Inheritance Spork, Part 3: Chapter Three
Welcome to chapter 3 of Inheritance: SHADOWS ON THE HORIZON.
Last time, Eragon rushed through the castle of Belatona to reach Roran, who had miraculously survived having part of the keep collapse on him. However, upon seeing his cousin, Roran proceeded to pass out.
Now, I’ll give credit where it’s due, so far this book is a lot better than the other three. Stuff makes no sense, the thing with the spear is lame, but it’s moving along pretty well. Compare to, say, the first book (how many chapters did it take for Saphira to hatch and then grow?) or Eldest.
There’s also a great deal less purple prose. But the style is still a little weird in places. For example, the first paragraph of this chapter:
In order to catch Roran before he struck the floor, Eragon had to drop Brisingr, which he was reluctant to do. Nevertheless, he opened his hand, and the sword clattered against the stones even as Roran’s weight settled into his arms.
There’s nothing technically wrong, but the way the two sentences are structured makes a weird break in what should be a single fluid motion. It also seems like Eragon hesitated when he really didn’t have time to do so. (Also, hesitating about dropping your sword to catch your cousin? Not cool. Especially not when you’re such a killing machine that you don’t need a sword anyway.)
Arya and Blodhgarm have somehow managed to keep up with Eragon’s mad dash, but he only notices them now.
Eragon also breaks radio silence to tell Saphira that Roran is okay, which is just weird. For one, since when does Saphira care that much about Roran? For another, is it really worth risking a mental assault for? Seems like a weird set of priorities, especially since Paolini made such a big deal of not being able to contact Saphira in the first chapter. It’s not like he needs anything from her.
Roran is the only survivor, because he was shielded by plot armor, I mean, the eaves. Fortunately, he is mostly unhurt, except his wrist is broken.
Eragon cast a meaningful glance at Blödhgarm. The elf’s features tightened with a faint display of displeasure, but he went over to Roran.
I’m not sure why Blodhgarm is so reluctant. I guess it might be because elves look down on humans. Honestly, I don’t see why Eragon didn’t do it himself. He’s a competent healer, I think.
With some pretty lame dialogue (“I’ve about had my fill of this Lord Bradburn. He has held his seat overlong, I think, and ought to be relieved of his responsibilities. Wouldn’t you agree? … I would give him a few gentle taps from my hammer in memory of everyone we have lost today.”), they set out to finally capture the lord of the town.
Of course, everyone that Eragon saw during his mad rush has cleared out. There’s some searching, where for some reason, they pause on every floor to let Blodhgarm search with his mind. Now, my question is, why does Blodgharm need to be on a floor to radar it? Couldn’t he have searched all the floors while they were in the courtyard?
They finally run into resistance on the stairway up to the third floor, in form of a “thicket of jabbing spears.” I instantly thought of the movie 300, when they made a wall of shields with spears sticking out. Mm-hm.
Roran (for some reason leading, despite being the weakest and slowest member; actually, maybe he was the only one who didn’t get out the way, in which case it’s kind of dick move from the others to let him get hurt) runs into the spears and gets injured.
Instead of falling back, he rams his shield into the spears, trying to push them back. (…) Remember, Roran is an ordinary human, with ordinary human strength. He’s also at an elevation disadvantage, on the stairs below the spearmen. I’m not that great at combat things, but this seems like a strange move on his part.
Eragon is able to just pluck one of the spears out of the hands of the enemy soldiers and throw it back. Well, Eragon is some sort of dragon-powered elf mutant with extreme protagonist power, so I guess it’s not too out there. He continues to do this until the defensive formation is broken.
Then they clean up the remaining the soldiers. Odd point: Roran hits a soldier’s helmet, causing it to ring. Now, I personally think that the head is a very strange target to go for with a hammer, being small and high up. Also, how would a helmet full of head ring? The sound should be too muffled. And I imagine Roran’s hand would also vibrate rather uncomfortably after that.
Eragon, Arya and Blodhgarm score many more kills, meanwhile. Because they are elf-things and better than you.
Eragon is also totally getting off on combat. It gives him “a sense of clarity unequaled by any other activity.”
They finish, and Eragon offers to heal Roran before moving on. (Why is Eragon back on healing duty?) Roran refuses. Honestly, I don’t see why. We have no indication that Eragon is low on MP, and the wounds appear to be reasonably light. Letting them go unhealed may be lead to a disadvantage if they run into more resistance.
They finally find Lord Bradburn in the highest room of the westernmost tower. I have to wonder, did they try the westernmost tower on the first try, or did they go up the easternmost one first? This is why just a mental search of the whole place to start with would have been better. Anyway, Eragon, Arya, and Blödhgarm break in.
To Eragon’s relief, he only had to kill three of the guards before the rest of the group placed their weapons and shields on the floor in surrender.
I guess one-sided massacre is not the kind of combat Eragon enjoys.
Bradburn refuses to order his troops to stand down. He’s racist, sees elves as “filthy, unnatural creatures” and Urgals as monsters. (You know how he was supposed to be important, according to those “future facts about Inheritance” Paolini released long ago? Yeah, no. This is all we see of him. The most important part is the contents of his armory.)
Arya instead takes control of his mind and figures out what wards he’s using. (What happened to elves’ minds being dangerous for humans? I mean, she’s probably driving him insane just from this.)
She puts him to sleep, though the guards think she killed him. (If you stretch it quite a bit, this is the start of a long plot thread about how humans distrust other races and how everyone needs to learn to cooperate. Maybe.)
As Eragon attempted to convince them otherwise, he heard one of the Varden’s trumpets being winded far off in the distance.
Saved by the bell. (I actually want to know how crowd control would have gone, given that none of those four are exactly good with people… except maybe Roran. Maybe.)
(Wait, trumpets can get “winded?” How?!)
Arya and Eragon look for the cause of the trumpets and the cheering. We get description of Belatona, “a large, prosperous city, one of the largest in the Empire.” Then, the Varden camp. Notably: “stretched out on the bare ground, hundreds of wounded men.” A thunderstorm is moving in. (None of this is in any way relevant later on.)
Eragon yells down to the courtyard (three stories up, over all the happy noise; nice lungs).
“Shadeslayer! Look! The werecats are coming! The werecats are coming!”
First, geographical. The lake is to the north. Most of Belatona is to the south and the west, the Varden camp further out, the rain even further. In the east is the Jiet River (“Jiet river,” the river not capitalized). The cats are coming from the other side of that river. Something about this seems very odd to me. Very, very odd. Maybe the idea of cats wanting to cross a river. (Wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to have snuck into the city and camp individually, only to emerge from the shadows right next to the Varden?)
Now, two points.
One. Eragon has magic eagle/elf eyes, so he can see cats miles away on the other side of the river. (And also consider, this is a pretty major river, flowing either into or out of a lake. It’s bound to be pretty wide.) But why can the Varden see them well enough to point them out? And identify them? And for that matter, shouldn’t they have better things to do with their time?
Second. Since when are werecats famous enough (and major fighters enough) to warrant this kind of reaction from ordinary human troops? We’ve seen exactly two werecats in three books, one of them with the elves, one with Angela. How likely are ordinary humans to know about this species? They looks like cats most of the time and don’t like talking to people. Sure, Solembum changes into human form to fight, but still. And for that matter, I never got the impression that werecats are particularly powerful. Mystical, with special powers and tricks, useful spies and saboteurs, but not powerful.
Well, in any case, that’s it for chapter 3. I’d say this wasn’t a particularly bad chapter, by Paolini standards. Overall, it’s basically transition from “Roran’s okay!” to “We’ve finished capturing Belatona” to “The werecats are coming!” It’s… necessary, I suppose. There are going to be some chapters that are just kind of slow. I understand that. Really.
But it’s still pretty bad.