This chapter is called “memories of the dead”.
I think I figured out the biggest problem with this fourth book. Besides that Chris is the author. It’s that you can clearly tell it shouldn’t exist. Chris barely had the motivation to fill out three books and it’s been showing since chapter one of this one. You can tell that even he’s grown bored with his elvish fantasy. Instead of finding “new”, read: ripped off, things for Eragon to do, we just sit around rehashing scenes and information that’s been done.
Eragon and Sahpira killed imperials, Nasuada made a new alliance and Roran almost got killed. Wow, that’s not been covered ad nauseum in the last three books. Look Chris, I know you didn’t want to but you really should have ended it in the last one before you were out of ideas. You should have trimmed out all the crap and ended the damn series. Now we’re stuck with the halfhearted attempt to wrap up a terrible story whose conclusion was forgone from the first chapter of the first book.
If Chris really wanted to write a fourth book, he should have made this one all about Gabby. Even if he didn’t subscribe to the idea that Gabby is a good guy, or at least the concept that Gabby is morally flawed rather than outright evil, it would have allowed some flexibility. Chris could have showed Gabby doing evil things throughout his reign punctuated by short chapters of Eragon and the Varden carving their way towards the capital. It would have taken a big step in rectifying Gabby’s lack of presence in the last three books.
But I have a feeling I know how this is going to go. We’re going to faff about with Eragon and friends while they work towards the capital. Murtagh might make an appearance or two but Gabs will be held back to the end. When Gabby does finally show up he’ll either have a few lines a la Victoria in Twilight or he’ll deliver a monologue inspired by John Galt that’ll just go on and on. And even if neither is true I doubt the ending will be any more satisfying than the rest of the story Chris has shoveled at us.
So Eragon is reviewing Brom’s last will and testament again. Only Chris doesn’t tell us that, he just sort of dumps us in the middle of the memory again. I don’t know which it more insulting, that Chris thinks we care or that we’ve forgotten between the last book and this one.
“Galbatorix is mad and therefore unpredictable, but he also has gaps in his reasoning that an ordinary person would not. If you can find those, Eragon, then perhaps you and Saphira can defeat him.”
Brom lowered his pipe, his face grave. “I hope you do. My greatest desire, Eragon, is that you and Saphira will live long and fruitful lives, free from fear of Galbatorix and the Empire. I wish that I could protect you from all of the dangers that threaten you, but alas, that is not within my ability. All I can do is give you my advice and teach you what I can now while I am still here.… My son. Whatever happens to you, know that I love you, and so did your mother. May the stars watch over you, Eragon Bromsson.”
Ok, first off Gabby is not mad. We don’t very much about Gabby at this point but what we do know paints him as the opposite of mad. I’ve detailed why already but it might bear revisiting. After losing his dragon, reputedly the source of a rider’s power, he managed to get a hold of an eldunari or two and stole a dragon egg. He then found a way to make it hatch and obey him. Then he gathered thirteen other riders, they were going to let one more in but Gabby was sticking to the evil theme back then, and managed to kill all the other dragon riders, even the ones that had been around for hundreds of years and had ages of experience backing them, and the entire race of elves. One guy did all this. That sounds like a guy who knows his tactics. I can’t imagine him fighting the other dragon riders any other way.
‘Sir, Gabby has defeated the dragon riders we sent to dispatch him.’ ‘What? All seven of them?’ ‘Yes, and they did everything you told them. They landed in the middle of a field and began singing while their dragons danced merrily. In spite of their volume and gaiety he managed to defeat them.’ ‘But how? We sent the best of all the riders, those who knew thousands of songs and could lead a dance for days without tiring.’ ‘Well sir, I observed in secret and I may have uncovered the method of his success. For example, his dragon breathes fire at us.’ ‘Heavens above! Doesn’t he realize that a dragon’s breath is only meant for roasting sasages?’ ‘There’s more. You know those sharp, decorative metal things we carry at our sides?’ ‘Ah, our hotdog bun splitters and ribbon cutters. What about them?’ ‘He swung it at the riders and cut them down.’ ‘Madness! This calls for drastic action. I’ll gather the council and we’ll begin assembling the parade float. May the grey ones have mercy on us.’
Eragon comes out of the memory and gets his by a drop of water. Apparently it’s raining and Eragon decides he’ll have to tighten the ropes. Which perfectly interrupts everything before it. Eragon then complains that Brom didn’t tell him about Murtagh. Saphira says that he shouldn’t let it bother him because Brom had his reasons. That’s Chris telling us to stop asking questions and stop making him look bad. Then, yet another non sequitur paragraph.
Eragon stared down his chest at his thumbs. He placed them side by side, to better compare them. His left thumb had more wrinkles on its second joint than did his right, while his right had a small, ragged scar that he could not remember getting, although it must have happened since the Agaetí Blödhren, the Blood-oath Celebration.
What does that have to do with anything, Chris? This is not the time to be commenting on Eragon’s hands. Last time I checked he wasn’t auditioning for a dish soap commercial. If you want to comment on Eragon’s scars of combat that now isn’t the time to be talking about it! There’s a time and a place you could work that in, moron, but now’s not it.
Eragon thanks Saphira and then tells us that he’s been over that memory three times since the last book. He claims that each time he notices some detail that had escaped him. Really, Chris? You can’t just have Eragon wallowing in nostalgia because he wants to? Maybe have him watching it again because he misses Brom? That would be a little more believable.
Then Eragon starts to tell us how tired he is though he’s eaten and rested. Then he tells us that he doesn’t expect to be fully recovered, something he says he’s learned from his experience in long, drawn out fights, and that’ll they’ll have less time to rest as they get closer to the capital. Oh yes, because Eragon is a master tactician who’s lived through dozens of battles. Oh wait, I’m thinking someone else. He’s lived through, what, five? Maybe six? Must have been real hard what with the enchanted sword, magic and a dragon. I can’t imagine worse odds.
Eragon then summons a chest from underground, opens it and pulls out Glaedr’s eldunari. They try to contact it but Glaedr isn’t up for dealing with Eragon’s crap right now. Then Arya shows up wearing the leather outfit she’s known for and wants to try. Eragon hands the rock over to her and ogles her as soon as she closes her eyes and begins concentrating.
Arya placed her hands on either side of the Eldunarí and then closed her eyes. While she sat, he took the opportunity to study her with an openness and intensity that would have been offensive otherwise. In every aspect, she seemed the epitome of beauty, even though he knew that another might say her nose was too long, or her face too angled, or her ears too pointed, or her arms too muscled.
Wonderful. And at what point does Eragon make his creepy, awkward advances at her? You know, the ones which causes Eragon to snap and start killing people for fun when she rejects him? And how does he know what other people think about Arya? Has he been taking lessons from Edward?
Arya comes back to reality and says that Glaedr is the saddest creature she ever met. She must have heard him composing angsty Vogon poetry. Eragon asks if she thinks he’ll go mad and Arya says if he’s not already then he’s at the cusp. Eragon then asks if Arya has the Dauthdaert and she says it’s hidden in her tent but she can get it if he likes.
“Keep it. I can’t carry it around with me, or Galbatorix may learn of its existence. Besides, it would be foolish to store so many treasures in one place.”
Wait, what? Doesn’t Gabby already know about those? Surely he would have heard about them, being as he was trained as a dragon rider. You’d figure history like that wouldn’t escape him. Not to mention that it was an Imperial that tried to use it on Saphira, right? Doesn’t that mean they, the whole empire, know about it already? You’d think a bad guy with a spy network would be in the know.
For no apparent reason, now seems like the perfect time for Eragon to confess his love for her and he almost does until he hears someone coming to his tent. Oh no! Quick, both of you get naked and under the sheets. That way no one suspects you were screwing around with a dragon’s heart.
“Someone’s coming,” he announced, and closed the lid of the chest.
Loud, wet footsteps sounded in the mud outside. Then Albriech, for it was Albriech, shouted, “Eragon! Eragon!”
Have I died and now the last firing of neurons in my brain are causing me to hallucinate nonsense as I expire? I only ask because I’m having trouble believing that Chris gets paid to write crap like that. Who the hell is he reassuring? Was Chris worried we’d think it was someone else? ‘Then Albriech, for it was Tyler Perry, shouted’ or how about ‘Then Joe Don Baker, for it was Albriech, shouted’? If you absolutely must have the ‘for it was’ then why not ‘for that’s who it was’? At least then it doesn’t sound like a bad rewrite the editor didn’t catch.
Apparently Albriech’s mom has gone into labor and he wants Eragon’s help. Eragon starts rushing out of the tent and Arya stops him. She asks if she may come along because she knows some things that will make the birthing easier.
“May I accompany you? I have some experience with this. If your people will let me, I can make the birth easier for her.”
Eragon did not even pause to consider his decision. He motioned toward the entrance of the tent. “After you.”
And that closes the chapter. So I have to ask, why doesn’t Eragon pause to consider? Since when did Arya know a thing about humans? She’s around a century old so she could have picked up a few things on humans but she doesn’t strike me as really progressive. She’s mean spirited and distant and the few times she’s ever talked about humans she always seems to be putting them down. Meanwhile she loves the culture of her people, knowing more than even the author avatar Eragon, and she likes to take jabs at everyone else.
Which is all well and good but that makes Arya seem like the kind of elf who doesn’t like humans. She always struck me as the kind of elf that would view humans as a curiosity at best and pests at worst. So if she does know anything to aid in birthing I’d bet it applies to elves. Of course to Chris, being a different race just means you have a few cosmetic differences from humans and everything else works exactly the same.
Arya: oh ew! what’s that thing?
Eragon: that’s a newborn human. you said you’ve had experience with this kind of thing.
Arya: well I meant with elves. I just assumed human babies came out as rays of light followed by sparkles and roses like elf babies do, not…this.
Eragon: well step aside, princess, ‘coz here comes the sparkle and roses. We call it a placenta.
Arya: Well, it’s still more appetizing than that Taco Bell you took me to.
“Look, Arya, the head’s starting to crown! Since you’re an elf and elves are always right, how should we proceed?”
“Alright, bring me an ice pick, a hatchet, some lye, and materials for a large bonfire.”
“You heard me. Now. We don’t need another one of these. Ever again.”
And maybe aterwards, she’ll start kicking Eragon in “the fork between his legs” repeatedly to ensure that he never breeds.