Garrow stood between them with his hands stuck deep into his pockets. His shirt hung loosely; his skin looked drawn. Despite the young men’s cajoling, he refused to go with them. When pressed for a reason, he only said that it was for the best.
Ye gods, you'd think Roran was joining the army and going abroad to fight trolls - he's going to another village for TWO MONTHS and then returning for good. I can see his cousin and dad being sad about not seeing him for a bit, but this ridiculously over-the-top grief thing is just absurd.
So Emo-Garrow gives Roran a little bag of money which he's apparently been saving for a rainy day or the inevitable point where Roran would join the foreign legion.
“I’ve been saving this for you. It isn’t much, but if you wish to buy some bauble or trinket, it will suffice.”
"Oh daddy, you shouldn't have! Now I can buy that pretty necklace and feel like a REAL lady over in OtherVillageAtButtEndOfNowhere!"
Seriously, I'm not sure why he thinks that Roran is going to go waste money on "baubles or trinkets" when the whole point of him going away is to EARN money. Roran even says so, and there's actually a rather nice father-son part ruined by Stu inclusion.
“Then do, and go in peace,” said Garrow, and kissed him on the forehead. He turned and said in a louder voice, “Do not think that I have forgotten you, Eragon. I have words for both of you."
… and why the hell is he talking to Eragon? Hel-LO, this is not a scene that really involves Eragon at all - he's contributed diddlysquat to it, and he's going to be staying home for the next few months (as far as anyone knows). This is RORAN's moment, but apparently Paolini cannot bear for the spotlight to be off his Stu.
"It’s time I said them, as you are entering the world."
Correction: Roran is entering the world. Eragon is going to stay on the farm.
"Heed them and they will serve you well.”
Or they will serve you chips and salsa. Either way, a win.
He bent his gaze sternly on them. “First, let no one rule your mind or body."
… unless he's just SO manly and sexy that… uh, never mind.
"Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered. One may be a free man and yet be bound tighter than a slave. Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don’t follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason, but comment not."
I'm sorry, has Garrow been saving up twenty years' worth of fortune cookie papers for this moment? He doesn't seem to be actually giving any advice so much as mouthing a long stream of cliches. It would also be really boring to listen to someone giving you one cliche after another with nothing to connect them.
“Consider none your superior, whatever their rank or station in life."
Is this really supposed to be a medievalish monarchistic place? Because that sounds very modern-American, and thus painfully anachronistic.
"Treat all fairly or they will seek revenge."
… so if you fail to tip the waiter, he and all the other people you haven't "treated fairly" will gang up and kill you?
"Be careful with your money."
… or you'll end up like me.
"Hold fast to your beliefs and others will listen.”
What beliefs? We haven't really seen anybody with any kind of beliefs of any kind, except for the beliefs that Galby Iz Evil and Dragonriders Are Always Awesome.
“Of the affairs of love . . . my only advice is to be honest. That’s your most powerful tool to unlock a heart or gain forgiveness.”
When that fails, fall in love with a Sue. And don't think I don't know about your "chores" out in the barn, boys! I didn't fall off the haywagon yesterday!
Hold on... this whole thing sounds very familiar...
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
Holy shit. He just ripped off Polonius' farewell speech! I don't think Paolini realized that Polonius was supposed to be a pompous old windbag who liked to meddle in his kids' lives, and was a pain in the ass to everyone.
Anyway, Garrow sends Roran off and it all sounds very stiff and formal… and then for some reason Eragon follows Roran outside, walks to the road, waves bye-bye to his uncle, and Garrow shuts the door on him. Whaa….? Was there a chapter I missed somewhere in this mess? Why is Eragon going out there and acting like HE'S going too?!
Then they have a similarly awkward weird exchange, where Roran says:
“There is our whole world,” Roran observed somberly.
Eragon shivered impatiently and grumbled, “A good one too.”
Okay, I understand that actual medieval peasants would, in fact, have their entire world pretty much encapsulated by wherever they live. But in a land which seems to be very much aware of the outside world, this sounds pretty pretentious.
And I guess this is the required, "I love the simple home I'm about to be torn out of for an EPIC DESTINY" moment.
Roran nodded, then straightened his shoulders and headed into his new future.
And then broke his nose because his new future was made out of steel.
Seriously, enough with the "OH WOE HE'S/I'M LEAVING" angst. It would make sense if he KNEW Garrow was going to pull an Uncle Owen and be killed by the minions of Ebilly Ebil Doom, but he thinks he's gonna be back in no time.
Anyway, Roran and Eragon go to the smithy in Carvahall, and we get some descriptions of the smithy that we are almost certainly NEVER going to see again. Yeah, we get it, Paolini - you went to the RenFaire and checked out all the cool blacksmith stuff.
Again, why is Eragon even in this scene?
Dempton approached with a smile beneath his flamboyant red mustache. “Roran! I’m glad you came. There’s going to be more work than I can handle with my new grindstones. Are you ready to go?”
- Smiles usually go below mustaches. If they're not, then the mustaches tend to be… beards.
- I honestly don't see why NEW grindstones would magically create more work. I mean, does everybody keep their grain in the closet until they hear that the miller has NEW AWESOME grindstones that grind better than the old ones?
- I thought he was in Carvahall for something else?
- And why is Eragon in this scene? He's basically there to sulk and be a general ass about Roran going off to get a job.
The man was friendly. Under other circumstances Eragon would have liked him, but right then, he sourly wished that the miller had never come to Carvahall.
"You stole my darling away from me, bastard! I'll never forgive you! Lay one finger on him, and I'll make my dragon eat you!"
Dempton huffed. “Good, very good.” He returned his attention to Roran and started to explain how a mill worked.
… which seems totally pointless since they're going TO a mill, and it would be easier to just SHOW him when they get there.
So then Horst pulls Eragon away from throttling the guy who's stolen his boyfriend, and asks him if he still has his blue eggstone. He tells Eragon to get rid of it because two SINISTER MINIONS OF EVIL showed up the other day asking if anybody happened to have a giant blue harder-than-diamond rock rattling around.
I can only assume that these guys have been wandering aimlessly from village to village, asking random people this question. It's a thankless job, being a Minion of Evil.
Also, I'm not sure why these guys are being pegged as Minions of Evil by Horst and Co. Because they wear stereotypical black? Big deal. Because they carry swords? Again, big deal. Because they're asking around about a random lost item that someone in the village found? Not terribly sinister.
I suppose this is Paolini's version of the Nazgul roaming around asking for "Bagginssssssss," but the fact is… the Nazgul were ghastly undead creatures that freaked people out just by being there. They had a reason to scare people. These guys are just being branded "EVILLY EVIL!" because they… well, wear villain colors and carry a weapon. By Paolini's standards, Aragorn was also a minion of evil because he seemed all weird and mysterious.
See this guy? He has a weapon, he's weird and intense, and he occasionally frightens hobbits. Clearly he is a villain!
Anyway, Horst can't give any explanation for how he knows these men were "trouble" except that they are obvious Minions of Evil. Eragon craps his pants on the spot: Whoever had sent the stone into the Spine had finally tracked it down. Or perhaps the Empire had learned of Saphira. He did not know which would be worse.
- Big jump of logic to not assume that the EMPIRE was the one who sent it there. Who else would be expected to have a dragon?
- Why is he even assuming that the Minions of Evil are working for the Empire?
- Except that of course that the Empire is evil, the random black-wearing guys are obviously evil, and therefore Empire = random guys in black. Makes perfect sense.
Saphira might be in danger!
Uh… she's a dragon. She flies, she's huge, and she will presumably start breathing flames sometime. She's probably in less danger than Eragon is.
Anyway, Eragon manages to not wet himself openly, and Horse basically tells him to get his ass home because the strangers give him a "bad feeling."
“Aren’t you going to stay awhile?” Roran asked with surprise.
Eragon almost laughed. For some reason, the question struck him as funny. “There’s nothing for me to do, and I’m not going to stand around until you go.”
"I mean, it's not like I'm gonna blubber and cry and snog you goodbye. It's not like I, sniff sniff, have FEELINGS for you!"
Anyway, Roran is obviously put out that Eragon is practically running away, so Eragon sort of brushes him off and runs for it. If Paolini was trying so hard to show that Eragon was devastated by Roran's departure, he's really failing miserably. And to reaffirm that Our Designated Hero is a complete asshat, he then scampers back INTO the village and goes skulking around.
And of course, since Sloan is a Designated Bastard, he's ratting Eragon out even as we speak.
“When did this happen?” The words were smooth, like oiled glass, and seemed to worm their way through the air. Underlying the speech was a strange hiss that made his scalp prickle.
These guys better actually be something inhuman, or I'll be pissed. This ridiculous "their voices drip with evil!" stuff is just absurd.
“About three months ago,” someone else answered. Eragon identified him as Sloan.
… and since Sloan is a Designated Bastard, this is of course a sign that he's a huge jerk. Never mind that as far as he knows, Eragon might have STOLEN the egg-rock and these guys might be its rightful owners. No, he magically knew that they were Evil and helped them out just because he hates Eragon.
Shade’s blood, he’s telling them. . . .
… how well do the commonfolk KNOW about Shades? I assume they're pretty rare and not too well known.
A third person spoke. The voice was deep and moist. It conjured up images of creeping decay, mold, and other things best left untouched.
So Eragon grabbed the voice and fertilized his fields with it.
Okay, not a half bad description.
“Are you sure? We would hate to think you had made a mistake. If that were so, it would be most . . . unpleasant.”
Another cliche villain thing: threaten the locals until they tell you what you want to hear. Asking politely is so overrated for minions of evil. Obviously if you're evil, you're incapable of handling people in anything other than an Evil Tyrannical Manner. Even the Nazgul acted more polite than this.
"Okay, pretty pleeeeeeeeeeeease give us the Ring?"
Would anyone but the Empire dare threaten people like that?
The Mafia, the Sith, Conan the Barbarian, soccer moms, the Nazgul...
Well, actually, a lot of people who aren't the Empire could and would dare. It's not like they have a police force the commonfolk can report this to, and it's not like they have any legal rights. I'm pretty sure anybody with lots of money and some hired thugs can threaten a small-town butcher without any real repercussions.
Anyway, Sloan starts blabbering like a guy who's explaining himself to the mob, and the Designated Villains point out that the townspeople haven't been cooperative… and since nothing happens to the townspeople for SEVERAL MONTHS I assume their threats are a bluff.
And we finally see the Designated Minions of Ebil, and they're basically cut-rate Nazgul ripoffs without any of the menace…. especially since they do their little act in the middle of a village.
Both were dressed in long black cloaks that were lifted by sheaths poking past their legs.
Which sounds weirdly sexual, but maybe I just have a gross filthy mind. Can't help it - I've been snarking Eye of Argon.
On their shirts were insignias intricately wrought with silver thread.
So… they're wearing long black cloaks, but Eragon can clearly see the "intricate" insignias on their SHIRTS. Are they wearing their shirts over the cloaks?
Hoods shaded their faces, and their hands were covered by gloves. Their backs were oddly humped, as though their clothes were stuffed with padding.
Apparently Designated Baddies can wear nice clothes, but heaven forbid they be attractive physically. Or even ordinary looking. They have to be HUNCHBACKS!
One of the strangers stiffened and grunted peculiarly to his companion. They both swiveled around and sank into crouches. Eragon’s breath caught. Mortal fear clenched him. His eyes locked onto their hidden faces, and a stifling power fell over his mind, keeping him in place.
Okay, this is a pretty blatant ripoff of the Nazgul, but it doesn't really make any sense. These guys were just talking face-to-face to Sloan… in the middle of the MORNING. It should be easy to see whatever's under their hoods, and the fact that nobody in the village noticed anything wrong with them means they're probably human or at least humanesque.
So… why are they crouching and what power are they exerting on Eragon? Paolini's just ripping off all the creepy trappings of the Nazgul and then pasting them onto some random minions.
Anyway, the Minions of Evil are then frightened off by…. Brom. Yeah, the crazy old hermit appears, yells Eragon's name, and run away. Apparently they only do Evil Evil Stuff if random people don't bumble into their Evil Doings. And by "random people," I mean random old coots who don't look like they could fight their way out of a paper bag. It sounds like these Sooper-Scary Minions could be driven off by a five-year-old with a pointy stick.
Least. Impressive. Minions. Ever. Oh, and Brom just tipped off the Minions of Evil that this is the kid they're looking for by yelling Eragon's name repeatedly. Well done, Brom.
And hey, I wonder if George Lucas totally ripped off this scene for Star Wars, when the crazy old hermit appears and rescues the heroes from cloaked baddies. Because it's JUST SO FUCKING ORIGINAL.
Anyway, Eragon has a mini-meltdown with sweat and dizziness, and Brom acts completely unsympathic by basically telling him, "You're sick, so spend half the day walking home by yourself." Man, he's an old jerk.
“I think you’re right. Maybe I’m getting ill.”
“Then home is the best place for you. It’s a long walk, but I’m sure you will feel better by the time you arrive. Let me escort you to the road.”
Stupid for several reasons:
- If someone is getting sick to the point where they FALL OVER, then sending them on a miles-long trek is not likely to improve their condition.
- Why would walking several miles improve dizziness and sweats? It would just exhaust whatever strength you have? Is Brom waiting for a booty call and trying to get Eragon to go away?
- Let's see, he was just almost attacked by Minions Of Wussy Evil who now know he's the person they're looking for, just skulked out of sight, and are armed and dangerous as long as no old men come along. The safest thing to do: Walk several miles ALONE on roads that nobody else travels, without even Brom to accompany him.
I can only assume that Brom is hoping the Mildly Evil Minions kill Eragon on his way home.
Anyway, while Brom is dragging Eragon towards the road, he asks why Brom was running around yelling his name. Answer: because Paolini needed an easy out for Eragon being confronted by Nazgul Lites. But Brom claims he was racing around screaming his name because, er, he wanted to know if he remembered that fictional trader. Yeah, that's it!
Since said trader doesn't exist, Eragon says he doesn't know.
They walked in silence to the road, then Brom said, “Hasten home. I don’t think it would be a good idea to tarry on the way.” He offered a gnarled hand.
It would certainly be tragic if those Nazgul Lites were to horribly kill you during the hours you'll be spending… walking alone… on a road with no help….
Then Brom yanks off Eragon's mitten and catches a glimpse of Eragon's silver dragon mark thing. Of course, he recognizes it immediately. And it begs the question, what was Ergy planning to do when mitten-weather was over?
“Goodbye,” Eragon forced out, perturbed, and hurried down the road. Behind him he heard Brom whistling a merry tune.
That certainly screams "I am concerned about the possibility of you dying a horrible death." But we soon discover that Brom is not known for his amazing decision-making skills.