Chapter Forty Seven: A Crown of Ice and Snow
Distinctvaguens on Chapter : Tl;dr: She got a spoon and bits of Murtagh’s backstory. NEXT!
You got it, Distinctvaguens. On we go…
Firstly, I’m trying another type of formatting to indicate text from the actual book. Rather than in italics, the excerpts will be in blue. Anything else will be in red or green. Main reason is that mental speech is already indicated in italics so it gets a bit confusing.
Secondly, a spoiler alert – the crown of ice and snow is a stupid simile which means absolutely nothing until the very end of the chapter so it was a rather silly decision to name the whole chapter after it. But on the plus minus side, there are plenty of run-on sentences to make up for it!
When the first pale rays of light streaked across the surface of the dimpled sea, illuminating the crests of the translucent waves—which glittered as if carved from crystal—then Eragon roused himself from his waking dreams and looked to the northwest, curious to see what the light revealed of the clouds building in the distance.
This hurts my brain so much. I might not be all that crash-hot a writer, but even I wouldn’t write the first sentence of the chapter like this. Break it up, man! You don’t have to add or subtract anything from the actual paragraph, just ensure that the paragraph is actually made up of more than one sentence:
Eragon roused from his waking dreams and looked to the northwest, curious to see what the pale dawn light revealed of the horizon. Ominous-looking clouds were slowly building in the distance. The sun’s rays streaked across the surface of the dimpled sea, illuminating the crests of the translucent waves. They glittered as if carved from crystal.
Eragon stared open-mouthed at the shiny, completely unaware he was beginning to drool.
That’s potentially still as shite as the original, but at least it gives the chance for our mental lungs to take a breath before exploring the next image or concept, y’know? One rather important concept Paolini develops here amidst the purple prose is the fact that the cloud bank is absolutely enormous, as in, compared to the Beor Mountains.
Oh, and one more thing – ‘waking dreams’? Is that the human-elf equivalent of sleep? As in Eragon is too uber awesome to actually sleep now, he just has a state he’s able to wake from in an instant?
We shall have to fly through it, Glaedr said, and Eragon felt Saphira’s trepidation.
I’m getting flashbacks of the kid’s chant We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (for those who haven’t heard this one before, the humour may be lost, but just bear – pun intended – with me):
We’re going on to Vroengard, we’re going on to Vroengard,
We’re gonna see a big snail, we’re gonna see a big snail,
We’re not scared! We’re not scared!
Oh look! Clouds! Fluffy puffy clouds!
We can’t go over them, we can’t go under them.
We gotta go through them!
Fly, fly, fly, fly…
Eragon grasped the front of the saddle as Saphira dropped her left shoulder and turned westward…
Nitpicky me has a question about the turn of phrase ‘dropped her left shoulder’. Who knows more about flighted animals and can explain this to me? I didn’t think it was so much of a drop but a raise of the opposing limb, but I could be very wrong about this.
Eragon has a bit to eat and thinks about the ocean.
He wondered what lay at the bottom, and it occurred to him that with his magic, he could likely travel there and find out, but the thought held no appeal. The watery abyss was too dark and too dangerous for his liking. It was not, he felt, a place where his sort of life ought to venture. Better, instead, to leave it to whatever strange creatures already lived there.
Eragon the Deep Sea Diver: one of the ‘deleted scenes’ now available in the deluxe hardback edition.
New topic now open for discussion: what kind of magic spells do you think would be most logical to use if Eragon did in fact decide to go explore under the sea? An impenetrable bubble suit? I reckon he could be completely unaware – being a farmboy turned Dragon Rider after all – that pressure that far down can get to fatal levels. And what would happen if he ran out of oxygen? Ran out of breath? Magic? What if he was attacked? Imagine being down there and realising you can’t actually open your mouth to make a new spell. I mean this is all just supposition given that he’s got no interest in it, but come on Paolini SOMEONE’S gotta have to wonder about all these things you bring up once and then never mention again.
After a while in the prose, Saphira banks and lands on the water’s surface to rest her wings and check the ocean out a little closer. Eragon notices some seaweed and albatrosses flying away from the storm clouds.
The sight only deepened his unease; the seabirds reminded him of the time he had seen a pack of wolves running alongside a herd of deer as the animals fled a forest fire in the Spine.
Say what? That’s the worst equivalent in the world. By this I’m guessing he means clouds = fire, birds = deer. What then are the wolves? The two situations aren’t equal at all and besides, there’s no true meaning behind them. Is Paolini meaning to be metaphorical here? Far out, I guess so:
If we had any sense, he said to Saphira, we would turn around .
If we had any sense, we would leave Alagaësia and never return, she rejoined.
Leave Alagaesia? And go where, exactly? And I love how Eragon’s plain admitting that they’re idiots for flying into such a huge storm front. He’s only been lauded as Alagaesia’s Dragon Rider saviour for like the whole time. How about a little self preservation, you two?
So Saphira tastes the sea water and hates it, then this happens:
Then Eragon felt a sense of panic from Glaedr, and the old dragon roared in his mind: Take off! Now, now, now! Take off!
Saphira wasted no time on questions. With a sound like thunder, she opened her wings and began to beat them as she reared out of the water.
What’s this? Something actually exciting is happening? Surely this can’t be. Eragon mentally looks for the thing that Glaedr’s responding to and ‘sees’ a huge sea monster coming up from the depths about to chomp Saphira. Eragon somehow links to it and tries to mentally scare it off but to no avail. He gets a few memories and thoughts from it as Saphira takes to the air. The sea monster rises from the water underneath her and misses her tail by mere inches when she manages to dodge its bite. Deus ex machina, my word. Would have served her bloody right to have the tip bitten off at least. Curiosity killed the dragon, and all. Don’t mess with the unknown elements, Saphira. You might just become prey for the bigger predators.
As the monster fell back into the water, more of its body became visible: The head was long and angular. A bony crest jutted out over the eyes, and from the outer part of each crest grew a ropy tendril that Eragon guessed to be over six feet in length. The neck of the creature reminded him of a giant, rippling snake. What was visible of the creature’s torso was smooth and powerfully built and looked incredibly dense. A pair of oar-shaped flippers extended from the sides of its chest, flailing helplessly in the air.
No run-on sentences here, thank heavens for small mercies.
Eragon meets its eye and sees ‘malevolence… hate, fury and frustration‘. Mini-rant ahoy. Goodness sake, Paolini, just because the sea serpent wanted to eat your main characters does not mean it has to be mean and evil. It’s just hungry and saw an easy meal. Nothing wrong with that.
Once in the air again, Glaedr identifies the serpent as a Nïdhwal.
“They are rare and not often spoken about. They are to the sea what the Fanghur are to the air.”
Paolini translation: I only just thought them up now, which is why nobody has brought them up in conversation previously. So Glaedr infodumps all this useless information about the species which isn’t important because they’re never brought up again, and then Eragon bitches about how Oromis and Glaedr never had the decency to tell Eragon or Saphira about them. Paolini translation: I only learned about biological world building in Brisingr.
Now that’s over, Paolini concentrates on describing the storm they’re flying into. It’s very boring, painfully bad description, broken up every so often with a squicky simile:
Near the bottom, they were dark and purplish, with curtains of driving rain connecting the storm with the sea like a gauzy umbilical cord.
Glaedr said, Have you any experience storm-flying other than the time you were caught in a thunderstorm between Palancar Valley and Yazuac?
No, said Saphira, short and grim.
Hahahaha fail. Glaedr turns on his teacher voice and talks Saphira through the buffetting winds (why are they doing this again? Couldn’t they have just waited for the worst of the storm to dissipate?)
When they shot out of the cloud, millions of tiny droplets clung to Saphira’s body, and she sparkled as if diamonds had been affixed to her already dazzling scales.
“Do I dazzle you?”
Saphira battles through for a few hours (!) and Glaedr tells her to turn more towards their final destination – which by the way is into the centre of the storm. When they enter the clouds:
Twilight surrounded them, gray and featureless.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOT TWILIGHT! … although quite an accurate stab there, Paolini. *smirk* In the grey haze, they’re effectively flying blind. Eragon extends his awareness but can’t feel any other living creature. No surprises there. He also casts a spell that lets them know how close they are to the sea/ground. Let’s face it, guys; Saphira might as well be a small two-seater plane for all the instruments she has.
A violent updraft carries Saphira so high that Eragon can’t breath properly.
… and the mist froze into countless tiny crystals that stung his nose and cheeks and the webbing of Saphira’s wings like so many razor-sharp knives.
Stop using ‘like so many’! Of all the pretentious things to write, this one is really getting on my nerves.
Saphira yo-yo’s in the up-and-downdrafts for ages. Things begin to take their toll on all three of them. The sun sets (you mean they’ve been in this thing for the entire DAY?!) then Saphira gets caught in such a powerful updraft that not even Eragon’s spell (Gánga fram!) to push them forward can free her from it. Glaedr recites a new spell to Eragon which will keep them all warm, give Saphira and Eragon ample oxygen whilst discarding the carbon dioxide (well, ‘stale air’, but we all know what Glaedr’s talking about) and that done they keep flying up with the draft.
It occurred to him that perhaps this was how shooting stars were made: a bird or a dragon or some other earthly creature snatched upward by the inexorable wind and thrown skyward with such speed, they flamed like siege arrows. If so, then he guessed he, Saphira, and Glaedr would make the brightest, most spectacular shooting star in living memory, if anyone was close enough to see their demise so far out to sea.
Um… what are you going on about, Eragon?
In the next paragraph, Paolini uses the word ‘susurration’. “They see me using my Super Thesaurus, they execratin’.”
Then the clouds clear as they rise above them into the extremely thin atmosphere. In other words, Paolini’s decided to chuck dragons into space. Perhaps a shout-out spoiler for his next book in the sci-fi genre? Eragon admires the clouds, then the stars, and then we get this gem:
He stared at the spectacular display for several moments, awestruck by the glorious, random, unknowable nature of the twinkling lights. Only when he finally lowered his gaze did it occur to him that there was something unusual about the purple-hued horizon. Instead of the sky and the sea meeting in a straight line—as they ought to and always had before—the juncture between them curved, like the edge of an unimaginably big circle.
Consider Eragon’s mind officially blown. Consider mine blown too, but for a different reason. They’ve gone so far up that Eragon can actually make out the curvature of the planet and not put it down to an optical illusion from too little oxygen.
“The world is round,” he whispered. “The sky is hollow and the world is round.”
Er-HEM. I think Predak said it best: http://antishurtugal.livejournal.com/762643.html
A bit of blah-blah, then Eragon asks Glaedr if they could possibly fly to the moon if they carried enough jewels with stored energy in them. And then Eragon blah-blahs even more about the revelation. Might I reference another member? In her Inheritance Essay, Swankivy says it best here with this:
Paolini spends far too long on an irrelevant scene in which Saphira flies them through a storm for no real good reason, and we’re treated to several “poetic” pages full of descriptions of the beautiful post-storm night sky. It reads exactly as if Paolini invented this contrived reason to push his characters through the storm SO THAT he could write about these images, but I’ll talk about that later. What I think was a poor author choice here was that after Eragon realizes, based on his flying observations, that the world must be round and the sky must be hollow . . . the serenity and power of that observation is yanked away immediately as Paolini begins to narrate to us what exactly this is supposed to “mean” to Eragon. He babbles on for a while and then hands down a trite little revelation about how people probably wouldn’t fight each other anymore if they could see what he’s seen. It cheapens it so much.
You know what would have driven home the majesty and beauty he was going for?
Some freakin’ silence.
When Swankivy references the ‘trite little revelation’, this is what she means:
To Saphira, he said, If only everyone could see what we have seen, perhaps there would be less fighting in the world .
You cannot expect wolves to become sheep.
No, but neither do the wolves have to be cruel to the sheep.
Which to be perfectly honest doesn’t make sense (think songs of the dead = lamentations of the living spec) and thus means nothing. In the previous chapter spork Distinctvaguens also says something worth noting again for this chapter:
A better author would not take so many words to mean so little here. In fact he spends a paragraph explaining the symbolism; it kinda ruins it.
To end the chapter, by the time the sun has risen again (I call zombie dragon!), Paolini points out a ring of mountains, that look like a pointed crown, with snow on their peaks (hence the chapter title, HUR DUR).
The eastward-facing scarps shone brilliantly in the light of the morning sun, while long blue shadows cloaked the western sides and stretched dwindling into the distance, tenebrous daggers upon the billowy, snow-white plain.
I can’t make this stuff up it’s so bad.
Behold, said Glaedr, Aras Thelduin, the fire mountains that guard the heart of Vroengard. Fly quickly, Saphira, for we have but a little farther to go .
“Behold,” I said, “the end of the chapter! Spork quickly, my friends, for we have but less than half of the book to go!”