Sometimes I feel like I am making progress with these posts and then I look at what chapter I’m up to and realise we haven’t even left Carvahall yet.
I will finish this series, but it may well be in my retirement.
The Madness of Life
The Doom of Innocence was what, two chapters ago? Yet I already have another addition for my ‘cheesiest chapters in Eragon‘ list. This one is definitely not quite as cheesy though, thank god.
We open with a good paragraph. Paolini does a decent job of describing the sense of impending doom that Eragon is feeling. We obviously know what’s about to happen – what typical fantasy hero can start his quest without the death of a family member – but there’s some nice description without it going overboard.
Garrow has already been prepared for the funeral when Eragon walks in. I don’t know why they didn’t wake him right away, but it’s possible that they just thought this might be easier on him, like a kind gesture. Still seems a bit odd that they wouldn’t wake Eragon as soon as it happened though. Especially since there are apparently “people clustered inside.” Did they start the funeral without him or something?
I also kind of wish we’d got a bit more characterisation for Garrow. All we got was that he’s proud and stubborn (like Eragon), but I never really liked him. So while I do enjoy and appreciate description of the sorrow which Eragon is feeling, I don’t feel it myself. Even though I don’t necessarily feel sad at Garrow’s passing, I do think the description of Eragon’s sadness is very well done. He cries until he’s so exhausted that he falls asleep, which is exactly how he ought to be behaving in that situation.
Also, this is a very short chapter – just one page on Kindle. However I think that this actually works for once. It’s a chapter which is concerned only with what has just happened to Garrow and Eragon’s sorrow. At the beginning of the chapter, Eragon describes the hour that he wakes as “the time when nothing moves and life waits for the first warm touches of sunlight.” I think this is a good way to open the chapter as it sets the whole tone; this chapter will encompass only that moment. Instead of being concerned with the setup to Garrow’s death or the aftermath, this is just the brief window of time in which Eragon is awake and discovers his uncle’s passing. For once, the short chapter gets it right.