This chapter is called “what is a man”. Well, as the Count once famously told a Belmont “a miserable little pile of secrets”.
In this chapter we rejoin Roran again. And because Chris has never learned how to “hook” readers, he instead drops a rather lengthy paragraph on us about Roran walking through mud. Mud is slippery and hard to navigate? Wow, Chris, I guess I learn something new every day.
Here’s a hint Chris, details like this don’t matter. Of course, if you absolutely must include them because you want to flesh out your world a little more, you might want to give us a reason to care about the characters first. See, we don’t care that Roran is slogging through the mud and having a hard time. Though we do care if he gets trampled by a large horse because we hate him.
Roran then thinks of Belatona, that’s the city they invaded, and all the work he’s had to do. Apparently he’s been keeping soldiers busy putting out fires, building barricades, searching homes and confiscating weapons. Wait, what? Why are they doing that last bit? Do the Varden have a no quarter policy? Does anyone that hasn’t’ already sworn allegiance to Eragon and his super-awesomeness has to give up their weapons and get rounded up into a camp?
That all seems kind of pointless as the Imperials would have either surrendered, fled or been captured at this point. Even if there are a few holdouts hiding among civilians I don’t think they’re going to try anything. They’d probably peek out the windows and see the large occupying force and decide that maybe it’s time for a career in fabrics.
His left side throbbed, causing him to bare his teeth and suck in his breath.
That’s Roran complaining about getting shot in the side by a crossbowman. Apparently one of Roran’s underlings stepped right in front of the bolt and died. That way Roran got only a scratch and he can complain. Yeah, never mind the dead guy. Just whine about how you’ve got a puncture wound and the guy firing the crossbow is a coward. Oh, and just a heads up for you Roran, there aren’t any rules in war. You might think of the crossbowman as a coward but he lived and you almost didn’t. In terms of victory I’d say he made the smart choice. But Roran goes on with the stupidity.
Five minutes later, an explosion of some sort, possibly magical, had killed two more of his men when they entered a stable to investigate a noise.
Oh, it was possibly magical. Did someone invent gunpowder between this book and the last? I don’t remember anyone making bombs or fireworks. So why would Roran expect anything other than an explosion of magical origins? He did say it was a stable and not a granary. And what noise would be loud enough to draw them into a stable to investigate?
‘Ho, men. I heard a noise. I think it came from that stable over there.’ ‘I think it was a horse.’ ‘We’d better check.’ ‘You mean me.’ ‘What?’ ‘Well Roran…’ ‘Commander Roran.’ ‘Well, Commander, every time you suspect danger you send one of us to investigate, we get killed and you feel bad about it for a couple of seconds.’ ‘And your point?’ ‘My point is, I’ve got a better chance of survival if I douse myself in barbeque sauce and walk into Saphira’s mouth.’
From what Roran understood, such attacks were common throughout the city. No doubt, Galbatorix’s agents were behind many of them, but the inhabitants of Belatona were also responsible—men and women who could not bear to stand by idly while an invading army seized control of their home, no matter how honorable the Varden’s intentions might be. Roran could sympathize with the people who felt they had to defend their families, but at the same time, he cursed them for being so thick-skulled that they could not recognize the Varden were trying to help them, not hurt them.
Right. And they know that the Varden are there to help them how? Did the Varden scatter leaflets saying as much? I mean, I can’t say I blame them. The Varden were in hiding up until, what, a year ago? Now suddenly they appear and start fighting with the local governments because they don’t like Gabby. Not to mention that they’re confiscating weapons which would put anyone on guard.
And secondly, isn’t this supposed to be set in a faux medieval era? Then when did this become Baghdad? Does Chris realize that doesn’t make any sense in the context or has he just been watching a lot of movies about Iraq? If Chris starts having agents of Gabby blowing themselves up I’m going to have to sit him down and have a serious talk.
Roran stops and waits for a dwarf riding a pony to get out of his way. Then he sees Katrina, goes and gives her a hug, she hugs him back and he grunts in pain. She asks if she hurt him, Roran says no and Katrina hugs him again. Gee, too bad they’ll probably cut this scene in the film adaptation. It’s full of crucial detail, as is this paragraph.
She did not question him but hugged him again, more gently, and looked up at him, her eyes glistening with tears. Holding her by the waist, he bent and kissed her, inexpressibly grateful for her presence. Katrina slipped his left arm over her shoulders, and he allowed her to support part of his weight as they returned to their tent. With a sigh, Roran sat on the stump they used for a chair, which Katrina had placed next to the small fire she had built to heat the tub of water and over which a pot of stew was now simmering.
Ok, now I know someone is screwing with me. That’s last one is not a run on sentence, that’s a damned marathon. Who edited this? One of Chris’s fans? His family? Who thought that was good enough to put in a book people are paying for? I’d just like to know who to fire my satellite laser at. In the name of all literature, what is wrong with you Chris? It just goes on and on like that. Roran eats and has a beer, I’m not kidding, while Katrina continues to work and of course Katrina serves him.
Look, I’m not going to complain about that being sexist. I am, however, going to complain about Roran being a jerk. Hey Roran, you love you wife, right? Maybe you should get your own damn food then if she’s busy. You don’t have to help her wash bandages but at least don’t add to her workload, dick.
Blah blah blah, Roran is proud that he knocked Katrina up. Apparently Roran is proud of things that dumb animals can accomplish, like Britney Spears. He’s planning on sending her to Surda if the war isn’t over by the time the kid is born. Roran talks about the battle which is a bad way to advance characters or plot but a great way to pad a novel.
Roran complains about soldiers not rushing forward to kill like rabid dogs and he thinks they must be cowards. Katrina says they might not be so eager to kill. Roran says the Imperials are forced to via magic and Katrina says that Nasuada could do the same. Roran says that would make them like Gabby and then Katrina whines about feeling Roran’s danger from the ring.
Roran then starts to complain about how he felt he was going to die and how he didn’t fight even though he’d never given up before. Katrina tells him it’s okay, she knows she married a loser who doesn’t own a backbone. He promises he’ll try harder and Katrina says she doesn’t care. Katrina comforts her big baby of a husband and makes him feel all better.
Which is hilarious considering that Katrina was so damned distraught. At every opportunity, Chris kept telling us how sad and worried she was. Then she spins around and now Roran’s the one who’s worried and concerned and she has to comfort him. Hey Chris? I think your characters might need psychological evaluation followed by heavy medication.
Roran finishes his meal and then tells Katrina he’ll help out with the washing. Gee, how considerate of you Roran. Offering to help your wife out when you know you don’t have to do it for long. Because Roran and Katrina are immediately interrupted by Baldor telling him that his mother, Elain has gone into labor. And, being as Roran would rather not be up to his elbows in soapy, bloody water, says that he’ll come along as will Katrina.
Which, again, makes perfect sense. You have Roran, an uneducated turnip farmer who can barely manage to not bludgeon himself to death with his own hammer and Katrina a butcher’s daughter. I’m sure that their combined insight will prove to be invaluable. At the very least they can take up space that might go to people qualified to help like Angela.