Chapter Sixty Four: That Which Does Not Kill…
… makes you stronger?
Well, since this chapter is pretty much Eragon’s party doing some dungeon crawling at max difficulty mode, they’re bound to get some good XP along the way.
Elva, the Detector of the group, starts the chapter off by talking Eragon and the rest of the party through the many varieties of lethal traps she can sense. Once again an interesting bit about this particular talent is referred to only once:
She stamped her foot and made a sound of exasperation. “It won’t work if you don’t mean it. I can’t tell if something is going to hurt you unless you actually intend to put yourself in danger.”
Wow A talent that’s has an interesting limit A three dimensional (non-Mary-Sue) Elva-type character would make for such an awesome protagonist for a fantasy story:
When a strange rider visits a small rural village, residents flock to receive blessings and healing from him and his unicorn. But then one small girl child is accidentally cursed, rather than blessed, in the ancient – and permanent – language of old magic. Bound by the curse and ostracised by everybody around her wherever she goes, help arrives in the most unlikely of forms…
I know I’d read that Well, maybe
So all disgressions aside, this dungeon might as well be taken from Super Mario World: we’ve got spikes, pits, blocks of falling stone, etc. It’s one big chapter of Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom no I’m not sorry).
Paolini also insists of using ‘squished’ again. And falls directly into the trap of recounting, not showing at the time, how they all had seen Murtagh walking around close by at one point.
Eragon gets stuck on figuring out one trap which is proving difficult to spring without causing bodily harm. In the end, they have to do some character-switching with the R2 button; to Saphira who can fly over the trap easily to test it, then back again to fly all the other characters over on her back. That’s pretty much RPG 101 logic puzzle solving right there.
After that, Elva detects a cutting metal trap in the walls. Eragon has only a moment to consider this before twenty nameless XP fodder mooks come out of a side door and block their way, all standing in a line. Well that sure is helpful of them.
Eragon felt a blade of thought stab into his mind as the enemy magicians began to chant in the ancient language
That’s a godawful metaphor, Paolini.
Saphira flames them, nothing doing. Eragon ‘defends himself’ (that’s as much description about that as we get) but doesn’t attack back. And as for Elva, well…
[Elva] was speaking to one of the spellcasters, saying something about the man’s daughter
She’s psychic, now? Or Shelvalock Holmes?
And get this. Eragon asks Elva if they’re standing over the trap. Turns out they are. Eragon whacks the floor with his hand, setting the trap off. And wouldn’t you know it;
The plates of metal caught the magicians between them and cut them in two, like a pair of giant tin snips, then just as quickly retreated back into their hidden slots. The suddenness of it shocked Eragon. He averted his eyes from the shambles before them What a horrible way to die.
WHAT A HORRIBLE WAY TO KILL TWENTY PEOPLE, MORE LIKE!
Because of this, Elva faints. Luckily for them, she comes to as Saphira’s about to jump the trap with four people on board and shouts not to. Elva stumbles off and vomits, then afterwards explains that there’s also a ceiling blade which would be triggered if Saphira jumped.
Eragon wonders why Galby’s out to kill them, since apparently he wants Elva alive. Maybe it’s because this whole book suffers from Rule of Cool-itis? You know there’s a problem when the characters are starting to question the illogicality of the motivations of the as-yet-unseen (well, besides Nas) bad guy.
Eragon’s party discuss how to get past the blades and eventually they hatch what turns out to be a REALLY confusingly executed plan about sticking the elven swords in the wall to stop the blades. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I really don’t understand. Are elven swords super strong or something? If memory serves me correctly they’re made of material from meteors…?
[T]he enchantments responsible for the illusion were easy enough to detect, and by them he was able to determine the exact placement and dimensions of the openings. [… Summoning the words he needed, Eragon cast the first of the twelve spells he intended to use. One of the elves’ swords—Laufin’s, he thought—disappeared with a faint breath of wind, like a tunic being swung through the air. A half second later, a solid thud emanated from the wall to their left.
There’s three paragraphs in total describing the process. I guess Eragon’s teleporting stuff into solid matter now? That’s what I understand of it, anyway. :/
Once that’s all done, Eragon hits the floor again to test the swords and they hold. So Eragon and Co. make a dash for it. Then Elva screams at them to run faster
Roaring with the effort, he forced his feet to strike the ground even harder.
That… won’t help you cover any more ground faster, Eragon.
When he gets to the end, he looks back and sees that the only one caught by the blades is an elf, Yaela, who has been saved by her wards. Blodgharm shouts a spell which means ‘fly’, apparently, which catapults her from the snap of the metal and to safety. Wow, so nobody was killed? That sure is convenient.
Yaela’s unharmed, but now completely unprotected
She lifted her hands and stared at them with an expression close to wonder. “I’ve not been without wards since … since I was younger than you are now. Somehow the blades stripped them from me.”
Not sure that wonder is the right reaction, given the big boss is waiting for them at the end of the dungeon crawl.
Next important bit in the chapter is the door they reach. The paragraph used to describe the door is elephantine and completely unnecessary, and to add insult to injury we get this bit near the end:
And coiled in the very center of the bole of the tree was a dragon that held the end of its tail in its mouth, as if biting itself
SCREW YOU PAOLINI, DON’T YOU GO REFERENCING AURYN
Under different circumstances, Eragon would have been content to sit and study them for most of a day
Yeah, because every single character in this book has some sort of odd reverse-ADHD. Eragon’s fascinated with everything, Nasuada with a ceiling, Arya with a flower, etc etc. Everyone seems liable and willing to simply stop and stare at something for hours and hours.
Eragon and Saphira have a moment where he’s dreading finding Galbatorix on the other side, and feels he’s not ready, but Saphira says something pseudo-wise about the situation, and then they say they love each other. “I feel for these characters and think their emotions are SOOOOO realistic!” said no one ever
Eragon stepped forward. “Now what?” he asked, trying to hide his uneasiness. “Should we knock?”
Haha. Hah. Ha… Honestly, can you imagine how that would go down?
“Who is it?”
Instead, they arrange themselves into battle formation (with the X button, har har) then Arya goes to pull the door open.
As she did, a column of shimmering air appeared around Blödhgarm and each of his ten spellcasters.
It’s the basic equivalent of a freeze-ray, without the cold. A door opens close by, and the elves all start moving towards it in their columns. Arya goes for them, but Paolini describes her as being too slow to catch them. Um, continuity? Eragon shouts a ‘stop’ spell but the elves float into the doorway and disappear. They have a look at the closed door but can’t find an opening.
Arya’s pissed at this turn of events and Umaroth talks it over with her, and she raises a good point, even though the answer is weak as water
Why would he go to so much trouble? He could have captured Eragon, Saphira, you, and the rest of the Eldunarí, even as he captured Blödhgarm and the others, but he didn’t.
Perhaps because he wants us to exhaust ourselves before we confront him or before he attempts to break us.
What I want to know is why – besides plot convenience and authorial ‘because-I-said-so’ – Arya wasn’t frozen and moved away as well, since she’s an elf as well. For that matter why didn’t Galby just freeze the lot, Eragon included? Oh, never mind, because we need the Evil GloatingonologueTM (yes, this is the second Tv Tropes link posted, and no I’m still not sorry) already! We’ve been clamouring for it for years!
Eragon asks why Elva didn’t sense the trap, and it’s because they’re not being hurt by whatever spell it was.
Arya strains to open the massive door. Finally, the thing is fully open and we get some more painstakingly bad, and long, description of the inside room
On the throne sat a single black figure, the only figure in the whole room, and on his lap lay a bare sword, a long white splinter that seemed to emit a faint glow.
Oh hai, Galby, how’s your sex life? Cheep cheep cheeeeep…
“Ah, I have been expecting you. Welcome to my abode. And welcome to you in particular, Eragon Shadeslayer, and to you, Saphira Brightscales. I have much desired to meet with you. But I am also glad to see you, Arya—daughter of Islanzadí, and Shadeslayer in your own right—and you as well, Elva, she of the Shining Brow. And of course, Glaedr, Umaroth, Valdr, and those others who travel with you unseen. I had long believed them to be dead, and I am most glad to learn otherwise. Welcome, all! We have much to talk about.”
DUN DUN DUUUNNNNN!
And the real countdown begins, fellow sporkers/readers! *dances*