Brisingr Chapters 1 & 2

Well, here we are once again. Two books down and, currently, one to go in Captain thievery’s cycle of ‘look, look I love elves and dragons!’ series, more colloquially known as the ‘inheritance cycle’ by people who dubiously label themselves as fans and somehow aren’t marked for the government sterilization program.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there really aren’t as many fans of this series as I thought, heading in. There’s the small, hardened, core group which truly loves it, the larger outer fringe which found it a pleasant diversion and everyone else who can’t help but see it for the unintentional parody of fantasy, the end product of a long line of derivative tales that have spun out from Tolkien and a few other authors of that period. If nothing else I think these books are indicative of exactly the kind of stagnation that the genre suffers from and illustrate the gems that do manage to stand out from the ever growing body of fantasy that is preparing to swallow the world in a grey goo event.

These chapters are called ‘the gates of death’ and ‘around the campfire’.

Something I want to point out right off is that Chris has a way of maximizing detail at the wrong times. See, we start off with Ror and Rag sitting around staring at Dras Leona and thinking about how they’d much rather have a pudding cup than advance the plot, when Chris starts. He begins, properly enough, with the giant rock tower then segues to the lake and how pretty it looks.

Hey, Chris! Over here! Focus on the damn story and the parts that drive it. Unless the lake turns out to be sentient or a hiding place for the Ra’zac I don’t care how picturesque it is, especially being as you don’t really explore it, now do you Chris? You just shove in a few adjectives in imitation of other authors because if you don’t have the trappings of a real story the shame will come back in spades.

It seems the people of Helgrind practice vampirism and body mutilation. The head priest is a quadriplegic who gives his sermon in a mix of Urgal, dwarf and ‘ancient language’. Apparently he talks about things that are better left unspoken. Things that are dark and done only in the light of a blood moon while the police helicopter circles over head looking for your heat signature.

Just what kind of dark things, you might ask? Damned if I know. Chris does his usual and just tells us that they’re dark things. Maybe the priest is calling for an end to intolerance for mixed race marriages and Eragon is a raging bigot but won’t share this with us lest it poison our minds.

There’s a scene where one of the congregation cuts off his own hand in a sort of religious frenzy while bells pound out in the background. As interesting as that sounds, Chris sucks all the urgency out of it. There’s a pause between the priest asking if anyone will show their worth and the guy volunteering. And if these people are so dark and evil, why does it have to be voluntary? Seems like they’re a nicer bunch than the Varden to me.

Eragon uses his mind powers to sweep the area and find out if Katrina is alive or not. Spoiler alert, of course she is. While doing this, Eragon mentions mindbreakers who are muggles that have telepathy. Hurr, what?

I was half joking when I said, previously, that when Chris gets writer’s block he goes and watches TV or rents a movie from Netflix. Now I can’t help but think that was partially right. For this particular bit he was watching X-Men and thought that that Professor gent is pretty neat in spite of his handicap. Then he immediately put in telepathic humans who are doubly crippled in that they are humans and they don’t have magic.

Eragon says they’ll attack later being as the Ra’zac are more powerful at night. Oh joy, another detail you forgot to fit in when it might have been relevant. It’s a little late for that but why break form and start showing us things rather than tell us, eh Chris?

The next chapter has them sitting at their camp. Again, they’re pretty much just hanging out and wasting time. I’m beginning to think I need to add a corollary to my one scene of hicks being shocked by city size and that is one camp scene per book. Nothing important ever happens around a campfire unless it’s one character talking to another while a third listens when they’re supposed to be asleep. I’m so sick of camping scenes that I burned every piece of outdoor gear I ever owned and vowed to only leave the comfort of civilization if I’m carrying explosives.

Eragon is busy mooning over his boyfriend revealed brother, Murtagh. He’s whining how Murtagh embraced his role as the bad guy and how they’re mortal enemies. Yes, the whole oaths sworn in the ancient language which can’t be broken. Unlike that spell Eragon cast on Elva which could, supposedly, be reversed, magic is inviolable

They hear a noise and are startled, Roran shows a hint of regret at having killed some random folks and Eragon tries to brush it off. I guess we can see who inherited the morals, drunk and inbred as they might be, and who got the dragon. Oh and Chris horribly misuses a term when Eragon lights up the area by casting a spell which summons a ball of light he calls a ‘werelight’.

Were, the prefix that is, is taken as red as meaning ‘man’, Chris. So Eragon summons a man-light? Is that a light that is manly as opposed to Roran’s woman-light or is it in the shape of a man? Maybe it’s a man shaped light that points Eragon in the direction of the nearest all men’s dance club. Or maybe Chris, you’re too stupid to be allowed near a keyboard and someone needs to borrow a page from Suicide Kings and start cutting your fingers off.

There’s a part where Eragon worries about wards that Gabby could have put on the Ra’zac, because I’m sure Gabby cares oh so much, when he and Saphira begin talking in turns and completing each other’s sentences. Roran tells them to stop because hurts his head when they do that. That’s one of those moments where we’re supposed to be impressed that they’re becoming more of one mind and Eragon is pleased at the fact. However, let me do my usual act and spoil such illusions before anyone walks away patting themselves on the back.

If they were truly synced or thinking as one they wouldn’t trade off lines like that especially being as Saphira can’t physically talk. Talking in turn implies that there are two minds extremely out of step, just waiting to talk when the other one shuts up for a moment or has to pause for breath. The same goes for two people talking slightly out of sync. People thinking as one would talk in perfect harmony with no one early or late because they’re thinking as one.

Roran asks if he can learn magic so Eragon has him try to lift a rock which doesn’t work. Eragon tells him to keep trying if Roran wants and, if he succeeds, to come talk to him or mom no matter how embarrassing his question might seem. And then Eraogn teaches him how to shield his mind in case the ‘black hand’ shows up. Roran uses memories of Peach, I mean Katrina, to act as a shield and that drives the next part of the chapter.

Eragon says Roran must really love her to be able to use her as a mental shield like that. The image of such a dog ugly woman almost sent Eragon, even with his elvish bent, into paroxysms of vomiting and cursing. Then this line shows up.

After a respectful pause, Eragon said, “You courted her, then? Aside from using me to ferry compliments to Katrina, how else did you proceed?”

How bloody awkward is that? ‘how else did you proceed’? Is this an exit interview at a college psychology workshop? Is Roran being interviewed by a kindly police detective who only wants to complete the interview before the victim realizes what happens and breaks down in tears for the fifty seventh time? Then they talk about Arya.

Having the emotional maturity of the fifteen year old who started this, Eragon and Roran discuss love and talk like they learned everything they know about it from watching romantic comedies. Roran pulls out the ‘other fish in the sea’ schtick and Eragon retorts with ‘well what would you have done if Katrina had rejected you?’ He would have grown a pair and moved on because he isn’t a stupid git who’s scared to cross the threshold of his parent’s front door for fear he’ll catch the terrorism that’s been going around.

Eragon then whines about immortality, saying he has to love Arya because human women die off so easy. You could always marry a different elf, dummy. Then Roran asks if Eragon couldn’t make someone immortal and part of the retort includes this. ““Oh, elves and men have tried a thousand and one different ways to foil death, but none have proved successful.””

And it never worked, ever. Except that one time the elves managed to make themselves immortal. Aside form that though all their efforts went to waste. They show off bruises to each other and the Eragon heals Roran’s Ra’zac bite. Roran learns about Eragon’s sudden conversion to vegetarianism and Eragon says he misses meat more than Roran can imagine but he can’t eat it. I call bull and then they go to sleep.

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2 Responses to Brisingr Chapters 1 & 2

  1. I’m in the middle of reading Lord of the Rings, and I have sad news about the Ra’zac. Their species MIGHT still be original, but their role in the story is a theft of the Nazgul/Ringwraiths/Black Riders in Lord of the Rings. In the first book I noticed they were both evil, inhuman, incredibly creepy characters who serve as antagonists to the main character, they can both knock people out with their breath, and they wear black cloaks. But I didn’t think it was too bad until I got farther in Lord of the Rings and the Black Riders started riding dragons. I thought of how this was like the Ra’zac and Lethrblaka and… ugh, I need to take a bath now. I liked the Ra’zac. I still sort of like them, actually, but now they’re not as original as I thought.

    Fantasy has been my favorite genre all my life, but unfortunately it’s glutted with hack authors like Paolini.
    I’m starting to think it’s the default genre for amateurs who don’t really know what they’re doing. I know it’s probably more appealing to beginners because unlike, say, realistic fiction, they don’t have to put a lot of thought into realistic setting and plot, and if they get stuck, they can just use magic. Or so they think. Fantasy will let you make up your own world and setting, but hacks prefer to only use about %1 of that potential power and steal the rest from better authors before them. I’m considering switching to realistic fiction.

    In brighter news, the Ra’zac didn’t notice anything wrong with the egg sac and the results are back in. Amazing – according to the etymologist, the sample of fluid he took from the inside is almost ENTIRELY made up of embryos, swimming around in a little bit of a milky fluid that apparently nourishes them. Each embryo has only about 40 or 50 cells and there were hundreds in the 5 mL sample that he took, implying that there might be a MILLION in the entire sac! Of course, not all of them are likely to make it to the Ra’zac stage. The etymologist wants to take a sample again in a few weeks.

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