This chapter is called “a sea of nettles”. Too bad it won’t be a literal sea which Eragon will drown in.
Darkness, and in that darkness, silence.
Oh, if only the book would stay that way. Eragon is sliding around, for some reason. I guess the shield spell he cast a couple of chapters ago gave him the power of having a Slip and Slide stapled to his chest. He scans for life forms and finds that everyone is okay. And here I was hoping that Chris would have the guts to have Eragon fail at something. Then he’d have to live with the guilt of knowing that he only saved himself and his dragon. Eragon make special mention of Thorn when invading his head.
It was the first time Eragon had come into contact with Thorn’s mind. As he did, the red dragon seemed to recoil. His thoughts felt darker, more contorted than Saphira’s, but there was a strength and nobility to him that impressed Eragon.
Oh, generic dark thoughts. But even when they’re “dark”, dragons can’t be anything less than noble. Unless they’re black dragons, of course. Then they can be evil and “mad” and deserve nothing but death.
Uma tells Eragon they can’t keep up this spell for much longer. It stays in place for a few seconds and then it breaks down. Eragon is blinded for a second and when it clears there’s a glowing crater where Gabby is as is the ceiling.
The air smelled like the taste of iron.
I think that line speaks for itself. The palace is starting to break down so Eragon throws the kids over to Arya. He looks at Shruikan’s corpse which is all charred from the explosion then over to Nasuada. He tries to get her free but the manacles won’t open for anything less than the jailer’s key.
Chris is trying to make it tense because any second the palace could collapse and trap or kill Nasuada. Before a character I loathe dies, Murtagh steps in and gets them open. Arya says they have to grab the egg and the eldunari so she runs back. Eragon and everyone else get on Saphira and Thorn and head towards the entrance.
Eragon doesn’t see his old bodyguards anywhere, which means they’re alive, and he can’t message Arya. They ride past all the survivors trying to make their way out. Eragon seems to view them as mere things that have been affected by Gabby’s death but are not worthy of further consideration. He’s content to ignore them as long as they don’t get in the way of their escape.
As soon as they’re at the gate, Eragon asks the two, still nameless children, if they know where they live. One of them points to a nearby house and Eragon sends them off alone. Mind you this happens only seconds after Eragon is commenting on how people are running out of their houses and fleeing the city. I’m sure the two kids will be fine when they go into an empty house that their parents won’t return to ever again. Still, they’re better off than if they stayed with the sociopath.
With the kids disposed of, they set about healing themselves, finally taking care of the gaping stomach wounds. This wastes enough paper to replace the hundred dollar bills Chris has been wiping with. Then Eragon feels emotion and can’t believe they did it. Glaedr says that no one—because Eragon is special—would have thought to attack Gabby like that. Then they all cheer about the eggs in the hidden cache and being able to rebuild. I pity the herds of wild animals that have spent a century recovering from being constantly preyed on. They’re now going to be hunted to extinction.
At last, the Oath-breaker is dead, crowed Umaroth.
You know, that’s not the first time they’ve called Gabby that. Can I ask exactly what oath it was that he broke? In the Wheel of Time series, the Aiel refer to the people of one nation as oath breakers because their old king chopped down a tree they gave him as part of a treaty and turned it into a throne. But you just thought it was a cool title, didn’t you Chris?
Arya makes a sudden appearance and she’s accompanied by the elves. Damn, I was hoping one of the traps would have kicked on and killed a couple of them. She’s also carrying a chest with the green egg and there’s a line of metal boxes floating alongside them that have the eldunari. Arya says it may take years to recover if they do.
Then Eraogn notices Murtagh and Thorn are gone. He pages them but they don’t respond and he says they’re going away. This makes Nasuada sad because no one has bothered to cure her of her Stockholm syndrome yet. The Varden cheer the return of Nasuada as it means no longer being under command of Eragon, king of the idiots.
Eragon then runs off with Saphira and chases down Murtagh. Once he catches up Murtagh says he can’t stick around especially since he killed the dwarf king. He says Eragon is a king killer too and that Arya is a dragon killer. He says Eragon had better go talk to her because it must have been hard for her to kill a dragon, somehow this is complicated by her being an elf.
Sure, because Arya showed such strong aversion to the idea of killing Shruikan. And the elves have a long and storied history of revering the dragons with reverence. Well, after they spent generations slaughtering them because they figured they were flying pests.
Eragon says he won’t stop Murtagh but keeps trying to convince him to stay. How Eragon expects everyone to be alright after Murtagh spent the better part of his dragon riding as Gabby’s right hand. I’m pretty sure that there’s no one who would welcome the red rider that terrorized so many people. Murtagh at least has the sense to keep away for awhile.
Blah blah blah, there are more eggs and they’ll rebuild the riders, blah blah. World is changing and all that. Thorn thanks Eragon for not killing Murtagh. It’s nice to see the dragons, who are supposed to be equals, are more concerned with their master’s safety than their own.
Then, in spite of the long goodbye clearly being over, it continues. Glaedr contacts Murtagh and starts whining at him about how he killed him and his rider. Murtagh says something back but only to Glaedr. Glaedr doesn’t bother chatting private with him and starts talking loudly about how he understands Murtagh was under Gabby’s control and it was even Gabby who made Murtagh swing his arm but he still can’t forgive him.
Wait, what? Why does Murtagh have to be absolved of Glaedr’s murder? Why did Chris have to make it Gabby’s fault that Oromis and Glaedr are dead? How about Murtagh did it of his own free will because he thought he had to. Maybe he felt he had no other choice but it was still done without Gabby grabbing his strings and yanking on them. But Chris can’t let his favored characters ever be responsible for anything.
The talking goes on and eventually Glaedr says that it was because of him that Eragon got to kill Gabby. He says that Murtagh and Thorn are worthy of being called Shur’tugal—remember that word?—in spite of not being trained and that’s admirable. Then Uma chimes in and says that there’s much they could teach them but not until Murtagh feels like learning. Then he gives him a bunch of warning to stay away from the urgal king, Vroengard and anyplace underground that smells like brimstone because that’s where evil lives.
Murtagh says they really should be going but before he does, he has to tell Eragon the name of the “ancient language”. He also says that not everyone knew it, it would be useless. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it meant people like Eragon couldn’t abuse the hell out of it like he has. Instead, now Eragon and Murtagh are the only two people who can control all of magic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Murtagh met with a rather unfortunate accident in a couple of days.
They tell each other to take care and then Thorn finally starts flapping his wings. Murtagh tells Eragon to look after Nasuada and, just once, sneak into her room wearing a half mask while holding a red hot iron because that was always a little joke between them. He also tells him to watch out for Gabby’s servants because not all of them were bound to him by magic. You could have fooled me, Chris.
Finally Thorn and Murtagh take off, for good this time. Eragon and Saphira watch them go with “a sense of sadness”. Don’t worry folks, our heroes won’t allow themselves to cry or anything. It is, after all, only a mere sense of sadness not the genuine emotion.
FINALLY the green egg has shown up! After 70 chances! And naturally it will hatch for Arya.
Also, testing out a new avatar.
To be or not to be, that is the question
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of nettles . . .
How does a sea of nettles come into this chapter anyway?
On a random note, I happened to learn about a ninja throwing weapon called the shuriken and wondered whether it might be the inspiration for a certain dragon we all know and love.