Inheritance Spork, Chapter Six: Memories of the Dead
Chapter 6, Memories of the Dead, is much like the previous chapters in that nothing important happens.
The chapter starts with a memory of Brom. Eragon is using Saphira’s magical Tivo abilities to play back part of the message Brom had her record in the event of his untimely death.
“Galbatorix is mad and therefore unpredictable, but he also has gaps in his reasoning that an ordinary person would not. If you can find those, Eragon, then perhaps you and Saphira can defeat him.”
This is something that bothers me a lot about villains. Very often, they are labeled as being “mad” or “crazy,” when they give no indication of being such. The only insane thing that Galbatorix has ever done is in NOT immediately wiping the Varden off the face of the earth.
Eragon snaps out of the memory into the real world, and we got some lovely and very necessary prose:
“Eragon opened his eyes as the memory faded. Above him, the ceiling of the tent sagged inward, as loose as an empty waterskin, after the battering it had received during the now-departed storm. A drop of water fell from the belly of a fold, struck his right thigh, and soaked through his leggings, chilling the skin beneath. He knew he would have to go tighten up the tent’s support ropes, but he was reluctant to move from the cot.”
Truly, Paolini is a master of the art of writing.
What season is this supposed to be taking place? One of the strengths of the first book (at least for the first hundred pages or so) was that Paolini actually paid attention to the seasons, instead of having a perpetual summer-time. Here, I have no idea when this is taking place. Is it spring? Autumn? Winter? I have no idea. And either that was a really, really bad storm, or the Varden aren’t particularly good at setting up tents, because at least in my experience, tents are designed in such a way that water runs off of them. It doesn’t collect on the tent’s roof to form a sag “as loose as an empty waterskin.”
Eragon asks Saphira if Brom ever said anything about Murtaugh, to which Saphira says “Asking again won’t change my answer,” which is rather curt. I don’t know why Eragon and Saphira are always so rude to each other. Anyway, Saphira tells Eragon that he must trust Brom and not be bothered by his deceit and lies. This spurs Eragon to examine his thumbs for a paragraph.
“Eragon stared down his chest at his thumbs. He placed them side by side, to better compare them. His left thumb had more wrinkles on its second joint than did his right, while his right had a small, ragged scar that he could not remember getting, although it must have happened since the Agaetí Blödhren, the Blood-oath Celebration.”
Along with a fascination for geology-related metaphors, Paolini seems to have also developed a thing for writing about thumbs. There are at least three thumb-related incidents explained in great detail in this book—so there’s something to look forward to.
I have to wonder if Paolini was suddenly hit with writer’s block, then looked down at his hands and said, “Ya know what? Eragon is totally going to be looking at his thumbs” and then wrote about what his own hands look like. And for some reason his editor thought that his exercise to remove writer’s-block was somehow good enough to make it into a published book.
Eragon thinks about how he enjoys Saphira’s video-recording abilities because he feels better when he knows who his dad was, which was “a desire that had plagued him his entire life,” even though he didn’t really seem to show any angst about his paternity in the first book.
Eragon eats and rests for another hour, and another drop of water hits his leg. He gets out of his cot and disarms his magical traps before going to retrieve Glaedr’s ball, which is buried in the ground.
“The dirt began to seethe like water coming to a boil, and rising out of the churning fountain of rocks, insects, and worms, there emerged an ironbound chest a foot and a half in length.”
“Seethe” is one of these words that Paolini uses that is technically correct, but still feels very clunky. I get a mental image of a patch of earth getting irritated at me for going at it with a shovel. Also, if we take the archaic meaning of seethe (which is what I’m assuming Paolini meant), then “seethe” means “to boil,” which makes “like water coming to a boil” entirely redundant. Plus, the sentence is badly organized and could be reduced to half its length without losing anything. It’s really sad to see that Paolini hasn’t matured at all as a writer, and that his editor doesn’t seem to care to help him improve.
Eragon magically unlocks the box and opens it (and yes, we get all of the detail for that) and he pulls out Glaedr’s dragon-ball.
“The large, jewel-like stone glittered darkly, like a dying ember.”
Question. If it is a stone, and it is jewel-like, in what way is it NOT a jewel?
I don’t take issue with the oxymoron of “glittered darkly,” but I do take issue with a “dying ember” being used to further explain glittering. As an self-proclaimed expert of glitter (and confetti!), I can say with a certainty that the sparkle and reflectiveness of glittery things does not look like a dying ember. Embers provide their own light, and it’s a steady, pulsing glow. Glittering things are reflective; they flash when light hits them. It’s an instantaneous sparkle. It’s not the same kind of light.
Eragon looks into the rock and sees “a galaxy of tiny stars” within it, which is supposed to represent Glaedr’s consciousness inside it. The “stars” float around, but Eragon notes that their movement is slower than when Eragon first got to hold Glaedr’s stone.
“As always, the sight fascinated Eragon; he could have sat watching the ever-changing pattern for days.”
Now that we’ve established that Eragon is marginally more interesting than the hero Fragon, who likes to watch paint dry, but marginally less interesting than Gragon, who likes to watch grass grow, we can go on with the story.
Eragon and Saphira decide to try to delve into Glaedr’s consciousness to get him out of his blue funk. Apparently, they have to wade through Glaedr’s emotional landscape before they can reach him. I don’t know why this is, but. . .then again, this is Paolini we’re talking about.
“Through cold and darkness they sailed, then heat and despair and indifference so vast and so great, it sapped their will to do anything other than to stop and weep.”
Wow, really? I gotta say, Eragon’s mental fortitude isn’t particularly impressing me. A little bit of someone else’s depression makes Eragon cry. As a professional sad person, I gotta say that that’s pretty pathetic.
Arya knocks on Eragon’s tent-pole (but not like that) and asks if she can come in.
“The dim gray light from the cloudy sky fell upon him as Arya pushed aside the entrance flap. He felt a sudden pang as his eyes met hers—green, slanted, and unreadable—and an ache of longing filled him.”
[Insert immature joke of choice here]
You know, I’m beginning to think that Eragon really IS the “male Bella.” They both spend months and months pining for a bitchy, unlikeable, and emotionally absent character for the sole reason that they are pretty and non-human.
“Has there been any change?” she asked, and came to kneel by him. Instead of armor, she was wearing the same black leather shirt, trousers, and thin-soled boots as when he had rescued her in Gil’ead. Her hair was damp from washing and hung down her back in long, heavy ropes. The scent of crushed pine needles attended her, as it so often did, and it occurred to Eragon to wonder whether she used a spell to create the aroma or if that was how she smelled naturally. He would have liked to ask her, but he did not dare.”
Question. Why the HELL would Arya willingly wear the clothing she was wearing when she was viciously and repeatedly tortured? Wouldn’t that be a bit like an ex-prisoner saying “You know what? My old prison-stripes are so smashing and in fashion this season!”?
Another question. If the smell of pine needles is artificial/magical, does that mean that in book 1, after she was rescued, she was subconsciously wasting magical resources in order to smell nice? Wouldn’t that be unbelievably stupid, and therefore off the table as an option?
Because touching Glaedr’s ball is such a popular activity, Arya asks if she can touch his rock. While Arya is trying very hard to penetrate Glaedr’s cloud of sadness, Eragon takes the opportunity to ogle her.
“While she sat, he took the opportunity to study her with an openness and intensity that would have been offensive otherwise. In every aspect, she seemed the epitome of beauty, even though he knew that another might say her nose was too long, or her face too angled, or her ears too pointed, or her arms too muscled.”
See? SEE? Her nose is too long and stuff! She’s NOT perfectly perfect and beautiful (even though she’s the “epitome of beauty”)!
Arya snaps out of mentally talking to the rock.
“He is the most unhappy creature I have ever met.… I would we could help him. I do not think he will be able to find his way out of the darkness on his own.”
I had a sudden mental image of this shiny yellow rock sitting on a psychiatrist’s couch and talking about its relationship with its mother.
Eragon asks if Arya thinks that Glaedr will go mad, and Arya says he might be already, or else he’s on the “very cusp” of going koo-koo.
Again, with the crazy thing. Look, Paolini. While depression might accompany psychosis, being depressed does not, in fact, make you go crazy! Ugh, I hate this. I get this a lot, where I tell people that I have bipolar depression, and their eyes go wide and they say “oh,” as if I’m going to swing into crazy-mode at any possible second. I have never ever heard of a healthy person becoming genuinely insane after losing a loved one, with the loss being the direct cause without any other factors.
Eragon asks Arya if she has the Plot Device/Dauthdaert in her tent, and she says yes. Saphira spots one of Horst’s sons running for the tent, so Eragon quickly puts the ball in the box and reburies it. The son (Eragon can’t tell if it’s Baldor or Albriech) tells Eragon that Elaine is finally having her baby, and she wants Eragon on Magical Paramedic standby. Arya asks if she can tag along, and Eragon of course consents.
By the way, we won’t get to see the baby being born for another three chapters or so. Isn’t the suspense thrilling?
So, kiddos, what have we learned today? Aside from the fact that Paolini cannot pace a plot properly to save his life, I mean.