ERAGON | Water from Sand

God, it’s been almost a year since I started this, I really need to get back on it. Luckily we’ve got a stupid chapter to get me back into things.

Water from Sand

I have to say until Eragon gets to the Varden, there will be more stupid and irritating chapters. It’s like the journey from Carvahall to Teirm, or Teirm to Dras-Leona, or Dras-Leona to Gil’ead. It’s filler.

The chapter starts out right away by telling us that Eragon’s in a bad mood and tired from dodging soldiers and hunting dogs all day. That would have been far more interesting to read! Instead we get an entire chapter which is basically a pointless conversation which could have taken place in a paragraph.

Instead, we get bickering between Eragon and Murtagh. Murtagh continues to be mysterious and angsty and Eragon recommends that they travel through the desert. They bicker some more and then Eragon decides to do stupid and reckless experiments with magic in order for them to have enough water for the journey.

Okay, so I don’t know much about farming, but I would guess that at some point when farming one would have to dig. When digging, you tend to encounter water or general wetness under the ground. I assume that at some point in his life, Eragon has experienced this phenomenon. It is only after he almost kills himself by trying to transform dirt into water that he realises this.

That’s it. That’s the whole chapter. Diehard Paolini fans (talking to you, twelve-year-old me), how much would you have rather read about an exciting chase involving soldiers and hunting dogs? ‘Cause that’s what me now would have wanted to read about.


ERAGON | A Warrior and a Healer

What’s up, hello, I’m back after a severe absence. You know – new job, new house, etc. I won’t go into detail. Can barely remember what I’ve been writing before this but let’s just jump straight back in.

A Warrior and a Healer

So, we get right in to the chapter and Saphira is injured. Eragon goes about healing her, and there’s nothing that really leaps out at me in terms of particularly bad writing. Eragon attaches Arya to Saphira and the gang ride off. Eragon tries to remember what he knows about elves. He only seems to know what he’s read in Tolkien books vague stuff like the fact that they live a long time and can use magic. I think Brom told him this?

These horses just straight up do not get tired. They ride all through the night and only stop when Eragon and Murtagh get tired. There are very incompetent lines of horsemen behind them in the distance who do not seem to have located their trail or seen the damn dragon flying around.

“Saphira greeted them with a soft bugle as Eragon dismounted.” Okay, what? As I am only familiar with the word ‘bugle’ in the crisp context, I googled this and it apparently means, in terms of sound, either the noise an elk makes or a brass instrument. That’s a weird choice of words. Even if Saphira is making obscure animal noises at Eragon, why would she, a predator, be making the same noises as a prey animal? Ah, it’s good to be pedantic.

Once Saphira has stopped bugling (again, crisps), we get a touch of foreshadowing! He explains to Eragon that this is the first elf that the king has captured, but doesn’t say how he knows this. It’s because he was close to the king! I do like foreshadowing – the best reason to re-read a book!

I just want to use this moment to nitpick a bit as well. Murtagh says that “if he had found the elf haven, he would have declared war and sent his army after the elves.” My nitpick isn’t just related to this one line, though. How does nobody ever work out where the elves live!? They all act like it’s this HUGE mystery, but the forest (spoilers: they live in the giant forest) is the only place where they could be. Look at the map in the front of the book. They only places where an entire species could be hiding which aren’t the empire are: the Spine, the Hadarac Desert, the Beor Mountains, and Du Weldenvarden. The Spine houses the urgals – Galbatorix would know this. The Hadarac Desert – en entire species could not live here, realistically. The Beor Mountains – the dwarves live here and Galbatorix knows this. The forest is at the very least, the most reasonable guess. Is everyone in this world just stupid or is Paolini just lazy?

I’ll move on. Not that there has really been any evidence so far that the characters in this series are smart, but Murtagh has at least managed to figure out that the urgals work for Galbatorix.

Despite the ra’zac having killed his uncle and his father figure, Eragon seems surprised that Galbatorix would do this. Eragon’s an idiot at the best of times so I will ignore this.

Murtagh tries to explain to Eragon that Galbatorix will try and turn the people of the empire against the Varden and the elves and makes a statement which is quite funny, that Galbatorix could try and spin his alliance with the urgals as they “have been misunderstood all this time and that they are really friends.” This is a great bit of foreshadowing because it’s exactly what happens in Eldest!

Our main gang has another dense moment when they wonder where the urgals are going. They know that the urgals are migrating southeast. Somehow they do not guess from this that the urgals might be heading to the Varden.

Murtagh gives an extremely vague explanation of how he rescued Eragon, and then they go and discover Arya’s many injuries. It’s pretty bad, but they manage to heal her. He notices that she’s hot whilst he does this, so our ‘epic romance’ begins here, I guess. Or he’s sixteen and this is like, the first hot chick he’s ever seen. One of the two.

The horses continue to display no signs of fatigue and off we go again!

ERAGON | Fighting Shadows

I’ve honestly got so little recollection of how far I am into the story. Eragon doesn’t half drag at times.

Fighting Shadows

We open the chapter and Eragon finally has his magic back! That seemed quite simple. I wouldn’t have put it past Paolini to drag this subplot out for about ten chapters.

I also like how we’re shown that Eragon is learning about how magic works from how he unlocks the door. We saw earlier on, prior to Dras-Leona, that Eragon fought a group of urgals by trying to throw them far enough to kill them, which obviously didn’t work. We can see here that he’s improving because he unlocks the door by simply pushing the mechanism into ‘unlocked’ rather than break the lock itself.

His priority is of course to rescue Arya. He’s attacked by some soldiers and rescued by Murtagh in disguise. Eragon threatens one of the soldiers with torture until he gives up the information on where Arya is. After threatening the man with torture, he then magically knocks him out rather than killing him. Eragon has some quite bizarre morals.

Anyway, they find Arya and I am just going to quote this entire paragraph in which Ergaon sees her:

“A single beam of moonlight slanted through the window, illuminating the elf’s face with cool silver. 

She faced him, tense and coiled, ready for whatever would happen next. She held her head high, with a queen’s demeanour. Her eyes, dark green, almost black, and slightly angled like a cat’s, lifted to Eragon’s. Chills shot through him.

Okay, let’s dissect how much I hate this. First of all, the moonlight. Gil’ead is a big city and, being a military outpost, presumably in operation 24 hours a day. There must be smoke. How can there be so little light pollution from a city that the moon is able to produce enough light to illuminate her? Surely the outside of the prison must be quite well lit up?

Next, we later learn that while in captivity, Arya is basically in a constant state of being poisoned. She keeps herself in a self-induced coma to slow down the effects of this. Based on this, why is she standing around all ready to get involved in the action?

Saying she has a ‘queen’s demeanour’ is clearly just a nod to the fact that she’s a princess. Although Eragon seems to have this opinion of pretty much every elf. Maybe the people of Carvahall have bad posture of something.

I don’t know whether dark green eyes are more or less cliche than like, icy blue or something. Where’s my people with muddy brown eyes? Hazel eyes? Whatever, I’ll forgive it because she’s an elf and I suppose they’re meant to be ‘different’.

Arya faints. Eragon catches her. Despite being kept prisoner in a filthy prison and being tortured constantly, Arya smells like pine needles as opposed to sweat. I don’t care if she’s a fantasy creature, that is stupid.

They grab Arya and run up the stairs towards a banquet room, which seems to be on the way to the armoury. Bit odd. Eragon has a sensible moment for once and grabs some food and drink.

Durza then appears, being about as dramatic as you’d expect an evil person with white skin and maroon hair to be.

I’m honestly kind of skimming these pages because they just read like a young kid trying to sound badass. Durza talks in a weird pseudo-intellectual way and is better than Eragon at sword fighting. Despite this, Saphira breaks the roof open and Murtagh manages to shoot him in the face and he turns into smoke and disappears. Some soldiers run in, Saphira flies them out of there, everything is hunky-dory and I won’t have to deal with Durza until the end of the book. Hooray.

ERAGON | Du Sundavar Freohr

Okay, so even though I left my second job I’ve been working really late so I’ve had absolutely no time. It’s the weekend now though!

Also, wow. I began this draft weeks ago and then thought I lost it. Back to it! Really glad I managed to get it back.

Du Sundavar Freohr

Autocorrect’s going to have fun with this chapter. We start off with a sentence that I’m not sure is grammatically correct. I mean it could be – I’m not an English teacher – but it doesn’t seem to read correctly to me. “The first things Eragon noticed were that he was warm and dry.” I feel like there should be a ‘which’ in there or something.

It’s curious that Eragon immediately comes to the conclusion that he cannot use magic because he is drugged. Wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d believed someone had used a spell on him? He’s been taught a lot about magic by now by Brom, but he is still just from a very small town. Considering their healer mostly just uses things like herbs, what would he really know about drugs?

Anyway, Eragon is in prison. I like how dopey and happy drugged Eragon is. He think that it’s nice that a prison guard brings him food. It’s cute.

Eragon realises that he is in a place inhabited by humans, but he was captured by urgals. Once again, we have a seriously massive hint that the urgals are with Galbatorix. I’ll forgive Eragon for not working it out this time because he’s drugged.

“He sat on the cot and gazed into the distance. Hours later…” Same, Eragon. Do this all the time at work. Tricky stuff.

Unnecessary simile alert! “He dragged himself to the door, blinking like an owl.” It’s not really a relevant place for a simile. Nor is an owl relevant.

This will later be explained by the existence of the eldunari (am I capitalising that?), but for now it seems like an awfully convenient coincidence. Arya, the elf woman Eragon has been dreaming of, is also in this prison. Eragon is now fuelled by the desire to free her. Also, I know that the elves are supposed to be beautiful, but Arya is really generic. She has “long midnight-black hair” and a “slim waist”“Her sculpted face was as perfect as a painting.” Eragon of course, immediately falls in love. I will however, excuse this, because Paolini later seems to try and rectify the stereotypical beauty of Arya. Here she is described as ‘exotic’ but later in the series I believe she’s described with olive skin and almond shaped eyes. She’s also described as looking different enough to have to change the appearance of her entire face to fit in with humans. So I’ll give Paolini a pass for trying to make Arya a bit less boring later on.

We then get the shade! I’m glad that Durza dies because he is basically every fifteen year old’s first character for anything. He has pale skin and bright red hair for God’s sake. Pointed teeth as well. To a fifteen year old (and to ten year old me), Durza’s description must have sounded very cool and scary. Now it just reads like a joke.

Anyway, Eragon decides to stop eating and drinking in order to counter the effects of the drugs. He does well, and as the day goes on the drugs start to wear off and he’s able to begin to feel his magic again.

Durza decides that it’s time to interrogate Eragon. Of course he has “a smooth voice.” God. I really cannot wait for this character to die. On the plus side, he is easily the worst antagonist so at least we won’t have to endure this again.

I know I’ve just spent an entire paragraph complaining about how much I dislike Durza, but I actually like his conversation with Eragon. Intentionally or not, I feel like it subverts the idea of the all-knowing antagonist getting the upper hand on the dumb kid.

Eragon prepares himself for the conversation by thinking the following: “I have to act like I don’t understand what’s going on. I can’t show surprise, no matter what this person says.” It sounds a bit silly initially, because Eragon’s just a kid who barely knows what’s going on. Yet, it miraculously works. I like it largely because it seems like this type of tactic shouldn’t work.

“His breath caught as he looked into the shade’s face. It was like gazing at a death mask or a polished skill with skin pulled over it, giving the appearance of life.” Okay, so we will learn, later I think, that a shade is just a person possessed by evil spirits. We also learn that Durza was once just a normal person before he became a shade. So why does he look so freaky? Did he do this to himself (like the filed teeth) or is this a side effect of becoming a shade? Why did his eyes and hair turn red?

Eragon is pretending to be drugged. He realises that Durza is trying to trick him into giving up his true name so that he can control him. He gives a fake name, which is quite risky. I’m going to assume that Durza has never heard anyone’s true name before. Eragon gives his name as ‘Du Sundavar Freohr.’ This means ‘Death of the Shadows.’ I say that Durza must never have heard anyone’s true name before because when we later learn more about true names (although we never learn Eragon’s actual true name) we learn that they are more of a description of the person. So Saphira’s name reflects her characteristics as well as the fact that she is the last female of her race. Glaedr’s is so long that his name is basically a paragraph. Based on this, it’s unlikely that Death of the Shadows is a realistic true name and therefore Durza doesn’t actually know much about true names.

We also know that Galbatorix is a master at finding out people’s true names. He is also searching for the true name of the Ancient Language, so I know during this reread that true names are his favourite weapon. This is probably why Durza is immediately trying to find out Eragon’s name.

Durza leaves, after successfully being intimidated by Eragon. We leave the chapter with Eragon determined to get his magic back.

ERAGON | Capture at Gil’ead

I am no longer working two jobs so I actually have more time to write these!! Woo. Although I think when I undertook this task I forgot how long this book series actually is. Like, it goes on forever. I am not even halfway through the first book.

Capture at Gil’ead

First of all, from what I remember of the pronunciation guide without actually looking at it, Gil’ead is pronounced like ‘Gill-ee-id’. Or maybe more like ‘Gilly-id’. I don’t know if there’s any real structure as to how the places are named in Inheritance. I think my favourite place name is quite possibly Dras-Leona, because it actually suggests a sort of naming convention. Like ‘dras’ means ‘on’ or something, so the name means ‘On Leona Lake.’

Anyway. Eragon is finding riding painful. The writing mentions that “Saphira flew close by, her mind linked with his for solace and strength.” While this is all that is said about how Saphira is helping Eragon through this pain, I am going to draw my own conclusions. I like the idea that because of their bond as Rider and dragon, Saphira is able to draw parts or Eragon’s consciousness into her own mind. Saphira is using the ability to separate Eragon’s mind from the pain of his body. I think she actually does do this in Eldest, so this is possibly a suggestion as to what is to come.

Eragon feels sad about selling his horse for a grand total on one short paragraph. This is totally fine, because it’s nice and concise; “It was difficult to relinquish Cadoc after crossing half of Alagaesia – and outracing urgals – on him,” but the fact that so much irrelevant stuff is described for much longer than this makes it seem a bit rushed.

We get a throwaway sentence that isn’t expanded on too much: “[Murtagh] seemed to know what every noble and courtier was doing and how it affected everyone else.” This is mentioned just as a way to show that Murtagh has a mysterious past that Eragon doesn’t know about, and is basically hinting as to who his father is, but I wish it was expanded on more. We don’t really learn anything about the other nobles in Alagaesia. We know about the existence of Marcus Tabor, the mayor (?) of Dras-Leona, but we don’t know much about him. We know a similar amount of information about Lord… Rishart (?) of Teirm. There’s also Lord… Bast (the fact that I have to constantly question the information I do know about these characters says everything, really) who gets mentioned in Brisingr I think, but we don’t learn loads about him, and he’s mostly only talked about in Inheritance. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that it would be nice if we learned more about the nobility and their drama throughout the series. We know about political drama in the Varden/Surda and amongst the dwarves, but it would be interesting if there were some sub-plots involving the nobility of Alagaesia. Not that there aren’t a lot of sub-plots already, but maybe we could just get rid of some of the excessive nonsense present in Brisingr or something.

Remember a few posts ago when Eragon first started dreaming about Arya? Remember when he suggested he should visit every jail in Alagaesia to find her? Remember when Brom said it was stupid and for once I agreed with him? Well, he is literally doing that now. He is disguising himself and visiting every jail he passes to se if she is there. It is never mentioned if Murtagh objects to this. He should. It’s stupid. This isn’t necessarily bad writing or anything because Eragon is stupid, but oh my God. I couldn’t help but mention it.

Okay, so it’s Eragon’s birthday and he mentions that it’s been six months since Saphira hatched. I gave up on my timeline a long time ago (mostly I just wanted to keep track of the snow) but I think I said something about it being November. This means it’s May. Obviously this has no significance but I should try and remember my made up timeline if I can.

“In an earlier one he would have smiled, but after Brom’s death, such expressions did not come easily.” Okay, so ‘deep’ lines like this are just hilarious to me. I think it’s because instead of actually trying to show Eragon’s loss of innocence, Paolini just throws in cheesy, pseudo-dark lines like this to tell the reader hey, this character is DARK and MYSTERIOUS now. So instead of seeming like a genuinely sad development for the character, it comes off as cheesy.

Anyway Eragon and Murtagh spar a bit and they’re pretty much equally matched. I hate to say this cause I love these books but I’m kind of skimming a bit. These chapters drag on a little bit.

We arrive at Gil’ead. Murtagh advises Eragon that it would be stupid to go in there himself in case he gets captured. He has a point. Eragon would definitely get himself captured. Not much happens for a few paragraphs, but I do like the building of tension when Murtagh leaves Gil’ead. Even though Eragon immediately comments that he doesn’t like it, an uneasy feeling is still built up. I think this is because it starts small; Murtagh is riding his horse very quickly towards Eragon like something major went wrong, but what happened was that he was recognised. As we don’t know Murtagh’s history, we don’t know how serious this is. Eragon pretty much brushes it off straight away. As I’m coming into this scene on a reread, I can see it’s more serious as I know that Murtagh was in fact fairly close to Galbatorix and would be seriously hunted down.

When Eragon wakes up the next morning, Saphira smells something weird. I’m not sure what it is as she says that she can “smell horses nearby, but they’re not moving. They reek with an unfamiliar stench.” Saphira has encountered urgals by now so it can’t be them. I’m assuming it’s Durza.

Anyway, they’re all attacked by urgals and we end the chapter cheaply when Eragon goes unconscious.

ERAGON | Diamond Tomb

Continuing to try and speed-write past this weird bit between the ‘Brom’ section of this book and the ‘Murtagh’ section.

Diamond Tomb

Right off the bat we have a weirdly written sentence. “When Eragon woke, his eyes were gritty, his body stiff.” I’m not a grammar professor or anything but should this not be “When Eragon woke, his eyes were gritty and his body was stiff.” My version seems to read more smoothly. Or it could even be: “Eragon awoke. His eyes were gritty; his body stiff.” Both of those seem to flow a lot more naturally than the version in the book. It’s sentences like this which are the reason why I call Eragon badly written. It’s not terrible throughout but all to frequently there’s a slightly oddly written sentence which just jars me out of the narrative.

Argh, why does Paolini have such a fascination with describing things like gemstones? I don’t think it’s really happened so far (or at least, not in an inappropriate way) but do we really need to hear about the topaz sun“? No, we don’t. This habit gets a lot more frequent throughout the series as well. It’s annoying.

“Murtagh’s eyes became inscrutable orbs.” I will say this now: a good writer does not describe eyes as orbs. It’s the worst. Well, objectively it’s not, but it still reads like something out of a bad fan fiction. It’s one of those writing habits that just makes you think what? Sadly, this too does not lessen throughout the series.

Despite that rocky start to the chapter, things start to improve. Well, things get easier to read, anyway. Eragon has a thought which I suppose is meant to be cool or badass but instead just makes him seem like a hilariously angsty teenager: “From this moment on, I’ll live by the sword. Let the whole world see what I am. I have no fear. I am a rider now, fully and completely.” It’s obvious that this is supposed to be cool, or represent the next stage in Eragon’s evolution. Instead it just seems a bit silly. That does work though, even if it’s not in the way that Paolini intended. It’s exactly the type of thing an angsty teen would think.

Murtagh immediately proves that Eragon is not an all-knowing rider when he tells him that Zar’roc is actually Morzan’s sword. Murtagh is a bit moody about this but gets over it once he’s eaten.

“Murtagh looked at him sideways in a calculating way.” Right… “Murtagh looked at him sideways” would have sufficed.

Murtagh says he wants to travel with Eragon and they have a bit of a bonding moment due to the fact that they’re both wanted criminals.

In my last post I remarked that Brom should have told Eragon the truth about his past after he was attacked by the urgals. In actual fact, he told Saphira, and asked her to keep it a secret. He also told her the way to the Varden (or, the person to contact the get there, anyway). I can find exactly zero reasons as to why Eragon should not have been told about this sooner. He was adamant about killing the ra’zac at that time and didn’t really have any desire to go and find the Varden, so why the secrecy?

Before they leave to go and find the bloke who can direct them to the Varden, Saphira uses her mysterious dragon magic to turn Brom’s grave into diamond. I hate this dragon magic. It’s so cheap that dragons can sometimes do difficult magic or impossible things and nobody knows how.

God this was a surprisingly bad chapter.

ERAGON | Legacy of a Rider

Ooh forgot I was doing this, back on it. We’re finally Brom-less, thank god.

Legacy of a Rider

Okay I was wrong, we’re not quite Brom-less. Brom is about to die. I suppose I’ll have to pretend to care. Honestly if Brom was more likeable and less stupid I would give more of a damn that he is dying in this chapter.

Anyway, Murtagh is holding Brom down because he’s convulsing. He then wakes up, because we’re about to have a deathbed confession. He was basically in a coma, and now he’s about to give a fairly long speech about his past just before he dies. I’m no doctor so I can’t say for certain, but I’m not sure that’s how dying works.

Eragon washes Brom’s hand with wine… and some brown dye washes off to reveal that he has the same silver mark on his hand as Eragon. I have a few questions about this. If this dye can be washed off with a few splashes of wine, how has he kept it a secret for so long? Why did he not share any of this dye with Eragon? Eragon states in an earlier chapter that his hand is like “a little lantern” when he uses magic, so how has Brom managed to hide it? How strong is this dye? How can he dye the palm of his hand brown without it looking noticeable? Even if it his the silver, surely a brown splodge on his hand would also be noticeable?

I can’t even attribute this weird brown dye situation to the Eldunari, so unfortunately this is going into the bad writing category. I’d forgive it even if there was a slight mention of Eragon noticing a weird birthmark on Brom’s hand or something, but there never was. He never even commented that Brom’s hands were unusually dirty or anything like that.

Moving past the brown dye, Brom gives Eragon a summary of his past. He became friends with Morzan and his dragon died. His dragon… Saphira. Who didn’t see that coming?

Brom says there was no need to tell Eragon all of this earlier. I disagree. I think this is all just for the sake of mystery. Maybe it was fine to keep it a secret at first, but I think that when Eragon was attacked by the urgals prior to Dras-Leona, Brom should have told him. They were in clear danger there, and it was very possible that Eragon or Brom could have died. That would have been a good time for Brom to tell Eragon all of this.

This is supposed to be a very sad chapter, obviously, but I can’t help but find it funny when Bro says “‘Guard Saphira with your life.'” Eragon gets himself into a mess so frequently that the thought of him protecting Saphira instead of the other way around is funny.

We get a seemingly innocuous statement: “His gaze passed blindly over Murtagh.” I think he knows who Eragon is traveling with and thinks it’s important. Eragon and Murtagh’s relationship is so crucial to defeating Galbatorix. I bet Brom knows exactly who Murtagh is.

Brom gives Eragon his blessing and then proceeds to die. I don’t care. Brom is nasty, petty and dramatic and I feel absolutely no emotion when he dies.

Eragon magically digs Brom a grave from stone and dreams about Arya again and we’re done. To be fair, this is a fairly well written chapter. There’s not really any unnecessary description and there’s no overuse of similes and metaphors. It’s just that I don’t feel like Brom as a character has been well written throughout the book so far. I don’t care enough about him to care about his death.