Chapter Fifty-Six: Lacuna, Part the Second
DV in Blue
TT in Green
7th Y in Pink
Scavokretlaw in Red
DV: Let me start by explaining why I have a problem with the dragon eggs. The dragon eggs had never been mentioned before. As far as the readers knew, there were only 3 eggs: Saphira, Thorn and the third one with Galbatorix. To introduce new eggs now adds nothing to the story because even if they could be hatched there is no way they could make a difference in the plot or upcoming battles. This leads me to believe he put the eggs in here just to let there be another generation of dragonriders, maybe even to let this world of his have more books. It is upsetting and bad writing to make such a big deal out of being the last of a species then suddenly, jarringly, change that. New Doctor Who played around with the idea of being the last of your kind in a much smoother more natural way. Since it was a series where things always change and is isn’t super serious it was exciting and reasonable to deal with how he may or may not actually be the last of his kind.
Also we were specifically told there would be no eldunari in this place. We as savvy readers were predicting it so a suspiciously specific denial was thrown our way. “Is it possible that it contains X” “No!” said glaedr without hesitation. “It’s impossible.” he says we would have heard about such a plan and we would have sensed them when we came by later. Eragon asks again, “So no eldunari?” “Unfortunately not.” was the reply. So FIVE direct denials in an earlier chapter. “Minds can be sensed regardless of whether they are hidden or not.”
Directly lying to your readers over something so irrelevant in mind boggling. Paolini apparently has zero ability to build suspense if he can only point out the answer then suppress it as an option. They came here on a whim of a prophecy, but at the beginning of the book they gained a dragon killing spear which should have been the focus and solution. But instead this, the culmination of several outlandish contrivances which make no sense… oh actually it will be “explained” here soon.
TT: I have serious issues with this as well. Not only are we told directly in-story, but also directly and unequivocally in author interviews etc. that there is no possibility of any eldunari or eggs existing outside of Galbatorix’s control.
7th Y: This is kinda of expected, though, since Paolini is not very subtle, so either he lied or misstated the facts. Sure, this all could have been avoided if the Riders were an aesop about how all things come to pass and not even them last forever, so we could avoid the needs for eggs and Eldunarí and the Vault of the Souls, but for some reason Paolini doesn’t want to let Alagaesia go just yet, so we get this instead.
Scavokretlaw: I guess the only thing to add to this is that it’s called….The Vault of Souls. What precisely did they expect to find besides living things? And the only things that could be living inside a vault, which are….Eldunari and dragon eggs.
DV: Now to the actual chapter!
“For a moment he was unable to move or breathe. Then he whispered to Saphira, ‘Eggs! Saphira, Eggs!” Saphira’s scales shiver or something odd like that. Glaedr then says that Oromis was among those who provided the plan for this place. What? So did he build this thinking it would be a great place to store the dragonriders’ bowling ball collection?
They are introduced to the white eldunari, Umaroth and Cuaroc, the dragon headed mech suit (glaringly out of place in this world) meant to defend this place. He has a purple heart of hearts he shows off. Eragon says his thoughts are slow and sluggish as if he’d taken a blow to the head. He’s taken plenty of those in the past and been fine. Maybe he’s just hallucinating. Maybe after the big doors closed he ran out of air and this is all a dream.
TT: Wouldn’t that be nice. More than a bit cliche, but what if everything that happens in the following chapters are the oxygen-starved hallucinations of a dying brain? This changes everything.
7th Y: As we will see later, the memories of Eragon could have been manipulated, so maybe all that we see is what the Eldunari wants Eragon, Nasuada and other POV characters to see.
DV: “How did you escape Galbatorix? We dragons do not hide from a fight. We are not cowards” Saphira proclaims. They say not so loudly but I thought they were have a mental conversation. Guess she is a loud thinker. They say “even dragons must lie in wait to catch their prey by surprises” which is a pathetic excuse when they ran away and have yet to actually if ever catch said metaphorical prey. The idea here is that they would have died if they joined the battle and this prevents Galbatorix’s complete victory. “it was easy to convince the wild dragons” What wild dragons? Again a passing reference is made to this group, but unless I am forgetting something major this group has never been more than a passing mention of a group that hated the dragonriders? Where did the three eggs Galbatorix found come from again?
“They came here and gave charge to the unhatched offspring. And there were those who could lay eggs when otherwise waited for we knew the survival of our race was threatened…” Just spawn whenever you like because I guess they can control that by magic too. Just like these eggs are like 80 stinking years old. Wait know what I just realized? The eggs are invincible and only hatch for “the right person” so what does hiding them actually accomplish? If no one can get to them how is this any better than letting Galbatorix take them? If the long term plan is “wait it out” who cares where the eggs actually are?
Scavokretlaw: See, one thing that sort of made sense about Eragon (okay, it doesn’t really make sense, at least not how they went about it) is how they needed to shuttle the egg around to expose it to a lot of people in the hopes that it will hatch. If you have no idea who the new rider is, it’s the only way to find out and get your weapon that you need to fight Galbatorix. What good are all these eggs doing underground?
DV: “How is it possible to hide their minds, you told me it couldn’t be done?” “It can’t.” plothole. “or at least not with magic alone, where magic will fail distance may yet succeed. This is why we are far underground, a mile under the mountain.” Couldn’t people use magic to sense/scry people from much longer distances Being a mile underground is just enough to hide from ALL magic? Even when Galbatorix comes to control the very laws of the universe? *sigh* this will only become more stupid in a few moments.
TT: This entire chapter is a plot hole. As pointed out in the commentary of the last chapter: ‘lacuna’ refers to gaps or holes, especially of literary or musical works. So Paolini is giving us a nod (or perhaps the finger) and trying to fill in one of the major plot holes we’ve pointed out, but in the process creates more holes, a Deus ex Machina setup we simply cannot be expected to swallow, and makes his ‘hero’ even less heroic (yes, it was in fact possible, up until this chapter).
Scavokretlaw: If we have to talk about all the plot holes created by Paolini’s magic system we’re going to be here all day.
DV: True. Turns out the vault of souls was placed here for another reason, to keep the eggs warm. That is not how eggs work and we have seen that warmth didn’t even seem to matter.
Scavokretlaw: This kills me. Here’s the quote: “The pit you see before you opens onto a lake of molten magma that has laid beneath these mountains since the world was born. It provides the warmth needed to keep the eggs comfortable.” Okay, so they need molten magma to keep the eggs warm. Did Arya keep a bag of magma with her when she was ferrying the egg around? Or when Eragon was chilling out with it and trying to trade it for meat?
TT: Maybe the heat is only a comfort thing, rather than a necessary element of incubation. I mean, what is spending eternity in a pit without a little central heating?
DV: They erased some memories of the struggles of the past which is a terrible thing to do if these guys are supposed to be advisors.
Glaedr “I spent the last hundred years thinking my race was doomed to extinction but not it is not. I am glad. I was able to safeguard my race tough my ignorance” Glad he overcame his great emotional trauma in only a matter of seconds. He doesn’t feel betrayed or angry or even much more than content that the plot doesn’t have time to dwell on his emotions which would be interesting.
7th Y: My theory on this is that his mind was controlled so he could give them this reaction, since the eldunari seem to be mind controlling everybody and can erase memories.
DV: Somehow Galbatorix was too idiotic to notice the lack of eggs so this plan worked. They explained that the rider who went nuclear was part of some last ditch arrangement and I think he wanted this to be an emotional moment focusing on how much they lost and sacrificed but it is very awkwardly intermixed with all this unbelievable exposition I don’t care. For example the eldunari next talks about how “when he sensed Galbatorix had left the island…” Didn’t we just say the mile underground shielded them from sensing each other and why would it only work in one direction?
In addition to that the eldunari can apparently observe EVERYTHING in the world around them by “seeing the scions of tangled energy”
TT: This is now the second time in a single chapter that Paolini directly contradicts himself regarding the line that “where magic fails, distance may yet succeed”.
DV: They were prepared to wait centuries no thousands of years as they noticed Galbatorix only growing in power. But no they didn’t the book now explains how the dragons “spurred by their concern, began to intervene” WAIT ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME PAOLINI! WHY would you say they were willing to wait THOUSANDS of years and then in the same page declare how they apparently got bored and started to play GOD within LESS THAN 50 YEARS! So to start things off they just did some small things… How do they have this power again? How can they not be sensed and traced? Did Paolini just decide that these dragon souls were somehow manipulating the plot THIS ENTIRE TIME!?!?
TT: Ladies and gentlemen, the grandfather of all Deus Ex Machinae.
DV: The dragons say they “arranged the death of one of the Forsworn” and “Brom was a useful weapon for us” Eragon exclaims “You helped Brom” and they say “Yes, we did. And we helped many others as well”
Scavokretlaw: Apparently they didn’t help Brom enough.
7th Y: Are we really just skimming over the fact that they treat a fellow sentient living being as a weapon, and probably mind controlled him and others? Really, Paolini, are we ignoring this? And what about the fact that in their attempts to help Hefring (AKA Saphira egg stealer) they drove him mad. What made him steal only one egg and make a run for it instead of giving it to the Varden? Are we ignoring this too? Are we ignoring that everything that happened with Murtagh since Eldest could have been avoided if the dead dragon weren’t playing gods? Are we also ignoring all the implications of what they could have done off-screen with their god like power? Are we, Paolini? Because if we are, Congratulations, you somehow managed to make everything more convoluted than ever, while making the side of “Good” way less sympathetic and way more evil.
I mean, if you think about everything the eldunarí said up until this point, you will notice that they can control the thoughts and memories of people in the mainland, kilometers away, and also assume direct control, as they did with solembum. Since they are willingly to mess with the mind of people while “helping them”, what is to stop them from controlling Nasuada, or other varden leaders, or ALL the varden leaders? Or Galbatorix, since canon says it took him years to take control of all his eldunarí, so they could overpower him at that time. Maybe they did, and are controlling him, the Varden and Eragon in order to play some chess. And even if they didn’t odds are good that they could simply say “No human is fit for leadership, so we will mind control those that become leaders and have them do what we want” and control all the major players in this so called war. And all those possibilities, and even more, are just skimmed over, just because.
DV: I mean I could love a book with a twist that took this premise to it’s proper conclusions. “Good guys” and “Bad guys” both being controlled by a third force just for fun. Reaching a point where a main character is shattered by such a revelation and then delving into what it truly means to have or lack free will. This concept is at the core of many great works of literature: grappling with fate. But no in this book, “oh that’s cool, no big deal, moving on.”
7th Y: And the worst part? If everyone is being controlled, things make sense. Their lack of depth is the result of the mind-control, and their idiocy could be a lack of drive by the puppet masters.
And that my children, is why you don’t stick godmodding in your story. It breaks everything by default.
DV : Yep, this is his greatest retcon to date and the WORST attempt at an author’s saving throw I have EVER seen. God-mode Guardian Angel Dragon Souls. So the weak and aged eldunari have been here influencing the world. The entire plot has been their plan. Every impossible coincidence, gaping plothole, moronic decision, and useless sidequest was “all part of the plan” I guess it was “meant to be” that Eragon murder defenceless innocence and relish the rage of battle. His unnamed God took pleasure in his creepy obsession with Arya.
TT: I think this really shows what Paolini thinks of his critics. This is the sort of plot-based tantrum that I used to pull with my buddies playing make-believe in primary school. Don’t like the way things are heading? FINE! Rocks fall and everybody dies! Screw you guys, I’m going home! It’s simply not professional. Or excusable in a published work.
7th Y: At least “rock falls everyone dies” make sense in context, since it is possible for a meteor to fall and destroy everything. The Dead Dragon Guardian Angel thing doesn’t make much sense though, because it breaks all the rules on magic AGAIN and break the rules it JUST made up in order for it to make some amount of sense, in the spans of lines. It takes some kind of skill to break everything so thoroughly in the span of so few lines, but breaking continuity is a skill that Paolini seems to possess.
DV: Even reviewing this chapter again enrages me. He is passing the responsibility of all characters actions (one excepted but we’ll get to that later) to these previously unmentioned Godlike beings? Who decided this made any sense or could possibly be a good idea? This undermines ANY sense of dramatic tension, if there was any to begin with. He is pulling this out of nowhere hoping to cover the innumerous contrivances in this series and it only accomplishes to highlight how idiotic the situation is. It would be easier to believe it was coincidence than some master plan of the dragon to go down this route. Technically it makes any of our earlier complaints about the plot issues validated because it can no longer be chalked up to human error or actions in ignorance.
Deferring the unexplained plot elements to another unexplainable plot element does not fix anything.
We now also have TWO “all powerful beings in this world” (not counting Eragon) both able to control the world at a whim and this is what we get. If it was all part if the plan why is the plan so stupid? Why would they need to read Eragon and Saphira’s mind when they entered? Eragon is officially a puppet now. He’s even less of a character now.
The werecats are involved somehow. The dragons somehow gave them that prophesy. Doesn’t make sense either. The dragons are also to blame for the egg appearing to Eragon. The dragons “altered the flow of magic” so him and Saphira would meet. “because there was a small chance he would prove a fit match for her.” I guess no other candidate was available. And isn’t magic based on capital T truth, but I guess they can alter that.
Scavokretlaw: Hang on a second. He’s now trying to tell us that the dragons can guess who might make a suitable dragon-rider match? Then why wouldn’t they be doing this? You know, building an army of dragon-riders to take down Galbatorix? That is what they want, isn’t it?
DV: Oh my goodness that would be a much cooler twist. haha. Extremely stupid but “Hey here’s 80 fully trained dragons with riders. Hope this helps!” would be right up Paolini’s alley.
7th Y: Also they mind controlled the werecats as a whole in order to force them to give a prophecy to whoever they chose, because apparently that is what being good and wise is all about: Mind controlling people for what you perceive as the greater good but is actually just petty vengeance (See Eragon and Sloan in Brisingr.)
DV: Again this plan makes no sense. If they sent it to Brom and then Brom had Eragon touch it or whatever, we would be have the same result without the wonton risk of the egg falling into the wrong hands. But the cliched contrivances cannot be unwritten. Maybe it would’ve worked better if the dragons were written as idiots or drunks or incompetent or senile. It would at least adjust the blame. But no, the Dragons are good and perfect and wise and revered.
“Why didn’t you bring me here earlier?” “You were not ready, it might have alerted Galbatorix to our presence” If this or the other stuff didn’t alert him nothing would have. Also Eragon has never and will never “be ready” Each book has put him through some type of training montage in the guise of keeping things dramatic. And in the end he still only wins through a multifaceted deus ex machina but we aren’t there yet. Galbatorix has never done anything but sit on his throne so it really doesn’t seem like much of a risk.
TT: Ah yes, the old “you were not ready” cliche. This is something that irks me no end, and famous short-form essayist Limyaael made a particularly good post about it.
DV: “If we had contacted you after (a certain battle) what good would it have done with the Varden so far from the capital city” I don’t know the Varden are POINTLESS! They didn’t have to besiege the entire country! In the end a strike force went in while the army way busy. The abilities of Eragon and co could’ve been enough to get in without the army. I even predicted this would happen before I read the book.
Again this is pointing out the issues with the varden. They are fighting a war of attrition with inferior numbers and inferior tactics and are only winning with the power of plot! Paolini obviously is unskilled in writing large scale battles, so he should have just avoided it and approximately 90% of this book. He will focus on one character and in passing mention how the battle is “going” based on what seems dramatic. And if the dragons can alter events, that opens up millions of simpler ways of off-ing Galbatorix.
TT: As an aside, it’s interesting when you look at it how similar complex story plotting and military strategy can be. They both require an ability to look at multiple options, factor in human and group psychology, and decide on a logical, economical course. And Paolini uniformly fails at both.
This is used to cover his visions of Arya from book one and the back mending magic of book two. BUT when Eragon asked “Have you helped Roran as well?” They say “Your cousin has required no assistance from us.” WHAT REALLY? You can’t have it both ways Paolini. You think you are witty by saying Roran is “just that good” here but if anything needed justification it was Roran’s abilities to just win at anything. Roran is officially better than God(s) by this book’s logic. His luck and physical abilities are outlandish in the extreme. We like to think that Paolini is improving and becoming more mature but this chapter reveals underneath it all is a giggling author writing a childish series, heavy on escapism and light on logic.
7th Y: Roran is TEH BADASS. HE IS TEH COOLZ. Logic doesn’t need to apply to him, because apparently Paolini think that after all the things he wrote we will be willing to suspend our disbelief for the Rule of Cool.
TT: Now I don’t know if Eragon is the author-insert mary sue, or Roran. One is the handsome and rugged ridiculously overpowered Chosen Puppet of ancient all-powerful dragon spirits; the other is the manly, awesome, embearded heroic saviour of the village and of the Varden, ridiculously overpowered with no outside help or even a courtesy training montage, more lucky than a leprechaun being shat on by a pigeon wearing horseshoes, and despite the lack of magic can somehow shrug off injuries that would have left Wolverine wincing.
Scavokretlaw: Honestly, this bothers me a lot. Roran is one of my most disliked characters, only because of how ridiculously unbelievable his entire plotline. Sure, Eragon’s ascent to master warrior is unbelievable, but at least you can do some handwaving about magic and Brom’s tutorship and magical deus ex machina dragon intervention which sort of justifies it. But Roran? Nope, an uneducated blacksmith slash farmboy is Just. That. Special. Overnight transformation into invincible warrior, brilliant tactician, and master strategist.
I hate Roran.
TT: Brilliant might be a bit much; I’d say creative idiot with infinitely impenetrable Plot Armour.
DV: So Eragon and Saphira apparently proved themselves worthy so time during the plot. So the Eldunari say they are coming along by means of an invisible magic space pocket. He is taking 136 eldunari power up tokens which is less than Galbatorix’s power up tokens. This escalation of power makes the actual characters seem insignificant and puny.
I can see what he is trying to do in this chapter, but I feel like once again the potential is completely missed. This is like when a comic book attempts to hit a reset button and just handwave away the past like it doesn’t count.
A complicated tardis spell needs to be cast to take the eldunari with him. Eragon gets lost in the explanation. Several more dragons start intruding in the conversation in an attempt to show how “wise” they are. But instead it makes Eragon look stupid. Didn’t he write some biblical poem in the ancient language? How can any spell be confusing? Isn’t it just “say the following words” or maybe I forgot which version of magic we’re on at this point. Glaedr is confused as well, so I guess it’s some deep magic shit. This section takes too long to get through, but the spell is cast. The description here says it felt like “an enormous rush of energy poured through him like a river of water, both hot and cold.” I don’t think that’s how rivers work.
Scavokretlaw: Eragon can’t work out the exact words to use and what they mean. We get this quote: At last Umaroth said, This is a lesson for another time. You know what the spell is supposed to do, if not how. That will have to suffice.Right. It’s a good thing that accidentally messing up your grammar can’t change the entire meaning of your spell and curse someone to a lifetime of misery and pain…oh wait.
TT: But it’s all about intentions now, man! Feel the music! That whole bit about language and grammar was almost three books ago! That was like seven or eight years ago!
DV: The eldunari get to come along in a small pinprick of space above and behind him… “save for when you are in a confined area or when a person’s body should happen to pass through that space.” BUT soon thereafter it says “it is more deadly than any sword. It would cut right through your flesh if you were to touch it.” …So which is it? Either it moves when people touch it or it doesn’t. Why are both of those paradoxical details in the same paragraph? Unless it is only Eragon whom it would cut… but they said it would be a fixed point above and behind him meaning he shouldn’t EVER be able to reach it anyways… unless the dragons are just lying and or morons.
TT: Paolini is even inconsistent within his inconsistencies. He doesn’t seem to have thought even one page ahead, even after all of this time, and thinks he can change the rules whenever he writes himself into a corner and can’t think of a suitably epic escape.
DV: Passengers if you look out the left wing window you will see how high we are as we jump the shark. The sci-fi elements are reaching critical mass, we have retconned everything, we have been misdirected and lied to. It came out of nowhere and doesn’t fit the setting.
7th Y: I guess that is what we get from expecting the bare minimum of continuity for something that is called a chronological series of events in the same setting.
DV: And in case all this wasn’t bizarre enough the dragons say as soon as Eragon and Saphira pass through the arc behind them they will forget about this place and the hidden eggs… So they told them what they would forget… right before they then forget it and forget they forget it. Obviously this exposition is purely for the reader’s benefit.
Scavokretlaw: What was the point of warning them about the supersharp pinprick if they’re just going to forget about it and potentially kill random passersby?
Plot twist that will not happen: this is how they actually kill Galbatorix at the end. He accidentally walks into an invisible Death Speck.
DV: I’m not even sure why this is a thing. I guess it is so if all else fails the eggs can stay in warm storage for… no… good reason… Can they even hatch without a rider? Wild dragon eggs did that I guess. “Even the Eldunari will forget about the eggs.” They say the gate will “restore their memories ” when the time comes. Does that mean it will magically happen when they are on the opposite end of the world and some magical EmpireHasBeenOverthrown exception happens or do they need to walk under it again? And if the later were the case, do they even have motivation to ever come back here?
TT: Wait, the spell on the gates will restore their memories only if Galby dies… does that mean the spell is contingent on Galbatorix’s death? Does that mean, with that whole spiel in Eldest about spells being tied to life force or whatnot, that someone managed to tie a spell to Galbatorix’s life force? WOULDN’T THAT REQUIRE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS TRUE NAME, THE USE OF WHICH— oh, I give up. Do not try to find sense; instead, only try to realise the truth: there is no sense. Then you will see it is not the world which fails, only Paolini.
DV: We conclude with “Farewell, Luck be with you.” Aren’t the dragons the luck? Is this a terrible attempt at wit?