Chapter 15: Rumors and Writing
I was thinking, if all filler was taken from Brisingr and Inheritance you could easily fit everything else in a sole book. And also, if all filler was taken out of Eldest, you could fit the three in one book, or in two books that didn’t kill puppies on impact.
The chapter starts with Eragon sauntering toward his tent. Seven words inside the chapter and the dictionary is already open, and I’m wondering why Paolini didn’t use walking, jogging, hustling or other word that indicated movement, but one that people actually understood instead, and that also indicated the speed of his movement. To be fair, English is my second language, so it could be me. Then again, Paolini has a long record of abusing thesauri, so it’s more likely him.
Anyway, he goes into his tent, and starts meditating just like he did in Eldest, touching all living beings with his mind. He does this for a long while and we get this:
“Off in the distance, he heard men talking as they stood around a watchfire. The night air carried their voices farther than they intended, far enough that his keen ears were able to make out their words. He could sense their minds as well, and he could have read their thoughts had he wanted, but instead he chose to respect their innermost privacy and merely listen.“
First, last time I checked touching someone mind was exactly the same as reading their thoughts. It was a big thing in the end of Eldest, Eragon arrives into the Varden and he is overwhelmed by the thoughts of everyone, and though he does his best to keep the thoughts aside he still picks up a little of each and every person’s life randomly. There is also a point where he notices that a guy will kill another one, even though both those guys are far from where Eragon was standing, but Paolini obviously didn’t look up “Continuity” in his thesaurus, so it’s nothing new.
Second, he doesn’t read their mind to respect their privacy, but still eavesdrop on their conversation. I guess it’s like a D&D player who doesn’t fudge dice rolls, but still mass gate into solars while ascending through manipulate form at level 1.
So apparently the men are talking about the elves. Apparently the elves are jerks that don’t even answer friendly questions. And the elf women are prettier-than-thou. Also the men are afraid that the elves will kill them all after Galbatorix is dead and take over the world, since they are stronger, faster and all can do magic.
Now this is pretty reasonable. The race that apparently steals your babies and puts changelings in their place suddenly appears and starts taking over the north part of your nation, supposedly to help you, but they could have a hidden agenda. So it’s kind of nice except for one thing: It doesn’t follow.
You see, last book, everyone loved the elves so much that they cried when the elves stopped laughing. Everyone talked about how they were better and the furry one even made all the women want him. But now supposedly the elves are evil and the humans have lots of tales about the evilness of the elves. Or at least the village of Carvahall. Except that Eragon is from Carvahall, and when he started dreaming about Arya he didn’t think it was mind control, and when he rescued Arya he wanted to bone her instead of being afraid of her, and when he lived among the elves he didn’t say “My prejudice was wrong, and the tales were lies, the elves actually are awesome.” but “I’m a Sue and so are the elves”.
So, I like that Paolini is putting flaws on the elves, but it looks like a Author’s Saving Throw to me. And not the “Those elves are too much of a Sue, I will make them flawed now” kind of save, but the “Someone said everyone loves the elves, I will show that they are wrong” kind of save. Indeed odds are good that it will be dropped before the end of the book. But I digressed too much now.
Anyway they go and talk about how Galbatorix doesn’t do anything to stop the elves, but perhaps he isn’t really trying. The Galabtorix in his throne is becoming more and more awkward, I think it will end up being a plot hole. Then they say that Eragon could defeat the elves if the elves turned on them. Then other guy points that Eragon is more elf than human, and that he is as loyal as an Urgal. Then someone says that he is always freshly shaven and that he must use magic as a razor. It all spooks them out. I actually like the idea of this chapter, but since it comes out of nowhere it falls flat. They talk more, one guy says that they need the Riders to protect the land. Other guy says that there are no dragons, and also that he wants to be able to protect himself. This chapter has so much good ideas but they are introduced in such a way that it makes them an obvious retcon.
Then they change subject to a guy called Lord Barst. He is strong and clever, but evil and rich. He uses strategies and make feats of strength that shouldn’t be possible (e.g. taking someone heart of they chest and eating it.) but can’t use magic. He is loyal to Galbatorix. Henceforth he is Roran’s Evil Opposite. He exists because in the last fight Roran needs to fight someone, while Eragon fighst Galbatorix and Saphira fights Shruikan. And I just noticed that the guy that talks about bringing back the Riders, about Eragon protecting the humans, and that at one point says that Eragon saved his life is the only one that is named. Perhaps you need to enter the Eragon fanclub to gain a name? His name is Svern by the way. It is a funny name. But anyway they talk about how this Barst guy has a brain and is strong and then they disperse.
is a cardbord cutoutwas meditating the conversation doesn’t disturb him. Then he goes and trains the alphabet. Then trains the alphabet threes more time. Then writes about his day. Then writes in kanjiLiduen Kvaedhí, the mode of writing of the elves. Then he reads Domia abr Wyrda, the book about the whole story of Alagaesia, to Glaerd (I’m not calling him Glaedr, it’s dumber than Brisingr). Glaerd doesn’t react since this book is as boring as the last 3 page of this chapter was. Eragon reads until it’s the coldest, darkest part of the night. No really.
“Sitting next to the open chest, he read aloud to Glaedr from Domia abr Wyrda about the dwarves’ many rites and rituals—few of which Eragon was familiar with—until it was the coldest, darkest part of the night.”
I guess it would be the stormiest part of the night too, but we are allowed only one rain per book, and it rained right in the start of the book.
Anyway Eragon goes to sleep and the chapter ends. Everyone else is also sleeping, because this last part of the chapter was boring.
This could be a nice chapter with the proper build up and the proper delivery and if it was not for the fact that everything interesting that could happen, from Eragon developing character to foreshadowing about the elves backstabbing the Varden later in the book, wouldn’t be dropped in, like, five seconds. I mean I read three other Paolini books, I know he will drop it.
Chapter 16: Aroughs
“It was midmorning when Roran and his men arrived at the cluster of tents next to the road. The camp appearedgray and indistinct through the haze of exhaustion that clouded Roran’s vision. A mile to the south lay the city ofAroughs, but he was able to make out only the mostgeneral features: glacier-white walls, yawning entrywayscontaining barred gates, and many thickly built squarestone towers.”
So, one paragraph into the chapter and even the city is yawning. I don’t think the word means what Paolini think it means. Sure, the Google says that yawn can also mean opening, but when I read it, I can’t help but see the city with a lot of mouths yawning. It’s like saying that someone trained the alphabet: Everyone will understand what you meant, but they cannot help the mental image of a general training a bunch of letters.
Anyway, Roran has just arrived and the horses are almost dropping from exhaustion. A boy comes and Roran orders him to bring him Brigman, the commander of the camp. It takes an hour to Brigman come, and Roran is super tired. Brigman comes, Roran gives him the parchment that Nasuada gave him and Brigman seemed impresed that he covered so much ground in so little time. He asks Roran if he will lead the charge and Roran says that no, he is tired and will sleep until tomorrow. And I go like wait what?
Here is a map of Alagaesia, and the distance that Eragon and Murtagh traveled in the end of the first book and the distance that Roran traveled to Aroughs. The numbers are in pixels.
As you can see Eragon rode about 1000km (180 leagues, If I remember correctly) in eight days. Since it’s equivalent to about 625.54 pixels we have that 1km is about 0.62554 pixels. So Roran rode roughly 242km in four days. Letting aside for a moment the ludicrous amount of ground that Eragon covered, it doesn’t make any sense that Roran would cover 242km in four days. A quick search on the Google reveals that a trained horse can cover 200km in a day. He needs resting afterwards for 24 hours, but since the Varden had horses along the way he changed horses a few times. Now, the Varden couldn’t have horses all the way, but they could, easily, put the best horses in the end. So Roran would have ridden like, the first 100km in 5 hours, since a galloping horse can ride at 20km/h easily, and he could change horses every hour or half-hour, and then he could have picked up the superhorse in the end and made it to Aroughs before the end of the day. If he had normal horses he still could have covered the first 100km in the 5 hours and could then cover the 142km remaining in less than 3 days, since he would still have new horses every now and then, just not as often as he was in the first half of the trip. Now I bring this up because Roran was tired. Dead tired. Tired enough to spend one of his 3 remaining days sleeping. If it was that he rode 242km in one day thanks to horse changing I could understand. He would have ridden 12+ hours straight barely stopping to do anything. But if he rode nonstop for four days changing horses he could have covered like, the 1000km that Eragon covered if the horses were in 20km breaks, since he sleep only 3 hours per day and what not. But covering only 242km? Bull shit.
To be totally fair though Eragon is unlikely to have rode in a straight line, and the pixels counts have an errors margin of 10, but since the shorter path between two points is a straight line the distance that Eragon rode in pixels would be bigger what would mean in turn that Roran would have even less ground to cover. And also the amount of ground that Eragon covered is ludicrous because horses die if they ride nonstop and because the full gallop speed of a horse decrease exponentially in function of the time, even if they somehow considering that they somehow don’t die. Even assuming zombies, they would still need energy to keep going on. Unless, of course, they absorb the sunlight and use it to create the energy to keep going, but I prefer to not dwell into the midst of green zombies horses. But I digressed way too much right now.
Anyway Roran orders the people to stand down for the day. Brigman disagree, because they have 3 days to take the city. Roran says that he will not attack until he is rested and analyzed the situation. He makes a few treats too, that I will let pass because he was riding in circles for 4 days, and as such should be tired enough to not think properly. Indeed he apparently thinks that he can beat Brigman even though he is so tired, which obviously show how tired he is to think that someone as tired as him can do something other than sleep. Anyway Brigman is all, well if this shit doesn’t work it’s all your fault, and Roran goes like, the same way that it’s your fault that this shit didn’t work until now because of you. The guy now hates Roran and Roran thinks that he should have answered in a more diplomatic way, which is nice once it means that he doesn’t want to jerk people around and, as such, he is more heroic than Eragon.
Roran sleeps and wakes up. He notices that he slept 18-24 hours and is pissed with himself because now he has only 2 days to take the city. He is barely able to stand up because of the pain, and thinks that this will be an interesting day. I think that he is masochist, because he thinks that having to take a city while being barely able to stand up is “Interesting”. So he goes and takes a walk with the men that came with him questioning some soldiers and thinking about how to take the city. The city is built in a way to be difficult to invade. Now why it’s this way is anyone guess, since the city is nowhere nearby anything and has no reason to be so fortified. Except perhaps to give Roran a challenge.
Anyway Carn, the mage that came with Roran, thinks that they might as well lay siege on a mountains. Except that you can’t technically lay siege on a mountain. Unless said mountain is a dwarf city, but cutting the supplies of a mountains-city is easy, since it can’t grow their own food. Then Brigman comes and agrees with Carn. Roran says nothing, but he thinks that they need 8000 soldiers, Saphira and Eragon to take the city. Obviously however, he will take the city with like, half his force and will still gloat about it later on. Apparently for Katrina’s sake, even though she would be okay even if some random city in the middle of nowhere was not taken.
Then, Roran asks Brigman about the city and Brigman says a lot of stuff. First Galbatorix stocked lots of food in the city before the Varden cut off their access to food. Now, why would the Evil Overlord of Evil care about a city in the middle of nowhere if he can destroy the Varden anytime he wants? Seriously, why? No, giving Roran a challenge and more bragging rights doesn’t count. Aroughs also has free access to water thorugh some canals, and it also has wells and springs inside the city, enough to keep 1600+ soldiers plus the commoners and nobles and merchants and all the rest of the population away from thirst. Now why didn’t they poison the canals? I mean, poison is wonderful in a water body, because you don’t notice that it was poisoned until it’s too late. Even if everyone in the city survived being poisoned (Unlikely), they would be too weak to fight back when the Varden tried to invade. Seriously, it’s not that hard to poison lots of people, Angela already showed us that in Eragonland you can poison thousands of people in a 4-6 hours span even without a water body, they should follow her lead. Except that it’s not heroic to poison people, so it’s off the table.
Apparently they have lots of information about the city because they had an informant. He promised to let they enter the city but in the end he died and his head is now in the wall. They talk some more about the city and its defense, and I try not to dwell too much into it, just to be on the safe side. Anyway, they can’t breach the gates, or at least not quickly enough for their purpose. Also the gates apparently aren’t protected by spells, even though they have a spell-caster in the city. Said spell caster is rather incompetent and probably just exist so Carn can fight someone. It’s all very infodump like, with lots of telling instead of showing. There is some stuff about the walls being strong and the nobles retreating into the city, but it is all boring and has no impact whatsoever in nothing.
Anyway apparently the canals are there for powering mills and transportation. Even though they were to supply water, like, 5 pages ago. Also there is a slate mine around the city. Then Roran decides to visit the mills, but before he wants a complete report of everything, from the experience in this siege to the provisions that they have. Apparently there is no shortage in weapons, but they have food for only a week or so. Also Roran has a “I need to learn how to read” moment, and he actually plan to learn soon, which is way better than Eragon, that wanted a sword for a whole book but waited until it feel from the sky in his hand. Indeed Roran is a better character than Eragon because he does stuff, instead of simply reacting to what others say. He doesn’t simply sit around and wait until a prophecy show him how to solve the situation; he goes and tries to solve the situation to the best of his abilities, even if some of the things he thinks shouldn’t work as they work. He is proactive where Eragon is reactive, and that is why the chapters in Roran’s POV are marginally better than the ones in Eragon’s POV. Indeed Roran himself says that he is proactive, or that daring and imagination bring him his victories. Also he sympathizes with Brigman, because taking Aroughs is really hard, and even says that he is a good commander, but he lacks daring and imagination to take the city.
Anyway they go and study the city some more. Apparently Brigman was wrong and the gates do have spells on it. But some spells could be spells to protect the spells that protect gates and kill whoever tries to dispel said spells, so it’s better not to try, or you can become a puddle of water. Even though it takes lot of energy to cast magic from distance, and as such whoever cast the spells on the gates should die if the one trying to dispel the magic was like, 3km away, as Carn is trying to do. And Carn should die too, since he is casting magic from a long distance. I think that Paolini give up on the magic system 2 books ago and is just making stuff has he go at this point.
After that Roran goes to the mills. The water flows through three consecutive twenty foot falls to keep the mills running, and a sluice gate in each fall to control the water levels of each fall. The sound of the water remembers him of Dempton’s mill, where he was working when Garrow died. He blames himself for leaving, because he thinks that he could have saved Garrow if he was there. Then his brain replies saying that he would have died in a horribly way if he was there, since without Eragon he would be as helpless as a newborn baby before the Ra’zac. Even though he killed one of the Ra’zac. Right.
All the ideas that everyone had been were to wait until Saphira comes or to order the city to surrender, since they would be frightened of Roran’s name. While it would shake their morals I don’t think that the name of a guy in this situation, short of him being a magic thing, will make anyone surrender. Sure they could think that they are fucked, but they have better chances with the numbers and the terrain at their favor, they wouldn’t surrender. Roran and co. stand around and discuss the mills some more and Roran suddenly has a revelation. He goes and closes the sluice gates without telling anyone why. Then he goes and explains his plan, but we don’t get to know what the plan is. Henceforth the plan will succeed.
Apparently Brigman disagrees with Roran. We get that exchange:
“You’re mad!” he exclaimed once Roran had finished. “It’ll never succeed.”
“You take that back!” said Mandel, and jumped forward, his fists clenched. “Why, Roran’s won more battles than you’ve ever fought in, and he did it without all the warriors you’ve had to order around!””
Sure, a battle hardened commander fought in fewer battles than a farmboy. Sounds right to me. Also why does Brigman have to say that line? I have seen it like, a zillion times. Anyway they disagree and Roran says that it doesn’t matter if he disagree, he only have to follow the orders as they are given. Brigman says that he will have to answer for his decisions, but Roran doesn’t care, as long as they take Aroughs. This Brigman/Roran is nice, because they feel like characters, who hate each other even though they are on the same side, and who will work together even though they have problems between themselves, which is really nice because they are at war and are supposed to put their differences aside and fight.
Chapter 17 – Dras-Leona
The chapter starts with Eragon wanting to destroy things. Specifically Helgrind, because he has so many unpleasant memories related to Helgrind. I don’t think I want to destroy everything that I have unpleasant memories related to. I actually like those things since they show my failures and were I have to grow. But then again, it could be just me. And it could also be that I’m not a bloodthirsty sociopath.
There is a long line of people fleeing from the city, to Teirm or Urû’baen, looking for safety. Again why is this war just if so many have to suffer? Why don’t they simply send death squad after death squad until someone succeeds in killing Galbatorix? If you want to protect the innocents you don’t go to war, dammit! But apparently they don’t want to protect the innocents. They want to raze the city to the ground:
Dras-Leona seemed as foul and evil to Eragon as when he had first visited it, and it aroused in him a lust for destruction such as he had not felt at either Feinster or Belatona. Here he wanted to lay waste with fire and sword; to lash out with all of the terrible, unnatural energies that were at his disposal; and to indulge in every savage urge and leave behind him nothing but a pit of smoking, bloodsoaked ashes. For the poor and the crippled and the enslaved who lived within the confines of Dras-Leona, he had some sympathy. But he was wholly convinced of the city’s corruption and believed that the best thing would be to raze it and rebuild it without the taint of perversity the religion of Helgrind had infected it with.
As he fantasized about tearing down the cathedral with Saphira’s help…
He wants to raze a city to the ground and thinks about tearing down a cathedral because of a religion. He wants to kill everyone in the city because of a religion. He wants to kill even those that were mind raped into loyalty because of a religion. He never cared enough to think what the name is and wonder if it has a name.
…it occurred to him to wonder if the religion of the priests who practiced self-mutilation had a name. His study of the ancient language had taught him to appreciate the importance of names—names were power, names were understanding—and until he knew the name of the religion, he would not be able to fully apprehend its true nature.”
And a religion that he doesn’t know the fricking name, on top of this. A religion that he thinks doesn’t even have a name. He doesn’t wonders what is it name or something to that effect, but he wonders if it has a name, because obviously religions don’t have a name by default. Especially if they are an evil religion. Especially if said religion was around for 100 years and someone would come up with a name if it didn’t already have one, for simplicity sake. Or it’s because Eragon is an apathetic bastard that doesn’t think something exists until he pay attention to it. Its official Eragon Shadeslayer will be the villain in one of my books. I wouldn’t be able to write such a wonderful villain even if I tried anyway.
So the Varden go and flatten fields of wheat and barley, indirectly killing the poor farmers that had those farms has their only living, and destroying food that could feed thousands mouths if used properly.
Then Eragon helps the building of a siege engine and Saphira gouge deep trenches in the ground. Saphira also destroy lots of houses, walls and fences, killing anyone inside the houses and destroying particular propriety without but a thought. When everything is done one is wondering what the empire is doing, after all they don’t attack or do nothing, instead they simply let a hostile army set camp right outside their walls. Also Nasuada orders everyone to go to bed.
Eragon goes, meditates, and prepare all the spells that he might need the next day. I think he now cast spells as a Wizard, and needs to spend an hour preparing the magic. After that he goes into his trancewaking dreams, but is restless, wanting the battle to come soon, because then he doesn’t need to think. Also Saphira is dreaming about biting and tearing, looking forward to the pleasure of the battle. And we get something nice, for a change:
Her mood influenced his to a certain degree, but not enough to make him entirely forget his apprehension.
See? It’s possible that Eragon is a heartless bastard because his dragon is influencing him! It would explain so many things, it has so much potential… But here, it will be just a throwaway line, forgot in the next five words.
The next paragraph starts with Eragon waking up, with no mention of a carnivore violent bloodthirsty beast influencing his mind. Eragon and his dragon talk about the situation:
“The longer this drags on, he said to Saphira, the easier it will be for Galbatorix to defeat us when we arrive at Urû’baen.
Then we must not delay, she replied.”
Then why the fuck did you not go straight to Urû’baen? We would have had one less book and everyone would be happy. It would also make sense, so you would gain bonus points too!
Anyway it’s dropped in favor of Nasuada, Orrin, Eragon, Saphira and two heralds walking into the city to send a message, and everyone saying that something is amiss because no soul can be seen. And instead of backing off, or trying to protect themselves from an ambush they keep going. But obviously there is no trap or ambush, and the heralds make it to the gates unarmed. Eragon & friends stands a little farther of the gates, but nearby enough to hear everything that is going on.
The Varden herald goes and talks to an unseen man:
“Hail! In the name of Lady Nasuada of the Varden and King Orrin of Surda, as well as all free peoples of Alagaësia, we bid you open your gates so we may deliver a message of import unto your lord and master, Marcus Tábor. By it, he may hope to profit greatly, as may every man, woman, and child within Dras-Leona.”
From behind the wall, a man who could not be seen replied: “These gates shall not open. State your message where you stand.”
“Speak you for Lord Tábor?”
“Then we charge you to remind him that discussions of statesmanship are more properly pursued in the privacy of one’s own chambers rather than in the open, where any might hear.”
“I take no orders from you, lackey! Deliver your message —and quickly, too!—ere I lose patience and fill you with arrows.”
They want to enter in a city were something is amiss, unguarded and only the three of them. You don’t enter in a hostile city to barter. What if Murtagh is in the city with another 100.000 men army and kill Eragon, Orrin, Nasuada and Saphira were they stand? The Varden would have been decapitated and the whole war would be lost. Seriously, Paolini need to study logic and the ways of warfare more. The way he puts it make everyone seen stupid, and it was not what he was aiming for. But wait! It gets better!
“None can withstand your might?” said the man, his voice echoing off the buildings. “You have an overly high opinion of yourselves, I think.” And with a gigantic bellow, the glittering red mass of Thorn leaped from the streets below onto the roof of a house, piercing the wooden shingles with his talons. The dragon spread his huge, claw-tipped wings, opened his crimson maw, and raked the sky with a sheet of rippling flame.
In a mocking voice, Murtagh—for it was Murtagh, Eragon realized—added, “Dash yourselves against the walls all you want; you will never take Dras-Leona, not so long as Thorn and I are here to defend it. Send your finest warriors and magicians to fight us, and they will die, each and every one. That I promise. There isn’t a man among you who can best us. Not even you … Brother. Run back to your hiding places before it is too late, and pray that Galbatorix does not venture forth to deal with you himself. Otherwise, death and sorrow will be your only reward.”
See? This chapter ends with massive character derailment for Murtagh. Since when is he a scenery chewing villain? Since when does he care about what Galbatorix will do in the future? I thought he was a guy forced into obeying Galbatorix, and would only talk about his name with rage and/or pain. While taunting Eragon and the Varden is nice since he doesn’t like both of them, the way he does the taunting is completely out of character. He is supposed to be a nice guy forced into being evil, and that kind of guy doesn’t gloat about those things.
Also, the reveal that it’s Murtagh is lame at best. Before he ends his speech you already know that it’s him, so it simply doesn’t work. You know how it could work? If he was alone, said everything and in the end it had a “said Murtagh”. You would read it, when there was the brother bit you would start thinking, “The Varden are fucked”, and when it ended with the speech tag you would want to read what happens next to see what would be everyone reaction. This way you already know that it’s Murtagh before hand and wonder why Paolini dropped three anvils in your head (Thorn, The narration saying that it’s Murtagh two times and the Brother bit, since it becomes anvilicious if you already know it before hand), and thinks instantly that the speech is out of character for Murtagh.