This chapter is called “the vault of souls”. The last chapter that had a geographic name was “the rock of kuthian” and Eragon didn’t do much then. He just walked up to it, found out he couldn’t get in and turned away. Does that mean this chapter will consist entirely of Eragon walking there and finally getting inside.
We start with Eragon standing outside “the rock” while waiting for Sean Connery. Glaedr’s sitting in his box in Saphira’s saddlebags—you know, just in case we were thought he was just floating around—and Saphira’s waiting as well.
It was still early morning, and the sun shone brightly through large tears in the canopy of clouds. Eragon and Saphira had wanted to go directly to the Rock of Kuthian once Eragon had returned to the nesting house, but Glaedr had insisted that Eragon eat first, and that they then wait for the food to settle in his stomach.
And Chris makes special mention that it’s early morning. Which means that Eragon decided to take a nap after his sudden revelation. Hey, does anyone else remember that there’s supposed to be a ticking clock? I sure as hell do. A character in his position should worry that they’re running out of time and try to push on through the exhaustion to try and make it back before their ruse is discovered. Especially being as they’d have no idea how long it would take to get the mcguffin out of the vault, whether there were any traps or trials or if the weather would allow them passage back to the mainland.
See, this would be something that an author invested in their character would catch easily. And that’s because they’d be trying to live their, that is the character’s, life as they write it. Characters start going from cardboard to fleshed out when you can get into their heads a little and this is where Chris fails spectacularly and it’s actually his biggest failing of all. I don’t think Chris has ever imagined what it’s like to be Eragon.
In the hands of someone else, Eragon’s character could be compelling in spite of the cliché trappings and derivative material. Consider Eragon’s role as leader of the Varden. You have people looking to him for leadership based solely on the fact that he’s bonded to a dragon. Having people living and dying at your command would be terrifying to any normal 15/16 year old. Having people rely on you to right the wrongs they see in the world because you’ve got the last dragon—and only because of dumb luck—would be a terrible burden. If Chris actually tried to make Eragon live, he’d see that.
Instead, Chris is emotionally divorced from Eragon. Eragon exists only as a stand in for Chris’s personal fantasies. Which is fine, we all have those and we all dream about living exciting lives and being the badass hitman/police officer/mage or whatever. Most of us have the good sense not to write it down and pretend it’s a novel.
And so, Eragon comes across as a D&D character rather than one in a novel. He’s not worried about being late to the battle because it literally can’t start without him and he knows it. He’s not worried about his friends because they’re just like him and not NPCs. He’s free to wander around and explore for loot at any pace and to do neat things that Chris would like.
Anywho, back to the chapter. Eragon is tired of waiting but he feels the need to tell us about the bond between him and the magic, horse disposal service he has chained to him. Apparently the bond between them has grown stronger since they revealed their TrueNames™. How this is we’re never, ever going to be shown. Just trust the narrator, their bond is totally stronger now, okay?
Glaedr offers to go first and I assume he means he’ll say his name first and not try to walk forward. Though I would love to watch Glaedr move his container around in little hops like it’s a possessed piano bench. Boing, boing. ‘You okay Glaedr? Did you need any help?’ ‘No *Boing* I’ve got it. I’m handicapable.‘
Glaedr says his name and it goes on for sentences. Lucky for us, Chris was too lazy to write it out in the “ancient language” so he just says it. And it’s majestic and long and full of sadness and blah blah blah. Hey Chris, you know who else had a ridiculously long title? Queen Elizabeth. It doesn’t make her any more interesting or powerful. Eragon then wonders what Arya’s TrueName™ is. Not that he’d use it to control her or anything, he’s just curious.
Then both Saphira and Eragon say their names. That is to say they think their names very loudly because it’s safer than running around shouting it where any magician can hear it. And immediately after Eragon’s done, lines appear in the rock going up fifty feet on the spire and revealing broad doors. They’re, of course, covered in magical runes lined in gold. The open on “hidden hinges”—Really? Wouldn’t it have been easier to hide regular hinges with magic?—while brushing everything out of their way. Behind them is a tunnel that goes deep into the earth. Though how Eragon knows that yet, I’m not sure. If this were D&D I would demand the GM punish Eragon for using player knowledge.
Then the ‘oh no, this could be a trap!’ shtick starts up again. Stop it, Chris. We all know it’s not a trap and Eragon’s in no danger. Just let him find the goddamned nuclear launch codes or whatever’s in there and be done with it.
Saphira says Solembum didn’t lie and I still say that’s moot. Eragon wonders where it goes and I say go on and explore it already. Glaedr is upset, saying that the tunnel shouldn’t be there and that he never heard of the place. Gee, I guess that means it can’t exist. Is it just me or are Chris’s characters shockingly close minded? ‘I didn’t know about this therefore it’s an illusion put in my brain by those damn kids and their skateboards!’
Eragon wonders if it was built before the riders and Glaedr says that’s the only explanation that makes sense. Really? You mean Gabby coming back to the island and building a secret base where no one could possibly bother him? I mean, it’s not like he had those burrow grubs which could only be found on Vroengard or anything.
They finally decide to step inside and, wouldn’t you know it, the doors close behind them. Don’t worry, Eragon, that’s just the ancient door closers of Mubob working just as the day they were made. Next will be Q. Pixie’s spinning blade trap of death slicing your face off. They decide they’ll have to go forward which they do.
Let’s see, the walls are perfectly smooth and the floor is “knobbly”. This tells Eragon elves made the tunnel. He feels the air getting warmer as they go down. They eventually come to a black stone arch that’s covered in runes. Eragon can’t read them because they’re tightly packed but he can’t sense any energy in it either. They look back the way they came and then at the arch. And they step through the arch only to find it was merely decorative and there’s a door on the other side. Not really but it would be funny. Just as long as the arch doesn’t take Eragon to a series of alternate worlds where he’s tempted over and over.
always wait 30 minutes after eating before you go into ancient vaults or you’ll get a cramp.
Do that and always wear the appropriate rated mana screen to prevent mana burn. The Sorcerer General advises that long term expose to magical forces may cause dwarfism, clairvoyanice and haughtiness.
This would have done better on a previous chapter, but… whatever happened to Gabby’s “madness”? I know I’m not the one reading the book, but he seemed pretty non-mad to me. Perfectly lucid, even. Which is weird because wasn’t Chris using it as a character motivation-ex-machina.
He took over Alagaesia because he’s mad. He wants to restore the dragons because he’s mad. He went mad after his dragon died.
And as generic as that was, it made me a little excited to see how Chris was going to depict his “madness”. I was imagining a Lord Felmet-type character (you read Pratchett, right?) : Physically and emotionally weak, pale, thin, pitiable, and completely dangerously mad. But YET AGAIN Chris has gone the LAZY route with his characters.
I think he’s only mad when he’s not being evil. Which means he hasn’t gotten a lot of time to be crazy being as Chris has him set on Evil Emperor. And I’m glad Chris didn’t try to make him “mad”. The last time he had a “mad” character was Tenga who was just lame.