Inheritance Spork, Chapter Seven: What is a Man?
Pipedreamno20: What is a man? That’s real deep, Paolini, deep. </sarcasm> Anyway, the first paragraph is huge. And yet all it talks about is mud. Yes, really; the whole paragraph!
Predak123: And uses the phrase “nigh on impassable morass.”
Pipedreamno20: Yes; that’s a definite sticking point for me. (Doesn’t help that I know people with the last name ‘Moras’; which is pronounced the same way.)
Predak123: I think what bothers me most about the archaic language is how inconsistent it is throughout the series. Eragon used the word “okay” in the first book. And now in Inheritance, he’s gone all Ye Olde Middle Englishe on us.
Pipedreamno20: Roran (read: Paolini) is a little fixated with the mud thing; it’s all the focus of the next paragraph too.
Predak123: How long does it take for anything to start happening in this chapter, anyway?
Pipedreamno20: Haha, I just had a squiz, it’s the next page near the end as he notices Katrina and vice-versa.
Predak123: . . .a squiz?
Pipedreamno20: Oh, a quick look. Sorry. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/squiz 😉
Predak123: Haha, is that Australian thing?
Pipedreamno20: I guess it is. Huh. On another note, do you know how old the word ‘quadrant’ is?
Predak123: No clue. But it makes me think of Star Trek.
Pipedreamno20: Yeah, or Need for Speed when the cops are looking for you or something.
Predak123: Apparently, it’s late 14th century, and it means 6 hours.
Pipedreamno20: Hmm, ok, so it’d be ok for Roran to use it when he’s referring to the ‘northwest quarter’ of Belatona? I think Paolini was looking for another word he could use in the same sentence. Thesaurus syndrome strikes again!
Predak123: I think that’s what he was going for.
Predak123: This chapter is telling-tastic. Instead of getting shown the aftermath of the battle, we get a scene of Roran walking in mud.
His left side throbbed, causing him to bare his teeth and suck in his breath…Someone had shot at him with a crossbow from the roof of a building. Only the sheerest of luck had saved him; one of his men, Mortenson, had stepped in front of him at the exact moment the attacker had fired. The bolt had punched through Mortenson from back to belly and had still retained enough force to give Roran a nasty bruise. Mortenson had died on the spot, and whoever had shot the crossbow had escaped.
Pipedreamno20: I find it so silly how instead of writing out the scene in which Mortenson saves Roran from certain death it’s completely glossed over in one paragraph; leaving this chapter to start with Roran whinging about his wound and how crappy it is to have to walk in thick mud. It would have been so much more interesting if we saw the actual battle rather than it just being summarised.
Predak123: Yeah. Paolini just tells us about what happened instead of showing. Which is 1. bad writing and 2. amazingly boring.
Roran could sympathize with the people who felt they had to defend their families, but at the same time, he cursed them for being so thick-skulled that they could not recognize the Varden were trying to help them, not hurt them.
Pipedreamno20: This is a totally lulzworthy paragraph.
Predak123: Wow, Roran. You’re a douche.
Pipedreamno20: He’s only the head of the attacking army, what do you think brave civilians are going to do in response to being invaded?
Predak123: Of course the civilians are stupid and thick-skulled! They disagree with a main character!
Pipedreamno20: The Varden is always right… *sigh* Also, Paolini does not know that hot water only makes bloodstains worse.
Predak123: As a brief note, I’m really quite annoyed that the characters always say “blasted” as a curse in place of “damn.” “Blasted” just sounds silly, and it doesn’t mean the same thing, nor does it hold the same weight.
Pipedreamno20: Yes, I agree.
Predak123: In a book with this much violence and gore, I think we can handle a “damn” now and then.
Just seeing her helped ease the sense of numb dislocation that gripped him.
Pipedreamno20: Um, Roran hasn’t been dislocated by any means. By that I mean he has been calling people idiots and blasted cowards and everything since the beginning of the chapter so he’s obviously in a bad mood. Not numb.
Predak123: I’m more opposed to “his comfort and his refuge”. It’s a real cliche in bad literature where the husband considers his wife to be his rock and sounding board. Katrina isn’t really a character; she’s a caricature of the Good Wife.
Pipedreamno20: Yeah, with the classic cliched washerwoman look for this chapter. And I just noticed something here; Katrina is described as ‘standing’ over the tub of water. Just how big is the tub? :O
Predak123: Really, Katrina is just a walking stereotype, isn’t she? Passive, needing to be rescued, pregnant, dishwashing
Pipedreamno20: Considering at one point (I think in Brisingr?) she tried attacking some soldiers by scratching them with her fingernails… yup, I’d say so.
Predak123: If she actually had a personality, I wouldn’t complain, but all she is is a backdrop.
She noticed him and… ran toward him…
Pipedreamno20: Oh, Roran! *vomit*
Predak123: Let’s see here. Katrina serves him ale, bread, cheese, and a bowl of stew. Looks like she took culinary classes in Fantasyland University
Pipedreamno20: Hahaha, and the whole cupping of the cheek thing…
Predak123: While Katrina “smiled tremulously.” What exactly does a tremulous smile look like?
Pipedreamno20: Call me a cynic but… that’s enough to rot teeth!
Pipedreamno20: Not sure.
Predak123: Question. Wouldn’t it be much more cost-effective and practical to have communal dining for the Varden? One ginormous pot of stew is a lot easier to care for than twenty small ones.
Pipedreamno20: Like the Alagaesian equivalent of a mess hall or tent or something? That sounds much more logical.
Predak123: Yes. Same with Katrina washing clothes in her tent. Shouldn’t there be a designated washing area?
Pipedreamno20: Now that you mention it, yeah probably. Like downstream or something (not that I know anything about Belatona’s geography)
Predak123: I’d look at the map, but I’m pretty sure I’d just get confused.
Pipedreamno20: Hahaha, yeah. Oh, and is it just me? Or does Roran’s ale suddenly turn to beer in less than three paragraphs? More thesaurus syndrome.
Predak123: It does, in fact. I’m not well-versed in alcoholic beverages though, so. . .is ale a kind of beer? Is beer a kind of ale? I have no idea.
Pipedreamno20: I suppose ale falls under the umbrella of beer…? So this confuses me now, having grown up with fantasy books that describe ale – I never thought of it as a true synonym for beer.
Predak123: All I know is that it’s booze, and that it smells bad. 😉
Katrina immersed another bandage in the tub. “And the battle in the city?” she asked, churning the water. “How went it?”
Pipedreamno20: Yoda you talk like?
Predak123: Ignoring the archaic phrasing of “How went it”, this sounds like my mom asking me how my day at school went.
Pipedreamno20: And she’s multitasking as she asks him. Do you really care all that much, Katrina?
Predak123: Ballistae are mentioned as being used in the battle, which makes sense; if you’re trying to shoot down a dragon, ballistae are the way to do it. It would have been nice to SEE that battle, though.
Pipedreamno20: As opposed to the ‘Oh no! Saphira’s wounded – oh wait, scratch that, she’s fine.’ and the same with Roran’s ‘near-death’.
Predak123: Really. This book is chock-full of “you-just-missed-something-interesting” recollections. Instead of writing what could have been a fairly interesting book, Paolini instead spends pages writing about the most boring parts of his story.
Pipedreamno20: And filling the reader in on what was going on in the meantime with a quick summary. Oh dear, and now Katrina has come down with thesaurus syndrome:
“Their plan wouldn’t have worked, though, if not for you and Eragon. You acquitted yourself most bravely.”
Predak123: So Katrina DOES have the sole personality trait of speaking badly. Roran mentions that none of his soldiers are willing to fight anymore, that they hang back in the battle and are reluctant to fight unless they absolutely have to. This, of course, would have been interesting to see. But it is told to us instead.
Pipedreamno20: When you have a Dragon Rider on your side plus a hammer wielding berserker you can still win the day even if all you do is ‘wave your arms about and make a lot of noise’. Like you said this would have been a little more worrying in the actual battle!
Predak123: Remember in Eldest, when Eragon hunted rabbits by blasting pebbles through their heads? Why does the Varden NEED soldiers? Why don’t they just give their magicians a bunch of lead bullets and send them to machine-gun all of Galby’s men down?
Pipedreamno20: Now see this type of book I would be so excited to read. Magical machine guns!
Predak123: Gangster wizard books would be pretty amazing. I’m now picturing Gandalf in a fedora.
Pipedreamno20: Hahahahaha! “Boss says yew shall not pass.”
Predak123: XD Katrina tells Roran that she felt something in her magical wedding ring when a wall fell on Roran.
Pipedreamno20: Plus a little beforehand, when Katrina mentions Nasuada could take a leaf out of Galby’s book and force their soldiers to fight.
Predak123: Oh yes, that was interesting
Pipedreamno20: Why couldn’t it have been Nasuada who had that thought?
Predak123: Roran mentions that if she did this, she’d be no different than Galbatorix. Which is really, really damn hilarious if you’ve read the entire book.
Pipedreamno20: HELLO potential character development depending on which way she decides which is completely wasted as a plot point! So yes, your point about the rings…
Predak123: That’s the real tragedy of these books; there’s a lot of potential for characters, but it’s just dumped down the drain.
Pipedreamno20: It’s sorta horrible how Roran is so reluctant to tell her the truth. They’re married and ‘madly in love’, after all. Aren’t they meant to be soulmates?
Predak123: Katrina and Roran? I have no idea. Their relationship always seemed rather. . .well, plot-convenient to me.
Pipedreamno20: Yeah, I suppose. I don’t know, I’m just a real advocate of the whole honesty thing haha. OH, AND IT’S THE RETURN OF THE THUMB!
The edge of his right thumbnail tore as he picked at the mug again. He rubbed the sharp flap against his forefinger several times.
Predak123: Really, what is with Paolini and thumbs?
Pipedreamno20: No idea. Maybe they started to hurt every time he pressed the space key or something?
Predak123: Anyway. The rings. Roran thinks and picks at a chip in his mug’s lip and angsts about how he didn’t mind the thought of death. Katrina is supportive, unsurprisingly. There’s a bit of Roran going “I gave up, I’m a horrible person” and Katrina going “No, you’re not honey” and. . .it’s really boring, actually. It doesn’t really result in anything.
“And as far as I am concerned, you are the bravest, strongest, kindest man in all of Alagaësia.”
Predak123: Excuse me, I need to go take some insulin.
Predak123: Roran thinks to himself that the people walking past his tent need to take baths–especially the Urgals. Which I think is kind of racist, but maybe they have scent glands that are really strong or something.
Everyone, including the Urgals – especially the Urgals – needed to be scoured from head to foot with a hog’s-hair brush and buckets of soapy water.
Pipedreamno20: It seems to be the Urgals who get the short end of the stick in all of the books – even after they’re allied with the Varden!
Predak123: It’s true. It would have been interesting to have an Urgal protagonist with point-of-view sections after book 1.
Pipedreamno20: Especially given the events of the last bit of the book. (no real spoilers here, guys, don’t worry) 😉
Predak123: But alas, more wasted potential.
Pipedreamno20: And then a good dose of reverse sexism on Katrina’s part…
Predak123: Oh, yes, THAT loveliness.
Predak123: Katrina gets grumpy while doing laundry, so Roran volunteers to take over. Even though he just fought a BATTLE. And he’s WOUNDED. Roran decides to take over washing, and Katrina tries to get him to stop, saying washing is “women’s work.” Gag.
Pipedreamno20: This dialogue is awful. And Katrina is suddenly into bondage:
(Roran:) “I’m not going to argue. If you don’t go sit, I’m going to carry you over there and tie you to that stump.”
A bemused expression replaced her scowl. “Is that so?”
Predak123: XD. Again, I’m wondering why Katrina is doing laundry here in the first place, and also why she’s so exhausted, yet Roran is not.
Pipedreamno20: Because she’s dancing to Pao’s puppet strings? Then we’re greeted with Pao’s extensive knowledge of doing the washing on a washboard. If this was any more boring I’d fall asleep.
[H]e enjoyed doing something with his hands other than swinging his hammer.
Predak123: XD Katrina then offers to make Roran some “chamomile tea”. I have a question about the logistics again. Earlier they had stew, which requires a fire. Roran also sat by a fire while eating his food. Washing clothes requires hot water, which requires, you guessed it, a fire. And now she’s going to make a tea, which requires a fire. So do they have 5 fires in or around their tent?
Pipedreamno20: I guess it’s all coming from the same ‘small fire’ which is on page 45.
Predak123: That’s an impressive small fire.
Predak123: Now Baldor comes running to their tent to proclaim Elaine giving birth (why is this such big news?) and he gets a full paragraph of description:
It took Roran a moment to realize it was Baldor… he wore a pitted leather apron and heavy, elbow-length gloves that were smeared with soot and were so worn that the fingers were as hard, smooth, and shiny as polished tortoise shells. A scrap of torn leather held back his dark, shaggy hair, and a frown creased his forehead. Baldor was smaller than his father, Horst, and his older brother, Albriech, but by any other comparison, he was large and well muscled, the result of having spent his childhood helping Horst in his forge. None of the three had fought that day – skilled smiths were normally too valuable to risk in battle – although Roran wished Nasuada had let them, for they were able warriors and Roran knew he could count on them even in the most dire circumstances.
Pipedreamno20: You remember the original Anti-Shurturgal website? I have fond memories of one of the articles which poked at Paolini’s stop-start prose: a character would be introduced, then would be described down to the very last detail, then the action would start again. This happens on the very first page of Eragon with Durza and his Urgal minions, and we’re still seeing it here in Inheritance. This whole paragraph could have completely been cut and it would not have mattered in the slightest, because none of it is important!
Predak123: It seems like the only thing Paolini can do consistently is write badly.
Pipedreamno20: Never mind the stupid infodump about how his gloved fingers are like shiny tortoise shells! (and how that’s meant to make sense I DON’T KNOW) Why is he running towards them? It’s so stupid!
Predak123: He’s got to tell them about Elaine giving birth, of course! This is totally the most important thing that’s happening!
Pipedreamno20: So Roran dumps the water over the fire and hopes Elaine doesn’t die. (rather morbid, isn’t he?)
Pipedreamno20: OMG! “Overlong pregnancy” You said it, Paolini!
Predak123: He doesn’t just dump water over the fire
The burning wood hissed and cracked under the deluge, and a cloud of steam jetted upward in place of smoke, filling the air with an unpleasant smell.
Pipedreamno20: Hahahahahahahaha, every single possible motion is padded out to the extreme.
Predak123: First of all, pouring a lot of water on an open fire is very dangerous, and I hope Roran likes his new steam burns. Secondly, Paolini used the world “deluge.”
Predak123: Thirdly, how does steam have an “unpleasant smell”?
Pipedreamno20: Last I heard steam doesn’t smell like anything. *shrug*
Predak123: Didn’t Paolini say at one point that he was using Elaine’s pregnancy to track time passing?
Pipedreamno20: No idea.
Predak123: Has he just ditched that with the addition of “overlong”?
Pipedreamno20: But I think it’s come up previously (I can’t remember where) about how she’s been pregnant for a very, very long time during the books. Not sure how much time has passed between the start of Eragon until now, but… I remember reading something somewhere…
Predak123: I have no idea. And I think it was spring when Eragon left Carvahall, so. . .is it winter now?
Pipedreamno20: Ummmmmmmmm I have no clue.
Predak123: I gotta love how Roran grabs his hammer before running to a childbirth.
Predak123: You never know, it might come in handy.
Pipedreamno20: Yeah that was going to be my comment too. “Let’s go” sounds like something from Pokémon. In fact, his entire dialogue here does.
Predak123: And this birth that’s been built up so much? You’re gonna have to wait through a boring Nasuada chapter before you get to that.
Pipedreamno20: I guess Paolini is trying to emulate skilled authors who manage with one swift POV shift to completely make readers want to tear their hair out with the suspense. Sorry Paolini. I am not desperately reading on to find out what happens to these characters; probably because it’s well nigh impossible to give a shit about them.
Predak123: I’m trying to think of what this chapter accomplished. We got a bit of insight into Roran’s thoughts. . .but that could have been shown during battle in much more interesting way.
Pipedreamno20: Erm, nothing?