Inheritance Chapter 4

This chapter is called “king cat”. I suppose that means one of the more annoying characters is going to show up in a moment. Chris will expect us to be surprised when Solembum, perhaps the most ridiculously named character to ever exist right next to Jar-Jar Binks, turns out to be king of the kitty people. But just to prove that Chris is still the master of pointless exposition, that’s what he starts this one off with

Eragon stood on the dais in the main hall of the keep, directly to the right of Lord Bradburn’s throne, his left hand on the pommel of Brisingr, which was sheathed. On the other side of the throne stood Jörmundur—senior commander of the Varden—holding his helmet in the crook of his arm. The hair at his temples was streaked with gray; the rest was brown, and all of it was pulled back into a long braid. His lean face bore the studiously blank expression of a person who had extensive experience waiting on others. Eragon noticed a thin line of red running along the underside of Jörmundur’s right bracer, but Jörmundur showed no sign of pain.

Oh, Brisingr was sheathed was it? That’s reassuring. I always figured Eragon for the kind of guy that would stuff a loaded gun down the front of his pants if he were in a modern setting. I figured he’d be doing the same with swords, just sort of tucking them into his sash like an old timey English depiction of folks from the middle east. I could picture him just running around with his magic sword flapping around, dicing his pants and leg to ribbons. And stop trying to characterize these people, Chris. You can’t do it with the main character then you certainly aren’t going to manage it with these secondary ones.

Then Chris falls back on his roots, and I don’t mean Star Wars. He goes to stretch the painfully thin premise of this chapter out by having characters talk about it. ‘Gee, what can we do to get these werecats on our side.’ ‘You could offer them cream.’ The room went as silent as a deadman. ‘Savior of the land or not, if you ever try to crack a joke like that again, I’ll tie you up and deliver you to Galbatorix myself, is that clear?’ ‘Yes Nasuada.’

Their murmured conversation came to an end as three trumpets sounded outside the main hall. Then a flaxen-haired page dressed in a tunic stitched with the Varden’s standard—a white dragon holding a rose above a sword pointing downward on a purple field—marched through the open doorway at the far end of the hall, struck the floor with his ceremonial staff, and, in a thin, warbling voice, announced, “His Most Exalted Royal Highness, Grimrr Halfpaw, King of the Werecats, Lord of the Lonely Places, Ruler of the Night Reaches, and He Who Walks Alone.”

I’ve often wondered if hacks actually think about what they write or if they just do it all by rote and mimicry. What do any of those damn titles mean, anyway? ‘Lord of the Lonely places’? Does that mean he’s mayor of Topeka, for example? How is Solembum ‘He who walks alone’? Last I checked he was always hanging out with Angela. That’s less alone and more ‘always with a companion who’s unlikable’. I suppose that’s not as impressive as Chris would like. The point it, none of that means anything. It all sounds like one of those weak and useless bits of royalty that’s more of a figurehead than an actual power.

Finally the damn cats show up and Eragon clarifies that the king of the cat people is actually Grimrr Halfpaw, not Solembum. I guess Chris can surprise on rare occasions. He does so again when he decides to describe Grimy. You can tell he’s important because he gets a paragraph dedicated to his fashion sense.

The only clothes Grimrr wore were a rough leather vest and a rabbit-skin loincloth. The skulls of a dozen or so animals—birds, mice, and other small game—were tied to the front of the vest, and they rattled against one another as he moved. A sheathed dagger protruded at an angle from under the belt of his loincloth. Numerous scars, thin and white, marked his nut-brown skin, like scratches on a well-used table. And, as his name indicated, he was missing two fingers on his left hand; they looked to have been bitten off.

Right, how does Eragon know it’s a rabbit skin loincloth? Did Grimy leave the fur on? And it’s not really a loincloth if it’s made of leather now is it? That’s more of a codpiece. And why the rattling skulls of small game? Does he expect anyone to be impressed by things a housecat can kill when it’s bored? ‘Are those your trophies, Grimy?’ ‘Yes. These are the many kills I’ve made throughout my numerous hunts.’ ‘Yeah, why don’t you come back when you’ve got a cow skull or anything bigger than yourself. Then we’ll talk.’

Anywho, Grimy walks up to Angela, who’s in the room but Eragon failed to notice until now, and hisses at her. Which gives him a lot more credibility that all the scars and dead animal bones ever could.

Angela looked up from the sock, her expression languid and insolent.“Cheep cheep,” she said.

Right, what does that mean? Grimy hisses at her again and then walks off. And everyone is just as confused as we are.

Saphira’s bewilderment was equal to Eragon’s own. Cheep cheep? she asked.

Finally Grimy gets to Nasuada and shows his respect by inclining ‘his head ever so slightly’ instead of bowing. Which I always hate. Do authors realize that makes them sound rude and proud? Grimy is king of the werecats, a race so rare that they’re thought of as myth. There can’t be enough of them that anyone should offer them respect. They certainly haven’t cared enough about Gabby in the last hundred years to make a damn appearance. So you know what, kitty cat? Go chase a laser pointer and crap in the sandbox, the Varden don’t need you.

Nasuada, sensibly, asks why they want to offer their help now. Grimy says that you only attack another hunter when they show weakness and goes on to say Gabby can’t kill Eragon or Saphira. So basically all the werecats were waiting until they were sure of which side was going to win and decided to attack then. Which makes them the worst sort of allies because they would change their allegiances if it looked like Gabs was about to turn the tables. But no one thinks about it like that.

Nasuada has some questions and says she didn’t know they even had a leader. Grimy says they normally “walk alone”, though I doubt it’s on the Boulevard of Broken dreams, but they need a leader when they go to war. Grimy says that all werecats that can help will and that he can command the “one shapes” by which he means regular cats. Nasuada asks if he can really command them.

“Aye. They admire us … as is only natural.”

Wait, why is it only natural? I’d think most cats would be too busy hunting vermin and trying to survive in a medieval setting. I don’t imagine for a moment that any of them care who calls themselves king or emperor or whose borders they tread on. Life for them is pretty much unchanged by the man or woman in charge.

And then Saphira says that could be useful. How? Are cats terribly effective against armored foot soldiers? Is there a lot of spying they can get done? Maybe the Varden have a rat problem and they were just about at their wits end until the werecats showed up.

Grimy makes some demands before joining. He says they must have armor made for both forms if they choose to fight in one or the other, also they get a bird a day and a bowl of chopped liver every other day. Also, if they win, the next ruler has to keep a padded seat near the throne in case a werecat wants to come by and chill.

At this point I’d tell him to go pound sand but Chris really like his werecats. So Nasuada says they’ll give them everything except the armor. She says they’ll have to pick what form they want to fight in and they’ll get it made for them

Nasuada then tells Grimy there’s one more thing. She says they too have to submit to the mind reading background check that is slightly less intrusive than a TSA screening. Grimy says okay but that it can’t be Angela who does it. Nasuada wants to ask why but says okay and says she’ll be sure glad to form an alliance with the werecats.

At her words, all of the humans in the hall broke out cheering and began to clap, including Angela. Even the elves appeared pleased.

The werecats, however, did not react, except to tilt their ears backward in annoyance at the noise.

Aw, does the noise of cheering bother the werecats? How useful are they really going to be in any upcoming fights? Especially if they choose to fight in their cat form? Look, cats can be annoying and hard to deal with as pets when they fight you when you try to give them baths or put them in a pet carrier. But the whole reason cats are so fierce in those moments is because you’re not trying to hurt them. I hate to break it to you Chris, but a cat versus a guy with a sword is a no brainer. I hope none of your fans are cat lovers because I don’t see a lot of kitties making it out of the fight alive.

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