Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eragon Chapter 12

Eragon is having a dream, and since Stus never have ORDINARY mundane dreams about exploding hedgehogs or everybody turning bright green and growing second heads, it's full of Significant Images.

Dreams roiled in Eragon’s mind, breeding and living by their own laws.

... dreams have laws? And they apparently reproduce and "live"?

He watched as a group of people on proud horses approached a lonely river. Many had silver hair and carried tall lances. A strange, fair ship waited for them, shining under a bright moon.

Oh for the love of crappy ripoffs. Yeah, that sounds NOTHING like the Grey Havens, does it? It definitely doesn't sound anything at all like this:

I mean, is it SO fucking hard to just dream up a fantasy dream that DOESN'T echo the ending of Return of the King, one of the most famous fantasy books EVER? Couldn't he have seen them going through a forest, or on a mountaintop? Anything but elves going to a BOAT?

So the obvious elves wander onto the boat... very slowly.

Their faces were obscured by cowls, but he could tell that one was a woman.

They're called boobs, Eragon. Most women have 'em.

So someone has apparently chosen to stay behind... we're not shown why, but it's presumably so he can howl at the sky and be emo. So the boat just... drifts away without anything to move it.

As it faded, the ship glided down the river, without a breeze or oars, out into the flat, empty land.

... the boat is sailing on the LAND? Is Paolini a little shaky on where boats go?

The vision clouded, but just before it disappeared, Eragon glimpsed two dragons in the sky.

I really hope that's symbolic, because otherwise I don't have the faintest idea why they would be there.

So Eragon wakes up, and finds that he's in a thatched house, and someone has bandaged his legs and hand. We get descriptions of the stuff in the room, and how there's a chubby little woman sitting there and dozing next to the fireplace. Apparently she's the town healer, Gertrude.

Other people have ranted about this, but I'll put in my two cents because.... well, it's my snark and I can do whatever the hell I want. I wish that more fantasy authors would be semi-consistent with their name choices, instead of just slapping together real names with fake ones in the same context, and expecting it to work. Christopher Paolini and Terry Goodkind are repeat offenders - I mean, we have characters named Eragon, Galbatorix, Murtagh and Durza, and on the other hand we have characters named Gertrude, Sloan and Katrina.

Now I don't mind if a person uses some archaic REAL names in their fantasy, which Paolini sometimes does - there are characters named Nuada, Iduna and Edric, for instance. Those are all real-names, but they do have a fantastical/mythic tang to them. But if you're going to make up names, don't mix in everyday names at random! Don't have Slinbor The Mighty live next to Chuck McDonald. Not only is it silly and distracting, but it really undermines any sense of continuity in your fantasy world.


So Eragon thinks about what happened. He wonders where Saphira is, and finds that he's unable to contact her.

At least Brom got me to Carvahall. I wonder what happened to him? There was all that blood.

It turns out that the banks get cranky when you overdraw your account.

Gertrude wakes up and asks Eragon how he feels, and Eragon asks where Garrow is.

“Over at Horst’s. There wasn’t enough room to keep both of you here. And let me tell you, it’s kept me on my toes, having to run back and forth, checking to see if the two of you were all right.”

Yeah, this doesn't seem like a good idea, does it? Given that she's the only healer for miles around, you would expect that they'd give her enough room to have at least a few people in. Do all the people in Carvahall considerately make sure that no more than one person is seriously injured at one time?

So apparently Garrow is not doing well, and Gertrude doesn't help Eragon's case by saying that he's “Not good. He has a fever that refuses to break, and his injuries aren’t healing.” Would it kill you to dodge the question to your other patient, lady? Or at least put it a little less bluntly? Getting your patient agitated because a family member is dying is NOT A GOOD IDEA. And of course, Eragon tries to get up like ANYONE in the world would. But Gertrude tells him that he's got to eat first, and that Garrow will be fine. So, if you think he'll be fine WHY DID YOU MAKE HIM WORRY? Methinks Gertrude kind of sucks at her bedside manner.

She also doesn't seem curious about how a house fire and collapsing roof scraped off the skin on his INNER THIGHS and nowhere else. That's a pretty weird injury, you know. I'd expect her to show a LITTLE curiosity about how the hell he managed to hurt himself that way. Does she think he stood on his head while the roof was collapsing?

“How long have I been here?”
“Two full days.”
Two days! That meant his last meal had been four mornings ago!

No, I'm pretty sure it's been three. 2 days lying in bed + 1 day up in the mountains and flying around = 3 days.

Saphira’s been on her own this entire time; I hope she’s all right.

I'm fairly sure that the giant flying sentient lizard that can snatch full-grown birds of prey out of the air and has been living mostly alone in the woods in winter... can fend for herself for a few days. If she needed to, she could chew the scenery again.

So Gertrude mentions that the whole town is curious about what happens, and how their farm was destroyed and burned down. Eragon claims he doesn't know how it happened. And then the subject randomly switches to the scar he got on his palm when he first touched Saphira: “That’s quite a scar on your palm.”... “How did you get it?”

Uhhhh, it's silvery. You don't get normal scars like that. In fact, due to the lack of trauma and scarring, I'd hesitate to call it a scar at all.

Eragon's convincing answer: “I’ve had it ever since I can remember. I never asked Garrow where it came from.” Yeah, that claim is going to stand up really well, considering that he's known these people all his life and they've presumably seem his hands.

Eragon eats the soup and asks if he can go visit Garrow now, so Gertrude allows him to get up and leave. Apparently his legs have healed up a lot and no longer hurt... and all I can say is that Gertrude must be great at the nonverbal parts of her job, because his legs should still hurt a LOT.

Outside, a blustery wind blew smoke from the adjacent buildings into their faces.

Lovely location she's got.

Also, a blustery wind?

You never thought I'd connect Eragon to Winnie the Pooh, did you? Did you? HAH! I can connect to the weirdest things!

Storm clouds hid the Spine and covered the valley while a curtain of snow advanced toward the village, obscuring the foothills.

.... um, snow doesn't tend to come down in a "curtain," and that's not usually how you see it from a distance.

Horst had built his two-story house on a hill so he could enjoy a view of the mountains.

... and get struck by lightning frequently.

He had lavished all of his skill on it.

Horst is a blacksmith. Not to denigrate any of the skill of smiths, but making a house is very different from making horseshoes.

The shale roof shadowed a railed balcony that extended from a tall window on the second floor.

Lemme guess: it has glass in it too. Is this a modern vacation home?!

And roofing is not a blacksmithing skill!

Each water spout was a snarling gargoyle, and every window and door was framed by carvings of serpents, harts, ravens, and knotted vines.

  1. What water spouts does a medieval rural cottage have? Does he meant coming off of GUTTERS?
  2. In medieval times, gargoyles weren't just ornamental - they had religious significance. It sounds painfully modern to think about using them for purely ornamental purposes.
  3. Who did these carvings? Again, he's a BLACKSMITH. Blacksmiths are known for working with metals, not wood. I'm not saying they can't, but since there's been no mention of Horst also being a master woodcarver/roofer/builder.
  4. Also, he lives in the ass end of nowhere. How can he afford all this?!

So Horst's wife Elain answers the door, and she's pretty and graceful and all that crap because she likes Eragon.

They stepped over the threshold into a large well-lit room. A staircase with a polished balustrade curved down to the floor. The walls were the color of honey.

I'm starting to wonder if this does even take place in a medieval setting, because I can't imagine a rural blacksmith's house being this big or fancy.

“I was just about to send for you. He isn’t doing well. You should see him right away.”

"It's too bad we didn't have both of you stay here, since we have more than enough room!"

“It’s okay, I can do it myself.”
“Are you sure?” asked Elain. He nodded, but she looked doubtful.

Then... Elain just lets him walk up the stairs. As in, she leaves. Wouldn't it make more sense to accompany the very weak, injured teenager up the stairs even if she doesn't actually help him? What if he collapsed and fell down said stairs?!

When he reached the top, he looked down a long hallway dotted with doors.

HOLY SHIT, this IS a vacation home! I'd like to reiterate that this is a MEDIEVAL BLACKSMITH, yet he apparently also has the time and energy to devote to building a huge two-story house with several rooms, a polished staircase and all sorts of extra flourishes that could take weeks or months to make.

So Eragon goes into Garrow's room and finds Katrina helping Gertrude. Why the hell is Katrina here? Just because she wants to bone Garrow's son doesn't mean that she counts as one of the family. And out of ALL the women/girls in the entire village, why is she the one called on to give medical attention? Isn't there some teenage girl in the village who ISN'T keeping house by herself for her widowed father?

Katrina stood by a fireplace, boiling rags.

Add modern knowledge of hygiene to the list of anachronisms.

Anyway Garrow is looking really, really bad. In fact, it's pretty obvious that he's dying, and Gertrude's not exactly being encouraging. “I’ve tried everything: salves, poultices, tinctures, but nothing works." And since we're in a generic fantasyland, nobody has discovered penicillin or skin grafts. "Still, things may turn for the better. He’s hardy and strong.” Uh, he WAS hardy and strong. When you start looking corpselike and stop healing, you're not hardy and strong.

Eragon moved to a corner and sank to the floor. This isn’t the way things are supposed to be!

... um, how is it supposed to be? I could understand this comment if Eragon had shown any signs of planning or envisioning a future, but he hasn't really done that except to go "I haz dragon! I iz going to be famous!"

After a while he noticed Katrina kneeling beside him. She put an arm around him. When he did not respond, she diffidently left.

Ew. It's been THREE DAYS since Roran left and she's already putting the moves on his cousin? What a whore.

Horst spontaneously coms in and drags Eragon out, insisting that he needs "a break and fresh air." Uh, he's been in there for two minutes, and he just WALKED from Carvahall to Horst's house. I can agree with the "break" part, but fresh air?

Heady smells from half a dozen dishes—rich with spices and herbs—filled the air. Albriech and Baldor were there, talking with their mother as she kneaded bread.

Yeah, apparently none of them are willing to help out with the DYING MAN or the COOKING. That's what WOMEN do, and men would NEVER do any of that. They have to call in extra women to do simple stuff like BOILING RAGS and KNEADING BREAD. Just like a rural blacksmith wouldn't have a palatial home with two stories, several bedrooms, a banister, glass windows and a slate roof all installed by said blacksmith!

The brothers fell silent as they saw Eragon, but he had heard enough to know that they were discussing Garrow.

"Is he dead yet? I want my room back!"

So Eragon sits down, and Elain does what anyone would do when confronted by a badly-injured teenager whose father-figure is slowly dying a horrible death upstairs.... she puts a giant plate of food in front of him. Yeah, I bet Elain is one of those people who deals with all problems by stuffing someone's face.

"Halburich just died a horrible gruesome death out in the fields!"
"That's terrible. Quick, pie!"

"My house just collapsed."
"That's also terrible! Here, have a club sandwich."

"We're being invaded by drag-queen dwarves wielding magic wands."
"How horrible! Here, have some roast beef and mashed potatoes."
"Uhhh... shouldn't we, like, fight them off or something?"
"No, you should sit here and stuff your face. Here, have a double helping."

“How do you feel?” asked Horst.

I think we can officially consider Horst a dumbass now. "How do you FEEL?" Well, genius, how do you THINK he feels?

So Horst says that something tore apart his house and that it was surrounded by the tracks of a giant beast. "Now, if there’s a Shade or a monster roaming around, we have to know. You’re the only one who can tell us.” Uhhhhhmmmm, do these people even KNOW what a Shade is? I'm pretty sure they're humanoid if the first chapter is anything to go by, and there's no indication that they can turn into giant monsters. Are they just using "Shade" as a catch-all for monstrous scary things?

Eragon gives Horst a heavily abridged version of what happened, editing out the dragon, cross-Spine trip and so on. He also claims to not know how he scraped the skin off his inner thighs, and Horst's entire family buys it hook, line and sinker. Fortunately, they're stupid. He also gives Horst the piece of black fabric.

“We should pursue those men,” stated Albriech hotly. “They can’t get away with this! With a pair of horses we could catch them tomorrow and bring them back here.”

"Yes, because we don't know what direction they're going in, who they work for, who else they might be in league with, and what powers they have! Truly we are geniuses!"

Horst points out that these guys are too powerful, since they managed to tear the house apart. He also asks about the stone, and Eragon bullshits him by saying, “It wasn’t in the house.” Actually, this is a rather confusing answer, because I can't tell if he's saying that it wasn't in the house when he RETURNED, or that it wasn't in the house so they DIDN'T take it. Well, it's a half-truth, so it doesn't really matter, does it?

Baldor abruptly spoke. “I don’t like this. Too much of this rings of wizardry."

... he says about the universe with no wizards that I can remember.

"Who are those men? Are they Shades?"

Worse: IRS agents!

"Why did they want the stone, and how could they have destroyed the house except with dark powers?"

  1. They wanted the stone for a sparkly paperweight.
  2. They destroyed the house with the dark side of the Force. Because this story doesn't at all resemble Star Wars.

"You may be right, Father, the stone might be all they wanted, but I think we will see them again.”

"And this time, I WILL get their phone numbers."

It's at this point that Eragon remembers that he has a cousin, who hasn't been informed that Daddy is slowly dying. Baldor and Albriech were planning to go tell him, and so they leave to saddle the horses.

And so Eragon does something really random: he looks at a knot on the table. Every excruciating detail was clear to him: the twisting grain, an asymmetrical bump, three little ridges with a fleck of color. The knot was filled with endless detail; the closer he looked, the more he saw. He searched for answers in it, but if there were any, they eluded him. Okay, Elain, what the hell did you put in that food you gave him? I mean, why is he staring at this and noting every detail? He's acting high. And WHY DOES HE WANT ANSWERS from it? Does he expect a KNOT to wave a little sign saying, "Life sucks, then you die"?

A faint call broke through his pounding thoughts.

... how do thoughts "pound?"

It turns out that it's Saphira, and she's yelling so loud inside his head that he almost falls off his chair.

There was a pause. Yes, stone ears.

Okay, I included that because it's actually kinda funny.

He explains that he hasn't replied to her because he was sick. And Saphira decides to wax poetic about how she got lunch: A young buck. He was wise enough to guard against the predators of land, but not those of sky. When I first caught him in my jaws, he kicked vigorously and tried to escape. I was stronger, though, and when defeat became unavoidable, he gave up and died.

I guess dragon wisdom doesn't include, "Nobody wants to hear about how you eat. Ever." Or it's just overwhelmed by the need to boast about how awesome you are for attacking and killing a much smaller herbivore.

Does Garrow also fight the inevitable?

Sensitivity! Saphira has it!

So Eragon explains what's going on, and says that it'll take a few days before he can see her.

She finished with the packages and asked, “Why don’t you stay with us? You’ll be closer to your uncle, and Gertrude can have her bed back.”
“Do you have enough room?” he asked, wavering.

HELL YEAH they have enough room! This is the biggest medieval hovel that I've ever even heard of! This thing has more bedrooms than MY house.

So Elain takes him to an EMPTY BEDROOM (which apparently doesn't belong to either of her sons), and Eragon then goes over to Garrow's bedroom.

Her voice rasped with fatigue. “He’s weak, but the fever’s gone down a little and some of the burns look better. We’ll have to wait and see, but this could mean he’ll recover.”

Nah, he's the Uncle Owen of this story, so he's officially dead meat.

So Eragon goes back to his room and falls asleep... again. I need to go through this book and see how many chapter transitions involve waking up or falling asleep.

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