I’d like to talk about magic for a second. No, not the card game, that’s for another time. I’m talking about magic within the confines of fantasy novels. You see, Chris has checked off a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to magic.
See, magic should have rules that make some sense. Magic itself doesn’t have to make sense but you have to have consistent rules or else it’s akin to living in a dream state and just saying ‘because’ every time someone wonders why a clock walks out of the floor and demands a real fruit smoothie.
Such rules don’t even have to conform to any others that came before. If you want to make magic tied directly to physical strength or to hair length, fine. There just has to be some consistency. Galbatorix is getting stronger. Fine but why? The elves have been practicing magic for thousands of years and they have no idea why? Not even an inkling? Hell, I could make up a hypothesis in the time it takes me to type this sentence.
It’s because he bonded with a second dragon. A dragon’s bond offers the ability to use magic, putting it from nil to above average magicians. A second one magnifies that effect, effectively squaring your ability. See, semi plausible. I bet I could make even more sense of it if I wasn’t doing it post hoc.
But with that comes the question, why can’t Gabby find the Varden? Why can’t he wipe them out? If the elves can barely keep his “dark sorcery” in check then surely he has the power to scry for things he’s never seen. Or at least find them by sensing where such magical interference is coming from. If every time a wizard casts a fireball to the west and it doesn’t explode, they might start thinking there’s something in that direction that’s screwing with them.
And what the hell is with this “dark sorcery” crap? You don’t throw that out there without qualifying statements. Why is it dark, because he does it at night? Or is it some sort of dragon racial thing, that because Gabby has a black dragon all his magic must be the same? At least say he does bad stuff like draining the will from children to make them his unquestioning soldiers.
This chapter is called ‘bless the child, argetlam’. So is Kim Bassinger or Christina Ricci playing Argetlam? Oh, maybe this means a satanic cult will kidnap Eragon and try to turn him. He does have a learning disability and, if there’s anything bad movies have taught me, it’s that being retarded give you mental superpowers.
Somehow being placed as babysitter to Eragon is a position of power. Something about being under someone else’s rule, presumably a dwarf, which means ‘the twins’ can’t do anything about it. This throws the whole story into a deadly tailspin of nonsense. Why are ‘the twins’ a couple of jerkoffs? How does being made to watch over Eragon give Orik more freedom? Because Chris said so that’s why. Don’t talk back to him unless you want an evil character modeled after you in the next book.
They decide to walk someplace. Eragon wants to know if anyone else in Tronjheim can use magic. Mostly they suck, not like Eragon. He’s just the most specialist, bestest spellcaster in the whole wide world. And then there’s ‘the twins’. Eragon asks if they could heal Arya faster because he really wants to bust one.
“Oeí,” grumbled Orik. “She wouldn’t want their help anyway; their arts are not for healing. Their talents lie in scheming and plotting for power—to everyone else’s detriment. Deynor, Ajihad’s predecessor, allowed them to join the Varden because he needed their support… you can’t oppose the Empire without spellcasters who can hold their own on the field of battle. They’re a nasty pair, but they do have their uses.”
Why are they ‘a nasty pair’? Do they cart away human bodies in the night and then return with blood stained lips? Do they not get along in their work environment, leading to poor cooperation and job quality? Maybe they’re terrible at pairing wine with food. Either way they should call Miss Jackson.
‘Hey, Eragon. The author just realized he’s close to the end of his crap rope. That means we’ve got time to dick around for awhile. Maybe take a tour of the city or get a bite to eat…Eragon? Why’ve you got a funny look on your face?’ ‘You had me at dick around.’
Because author forbid they do anything productive to the story or even, I know this is a strange concept Chris, skip ahead. I don’t need to see Eragon walking around, taking the sights in, in order to believe that he saw Tronjheim. Just tell us later that he was amazed at all the people or the dwarves or something. I, as a reader, don’t personally need to see the stables of this dwarf hold unless Eragon ends up falling into a manure pile.
Eragon wonders if Murtagh will be alright. Saphira is pretty sure he’ll be okay. Not that she cares because he once deprived her of bacon by cooking and eating the last pound by himself. Otherwise she might have cared and acted as a character witness. ‘Now no one knows how nice you are Murtagh or how many times you saved Eragon. He’s won’t say anything out of pride but I won’t out of spite. Take my last rasher of bacon, will you. You’re lucky I didn’t barbecue you and leave your body in the nearest ditch to feed the cats.’
I laughed at the next part. Eragon pouts and then asks where the horses are. He shows exactly the same level of concern for Murtagh as he does a horse, perhaps even more because he goes to see them. Sure Murtagh might like to chat with a friend while he’s being held for no discernable reason but Eragon really wants to give Snowfire a sugar cube.
Saphira gets sent to the ‘dragon hold’ to eat while Eragon hems and haws on whether he should eat with her or down with everybody else. He goes with the latter option and ignores the fact that Saphira is made to eat apart from everyone else. I guess the mess hall is for the wingless only. Quadrapeds and dragons get separate but equal accommodations.
They eat, they talk, they talk some more. More dwarven cities, not much grows in Tronjheim. Sometimes users come in and play games while programs are forced to compete for…you see ‘cause it’s Tronjheim. Okay, it’s lame but this is so dull my eyeballs are ready to explode just to add some excitement.
So few? thought Eragon with a sinking feeling. The royal army alone numbered nearly sixteen thousand when it was fully marshaled, not counting the Urgals. “Why doesn’t Orrin fight the Empire himself?” he asked.
That’s what Eragon thinks when he’s told there are four thousand humans in Tronjheim. Oh but there are dwarves. Lots and lots of dwarves where Eragon can’t see them. You know, just below chest height. Nicely unspecified there Chris.
Eragon bathes, he gets new clothes, Chris describes some of the ways the dwarves communicate across such a big area.
Saphira landed a spear’s throw away, her scales rustling dryly. As she greeted Eragon, humans and dwarves trickled out of Tronjheim, gathering around her with murmurs of interest. Eragon regarded the growing crowd uneasily. “You’d better go,” said Orik, pushing him forward. “Meet me by this gate tomorrow morning. I’ll be waiting.”
Her scales rustled dryly, eh? I’m sure it was only in the most stealthy way possible. It’s a good thing the Ra’zac couldn’t hear her tail dragging along or her scales rustling as she clomped along in the desert. I’d hang a bell from her neck just so she couldn’t sneak up on me like the Shadow.
Eragon gets on Saphira and gets ready to fly off somewhere, maybe to the dragon hold, when some old lady grabs his foot. Being the bastard he is, Eragon tries to kick her in the face. Or he tries to shake her off and can’t. Hey Gabby, make a note. Eragon’s weakness is old women touching him. Get your grandma to pinch him to death and continue ruling the land of cow flops. It turns out the old lady wants Eragon to bless a child. Oh and Argetlam is supposed to be elvish for dragon rider.
Eragon had never blessed anyone. It was not something done lightly in Alagaësia, as a blessing could easily go awry and prove to be more curse than boon—especially if it was spoken with ill intent or lack of conviction. Do I dare take that responsibility? he wondered.
Oh come off it, Eragon. Don’t ask yourself, just do it. You’ve never shied away from anything in your life just because you could hurt someone. And even if you screw it up, what’re they going to do? It’s not like the kids parents are going to come after you. I say go nuts and turn the kid into a talking mushroom that dispenses dating advice in the form of classical poetry and quotes from Dukes of Hazzard. ‘I ask, oh magic mushroom, is she my true love?’ ‘Well right about then, them Duke boys were in a heap o’ trouble.’ ‘Er, does anyone have a magic eight ball I can consult instead?’
Eragon says something which Chris doesn’t bother to translate as a blessing. “Atra gülai un ilian tauthr ono un atra ono waíse skölir frá rauthr.” It means ‘I lack both a real education and any imagination.’, for those who don’t speak Retardenese. Saphira then touches the kid and leaves a silver star mark on her.
Eragon feels lonely. Saphira tells him he’s awesome and young while pointing out that he should ignore the hypocrisy because she’s an old soul at heart. Apparently they’ve just made that girl special and she won’t be content with being a tavern keeper or some other banal job. Yes, Eragon can change fate. Why not just give him the power to destroy the world with a thought, Chris?
Eragon says ‘Things have been… unsettled… ever since Brom died.’
That’s the best you could do? Not dark or lonely or even spinning out of control? Unsettled? Geez, I’d hate to see how Eragon would deal with Saphira’s death. He might even feel distraught for two whole paragraphs. Sweet zombie Christ in a cowboy hat, is this chapter long.
They go back to the dragon hold. Saphira lands on some gem, I don’t remember and don’t care, that she won’t scratch because it’s not soft. Eragon wonders where he’ll sleep, will it be apart from her?
Saphira shook her enormous head. No, there is a bed for you in my cave. Come see. She turned and, without opening her wings, jumped twenty feet into the air, landing in a medium-sized cave. He clambered up after her.
‘I’ve been really tryyyyying baby. Trying to hold back these feelings for soooo looooong. And if you feel, like I do baby…’ ‘Uh, Saphira? Are you singing?’ ‘We’re all, sensitive people(and dragons), with so…much to give. Understand me sugar.’ ‘I’m going to go vomit. I won’t be back.’
Out of the blue, Eragon wants to know what Saphira thinks. I see, you traipse halfway across the land without bothering to ask her how she’s feeling and now you care what’s on her mind? Or are you just hoping she’ll make some sense out of this mess?
We shall see… It seems, Eragon, that we are embroiled in a new type of warfare here. Swords and claws are useless, but words and alliances may have the same effect. The Twins dislike us—we should be on our guard for any duplicities they might attempt. Not many of the dwarves trust us. The elves didn’t want a human Rider, so there will be opposition from them as well. The best thing we can do is identify those in power and befriend them. And quickly, too.
I see what you did there, Chris. Twins, duplicity. How very gauche. And isn’t it cute when children dress up and play at being adults? Here Chris is pretending to insert political intrigue into his story. I never thought I’d say this but George Lucas handled that in Star Wars with the skill of a master compared to this ham handedness.
The way I understand it, the Dragon Riders were the government before Galbatorix came around. So, basically a military dictatorship. Really the people of Alagaësia ought to worship Galby for getting rid of them, but Chris/Eragon’s view, as always, is “Shiny Dragons yes, taxing king no”.
Of course. Dragons don’t cost money for food and shiny saddles or mythic blades for their riders. I’m sure the dragon riders never asked for money. Dragons are basically solar powered and what food they use they can scavenge from farmers who don’t really need it. I mean, who’s the tyrant here? The guy who calls himself king because he rides a dragon or a council that makes laws because they ride dragons? Obviously the first, because if anyone wanted to join the council, all they need to to is get a dragon and not be evil.
…The second requirement is optional, of course.
Naturally. It’s more of an old bylaw they leave in there for ceremonial purposes.