Twenty chapters in and Chris has only managed to make the whole story more confusing. Well, not the main story. That seems to be coming together like your standard fantasy. Evil king lives over in castle and people are unhappy. Some family dies and thus it becomes time to go on an epic journey of revenge. I mean more the backstory of the whole thing.
There’s so many questions as well. For one, Brom mentioned the elves being the first dragon riders, so what happened to them? When did they need to recruit humans? It’s not like the elves died out, there was an elvish princess at the start if I remember correctly. Did they just find it more cost effective to contract the labor to a third party or what?
And how the hell did Galbatorix defeat all the others? Oh sure he corrupted a few people to come over to his side but it couldn’t have been too many. He’s a villain and villains aren’t known for their willingness to share. If he’d corrupted half the dragon riders then he would still have had to kill off half to make sure he remained undisputed king. That’s no small feat when the people you’re trying to off also ride giant, fire breathing, livestock population control devices. Lastly, is Galbatorix an elf or a human?
This chapter is called ‘magic is the simplest thing’. Well that’s reassuring to know. It means that Garrow’s death could have been prevented if a traveling salesman peddling Fireball’s for Dummies had stopped by the house just a week before. Then the plot might have turned out completely different.
Eragon starts off asking the same question I did about the two Urgals. Brom waves his hand and redirects the conversation. ‘This isn’t the plot thread you’re looking for.’ And Eragon skips it without further thought when Brom explains magic.
“Not at all! A sorcerer, like a Shade, uses spirits to accomplish his will. That is totally different from your power. Nor does that make you a magician, whose powers come without the aid of spirits or a dragon. And you’re certainly not a witch or wizard, who get their powers from various potions and spells.”
I wonder what Eragon’s next power will be? Maybe he’ll be able to transmute lead into gold or he’ll develop a healing factor. Heck, why not just give him the ability to summon a kitchen sink just so he can have everything?
Like so many stories before it we have a power curve problem. That’s where the hero has powers that are supposed to make them awesome because everyone before took ‘4evar’ to grasp but they do instinctively. It’s supposed to make us stand in awe of the protagonist but all it does is jar me loose from the story. A notable offender being Dragonball(any one of them).
I mean, ok, the hero should be good at something after all. Just because I couldn’t do more with a sword that pick it up and put the pointy end towards bad things doesn’t mean I want the character to do the same. But give them some realistic limitations. If a character is naturally good at magic, fine. If they’re good at magic, sword fighting, dragon riding, lock picking, banking, soft shoe shuffles and making crepes then it starts getting hard to imagine they’re someone I know and therefore care about. Instead they become that jerk who’s too good at everything and you secretly want kneecapped.
After explaining magic, which takes a bit because Eragon is as dense as lead lined plutonium, Brom puts him on a sort of practice regimen. Eragon takes the opportunity to forget Brom can use magic or to ask him just where Brom gets his powers from.
Also when you talk in this magic language you can’t lie. Which is why elves do the whole, lie by omission rather than commission thing so says Brom. You know, the way Brom talks reminds me of that vaguely racist family member who infers dark things but won’t use slurs even when they’re drunk. The kind of relative who ropes you into a conversation full of undertones that you try and steer out of via a joke or by screaming help. ‘Those elves are a strange folk, I tell ya.’ ‘What abut them Brom.’ ‘Well, they’ve all got that long hair and the men and women all look the same. I’m not sayin’ the rumors are true, mind you, but it does make a man wonder.’ ‘Er, how much shampoo they use?’
Another note on bloody magic, being as Chris decided the middle of a revenge quest was the best time to stop and explain it all, there are true names in MageSpeak. Elves are born knowing theirs but humans have to gone on a quest to find theirs, possibly after using a sweat tent and fasting. The true names give power over themselves and they use fake ones to get by in day to day life. Presumably this makes carding someone at the liquor store that much more of a hassle.
“Of course you don’t,” said Brom impatiently. “That’s why I’m teaching you and not the other way around. Now stop talking or we’ll never get anywhere. What I want you to do is lift the rock off your palm and hold it in the air for as long as you can. The words you’re going to use are stenr reisa . Say them.”
That’s why Brom is semi-likable. Eragon complained he doesn’t understand and Brom tells him to shut up. Now if only he’d back hand Eragon whenever he talked back he’d be awesome.
They get to practicing magic, they spar. Eragon gets beaten. Saphira keeps getting bigger and shinier. Eragon sleeps and dreams of Garrow turning into a Ra’zac. He wakes up in a fit of panic and Saphira tells him everything will be fine.
Eragon Wakes: 13