Chapter 76: Blood Price
DV: But wait, there’s MORE!
P: Huzzah! Or not. When I first got the book in the mail I challenged myself to read the whole thing through without breaking (too much) stride – just so I’d finally know how it was all wrapped up. At this stage of the book it had to be about 3am in the morning and my patience was nearly at an end. It’s absolutely ridiculous how long this things drags on after Galby’s demise. It’s the literary equivalent to the end of the movie Castaway: dragging on and onnnnnn with ‘what happened after all the exciting stuff is over’… You know what I would have preferred? Something like the end of The Poseidon Adventure. The rescue helicopter grabs them from the boat, it lifts off into the air and – cue end credits.
DV: Before we leave the castle Eragon says goodbye to a few more people – the first one being Angela, who shows up and quirks for a while; because isn’t that endearing that she’s so obnoxious?
P: Whilst they talk, Angela’s knitting a blue and white beanie with runes on the bottom. Something like this.
DV: And there’s another Dr Who reference because y’know we weren’t tired of that already and it makes perfect sense for a funny sci-fi show to be referenced by a melodramatic fantasy story… right?
P: Not bloody subtle about it either, is he? Listen, Pao, lots of people are Dr Who fans. Lots of authors are Dr Who fans, too, I’m sure. This does not mean that they have free reign to shamelessly reference it in their professional works out of nowhere. (That’s what fanfiction is for, if you really do insist on fandom-dropping) Besides, what’s the point? Did you really just want people to know you enjoy it? Then talk about it in an interview or even a blog post or something instead.
Her needles clacked with swift regularity, their motion as entrancing as the flames of a fire.
P: Bad metaphor is bad, alongside a cake-taking example of Eragon’s reverse-ADHD.
DV: Angela says she doesn’t like Nasuada’s plan to control magic users so Angela says she’s going to leave because apparently when you have a minor grievance with the current leadership you just leave the country.
“I disapprove. I disapprove very much.”
P: Ugh, does this phrase sound awkwardly off to anyone else?
DV: There’s a little talk about the prophecy but it doesn’t get any clarification…
P: And then more Dr Who:
“Haven’t you had your fill of interesting events?”
“Never. They’re the spice of life.” She held up her half-finished hat. “How do you like it?”
“It’s nice. The blue is pretty. But what do the runes say?”
“Raxacori – Oh,never mind. It wouldn’t mean anything to you anyway. Safe travels to you and Saphira, Eragon. And remember to watch out for earwigs and wild hamsters. Ferocious things, wild hamsters.”
P: *facepalm* My headcanon has now officially decided that Angela is from the family Slitheen, if not Blon herself. By gum is she obnoxious, either or.
DV: And then because y’know that guy named Jeod that’s shown up like two or three times in the series and hasn’t really done too much important [stuff] or been that significant to Eragon specifically he gets a few pages of a goodbye and gets to praise Eragon for how awesome he is and how they’ll write stories about him and… I don’t care.
P: Jeod’s going to write down Eragon’s story himself and it’ll be kept as new chapters in the Domia abr Wyrda. How very meta of you, Paolini. Almost reminds me of The Neverending Story when Artreyu vows to continue writing stories for Bastian so the latter can actually go home.
“Your story will not be forgotten, Eragon; that much, at least, I can promise you.”
P: Ah, I love the smell of subtle fanservice in the morning…
DV: And then Eragon goes to meet Roran and Katrina who are actually worth mentioning. The baby’s there, and Roran and Katrina don’t like that Eragon wants to leave the country. So, this is at least the third time now that we get to go through the same argument of: “I have to!” “But what about-” “No! I have to.” “But it doesn’t make any sense-” “I have to!”
P: Yeah, that is just about it. And apparently the back-and-forthing takes a whole hour. You think both parties would simply just get tired with arguing by the fifteen-minute mark, but these are Alagaesians after all.
The baby squalled, and Katrina said, “Shh, now,” and patted her on the back.
Below, Saphira uttered a throaty gurgle and nuzzled the side of Firnen’s neck. The green dragon snuggled closer to her.
They stood by the window for another hour or so – as the sun set and the sky turned purple and then black and the stars came out…
P: Hahaha, look; a million words later and he still can’t write for billy-o.
DV: Then he talks to Orik. And Orik says, sure, I don’t like it but you’ll be fine… It’s like this plan makes sense because he keeps telling people it makes sense…?
P: That’s Angela’s excuse, anyway…? Only without the EPIC ROMANCE bit which was a mega retcon on Paolini’s part anyhoo. One interesting bit here is when Eragon hints at an ‘idea’ for the urgals and dwarves. Paolini’s trying to be very vague here but it’s pretty obvious what Eragon’s proposing. SPOILERS he wants to magically include dwarves and urgals into the dragon rider bond. Needless to say Orik agrees and accepts.
DV: There’s more goodbyes, Arya’s about to leave, Roran and Eragon are about to part ways, and then of course we need to wrap up that one subplot that we referenced two books ago! A woman and a child show up and start point their finger and shouting at Roran. It’s a woman named Birgit, and there’s a kid, and she’s upset about Quimby being killed…
Birgit [was] striding toward them from the city gates, gray skirts billowing, and her young son, Nolfavrell, trailing after her with a helpless expression on his face. […] “Mother,” said Nolfavrell, tugging on her skirts, but she showed no reaction to his plea.
P: Er-HEM, why is Birgit being portrayed as some shrew that even her kid doesn’t agree with?
DV: And this was some event from Eldest I believe… Because this ending wasn’t long enough, we need to resolve this conflict. And because Roran can kill hundreds, and not have to care about it, but because one villager he knew died this is some huge deal…
P: Being Inheritance, Eragon has also fallen into this trap of ‘whose deaths do we make a big deal of’. I remember him crying over the loss of animals and plants, then what seemed only a few chapters later brutally killing child soldiers with no emotion.
DV: They bicker a bit…
“It wasn’t Roran’s fault!”
“But it was. […] I could have turned myself over to the soldiers[…]”
P: Roran and Eragon explain to Nasuada that Birgit has the right to claim what’s called a ‘blood price’ from everyone responsible (which is stupid…) and that they have to settle the matter themselves to keep their honour as Nas did with the Trial of the Long Knives (which was even stupider!).
DV: And Roran apparently feels some type of guilt about this. Roran supposedly owes them a debt, and he says he will pay his debts. Katrina’s extremely upset about this and their child is there, and Roran’s about to sacrifice himself for no apparent reason! This is unneeded, this is silly, apparently Roran just has some impulse to get in any fight he can…
P: As proven this entire book. Roran was itching to fight random (allied, mind you) urgals in the beginning of the book. Here we see no differently.
Birgit’s face remained as stone, and she made no move to retreat. Likewise, Roran showed no emotion as he grasped Katrina by the waist and, without apparent effort, lifted her off to the side. “Hold her, would you?” he said to Eragon in a cold voice.
Eragon grabbed hold of Katrina’s shoulders to keep her from flinging herself after Roran, and he exchanged a helpless look at Arya.
“Let go of me! Let go!” shouted Katrina. In her arms, the baby began to scream.
P: Meanwhile, I can hear my inner feminist already sharpening her knives for a wholly different trial, sonny boy.
DV: Roran gets Eragon to remove his wards, because he still has a death wish. Eragon thinks he’s mad, but he dare not interfere, except for the fact that he knows best about everything, he can’t intervene in this stupid conflict?
[It] would shame Roran, and the people of Palancar Valley would lose all respect for his cousin.
DV: Because of this small thing which no-one knows about.
Nevertheless, Eragon had no intention of letting Birgit kill Roran. He would let her have her price, but no more. Speaking softly in the ancient language[…]
DV: This is interfering! He just said he wasn’t going to interfere. Hypocrite again.
[…] he did as Roran had asked, but he also placed three new wards upon his cousin: one to protect the spine within his neck from being severed; one to keep his skull from being broken; and one to safeguard his organs.
DV: So cheating is ok as long as no-one notices.
P: Apparently so.
Roran nodded and to Birgit said, “Take your price of me, then, and let this by an end to the quarrel between us.”
She says, “You will not fight me?”
DV: So the woman walks up to Roran holding a sword, puts it up to his chest, so Roran thinks he has no wards, and he’s not going to fight back when this woman wants to kill him. His family is right there. And… WHY?! Is this a thing in this world because it hasn’t been described or given importance that he has to commit suicide basically because of some random villager death that he doesn’t care about or no-one cared about until now.
P: To the best of my memory, the blood price has never been mentioned before. Not to mention it’s a stupid custom when they’re just villagers who need all the population they can get. Right? A death for a death? Yeah, that’ll work real well in Tiny Ye Olde Medieval Fantasy Village.
No one moved… Eragon found himself holding his breath.
DV: And this is overdramatic. And it keeps going… And then there’s an anticlimax, and she decides she doesn’t want to kill Roran, because it would make too much sense. She cuts his hand, and claims that their quarrel has ended, I had my price, this is supposed to make Roran look good for being willing to die for no apparent reason, and it only works because CONVENIENTLY she backs down. She’s been seeking vengeance for so long it doesn’t make sense that she backs down.
P: *to the tune of Music of the Night*
Cardboard cutouts, one dimensional people,
Ultra contrived, motivations feeble.
Roran wants to die, and we don’t even know why,
Hope that antis everywhere they feel the same:
These characters are super duper lame.
DV: And then Katrina’s still upset, Roran says it was the only way! No it wasn’t! You could’ve just paid her off or killed her or just said, “Shut up, stupid, leave me alone.” And Eragon wants to heal it, and Roran says NO. “I’ll keep this scar.”
P: It’s the ONLY WAY according to the author, and characters are merely puppets in Paolini’s eyes. So Roran has no real way of dodging this, really.
DV: And they’re putting way too much importance on this event. He’s been in way more important conflicts, he’s been in way more important battles, he’s killed so many people, but the one scar that he wants to keep is the one that’s after the climax, and connected to something he did way in the past, and it’s all too contrived to be worth paying attention to…
P: Yup. Ultra contrived. Like every plot and subplot and sub sub plot and…
DV: And Eragon does magic on it so it won’t get infected because, y’know, Eragon apparently got a PhD in medicine somewhere along the line…
P: Here, look:
“I won’t heal it, but at least let me cast a spell to keep the cut from getting infected, all right?”
P: Accidental linguistic anachronisms are NOT FUN. (deliberate, on the other hand, can definitely be) This is as rankling as the time Eragon cured cancer. Ugh.
DV: So everyone says farewell again, literally: Farewell Nasuada! Farewell Arya! Farewell Saphira! We will expect you here, and Farewell! They say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, and they fly away…
Elva [was] holding up a small white kerchief, which fluttered in the gusts of wind from Saphira’s passage.
P: Wish Elva snubbed the lot of them and didn’t even turn up to the going away party.
DV: But wait! There’s still more… Why won’t this END?!