Chapter Thirty-Two – Black-Strike-Thorn-Cave
For a bit of light reading (read: reference material) I’ve gone through painstakingly and listed all the dragon-specific vocab in a separate text file which I’ve put on my writing/sporking wikispace site HERE. This I’ll probably refer back to at times.
Otherwise, let’s get into the chapter!
The cool, moist, morning-air-off-water whistled past Saphira’s head as she dove toward the rat-nest-city half lit by the rising sun. The low rays of light made the smelly-wood-eggshell-buildings stand out in high relief, their western sides black with shadow.
Hoooooo boy. Wanna know how the first Saphira-POV chapter in Brisingr (A Matter of Perspective) starts?
The wind-of-morning-heat-above-flat-land, which was different from the wind-of-morning-heat-above-hills, shifted.
Personally, I think Paolini’s just getting lazy now.
Anyway, Saphira’s on the move, readying herself to attack. This attack is the distraction Eragon and his party needs in order to escape from the cathedral. Saphira has the Na’vi elf Blodhgarm on her back, in the shape of Eragon.
Wanna know what was said in Brisingr?
They had even insisted that black-blue-wolf-hair-Blödhgarm fly with her in the guise of Eragon, which of course she had refused to allow. It was one thing to permit the elf to place a water-shadow-ghost of Eragon on her back every time she took off from or landed among the Varden, but she was not about to let anyone other than Eragon ride her unless a battle was imminent, and perhaps not even then.
CONTINUITY. IT IS YOUR FRIEND.
So Blodhgarm is yelling things at her but the wind makes it impossible to hear him. So he speaks to her mentally but she cuts him off and lets him know Eragon’s in trouble and to pass that message on to Nasuada.
She then bitches to herself about how the Eragon illusion shouldn’t be fooling anybody because he doesn’t smell like him and doesn’t mentally feel like him. Thanks, Paolini, for this bit. It’s comforting to know at least that you realise Saphira’s sense of smell would be a far more important one to her than to a human.
Saphira calls Dras-Leona a rat-nest-city. She spots Thorn sunning himself upon the southern gate.
Her feelings toward Thorn were too complicated to sum up in a few brief impressions. (Inheritance, ch. 32, p315)
Hmm. Pretty sure her feeling toward Thorn aren’t all that complicated. In Brisingr she goes so far as to call him stunted-thoughts-red-scales-Thorn. That’s a few brief impressions as far as I’m concerned. That since his mind and body were meddled with magically to grow much faster than normal she’s decided he’s below her.
Every time she thought of him, she became confused and uncertain, something she was unaccustomed to. (Inheritance, ch. 32, p315)
Bullshit. Saphira (and Glaedr) have never been confused about what they thought about Thorn. Have a look at the Brisingr reference linked above and I’ve listed all the different things they refer to him as.
She zones in on the roofs of Dras-Leona.
As the dark chimneys and sharp-edged roofs grew larger, she spread her wings a bit more, feeling the increased strain in her chest, shoulders, and wing muscles as she began to slow their descent… The effort required to stop her fall was immense; for a moment, it felt as if the wind might tear her wings free of their sockets.
As a non-flying creature, I don’t know, but hey this just sounds way too dramatic. Pretty sure wings (and instincts to go alongside) are evolved to catch just the right amount of air…? I could never imaging a hawk flaring its wings to slow only to dislocate a shoulder or something. Thing is, Saphira is an adult dragon by now. She should know how to properly fly.
So Saphira, once dropping to a very low height over the city, flies towards the cathedral.
She shifted her tail to maintain balance, then wheeled over the city until she located the black-shrike-thorn-cave where the blood-mad-priests worshipped. Tucking in her wings again, she dropped the last number of feet and, with a thunderous crash, landed on the middle of the cathedral’s roof.
Oh hey, it’s the chapter namedrop. Saphira knows the cathedral as the black-shrike-thorn-cave, apparently. Why then does she call it the cathedral not a sentence later?
She grips tightly to the tiles and roars, then flames the bell tower. The bell falls down.
That pleased her, as did the two-legs-round-ears who ran screaming from the area. She was a dragon, after all. It was only right that they should fear her.
One of the two-legs paused by the edge of the square in front of the black-shrike-thorn-cave, and she heard him shout a spell at her, his voice like the squeaking of a frightened mouse. Whatever the spell was, Eragon’s wards shielded her from it—at least she assumed they did, for she noticed no difference in how she felt or in the appearance of the world around her.
THEN WHY EVEN BOTHER TO FUCKING MENTION IT?!
Blodhgarm kills the magician:
She could feel how Blödhgarm grasped hold of the spellcaster’s mind and wrestled the two-legs-round-ears’ thoughts into submission, whereupon Blödhgarm uttered a single word in the ancient-elf-magic-language, and the two-legs-round-ears fell to the ground, blood seeping from his open mouth.
Um… why are these the good guys again?
Then Thorn and Murtagh approach them. Saphira takes the time to mention that he sparkles like a red Edward Cullen (Redward?) but not quite as brightly as her own blue scales since she’d taken the time to groom for the occasion.
She could not imagine going into battle looking anything but her best.
Also, she was the last female of her kind, and she wanted those who saw her to marvel at her appearance and to remember her well, so if dragons were to vanish forevermore, two-legs would continue to speak of them with the proper respect, awe, and wonder.
Alternatively, as the last female, you could just pop some fertile eggs, darl. It’d be paedophilia on your part but at least Thorn’s an early bloomer. Unless it’s possible to somehow mate with an Eldunari? </sarcasm>
Thorn rises further into the sky and Saphira looks around to make sure Eragon’s not near the cathedral.
She did not want to hurt him by accident in the fight that was about to take place. He was a fierce hunter, but he was small and easily squished.
I can’t take a book that uses ‘squished’ all that seriously, honestly. This just completely destroys the tone Paolini’s been going for – you know, the whole ‘I strive for a lyrical beauty’ crap? Squished is not lyrical beauty. As an alternative, I think the very similar ‘squashed’ could have done.
She was still working to unravel the dark-echoing-painful-memories Eragon had shared with her, but she understood enough of them to know that events had once again proved what she had long believed: that whenever she and her partner-of-heart-and-mind were apart, he ended up in trouble of one form or another. Eragon, she knew, would disagree, but his latest misadventure had done nothing to convince her otherwise, and she felt a perverse satisfaction in having been right.
Er-hem. This has nothing to to do with anything right now. Thorn’s in the air already with Murtagh. Stop halting the flow of action or this is going to be the most boring fight scene ever.
Thorn turns around in the sky and dives toward Saphira, breathing fire as he does so.
You know, have a think about this one for a second. If a dragon firebreathing is anything like I imagine, wouldn’t Thorn be directly flying into the inferno he’s creating? Like at the end of this?
(Sorry, embedding was disabled for this vid, it’s the first Toothless/Hiccup flight scene of HTTYD when Toothless celebrates the flight with his version of firebreath and then flies right into it with Hiccup saying ‘Oh come on!’)
So anyway Saphira has magical wards around her but doesn’t want them to wear off too quickly, so she dodges his attack and snaps back at him. He flames her in retaliation and she closes her inner eyelid (she has two, apparently). Thorn continues trying to get Saphira to take flight again but when she doesn’t, he also lands heavily on the cathedral, on the other side; making the stained glass shatter and the building shake. Turns out Thorn’s body is actually bigger than Saphira’s now because of the magic growth. Saphira isn’t intimidated by this though because she’s got more experience than him.
Also, Thorn dared not kill her … nor did she think he wanted to.
How on earth is she meant to know that?
Thorn steps forward and Saphira backwards. She’s backed up against the spire and so she flames him.
Her task now was to keep Thorn and Murtagh from realizing that it was not Eragon who was sitting on her. To that end, she could either stay far enough away from Thorn that Murtagh would be unable to read the thoughts of the wolf-elf-in-Eragon’s-shape, or she could attack often and ferociously enough that Murtagh would not have the opportunity—which would be difficult, as Murtagh was used to fighting from Thorn’s back even while Thorn turned and twisted through the air.
“Is that the best you can do?” Murtagh shouted with a magically enhanced voice from within the ever-shifting cocoon of fire.
“Is that the most cliched line you can come up with?” I shouted at Paolini.
Saphira stops flaming Thorn and pounces at him. They have a bit of a struggle and Thorn gets bumped off the roof. As they’re clinging to each other, so is Saphira. The pair of them hit the ground and Thorn lands on Murtagh (who thankfully is protected with physical wards and doesn’t get ‘squished’.) Saphira jumps away to avoid getting hit by a spell and kicks Thorn in the process. She takes flight and lands on a house.
The building was too weak to support her, so she took flight again and, just for good measure, set the row of buildings on fire.
Just for good measure, you know. Not like there’s going to be anyone IN THOSE HOUSES AT THE TIME!
Saphira lands on the cathedral again and starts ripping the roof apart.
The blood-mad-priests who worshipped within had hurt the partner-of-her-heart-and-mind, had hurt dragon-blood-elf-Arya, young-face-old-mind-Angela, and the werecat Solembum—he of the many names—and they had killed Wyrden. For that, Saphira was determined to destroy the black-shrike-thorn-cave in revenge.
No idea why Saphira’s started calling Arya dragon-blood-elf.
She filled the interior with a burst of flame, then hooked her claws into the ends of the brass pipes of the wind organ and pulled them free of the rear wall of the cathedral. They fell clanging and crashing onto the pews below.
As a professional pipe organist, can I just say that I really resent this. I know Paolini’s a big atheist and all but what the hell does he have against musical instruments? Sure, pipe organs are mostly found in Christian churches, but really! I’m feeling sad about the destruction of the above organ – and it doesn’t even exist!
That being said – does Paolini even know what he’s writing any longer? Organs need air – a lot of it. Who’s pumping the bellows? Who’s playing the thing? Who built it? What instruments came beforehand? Are magic/spells involved? What kind of music is actually played? (“All things black and horrible, all Ra’zac great and small…”) I sure hope the Helgrind priests don’t require the organist to follow suit in the common way of worship and chop off a finger! (What about organists simply doing it for the money?) Why do I get the feeling none of this would ever occur to Paolini? Why do I get the feeling the only reason an organ is in this chapter because of Rule of Cool?
Thorn roars and takes to the air, where he hovers for a bit.
He appeared as a featureless black silhouette against the wall of flames rising from the houses behind him, save for his translucent wings, which glowed orange and crimson.
The purple prose… it burns us, precious!
Then Thorn attacks with his claws. Saphira dodges at the last second, making Thorn headbutt the cathedral’s spire. The top bit falls down. Oh, wait – no, it doesn’t just fall down:
The tall-hole-ridden-stone-spike shuddered under the impact, and the very top of it—an ornate golden rod—toppled over and plunged more than four hundred feet to the square below.
Thorn roars again and struggles to right himself. Saphira flies to the other side and swipes at the spire. With her right ‘forepaw’.
DRAGONS DON’T HAVE FOREPAWS. THEY DON’T HAVE ANY PAWS WHATSOEVER. I know Paolini has said in the past that he bases Saphira on his cat but really this is just getting ridiculous.
Eventually, after a few more blows, the spire falls right over Thorn, which knocks him down into the interior through the hole Saphira had made earlier and buries him in rubble.
The sound of the spire smashing to pieces echoed across the whole of the rat-nest-city, like a clap of rolling thunder.
No it didn’t, because a falling building sounds nothing like a clap of thunder.
Saphira continues destroying the cathedral until it’s pretty much all rubble with Thorn still trapped underneath it all.
Saphira crowed with triumph; then she landed on her hind legs next to the mound of debris and proceeded to paint the blocks of stone with the hottest stream of fire she could summon forth. Flames were easy to deflect with magic, but deflecting actual heat required greater effort and energy. By forcing Murtagh to expend even more of his strength to keep Thorn and himself from being cooked alive, as well as whatever energy he was using to avoid being squished, she hoped to deplete his reserves enough that Eragon and the two-legs-pointed-ears might have a chance of defeating him.
1. ‘Paint’ is completely the wrong word.
2. Stop using squished!
3. I thought this was meant to be a distraction, not a fight to the death. I mean, how else is Saphira meant to ‘defeat’ them?
Whilst she’s breathing fire, Blodhgarm is spellcasting but Saphira doesn’t know what he’s doing and doesn’t really care anyway. Then Thorn bursts out of the rubble VERY DRAMATICALLY and Saphira can see that his wings are crumpled and broken and he is bleeding from a few places.
He glared at her and snarled, his ruby eyes dark with battle rage. For the first time, she had truly angered him, and she could see that he was eager to tear at her flesh and taste her blood.
Again, how does she know this?!
Anyway this gives Saphira satisfaction, rather than trepidation (given that he DID kill Glaedr – a much more experienced and battle hardened dragon than the pair of them) and she watches as Murtagh brings out an orb from his belt. She figures it’s a healing orb (guess Saphira’s been reading pulp fantasy novels) for Thorn and takes flight again.
She glanced down after a few wing beats and saw him rising toward her at a furious speed, a large-red-sharp-claw-sparrowhawk.
All through Brisingr and Inheritance, dragons have been calling things after bird species. Back in Brisingr, Saphira snaps at a ‘sparrow’ (not a small-chirpy-feather-bird) and Glaedr calls Thorn little-red-shrike-dragon during their battle (for those curious, a shrike is another name for a butcher bird). In this chapter, here we have black-shrike-thorn-cave. Is ‘shrike’ meant to indicate there are shrikes actually flying around or did Saphira know of Glaedr’s names for Thorn? (of which there are six, for some obscure reason) Why does Saphira call them shrikes, anyway? Why compare a hugeass dragon to a little bird? Why does Saphira care about the differences between birds given that she does at times use ‘two-legs’ when she refers to every single bipedal species in Alagaesia?
Saphira turns in the air and goes to attack Thorn again when she hears Eragon shout into her mind. She abandons Thorn and aims towards the source of the mental voice. Thorn follows close behind her.
And so the two of them raced toward the thin wall of the rat-nest-city, and the cool morning-air-off-water howled like a wounded wolf in Saphira’s ears.
CHAPTER END. THANK GOD.
Chapter Thirty-Three – Hammer and Helm
Greetings and felicitations!
I thought I’d do something different for this chapter, and do a video spork! Since my last ones, especially the previous chapter Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave have been in written form, thought I’d do a video spork, and you know just have a little bit of fun with it, you get to see my dorky face in the process.
So anyway, this is Hammer and Helm, a chapter that goes for… not even two pages. Save the trees, Paolini! This chapter could have been completely scrapped because even though it is from Roran’s POV [point of view] and something those are of a bit of interest, you know, to us, ah, more so than Eragon’s chapters, um, it only goes for two pages first and foremost and guess where on the timeline this chapter falls?
In between the events of Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave.
So it’s not like… it’s talking about all the stuff that happens after Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave, no! No, it’s just all the stuff that Roran’s dealing with – two pages worth of him whinging whilst Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave chapter is going on.
So anyway. It’s still dawn, and… Roran’s pretty relieved actually, because the Varden is finally sounding the attack. So doo-doo-doo-dooo! [mimics sound of trumpet] Attack!
At last! thought Roran as the Varden’s horns sounded the advance.
On we go to Dras-Leona: to rape and pillage and all that’s glorious.
He glanced at Dras-Leona and caught a glimpse of Saphira diving toward the dark mass of buildings, her scales blazing in the light of the rising sun.
This bit! is actually referencing the events of… page 317 of Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave, so it’s as Thorn finally… takes flight. And here we go:
Below, Thorn stirred, like some great cat that had been sunning itself on a fence, and took off in pursuit.
In the previous chapter I wrote about how, um, I remember once an interview with Paolini being published on Anti-Shur’tugal about how he bases Saphira and her certain airs and graces on… on his family’s cat? I think that’s what it is, I, th-that’s what I remember anyway.
And, this theme is really really emphasised in Inheritance, especially in the actual descriptions of Saphira, and here also, literally! being compared to a cat:
… like some great cat that had been sunning itself on a fence…
What can I say? Dragons do not look like cats. [change of tone] One has fur, one has scales. One has wings, one does not. One is reptilian, one is mammalian. It’s not that difficult. They don’t look anything like each other. I dunno…
A surge of energy coursed through Roran. The time for battle had finally arrived, and he was eager to be done with it.
So he’s energised, and excited, but he wants it to be over. Yeah, that makes sense!
He spared a quick thought of concern for Eragon…
Way to go.
… then pushed himself off the log where he was sitting and trotted over to join the rest of the men as they gathered in a wide rectangular formation.
Wide rectangular formation? Really?
Roran glanced up and down the ranks, checking that the troops were ready. They had been waiting for most –
Wait, what? Waiting for most of the night?
And the men were tired[?], but he knew that fear and excitement would soon clear their minds[???]
That’s not how war works! That’s not how anything works! What the fuck?
So you’ve got the Var- ok you’ve got the Varden’s army waiting, sitting around doing jackshit for most of the night… and… so basically all your men are going to be sleep deprived and somehow Roran knows that fear and excitement will soon clear their minds. That’s not how the body works! Come on Paolini! Alagaesian’s don’t have coffee!
Roran was tired as well, but he paid it no mind; he could sleep when the battle was over.
Are you fucking kidding me? Geez, they’re going to lose. They’re fuckwits.
Until then, his main concern was keeping his men and himself alive[?]
Great work with that! Good luck!
He did wish he had time for a cup of hot tea, though, to help settle his stomach.
You ‘n me both.
He had eaten something bad for dinner and had been racked with cramps and nausea ever since.
So, not only d- is the captain tired but he is also… suffering from food poisoning? Why doesn’t someone else take over for the night?
Still, the discomfort was not enough to prevent him from fighting. Or so he hoped.
That’s all Roran does in this fucking book. Hope. And somehow, all his hopes come true. I CALL BULLSHIT!
Satisfied with the state of his men, Roran pulled on his helm, pushing it down over his quilted arming cap. Then he drew his hammer and slipped his left arm through the straps on his shield.
“At your command,” said Horst, walking up to him.
Roran nodded. He had chosen the smith as his second in command, a decision that Nasuada had accepted without dissent.
Obviously Nasuada’s an idiot as well.
Other than Eragon, there was no one Roran would rather have by his side.
*eyebrow raise* Well. That makes all the difference then don’t it.
It was selfish of him, he knew—Horst had a newborn child, and the –
Grrr. Oh, this makes me so angry.
Horst had a newborn child, and the Varden needed his metalworking skills—but Roran could not think of anyone else as well suited for the job.
You selfish prick.
Horst had not seemed especially pleased by the promotion, but neither had he seemed upset.
Like, what? So he’s not especially pleased, but he’s not upset either? Then why even fucking mention it?
The horns sounded again, and Roran lifted his hammer over his head. “Forward!” he shouted. He took the lead as the many hundreds of men started off, accompanied on either side by the Varden’s four other battalions.
*groans* Paolini fails at war!
As the warriors trotted across the open fields that separated them from Dras-Leona, cries of alarm rang out in the city.
I honestly suspect that these cries of alarms are actually ringing out because of the dragons who are like devastating their entire city and like, crashing down buildings and devastating cathedrals and setting shit on fire, and whatnot, you know, enemy dragon in the city! Oh shit!
Bells and horns sounded a moment later, and soon the whole city was filled with an angry clamor as the defenders roused themselves.
What, so the big-ass dragons fighting over your city didn’t… wasn’t enough to, y’know:
*mimes* Oh, there’s two dragons fighting over our city! Yeah, meh. Oh shit there’s an army! AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!
Adding to the commotion were the most terrible roars and crashes from the centre of the city, where the two dragons were fighting. Occasionally, Roran saw one or another of them appear above the tops of the buildings, the dragon’s hide bright and sparkling,
*silly voice* Like Edward Cullen.
but for the most part, the two giants remained hidden from sight.
*silly voice* They’re dragons… and then they are giants…
The maze of ramshackle buildings that surrounded the city walls quickly drew near. The narrow, gloomy streets looked ominous and foreboding to Roran.
extremely silly voice and facial expression* Oooooh, it’s a gloomy alley.
It would be easy for the Empire’s soldiers—or even the citizens of Dras-Leona—to ambush them within the twisting passageways.
Then why go in them? Find other ways to attack the city. It is not that hard. You have siege weapons. Or so I thought.
Fighting in such close quarters would be even more brutal, confusing, and messy than normal.
Then why do it?
If it came to that, Roran knew that few of his men would escape unscathed.
Then why fucking do it like that?!
As he moved into the shadows beneath the eaves of the first line of hovels, a hard knot of unease settled in Roran’s gut…
Alongside the food poisoning!
… exacerbating his queasiness.
Oh, there you go. I preempted that.
He licked his lips, feeling sick.
*licks lips* Mmm. I sure feel sick right now. *licks lips* Mmm.
Do those two actions even go together? *licks lips, then mimes vomiting to the side* Blergh!
Eragon had better open that gate, he thought. If not DOT DOT DOT we’ll be stuck out here like so many lambs penned up for slaughter .
Eragon had better open that gate, he thought. If not DOT DOT DOT we’ll be stuck out here like so many lambs penned up for slaughter .
[not a typo, I actually forgot to delete my first take of this excerpt and so you get it twice, sorry!]
And the chapter ends.
It’s probably the shortest chapter in the entire bloody book. And look how big the fucking thing is – it’s huge, it’s heavy! I reckon I could brain someone with this! Give them concussion. And it’s because of shitty stupid chapters like this that don’t even need to exist. It’s so stupid. It’s ridiculous.
Two pages. Two pages of nothing! We don’t need those two pages to tell us that Roran and the Varden are advancing on Dras-Leona. We could have a sentence in Eragon’s POV chapter telling us:
*silly voice* Eragon looked down, and saw Roran and the Varden advancing on Dras-Leona like so many…
*sigh* Fuck, I dunno… like so many marching ants!
Or something. Not two pages. Not two pages of shit. All we gain from that is:
The Varden’s tired.
Roran’s got food poisoning!
Roran walks into Dras-Leona anyway, and all his men follow him.