Eldest Chapters 19 & 20

These chapters are called ‘arya svit-kona’ and ‘ceris’.

They get as far as they can go by raft and then they get some donkeys to ride the rest of the way. Chris points out that dwarves never rode horses on account of their size. Really Chris? How very insightful. Did you know that chickens don’t lay dragon eggs and that fire is hot? We could make a daily calendar with the stupid observations Chris offers us and have enough original material for five years.

Arya, being the wonderful upstanding elf she is, refuses to ride the donkeys saying she’ll run instead. You know what lil’ missy? You can just run your bony, whiny, arrogant elvish backside all the way back to your feces covered tree house. Then Eragon can have Saphira carry him and Orik to elf village one and wait for you there.

I hate Arya. If she were in high school she’d be the girl that looked at a boy’s ride and snorted derisively before laughing at him in front of everyone. ‘Ugh, you drive your parents old Honda? I’d rather ride a homeless man with leprosy than be seen in that.’ She’s the kind of person who’d rather starve than work a fast food job. I want to see her knocked down a dozen pegs for her pride but I know that won’t happen. Chris would never let anything remotely terrible happen to his blonde china doll.

She runs ahead, because she’s faster than the horses even, and waits until they catch up before doing it again. Of course this doesn’t tire her out. I can think of some things that would, beginning with waterboarding.

They get to the magical forest where everything is wonderful, butterflies spiral around each other and Eragon is filled with a euphoria as he walks under the calm green canopy. Of course his perception might be slightly skewed since he dug into Arya’s supply of peyote.

Eragon is about to go to sleep when Arya approaches him. She drags him out of the camp and they slip past the dwarf keeping watch. Okay, Arya, here’s your chance to redeem yourself. Stab him in the heart and let his body feed the woods! Or sit him down and pretend you have something important to share. I should mention that, at this point, Eragon’s been feeling funny whenever he looks at Arya.

Instead of having a warning for him, cautioning Eragon that smelling her hair surreptitiously is creepy, she tells him that he has to meet some customs or he’ll piss the elves off royally. Apparently they make no allowance for the fact that you’re an outsider and that you’ve got a finite number of years to learn a bunch of rigid customs that serve no one. But always remember, they’re better than you.

So Arya began to tutor him and, through him, Saphira in the niceties of elven society. First she explained that when one elf meets another, they stop and touch their first two fingers to their lips to indicate that “we shall not distort the truth during our conversation.” This is followed by the phrase “Atra esterní ono thelduin” to which one replies “Atra duevarínya ono varda.”

Couldn’t they just speak in the ‘ancient language’ if they wanted to ensure the other spoke only truth? Doesn’t that make such a ritual as ridiculous as grabbing someone by the shoulders and telling them you won’t let them go flying off the face of the earth? And why are they so touchy-feely? Did they all take a communication seminar from the nineties?

Arya says no one is higher than dragons, even the elf queen wouldn’t tell her what to do. Good, that way no one will hinder Saphira when she starts barbecuing elves for breakfast. Eragon pretends to care about the proper rank and greeting while he stares through her dress with magic X-ray vision.

Arya gets mad and storms off for some unknown reason. Saphira tells Eragon that he’d better chase after her if he wants to learn something about human and elf relations. Eragon doesn’t understand what the big deal is about family but does as he’s told, stopping Arya and asking what’s wrong. Being the strong woman full of resolve, she buries it and tells him not to worry. Or she crumples like a sheet of tinfoil and says she’s afraid.

The next chapter opens with Eragon being asked about toes by one of the dwarves in a terrible scene that makes little sense. Either Chris is trying to be funny or he’s trying to give us a look into his tiny world. He fails on both counts and simply irritates instead.

They enter some forest that Eragon just knows is the territory of the elves. He can sense fudge stripes being applied nearby. It’s a gift that his uncle appreciated deeply until he replaced all his meals with a liquid diet plan.

Suddenly Arya stops and says that it’s safe and she’s kin and that no one will be calling elvish protective services on them. The elves come out of hiding and Eragon describes them as wearing camouflaged clothes. I guess they don’t have good sight as they couldn’t even tell Arya was a fellow elf

‘Who’s coming into our camp?’ ‘Shut up and go back to pretending to be a bush!’ ‘Hush you two, they’re getting closer.’ ‘Do they look familiar?’ ‘How the hell should I know? We elves are practically blind yet too proud to wear glasses. You can see as well as I can.’ ‘It sounds like a woman.’ ‘Yeah, and she said it was safe to come out.’ ‘That does it for me. No enemy of the elves would wander into our midst and say they were our friends.’

I should mention that Chris describes three of them as having hair like starlight. Weak and twinkling? I know he’s going for pale. After all, elves only have two hair colors and that’s black or ‘raven’ and blonde or ‘spun gold’. All the others were killed in the great hair dye wars before they traveled the mighty oceans in a turbulent time called ‘the eighties’.

The elves are at first scared of the dragon, assuming that it’s a nuclear bomb until Eragon says she’s a friend. Reassured as easily as a puppy, the elves run along to their homes, laughing in their musical way, while Eragon and the rest follow after. Maybe when they get there they can toast marshmallows and sing campfire songs?

I was damn close, they have a vegetarian dinner and one of the elves sings, playing pipes rather than a guitar, which is plenty hippie. The dwarves get dismissed and the elves say they’ll take care of Eragon. Ah, I finally understand. They’re going to bury him farther upstate where developers won’t find the body when they start building condos. All this talk of burying makes him sleepy.

Eragon Wakes: 7

The dwarves are packing it in and offer to take Snowfire back. It seems the elves intend to take him down class five rapids which are really no place for a horse. They get in their canoes, I mean, elf boats and paddle along.

In the daylight, Narí’s hair shimmered like the finest wire, each strand a fiery line.

I had to include that because it’s the last line in one of the last paragraphs of the chapter and it baffled me. The finest wire? Are you saying his head resembles a spool of copper? Or is it more like steel? I thought it was like starlight? Is starlight a kind of wire? Can I hang pictures with it or use it to transmit Morse Code? Is elf hair a new cheap, renewable source of telephone line? You leave me with so many questions, Chris.

The elf borrows Eragon’s puzzle, solves it, undoes it and hands it back. Congratulations elf boy, you outsmarted Eragon. Maybe next you can outrun a quadriplegic hamster.

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7 Responses to Eldest Chapters 19 & 20

  1. Seriously …. wire??? The Inheritance Cycle is hardly the first nor shall it be the last book to compare hair to wires, but unless you’re describing tough, yucky hair, it seems completely inappropriate to compare hair and wires.
    Wires, no matter how fine they are, are METAL. They will always look, and always feel, and always move like METAL WIRES. Hair that is similar to wires would be tough and stiff, but beautiful and healthy hair is soft and flowy. And isn’t Pao trying to make the elves sound more beautiful with every paragraph?

  2. Kalinka says:

    Arya is a zombie. She refuses to ride a donkey and instead is able to run faster than a horse or a donkey and keep up at it all day without getting tired. Or maybe she’s an elf and this is a super special elf ability. Tolkien’s elves could do that. So, Paolini’s elves can. I like the zombie theory better. In any case they make their way to Du Weldenvarden, which apparently is a forest that stretches the length of Alagaesia. Either Alagaesia is really small or … well… Paolini is really bad with geography.

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