Not much of an introduction as I’ve only just published the last post! I might actually enable comments as well as I just realised I’ve disabled them all. Whoops!
Saphira is here! Not named yet of course, but we finally have the dragon in our dragon story. I remember absolutely loving this chapter when I first read Eragon as a child, because I was desperate for a pet dragon and it really is just a lovely chapter.
Of course, we start out with a long paragraph of solid dragon description. I don’t mind it in this case, because it’s easy to see why Eragon would do this. Imagine a dragon, a creature you have never seen before and is so rare it is almost a myth, has appeared in front of your. You’d probably stare at it for ages and take in every last detail. The description of Saphira paints her as pretty much a typical fantasy dragon: four legs, two wings, sharp teeth and spikes running down her back.
Saphira stares at Eragon and he has a very realistic response: he’s scared. He considers that this dragon could be formidable if it tried to attack him, which is totally reasonable. This is a creature of legend, known for being ferocious and being able to breathe fire. I like that Eragon’s natural response to the dragon is one that someone who knows of dragons only by reputation would have. Of course, she turns out to be not so fierce and starts exploring the room and acting adorably like a kitten or baby bird. He strokes her and this hurts and leaves him with a silver mark on his hand; while we don’t know why, we do know that dragons and Riders have a special connection so this is a nice way to show how it starts.
We then get the first instance of telepathic communication, which is a running theme throughout the books. I like the way it is described as being “like a finger trailing over his skin“. Considering this is something that comes along so frequently, it’s a good description to tell us how this would feel in real life. As Saphira is just a baby dragon at the moment she communicates with him through impressing her urges upon him, which seems like what might happen if this were real life.
Eragon, being the curious and reckless person we know him to be, decides that he’s going to keep this dragon as a pet. Again, if we look back to Dragon Tales, this really emphasises how stupid and short sighted Eragon can be. From the tale Brom told, we can infer that the appearance of a new dragon and Rider would attract the king’s attention and could be incredibly dangerous. Eragon thinks it’s a cute and helpless baby animal (which it is), so he’s going to keep it. This does seem like something a fifteen year old would do.
He feeds the dragon and she goes to sleep, and then Eragon starts to ponder what this could mean for him. He realises that he’s either going to have to join Galbatorix or probably be killed, which is realistic considering what he knows: Galbatorix is an all powerful Rider king who slaughtered all other dragons and Riders. He dismisses killing the dragon outright because they’re revered, and he reckons she’ll be easy to hide (despite thinking earlier that whoever sent the stone to him would definitely be able to find it again). To Eragon, the biggest problem is going to be convincing Garrow and Roran to let him keep her. Again, this is totally just Eragon being a fifteen year old. He found a new pet and he has to convince his family to let him keep it. He decides that the best solution is to just wait until Saphira is too big to get rid of. Brilliant planning, Eragon!
Of course, as well as Eragon just being a kid, we can chalk up his stupidity with planning to his new bond with the dragon. We know that Riders have this special connection to their dragons, so many of Eragon’s dumb decisions can be explained by that.
He makes the dragon a shelter in a tree the next morning, and again the telepathic communication thing is mentioned. I like that the connection seems to be tenuous at first, that they can only communicate impressions and vague thoughts to each other. It makes sense that it would start off uneasy and become more practised later on.
I do think it’s a bit odd that Eragon thinks that Garrow and Roran won’t be bothered by the absence of the stone now that they know it can’t be sold – surely they still imagine it’s valuable? Eragon concluded that since it was hollow there might be something valuable inside, so who’s to say Garrow won’t come to the same conclusion? Even if they can’t sell it at the moment, surely it won’t just fade completely from their thoughts?
I do like that at the start of Eragon, Eragon treats Saphira like a pet rather than a companion as he later does. It stands to reason that he’s assume she’s an animal and therefore more like a dog or a cat than a friend. Their walks through the forest and playtimes and how worried Eragon gets about her is adorable. It’s a good introduction to the deep bond that they’ll develop.
I do have a bit of a complaint that Garrow and Roran don’t really question his absence. They note that he disappears often but don’t really push it. Considering that before Saphira hatched, Eragon could spend days inside doing nothing, surely they would be more suspicious of his sudden desire to leave the house every day?
We’re also introduced to some elements of dragons and being a Rider that Eragon has no idea about. Namely the mental link that they constantly share, and the fact that dragons breathe fire. Eragon is concerned about the link and distracted by it at first, and he is concerned that Saphira can’t yet breathe fire. As Saphira grows rapidly, he decides that he needs to learn more about dragons which means visiting our local dragon expert, Brom.
Saphira also starts to talk, which freaks Eragon out. He’s also becoming much more aware of the fact that this is his dragon, and he actually is a Rider. Considering that all he knows about dragons and Riders is from myths and gossip, it’s understandable that he’s scared.