis observed, "Your voice is rougher today, Eragon. Are you sick?"

"My back hurt again this morning."

"Ah. You have my sympathy." (341)

And then they go train. Yoda uses some lovely high language to describe the fact that they're going to spar, "Cross our blades" he says. They spar, or cross their blades, and Eragon is outclassed. Twenty minutes into the fight Yoda starts looking sick. Eragon tries to take advantage of this and his back starts to spazz and he collapses again. This time he doesn't faint, he's conscious through the entire time. I still call faint and that's five times. When he recovers he's upset about the fact that his tunic is all messed up.

Saphira expresses her concern for him and he snips at her and tells her to leave him alone.

Yoda is very bland about this. Asks him if he needs healing. Eragon says no. Yoda says, okay go meditate about ants. The amount of concern that Yoda exhibits for Eragon's well being is amazing. Eragon has a serious issues with his back. This should be looked at. If Yoda is truly wanting Eragon to become a wonderful dragon rider, he should be examining Eragon's back with his magical skills and not sending Eragon off to watch the ants. After all he's fainted five times from this problem. And fainting isn't really something you want in your chosen hero. Especially in battle.

Instead Eragon contemplates Ants. He's amazed. I begin to think that Paolini has an ant fetish.

Then he goes back to Yoda and describes what he witnessed. Yoda says that he's learning and they have lunch. It's vegetable stew. Eragon really wants some meat. Something he could sink his teeth into. Instead of asking for some meat, he asks why he's being made to meditate. He wants to know if there's more to it than understanding the doings of the animals and insects.

Yoda tells Eragon that he's not using his brain and that it's a human failing. That they don't use their brains unlike Elves. He then starts talking with Eragon about the potential dangers that he'll face, mainly from other magic users. And he basically tells Eragon that he has to be conscious of people all the time. Basically he needs to be reading people's minds all the time. Their privacy is less of an issue than not dying. And apparently Riders weren't taught to read everyone's mind until the Riders were sure they could resist the temptation not to do it. It's an invasion of privacy but you'll learn what drives people. I'm not sure if that's a fair exchange.

Then Yoda asks him what the most important mental tool that a person has. Eragon guesses determination and wisdom. Both wrong. It's Logic.

As he explains,

"History provides us with numerous examples of people who were convinced that they were doing the right thing and committed terrible crimes because of it. Keep in mind Eragon, that no one thinks of himself as a villain, and few make decisions they think are wrong. A person may dislike his choice, but he will stand by it because, even in the worst circumstances, he believes it to be the best option available to him at the time. (page 350)

This entire argument feels like it's coming from somewhere that Paolini has read before. After all, we've seen that he doesn't seem to follow it himself in his writing. Of course this could be argued that the people making decisions aren't thinking logically because they aren't trained to do it because they're simply human and don't know better. They aren't as enlightened as the elves who know this. Moving forward, Eragon is asked why does he fight the Empire.

"As I said before, to help those who suffer from Galbatorix's rule and, to a lesser extent, for personal vengeance."

"Then you fight for humanitarian reasons?"

"What do you mean?"

"That you fight to help the people who Galbatorix has harmed and to stop him from hurting any more."

"Exactly," said Eragon.

"Ah but answer me this, my young Rider: Won't your war with Galbatorix cause more pain that it will prevent? The majority of people in the Empire live normal, productive lives untouched by the king's madness. How can you justify invading their land, destroying their homes and kiling their sons and daughters?"

Eragon gaped, stunned that Oromis could ask such a question -Galbatorix was evil - and stunned because no easy reply presented itself. He knew he was in the right, but how could he prove it.

So, what basically just happened here is that Yoda told Eragon and us the readers that the king is doing a good job. Most people in the Empire are happy and healthy. The Empire is running, something that couldn't happen if the King was doing a bad person. Or insane. So, obviously it's Eragon who has the problem here, because he's so insistent that the King is Evil. Eragon is told to ponder this question and get a convincing reply.

They have more lessons, this time in writing. Yoda gives him some scrolls to read. Apparently the elves don't have books, but scrolls. In this instance they're behind the humans and their technology, for they're able to mass produce books. Yoda says that they're to help him learn things that he can't vocalize. Eragon wants to know what vocalize means. Eragon, in his point of view has been using words that I constantly have to look up in a dictionary to understand, but he doesn't understand what vocalize means. You do not use words in that you character wouldn't understand if you're writing in their point of view. Just because they're not actually thinking it or speaking it, doesn't mean that it's still not their thoughts. But I've discussed this before with Roran's POV. Yoda gives him the dictionary to read.

As Eragon is leaving, he wants to know when they're going to work on magic. Yoda agrees to teach him some now. Apparently, the rules of magic are even more confusing that we previously thought they were. Now we learn that it's not the words that you use, but the thoughts behind the word. So then theoretically it could be said that you could say, "fire" but be thinking "water" and do something with water, if that's the reasoning we're going with. So, I'm really not certain how the magic works anymore.

They play with water. Doing things with it. Eragon eventually gets bored and wants to say something but he is chary of offending Yoda. Chary is our Thesaurus raped word of the day. It means, of course, wary. It even sounds like it. In fact it conveys the same thing as chary, except that I wouldn't have had to go to the dictionary to double check to make sure I got the right meaning. There really was no need for that word to be there, unless Paolini wanted me to go Huh? while reading the book. He still says something, because he's bored.

So, Yoda binds him in water. Eragon tries a bit of magic that drains him of his energy. Apparently, according to Yoda, he did it wrong. You're not supposed to use a spell that has only two outcomes, successes or death. Instead you're supposed to make it a process that can be stopped when you want it too. They try again, but this time Yoda fails in his strength. Apparently its his sickness that's acting up.

Eragon feels sorry... or we're told that he feels sorry for Yoda. He bows to Yoda, putting his head against the ground. He feels no pain. Despite the fact that his back used to be killing him. He apologizes to Yoda and Yoda says nothing. So, he stays there until Saphira and Glaedr return.

Yoda tells him that they'll have their lessons again tomorrow and that he should, for practice, start talking only in the ancient language. He's also going to be fighting with another elf in the morning. Yoda reaffirms that Eragon is "as good a swordsman as he ever met" and that he only needs to maintain his current skill level and doesn't need to learn anything more. Let us be reminded that earlier Yoda was kicking Eragon's butt and Eragon didn't even get a hit on him. But apparently he doesn't need any more training and Yoda can't teach him any more. I'm beginning to think that Yoda wants Eragon to fail.

As they're about to leave, Saphira snaps at Glaedr's tail playfully. Eragon chides her on this and she tells him to stop being her conscience. Eragon finds this hilarious and almost falls off Saphira while they're flying. Pity he didn't. Anyway he tells her it's only fair that he be her conscience if she's his.

Arya shows up at the tree house and offers to take Eragon out to show him places. We learn that there are only two children in Ellesmera at the time. Apparently budding isn't that great of a process. They go and visit the place where the elves live. It's very pretty. There are great works of art which is apparently all right for the elves to have, but not for the dwarves to have because the dwarves take money away from hungry people and the elves... are hippies.

She shows him a morning glory and says that it's the most perfect and lovely flower. Eragon agrees with her and says that she is too. Saphira is shocked. Arya tells him that some other elf made it for her. Eragon feels embarrassed and in typical thinking about himself fashion is offended that she didn't like his compliments.

So, he leaves, with Saphira explaining to him why it would never work between the two of them. I think she's jealous of her and wants him all for herself.

Back at their tree house, Dwarf shows up again. Eragon admits to having forgotten about dwarf. Thus, once again, proving that he is a non-entity. They talk for a little bit, Dwarf complaining about the elves and the leaves and being drunk like. We do learn that he's engaged to be married. But it's Saphira who asks this, Eragon never thought to ask about his personal life. And that's another point on the disconnected from reality score. After all dwarf is supposed to be his good friend but he's never thought to learn anything about him. Dwarf is a non entity to him and exists only to be the token dwarf on the adventure.

However the best part of this,

Helping him upright, Eragon said, "I think you'd better stay here for the night. You're in no condition to go down those stairs in the dark."

Orik agreed with cheery indifference. He allowed Eragon to remove his mail and bundle him onto one side of the bed. Afterward Eragon sighed, covered the lights, and lay on his side of the mattress.

He fell asleep hearing the dwarf mutter, "...Hvedra...Hvedra...Hvedra..." (page 568)

Okay, apparently I was wrong. There is my kind of meat in this chapter. Also I would like to nominate "Keep in mind Eragon, that no one thinks of himself as a villain, and few make decisions they think are wrong." As the most ironic sentence in this book.


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Kippur Critiques Bad Books

January 2016



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