Inheritance Chapter 63

Let’s talk about the role of authors and audience. The reason I’m so harsh to Chris, and other authors, is because they are the ones who expect to get paid for their craft. We, the audience, have a simple arrangement with them. Share your imagination with us and we give you money. That’s it, that’s the core of our relationship. They give us a diverting playground for the mind and we give them tangible dollars. If they want more monies, they’ve got to keep building their playground and keep it interesting.

The really good authors have captured us by going so far as to build entire elaborate theme parks. Some of them stick to a theme like a large haunted house while others have mixed sets like an action roller coaster and a drama splash ride. And like these parks, it’s not always about how fancy you make the set pieces. A roller coaster without any track is certainly no better than a well maintained swing set. Even if all you have is one measly set of monkey bars, it should cared for and never left to fall into disrepair.

This world is practically brand new, but even at its newest it’s never been quite in order. The merry-go-round has a wobble and one of the handles broke off. The local cats have been using the sandbox as a litter box and you’re more likely to get a burn from the slide than you are any thrills. It’s made in imitation of other parks but there’s no love here. And the sad thing is, it didn’t have to be this way.

See, there are those of us who aren’t professionals are hacks. That’s not completely a bad thing. We don’t have agents and publishers who’re counting on us to crank out the next book within a year or to start a new series. No one stops answering our calls because our third books started tanking after one week on the bestseller list.

Our parks earn us nothing but knowledge. We have the freedom to play and experiment and discover the voice of our entertainer. It’s hard and thankless work because there are thousands out there who want exactly what we do but in the end we learn. And if we’re lucky, and we put enough effort into it, we just might find that people want us to entertain them and give us a living for doing it.

This chapter is called “the storm breaks”. Which doesn’t make sense in either a literal or metaphorical way. There’s been no build up for it to get worse or change. The Varden marched and they sat around and now they’re attacking. I really need to stop caring about these stupid titles or they’re going to drive me into the gaping, clown’s mouth of madness.

We rejoin Roran who’s being told that it’s time by a random boy with a lantern. I didn’t think medieval folks would waste oil using a lantern early in the morning or giving one to a messenger boy who’s wandering around camp. Something about resources like that being somewhat precious and best not wasted on frivolous things. But then again, I’m not one of those people that thinks the only difference between the modern era and medieval times was the fashion and leather mugs.

Roran and Katrina kiss and there’s a vague implication that they spent the entire night awake and having sex. Chris tells us that “neither of them slept”. Which is a good thing, because having Roran take advantage of his unconscious wife would be one of the few things which could make him more repugnant right now.

So they get up, they get dressed, Katrina gets him breakfast because she finishes dressing first. Hey, Roran? How about sending your pregnant wife a safe distance away from the battlefield? Maybe a couple of hills over so she doesn’t get strafed when Shruikan starts cooking Varden burgers. No? Well, you’re the general.

Roran joins his unit and runs us down on the general makeup. There are a lot of Urgals—remember them?—in his command because Nasuada figured he could command their respect. Also, they have a score of elves which will be fighting on their own—because no human may dare tell an elf what to do—but they will look out for stray magic coming their way. Apparently the elf queen allowed a few to be placed among the lesser races so they might protect their allies but only a little.

Rightfully so, Roran doesn’t like them because they’re aloof and snotty. I’ll drink to that, Roran. The chief Urgal says that they’re going to earn a lot of glory today and Roran agrees. That’s assuming neither of them get hit by a spear and killed in the first thirty seconds. And everyone is apparently tense because there’s a dragon nearby and now suddenly war is dangerous.

I may be wrong here but a lot of them were there when Thorn was just sitting around Dras-Leona. I know Shruikan is bigger but the Imperial dragons seem to kill less soldiers than venereal disease or alcohol. The only reason they’d have to fear Shruikan would be because their leader is an incompetent bastard who thinks only of himself. Oh. Right. Well, carry on quaking in your boots, gentlemen.

Then Roran starts trying to justify all the fighting, or that’s how I see it. He starts thinking about how it’s not just their lives at stake but the safety of the land and future generations and blah blah blah. The problem there is that the land isn’t in any danger. Gabby isn’t threatening to take over anything, he already had the land. If the Varden lose, the only people that will suffer are them and maybe the immediate family members.

Roran also says that this is the last battle. Right, just like how the fighting in Iraq was over the moment Saddam Hussein died, right? Everyone got to go home and peace descended upon the country like a gentle rain. Yup, I’m sure all the generals and other state leaders of the Empire will be perfectly happy to give up their positions of power in favor of the Varden taking over everything.

Even LOTR, with its somewhat simplistic presentation of morality, didn’t end the moment Sauron was defeated. There was the final confrontation with Saruman back in the shire. But Roran actually thinks that there will be no more battles with the empire after this. Only because your author lacks the brains for it, Roran.

Roran spots Birgit and raises a shield to her in greeting. Remember her? She’s the lady that hates him for getting her husband killed. For someone who holds a grudge against Roran, she certainly hasn’t bothered him in awhile. She probably figures it would be rude to keep reminding him of his blood debt.

Then they start marching and, once again, Chris tells us the pains the army is taking to be sneaky. Look, moron, it may be early morning but it’s still daytime. The whole army is wearing armor and they don’t blend into the landscape. I highly doubt that the guards sitting on the wall aren’t going to notice a large group of people moving towards them no matter how quietly they do it.

‘Morning Esth.’ ‘Morning Ted. What are you looking at?’ ‘Just watching the Varden.’ ‘What the hell are they doing?’ ‘I’m not sure but from the look of things I’d say they’re trying to sneak up on us.’ ‘Don’t they know we can see them?’ ‘Maybe Galbatorix is right, maybe they are all crazy. Either way, you should probably sound the alarm.’

They hear the alarms form the Imperials and Roran heads to the front. Roran knows it’s a sure way to die but figures it will inspire his men. He runs past a siege engine as spears start flying. The elves stop a bunch of them but not all as Roran hears a couple of his men die. I guess the elves don’t want to waste too much energy defending humans.

As soon as they get to the wall, they let the Urgals put the ladders in place. Chris gives us solutions to problems that we don’t care about regarding the large ladder size and Roran tells the elves to keep the ladders in place. He heads up first because he decided that divorcing Katrina would just be too much hassle. Besides, his life insurance pays double if he dies in an assault.

So he climbs high enough that the ladder is flat against the wall and he can barely get his boots on the edge and blah blah blah. Oh, and a spear passes so close that he can feel the wind on his cheek. Then we learn an interesting fact, apparently “bah” is a very scary curse in Chris’s universe. Because a soldier—with blue eyes, as Chris felt like sharing—looks down at Roran and this happens.

“Bah!” Roran shouted, and the soldier flinched and stepped back. Before the man had time to recover, Roran scrambled up the remaining rungs and hopped over the battlements to land on the walkway along the top of the wall.

That’s the kind of stupid thing that only works once in a book before it looks retarded. And ignoring the fact that it’s stupid no matter what, you already used it Chris. How many times is someone going to prevail because they shouted “bah” at someone else? It doesn’t matter, because one is too many times.

Roran kills the idiot and notices most of the Varden aren’t making it up the ladders. Baldor does though and they rush at a ballistae. The soldiers are “smart” because they use spears to keep Roran and Baldor at a distance. Before they can become a credible threat a disposable Urgal climbs up behind the soldiers and rushes at them, knocking down two on the way to others.

Gasp and shock though, they get right back up. Roran says they have to take their heads off because they can’t feel pain. So, being immune to pain makes you immune to blood loss or broken bones or severed limbs. They kill the few and Baldor worries when he sees Fafira fly off injured. Roran—being in on the ruse—tells him not to worry about it. Then he sees Saphira appear when she passes through the invisible barrier. Roran tries to make himself invisible, it doesn’t work and then he panics.

Roran yells at Baldor to get back to the ladders. Baldor asks why and Roran tells him to shut up and get moving. Funny, I’ve been saying the same thing since chapter one. So they carve through the zombies on their way back and Roran says that the only way to stop them is to kill them. Yup, can’t show them mercy because being immune to pain makes you incredibly stupid too.

Once at one of the ladders, Roran tells Baldor to stay put and he doesn’t question the order. ‘Baldor stay. Stay! Good character.’ Roran knows that the attack was merely a distraction but doesn’t want to treat it as such. Then Thorn appears and he tells Baldor that the jig is up, the news is out and the elves are going to do something.

They sing and it’s eerie and beautiful—because no elf could ever sound bad even on karaoke night—and the ground starts shaking. Roran kills a few more people then braces himself. Some water start shooting up from some place, it isn’t really clear, and the wall over the gate below crumbles and Roran thinks they’re not off to a bad start after all.

Well isn’t it nice when those rather intimidating walls turn out to have the strength of rice paper in a rain storm. It really adds to the tension when the villains defenses can be felled by a little cooperative chanting by some elves.

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4 Responses to Inheritance Chapter 63

  1. I like your amusement park metaphor, especially how it emphasizes the need for an author to love and care about his books. That’s a sense I never got with Paolini’s works. It’s like, if the author doesn’t care, why should I?

    • vivisector says:

      Indeed. Some of the lamest premises and thinnest characters can be rescued with just a little TLC from their creators. With Chris it always feels like a book report that was rushed out the night before it was due.

  2. Niki says:

    Not an expert, but i dont think spear are supposed to be thrown

    • Scorps says:

      Only if their javelins. Then, they are the most aerodynamic of the polearms too, but it’s more of a thrown weapon when the enemy is running away.

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