Feb. 25th, 2009 01:27 pm
kippurbird: (Heroes)
Today's question: What makes something epic?

It occurs to me to ask this question because of Paolini's assertions that he is trying to write an epic like Beowulf and the Lord of the Rings. However his work is clearly not epic. But why then? What makes something epic?

The dictionary definition isn't very helpful.

One definition is thus:


A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds. The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations, the world, or the universe, and the action is important to the history of a nation or people. The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are some great epics from world literature, and two great epics in English are Beowulf and Paradise Lost.

Most of the other definitions refer to poetry as well. But something can be teased out of this. "The setting is vast in scope covering great nations, the world, or the universe and the action is important to he history of a nation or people." An epic is supposed to be huge. Not in the number of pages but in the scope. In the What Is At Stake.

Some examples that could be considered epic in today's fantasy writing are Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. While Mercedes Lacky on the other hand has written more books, they tend to fall into more personal stories. There is not the "end of the world" urgency in them like there is for Goodkind's and Jordan's books.

If, for example, Richard Rahl, in the Sword of Truth, doesn't stop the Evil Emperor Jagang all of magic will be destroyed and their freedom and way of life will be ground into a bloody mess. In Lord of the Rings, if Frodo doesn't get rid of the One Ring then Sauron will be able to take over the world and enslave everyone.

However in the Inheritance Cycle there is not this urgency. There is no urgency. Three books in and there is nothing to stop. Eragon doesn't have to stop Galbatorix from taking over, he's already done so. He doesn't have to stop the emperor from doing anything to destroy the world. Galbatorix is a completely passive figure in this books. Everything Eragon does is small things. Nothing he does will stop Galbatorix from gaining more power.

Eragon is not a threat.

What does he do? He destroys some minions, the Ra'zac and Durza. But Galbatorix has more and it could be said that Murtagh and Thorn are even more effective than the Ra'zac because he's a dragon rider. He has access to more power. He fights off an army, but it's not a battle for anything. There's nothing at stake.

And this is why it's not epic. This is what makes something have the potential to be epic. The stakes.

The bigger the stakes the more dangerous the challenge that the heroes have to overcome and the harder it is for them.

If something is to be epic in scope then it has to include things that are more than personal trials. It's not one life at risk. It's entire cities at risk.

Admittedly a lot of times it seems like only the Chosen One can stop the Great Evil or End of the World, but that's part of what makes it epic. The overwhelming forces against the one person. There are the armies to help, but it's only the One who can stop the Evil Overlord.

Using the definition the Harry Potter books could be considered an epic. It's Harry, a teenage boy vs. Voldemort, a man who wishes to enslave the non-magical population. The battle fields are small, but the stakes are high.

Again back to the Inheritance Cycle. What is the problem Eragon has to solve to stop Galbatorix in Eragon or Eldest or Brisingr? What does he have to do to stop Galbatorix from gaining more power. In Eragon he got the dragon but that doesn't stop Galbatorix, he has two more eggs. In Eldest he gets magic training but that doesn't prove a threat to Galbatorix he has Murtagh, someone who wasn't even revealed until the very end of the book. Eragon never has to try and get training so he can best Murtagh. And in Brisingr? He gets a shiny sword. Which... is a shiny sword, but not an issue for Galbatorix. These are small and personal problems.

The language is the language of a would-be-epic, written in an "elevated style". But even that isn't done well. It's trying for epic. Paolini gets too wrapped up in describing things in interesting metaphors that he forgets the bigger picture of things. He's "fallen in love with the fly" as Natalie Goldberg says in her book, Writing Down the Bones[2]. He lovingly describes an arrow wound which stalls the story instead of giving it more depth. His lyricism is that of un-rhyming poetry, jolting and haphazard. Images appear but aren't connected to anything. The point of the elevated style is to create a fully painted image of the world and the people that live there.

What happens ultimately is that Paolini tries for epic, but because there are no stakes ultimately he has a hollow story. A story that is a mere shadow of what an epic could be but with no substance.



Goldberg, Natalie; Writing Down the Bones. Shambhala Publications; 1986

kippurbird: (Duck of doom)
Eragon: Archetypal Hero? (first draft)[*]

part of the first draft that I can write without reference. )

Edit Chapter on the Homosexual undercurrents in the book.
kippurbird: (What goes on in Kippur's head)
So, I've been thinking about my Eragon analysis book and I think I'm going to have to change formats. Instead of doing a chapter by chapter analysis, I'm going to do something more cohesive. Making each chapter focus on a specific aspect of the book. Or books in this case. It'll let me go over both Eragon and Eldest in the same book. This will also help eliminate the snarkiness of the chapter by chapter critiques. Which while amusing is not at all professional.

Chapters that I have so far are:

  • Eragon: Archetypal Hero?
This chapter is going to look at Eragon in comparison to the archetypal hero motif, and examine how he does fool the stereotype, but at the same time also fails at being the archetypal hero. For while he does go through the appropriate steps, his actions and personality proves that he's not a hero.

  • Galbatorix: the Unseen Dark Lord
Here I'm going to look at how Galbatorix is painted as the villain of the series but doesn't ever do anything evil. At least no more evil than any king who has a group of terrorists attacking his kingdom. Also at the fact that he isn't felt as a threat by anyone and is instead a non-presence.

  • The reluctant and the anti hero: Roran and Murtagh
Again, similar to chapter one, but looking at Murtagh and Roran and seeing how well the fulfill their stereotypical roles.

  • A Patchwork Land
Fantasy worlds have to be believable and well made to immerse the reader into them. A look at how well Paolini did this and where he might have drawn his inspirations for things.

  • Zombie Horses
A look at continuity errors, improbable happenings, strange coincidences and things that just happen to move the story along but make no sense otherwise.

  • Ponderous Prose
This is going to go over Paolini's writing style, from his over use of the thesaurus to his overly flowery prose, to his fear of using the word "said".

I think that's what I have for now. I may add chapters later when I think of them.

Also, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, multicolored sprinkles and chocolate milk is delicious. =D
kippurbird: (>:D Heh)
The Pao-Pao awards.

So several people mentioned that I should do a poll for the worst of the worst in Eldest. Which I shall, because I'm lazy and don't particularly feel like working. But I'd like some nominations for:

Most Ironic Line

Most character growth in any direction

Most WTF moment

Most Deus Ex Machina moment

Most idiotic moment

Most Why God Why moment

I can't believe Paolini actually did, said, wrote that moment.

Eragon's most idiotic moment

Character that should just DIE (besides Eragon)

Other category nominations are also welcome.
kippurbird: (*_* SHINY!)
Here it is, the final chapter of of Eldest. Hold on.

Chapter Reunion


Now that they're all done killing things, Saphira and Eragon go through the plain of dead and injured people, which does not smell at all. As they go through the battle field, Eragon heals who ever he comes across, be it Galby's men or Varden. Eragon, last we checked, was absolutely drained of magical energy. He had used it all up. Yet, he has enough power to heal people as he walks through the battle field. The fact that he made no distinction between the Varden and the Empire soldiers is to show that Eragon has compassion. It's a very cliched thing to do, the hero who cares for both his enemies and his own people to show how noble and wonderful he is. He also thinks to himself about how senseless the fighting has been, feeling very sorrowful. "What a tragedy that so many must die to thwart a single madman." (page 654) he thinks. Which is another contender for the most ironic line in the book. After all it is the Varden who started the aggressions. And he was the one who wanted to start fighting as well. Galby has only been trying to protect his empire which is being beset by people who intend it harm and by a rider who wants to destroy him. He's perfectly justified in protecting his interests.

As he does this, he thinks about Murtagh's revelation. We're told that it would take him months if not years to come to terms with this and that he feels sullied being sired by a monster. Then, he rationalizes it away.

But no... As he healed a man's broken spine, a new way of viewing the situation occurred to him, one that restored a measure of his self confidence: Morzan may be my parent, but he is not my father. Garrow was my father. He raised me. He taught me how to live well and honorably, with integrity. I am who I am because of him. Even Brom and Oromis are more my father than Morzan. And Roran is my brother, not Murtagh. (page 655)

Now any potential personal challenges that being Morzan's son could present have been essentially wiped off the board. He isn't really Morzan's son. Morzan was just a sperm donor. He doesn't have to think, well what if I turn out like Morzan (which he has). He doesn't have to compare himself to his father, wonder if the same thing that made Morzan go bad will happen to him. But now, he doesn't have to worry about that. He's just rationalized it away so that it's okay. He doesn't have to worry about it any more. It didn't happen. He barely felt the emotional trauma of having Morzan as his father before he shoves the emotion away. And then there's Murtagh, who saved his life on numerous occasions, fought with him and helped him rescue Arya and himself, is thrown out of the family equation because he's on the side of evil. Not willingly, mind you, but there isn't room for that in Paolini's land. If you work for Galby -willingly or not- you're automatically evil. Eragon never even seemed to process the fact that Murtagh did what he did because he was forced to. He was too busy being upset that Murtagh betrayed him to understand what his friend was going through.

As Eragon goes through the battle field he eventually stumbles upon the dwarves mourning the dwarf king. Dwarf asks him if he killed the rider who did it, and Eragon tells him that no, he got away, not mentioning it was Murtagh. He does swear that he'll do what he can to avenge Dwarf King's murder. Dwarf mentions that he's Dwarf King's heir. Which probably means that the only reason why Dwarf King had to die was so that Dwarf could become king and unconditionally support Eragon. So, Eragon'll have the dwarves, the Varden and the elves supporting him. The final big battle will be like the last alliance of Men and Elves... with dwarves thrown in as they face Sauron Galbatorix. Eragon will be Isildur.

Though, now that I think about it, if this is really going to be a Star Wars rip off, where is the Death Star equivalent? I want my giant planet killing moon. It should be a flying warship with magical lasers that rain death from above. And its weak spot will be a chimney stack. The Varden will learn about it when one of their diplomatic envoys send a map with a messenger bird before being captured by Murtagh. During the climatic battle Eragon flies on Saphira to try and destroy it, Brom's spirit guides him to the correct chimney stack to blow up.

Roran catches up with Eragon and tells him what happened with Katrina. Eragon introduces him to Saphira, and he's surprised she can speak. Eragon takes him to Nasuada tent. When Nasuada learns what he's done, she offers him all the supplies he wants. She has an army of wounded and in need men and she's offering Roran's group which is intact and uninjured supplies. This is a fantastic allotment of resources. Especially since Roran's people were already offered what ever they needed in one of the cities that they stopped at when they first got to Sudra.

Once that is settled, Eragon tells Nasuada, Arya and Roran what happened with the rider. Nasuada guesses that the rider was Murtagh. Then he tells them what Murtagh told him. They decided not to tell anyone about this because it might demoralize the troops.

Eventually Eragon and Roran have a heart to heart talk together. It begins with Roran wanting to know how his father died. Eragon says, "Our father." Eragon remained calm as Roran's expression hardened. In a gentle voice, he said, "I have as much right to call him that as you. Look within yourself; you know it to be true." (page 665) This sound familiar to anyone? Anyone? Roran, however, doesn't to be too excited about this prospect as he appears to reply rather tersely with "Fine. Our father, how did he die?" He seems to be more interested in learning what happened to his father than accepting Eragon as his brother. So, Eragon tells him what happened.

Roran then comforts Eragon by saying that they both made mistakes and are both equally guilty. They clasp hands and "wrestle" like they used to do. It is not slashy at all. When they're done wrestling in bed, Roran tells Eragon what happened with Katarina, asking him to help him.

Eragon takes out the Dues Ex Machina potion and swallows a sip of it, getting enough energy to try a scrying. He uses the rest of the Dues Ex Machina potion -the potion that Yoda told him to use carefully - to create a surface to him to scry in. They discover that Katrina is still alive.

When the vision fades, Eragon says that yes, he'll go with Roran to rescue Katrina. Yes, he's going to leave the Varden and the people who needs him to go on a rescue mission for insignificant person. Just a chapter a go he was willing to sacrifice Murtagh someone of far greater importance to help untold innocents. But one random person who is obviously bait in a trap and not that important at all, even if Roran loves her, is worth the death of untold innocents. Showing, in the end, as in the beginning that Eragon hasn't got his priorities straight and doesn't know how to do anything right.

The End.
kippurbird: (Boom!)
There's nothing like a massive amount of sugar to fuel an essay. Two scoops of ice cream, and tons of sugary toppings. MMmmmm...

We are finally at the end of Eldest. There is only one more chapter left to go. The chapter that culminates the book and sets us up for book three and the end of the series. What should have happened in this book is that the characters grew and changed to prepare them for the challenges of the third book. They should have an understanding of who they are and what they can do and what they have to do to bring about their goals. The question is, then, did this happen?

Eragon, our hero, should have shown the most change and growth because the series -much like the world - revolves around him. He began the book as a moderately powerful human boy with probably sociopathic tendencies, believing that the only way to free the world from Galbatorix's enslavement was by his hand. He ends the book as a exceptionally powerful human boy who looks like an elf with definite sociopathic tendencies, believing that the only way to free the world from Galbatorix's enslavement was by his hand. Now, while physically and in power he has changed and grown, his personality and views of the world has not. At least, he's not made any changes from learning by himself. Everything that he changes -like refusing to eat meat- happens because of what other people show him how to do or believe is right. He does not make any of these decisions on his own. And then even when he makes a belief change, it doesn't seem to have any ramifications of on his behavior. He declares that he has become a vegetarian because he does not wish to cause undo pain and suffering and that it is cruel to the animals to eat them. Yet, when it comes to sentients, from Urgals to humans, he shows no remorse or caring that he has to kill them. Instead he revels in the idea that he can kill more efficiently at one point. If he truly believed in the idea of not causing undo harm because of the pain and suffering it caused, he'd become a pacifist.

Other characters in the book also suffer from a lack of development. Arya remains without personality, merely there to rebuff Eragon's romantic attempts. Orik does nothing in particular except get drunk at one point. We never see what it is like for him to be living among the elves and how that effects him since dwarves and elves never got along, at least according to Paolini. Nasuada gains the responsibility of the Varden, but we never really see her struggle to come to terms with her leadership, never see her bend the council to her will or the people's uneasiness at having such a young person as their leader. She never faces any of these challenges. Roran may have had some character development, but he goes from an ignorant farm boy to a rather kill happy individual. This could be considered development, though it is not in the direction that Paolini wanted him to go. Paolini wanted him to become a great leader of men, but instead his defining characteristic is that he kills people with his hammer at the slightest offense, which is not the sort of thing you want in a leader of great men.

Then there is Murtagh. He shows up for all of two chapters in the book. It is assumed that he has gone through a great deal of change, after all he has bonded to a dragon and been forced to work for Galbatorix. But none of this appears to bother him. He shrugs off having his mind invaded, never speaking about it in a painful voice. And instead he spouts off Galbatorix's propaganda, propaganda that he didn't believe in the first book. So obviously he's been brainwashed some how, but this never gets explored because he shows up, beats Eragon, takes back his father's sword and flies off. None of his inner conflict, how he feels about what has happened to him is shown. The scenes are almost a throw away, just there so Eragon can learn who his father is, when there are other ways for him to find out. And still, it's not necessary for him to know.

The story arc for Eldest can't really be examined, because there was none. There was no build up to danger. No one was particularly worried about anything. No one was afraid of dying and neither was the reader. It reminds me of a quote from Terry Pratchett, I believe it was from Small Gods, where it said that history was really kings and wars and dramatic events, but if no one noticed them they were just random events. What we have here is random events. They don't make a story because there is no plot, stuff just happens. There is no build up, no pressure of time, no worry. Eragon often feels safe and relaxed during his time with the elves. He doesn't feel pressured to hurry up and learn what he can to get back to the Varden. Galbatorix's army shows up in the last quarter of the book, literally out of nowhere. There's no build up to it. No worry from the Varden if they'll be able to gather up enough men and supplies to meet them in time. No planning on how to defend themselves or deciding where the best place is to have the battle. They learn about the army and the next time we see them, they're already in place ready to fight. We don't see them get ready, we don't see the time table ticking down until the large battle. A battle that doesn't even need to be fought in the first place. With Roran, we could say that things do happen and that there's a rising action - except that there's not. They have problems and solutions immediately appear to fix the problems. They need boats, they get boats. The Ra'zac are after them, but never attack. We never see anyone afraid for their lives, or get sick or die. No one complains to Roran or questions his leadership. They just accept it and do what he says. He has no challenges, once again, to over come.

It is these lack of challenges, these lack of things to over come personal or other wise that makes this book just a series of events and not a story. Struggle and conflict are at the heart of any story. It's what the character has to overcome that drives a story. If a character has nothing to over come then there's no story. It just reads like a dry chronicle of daily events.

At the end of this book, we are no closer to finding a way to defeat Galbatorix than we were in the beginning of Eragon. We haven't learned a thing about the king. We don't know what his potential weaknesses are, if there is a magical way to destroy him or some object that'll help Eragon with the final battle.There isn't even a magical prophecy to point in that direction. Not even Angela's. What Paolini seems to be setting up is a final one on one battle between Eragon and Galbatorix. And the only way for Eragon to do this is to become more powerful. He's not going to figure out a way to defeat him. He's just going to pit his strength against Galbatorix's. Logically, the king should win this fight of power, after all he's been steadily getting more powerful over a hundred years, and we don't know how long he was alive before he destroyed the Riders. Even Murtagh, who was trained by him for maybe six months is more powerful than Eragon. But, since Eragon is the hero the book, he will triumph somehow in an epic one on one battle. He will do this not by any cleverness but by sheer physical power. Physical power that he shouldn't have but will manage to get somehow be it a gift of the dragons or finding that one right magical object and/or spell.

Technically speaking from what has happened in this book, or at least what hasn't happened in this book, it's completely cuttable from the series. Either that it has to be completely rewritten to be given a plot and a story arc. If this doesn't happen then all it does is waste paper and ink.
kippurbird: (Ew)
Feeling better. Still nauseous, but up to writing. =D

Chapters Eldest, Inheritance


Saphira and Eragon return from seeing Roran, Eragon angsting about how Roran seems to hate him. And then a sword bounces off Eragon's greaves. This means that either a) Saphira if flying awfully close to the ground or b) the guy threw his sword or c) he's a giant. As there are known giants in Eragon land this leaves choices a and b, both are equally plausible according to past know behaviors of individuals in the book. Seeing as it bounces off the greaves and Saphira later lands, I'm going to assume that the guy threw his sword. However Saphira appears to be flying low enough for Eragon to slash downward and gut at the guy. My final guess is that Paolini has no real idea where Saphira and Eragon are in relation to anything and is instead making things up as they are convenient.

Eragon tells Trianna that no one should harm Roran's ship, and then Saphira lands and leaps over to the dwarves. Apparently landing in front of the dwarves never occurred to her. They great each other and give a little small talk, never mind the fact that there are people DYING HORRIBLY waiting for the dwarves reinforcements. After the small talk, the dwarves finally join into the battle. Eragon charging, once again, on the ground with them.

And they fight,the Varden starting to win, and the day passes into late afternoon, when two chapters ago it was starting to pass into evening. Apparently someone rewound the day. Maybe like Superman did in one of those movies or something? As they fight, the Dragon's Wing launches flaming javelin goes flying into the enemy camp. Eragon looks and sees this and wonders, "What are you playing at, Roran?" (page 639) This doesn't seem to be too hard to figure out. Roran is firing large flaming missiles at the enemy camp to kill it with fire. Which is something Saphria should be doing. But she's not.

Suddenly drums start going off in the enemy's camp. From the north something detaches itself from the horizon and we discover it's a red dragon! Galby got another egg to hatch! We see the dragon rider, properly attacking from the air unleash a powerful magic attack. Who does the rider attack? Not Eragon, the most dangerous person on the field, but instead Dwarf King in his gold armor. Why? So Eragon could have his moment of screaming, "NOOOOOOO!!!" And vowing to kill the rider. Drama, once again, trumping logic.

Eragon and Saphira go after the dragon, after Eragon, in the middle of a battle, is able to spot Arya looking at him with concern. Saphira starts yelling at the dragon, "Traitor! Egg breaker, oath breaker, murderer!" (page 640) which is silly because this dragon, like herself, had nothing to do with the destruction of the dragons and is no more an oath breaker than she herself is. This dragon has not broken any eggs (except for its shell) and as far as we know, killed anyone. To the Ra'zac she had reason to scream these things, but to this dragon, she does not. For all we know this dragon could have been forced into servitude much like Galby's black dragon.

The dragon is apparently male, though we don't know how this is known, especially since Eragon never realized that Saphira was female up until he named her. The two of them do battle in the air. Although the red dragon doesn't have any armor on, Saphira doesn't appear to do much damage to him with her claws. It was because the dragons had thin skin that they needed to wear armor. She was able to rend armored humans quite well down on the ground, but not the exposed skin of a dragon. Perhaps she blunted her nails while charging around on the ground. At one point the rider blasts into Eragon's mind with, as Eragon says, "greater than any even Oromis was capable of summoning." (page 640) However, if we recall correctly, one of Oromis' problems was that he couldn't do large pieces of magic anymore. Only little spells. This is obviously a spell, so it's not going to be too difficult for it to be greater than anything Oromis could do.

As they fight Trianna lets Eragon know that there are two new and more powerful magicians that are beating up the Varden magic users. Now, we're pretty late into the battle, and only now the big guns are coming out? Why are they wasting the soldiers when the could take out large chunks of Varden with the big guns before the reinforcements arrive. It would have made the battle a decisive victory for the Empire long before the dwarves showed up, after all the Empire was winning before the reinforcements came along. And then, there's the idea that if this rider, who is turning out to be more powerful than Eragon, really wants to take Eragon down without hurting him, he could always use his magic to make him and Saphira go to sleep. Sleeping dragons and riders can't fight back, plus it would be demoralizing for the Varden to see him go down.

So, Saphira and the red dragon are fighting and Eragon sees the other dragon diving up. Which is a pretty neat trick, since diving is a downward motion. (And I checked the dictionary to be sure on that one too.) So, Eragon gets off Saphira and falls onto the other dragon and rider. Somehow the dragon is unable to avoid him. It's a pretty big sky, and Eragon is a falling object. But the dragon is unable to avoid him, and Eragon is able to cut at the draogn's hamstring with his sword. Yet, Saphira was unable to injure him with her talons. Saphira catches Eragon, and he doesn't go plummeting to become a splat on the ground somewhere. The red dragon pushes Saphria down to the ground.

She lands near the river, which has turned red with blood, on a plateau. The red dragon lands across from them and the rider gets off and heals his dragon rather quickly, surprising Eragon. Then he thinks, "Still, whoever he might be, the new Rider certainly was not Galbatorix, whose dragon was black." (645) This is a line that should have been cut, as it's restating the obvious because the dragon is smaller than Saphira and you know, red, as opposed to you know, black. It's a completely useless observation.

The two riders fight, the other rider fending off Eragon's attacks as if he knew all of tactics and moves. When Eragon finally drops, he recognizes the other man's technique. He tackles the rider, removing his helm to discover... it's MURTAGH!

Now, I had Henry. Henry was my hope that the title "Eldest" would be explained in this chapter. Henry died a horrible painful death. Let us all take a moment of silence for the death of Henry. Not only that but there was no reason for this chapter to be called Eldest as nothing referred to it.

Having paid our respects to poor unfortunate Henry, we move on. Eragon goes all Emo on Murtagh, saying that he scryied for him, that they found his clothes, that he mourned for him. Murtagh tells him that it wasn't his fault, that the twins captured him, that he and Thorn (the dragon) were forced into obedience by saying oaths in the ancient language.

So, Murtagh is being forced to do something against his will, and what does Eragon say to him? "You've become like your father." There is absolutely no reason for this comparison. Morzan willingly joined up with Galby and willingly destroyed the other riders. Murtagh was forced unwilling to do this. There is no comparison between the two of them. It's like the difference between someone who had sex willingly and someone who was raped. By indicating that the raped person was willing completely takes away the horror of being raped and all the trauma that came from it. Murtagh has been, essentially raped. His mind was broken open and he was forced to do things that he didn't want to do. This, of course is not addressed at all, but instead, Murtagh merely says that he's stronger than his father ever was. And that he knows all sorts of special magical powers that Galby taught him.

And then for some random reason, the Twins show up. They're going around casting magical fire balls at the Varden and completely miss the fact that Roran is sneaking up behind them. Murtagh and Eragon watch him do this, Eragon worried that something bad will happen to his cousin. And then in the most anti-climatic scene ever, Roran bashes their heads in.

Together they watched as Roran hid behind a mound of bodies. Eragon stiffened as the Twins looked toward the pile. For a moment, it seemed they had spotted him, but then they turned away and Roran jumped up. He swung his hammer and bashed one of the twins in the head, cracking open his skull. The remanining Twin fell to the ground, convulsing and emitted a wordless scream until he too met his end under Roran's hammer. The Roran planted his foot up on the corpses of his foes, lifted his hammer over his head and bellowed his victory.(page 648)

This reminds me of a scene in the Wheel of Time. Jordan spent two and a half books building up this big battle between Rand and one of the Forsaken (I don't remember which, they're all the same to me). Finally, something happens and the big battle plan is abandoned and Rand goes off chasing this guy on his own. They end up in this city that is haunted by an Evil Wind (not to be confused with an Evil Mountain) and this girl shows up that Rand thought was dead. The Evil Wind starts to get at her and Rand throws Balefire -which is a sort of temporal eraser - at the Evil Wind to protect her and the Forsaken gets in the way accidentally and dies.

Both scenes are very anti-climatic and rather random, though I do have to admit that the one with Roran is more random than the one with Rand.

In any case, after seeing this happen, Murtagh and Eragon carry on like nothing happened. Galby, according to Murtagh wants Eragon alive because Saphira is the only female dragon left. Galby apparently doesn't want to destroy the dragons but instead rebuild the riders. He wants to, as Murtagh says, "unite Alagaesia under a single banner, eliminate the need for war, and restore the Riders!" (page 649) Eragon protests saying that Galby killed the Riders in the first place, Murtagh replying that they were corrupt.

A furious scowl contorted Eragon's features. He paced back and forth across the plateau, his breathing heavy, then gestured at the battle and said, "How can you justify causing so much suffering on the basis of a madman's ravings? Galbatorix has done nothing but burn and slaughter and amass power for himself....(page 649)

Again, we haven't seen Galby do anything that he's been accused of. Instead, we've seen Eragon and the Varden do it. If anything Galby is putting down a terrorist group. After all his empire was at peace except for the random Varden attacks.

Eragon tries to get Murtagh to join him, saying that they could free him from his oaths, telling him that he could be praised and admired instead of cursed and hated. Though, I'm certain that the Empire would like him. But Murtagh refuses. So Eragon suggests letting him kill them, to free them from their bonds of servitude. Rightfully, Murtagh says, "No. Because you know, I'm not ready to give up living." Eragon decides to kill him anyway.

And fails miserably, as Murtagh is stronger than him. In fact Murtagh is able to stop Saphira from pouncing on him. Eragon marvels at Murtagh's strength and tries to counteract the spell. It ends up like a staring contest, with Eragon loosing.

Eragon pleads with Murtagh not to take him to Galby. Eventually Murtagh agrees, saying that he was told to try and capture Eragon, which he did. He then takes Eragon's sword, saying that "Zar'roc should have gone to Morzan's eldest son, not his youngest. It is mine by right of birth." (page 652)

This is our big reveal for the book. Eragon is Murtagh's brother and Morzan's son. This is also insanely similar to "Luke, there is something you must know. I am your father". After all who would expect that the poor farm boy who lived with his uncle in the middle of nowhere who goes off on an adventure after his uncle was killed with a slightly crazy old man, discover that he has special powers and decides to fight the Empire would discover that his father was the Empire's leader's right hand man? These stories are so similar to each other that even though it is Murtagh that speaks the lines, it is still the same. It makes the plagiarism that much more noticeable. This also isn't very subtle. It's dropped out of nowhere. If Murtagh and Eragon were siblings, some mentioned to the fact that they looked alike or that someone mistakes them for being related should have been brought up earlier in the book. After all siblings do have similar features. There also isn't any reason for Eragon to be related to Morzan, except for the fact that Luke was related to Darth Vader. All it's going to cause now is angst for Eragon.

Murtagh says to Eragon that they're the same, where upon Eragon says that they aren't because he doesn't have his scar anymore. Murtagh then leaves without looking back. Eragon is all sad now as he watches as the birds of prey and the scavenger birds go down to get their meal on the battle field, though what the hawks and eagles are going to eat, I don't know.
kippurbird: (Default)
Chapters the Storm Breaks, Convergence


Dawn comes and it's time to fight. Eragon gets his bow out and climbs onto Saphira. The soldiers are all wearing rags stuffed in their armor to be quiet so that they won't alert the empire that they're coming. I don't think that'll really work. After all they're walking across a large flat plain with no obstructions. What they should have done is this , if they really didn't want to be heard or seen. Apparently, however, the vapors have for some reason not risen and create cover. So, the army is walking through these noxious vapors with no ill effects. They should be hacking and coughing and dropping like poisoned flies. Instead they make it all the way to the Empire's camp.

Of course, if we recall correctly, the Varden had a pretty nice fortified position (if lousy sentries) and one would think they would stay in their nice fortified and protected position making the enemy come to them. But that of course isn't what epic battles are made of. When they're noticed, Nasuada lets out a battle cry... or at least a long lengthy speech that would have been better said before they rode out. They charge forward, Orrin's cavalry charging the flank with the Urgals.

As Eragon sees this, he thinks to himself, "I must now kill or be killed" (page 624). Now, this is the sort of sentiment that should come from someone who has never killed before. But Eragon has killed before. Has reveled in killing. Has reveled in the idea of killing. Just two chapters before he was eager to go out and smite the on coming Urgal army. In the chapter before he wanted to know if he should kill the envoy. Not once has he ever hesitated on the idea of killing. Not even during the battle at the Dwarves city. Never has he felt any remorse or fear for killing. To have him think it here is trying to make him seem like he's never killed before and the idea frightens him. This is the sort of sentiment that Harry Potter would think right before he went into final battle with Voldemort. Harry has never killed before, the idea of having to kill is abhorrent to him. It probably even scares Harry, the idea of killing someone. But Eragon has killed before, to have him think this is trite, trying to make him seem afraid of what he has to do, when he's already done it.

Saphira and Eragon are staying back from the leading edge of battle to avoid being target by the enemy spell casters. First of all, Eragon is on a dragon. A very large dragon. A very large blue dragon. That's going to be pretty easy to spot. Second of all the enemy spell casters don't need to see him, they just need to find his mind and attack that way. Third of all, he's on a dragon. Dragons can fly. Eragon should be up in the sky with Saphria razing the enemy. There's no reason for him to be holding back. It doesn't take him any effort for him to fly around breathing flame. That's all up to Saphira. Having Saphira on the ground is wasting her effectiveness in battle. To paraphrase the Evil Overlord's list, "If you have a large weapon of mass destruction, don't save it until the end of battle but use it as soon and as often as possible".

The Varden spell casters find the first of the enemy magic users, "Bringing the full power of his will to bear, Eragon demolished the magician's resistance, took control of his consciousness -doing his best to ignore the man's terror -determined which troops the man was guarding, and slew the man with one of the twelve words of death. Without pause, Eragon located the minds of each of the now unprotected soldiers and killed them as well." (page 624) Two paragraph ago Eragon just was thinking about he had to kill, making it seem like he was reluctant to do it, that he had to do it as a matter of survival. Now, without a seconds thought or bit of remorse he tears into a man's mind and kills him and the people around him. And once done with this, does he feel remorse? No.

The ease with which he slew them amazed Eragon. THe soldiers had had no chance to escape or fight back. How different from Farthen Dur, he thought. Though he marveled at the perfection of his skills, the deaths sickened him. But there was no time to dwell on it.(page 624)

No, instead of feeling remorse, he revels in it. He's amazed at the death he can cause. We're told that he feels sick at what he does, but he doesn't feel it. We don't see any physical reaction. Being told that he is sick isn't the same as seeing him throw up or having him almost fall off. And then he ignores it completely.

And then the Empire's army starts using catapults and other siege weapons, tossing them into the middle of the battle. Which would be killing off their men as well as the Varden as they throw the missiles into battle. Eragon thinks that they need to destroy them, but he doesn't want Saphira to fly least she get attack by magic users. Which she could still be as she's a Large Very Visible Dragon.

Finally we get to the real reason for Saphira to be on the ground. Eight soldiers break through the lines and attack Saphira. Something that wouldn't have to have happen if she were in the sky razing the troops with fire from above. But instead she gets attacked and his bodyguards get some use.

To deal with the large siege engines Eragon infiltrates the soldiers who are working on them minds and makes them sabotage the machines.

Time passes and Eragon starts to wonder why none of the magicians are attacking him. Apparently they were ordered not to kill him or Saphira. Eragon wonders why they're not supposed to kill him, when he's obviously fighting for the Varden. Apparently the idea of Galby trying to make him join the dark side doesn't occur to him.

Nasuada appears and tells him, now is the time for him to attack. Eragon agrees And instead of flying off into the sky to reign death from above. He and Saphira merge personalities... and charge, Eragon running on the ground next to her.

I'm going to take this moment to talk about a dragon. Dragons have wings. Dragons are meant to fly. In many ways, dragons could be considered birds of prey. They're made to fly and grab prey from above. Those sort of creatures are not made for running. They're made to dive and attack. For Saphira to run and charge, she would have to be built more like a horse. But her body should be built more for getting up into the air and staying there. That requires different muscle build than a creature built for charging.

In any case. They several charge and bring much death to everyone. At one point Eragon we learn that it's harder for Eragon to kill humans than Urgals because "that could be me". They show no mercy anyway. At one charge Eragon manages to dodge a hail of arrows. From the description it sounds like a similar barrage that is seen in 300. Of course the archers are firing right into the melee and just as likely to hit their own men as the enemy.

As they attack, Saphira starts to get hurt as does Eragon. Things that could have been avoided if they weren't on the ground but in the sky above the reach of the melee weapons. Again this isn't an effective use of Eragon and Saphria's skills. Eragon is their magical heavy hitter. If he's fighting on the ground he's leaves himself open to attack. In the air he'll be untouchable, as Saphira should be swift enough to avoid most attacks.

Just when all seems to be lost a cry goes out, "The dwarves are here! The dwarves are here!"

Rather similar to "the Eagles are here! The Eagles are here!" don't you think?

Feel free to stab yourself with something sharp and pointy now.

Finally, Eragon and Saphira take flight, to see the dwarves coming. King Dwarf is wearing gold armor. He's probably going to die horribly.

As they return to battle, Eragon notices a ship. Thinking it's reinforcements, Eragon goes to check it out.

We then switch perspectives and learn that the ship is the Dragon Wing. Roran apparently heard about the King's army and decided to help. He brings most of the village to fight with him. I'm not really sure what good they'll do in a fight, but hey... why not? It's certainly dramatic.

They approach the battle with remarkable timing, getting there just in the thick of things, after all it wouldn't do much good for them to arrive too early or too late. They're approaching the battle, everyone being apprehensive and then Eragon shows up.

There is much awe and Roran doesn't know if he loves him or hates him. He and Eragon chat briefly, Eragon telling him to go back down stream. Roran refuses, and tells the men to ground the ship and fire the ballistae into the melee. Again, this would hit both sides of the army indiscriminately and cause more harm than good. And then, in a brilliant show of tactics we learn that Roran brought the families of Carvahall with him on the boat. You don't bring civilians into battle, unless you want them to be killed. Which of course won't happen in this case, but if this were a logical battle, this is what happens.

When Horst asks Roran what he plans to do, Roran replies, "Do? Why intend to alter the fate of Alagaesia" (page 636). Obviously Roran is having delusions of grandeur here.

Next chapter is Eldest. Where we finally learn why the book is titled so.
kippurbird: (*headdesk*)
Chapters Nar Garzhvog, Witch's Brew


Eragon has been summoned to Nasuada's presence and as he enters all the commanders draws weapons at the intruders -Eragon and Saphira. Apparently the security of the camp is so bad that anyone can walk into the camp without being stopped. Because apparently if it weren't, then the commanders wouldn't have to be so trigger happy. And they also seem to have memory problems because they don't recognize what Eragon looks like. If they did, again, they wouldn't have to draw their weapons. They only drop their guard when Nasuada tells Eragon to come forward. Or it could be that they don't trust Eragon, which would be extremely sensible of them.

Nasuada informs him that their scouts have discovered some hundred odd Kull coming towards the camp. So, basically, the scouts are able to detect a small group of soldiers approaching, but they completely miss an entire army of ten thousand men. The question then is how could they do this? Well, it's because the plot demands it. The large army couldn't be seen because it had to be a surprise that they're so big. It was a dramatic moment for them to suddenly discover that they were about to be attacked by such a large army. And here once again, for plot's sake the Kull have to be seen. This gives Nasuada a chance to tell Eragon about it. Eragon "felt his bloodlust rise and he allowed himself a savage grin as he contemplated destroying the Urgals with his new strength" (page 605). Blood lust is not a good thing. It's usually associated with fighters who are out of control and kill without remorse, mercy or care. Heroes who suffer from bloodlust -like Wolverine- struggle to keep it under control. It's what makes the difference between him and Sabertooth who revels in his bloodlust (at least he did when he was a villain). Before he can get all blood happy, Nasuada tells him that they're coming in under a flag of truce.

Eragon is unhappy about this, telling her that they're brutes who "relish pain and suffering". And yet he has read the scrolls the elves had on the Urgals about their society and should know better. But there's a reason for his disgust about the Urgals. It's so that he can realize that he was wrong about them. In the meantime he's very anti-Urgal. Nasuada and Saphira think that he's being silly, and Nasuada agrees to meet with the leader.

The Urgal -or ram, as Eragon remembered they were called - held his head high and bared his yellow fangs, but did not other wise react to the abuse directed at him. He was a magnificent specimen, eight and a half feet tall, with strong, proud- if grotesque - features, thick horns that spiraled all the way around, and a fantastic musculature that made it seem like he could kill a bear with a single blow. His only clothing was a knotted loincloth, a few plates of crude iron armor held together with scraps of mail, and a curved metal disk nestled between his two horns to protect the top of his head. His long black hair was in a queue. (page 607)

Now according to Merriam-Webster "queue" is an appropriate usage for hair being tied back. However that still doesn't stop me from imagining his hair standing in line for a movie. It is a word that doesn't make sense in context, if only because most American readers aren't going to be familiar with the word, and the English are going to be wondering -like me- why his hair is standing in line. Then there's the plate on their heads. Most animals that have horns like the Urgals do, big horn sheep for example, have exceptionally thick skulls to protect their heads from whatever impact they're going to have when they ram into something. They're built to use their horns as weapons and part of that would be to have a thick skull. Having a thin or weak skull would be detrimental for the species. Since the Urgals appear to be a warrior race, one would assume that they would have developed the same protections. It could be argued that this is extra protection, which I will admit to.

Eragon tries to read the Urgal's mind and finds it tightly shielded. Then the Urgal bellows at Nasuada. Everyone reacts by drawing weapons. Bellowing like that is how they greet their war chiefs, as Eragon tells her. So apparently he does know enough about their culture to know their greetings, but still considers them savages and monsters. It's as if he read the words, but didn't process what they mean.

The Urgal's name is Nar Garzhvog. There's some discussion about how the Urgals are the most hated race around. And how since the fall of the Riders they've thrived so much that they can't feed themselves on their lands. So they made a pact with Galby, who betrayed them. So, now they want to fight with the Varden to take him down. Nasuada agrees to the alliance and tells them that they can bivouac near the army. There's that word again. It feels stuffed in there. In any case, the Urgals call Nasuada "Lady Nightstalker" because her father was "Nightstalker, for the color of his skin and the fact that he hunted the Urgals in the tunnels. Since she's his daughter she inherits the title.

The Urgal leaves and an emissary of the Empire approaches. They go see what he wants. The birds of prey are checking him out. Which shouldn't be happening, because birds of prey are not scavengers. You can tell by their name, "birds of prey". They prey on others. Which means that they hunt and not scavenge. In any case, the messenger arrives (on a black stallion. Again with the stallions. Does no one have a mare in this world? I swear my Mpreg horse theory is looking better and better every time. And while I'm on this point, how do they know it's a stallion from that distance?)and tells them that since they've chosen to fight, they're all doomed to die horrible deaths and Sudra is going to be reabsorbed into the Empire. Phrases like "The all-powerful, all-knowing King Galbatorix" are dropped.

And then the messenger randomly throws a head at the Varden.

We don't know who this head belongs to. This head is never brought up again. It's just a head. Being thrown at the Varden. Randomly.

Eragon wants to know if he should kill the guy and Nasuada remarks that no, "I won't violate the sanctity of envoys, even if the Empire has." (page 611). So, we could assume that this head belongs to this envoy. But there was no gasp of recognition from the Varden. No reaction from them at all. It's as if the messenger throw a clump of dirt at them and went "neh".

The point of throwing someone's head at the enemy is to get an emotional response from the people you're throwing the head at. Either one of terror or demoralization or something. When the Orcs in Return of the King, I believe it was, sent back the heads of men who attacked them by flinging them into Gondor, it was to demoralize the troops. It should be something that is discussed. A rallying cry or a speech is necessary to make sure the troops are up to fighting this evil thing.

The way it is displayed here, the head is just a complete and utter throw away. Paolini wanted to shock his readers by showing how evil Galby's people are because they chop off this guy's head and throw it at his people, but since there's no emotional response from the people the readers don't have one either.

Then in a complete show of hypocrisy and not listening to your leaders, Saphira kills the envoy. She burns him to a crisp.

No one chastises her, instead everyone cheers and Nasuada even smilies a little. This of course brings the Varden down to the Evil Empire's level, but that doesn't matter because it's dramatic!

After this display, time passes and Eragon straps on Saphira's armor at the beginning of the night when they're assuming to be attacked by dawn. Which should wear her out, but since that would be logical, it's not. Dwarf shows up to keep Eragon company. Eragon recognizes him from the feel of his mind, even though Dwarf was shielding himself. When Dwarf wants to know how he did this, Saphira tells him that every mind feels different. However, if we look at Eragon's past behavior, he's unable to tell the difference between different people's minds, which would indicate that he can't tell the difference between people, they're all the same to him. This problem seems to have been rectified or ignored, however, in Eldest.

Dwarf then mentions Murtagh, indicating that Murtagh would be the one keeping Eragon company if he were there. This is the first mentioned of Murtagh in the entire book since he died in the first chapters and Eragon mourned him for all of two paragraphs. And it's not even Eragon who remembers him, but Dwarf. It's as if Murtagh doesn't exist any more for Eragon. He's quite dead and forgotten and even after this brief mention, he's once again forgotten. Dwarf tells Eragon that the dwarves in the camp are going to be protecting him.

This then raises the question of why does Eragon need body guards. In theory he's going to be flying in the air on Saphira causing massive bloody havoc. The dwarves are going to be having a hard time keeping up with him since they can't fly and all. There's no way they can protect Eragon this way. Now, if Eragon is not flying around causing bloody havoc in the sky, then it is safe to assume that he's going to be behind the Varden's safe lines, and thus away from the fight and again, not really need body guards. Especially since Eragon is supposed to be so good that he doesn't have to worry about body guards, when he should be able to sense an assassin from a mile away by reading their minds. After all that's what he was able to do when he was in Sudra and informed the guy there that there was this man that was going to murder someone else. In this instance the violence wasn't even directed towards Eragon, but he was able to detect it. It can then be assumed that these guards serve no purpose except in name.

Eragon asks Dwarf what he thinks about Nasuada's agreement with the Urgals and he says he agrees with her, even if he doesn't like it.

Then they see Angela and Serious Ass approaching from the enemy camp. None of the sentries notice this. She manages to get into the camp unimpeded or unchallenged. The purpose of this is so that Eragon and Dwarf can have a private confrontation with her and not be bothered with such things as everyone knowing about it and causing a scene. Eragon and Dwarf ask her what she was doing there and accuse her of betrayal to the enemy which she denies saying that Nasuada said it was okay for her to do so. When they challenge the veracity of her claim, Nasuada shows up with a group of Urgals in tow saying, "Yes, I did".

She was looking for Eragon, and tells him that because she doesn't want him to get killed, she's assigning him four Urgal body guards. So, now Eragon is going to have four Urgals and six dwarves protecting him. She tells him to talk to Saphira about it and Saphira tells him that he'd be an idiot to not accept their help. Eragon agrees, but only if he can read their minds and not find anything suspicious.

Nasuada then tells Eragon that if she falls in battle, she wants him to take over. Eragon, who has even less battle experience and absolutely no experience in leading men, should take over the Varden. And not only that, he's the equivalent of the Varden's meat shield . That is -in RPing terms - the guy who goes out in front to take all the heavy hits to protect the weaker members of the adventuring party. Eragon is their most powerful magic user and fighter. To put him in a position of leadership would prevent him from going out and doing this job effectively. Generals and leaders generally stay behind away from the fights so that they can keep the men in order and make effective tactics and things like that. Sure there are exemptions to this rule, such as Alexander the Great, but Eragon would serve the Varden better by instead of being their leader but being their protector. However, it's just one more thing to make Eragon that much specialer to have him in the position to take on the Varden's leadership.

Eragon goes to take a gander into their minds, thinking, "they were feral beasts that would kill him as soon as not and were incapable of love, kindness, or even true intelligence. In short they were lesser beings" (page 617) Now, when a hero like Eragon thinks such a thing, right before going into the minds of such creatures, we know that he's going to be proven wrong and realizes that he was wrong and is then able to correct his flaw, gaining a new appreciation for these "noble savages". Which is just as bad as calling them lesser beings. They're still not civilized. He does acknowledge that Garzhvog's "bloodline was as regal as any prince's. He knew that, though uneducated, Garzhovg was a brilliant commander and as great a thinker and philosopher as Oriomis himself" (page 620).

His prejudice is wiped away by reading their minds. Which is taking the easy way out. Instead of saying, "I may not trust them, I'll let their actions speak for them" he disregards their privacy and picks it out of their mind, thus not allowing them to prove themselves. At one point in reading their minds, he remembers that the Twins did this to him when he first came to the Varden. He doesn't see that what he is doing is just as bad as what they did. He's not as rough as they were, but he's also not "overly gentle" either. This makes him just as bad as the Twins, because he too doesn't restrain his ability to hurt the people he's invading.

Finally he tells Garzhvog that he'd be proud to have them serve as his protectors.

The night passes and then near dawn they start hearing cries, screaming from the enemy camp. An enemy camp that is two miles away. That's some good sound carrying conditions there. Apparently the sounds are from poison that Angela put into everyone's food. Yes. She somehow managed to get almost everyone's food in an army of ten thousand men, in less than a day. In less than an afternoon. The only way she could do this is if she were the Flash. And even still, she wouldn't have had time to hide the taste of the poison. And no one noticed her or thought what she was doing as suspicious. Now it is possible that they thought she was a part of the camp followers, we haven't seen any mention of them or sign of them.

The cries echo on and on and Eragon thinks, "This was the cost for resisting the Empire. It would be wrong to ignore it. So he sat with his hands clenched into fists and his jaw forming painful knots while the Burning Plains echoed with the disembodied voices of dying men." (page 622) So, the cost of resisting the Empire is having to listen to your enemies die screaming? As opposed to going around and slaughtering people left and right and taking their lives with your own hands? Eragon is eager to take the lives of people with his own hand, but listening to people die is apparently a cost that hurts him. This is Eragon trying to be empathic, but it doesn't make any sense in any sort of context. Especially when matched with his previous behavior.
kippurbird: (Clue By Oar)
So I turned in the book today and it came into day. Apparently someone really wants me to finish this without a chance to recoup my braincells.

Oh and this is an interesting article for all your Heroes fans out here.

Chapters The Burning Plains, The Clouds of War


We begin with Eragon going down through the smoky cloud layer coughing. Apparently the air clears once they get closer to the ground. Which is ridiculous as the fumes don't magically appear in the air without traversing the space in between. They should be smelling and dealing with it all the way down. Especially since the fumes are coming from the ground. Two armies are arrayed on the ground below them. The Varden and Sudra are entrenched behind a defensive perimeter while Galby's army, "was so large, it measured three miles across on its leading edge and how many in length it was impossible to tell, for the individual men melded into a shadowy mass in the distance." (page 582)

As Eragon goes down to the Varden's camp he "felt instead was the sudden panic that overwhelmed the Varden's sentinels, many of whom, he realized, had never before seen Saphira. Fear made the ignore their common sense, and they released a flock of barbed arrows that arched up to intercept her." (page 582) Let us look at this from the Varden's point of view. They know that enemy has a dragon and may attack them with it. They don't know who Saphira is. So, they think that they're attacking an enemy. This isn't ignoring common sense, this is a perfectly rational response to a perceived threat. However, since Eragon knows that he's not a threat, he expects that everyone else should know that he's not a threat. He manages to magically divert the arrows from hitting him, and then catch a straggler from mid air with his bare hands.

Once he lands he's surrounded by a bunch of admiring soldiers, which is odd, because just a minute ago they thought he was a threat. But since he's back among his own people, he's obviously not a threat but instead a hero. The leader of the soldiers, Fredric, declares that the honor of the men who shot at Eragon has been besmirched. For doing their job protecting their camp. The soldiers have been taken off of duty and be punished and reduced in rank. For doing their job.

Nobly Eragon says that he wants to talk to them. He goes over and reads their minds, deciding that they were honorable and praises them for defending the camp. Something that their commander should have realized they were doing in the first place. But instead of this, Eragon is able to show that he is good kind and wonderful by letting them know that they did a good job. The scene is entirely unnecessary except for the fact that Paolini wants to show how wonderful Eragon is, and how well he knows people.

Fredric takes Eragon to Nasuada. As they walk, Eragon opens up his mind to get a feel for everyone there. He has this thought, "How easy it is to view these men as nothing more than objects that I and a few others can manipulate at will. Yet they each possess hopes and dreams, potential for what they might achieve and memories of what they have already accomplished. And they all feel pain." (page 585) Here again is another point showing that Eragon is detached from reality. If Eragon wasn't detached from reality he wouldn't be thinking that people are objects in the first place. The thought wouldn't be there at all. Instead he should be uncomfortable at feeling all these people's thoughts and inner emotions. He is invading their privacy and everything. Instead he is able to see people as things to be manipulate and has to remind himself that they aren't but instead living breathing individuals with lives and feelings of their owns.

When he finally sees Nasuada and Arya who is with her, he's surprised to see that they're wearing armor, like men. Which is silly because they're on a battle field and getting ready for a battle. Wearing things like dresses and normal clothes would be foolish. Both women are delighted to see him. There's the obligatory "What happened to you Eragon" and the "Well this is what happened to me and I'm now Eragon version 2.5, newer and better."

They discuss Galby's army and Eragon is wondering how they got a hundred thousand people to volunteer for the army. First of all there's the problem of where all these men came from. Discussing this we have an article on Anti-Shturgal.com, by Shinobaka "In Eldest, Paolini put Galbatorix’s army at 100,000 men. Ignoring the utter chaos that supplying this host would take, we know that in the history of Earth, armies of this size were not exactly common in medieval Europe. In fact, most of the examples of armies of this size in the Medieval Ages come from the Muslim world, which at its smallest controlled an area at least seven or eight times that of Galbatorix’s empire. In one example, the second Arab siege of Constantinople —which took place during the height of the Umayyad Caliphate—the loss of a mere 80,000 troops was enough to severely stunt the Muslim expansion. More recent examples circa fourteen and fifteen hundred AD come from the Ottoman Empire, which also vastly dwarfs Galbatorix’s area of control. Couple this with the extreme lack of cities, and Galbatorix’s army of 100,000 seems increasingly unfeasible, especially considering that we are undoubtedly due to be greeted by an even larger army towards the end of the third book. The closest population figure yielded by a quick internet search was one of about 5-7 million people in England circa 1300. Since the Empire is somewhat larger than England, we can estimate its population at about 8-9 million, making Galbatorix’s draft seem like 100,000 men were taken from New York City overnight, and never came back." (http://www.anti-shurtugal.com/shinobaka2.htm) Then there's the idea that well, since Galby is the King, he's allowed to conscript people into his army. And this is a perfectly reasonable thing for him to do when he's trying to eliminate a terrorist threat. The Varden army, however, is filled with volunteers. This is to show that their cause is righteous and people are willing to fight for them, unlike Galbatorix's cause because he has to conscript people.

Then Saphira and Eragon meet Elva. Eragon apologizes to her for what he did to her. Elva accepts his apology and then goes on to bitch at him at how horrible her life is to torture his conscious. Which is a wasted effort because Eragon has no conscious. In fact he's not even bothered by this because he tells her, "I can fix it." She says "We'll see, but do it after the battle."

Nasuada introduces Eragon to the important people around, Eragon complaining that they're going to fight a large army and they're exchanging pleasantries, obviously not realizing the importance of diplomacy and meeting the important people around because you'll want them to support you and not think of you as a deranged blood thirsty lunatic. When they're done with that, Eragon says that he'll take charge of the magic users.

Dwarf is finally remembered and then ushered off the scene to take charge of the few dwarves in the encampment.

Finally Arya and Eragon confront each other. He apologizes for what he did on the night of the blood oath ceremony and promises not to do that again. We then have another contradiction in the rules of the ancient language for when Arya asks him how he's been since the celebration, he tries to lie in the ancient language "but the ancient language stopped the words dead in his mouth and rendered him mute," (page 593) Fiction is just as much a lie as telling a lie, in no case can it ever be true, no matter how much you want it to be. I would love for my novel to be true, but I realize that it's not. It is, in its basic form, a lie. I could read it with all the belief in my heart that it is true, but in reality it is not. So, even though Eragon believed that the story he read was true, he should have known really that it wasn't true and in was in fact a lie and shouldn't be able to say it at all in the ancient language, just as he's not able to speak a more plain lie. Arya leaves and Eragon is upset that nothing has changed between the two of them.

Eragon then runs into Angela. She's making poison. Though for what, we don't know. Instead she gives Eragon a leture on what a blockhead he was for what he did to Elva. When she pauses for breath, Eragon agrees with her and says he's going to fix it. Which shuts her up. Angela tells him that he looks "finished" now because of the changes. When Eragon asks her what she's doing she says that she's working on a little project. Eragon mentions that Orrin has a bunch of glass tubes in his tent and she's like "O RlY?" and vows to go and talk to him. She then shoos them off. The entire scene was pointless, really, except to show Angela hanging around.

Finally Eragon finds the magic users and tells them that he's taking over. They don't like this idea. They tell him that he didn't want the position before, so he has no right to take it from Trianna now. He says that Nasuada told him to do it. They said they're not under her control. Trianna says, we've been doing magic our entire lives, you less than two years, what do you know and what do you think we should do? Eragon says that we'll all link minds and look for enemy spell casters, when we find one, we'll blow them out of the sky. They're like...oh good plan. Eragon then realizes that Trianna thinks that Nasuada sent him to replace her because she's displeased with her leadership abilities. Finally he convinces her that no, he's just the best for the job.

He goes and talks to the magic users about how much they know about magic. Most of them haven't had a proper education, like he has and "most of the spellcasters knew little about the ancient language - none could truly speak it fluently - their beliefs about magic were often distorted by religious superstitions, and they were ignorant of numerous applications of gramarye." (page 602) Now, previously mentioned in Eragon we learned that the ancient language wasn't the only way to do magic, just one of them. The fact that they don't know much about the ancient language shouldn't mean that they're not good spell casters, just that they have a different technique. Also the fact that they have religious or superstitions shouldn't interfere with spell casting, if anything it could be a boon for them, because they use their religious beliefs to bolster their magic. But of course, they're wrong in believing this, because we all know that religion is for fools and clouds the true way of thinking and only Eragon's way is the correct way of doing magic.

Eragon gives the healers new spells and then started working on turning the spell casters into a cohesive fighting unit. Apparently one of the problems that Eragon has is that they're all in awe of him. Because of this he can't use his influence to smooth relations between them all. Which doesn't make sense. They should be jumping over their heads to do what he wants and not having interpersonal problems once he explains to them what he wants. He works with them all day until he's called to Nasuada's tent.

As he goes to her tent, he notices that a whole bunch of birds have started to circle over head. "What he saw was a giant flock of birds wheeling between the two armies. He spotted eagles, hawks, and falcons , along with countless greedy crows and their larger, dagger-beaked, blue backed rapacious cousin, the raven. Each bird shrieked for blood to wet its throat and enough hot meat to fill its belly and sate its hunger. By experience and instinct, they knew that whenever armies appeared in Alagaesia, the could expect to feast on acres of carrion." (page 604). There are several things wrong with this paragraph. First of all, he shouldn't have spent such a long description on the ravens when he didn't give such things to the other birds. It draws the ravens out as special, when they're not. They're just another bird that's circling over head. Nothing he says about them warrants a longer description. Then there's the fact that he has predatory birds circling over head. Eagles, hawks and falcons are not scavengers. They catch live prey and don't eat carrion. They're not the sort of birds you would find over a battle field as there's nothing for them to eat there. They're not built for carrion eating, but instead snatching and killing live prey. While ravens and crows are carrion birds are are likely to be at a battle field, they only show up after the battle to feed on the carrion. There's nothing about two armies that are going to attract them. Their instincts lead them to already dead things, and there's nothing already dead there. And none of these birds would have the experience of previous battle fields because they probably weren't alive at any previous battle. So, while this is certainly a dramatic image, there is absolutely no reason for these birds to be there, except for the fact that Paolini wanted a dramatic image.
kippurbird: (Writer at work)
A scene from Call of the Champion, cut for your convenience.

Read more... )

Also, I got Eldest, so we're going to head into the final stretch. If we last recall the battle is going to take place in a field filled with noxious fumes. I'll bet anyone a drabble that the noxious fumes won't effect anyone's ability to function or even get any major mention again.
kippurbird: (Boom!)
Well, this is the book proposal for the Eragon critique. I decided to combine both Eldest and Eragon into one book, as it seemed to make the most sense. After this is a detailed/annotated table of contents and sample chapters. I may include a couple of the essays that I wrote based on Eragon as well. I'm not sure yet. I know I'd have to keep out the ones that were more Paolini bashing than anything else, but I think some of the others might be useful. Or perhaps they could be their own book, once I get enough of them.

proposal )
kippurbird: (Default)
Well, this is going to be the last Eldest analysis for a while

Chapters Running the Boar's Eye, Aberon


How to begin. These two chapters are filler. There is no character development and nothing really important happens. So, what are the events that do happen?

The Dragon Wing is going to go through the Boar's Eye. They clear off the wreckage of the storm and get ready to go through the whirlpool of doom. Roran goes up into the crow's nest to watch things. He watches the up coming whirlpool and the ships that are following them. As he watches he realizes that they're late, the high tide already past. Fortunately they're going with the current.

They go and man the oars, they go faster. Roran fears for their lives. Roran sees that the Boar's eye center is over nine and a half mile. Now, I have to wonder, what is a mile. Why do I say this, because the previous unit of measurement for distance was leagues. If we remember on Eragon's mad dash through the desert they used leagues. I remember this distinctly because I had to figure out the difference between a league and a mile. It is highly unlikely that they'd have two different forms of measurement or that Eragon and Roran would use different forms of measurement. Carvahall is too small to have different forms of measurement like meter and mile. They would use one or the other. It's sloppy that he changes measurement forms like this, even if they are two books apart.

Roran goes and rows for a while. Then he goes and talk to the captain. Things aren't going well. The other ships get caught in the whirlpool and go down. They on the other hand, get free.

Isn't that terribly exciting? At no time were we ever in fear for their lives. We knew that they were going to get out okay and there really wasn't any reason for this chapter or the one before it. It didn't add anything to the story nor did it develop thing. If we removed these chapters nothing would be lost.

Meanwhile Eragon, Saphira and Dwarf are flying. To pass the time Dwarf and Saphira tell riddles. They both complain that the riddles don't work because they don't know the other's culture. There's some description of clouds. They make camp. They fly some more over the desert. They do not make camp but bivouacked. I think Paolini was trying to avoid using the word camp for the third time. Unfortunately, as it is in these cases, he misuses the word, as bivouacked refers to a military camp as opposed to two guys and a dragon.

They fly some more and Eragon gets directions to the Capital of Sudra by looking at birds' memories. Birds really wouldn't know where Aberon is, as they wouldn't know what the city is called, and it's highly unlikely that the birds that Eragon encounters on his way to the city have ever been to the city. Even if they did, they don't have the same frame of reference that a human does. They wouldn't be interested in human cities in regards to their names or capitals or things like that. Their lives are more concerned with things like food and reproduction. Their minds aren't made to remember things like human city locations. And even if they did know where Aberon is and retained the memory of it, there is no way that Eragon would know if he's seeing the right city because he's never been there before and has no idea what it looks like. So, while it seems like a very neat idea, it is completely infeasible.

Finally they get to the capital and Nasuada and Orrin and the Varden have gone and marched off to war. The guy in charge tells Eragon that he'll get them anything they'll need. Eragon realizes for the first time that he can give orders and they'll be followed. This I think is in there because it's supposed to show how humble Eragon is, not realizing the power that he has over people.

The battle is going to take place on the Burning Plains, "The plains -which contained huge deposits of peat - lay along the eastern edge side of the Jiet River where Sudra's border crossed it and had been t he site of a skirmish between the Riders and the Forsworn. During the fight, the dragons inadvertently lit the peat with the flames from their mouths and the fire burrowed underground, where it remained smoldering ever since. The land had been rendered uninhabitable by the noxious fumes that poured out of the glowing vents in the charred earth." (page 579)

Now, first of all, the phrase "flames from their mouths" seems to indicate that dragons can flame using other methods. Perhaps like Errol from Guards! Guards!. Now, I doubt that's what Paolini had in mind when he wrote that, but since he was inaccurate with his phrasing, this possibility occurs. Then there are the actual plains themselves. They're on a swamp like land next to a river, it's highly unlikely that the dragons'[ breath would dry out the entire thing and still have enough energy left over to continually burn like that. And then, finally, if the plains are so inhospitable why are they taking the army there?! The soldiers are probably going to be suffering from the less than ideal conditions, especially since they're going to be waiting for Galby's army to attack them. Noxious fumes are not something you want to have your army around, because it's more than likely that they'll get sick and die from lack of oxygen. But, it does sound pretty cool, which is all that is needed.

Eragon and Dwarf then prepare to leave, though Eragon mentions that this one guy is going to commit murder in a minute unless he's stopped. The lackey they are talking to is suitably impressed at his knowledge and asks how Eragon knows this. Eragon says, "Because I'm a Rider". Which is trying to lend an air of mystery to Eragon, which he doesn't need because he's a dragon rider and looks like an elf and is oh so special in so many other ways. They then fly off to the Burning Plains.
kippurbird: (Duck of doom)
So the conference went rather nicely. It was out in the country and I saw lots of cows and horses and grape vines. We were in wine country. I managed to get some writing done, not as much as I would have liked, but still some done. I even managed to do a jigsaw puzzle in less than a day, for which I'm rather proud of. My mother was the speaker on a panel of autistic adults, where they talked about their life and jobs. It was for teachers and professionals to get an idea of the problems that adults face in the workplace. I was not invited to sit on the panel, I was just there to keep my mother company.

I won a plant though and named it Gerald. Gerald made it all the way back to Los Angeles intact up until we were getting in the car to go home and I placed it on the trunk of the car and the wind blew it over, were it was promptly smashed. Hopefully it'll be able to recover from the incident.

Eldest has to be returned to the library tomorrow, so I'll have to request it again, which I'm doing today. We only have about fourteen more chapters to go, so it's at a rather awkward place to have to return it. Especially since were so very near the climatic battle. Which, once again, has come out of nowhere. After all we spent the entire book without any threat of attack and then in the last fourth they're all "Oh Hay army!" Bah. In the mean time I may start on Q-Squared, or look at the something or another of Alagesia which has that essay by Paolini on how to write a novel. Not sure yet.

I'm also working up a proposal for the Eragon Sporkings book. I talked to the academic publisher who is looking at my Mary Sue book and they said that they may be interested in it, they'll have to see the proposal to be sure. I need a better title than "Eragon Sporkings" because that's rather "Internet Insider" and this is supposed to be an academic book. I think this is the hardest part of writing up the proposal. Trying to get across what I was trying to do, academically as opposed to just tearing the book apart chapter by chapter. It's trying to find the right words to say, "Hey this is a really interesting idea and it would make a good book". I think I'm going to try and focus on the analytical angle while talking about how the book has gotten such interesting reviews from both sides of the spectrum -really bad and really good. I may even go into the idea that this book is like a piece of fan fiction cleverly disguised, and how to avoid the mistakes that Paolini did in his writing. I'm not sure. I really hate writing proposals. It's hard to try and distill the idea into a page of text.

I'm going to have to go through the entries and rewrite some of them to get rid of the Internetness of them, make them more professional. Like Alec's comments or the references to icons and things like that. I'm not sure about the zombie horses though and the fact that Galby is Brom. It'll be an interesting process, I think, especially since I've never done anything like this before.
kippurbird: (paint drying)
Well, I'm back and ready for more. Whoopie.

Chapters Gifts, the Maw of the Ocean


Previously, Eragon scryied on the Varden and discovered that he was needed. So, he decided to go to them. Now he packs himself up and goes to tell Dwarf that he's leaving, and to see if he wants to come. Dwarf, of course, wants to come, though he's not to happy that they're flying. Saying that dwarves don't do well with heights. Yet they live in the mountains. Though I suppose mountain living is different than flying. I think it would be better to have said, dwarves don't do well flying. Eragon then goes off to say good bye to Yoda.

Apparently Yoda knew about the Varden's problem, which upsets Eragon. He wants to know why no one told him, as if it was his right to know everything. Yoda tells him that they just learned about it. Eragon wants to know why the elves aren't doing anything about it. And Yoda tells him that the queen is mobilizing the army. Yoda then tells him that he also didn't tell Eragon because he wanted Eragon to finish his training. Which goes against what he said a few chapters ago, when he said that Eragon had finished his training already.

In any case, Eragon promises to come back, in the ancient language.

Then Yoda has gifts for Eragon. First of all, he gives Eragon a random magic potion. "First, some faelnirv I augmented with my own enchantments. This potion can sustain you when all else fails, and you may find its properties useful in other circumstances as well. Drink it sparingly, for I only had time to prepare a few mouthfuls." (page 555) Which is basically a random magical potion. We don't know exactly what it does, or what it is for. It's a random Dues Ex Machina potion. Something will happen sometime in the future when Eragon needs some sort of random boost of some sort and he'll drink the potion and able to conquer all. It sounds almost like Miruvor from Lord of the Rings, but this is just some random potion of stuff like thing.

Then there is belt of Deus Ex Machina, "The belt felt unusually thick and heavy to Eragon when he ran it through his hands. It was made of cloth threads woven together in an interlocking pattern that depicted a coiling Liani Vine. At Oromis's instruction, Eragon pulled at a tassel at the end of the belt and gasped as a strip in its center slid back to expose twelve diamonds, each an inch across. Four diamonds were white, four were black and the remainder were red, blue, yellow, and brown. They glittered cold and brilliant, like ice in the dawn, casting a rainbow of multicolored specks onto Eragon's hands.

"Master..." Eragon shook his head, at a loss of words for several breaths. "Is it safe to give this to me?"

"Guard it well so that none are tempted to steal it. This is the belt of Beloth the Wise -who you read of in your history of the Year of Darkness- and is one of the greatest treasures of the Riders. There are the most perfect gems the Riders could find. Some we traded for with the dwarves. Others we won in battle or mined ourselves. The stones have no magic of their own, but you ma youse them as repositories for your power and draw upon that reserve when in need. This, in addition to the ruby set in Za'roc will allow you to amass a store of energy so that you do not become unduly exhausted casting spells in battle, or even when confronting enemy magicians." (page 554).

So now we have the random potion and the random belt of magic power. Paolini is just piling up the magic items on Eragon, making him even more powerful than he was before. So now he's all powerful with all powerful weapons. He has become unstoppable, at least as far as we can tell. By doing this, Paolini is slowly putting himself in a corner. After all if Eragon is so powerful, who can stand against him? The worry about his safety is gone. Nothing can stop him, he's got everything to go on a rampage.

The final gift is a scroll of Eragon's poem all prettied up.

Afterwards Eragon goes to visit and say goodbye to the Queen. Eragon tells her that he is in her debt, she says no I'm in your debt and gives him a shiny new bow. The Queen then offers Saphira something, and she says that they have no need for material possessions. Which is different than what has been mentioned earlier when she said that they liked shiny objects. But, it's nobler for her to not need things and be happy with the kindness she had been shown. The Queen also asks Eragon to give her regards to Arya and tells him that she's sending her twelve best magic weavers to Sudra for him to command, if he survives. Which of course is supposed to give us doubt that Eragon might not survive, but we all know that he will, because there's another book after this one.

They say their goodbyes and then they pick up Dwarf, who was playing with his ax. Dwarf gets on the dragon. And they fly off. And either Eragon's hearing is really, really, really good or this elf is really, really loud, because he hears her singing, despite "the wind being loud in Eragon's ears". It's supposed to be dramatic and melancholy, but it's really just silly.

We then go back to Roran. They're on the boat. It's stormy out. They're being chased by three sloops with black sails. They think it's the government that's after them, however, I think it's pirates, because pirates are more likely to sail with black sails, rather like the Black Pearl did. So, it's raining a lot. It's stormy for two days. And then the storm goes away, after knocking down the mizzen mast.

And the black sailed sloops are still on their tail. So, they're trying to figure out what to do, Roran eventually saying that he's "chary of battle". When I first read that, I thought it said, "Cherry" and I was wondering, what does fruit have to do with battles? Then I realized that it was Paolini, once again, confusing the reader with one of his special thesaurus words. In any case, leaders and the sailors are trying to figure out what to do, and they're looking at the map, trying to find places to land or hide.

Finally Jeod mentions something called the Boar's Eye. The Boar's Eye is a giant whirlpool of doom. It'd be foolish to try and cross it, but it is their best hope to getting rid of those sloops. Of course the ENTIRE point of this is probably because Paolini thought something along these lines, "You know what would be cool? A whirlpool of DOOM!" There's absolutely no reason for this whirlpool to be there, or for them to be chased. Or for these chapters to be there. It distracts us from what should be the main thrust of the story right now, Eragon getting to Sudra and preparing for war. Anything else is inconsequentail and breaks the tension that should be building, pulling the reader into an entirely different direction and making them forget what is happening with Eragon, who is supposed to be the main focus of the story. Instead we're going to get another chapter of Roran and his jolly crew getting through the whirlpool without any major problems, because we know that he has to survive to rescue Katrina and deliver his people to the Varden.
kippurbird: (Nugan)
Chapters Red Blade, White Blade; Visions Near and Far


It's two days after the blood oath ceremony. Eragon no longer needs to sleep, instead he goes into trances that are like waking dreams. There's no reference as to why he does this, or how it happens, but if Eragon is truly elf like, then it could be said that this is because of his transformation. Elves apparently don't sleep. This is something that many elves don't do, from Tolkien to the D&D elves. So, since elves do this, then Paolini's elves do this. Which is all the reason that they need.

Eragon feels that it wasn't his fault for what he said to Arya because he was the equivalent to being drunk. Even if he meant every word of it. Arya, however, had enough of him and has gone on to Sudra. To distract him from his broken heart, Eragon picks up the puzzle ring.

To keep himself from brooding over Arya, Eragon took Orik's puzzle ring from his nightstand and rolled it between his fingers, marveling at how keen his senses had become. He could feel every flaw in the twisted metal. As he studied the ring, he perceived a pattern in the arrangement of the gold bands, a pattern that has escaped him before. Trusting his instinct, he manipulated the bands in the sequence suggested by his observation. To his delight, the eight pieces fit together perfectly, forming a solid whole. He slid the ring onto the fourth finger of his right hand, admiring how the woven bands caught the light. (page 551)

His uber elf powers have now allowed him to solve this ring that his human senses didn't. He doesn't get to solve this ring because he figured it out on his own through determination and practice, but because he's now an elf. This is once again Paolini proving that humans are idiots and elves are perfect, because they can sense the way that the ring needs to be put together while humans just fumble around in the dark.

After doing the ring, Eragon goes off to the practice fields. Vanir is there to challenge him. Eragon draws his sword and feels so light that he pulls it out harder than he needs to and sends it flying into a tree. It sticks in the tree so hard that Vanir has trouble getting it out. He and Eragon then spar. And Eragon is amazed at how easy it is. He now has the speed and strength of the elves. He even manages to jump ten feet into the air and flips over. This reminds me of the joke, where the guy goes into surgery for his hands and asks his doctor, will I be able to play the piano when I'm done, and the doctor goes, of course. Great says the guy, I've never been able to play before. Never before has Eragon shown the ability to do such flips, but now since he's been elfified, he can.

Eragon breaks Vanir's arm and Vanir goes over to the dark side telling Eragon that is worthy of being a Rider. He's even happy that his arm is broken by Eragon, saying that he can say I was beat by Eragon Shadeslayer. Done beating up the elves, he goes and practices his archery skills. Once again he defies nature by being able to shoot thirty arrows in one minute. On his thirty-first arrow he shatters his bow, by pulling too hard. Eragon is sad at the loss of the bow as he killed his first deer with it and his first Urgal with it and did magic with it for the first time.

When Eragon goes and tells Yoda what has happened to him, Yoda wants to know if he minds being changed. Eragon doesn't. After all his back stopped hurting. Yoda tells him he should be glad for this gift -and gift it is- and now they're on the right track. So, once again, Eragon as human was useless and only now that he is an elf everything is going to be okay. Eragon couldn't do what he needed to do as a human, he needed to be transformed, and not by hard work or by learning, but by random magic that has never done that before. Yoda then starts to put him through his paces.

As Eragon struggled to complete the third level of the Rimgar, it became obvious that he still lacked the elve's balance and flexibility, two attributes that even the elves had to work to acquire. In a way, he welcomed these limitations, for if he was perfect, what was left for him to accomplish?

The following weeks were difficult for Eragon. One one hand, he made enormous progress with his training, mastering subject after subject that had once confounded him. He still found Oromis's lessons challenging, but he no longer felt as if hew were drowning in a sea of his own inadequacy. It was easier for Eragon to read and write, and his increased strength meant that he could now cast eleven spells that required so much energy, they would kill any normal human. His strength also made him aware of how weak Oromis was compared to other elves. (page 537)

Of course, being an elf means that he's smarter and can read better. And everything is just better. But he's not perfect, even though he's beautiful, can fight better than anyone, do things that he couldn't do before he's not perfect. He's just the next best thing. For our ironic sentence competition, I'd like to nominate, "In a way, he welcomed these limitations, for if he was perfect, what was left for him to accomplish?"

So, time passes and one day Eragon goes off to contemplate ants and he hears everything. From plants to birds to single celled organisms. He decides that "the land itself was alive and sentient. Intelligent life, he concluded, existed everywhere." (page 538) I'd like to disagree with that point. While there maybe life everywhere, I don't think that it is all sentient or intelligent. Sentience requires a certain level of awareness and cognitive abilities that many animals, lower life forms, and plants don't have. Most of what they do is reactive to their environment, it's all instinctive movement, they don't think about it, they just do, reacting to stimulus from the outside world. To call all life intelligent, while a fanciful idea, is illogical.

In any case, Eragon goes to Yoda and tells him what he's heard and is told, if there were still riders around he'd be conferred as a full rider. He then gets to learn one of the greatest secrets of magic. You don't need to get energy from yourself, but instead can steal it from the world around you. Eragon tries it and kills off a baby mouse and some other cute critters and is horrified, vowing never to use this sort of magic again. But he's perfectly okay with the idea of killing other sentient creatures. Eragon wants to know if it is possible to get magical energy from non-living things, like fire. Yoda tells him that reason says it's possible but no one has found the way to do it yet. I bet by the end of the three books, Eragon figures it out.

Finally we get the elven view of religion. Eragon goes to Yoda and says, "hey, what's your religion" and Yoda says, "We believe that the world behaves according to certain inviolable rules and that, by persistent effort we can discover those rules and use them to predict events when circumstances repeat." (page 541)

He then goes on to further explain, "But I can tell you that in the millennia we elves have studied nature, we have never witness where the rules that govern the world have been broken. That is, we have never seen a miracle. Many events have defied our ability to explain, but we are convinced that we failed because we are still woefully ignorant about the universe and not because a deity altered the workings of nature." (page 542)

The elves must live in a very dull world when they can't believe in miracles. In any case the elves use logic to explain the world, using magic to discover things instead of science, thus allowing them to have a belief in something other than a god. However even though they admit that they can't prove or disprove the existence of the gods, they still ridicule the dwarves for their belief in gods. Because they have faith in something, as opposed to having proof. There is nothing wrong with having faith, in fact, one could say that the elves have faith that their way of thinking things is correct and that the dwarves are wrong. They believe that reason will explain everything away, even the things that they can't explain.

Yoda brings up the fact that coral isn't really growing rock but instead living and growing organisms and the fact that the dwarves refuse to believe this and instead feel that it is the life within the stone that is being felt and that they can feel the life within all stone. There's no reason why the dwarves can't be right. Yes, coral is made from small animals, but still that doesn't have to negate their belief. And for all we know, the dwarves do have the ability to detect life within all stone, after all just because the elves can't do it, doesn't mean that others can't.

The elves also apparently don't believe in an afterlife. So, that leaves the question of what is this "void" that they are always talking about? That indicates some sort of afterlife, even if it isn't one where people are playing their harps and everything.

This discovery that there is no gods and that there is no afterlife disturbs Eragon greatly. After all if the elves were right then everyone else is deluded. Of course, the elves are right because they're elves and right in everything. Saphira says that dragons don't believe in higher powers because they're so powerful and that he "shouldn't ignore reality in order to comfort yourself, for once you do, you make it easy for others to deceive you." (page 544)

That night Eragon has some bad dreams and discovers that someone is scrying on him again. As this leaves him upset and unable to regain his trance he goes to read. And the white raven shows up spouting two riddles or nonsense.

By beak and bone
Mine blackened stone
sees rooks and crooks
and bloody brooks

He then says, "Son and father alike, both as blind as bats"

This gets Eragon going "You know who my father is?"

While two may share two
And one of two is certainly one,
One might be two

Is the raven's reply before flying off. I'm not even going to try and make sense of these riddles. There isn't enough to work with in either of them.

Eragon decides that he needs to scry upon Arya and see how she is. He discovers her in Sudra and they're discussing the up coming war. Eragon learned a spell that allows you to hear things in your scry, which allows him to hear the conversation that is going on, but not see all the people in the room. One would imagine that he would only be able to hear the people he can see, but that would be logical. If he couldn't hear the other people in the room talking, he wouldn't be able to know that they're preparing for a war and it doesn't look good for them. Which would then mean that he wouldn't be able to make the decision to go help the Varden.

He then scrys on Roran, and discovers that he's on a boat with Jeod. Curious as to why Jeod is there he scrys on Teirm and discovers that their entire wharf have been destroyed. Then that Carvahall has been utterly burned to the ground. He's sad about this and cries and then decides that it's time to fight.

Was it time to challenge the Empire head-on, time to kill and rampage to the limit of their considerable abilities, time to unleash every ounce of their rage until Galbatorix lay dead before them? Was it time to commit themselves to a campaign that could take decades to resolve? (page549)

Yes, "to kill and rampage". Which is what the Empire is accused of doing. Killing and rampaging uncontrollably. Better that he say, "Time to bring the end of the Empire's rein of terror" or something like that, instead of admitting that he's going to kill and destroy things without caring as to the damage that it causes. This isn't why a hero goes to war, to kill and rampage. This is why a sociopath goes out to war. Heroes go to war to stop the killing, not to cause it.
kippurbird: (*_* SHINY!)
It appears that Christopher Paolini has something in common with a classic piece of American Literature. This piece of literature being the books of Fenimore Cooper. And this is not a good thing. At least according to Mark Twain. And as Mark Twain is an expert at literature and what a good story is, I'm going to take his word for this.

Mark Twain declares that the books, Deerslayer and Pathfiner violate eighteen out of nineteen rules of literary writing. I would like to say that Eragon and Eldest also violate these rules.

These rules being and Coopers offenses (Paolini's in italics).

1. That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere. But the "Deerslayer" tale accomplishes nothing and arrives in air. If we look at Eldest, we are currently almost done with the book and we haven't accomplished anything nor have we ended up anywhere, as nothing has happened.

2. They require that the episodes in a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it. But as the "Deerslayer" tale is not a tale, and accomplishes nothing and arrives nowhere, the episodes have no rightful place in the work, since there was nothing for them to develop. Again, in both Eragon and Eldest, we have found numerous random scenes where nothing has happened could have been cut entirely

3. They require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale. Seeing as how Paolini's characters are all about as alive as a corpse, I think once again, he breaks this rule.

4. They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there. But this detail also has been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale. Any one know why Elva is there? Anyone? Please, tell me. What about Angela?

5. The require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. But this requirement has been ignored from the beginning of the "Deerslayer" tale to the end of it. As everyone in Eragon and Eldest seem to have varying speech patterns and we have random conversations for no reason, again this is another mark.

6. They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description. But this law gets little or no attention in the "Deerslayer" tale, as Natty Bumppo's case will amply prove. The heroes of Paolini's work often do things worse than the villains and the Villain appears to have done nothing wrong at all

7. They require that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven- dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the "Deerslayer" tale. Like mentioned at point five, with the varying speech flows that everyone has, they wander all over the place,

8. They require that crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader as "the craft of the woodsman, the delicate art of the forest," by either the author or the people in the tale. But this rule is persistently violated in the "Deerslayer" tale. I believe this goes to Eragon's Zombie horses and traveling feats. As well as that missing army.

9. They require that the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable. But these rules are not respected in the "Deerslayer" tale. Um... Eragon learning how to become a swordmaster in less than a month everyone?

10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the "Deerslayer" tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together. Paolini's characters have about as much interest as a lump of salt

11. They require that the characters in a tale shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency. But in the "Deerslayer" tale, this rule is vacated. I can't tell what anyone is going to do at any given point. It's like spinning a wheel. They don't act from past actions, but as Paolini needs them to act.

Then there are these smaller offenses that they both violate.

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

14. Eschew surplusage.

15. Not omit necessary details.

16. Avoid slovenliness of form.

17. Use good grammar.

18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.

The rest of the essay is here. But I think it's fascinating how similar they are. Perhaps Cooper was the Paolini of his day? Or at least as bad in his craft as Paolini is.
kippurbird: (*headdesk*)
Chapters Child's Play, Premonition of War


We go back to Nasuada for our next two chapters. Nasuada and Elva.

Nasuada is looking over the lace that the magic users are making when all of a sudden Elva bursts in and tackles Nasuada throwing her to the ground just as a thingy goes flying through the air and thumping into the wall. Nasuada is very WTF? and Elva is all creepy, with her all knowing voice. She also vomits. Apparently her knocking Nasuada to the floor broke her need to protect people and she so she had to vomit. A dart is discovered in the wall and Elva knows all about it.

The girl's horrible smile widened. "It was an assassin."

"Who sent him?"

"An assassin trained by Galbatorix himself in the dark uses of magic." Her burning eyes grew half-lidded, as if she were in a trance. "The man hates you. He's coming for you. He would have killed you if I hadn't stopped him." She lurched forward and retched again, spewing half-digested food across the floor. Nasuada gagged with revulsion. "And he's about to suffer great pain."

"Why is that"

"Because I will tell you he stays in the hostel on Fane Street, in the last room, on the top floor. You had bettter hurry, or he'll get away...away." She groaned like a wounded beast and clutched her belly. "Hurry, before Eragon's spell forces me to stop you from hurting him. You'll be sorry, then!" (page 519)

First of all, Elva might want to get her eyes checked out. After all they're burning rather randomly and then they grow half a lid. The spell that Eragon placed upon Elva requires her to shield everyone, so she shouldn't be able to tell them about the where the assassin is. Even if she wanted to. This ability to shield people seems to be rather convenient, sure she retches like mad but still, she shouldn't be able to do it at all, after all the spell was said in the ancient language and that means it's the truth. It is fact. There shouldn't be any loopholes in fact. She shouldn't be able to tell anyone something that would be able to hurt them. It should be incapable of coming out of her mouth. But this doesn't seem to matter for drama's sake. After all it's much more dramatic for her to come barreling in and knocking her down and then vomiting then for her... not doing anything at all.

After that incident, Nasuada tells them to go capture the guy and then retreats to her inner chambers where she tells Elva, "I'm in your debt" and Elva says, "You're right." And Nasuada goes, "So what can I do for you?" and Elva goes, "Got anything to eat?" And that's the entirety of the three page chapter. So, it must be asked, what was the point of this chapter or scene? It showed that Nasuada is a target. Something that we already knew. That Elva can know things, which could have been shown in another way. Nothing really happened, if anything, it could have been part of the next chapter which takes place two hours later. There was no need to separate it out into its own chapter.

They bring back the assassin, who Nasuada "felt a certain connection to him, as if his attempt on her life and the fact that she had arranged his death in return linked them in the most intimate manner possible" (page 521). So, basically it sounds like Nasuada is getting sexually excited over being near this dead guy who she ordered to be killed. That's a very interesting kink there.

The assassin, Drail, "was part of a network of agents based here in Sudra who are loyal to Galbatorix. They are called the Black Hand. They spy on us, sabotage our war efforts, and -best we could determine in our brief glimpse into Drail's memories - are responsible for dozens of murders through out the Varden." (page 521) So, we have the Evil King's Evil Assassins' being called the Black Hand. Can we get anymore cliched than that? And if that's not bad enough, this is the first time they've ever heard of the Black Hand. They should have a spy network within the King's court and networks that would allow them to know about these things before hand. And tell them about such things.

Nasuada seems to think that it's the magic users fault for not discovering the Black Hand sooner. After all they've been sifting through everyone's minds, so they should know these things. Apparently more mundane methods elude her. After all people have been spying on others without magic before, so it's perfectly possible to do this. But then again, if you have magic, why bother with the mundane?

After yelling at her magician for not finding out about this sooner, Nasuada is summoned to king Orrin's council chambers. Elva accompanies her. The king's Prime Minister is named Irwin. I have a picture of a small Jewish nerdy looking man with thick glasses now. He doesn't seem very Prime Minister like. Again, Paolini needs to work on his name choices.

In any case, apparently Orrin's spies misplaced an army. See, they thought the King's army was in Gil'ead but instead it's really moving past Uru'baen and it's a lot larger than they thought it was. Over a hundred thousand soldiers. They say that it's the king's magic that made fool of them. I'm not really sure how you can hide an army that big, it leaves traces, even if you physically hide them. You have to be really unobservant to not notice what a hundred thousand people do to the landscape. But then again, we've already realized that most of these people fail their listen and spot checks, so I guess it's not unreasonable for them to not notice an army moving past.

They start planning for war, because Galby is coming to invade. This includes getting Eragon back and getting help from the dwarves.

Then the matter of Lace comes up again. Orrin wants to know about this lace thing that the weaver guilds are complaining about. Apparently the Varden's lace making efforts are putting a hurt on people's livelihoods. As they're selling it inside Sudra as well as in the Empire. Nasuada's answer to that is, "Oh dear. If it's too much of a burden for your treasury, the Varden would be more than willing to offer you a loan in return for the kindness that you've shown us... at a suitable rate of interest, of course." (page 529). Yes, the Varden just bit the mouth that fed them. King Orrin, has been more than generous in taking the Varden into his country and helping support them. And in return they start to put some of his people's lively hood out of business and they're not sorry about it at all. This is not how you treat your allies, especially when you're living in their country. Orrin didn't have to let the Varden in, he was doing them a favor, despite the hardship it placed on his people. Nasuada should be more than grateful towards him and at least have enough sense to not sell her magical lace in Sudra. But apparently this doesn't really matter, as long as the Varden is funded.
kippurbird: (._.; ... Yeah..)
Chapters An Unexpected Ally, Escape


Jeod recognized Roran and so, of course, Roran goes to kill him. Or as he says, knock unconscious. Jeod is not at all alarmed by the people suddenly drawing weapons. Instead he tells them that Brom and Eragon were there a few months ago. We then get a "Who is Saphira?" "What you don't know?" INFODUMP TIME! Roran tells Jeod what happened to him. Jeod tells him what happened with Eragon. Including how Brom died about Murtagh, and the fight with the Varden and how they left for Sudra. It's a sort of silly thing for the Varden to send to Jeod. After all it contains vital information that is of a sensitive nature. And a letter could easily be intercepted. Especially since the Empire obviously knows that Jeod is involved with the Varden somehow. It wouldn't surprise me if they intercepted all his messages. At least, that's what I would do if I were in charge of such things. Apparently the Empire doesn't think like that, because Jeod did get the message. Roran has a hard time believing this, but eventually does, because of Katrina's sake. He gets angry at Eragon for a few sentences but it goes away. Jeod's wife also makes an appearance to verbally abuse her husband.

Apparently, also, there is only one person named Gertrude in the world. The name Gertrude is what connected Roran to who he really was in Jeod's mind. He some how went from Stronghammer to Roran, despite the beard that hid most of face, because he figured that the Gertrude they mentioned was the same Gertrude that Brom mentioned all those months ago. This is an astounding leap of logic to make by him. He had no evidence before hand to support the idea that they were at all related to Gertrude of Carvahall, or that Stronghammer was really Roran. Yet he was still able to make this connection. The only way this could be is that there is only one Gertrude in the world. Of course we know this is impossible, so then this epiphany was forced upon Jeod so that he and Roran could be come co-conspirators, as opposed to him discovering who Roran is by some other means.

Of course Jeod offers to help Roran and the villagers. And he has a plan, too. Remember that boat that was so lovingly described several chapters ago, the Dragon Wing? Well apparently it is the finest ship ever built and it belongs to the Empire... which apparently needs fronts for businesses. After all, it's the Empire. It runs the place. It shouldn't need to hide its existence from anyone. In any case, they're going to steal it.

This plan finalized, Jeod goes and tells his wife who he really is and Roran and Birgit have a talk. Bridget being Quimby's husband. Birgit apparently wants to know if Roran hates Eragon. Roran is undecided. Birgit reminds him that he still owes her for her husband.

Roran then talks to Mandal and gives him a "you need to straighten out" speech. It's very inspiring. He then tells Mandal to go down to the camp -killing anyone who follows him- Roran is getting very paranoid, thinking that everyone is going after him. It's very unlikely that someone will think that Mandal has anything to do with Roran and will follow him. So, now Roran is a cold blooded insane paranoid future king. Wonderful.

They go and steal the boat. When they do this, they meet up with five of Jeod's men who are going to help them steal the ship. One of them protests the presence of women, Birgit in particular. So, much to the astonishment of all assembled, kicks a guy in the nuts and grabs another putting a knife at his throat. Everyone is suitably impressed.

The guy kicked in the nuts, is then fine. I think Paolini has never been kicked in the nuts. In fact the guy is able to go swimming without any problems. They board the boat, Roran and the kicked Sailor, from the water and don't kill anyone. In fact they knock people out. I'm very proud of Roran containing his blood lust. The entire scene is vaguely reminiscent of the scene where Jack Sparrow and Will Turner steal the boat in the Curse of the Black Pearl.

In any case, they get the boat ready. Jeod's wife, Helen shows up, apparently deciding to go with him and not stay behind. And then the village shows up. Which is when the guards notice and start firing at the the incoming villagers. So, the people on the boat set the wharf on fire. The villagers get onto the boat, with no one dying in the stampede and people firing arrows at him. These villagers are insanely lucky.

As they set sail, Roran muses about how many more did he just kill. And then to stave off guilt he tells himself it's better than being in the Empire's clutches in prison.

So, they sail and sail, and then the Ra'zac show up again. The Ra'zac always seem to show up when it's dramatic for them to show up. They haven't been seen since Narda, but now all of a sudden they're in Teirm and they know that Roran and the villagers have stolen the boat, when there's no real way for them to know, or which way they've gone. Unless the Ra'zac have like some sort of tracking device... a GPS unit that's able to track the villagers. Maybe they're scrying on him. But if they could do that, then they just need to wait for him to stop running and show up and grab him.

The Ra'zac are there, or at least one of them is, and they're not getting to close to the water. They shoot an arrow at the Ra'zac and it makes the Million to one shot, grazing the flying beast. The creatures screams really loudly and painfully... and then flies off.

People are happy, but then Roran is all, "But now the Empire knows where we are."

First of all, the Empire apparently knew where they were all along. After all the Ra'zac found them. Second of all, they're on a boat. In the Ocean. There's a whole bunch of places they could go. Third of all, they're fleeing the Empire, where else would they go but Sudra? If anyone had any intelligence, they would know this. They would have known this as soon as the village had fled. Roran's statement should hardly be news, but everyone takes it as such.

And that's where the chapter ends. I feel like most of what I did here was summary, but there really wasn't anything to look at. It was just "and stuff happened".
kippurbird: (lightsaber)
*wanders off into those bad places*

"I shall no longer partake in meat," Eragon said to Saphira as he looked disgustedly at the bared flesh before him. How could he ever think about taking part in meat? Every touching it, enjoying it? It was disgusting.

Saphira craned her neck down to look at Eragon. How can you no longer enjoy meat? Long have you enjoyed it. Long have we shared it. Are you going to deny yourself this pleasure?

"How can I enjoy the pleasure of meat? The smell is disgusting, the touch is wrong and revolts me. The elves were right. It's plants that are the proper things to be consumed."

Plants? You just were crying how disgusted you were with plants. How you didn't find the plants that Oromis forced upon you was as satisfying as meat. It wasn't as filling. And now that you have finally gotten a chance to have meat, you reject it. Perhaps it is your neglect of the meat that has given you this idea.

Eragon shook his head, wondering how he could enpart to Saphira the importance of his decision not to enjoy meat any more. It was a difficult decision for him to make, but now, after expanding his awareness, he realized that it was wrong to partake in the pleasures of the flesh. "I'm sorry, Saphira, I don't know how to make you understand that I just can't do it any more."

She snorted at him, Eating meat is a perfectly natural thing for you to partake in. Every human partakes in meat. You yourself have partaken in meat all your life. You cannot just give it up arbitrarily, it goes against your nature.

"I'm not denying that, but after this, I just can't. Meat is no longer for me. I'll just have to deal with plants."

I shall miss enjoying meat with you, little one.

"And I shall miss it with you."

February 2016

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