Eldest Chapters 13 & 14

These chapters are called ‘az sweldn rak anhûin’ and ‘celbedeil’.

Eragon and crew exit the tunnels. Huzzah, we skipped some boring crap. Arya suddenly decides that now is the time to tell him that, once he’s trained, he’ll be giving up meat. Eragon asks why and she can’t explain, that’s just how it works. Nice to see Chris ripping off Goodkind now. Maybe next you can plagiarize from Piers Anthony?

They end up near a great temple/city, sort of like the dwarven Vatican. Arya takes off ahead and they follow after. Orik tells Eragon that Arya has some sort of argument with the dwarf who wears the big hat every time she comes through. Orik doesn’t know about their discussions though.

Orik nodded grimly. “I know little of it, but I’ve heard she disagrees strongly with much that the Quan practice. It seems that elves do not hold with ‘muttering into the air for help.’ ”

Tell me you didn’t just type that Chris. Tell me that’s a typo and I’m not reading the implications I think I am. Are you trying to tell me we have an atheist elf on our hands? Oh please tell me you were that stupid Chris, oh please, please, please.

They run into a dwarf riding a goat who takes off at a word. Then they come upon more goat riding dwarves who offer them hospitality. They wander into the city and some dwarves are upset that Eragon is an adopted dwarf. They too wonder why such a thing was done and some dwarves challenge Eragon or something. It involves throwing an iron ring with some beard hair wrapped around it. I think they’re implying Eragon is a hairball. Eragon and the rest get welcomed by some more stereotypical dwarves, one of them is something blood axe, and Orik shows them the ring.

I like how Chris doesn’t bother explaining what it is like he’s trying to build suspense. Yeah, we haven’t a clue as to what it could mean. I’m sure it’s standard welcoming procedure. It means they’re offering him jewelry at cost rather than retail. It’s one of the highest honors a dwarf can give an outsider.

Eragon washes up, he hides a scroll on his person, he goes outside and meets up with Saphira again. They go have a feast. Chris spends more time describing the food than he does making anything happen. But what does he have to drink, Chris? Is it a fine white or more of a full bodied merlot? Did he have dessert? You’re leaving me hanging, Chris!

Eragon gets mad because the dwarves are treating Saphira as no more important than a horse. Well, Eragon, they’re just taking their cues from you. It’s okay for you to treat her as little more than the talking animal sidekick but anyone else? Well, then it’s time to breakout the dueling pistols.

Eragon went cold inside. Intentionally or not, Ûndin had treated Saphira as no more than a beast. Eragon had intended to ask about the veiled dwarves in private, but now—out of a desire to unsettle Ûndin—he said, “Saphira and I thank you.” Then, “Sir, why was the ring thrown at us?”

The veiled dwarves have a tragic past. Galbatorix killed a bunch and then someone in the family died of grief. They wear the veils to remind themselves of revenge and loss. Or it’s because Chris thought the Aiel are just really cool and he wanted to use that too.

Somehow the ring means they’ve declared a blood feud. They’ll oppose Eragon with all their resources because they’ve taken offense at Eragon’s adoption. Again I’m puzzled as to why but I’m sure it’s not really important. When Chris says something is going on the reader is expected to take it on faith.

The next chapter has Eragon talking to some dwarf who explains the blood feud can last for a long time. Yup, standard fantasy fare really. It’s basically the whole Hatfield and McCoy thing but with dwarves. Next Chris will reveal that there’s such a thing as ‘life debt’ because authors just love that.

Eragon goes to a temple and sees the dwarves sparring with the same weapons that Angela used, a staff with a sword on each end. What? Were sword chucks just too ridiculous, Chris? Apparently Angela won hers from a dwarf priest in a game of riddles. Funny, I though Angela was normal yet she can use a dwarf weapon? Shouldn’t it be a bit small for her size? Ugh, I hate you Chris.

The dwarf priest decides he’s supposed to tell him all about the dwarf religion as he belongs to the family. Much like scientology, Eragon’s not supposed to share what he learns with anybody else. Next he’ll be hooked up to a dwarven ‘gem-meter’ and audited.

Blah blah blah, boring gods copied from the Greeks and Romans. All dwarves have to be buried in stone or else they turn into blocks of Swiss chesse and nothing’s more repellent to dwarves than the Swiss. Eragon has to make sure any dwarf that dies near him is buried properly or he’ll be shunned. However could he console himself were that to happen? Maybe by riding his dragon overhead and blasting the dwarves from above. Just a petty suggestion.

Also the priest gives him a necklace that will prevent anyone from scrying him. It’ll drain Eragon’s energy until he takes it off or the danger passes. Not that that will come up later or anything. Oh and humans write with the same language as dwarves because we were illiterate when we arrived. How humans traversed oceans without ever having invented a written language has yet to be explained.

‘Yargh, me am stooopid. Me build boat to cross big water.’ ‘K-dokey. Me join you. Maybe across ocean  and meet peoples who teach us stuffs.’ ‘You right, dat why I build it.’ ‘Wait, how you do dat without understanding of mathematics or written language to record plans, let alone plan on guiding such a vessel?’ ‘Durr, I not know. We are dumb!’

Gannel, the dwarf priest, takes Eragon through the history of the dwarves. They were once nomads but left once the climate changed and they moved south into the mountains. Elves show up as do dragons, with the murals featuring dragons killing things. Eragon says he has to hold back him comments on those parts. Look Rag, just because Saphira is tame doesn’t mean that all dragons before were. Some of them might have been raging pricks that ate dwarves like popcorn shrimp.

Arya shows up and gets into a shallow theological argument with Gannel. She says they should spread their material wealth out and not pray to things they can’t prove. Funny because I recall Arya blessing Ajihad’s corpse in the name of the stars. They leave the temple and Arya whines a bit about being alone. Well maybe if you weren’t rude to everyone you might have more friends.

They sleep, they wake, they get on some rafts and get ready for a whitewater extravaganza. Remember to keep your arms inside the boat and let your instructor do the steering. Fasten your life vest securely before boarding and, most importantly, try and have a good time.

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14 Responses to Eldest Chapters 13 & 14

  1. maeverin says:

    “It means they’re offering him jewelry at cost rather than retail. It’s one of the highest honors a dwarf can give an outsider.”

    i don’t know why, but this made me picture the dwarves haggling and speaking Yiddish, which totally made my day.

    • vivisector says:

      That would make the dwarves that much cooler and hilarious. Especially if it turns out all the dwarven restaurants are nothing but bagel shops and delis. The downside, small selection during lunch hour. The upside, the best pastrami on rye you’ve ever had with a side of garlic bagel chips. That and the dialogue during battle.
      ‘Why’d you go back for your battle axe?’ ‘What? You want I should leave it out on the battlefield, Eragon? I paid Bloodaxe seventeen Brevis for it, the idiot didn’t know what he had, and I will not leave it out in the open for some low life schmuck to come by and snatch it up?’

  2. Allycat says:

    This chapter is called, “my cat jumped on the keyboard” I don’t get the whole, not eating meat thing, Saphira eats meat, why shouldn’t he?

    • vivisector says:

      I think it’s because the elves binged on ribs and wings when they first got to Alagaësia. The aftermath is legendary among them and even now those that survived the trip can’t look at a plate of hamburger without clutching at their abdomen.

  3. Jerky atheist elves in Inheritance. I have a link to a comic about that exact same thing, hope it works: http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&q=eragon+jerk#/d2tl8ds
    Did you know that Paolini himself is an atheist? So clearly his elves who are right about everything ever will be atheist too. And don’t forget about I-forget-their-name, the cult that worships Helgrind, drinks goat blood and cuts off their fingers in the name of religion.

    • vivisector says:

      I think I’ve figured out why the elves are atheists. They believe they’re gods. Think about it, they said they were once mortals but they made themselves immortal, they think they’re morally superior to everyone and they have ‘powerful magic’.

  4. Robin says:

    A lot of people today are atheist so it isn’t that weird to have it in a fantasy novel. I dose however agree that the way Paolin put it with he’s super-amazing-atheist-elves-that-thinks-religion-is-stupid is pretty swallow still.

    • vivisector says:

      My disbelief didn’t come from encountering an atheist character in a fantasy novel so much as how out of place it feels. In a straight mimic of modern fantasy, a Tolkien-esque elf proclaiming atheism feels off like if Santa started discussing mixed economy capitalism with his reindeer. It comes across as the author addressing us rather than his characters.

      Plus Arya’s dismissive attitude doesn’t fit with her character. She’s supposed to be an elven princess and a diplomat so you think she’d save the theology discussion with dwarves for after they beat Gabby. Mind you, revealing the elves being generally atheist could have been done without feeling out of place if Chris had the mind for it.

      I would have had the dwarves share their religion with Eragon and Arya would have kept quiet. Then when Eragon was alone with her, have him ask her what the elves believe then do the reveal. She’s do it tactfully because she wouldn’t want to offend Eragon in case he does believe in something and he’s the last great hope and whatever. But that’s just how I’d do it.

      Not to mention the oversimplification or race and religion is aggravating. By that I mean that all elves are atheists and all dwarves are religious as if there’s no disagreement between the dwarves what the proper gods to worship are and such or that there aren’t some elves that pray to dragons or something. It portrays them all as having a sort of hive mind mentality. Hope that explains kind of what rubbed me the wrong way about that moment.

  5. Kalinka says:

    I hate the scene where Arya walks into the dwarves’ church, picks a fight with the priest, doesn’t let him finish his argument, then leaves. Later, she pulls Eragon aside and lectures him about how it is VERY IMPORTANT that he shows the elves and their customs proper respect. WTF?? Where was her respect for the DWARVES’ culture? You can’t demand respect while withholding it yourself.

  6. PeterP says:

    I literally threw the book across the room when I read this bit. I would dearly love the opportunity to shove this chapter right down Paolini’s smug little grin. I am not religious, but the attitudes and arguments Paolini gives his characters are an offence to common courtesy, diplomacy, moral decency, and even basic philosophy/rhetoric. Worse, it paints both sides in their most unflattering stereotypes, as you mentioned. This is not a chapter of a fantasy novel, this is an inverse Chick Tract that got mixed in with the typesetting.

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  8. Beryl says:

    Arya criticized the Dwarves for wasting money on religious purposes when they could be helping the poor, the needy, the Varden, etc. And yet, strangely enough, we never once see an example of the Elves using their resources for charity. Not only have the Elves been hiding away since Galbatorix came to power, but they continue to fritter away their time having orgies and singing to flowers and making everything look pretty, lalala 😛

  9. Madeleine says:

    “Eragon soon lost track of the argument. He did not understand Arya’s vague criticisms of Durgrimst Quan, but he gathered from Gannel’s responses that, in some indirect way, she had implied that the dwarf gods did not exist, questioned the mental capacity of every dwarf who entered a temple, and pointed out what she took to be flaws in their reasoning–all in a pleasant and polite voice.”

    Ho. Lee. Crap. Here’s what I’m seeing right now:

    “Arya exhibited no wish to understand dwarf economy or society. She assumed that their system of morality should be like hers, therefore negating any objectivity she otherwise displayed as a diplomat. She would rather stand around engaging in fundamentally unproductive provocations of her hosts than build a constructive political relationship, show a sense of tact and objectivity, gain the respect of her supposed allies, or be polite. And she did it all passive-aggressively.”

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