Inheritance Chapter 41

Let’s talk about incompetence for a second. No, not Chris’s general poor abilities or the failing of his editor to hammer this into a better product or even his agent’s inability to get better clients, leaving her with this hack. I’m talking about general human incompetence. The kind where people brew coffee into a not quite empty decanter, causing it to overflow and spill everywhere. Or the kind where someone on an assembly line grabs the wrong bolt and forces it into the engine block because they just don’t care.

We all have to deal with it at some point. The general observation seems to be that about a third of the people working anywhere are useless. They manage to show up, occupy space and then leave. They can’t be trusted to work without constant supervision and their work always need to be double checked but, for whatver reasons, they can’t get fired. I’d be willing to bet this holds true for any job, including the military.

Which is why I wonder about Gabby making people swear allegiance to him. Wouldn’t that prove more harmful than not? Imagine an Imperials soldier, drafted against his will and forced to swear allegiance in magic words to Gabby. Then Gabby sends him off to fight and get killed by Eragon because he doesn’t want to be disturbed while he organizes his collection of toenail clippings preserved in jars of urine. But soldier boy doesn’t like the looks of the fight and would rather not end up as a snack for the flying blue eating machine known as Saphira. What to do?

What if he just malingered or wandered off and took a nap in the woods when he was supposed to be gaurding camp? Or if he went into battle with everyone else and let his unit overtake him during a charge, then dropped his weapon and surrendered at the first opportune moment? Just because he promised to loyalty to Gabby doesn’t assure he puts forth his best effort.

But what if Gabby made stipulations? It’s true, old Gabs could get rather specific in his oaths and really put the screws to them. But why bother? Why not just make everyone believe it’s in their best interest? Citizens will go a lot farther for a country they care about than one they loathe or fear. Gabby could make the argument that the Varden want to subjugate humans under elves and, judging by the glimpses of racism against them in this book, people would jump to fight the Varden off.

The real reason is that Chris wants to hang all the evil in Alagaёsia around Gabby’s neck and that just won’t wash. Gabby might make a nice focal point that could gather evil and cultivate it but he’s not alone in it. It’s not like all the members of the Imperial army are just good guys working for the villain because Gabby is pointing a gun at their children.

This chapter is called “departure”. So it’s not enough that Eragon sat around reading and talking about the place he was going but now we’re going to dally while he gets his gear arranged and packed before taking off. That’s what earns you the big bucks, Chris.

Eragon has Garven send one of the nighthawks go get supplies in secrecy. Oh good choice, send out the guy with Elfheimers to carry a message. Next time you’ll see him will be six months from now, wandering the countryside in a soiled robe and slippers while muttering about getting Carter out of office. And why do you need to be so secret, Eragon? It’s not like the Varden won’t notice the giant dragon and their leader has suddenly gone missing.

‘Hey, Esther?’ ‘Yes Bob?’ ‘Have you noticed something different around here?’ ‘Now that you mention it, there is something odd in the Varden camp. I can’t quite put my finger on it though.’ ‘Me neither. I just get the impression that there was something here that’s not right now, something blue.’ ‘You know, I’m getting that too. I think it was those blue cupcakes they were serving in the mess tent yesterday.’ ‘You’re probably right. Those went damn fast.’

Then Eragon worries about feeding Saphira while they’re there. But you just read how the riders stayed on that island because there were lots of unique creatures to make extinct. Couldn’t Saphira feast on some of the local fauna then or does he know how greedy dragons are and figures there’s not a living vertebrate left on the island?

Once Eragon gets his supplies together, it’s time for him to tell his elven bodyguards what he’s doing. This takes about an hour to get across as they’re especially thick elves. Or there’s the magic curse that protects Vroengard but that’s just a cover. It takes Eragon even longer to convince the elves that he has to go.

They raise the point that it might be demoralizing to see Eragon disappear so soon after Nasuada got kidnapped. Gee, you think? So why not drop the secrecy and lie? Tell everyone Eragon is going to chase after Murtagh and Thorn or scout ahead and prepare the way to the capital. That’ll probably keep them in line for a couple of days.

Instead of going with a sensible plan like mine, Eragon decides it’s better to deceive the Varden. The elves are going to create an illusionary Saphira and Eragon and fly them around. We’re reminded that these illusions will be unthinking and unable to talk. And that duh you heard ‘round the world was me screaming at the book. Eragon knows that people who interact with him and big blue will see through the ruse quickly so he takes steps to prevent trouble.

So Eragon ordered Garven to wake all the Nighthawks and bring them to him as discreetly as possible. When the whole company was gathered before his tent, Eragon explained to the motley group of men, dwarves, and Urgals why he and Saphira were leaving, although he was purposefully vague about the details and he kept their destination a secret. Then he explained how the elves were going to conceal their absence, and he had the men swear oaths of secrecy in the ancient language. He trusted them, but one could never be too careful where Galbatorix and his spies were concerned.

Huh. Making people swear in the ancient language because, in spite of Eragon’s assertion, he doesn’t really trust them. You know, a good author would use this to illustrate how easy it was for Gabby to become evil. How forcing people to swear powerful oaths might begin as a seemingly defensive measure but can quickly escalate into an abuse of power. Eragon could have a moment of self realization that he’s not so far separated from Gabby as he likes to think. It would be a powerful moment for him as well as the reader.

Then Eragon goes and has a chat with the kings and Trianna—nice to see her name hasn’t slipped your mind, Chris—and they’re not too happy. For some reason Eragon expected Orrin to be the most “intransigent” and he is. He yells and insults Eragon which makes him a goddamned hero with balls larger than the Disney dome in Florida in my book. He ignores it and goes around to Orik and Trianna. Don’t worry Trianna fans, we don’t get to see or hear her do anything so Chris hasn’t ruined her any further.

Saphira had remained at his tent, and the elves were ringed about her, their arms outstretched and the tips of their fingers touching while they sang. The purpose of their long, complicated spell was to collect the visual information they would need in order to create an accurate representation of Saphira. It was difficult enough to imitate the shape of an elf or a human; a dragon was harder still, especially given the refractive nature of her scales. Even so, the most complicated part of the illusion, as Blödhgarm had told Eragon, would be reproducing the effects of Saphira’s weight on her surroundings every time her apparition took off or landed.

Which brings me to my next point, anachronisms. They don’t always have to be things like pocket watches in the Stone Age, they can also be terms and cultural styles. For example, saying that the elves were trying to get the “visual information” doesn’t fit in a medieval setting nor does refractive. That sounds like something that would be more at home in modern day fiction involving hacking and prisms. It’d be pretty easy to do it right and fit the feel of the setting.

The elves had linked hands in a circle around Saphira and were chanting. Eragon could barely understand what they were saying but he could guess what they were doing. Creating an illusionary twin of the dragon meant they had to commit the sight of her to memory. They better they knew her, the closer her double would resemble her and that meant the longer the Imperials would be fooled.

Then Eragon decides to address the army. Okay, then what was the point of the secrecy? ‘Okay, everyone. I’m going to leave now. If any of you are spies, don’t tell Gabby until I come back.’ He gives a speech to them that he can’t remember and we’re saved from. But Arya and everyone assures him just how eloquent he was. Hurray for Eragon being so perfect.

Then they say their goodbyes which only takes forever. From how long we get treated to everyone’s tearful goodbyes you’d think Eragon was starting an odyssey and they won’t see him again for another ten years.

When Tolkien did it, it made sense in the context of Lord of the Rings. Travel for them was slow and tedious as they had to cover lots of ground on foot. Frodo didn’t see the shire for over a year once he started out. Eragon, however, is going to be flying by dragon at an interminable speed known only as way too fast for a creature that propels itself with wings. Hell, Eragon will probably be back in time for a late supper. Unless Chris has him dick around in the ruins, something Chris is good at.

Eragon now takes the time to stare at Arya and be wowed by her beauty. More goodbyes, blah blah blah. Then the crowd begins to cheer as he gets in Sahpira’s saddle but not for the reason he thinks they are. ‘Is he finally leaving?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Hurray! Now we might not die at the hands of an incompetent!’

Then the plan is revealed, Eragon is going to do what I would suggest.

Eragon saw Blödhgarm and the other elves gathered in a close-knit group, half hidden behind a nearby pavilion. He nodded to them, and they nodded in return. The plan was simple: He and Saphira would set off as if they intended to patrol the skies and scout the land ahead—as they normally did when the army was on the march—but after circling the camp a few times, Saphira would fly into a cloud, and Eragon would cast a spell that would render her invisible to those watching from below. Then the elves would create the hollow wraiths that would take Eragon and Saphira’s place while they continued on with their journey, and it would be the wraiths that onlookers would see emerge from the cloud.

Well, except for the illusion crap. Oh, and Chris? I’ve never known a solid wraith, have you? How about a semi-solid wraith, met a lot of those in your time have you? Or were you referring to the Terran starfighter that will seemingly appear after Saphira flies into the cloud? Because that would really screw with the Imperials.

Finally Saphira takes off after a lengthy preflight checklist. Eragon then ducks his head against the “speed-induced wind” that comes from flying. Hello, Redundant Bureau of Redundancy? Yes, I think one of your employees has broken his leash and escaped into Montana. Oh, there’s a reward if he’s captured? You’re too kind.

Eragon decides that there’s nothing he can do now but hope his scaly limo can get him there and back before the Varden are attacked. He worries for a few seconds about the little people under him and if he made the right decision to go to Vroengard as the final fight is fast approaching. Yes, chapter by chapter is approaches. I’m still thinking we won’t see Gabby until Eragon does. Of course it’ll be too late to matter but Chris doesn’t care about anything not related to elves/dragons and Eragon.

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5 Responses to Inheritance Chapter 41

  1. You know, if Galbatorix is as all-powerful and magical as he’s been built up to be, maybe he’ll know Eragon is abandoning his troops to go explore an island, and then maybe while we’re dicking around with Eragon Galbatorix will attack personally and Eragon will come back to a slaughtered camp, and realize it was all his fault (or blame Elva again, more likely).

    We can only hope.

    • vivisector says:

      Or he’d blame Roran for not stopping the wholesale slaughter of Varden. Really, it would be anyone’s fault but his for being retarded. Though there’s no way any plan devised by Eragon could ever go wrong because he’s got a direct line to the author.

  2. maeverin says:

    still waiting for that whole super-dangerous “essence summoning” thing to make it’s reappearance. I guess that will be in the boss fight.

    • vivisector says:

      Maye he’ll get captured and decide to summon Saphira directly into the room to defeat Gabby. Though it’d be stupid, it would make a setup and pay off in the plot for once.

  3. wistfulghost says:

    So… about the whole ‘swear in the ancient language’ thing…
    If dumb ol’ regular humans don’t speak or know it, how do they know what they’re actually promising? That’s kind of a scary thought, actually.

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