Inheritance Spork, Part 1: In the Beginning, and Chapter One
A mere eight years after the first book was published, the Inheritance “Cycle” finally draws to a close, leaving us all to wonder where we would be if we had never been blessed with Paolini’s terrible, terrible writing.
I certainly wouldn’t be here, or know any of you, and so for that reason, I have to thank Christopher Paolini. He’s made the world a better place for many of us. That said, it’s not going to stop me from tearing this book to shreds, because by god, it deserves to be torn.
The book begins with a recap of the first three books, which is a good thing because even though I didn’t read Brisingr all that long ago, I don’t remember anything that happened in it. I actually appreciate Paolini putting this recap in here, especially when I learn that the reason I don’t remember what happened in Brisingr was because nothing happened. Seriously, here’s an exhaustive list of the important events that happened in Brisingr:
- Eragon gets a sword.
- Oromis and Glaedr buy the farm.
And you can certainly debate whether or not #1 is actually important. I am on the side that says it’s not, because Paolini could have accomplished the same thing with a single paragraph where a watery tart lobs a scimitar out of a lake and Eragon catches it, rather than spending 600 pages of Eragon angsting about not having a sword and then another fifty pages or so of him actually making one.
It doesn’t help that this recap is atrociously written, relying far, far too heavily on the words “and” and “then”. It reads a lot like one of those chapters in the Old Testament that tediously lists pages and pages of history without paying any attention to varying word choices.
Paolini rambles through the backstory from before Eragon, through Eragon itself. We get brilliant sentences like these:
And in his pain, he heard a voice. And the voice said, Come to me, Eragon. Come to me, for I have answers to all you ask (page xiv).
Actually, no he didn’t. You know how I know this? I have a copy of Eragon. Oromis only says ‘Come to me’ once. This might seem like a little nitpicky, but this story is being related by an omniscient narrator, Paolini himself. How hard is it to be accurate?
Pretty hard, apparently:
Soon thereafter, Galbatorix sent a great army of Urgals to attack the dwarves and the Varden (page xiv)
Conveniently glossing over the fact that the only reason the Urgals knew how to get inside the mountain was because Eragon and Murtagh led them there.
Or how about this:
After much thought, Eragon discovered Sloan’s true name in the ancient language, the language of power and magic (page xvi).
After much thought, huh? Sounds like it was very difficult for him. Except, oh wait, it wasn’t:
Eragon took that collection of scattered, fragmented insights and turned them over in his mind, pondering their significance. Like the pieces of a puzzle, he tried to fit them together. He rarely succeeded, but he persisted, and gradually he traced a myriad of connections between the events and emotions of Sloan’s life…
There occurred to him, then, three words in the ancient language that seemed to embody Sloan, and without thinking about it, Eragon whispered the words under his breath (Brisingr, page 79).
Yeah. Maybe twenty minutes of thinking it over, if that, and Sloan’s true name just occurs to him. More importantly, he gets it right on the first try. Sorry, Paolini. You cannot retcon your own books.
Chapter One – Into the Breach
The Varden, along with Eragon and Saphira, are attempting to capture a city called Belatona. Eragon leaps down over some rubble with Saphira trailing behind, but as he lands he twists his ankle and falls down, so one of the soldiers decides to run out and try to spear Eragon in the throat, which is a brilliant idea, considering there’s an enormous, fire-breathing dragon standing right behind him.
Eragon parried the thrust with a flick of his wrist, swinging Brisingr faster than either a human or an elf could follow (page 2).
But of course. True, elves can move at superhuman speeds, but Eragon is just so special that even elves can’t follow his sword.
Arya follows him down, her black hair billowing. I’m not really an expert on long hair, but it seems logical that during a battle she might want to tie it back so it doesn’t get in her eyes during the fight. Arya, like most vegetarians, is wearing leather. Eragon smiles at her, and think that she makes a perfect shield mate, although he doesn’t think about why. Probably because she’s pretty. And wears leather.
They fight and slaughter most of the soldiers in a brutally violent way, leaving a group of soldiers clustered together that Saphira can’t burn alive, probably because they’re magically protected. So Eragon runs up and hacks the men to pieces. There are archers up above firing arrows at them, but they either miss or bounce off their magical wards. And that’s one of the main complaints I have about this magic system. It renders our heroes essentially invincible. I have absolutely no fear that any of them are going to die.
Eragon picks up a spear and chucks it at the archers, missing them entirely. They all laugh and make obscene gestures, which sounds like a good use of their time, rather than shooting arrows at him or the other soldiers. Arya then pings up a spear and throws it, impaling two men who are standing close together. Actually, unless one is standing right behind the other I’m pretty sure that’s physically impossible, and if one was standing behind the other, why not just say that? Arya then shouts “Brisingr!” and the spear bursts into flame.
“That’s not fair,” Eragon said. “I can’t use that spell, not without my sword flaring up like a bonfire.” (page 5)
Let’s digress for a moment and talk about this. Nitpicky? Certainly, but Christopher Paolini is a former child prodigy and his writing should be better than this.
First…seriously, Eragon? You’re one of the most powerful people in the entire known world, you have a pet dragon that grants you incredibly powerful magical abilities, you’re one of the best fighters in the world, and due to an incident with some naked tattooed elvish lesbian tarts, you have superhuman speed, elvish reflexes, and you’re ridiculously good-looking. And let’s not forget that in the last book you got an incredibly powerful magical sword that’s more powerful than pretty much any sword in existence. And you’re bitching about the fact that it’s not fair that you can’t use a single spell when you have DOZENS of them available? Which is your own damn fault because you named your sword that?
Not to mention that there is nothing preventing Eragon from using the spell anyway, because all it takes is another quick and easy spell to put the sword out.
Not to mention that there are other ways Eragon can set things on fire using different magical words.
And finally, they’re in a war zone. Arrows are flying at them, there are enemies everywhere, and Eragon stops to look at Arya and complain about the spell. Shouldn’t there be more pressing things to be thinking about?
Anyway. I apologize, let’s move on.
Roran busts in and is killing people as well. The attack continues. Suddenly an inner door opens up and a rider comes out holding a spear that glows with magic and stuff. Eragon has a sickening realization that Saphira is in mortal danger. OH NOES!
All the elvish magicians start chanting and intoning magic, which makes a rift open up and the horse falls in and breaks its front legs, but as that happens the man throws the spear at Saphira which sinks a yard into her chest. Holy shit! Did Paolini just kill Saphira?
I mean, that would be AWESOME. Not just because Saphira sucks as a character, but what an incredible way to begin the final book. Eragon is already completely screwed in any battle against Galbatorix, and now, suddenly take away his pet dragon and the source of nearly all his power? And he still has to try and defeat Galby through sheer ingenuity? That would take some balls, and would be flat-out amazing, and if that happens, my respect for Paolini would triple.
I have a feeling we’re going to be disappointed.
Everyone runs up to Saphira. Luckily, despite going in an entire yard, the spear missed everything important. All the elvish spell casters start singing and chanting and the spear slowly slides out and falls to the floor and BAM! Saphira is healed, without any negative long-lasting side effects and this will never trouble her again. Which is a good thing, because lasting effects aren’t fun, and Saphira is one of the heroes!
Arya and Blodhgarm study the spear. Eragon asks if it’s Galby’s handiwork, and wonders if he finally wants to kill Eragon.
Blodhgarm smiled an unpleasant smile. “I would not deceive myself with such fantasies, Shadeslayer. We are truly no more than a minor annoyance to Galbatorix. If ever he truly wanted you or any of us dead, he only needs to fly forth from Uru-baen and engage us directly in battle, and we would fall before him like dry leaves before a winter storm.” (page 10)
Which of course raises the question, why doesn’t Galby just…I dunno, do that? What precisely is stopping him? I assume he has an interest in maintaining control over his lands, so why does he just fly out, smack down the Varden, and return home to drink wine and cavort with slave girls in Princess Leia costumes?
That also raises the question, which is nearly as important…precisely how is Eragon going to defeat this guy? Galbatorix is ridiculously powerful. Worse, he has no real weaknesses. There isn’t the One Ring that, if thrown into Mount Doom, will kill him. There are no chinks in his armor. The only real ways that Good will prevail (and we all know it will) is some ridiculous out of left field deus ex machina, or some ridiculous trick that is completely nonsensical.
Anyway. They look at the spear. Arya says it’s important:
“Of all the instruments of war scattered through Alagaesia, this is the one Galbatorix would least want us to have.” (page 10)
You know, that line sounds very familiar….to a line from Lord of the Rings, talking about the Palantir.
“I guess that, even if we had entered in, we could have found few treasures in Orthanc more precious than the thing which Wormtongue threw down at us.” (page 571)
Yep. Turns out this spear is a Dauthdaert, an incredibly powerful spear that was made by the elves back in the day, specifically for killing dragons. Only a limited number were made using long-forgotten incantations, and they were all thought to have been lost, but apparently they weren’t. Wow. Sounding more and more like a Palantir to me. Anyway, it’s very likely that regardless of whatever magical enchantments Galby has placed around his dragon Shruikan, the Dauthdaert will pass right through them.
I think we may have just found the problem to our unbeatable King Galbatorix.
There’s a horrible squealing sound, cracks appear in the keep, and it slowly starts to collapse. Eragon looks at sees Roran standing beneath an archway, where he’s certain to be crushed. Their eyes meet. Roran smiles wryly. It’s very dramatic. And then the wall crumbles and the chapter ends. Cliffhanger!
Bet you fifty bucks Roran is still alive.