Welcome to the spork of Chapter Fifty-One: The Rock of Kuthian!
Due to computer troubles, I lost my electronic copy of the book and had to use the library’s copy (so there will be fewer quotes). I also discovered that the book doesn’t number the chapters. Nice. I sort of suspect they wanted to hide just how many chapters there are.
Anyway, let’s begin.
Eragon, Saphira and Glaedr return to the apple grove. It’s very ominous – gnarled trees, crows everywhere, the usual.
Three points. One, interesting that apple trees and crows remain un-mutated. Two, “the clearing that fronted the Rock of Kuthian” – this sounds very odd to me. And vaguely inappropriate too. Fronted, heh. Three, “a flock of crows.” Chris, I am disappoint. It’s a murder, a murder of crows. How can you not know this? How can you pass up this opportunity for more doom?
I’m sure some of you will also protest about the constant use of crows as an ill omen. I’m just surprised that crows are the most ill omen Eragon can imagine. I would personally go for sudden lightning and thunder, or maybe an ominous rumbling of the earth.
Then Eragon spends half an hour just standing still and casting search spells. It turns out the island is covered in old spells. Some are small, some are big. Most are dormant, because they lack energy, because whatever they were meant to affect is gone or because the conditions for activations have not been met. Paolini’s magic system continues to confound me, since I didn’t realize any of those things were even possible. I always thought of Paolini magic as something you do and get over with, not like machinery that remains for ages on – and can run out of energy too. Isn’t magic a kind of energy pattern to start with? So, if it’s out of energy, wouldn’t it just fade out and disappear?
But anyway, the whole area is covered in a patchwork of spells. (Apparently, Riders didn’t have any sort of system about this stuff. I’m surprised they didn’t blow themselves to kingdom come by accident.) Eragon can’t tell what most of them even do, but he spends another hour trying to tell if the spells could cause harm to his party. And that’s not even going into spells that they might not even be able to find.
One thing I’d like to bring up is how this entire section keeps talking about Eragon and Glaedr and their shared concerns. Eragon and Glaedr, but not Saphira. Saphira basically has nothing to contribute on the magic front and later makes it clear she’s impatient with this entire process. I find this setup kind of interesting, especially how it underlines the difference between Saphira and Glaedr. You could put it down to the huge difference in their ages, but it’s still interesting. Isn’t Saphira supposed to have shared all of Eragon’s magical training?
Anyway, ultimately, all Eragon can really do is shrug and
pray hope for the best. It feels like over a page wasted, since we didn’t learn anything at all, except that the Riders were not particularly orderly.
After yet another short conference, they decide to just announce their names already.
Feeling nervous, Eragon clenched his hands twice, then unslung his shield from his back, drew Brisingr, and dropped into a crouch.
They say their names, in the format of “name-title-parent.” The notable one is Glaedr’s: And mine is Glaedr Eldunari, son of Nithring, she of the long tail. (I don’t remember if it’s come up before, but dragons apparently count lineage through the mother.)
They try again in the ancient language.
Then, they try having Eragon say all their names, since it might all need to be aloud.
They ruminate on the directions they have, which are apparently now a riddle. I thought they were pretty straight-forward. Go to the rock, say your name, the vault will open. Not really much riddling involved.
Next, Saphira points out that Solembum was only speaking to Eragon, in the singular sense. So maybe Eragon needs to be alone. Saphira gets huffy, though it was her idea, and takes off. Eragon tries again.
(Interestingly, the ancient language is considered “the language of the elves.” I thought it was the language of the Grey Folk, or whatever. The elves didn’t come up with it; they just use it because you can’t lie and it does magic.)
Saphira returns with Glaedr. What follows is an interesting exchange.
Glaedr: I was afraid this would be the case. There is only one explanation—
Eragon: That Solembum lied to us? That he sent us off on a wild chase so that Galbatorix could destroy the Varden while we’re gone?
Glaedr: No. That in order to open this… this…
Saphira: Vault of Souls.
Glaedr: Yes, this vault he told you about—that in order to open it, we must speak our true names.
Eragon assumes that Solembum must have lied, which is telling. Also, pointless. You know, Galbatorix could easily destroy the Varden while Eragon is there. He outclasses Eragon by a ridiculous amount. Why would he bother getting off his throne now?
Anyway, I think we all saw the true name thing coming. This entire chapter is just about having the rest of them realize it. Still, this would require Eragon to say aloud something that would give anyone listening full control of him. It’s a pretty interesting dilemma. Does Eragon trust Solembum enough to follow through? Well, he was rather quick to assume that Solembum had set them up, despite admitting that getting into the Vault was bound to be difficult. So, pretty obviously not enough trust, but Eragon is probably desperate enough to do it anyway.
Or so it would seem, since the issue of a possible trap is quickly swept aside in lieu of Eragon wondering about his true name and who am I?
And that’s the chapter. Yep.
We got an entire chapter whose only purpose was to let us know that Eragon and Saphira need to find out their true names.
And that’s all I can say.