One of the things that’s hard to do with characters is to remember who was present where and when. Especially when you start adding people as the story goes on through a series, it can be challenging to keep track of what people should or shouldn’t know. Notes can alleviate this but even then, no one’s perfect and mistakes will crop up.
With that said, there is a point where it stops being something that can be ignored. I’d say that Chris has not only crossed that line but is sprinting towards the border of nonsense. To be fair, because I do try, Chris does have his characters tell each other what they were up to. And a lot of the times we get to sit there while they explain it to their audience. But while Chris focuses on making sure Roran is up to date with Eragon’s Facebook page, he ignores the people in the background entirely.
Case in point, as I mentioned last time, Eragon’s transformation. Eragon disappears into the woods and no one aside from Arya and Orrik are present during any of his training. Saphira doesn’t count because she can’t talk. When “Eragon” returns, everyone looks at him, comments on how different he looks but they’re perfectly fine with it, that is to say the few who saw him.
When Eragon was eavesdropping on those people from his hometown, they mentioned how he looks clean shaven every day but aren’t bothered by his new look. Why? Because they know Eragon changed. They didn’t have to be told that because we know that. They don’t mistakenly think that his lack of facial hair is because of the change, we know otherwise and so do they. But they weren’t there and Eragon didn’t go around explaining that he was himself though he looked completely different.
But separating author/reader knowledge from his characters would be complicated and doesn’t serve Chris’s plot in the slightest. The only time they’re not allowed to know, is when Chris doesn’t want them to know like with the dragon spear. He doesn’t want Gabby to know the Varden have it, so he doesn’t.
This chapter is called “maze without end”. Are you talking about the plot to this book or the space in your head, Chris?
We begin with Chris telling us how they spent the rest of the “conclave” discussing things like posting more guards and replacing equipment. You know, the mundane crap we’re not really interested in. It’s okay, Chris, we don’t need you to write fictional facebook posts or tweets for Eragon and then publish it at us. ‘OMG! Orrik sounds just like Willow!!1!’ ‘Ugh. Still talking about Nasuada. More like Nasua-duh!’
They decide to hold off mentioning the kidnapping until the morning so the soldiers can get some sleep. Gee, that’s so nice of them. Though I’d imagine what with the attack and the clashing of swords and the screams of the dying someone probably called out the alarm and woke everybody up. Unless Bob was napping at his post and couldn’t be woken by something so trivial as a battle in the camp.
And yet, the one thing they never discussed was whether they should try to rescue Nasuada. It was obvious that the only way to free her would be to seize Urû’baen, and by then she would probably be dead, injured, or bound to Galbatorix in the ancient language. So they avoided the subject entirely, as if to mention it was forbidden.
Why is it obvious that she’ll be in the capital? Why wouldn’t he put her somewhere else to try and tempt the Varden off course and lead them into a trap? And why will she be sworn to Gabby anyway? Wouldn’t that require her to speak the word sof her own volition? I mean, Nasuada is supposed to be a strong character. She cut her arm open just to prove that point. I don’t think Gabby is going to twist her arm hard enough to get her to swear.
Then Jörmundur—does that umlaut get pronounced Chris or is it there for decoration like in Alagaësia?—tells Eragon to watch out or they’ll wrest power from him. Though what that’ll accomplish is beyond me. They all want Gabby deposed and dead and they all agree that they need to keep marching on. In fact, it would be better if Eragon wasn’t in charge because then we wouldn’t have to watch Eragon act in what Chris believes to be a leader like fashion. Plus thousands of people might not die at the hands of an inexperienced idiot.
Saphira tells Eragon that no one will get the better of him while she watches. Yes, she can eat them and we all know that’s the most diplomatic solution. Then Roran catches up so he can weigh in on the situation. Eragon asks him if Roran really meant the part last chapter about being a battle between the gods. Roran immediately falls to his knees and begins licking Eragon’s boots.
Roran stared at him. “I did.… You and Murtagh and Galbatorix—you’re too powerful for any normal person to defeat. It’s not right. It’s not fair. But so it is. The rest of us are like ants under your boots. Have you any idea how many men you’ve killed single-handedly?”
Hey, Roran, I think you missed a spot right there. Good, keep licking until you can see your face and then polish it to a mirror shine. The more I hear about how powerful Gabby and the elves and dragon riders are, the more I want them to be felled by a regular person with no magic.
Eragon’s reply to Roran’s question is a pithy “too many”. Roran says exactly but wishes they didn’t have to count on elves or riders to win the war. You know that can’t happen, Roran. Otherwise Chris’s author avatar can’t swoop down and become the savior of the land. Roran also says that all these demi-gods battling it out kind of unbalances the world. And I think that’s possibly the largest lampshade I’ve ever seen hung.
Then Roran strode out of the tent.
Gaghg! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Strode is not a suitable replacement for walk! It just sounds goofy and you’re never going to make it fit. When I burn you at the stake, the kindling will be all your thesauruses torn apart and laid at your feet.
Then Eragon leaves the tent and the “nighthawks”, Nasuada’s former bodyguards, jump to their feet and follow him. Though after how badly they failed to even hinder Murtagh, I wouldn’t keep them around. Eragon says he doesn’t have a choice and marches over to Saphira and curls up with her and Chris gives us some awkward details.
At any other time, her presence would have been enough to calm him, but not now. His mind refused to slow, his pulse continued to hammer, and his hands and feet were uncomfortably hot.
Oh, so his hands aren’t just hot but uncomfortably hot? Good to know, otherwise someone would have to lay it out for me. It’s like when that paramedic told me that burns were uncomfortable. I knew that skin got damaged by fire but I didn’t know it wasn’t pleasant. And here I thought igniting Chris was keeping him warm. Who knew?
Now it’s time for Eragon to marvel at how awesome and lucky he is. Yup, it’s great to be him. Then he wonders why Nasuada picked him to be her successor. Because if anyone disagrees with you, you can feed them to your flying trash compactor. That or she figured the best person to be in charge is a narcissistic, over privileged jerk with more power than brains.
Eragon is so upset at being put in charge that he has to meditate and we get to watch. Blah blah blah, Eragon has some of his “waking dreams” as he drift off into his not sleep. And then suddenly he’s actually dreaming and I get the feeling that he’s about to experience one of those prophetic dreams which is a staple of hack writers everywhere. Yup, he sees a battle and the flashing of scales and the scream of some guy and then he comes out of it. Let’s just ad clairvoyance to the growing list of powers at Eragon’s disposal.
Eragon then gets up and says hello to Garven who’s back to working as captain. Apparently, after the elves fried his mind, he got mostly better and they put him in a command position again. I think Chris only used him because he didn’t want to have to come up with a new name. He tells Eragon that the nighthawks are a bit short staffed at the moment and laments that they failed Nasuada.
Eragon says it’s his fault and for once him and I are in complete agreement. And that means it’s time for Eragon to angst about it. Oh, woe is Eragon and his boundless power. He’s pretending to be shocked at being put in charge by repeating “I’m in charge of the Varden” over and over. Alas, this was entirely unexpected, what with Nasuada naming him second and all. Then he tries to pretend that he cares about Nasuada at all.
Only now that she was gone did Eragon realize that Nasuada had become more than just his liegelord and commander; she had become his friend, and he felt the same urge to protect her that he often felt with Arya. If he tried, however, he could end up costing the Varden the war.
See, not only does he care about people but it’s okay if he ignores Nasuada. If he tries to protect her, he could cost them the war. Which I don’t believe could possibly happen even if Eragon were as incompetent within canon as his author. That’s because Gabs isn’t showing the slightest inclination in defending his territory. He’s basically just throwing up a few hurdles to keep the Varden occupied while he cultivates his latest entry into Alagaёsia’s houseplant competition—this year he’s entering a tulip that sings “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and maybe once, just once he’ll beat Mendel—and keeping his head down.
Eragon then starts complaining about how hopeless it is and how there’s no way he can succeed. Which must mean that the latest gift from the author is waiting just around the corner. Despair, woe, angst. That sums up the tail of this chapter. At least until Chris decides that it’s time to redeem his plot coupon—not valid with any other offers, only valid at participating Chris Paolini franchises cash value 1/20th of a cent.
Which means that Eragon is off to the “vault of souls”. So Eragon pages out Solembum—Mister Kitty to the white courtesy phone, there’s a call from Eragon on hold—and waits. I’m starting to think that Chris reread his first book for additional “inspiration” and that’s why we’re going to see a payout on the vault.