Eragon is having tea for two and I am having coffee for one. A thing that regularly fluctuates when I’m writing these is how critical I am of these books. It totally depends what mood I’m in and if I’ve read anything critical of Eragon recently, so that’s why.
Tea for Two
I’ve said it before, but I think that during the early chapters of this book, Brom knows exactly what is going on with Eragon. I thought earlier that he was probably eavesdropping when Garrow and Eragon were visiting Merlock, but now I think he could have been eavesdropping when Eragon tried to pay Sloan with the egg. It’s mentioned in that chapter that Katrina was the one who went and fetched Horst when Sloan started arguing with Eragon. What if, when she went over to Horst’s, Brom was in earshot? He would have probably heard something along the lines of “Hey Horst, Eragon and my father are arguing about some weird stone he found in the Spine, can you help?” I reckon from that, Brom could deduce that the weird stone could possibly be Saphira’s egg; especially if Katrina mentioned that it was blue. What if he started suspecting then, and confirmed it later by eavesdropping when they were with Merlock?
I think Brom mentions later on that this chapter is when he started suspecting Eragon was a rider, but I think that it was much earlier. So I am going to read this chapter with that in mind.
Anyway, this chapter immediately gives us a good (if somewhat rare) example of showing rather than telling in Eragon. The fact that he just rocks up at Brom’s to ‘ask questions’ and this is accepted as normal shows how curious he is. It implies that this is a fairly common occurrence. Eragon’s curiosity is a running theme throughout the series so I like that it’s introduced here.
Brom also tells Eragon to be careful because his books and scrolls are all valuable – I wonder what they are? He doesn’t seem to be much of a bibliophile throughout the rest of the series, so I wonder if he is either just trying to reinforce his storyteller persona or if maybe these are plans and strategies he has written. Perhaps they are materials that he would have used for training the next Rider?
Of course, we get another little hint as to what will come: “Garrow could only tell him that Brom had bought a house in Carvhall nearly fifteen years ago.” A great little tidbit to see on a reread! We will get closure on this little sentence in Inheritance.
Okay, so I am now going to dissect Brom’s discussion on the Riders as if he knows that Eragon has Saphira. I don’t know if this is how it was meant to be, but this is how I think it works best. He starts out by implying that they are not always as powerful as everyone makes them out to be, which I think he is suggesting to plant the seeds of thought in Eragon’s mind that Galbatorix is not invincible.
He then moves on to telling Eragon about the war between the dragons and the elves, which was stopped when an elf called Eragon found a dragon egg. I think that Brom is simply telling Eragon this because it would be an important part of teaching if he were a traditional Rider. That is, it’s an important part of their history. For the same reason, he then tells Eragon about the formation of the Riders.
He also mentions that ‘Eragon’ is an honourable name. This could be Brom trying to make a simple suggestion that our Eragon is, and should be, honourable. As in, don’t go joining Galbatorix!
Eragon then says this: “You know, all of us.” Eragon waved his hands vaguely. “Humans in general.” I don’t know why, but I find this sentence stupidly funny and relatable. It’s the waving the hands thing; everyone does it.
Brom goes on to describe Galbatorix’s killing of the dragons as a “murderous slaughter” and calls the dragons loyal to him “twisted“. It might seem a little obvious, but he’s trying to make sure Eragon knows that the king is the bad guy.
He also basically tells Eragon that he won’t be able to hide Saphira forever. He says that they can grow bigger than buildings and that they never stop growing. We know that Eragon just wants to hide Saphira and keep her as a pet, pretty much, but this is Brom telling him that he can’t do that.
Brom also has to know that Eragon doesn’t know much about dragons. He probably rightly suspects that Eragon would think they can breathe fire right away, so he sets him straight. Then Eragon starts making up some nonsense about some trader who knew loads about dragons as an excuse to keep asking questions. Now, I think that later on, Brom tells Eragon that this is when he becomes suspicious. Since I’ve made up my mind that Brom knew earlier, I think his pushing about the identity of the trader is an attempt to get Eragon to confess to him. He knows Eragon is stubborn, so saying that he’s wrong about something Eragon knows to be true, I think he’s trying to trick Eragon into slipping up and admitting that he’s a Rider.
He also warns Eragon of the changes that occur as a rider. He will live for a long time and his appearance will change; again I think this is another attempt to tell him that he cannot hide this forever. He also likely realises that Eragon thinks of Saphira as more of a pet, so he makes sure to tell him otherwise.
He tells Eragon a bunch of dragon names but obviously only one matters: Saphira. Since it’s the only nice one in the list it’s pretty clear this is what she’s going to be called.