This chapter is called “no rest for the weary”. No, Chris, the saying is “no rest for the wicked”. That would be far more appropriate as that’s closer to what your characters are. Though “no rest for the douches” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Though Eragon is sweeping the awards for Biggest Douche, Dullest Protagonist in a Fantasy Setting, and Most Shallow Author Avatar in a Published Novel.
Here’s yet another way Eragon’s being a colossal jackass, he’s letting thousands of soldiers die pointlessly. And I’m not just talking about his lazy military tactics that force the Varden to fight hard in standard formations against other infantry units. I’m talking about the thousands of Imperials that are going to get ground up as the Varden war machine marches on. I’d better explain that one.
See, the Varden are all volunteers so they either fight for their “ideals” or promises of money and power to come later. The Imperials are all forced into service and they’re under a magic spell that forces them to obey Gabby. Which means the only reason they have to die is because Gabby says so.
Now, even if no one ever finds a way to circumvent Gabby’s oath of loyalty, it’s still only enforceable by Gabby. Ergo, if you kill Gabby, the soldier will no longer get orders and they’ll go back to being free. More likely, if Gabby’s killed, their oath spell will be broken and they’ll no longer have to wear black armor and spit on Eragon. Then they can do it by choice.
The point is that the longer Eragon delays the showdown, the more people will have to die needlessly. Gee, Eragon. How many families do you want to leave broken because you’d rather sit around eating, or napping or chatting with your cousin about the underappreciated craft of basket weaving? No, that’s okay. Don’t let the deaths of thousands weigh on you while you indulge in ten hours of “waking dreams”. We can’t let you miss your not beauty sleep.
We start off with loads of redundancy as Chris explains that Nasuada’s guards are staring at Roran. For those that don’t remember, they’re called the “nighthawks” and they consist of equal parts dwarf, Urgal and human. Roran claims they’re plotting to kill him which is okay because he’s doing the same.
I’d have to backtrack as fast as I could … spread them out a bit, he decided.The men would get to me first; they’re faster than the dwarves, and they’d slow the Urgals behind them.… Have to get those halberds away from them. It’d be tricky, but I think I could—one of them, at least. Might have to throw my hammer. Once I had a halberd, I could keep the rest at a distance. The dwarves wouldn’t stand much of a chance, then, but the Urgals would be trouble. Ugly brutes, those.… If I used that pillar as cover, I could—
This is nice. It showcases Roran’s encroaching madness quite nicely. ‘Everyone’s out to kill me. I’ll never be safe! The only way to survive is to strike first when they think I’m off guard. Just as soon as that woman carrying the cheese tray passes by, I’ll grab her and snap her neck after stealing the knife she’s undoubtedly concealed in her hair…’
This pointless posturing is interrupted by a door opening and a page summoning Roran inside. Okay, Chris. What was the point of that little exchange? Better question, why is there animosity between Roran and the “nighthawks”? I mean, besides the fact that Roran gets a name and the invincibility perk as bestowed on him by the author. Did he start ritually crapping on their boots? This doesn’t make sense, there’s no reason for them to be at odds. They’re on the same damn side!
Several of the guards twitched, distracted, and their stares wavered for a second. Roran smiled as he swept past them and into the room beyond, knowing that their lapse, slight as it was, would have allowed him to kill at least two before they could have retaliated.Until next time , he thought.
So either Chris is trying to sell us on Roran’s prowess or he’s being retarded, maybe even a little of both. But Roran goes inside and Chris spends a large part of a large paragraph describing the furniture in the room and then saying that Nasuada and everyone else aren’t using it. Gee, Chris. I was only half joking about the padding earlier. I’m starting to think it’s not something you’re doing on purpose and maybe you have a medical condition.
Nasuada, as all leaders must be shown doing, is yelling at people to make things happen. That’s how we know it’s effective. Roran is amazed that she can lead so well in spite of her handicap of being a woman but he thinks she’s just brilliant and strong and all those other words that mean she’s drizzled with extra awesome sauce. Believe it or not, Chris, we get that your characters are supposed to be special.
Nasuada snaps off order at people and then engages Roran in chitchat. Then she finally says she has a mission for him. Really? You mean you didn’t just invite him over for tea and biscuits? And here I thought we might get to learn something about the Alagaёsian tea ceremony and how it descended from the elves down to the humans who really don’t do it quite as well.
The long version of Roran’s mission takes up paragraph after paragraph. The short version is that she’s sending him to replace some captain who she thinks it taking too long to siege a city. She wants Roran to ride a horse over there, which she estimates will take four days with rest and she expects the city taken within a week. She also says that if Roran can’t handle it by then, she’ll send Eragon out and then they’ll be totally defenseless if Murtagh shows up.
Okay, hold up here, Chris. You said the Varden are laying siege to this city? Now, I’m no military tactician but I’m pretty sure besieging is the kind of thing you do to wait out the enemy. It doesn’t mean that you’re trying to take over the city as quickly as possible. If you’re going to siege, you might want to bring your backlog of books because your happy ass is going to be there awhile. I mean, come on. Who expects it to be over faster than a fast food order?
‘Yay! We’ve forced them to retreat, onwards! Wait, what are they doing?’ ‘They appear to be closing the doors and preventing our ingress.’ ‘Hey, you they can’t do that. You guys can’t do that! Let us in!’ ‘No!’ ‘Oh, well that’s just great. I guess we’ll have to wait until they get bored and want to finish this. We can wait all day, guys!’ ‘Yeah? So can we and we’ve got houses to stay in when it rains instead of cheesecloth tents, so there!’ ‘Ah, hell man. Game over, man. Just…game over. We can’t be waiting out here forever. I mean, they could stay in there for at least a day. Someone tell Nasuada I’m done with this war business.’
I’ve noticed that Chris is starting this weird pattern where a character will ask a perfectly logical question and then another character will explain why they are violating that logic. It’s like he’s started to internalize criticism and instead of becoming better he thinks we want his thought process explained to us. So Roran asks why he’s being sent instead of Martland Redbeard and we get a hilarious explanation from Nasuada.
Nasuada made a dismissive motion. “He can’t ride at full gallop with only one hand. You should have more confidence in yourself, Stronghammer. There are others among the Varden who know more about the arts of war, it’s true—men who have been in the field longer, men who received instruction from the finest warriors of their father’s generation—but when swords are drawn and battle is joined, it’s not knowledge or experience that matters most, it’s whether you can win , and that’s a trick you seem to have mastered. What’s more, you’re lucky.”
Oh yes, experience and knowledge matter not at all. You know the problem with luck, Nasuada? It eventually runs out. Even the luckiest bastard still rolls snake eyes once in awhile. Oh wait, I get it. Nasuada knows this and is secretly hoping Roran will get killed. Psst, Nasuada. If that’s what you’re doing I am completely onboard. Eh-hem. So, as I was saying. It’s in everyone’s best interest for this to happen exactly as Nasuada suggested it.
So Roran is getting a promotion. Nasuada says it’s temporary unless he takes the city and we know he will. Also, she somehow knows that there are eight hundred men there ready to fight. This make him lament that it’s so few. Also, he wants to take one person along and he chooses Carn, the weak magician from the last book. Nasuada says fine and hands him his orders.
Then he stands around looking hopeful for a bit and Nasuada asks why he’s still there. He says he wants to see Eragon because he wants more wards. Nasuada starts complaining that Eragon is so tired and worn out and can’t he just leave Eragon alone? So Roran takes off but not before Nasuada tell him to not burn the city down because they’re hard to replace. I’m thinking that’s a coded message for ‘kill everything that moves and burn whatever doesn’t’.
Actually, to bug you about the beginning bit. Both sayings are correct. Yeah, that’s all the more defending I’ll do.
Being a strategy and tactics enthusiast, particularly in the roman and medieval ways of war, I analyzed Christopher Paolini’s battles on my website at http://www.kris-norge.com . This battle is the last one I did and is the battle with the most tactical errors for now. It’s horribly painful and reeks of Paolini trying to be smart