We open with Eragon, uncle and Roran gathered around a stove having breakfast. Roran has broken out the International Foods coffee as he reminisces. What was that elf’s name? J’an Luc’!
This chapter is called ‘Strangers in Carvahall’, demonstrating just how xenophobic the family is. Old Garrow seems like the kind of guy that sits on his porch drinking moonshine and getting into arguments with any passing stranger.
‘Hey you, stranger. What’re you doin’ here?’ ‘Uh, I…’ ‘Why don’t you git on out of here? We don’t take kindly to strangers comin’ in here with secrets. People hiding things in the woods, hoping you won’t notice the muddy boots or the pine sap that’s always on their clothes. I didn’t start off as a dumb turnip farmer you know.’ ‘Uh, uncle Garrow? It’s me, Eragon. How long have you been drinking?’ ‘Don’t change the subject on me. I know what you’ve been doing out in the woods everyday.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yes. You’re being abducted by aliens who’re erasing your mind with their beams.’ ‘Uh, sure.’ ‘All we’ve got to do is make you a tinfoil hat. Well, we have to invent then make tinfoil. Then we’ll make you a hat. That’ll keep the devils out.’
Apparently Roran hasn’t left yet, that’s just the impression I got from the last chapter. They’re busy sharing a family moment where Garrow is dispensing some folky, down home advice. If he was sitting in a den it could almost be an episode of ‘Leave It to Beaver’. ‘Gee Roran, do you think Urgals have souls?’ ‘Of course they do Rag. They’re just not as good as ours. That’s why we can kill them without consequence on sight and feel no remorse.’
Garrow’s little speech boils down to ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ Garrow tells him to be honest, to question people and to never turn your back on a dwarf. You can’t trust them what with their beady little eyes and their alien tongue. Oh, and watch out for those brown dragons. They’re worse than carnies.
You know what I love about villains? It’s that they’re not afraid to advertise. Eragon follows Roran into town to say goodbye and stops to talk with the blacksmith. Some guys have come around asking about a blue stone shaped like and egg but it’s definitely not an egg. The smith tells Eragon to get rid of it as soon as he can. So far so good, perfectly normal.
The part that cracks me up is that the smith mentions that the two men were wearing all black and carrying swords. These are my favorite kind of bad guys. You know, the ones that would only make a death ray if it could be powered by the broken hearted tears of children watching their puppy being strangled. They color code themselves for seemingly no reason and are just generally rude to everyone so we don’t feel bad if they get beaten or even killed.
Being the valedictorian from the School of Thick, Eragon decides to go looking for these guys. He conveniently overhears them talking to the butcher who serves as our temporary plot broker. He tells them all about Eragon trying to trade the stone for food. Then this line jumped out at me.
A third person spoke. The voice was deep and moist. It conjured up images of creeping decay, mold, and other things best left untouched. “Are you sure? We would hate to think you had made a mistake. If that were so, it would be most… unpleasant.” Eragon could imagine only too well what they might do. Would anyone but the Empire dare threaten people like that? Probably not, but whoever sent the egg might be powerful enough to use force with impunity.
Wow, even though it’s just a book we’ve got characters chewing the scenery. Of course, we’re supposed to infer that the butcher is a bad guy from this like he’s just ratted out the fellowship to Saruman and I don’t think that’s fair.
First he wasn’t willing to trade a boatload of meat to Eragon for a rock. Sure it was pretty but you’ve got to admit, he knew it wasn’t worth much except to a very specialized market and thus wouldn’t be worth a return. Secondly, when someone comes asking about it he could just be trying to helpful. Maybe he figures the owner lost the stone which is a memento from his dead mother.
The bad guys start to walk away but their plot induced telepathy kicks in and they turn on Eragon. Just as something is about to happen, Brom wanders into the scene to defuse the situation. He tells Eragon to go home and rest because he looks sick.
Brom walks him to the edge of town and banters. Just as he sends Eragon off towards his uncle’s house, Brom grabs Eragon’s hand and examines it. He notices the mark on it that appeared after he first touched Saphira. He might have been heard to mutter ‘why him? Why not someone who’s at least as smart as a toaster?’ but that’s pure conjecture.