Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eragon Chapter 18

Although they had managed to partially refill the waterskins during the storm, they drank the last of their water that morning.

It turned out that you couldn't get a lot of water by just standing in a storm with your water container open.

Seriously, they refilled their waterskins BEFORE the storm, not during it. And how much were they drinking if they managed to drink ALL that water in one night?

“I hope we’re going in the right direction,” said Eragon, crunching up the empty water bag, “because we’ll be in trouble if we don’t reach Yazuac today.”

"It turns out you'll have to drink your own pee, Eragon. Stop complaining! You haven't bitched so much about something since I started beating you with a stick. Drink your own pee already!"

Brom did not seem disturbed. “I’ve traveled this way before. Yazuac will be in sight before dusk.”

"Which gives me plenty of time to beat you up with a stick! Come on, now! Remember what happened last time you wouldn't let me beat you with a stick!"

It also turns out that Brom is able to figure out EXACTLY where they are. How? By the stars and sun! Which sounds a lot more impressive if you don't take into account that a LOT of people have used the stars and sun to navigate (both at sea and on land), meaning this is not a superspeshul Dragonrider power.

"They will not lead us astray."

"Unless they are in a bitchy mood. Then they totally would."

"Come! Let us be off. It is foolish to conjure up woe where none exists. Yazuac will be there.”

"Unless the Generic Fantasy Villain burned it down in the last several years. That would sort of suck."

So apparently Paolini gets tired of describing grasslands, so Eragon and Brom arrive at the village later that day. Which is the chance for Paolini to mention another name for another river that we are probably never going to see again, or at least is unimportant.

“The Ninor River,” said Brom, pointing at it.

... which is totally nothing like Nienor, another name from the Tolkien canon. You know, that amnesiac chick who married her own brother, got knocked up and killed herself. So cheerful.

Where was I? Oh yeah, why do we need to know the name of this river?

Brom says that Saphira should go hide further down the river to avoid being seen, which is Saphira's chance to bitch. I don’t like it, said Saphira when Eragon had explained the plan. This is irritating, having to hide all the time like a criminal. First, why does she associate hiding with being a criminal? Again, she's A FEW MONTHS OLD, and shouldn't by rights even know what a criminal is. Second, why is this suddenly a huge issue when she's been perfectly happy to hide for her ENTIRE LIFE?

They kept a swift pace in anticipation of the food and drink they would soon enjoy.

Sadly, it turned out that they didn't have any heart Fantasy Ale or Fantasy Meats/Stews in this town, just Coke Zero and some stale crackers.

As they approached the small houses, they could see smoke from a dozen chimneys, but there was no one in the streets. An abnormal silence enveloped the village.

Yes, because if a Generic Fantasy Village doesn't have lots of people out in the streets, it means that SOMETHING EVIL IS AFOOT. I mean, it couldn't just be that everybody is inside their freakishly modern houses with chimneys, porches and modern indoor plumbing. EVIL IS AFOOT! EVIL, I SAY!

By unspoken consent they stopped before the first house.

.... why? I mean, do they expect the locals to burst out of their houses and shower them with petals?

Eragon abruptly said, “There aren’t any dogs barking.”
“Doesn’t mean anything, though.”
“. . . No.”
Eragon paused. “Someone should have seen us by now.”

"Then again, we're not very interesting."
"In fact, we're pretty boring."
"And we haven't done anything except ride through their village."
"Why are we in this village anyway?"
"Lame plot developments."

“Then why hasn’t anyone come out?”
Brom squinted at the sun. “Could be afraid.”

Yes, I'm sure they're TERRIFIED of the old geezer and the teenage boy sitting on horses. Even if one of the horses is WHITE.

I wish just once the heroes would ride into a village where nobody is in the streets... and it turns out they all went to church or are in bed with the common cold, or just don't feel like going outside. Nothing sinister at all!

But in Eragon, of course this means...

“Could be,” said Eragon. He was quiet for a moment. “And if it’s a trap? The Ra’zac might be waiting for us.”

Uh, can someone explain how the Ra'zac know they're coming? Seriously, I don't think Paolini has explained this. Do they operate on the assumption that EVERY person they piss off is coming after them for revenge and just happens to be an expert tracker? They left town long before Brom or Eragon could even THINK about pursuing them. For all they know, Eragon had fled from Carvahall.

But since we haven't had an action scene in FOREVER, Brom basically says "We're gonna walk into their trap because we need food and water, 'kay?"

“True.” Eragon looked around. “So we go in?”

"Because I'm seriously reconsidering whether the random beatings are preparing me for actual combat."

Brom flicked his reins. “Yes, but not like fools. This is the main entrance to Yazuac. If there’s an ambush, it’ll be along here. No one will expect us to arrive from a different direction.”

... so, basically, their entire plan is to... take a side street? I don't really see that working, mainly because nobody would be STTTTTUUUPPPPIIIIDDDD enough to assume that they'll just wander through the main street of the town and never bother to go anywhere else. I mean, what if they're headed towards a specific house or store that happens to be off to one side? PLAN DOWN THE TOILET!

Brom nodded and pulled out his sword, resting the bare blade across his saddle.

... mere moments before accidentally killing his horse.

Eragon strung his bow and nocked an arrow.

Okay, I will give Paolini credit - he doesn't make the mistake of many authors by having the hero's bow constantly strung, which puts extra tension on it that it doesn't need and will lead to strain and breakage. Which the movie didn't do. Fail.

My question is: by "nocking" does he mean that Eragon is riding around the town with an arrow ready to shoot? Because not only would that look REALLY silly and risk killing someone's cat, it means he couldn't direct his horse!

They trotted quietly around the town and entered it cautiously.

... only to be met with confetti and cheering crowd.

No, apparently Paolini realized here that the Empire is STILL not very intimidating and haven't really done much that is actually Evil. So suddenly the otherwise normal if reclusive town becomes all about broken windows, broken doors, and Eragon's magic palm senses evil.

Eragon’s palm tingled, but he resisted the urge to scratch it.

Since when does his magic silver scar sense bad things ahead?! Isn't it supposed to let him read his dragon's mind or whatever?

As they rode into the center of town, he gripped his bow tighter, blanching.

Holy shit, it's a really really really UGLY FOUNTAIN!

“Gods above,” he whispered.

Again, what is with this expletive? We later find out that not only does Eragon not believe in any gods, but he never has and neither has anyone else he's met. You don't hear me cursing by Almighty Sleej, God of Drainpipes.

So what is in the center of the town? Why a giant pile of corpses, of course! What else would be there after the bad guys came through? I'm sorry, but I just cracked up when I saw this scene. It is SO over-the-top, especially since Paolini has to mention how they were all trying to protect one another (apparently nobody ran like a rabbit to save his own skin), and how there's even a DEAD BABY on top of the heap. Yes, apparently these Evil Creatures Of Generic Evil just... killed everybody in the WHOLE TOWN... for no reason! They just did! They're evil!

This is Eragon's cue to get emo: He stared at their open eyes and wondered how life could have left them so easily. What does our existence mean when it can end like this? A wave of hopelessness overwhelmed him. This is stupid for three reasons:

  1. Anyone in a medieval society is probably pretty used to the idea of people being slaughtered. It sort of comes with the territory.
  2. This is the sort of shit that teenagers say to try to sound DEEP, because they think that nobody else has ever noticed that life is unfair.
  3. So... because bad things MIGHT happen, life is meaningless? EPIC STUPIDITY IS EPICALLY STUPID.

Oh, and for some reason he shoots a crow for scavenging. Then he pukes.

Brom bowed his head. “Those who love the pain and suffering of others. They wear many faces and go by many disguises, but there is only one name for them: evil. There is no understanding it. All we can do is pity and honor the victims.”

Oh fuck no. This is just laziness.

So apparently the only people who ever do horrible things are utterly and purely evil, and they ONLY do it because all evil people are sadists? They don't have political, religious or ideological differences that prompt them? They just see a town of people and decide to destroy it because... they're evil and they like making others suffer? THAT IS SUCH BULLSHIT. You can easily argue that anyone who kills others or makes others kill when it could be avoided is evil, but to claim that people ONLY kill because they love inflicting pain and suffering?

The worst part is that if he had left out that stupid line, and just said WHO had done it, this scene wouldn't piss me off so much!

He dismounted Snowfire and walked around, inspecting the trampled ground carefully. “The Ra’zac passed this way,” he said slowly, “but this wasn’t their doing. This is Urgal work; the spear is of their make A company of them came through here, perhaps as many as a hundred. It’s odd; I know of only a few instances when they have gathered in such . . .”

So apparently he can CLEARLY make out hundreds of separate footprints in a single road which is presumably also cluttered with lots of HUMAN footprints. And he can make out TWO PAIRS OF RA'ZAC footprints in ALL THIS. Come on, Aragorn and Sherlock Holmes together couldn't do all that in ONE MINUTE.

He knelt and examined a footprint intently. With a curse he ran back to Snowfire and leapt onto him.
“Ride!” he hissed tightly, spurring Snowfire forward. “There are still Urgals here!”

And apparently he can now read psychic impressions from a FOOTPRINT. And there isn't even a foot in it! I might be able to buy that a super-tracker could tell approximately when a footprint was made, but not within the same MINUTE. And I don't think that any tracker could tell you WHERE the foot in question was!

So the two of them start galloping out of the town, when Magic Hand starts tingling with Dragon Senses. They're like Spidey Senses, but they make a lot less sense... and since Spidey senses don't make any sense to begin with, that's saying something. Anyway, like Alice Cullen's foresights, the Dragon Sense tingles too late as an Urgal actually PUNCHES ERAGON out of the saddle of a GALLOPING HORSE. Wow. That was... actually kind of cool. And from the villains!

An Urgal stood over him, face set in a gross leer.

"Wow, that kid is HOT. I'll have to fight the old man for exclusive stick-beating rights!"

The monster was tall, thick, and broader than a doorway, with

Severe back pain and circulatory issues?

gray skin and yellow piggish eyes.

I was close. And what do "piggish" eyes look like?

Muscles bulged on his arms and chest, which was covered by a too small breastplate.

... so... why is he wearing one? And why is the evil overlord giving faulty equipment to his minions?

An iron cap rested over the pair of ram’s horns curling from his temples,

HOW? How does a helmet fit over HORNS?

and a roundshield was bound to one arm. His powerful hand held a short, wicked sword.

... Wait, so he punched Eragon with a SWORD? Or did he whack him with the shield? Or am I thinking about this too much?

So Brom comes back and gets stopped by...

No, actually, it's an Urgal with an axe, which is about half as terrifying as Jack Nicholson, who spends the rest of the scene fighting with Brom. Oh, and Brom yells something really stupid as well: “Run, you fool!” Brom cried to Eragon, cleaving at his enemy. Uh, run how? He's trapped by a giant Urgal which was the whole reason Brom turned around. He's on the GROUND, dumbass.

So of course, the Urgal doesn't just stand there while Eragon runs away - instead he swings his sword at him, and Eragon squeals and scuttles out of the way. Then, without standing up, he runs away and the Urgal runs after him.

Figure that one out.

The Urgal rapidly gained ground despite Eragon’s efforts; large fangs separated in a soundless bellow.

Ah yes, the ear-shattering soundless bellow... which isn't a bellow because it's soundless. So, basically the Urgal is just opening his mouth. YIPPEE.

And when the Urgal has almost caught up to him, Eragon FINALLY thinks to shoot an arrow at it. Wait, why didn't he do that before? If he had, he wouldn't have to slow down at the worst moment, and he might have already killed Brom's assailant.

The Urgal catches the arrow in his shield and then tackles Eragon, stealing the football and making a goal. Then Eragon just... walks away from the Urgal. The Urgal isn't hurt or anything - he just doesn't pursue Eragon. Apparently he's just gonna lie on the ground and do nothing at all. Wow. LAME.

Where are the rest of the Urgals? wondered Eragon frantically. Are these two the only ones in Yazuac?

An even better question would be: How completely SCREWED are we if THESE guys are the enemy, and two of them managed to kill a whole town? And how completely pathetic were the Yazuac people if they couldn't fight off TWO Urgals?

Brom doubled over in his saddle, blood streaming down his arm. The Urgal beside him howled in triumph and raised his ax for the death blow.

"And next time I'll use the SHARP end!"

Eragon goes all Luke Skywalker and runs screaming at the Urgal... who knows he's coming because he just screamed. Smart, dude. So Eragon CLAWS the Urgal, which seems pretty stupid since when we last checked he had a whole quiver of arrows and could SHOOT him or STAB him or so SOMETHING useful.

Then Eragon runs away instead of actually fighting the Urgal, trying to keep them from attacking Brom... which is kind of useless since he left one of them alive and uninjured about twenty feet away from his Designated Obi-Wan. But of course, they chase the scrawny teenager instead of the easy kill on a horse, and end up blocking Eragon's way out. But then... ERAGON MAD! ERAGON SMASH! He gets so mad because they killed those villagers that a burning, fiery power gathered from every part of his body. Yeah, he's gonna do magic. Just watch.

It was more than a desire for justice. It was his entire being rebelling against the fact of death—that he would cease to exist.

... the fuck? So, it wasn't because of those poor people who were slaughtered who he was talking about JUST A MINUTE AGO. It's because he doesn't like the idea of dying. YOU SELF-CENTERED BASTARD.

The power grew stronger and stronger until he felt ready to burst from the contained force.

.... and then he farted.

No, Eragon has a Heroic Moment and stands up tall, aiming an arrow at them. And then.... this happens: The energy inside him burned at an unbearable level. He had to release it, or it would consume him. So he... no, I'll stop making that joke. A word suddenly leapt unbidden to his lips. He shot, yelling, “Brisingr!”

.... wha? So he just... randomly yells what he thinks is a naughty word, because he thinks that will somehow release his "inner energy?" I just... I don't get what is going on here. Why would he do that? It makes as much sense as yelling your favorite fruit.

Also, ho he magically JUST HAPPENS to yell the MAGIC WORD that he doesn't know is a MAGIC WORD so he can kill them? GAH! GAH! GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

And of course, the arrow is covered in blue fire as he shoots it, which not only kills the lead Urgal but BLOWS UP HIS HEAD and sends out a shock wave that is SO FRICKING INTENSE that it automatically kills the other Urgal (but magically loses its oomph by the time it gets to Eragon). For the record, I can't remember another instance of the fire-spell EXPLODING in this series. Just when Eragon needs it.

I mean, COME ON!

See this? Magic did this!

Then Eragon faints, and the chapter ends there. Thank God, because I'm running low on beer.

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