I’m writing this immediately after my previous post, so I don’t have much of an introduction to make, except that my autocorrect is causing me to write about Dragon and Roman instead of Eragon and Roran. Also this is a long-ass chapter.
So we open up with some description done right. “The pine floor was cold under his feet.” This is how it should be done: putting the description in as a part of the action. It tells us more about the thing being described without jarring us out of the moment.
After this, we get a solid paragraph of description about Eragon’s collection of weird items. Again, this part is a lot more fun to read immediately after a reread because later in the series Eragon goes on to collect various priceless objects and beautiful gifts, so it’s nice to see that compared with the simple bits of wood and pebbles that he owns at the start.
We also get the first part of the story about Eragon’s mysterious mother. He won’t get closure about this for a long time, so I like that she’s introduced so early. Knowing the rest of her story as I do now, this first part is much more interesting to read because I can fill in the gaps in the version that Eragon knows now. Another perk of rereading.
All that we are supposed to know at this stage is this: she left her home and returned six years later in expensive clothes, had a baby and vanished. It’s a pretty bare bones story but it will all eventually make sense later on in the series. What I like about this whole plot line is that we get bits of it at a time. We learn more about Selena in Eldest and then a bit more in Brisingr but we don’t actually get the full picture until Inheritance. It’s a bit like the way Galbatorix lost half his army in the Spine – we get introduced to the idea but don’t learn the significance until much later.
After this, we get to meet Roran! I love Roran. He goes through a hell of a lot of character development throughout the series and becomes a really interesting character. He’s immediately described as being “two years older than Eragon, muscular, sturdy, and careful with his movements.” I think that this can apply to Roran’s character through the series as a whole when you compare him to Eragon. Even though in the later books Eragon has his strength greatly increased, Roran is often seen brute-forcing his way through problems while Eragon tends to be a bit sneakier. Eragon also spends his time flitting from place to place while Roran is firmly rooted with the Varden. Roran being more careful with his movements also rings true; even though he’ll brute force things, he tends to think his plans out very carefully while Eragon is busy winging it through life. Again, like the hunter parallel I noticed (or made up) in the first chapter, I have no idea if this was intentional.
Roran’s schoolboy crush behaviour with his secret messages to Katrina continues to be adorable and funny.
Once again, I know nothing about farming so I can’t really comment on the accuracy or whatever of the description of the family’s harvest. Nine days later there is a blizzard and everything is covered in snow. I’m going to hazard another guess for my timeline and go for end of November/early December time. Again, I like to compare this part with later in the book. In Brisingr and Inheritance, barely a day goes by without Eragon having some new mission or task to complete, so it’s interesting to see here that he spends days at a time huddled in the house, only leaving if he absolutely has to. It’s a good way to show how simple his life is in comparison to things to come.
We get another example of this when the traders arrive and the family go to see them. Later in the series Eragon is basically infinitely rich with gifts being thrown at him left and right, so it’s interesting to see Garrow put “the year’s money” into a pouch to take when they go shopping.
Okay, so Carvahall seems to be half a day away from the farm. I’m not actually sure in what direction this is. One of the cons of reading this book on Kindle is that it’s a pain in the ass the flip back to the map.
I like the description of the traders – Paolini does a good job of making them seem like the event of the year in Carvahall – but does this tiny town really want to see a jewellery trader? Although I suppose if there’s nothing like that around normally, this is their only chance to buy jewellery.
Next, we get confirmation that this stone is magic. Obviously we can infer that it’s a dragon egg, but we don’t get outright confirmation of that yet. Again, all Eragon and Garrow think about is how much it’s worth. Then the trader – Merlock – gives us our first glimpse since the prologue of the world outside Palancar valley. Urgals are migrating southeast and there’s rumours of a shade. We don’t get any more detail than that. I think that this makes the world seem richer – these traders are the only way people in Carvahall would get interesting gossip such as this. Due to their isolation though, they don’t seem to believe it.
There’s a cute kid-who-just-got-pocket-money moment when Eragon wanders around looking at the wares. He spends it all on sweets, exactly like a kid who doesn’t often have money would.
Eragon goes into a tavern and we are assaulted with some vile description: “The skin around his jaw was dry and corpulent, filled with lumps of hard fat, like cold butter gone rancid.” Well, this man is clearly a bad guy then. He and another bloke are arguing with the locals about whether or not the Empire (should it not be Emperor Galbatorix?) is evil, giving us some background information about the Varden in the meantime. We also get the hint of a plot point that will come up in Eldest: the villagers of Carvahall are so isolated that their hatred of the empire goes unnoticed.
There’s a short paragraph about dinner at Horst’s and then they go out to a field for some entertainment and we get the title of the chapter: dragon tales.
Carvahall’s resident storyteller (what a profession!) Brom takes centre stage to tell us about the fall of the Riders and the rise of Galbatorix. This tale is a lot of information that you wouldn’t really be able to insert anywhere else naturally, so Brom telling a story about it is a good way to go. Basically, the Dragon Riders were people and elves who rode dragons and protected the peace. Galbatorix was a rider who went insane when his dragon was killed. The Riders wouldn’t give him a new one, so he stole one and formed an group of evil Riders called the Forsworn. They killed all the Riders and Galbatorix became king.
This story is apparently one that is forbidden to tell, for obvious reasons. When Brom starts telling the story, he stares intently at Eragon. The fact that he does this and decided to tell this particularly dangerous story means one thing to me: he knows that Eragon has a dragon egg. Later in the story we will come to know that Brom knew about the egg being ferried about from place to place and that the elves and Varden were trying to get themselves a Rider. I think that somehow, he has discovered that Eragon has the egg. He probably eavesdropped when they were showing it to Merlock. So he knows that Eragon has a dragon egg, and he must know that if a new Rider emerges then Galbatorix will want them on side. So he’s acting preemptively. He’s trying to make it clear that the king is evil and that a new Rider will be unbelievably important.
We get told a lot throughout this whole series that Brom always knows more than he is telling, and Dragon Tales is the first example of this.