There are a couple of things I noticed in the last chapter that’s actually been going on for a long time. For once, when the giant snails attacked they were described as moving as fast as a man can run and Eragon was laying on the ground. He couldn’t draw his sword while laying down—why he was sleeping with it on is beyond me—and he couldn’t get away in time. Which makes no sense because Eragon is an elf now which makes him faster and stronger than us lowly humans. Even if they were moving as fast a man can run, that’s basically a quick walk for Eragon. His speed and strength are scaled to the necessity of the plot.
Secondly, Saphira woke up and ate the snails, leaving one alone for Eragon to eat. He just accepted that as his due. There was no thanks offered to Saphira nor did he even feel gratitude towards her. After all, her job is to act like a giant tank and kill things for him. He doesn’t thank her for the same reason you don’t thank your car for getting you to work, it’s just a thing. That’s how Eragon views Saphira, like a car.
Which is fine for a character, Eragon could be a sociopath. But Chris keeps trying to convince us that there’s some sort of unique bond between them that makes them more than friends. She’s not even treated with the same respect of a loyal steed, let alone a friend.
This chapter is called “the rock of kuthian”. I should probably just be thankful that it isn’t Rock of Love or some other detestable waste of TV programming. This way it’s just waste of paper and ink.
We remain in Eragon’s company, for once not having to suffer jarring point of view shifts to other characters. Maybe after hundreds of pages of wasted time he decided that it would be okay if we got to the story. Eragon is walking through the scary grove for a third time while keeping one hand on his sword. You know, the weapon that has proven so effective at keeping him safe in Vroengard so far.
The get to the edge near the rock, again, and just stop right before the invisible plot-field which keeps them from advancing. A flock of crows takes off and Eragon says he can’t imagine and omen more ill than that. How about a lightning bolt made of black cats striking the top of the rock? That’s be pretty dire.
Eragon then deploys his magic senses—the Paolini equivalent to a tricorder—and scans for magic. There’s a lot of magic and most of it dormant. Eragon has no idea what any of it does. Which is good because then anything can happen and Chris can just chalk it up to the magic. Why is there a font of gnomes erupting in the middle of the ground? Why it was the strange magic that the other riders left behind. Apparently it took him an hour to examine it all and the incantations were very complex.
The way Chris puts it makes it sound like a half heated excuse used with a government coverup. ‘But wait, what happened with thet fifty foot monster?’ ‘It never existed. It was a hologram.’ ‘How in the hell did you make a fifty foot hologram that appeared to have realistically destroyed the city?’ ‘It was very difficult, now move along.’ But that doesn’t mean Chris is done talking about magic.
What most worried him—and Glaedr as well—were the spells that they might not have been able to detect. Ferreting out other magicians’ enchantments grew vastly more difficult if they had tried to hide their work.
That sound you heard was my mind being blasted out of my ears. Chris, do you mean to tell that when people attempt to hide things it makes them more difficult to find? That would explain why no one puts me in charge of Easter egg hunts any more. I thought the goal in hiding them was to make them more obvious. If I’d known that, I’d never have rented that giant neon arrow.
So Eragon approaches the spire and they all say their names at it. For some reason, they’re surprised when the inanimate object doesn’t react to their speech. Inanimate things must be a bit more lively in Alagaёsia. They try again in elvish—they should try saying friend—which still doesn’t work. Eragon thinks that maybe they need to say them out loud which makes Glaedr and Saphira complain that they can’t talk. Eragon says he’ll take over speaking duties for them and tries it again in both languages and still he gets nothing.
Gee, it would be horrible if Eragon had wasted all that time and got nothing out of the trip. Maybe then Eragon would realize he’s become too dependent on intervention by someone else and that now is the time to reach in for his own reserve of strength. He has to rise to the challenge and become the hero he’s been pretending to be all along. Oh wait, that would be interesting.
Instead they wonder why it’s so hard to figure out the riddle that’ll let them in. Saphira asks when are riddles ever easy and they decide to recount what Solembum told Eragon. Glaedr says that the line is “your name” not anyone else’s. Personally, I’d try saying “your name” before repeating my own like an idiot. If only because whoever made the rock might have has a sense of humor.
Eragon thinks that maybe he has to be alone when he says it so he sends Saphira off. She says he’d better not take too long before going. Luckily when he pictures Arya, it doesn’t take Eragon all that long. Only a couple of minutes and a handkerchief.
Eragon waits until Saphira is a quarter mile away before telling his name to the stone again. Chris then takes great pains to say that nothing happens. No sudden openings, no revealed staircases and no magic portals to the nether realm. Eragon curses and stomps around as Saphira comes back and comments on how it didn’t work.
Glaedr says that there’s only one explanation and Saphira or Eragon, it’s hard to tell when everyone’s talking using italic mind bullets, says that Solembum lied to them. Now, I’m all for suspecting other characters but I find it funny that Eragon was quick to blame a werecat who told him this back in the first book. It was Eragon’s idea to cash in the plot coupon but it’s someone else’s fault if it doesn’t work. Glaedr says no, that they probably have to speak their true name to get in. Saphira worries hat it might be a trap and Glaedr says they’ve got to decide now.
Then it is a most devilish trap, said Glaedr. The question you must decide is this: do you trust Solembum? For to proceed is to risk more than our lives; it is to risk our freedom. If you do trust him, can you be honest enough with yourselves to discover your true names, and quickly too? And are you willing to live with that knowledge, however unpleasant it might be? Because if not, then we should leave this very moment. I have changed since Oromis’s death, but I know who I am. But do you, Saphira? Do you, Eragon? Can you really tell me what it is that makes you the dragon and Rider you are?
‘I won’t have any problems but I’m not sure about you guys.’ I like the conceit Glaedr puts out there. Eragon, knowing that he’s really a colossal prick, is suddenly worried at having to face reality. He asks himself ‘Who am I?’ and the chapter ends. That’s easy, Eragon. What’s elvish for over privileged, smug, entitled, sociopathic, half witted farm boy?
Have I missed something? What good would telling their true names to the rock do Solembum, if he *had* decided to betray them? Unless he installed a hidden video camera there that sends a live feed to his computer, where he watches and laughs at their futile efforts.
Plus it’s not like Chris has ever made any character unreliable. If Solembum had been demonstrably questionable allegiance or something, then the worry might be. Like if Solembum had spent the last couple of decades spying on Gabby and failed to turn up useful info. Or if maybe the operation to steal the dragon eggs was known only to a few people, including Mr Kitty, and still Gabby’s men were ready. Just a little doubt would add a whole lot of needed complexity to the story.
Longtime lurker, but omg “What’s elvish for over privileged, smug, entitled, sociopathic, half witted farm boy?” really got me! LOL
Sadly, I think we already know the answer to that question equals Eragon. Elves are very good at compacting information in a single word.