Saturday, August 15, 2015

Eragon Chapter 7

Another ubershort chapter without much of a point, except establishing exactly what everybody knows.

While they're walking home, Roran announces that there was some dude from another village who popped over to have Horst make him some sockets for his mill. Apparently the smith in his own village isn't up to the task, which is pretty contrived and not very believable - why not say the dude hurt his hand and couldn't work for awhile?

Oh, and for no discernible reason, he offered Roran a job at his newly expanded mill.

Millers worked all year. During winter they ground whatever people brought them, but in harvest season they bought grain and sold it as flour.

Yes, I think most people know what millers did. All millers did it, and since that was their primary function in society, it's not exactly a secret.

“Are you going to tell Garrow?” asked Eragon.
“Yes.” A grimly amused smile played across Roran’s face.

Yeah, well, one would expect that. Otherwise Garrow would form a posse and go hunting through the woods to see if he'd been eaten by wolves or something like that. Of COURSE he's gonna tell daddy.

Eragon reveals that Garrow has some sort of weird fixation on keeping them there, which is another anachronistically modern attitude - in any medieval society, peasants usually lived and died pretty much where they were born. And if they're so dirt-poor, I can see why Garrow doesn't want one of them moving out since they are, y'know, FARMERS.

So he tells Roran to fuhgeddabout it, but Roran says he's gonna take the job because he wants to marry Katrina. Which, like, EVERYBODY knew already. But for some reason Eragon is SHOCKED, simply SHOCKED that his cousin would actually want to marry a girl.

He remembered seeing Katrina and Roran kissing during the traders’ visit, but marriage?

This kid really got beaten by the stupid stick, didn't he? Actually, it's more like he ran headlong into a tree.

Yes, generally people in medieval times got married if they could possibly afford it. Since there's a lack of social-climbing possibilities in Carvahall, I'm not quite sure why Roran marrying Katrina comes as a huge shock to Eragon. She's an attractive, capable, stupidly pro-Stu woman whom Roran is apparently attracted to - so why's he so surprised?

I'm assuming that this is more of Paolini's modern upbringing coming into it, where kissing someone and passing "telephone" messages back and forth doesn't mean you're gonna get married. But then, now people don't HAVE to get married to run a household or have kids.

Apparently Roran hasn't actually asked her yet, but he plans to in the SPRINGTIME which is when he'll come back and get a house built. Not only does this seem kind of douchebaggily presumptuous, but it seems kind of risky - he's leaving town without telling Katrina why for an out-of-town job. What if she decides to marry someone else? Oh wait, their Wuv Is Troo.

“There’s too much work on the farm for you to leave now,” protested Eragon. “Wait until we’re ready for planting.”

Eragon is the worst liar ever, isn't he? Farms are at their LEAST busy during the winter, and waiting until they're ready for planting would mean waiting until there WAS a lot of work to leave.

I'm also not quite clear on why he's so violently anti-marriage-to-Katrina. It's not like he dislikes her or doesn't know her. So here's some possible scenarios:

  1. A weird homoerotic scene in the third book might suggest that, um, he wants Roran to himself. "No, Roran! Don't marry Katrina! Don't I mean anything to you?!"
  2. Is he a lazy ass who just doesn't wanna do the chores for a couple months while Uncle Garrow nurses a bottle of whiskey?
  3. Or is this all just a setup for another clumsy Star Wars reference?

“No,” said Roran, laughing slightly. “Spring’s the time I’ll be needed the most."

Only one season more. This year they'll make enough on the harvest that Garrow will be able to hire some more hands and then Roran can go to the Academy next year.... er, get married. Yeah, the Star Warsiness is blinding me.

Roran points out that in spring there'll be a LOT of work to be done, meaning he's not as stupid as Eragon clearly thinks he is. Well, until the next sentences:

"You and Garrow can make do without me. If all goes well, I’ll soon be back working on the farm, with a wife.”

.... and of course, another mouth to feed won't put the slightest financial strain on this allegedly dirt-poor chicken-eating family. Possibly followed by several other mouths to feed. It's not like getting a wife and adding a new house will magically make the farm more productive.

Eragon finally admits that Roran is being logical, and asks him if this means an end to their hot sweaty cousin-love in the barn... uh, I mean he warns him that Garrow won't like this one bit.

He shook his head, but whether with amazement or anger, he knew not.

... and what does he have to be angry about? It's not like Roran decided to trade his sparkly dragon for Katrina. It really makes him sound like a douchebag to react with ANGER when his cousin announces that he wants to get married to a girl, rather than just having a booty call with her.

Damn, Designated Hero is a douchebag.

“I guess I can only wish you the best of luck. But Garrow may take this with ill humor.”

Paolini seems to have a rather warped idea of what a normal family is like, although from what I've heard of his family and their attitudes this doesn't surprise me. So Garrow has a problem with his kid ever getting married? He just wants Roran to grow old and die by himself?

Anyway, Eragon basically sulks about this all the way home for no discernible reason, and Paolini doesn't seem to realize that him being angry and sullen about his cousin getting engaged to some girl in the village is abnormal and kind of weird. Shocked, yes. Startled, yes. A little sad, certainly.

Especially since it apparently hasn't occurred to Paolini that usually relatives react to news of an engagement to someone nice.... by being happy. But being ANGRY and "disturbed" and thinking about how he can't think favorably about this whole engagement just makes him sound like a jealous ex-girlfriend... er, ex-boyfriend.

Anyway, he later goes over to the dragon, and apparently is all leery about it now that he's discovered it has the intellect of a brain-damaged mouse, IE is an"equal."

Eragon. “Is that all you can say?” he snapped.

What a bastard. He's snarling at a baby creature merely because it said his name ONCE?

His eyes widened at the unexpected reply, and he sat down roughly. Now it has a sense of humor. What next?

And clearly Eragon DOESN'T have a sense of humor, because that's one of the few amusing moments thus far. Intentionally amusing, that is.

Impulsively, he broke a dead branch with his foot. Roran’s announcement had put him in a foul mood. A questioning thought came from the dragon, so he told it what had happened. As he talked his voice grew steadily louder until he was yelling pointlessly into the air. He ranted until his emotions were spent, then ineffectually punched the ground.

Yeah, we get it, Paolini. Eragon is all angry and upset because this means he and Roran will no longer have long afternoons that they spend doing "chores" in the barn, and that he will have to share Roran's mighty plow with an Icky Girl.

“I don’t want him to go, that’s all,” he said helplessly.

This would be slightly more moving if he weren't only leaving for a couple months. It would also be more moving if Eragon didn't go sauntering off later in the book without a backward glance or a twinge of homesickness.

I guess he only doesn't wanna be separated from Roran if it means A) he won't be stuck at home doing boring chores, and B) it doesn't involve Icky Girls.

Amazingly, Eragon acting like a crazy homeless dude in a foil hat has not scared the dragon at all, although most baby creatures would be upset by such a display. So Eragon finally stops whining about how he can't live without Roran's mighty plow, and finally remembers that he should give baby dragon a name.

He mentally ran through the list Brom had given him until he found two names that struck him as heroic, noble, and pleasing to the ear. “What do you think of Vanilor or his successor, Eridor? Both were great dragons.”

They are also diddled-with named from the Tolkien canon - "Vanilor" just happens to be "Valinor" with the N and L transposed, and "Eridor" is not just a phonetic way of spelling Aragorn's grandpa's name (much like Aragorn/Eragon), but is "Eriador" with an A removed.

Seriously, make up your own fantasy names. It ain't that hard.

Anyway, baby dragon turns down every single name Eragon suggests and just keeps saying his name. So he tells him every dragon name he can remember, which suggests he's not as upset about losing that hot cousin-action as he acts.

A revelation stopped him. That’s the problem! I’ve been choosing male names. You are a she!

... okay, this is kind of stupid for two reasons:

  1. So there were no female dragons who were worth remembering except Designated Mentor's? Wow, sexist much?!
  2. How the hell does a baby dragon even know what its gender is, especially when it hasn't been exposed to any others of its kind?
  3. Even if it did understand the concept of gender, why the hell would it associate names it had never even heard before with one gender or another?

Apparently it never even occurred to Eragon that his dragon might be an Icky Cousin-Stealing Gurl, so he produces a bunch of girl names for it to choose from.

He toyed with Miremel, but that did not fit—after all, it was the name of a brown dragon.

... which makes no sense either. Were dragon names given on the basis of what color the dragon was?!

Does that mean Eragon's name doesn't fit because his namesake was an elf and he's a human? Should a black person not be named Pedro because it doesn't "fit" them? Should Ngaio Marsh not have been named that because she wasn't Maori?

Opheila and Lenora were also discarded.

Seriously, MAKE UP YOUR OWN NAMES. Don't just delete or rearrange a letter and then go "There! Nobody will notice this is 'Ophelia' with the i moved!"

And as I predicted, he finally gets around to mentioning the name Brom whispered. And of course, the dragon chooses that one. Personally, I prefer Miramel... which sounds suspiciously like the name of the princess in Tad Williams' Memory Sorrow and Thorn series.

He grinned in response. Saphira started humming.

Unfortunately, she was tone-deaf.

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