Eldest Chapter 3

So understandably the Council is happy, since they’ve managed to get two raving idiots to agree to their plans in about fifteen minutes max. Arya’s doing her best Vulcan impersonation, because everybody knows that being an elf means acting aloof all the time.

 
However, Saphira told him, She wishes to talk with us afterward.

Since when does Saphira have a SuperSpeshulMagicBond with Arya?!

 
Before Eragon could reply, Falberd turned to Arya. “Will the elves find this agreeable?”

Because we desperately care what the elves think even though they contribute nothing. And the dwarves can just SUCK IT!

Arya says that she thinks it’s okay but she can’t speak for her queen, and Eragon wangsts that they’ve been backed into a corner and Arya can’t say otherwise. Actually since the elves don’t have any stake in the Varden’s success, Arya could reply with “Nasuada sucks!” and it wouldn’t have to mean anything.

Also, they might not be backed into a corner if A) Eragon paid the slightest bit of attention to what’s going on around him, and B) he knew how to bluff.

Understandably, Nasuada wants to go back to bed and not be bothered with other discussions, and Jormunglebundle says that she won’t have to do anything until after her dad’s funeral.

 
“Again, thank you. Would you leave me now? I need time to consider how best to honor my father and serve the Varden. You have given me much to ponder.”

Uh-oh, I’m suspecting that Nasuada is gonna be a Feisty Young Ruler and refuse to let anyone manipulate her. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned, that she has exactly zero experience and political knowledge. Seriously. She does NOT know what she’s doing.

Umérth looked like he was going to protest at the council being dismissed,

“We haven’t had lunch yet! Today’s pizza day!”

 
“Of course, whatever will give you peace. If you need help, we are ready and willing to serve.”

“… OUR OWN EVIL PLANS MWAHAHAHAHA.”

Seriously, I’m not sure why such a big deal is being made of whether or not the council is going to stay convened, when it’s already been established that Nasuada isn’t expected to do more than her best impression of Queen Elizabeth II – smile and wave, smile and wave. And why exactly do THEY have to leave so Nasuada can shed single diamond tears in a room set aside…. for the Council? Why doesn’t she ask to be excused and go to her room? WHERE SHE WAS GOING ANYWAY?!

While the Councilors are leaving, Nasuada asks Eragon to stick around, and understandably everybody wants to stick around and see what’s gonna be said, including Arya. Wanna bet Miss Perfect Elf Ice Princess has a pointy ear glued to the door?

 
Nasuada sat partially turned away from Eragon and Saphira. “So we meet again, Rider.”

“When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master!”

 
“You haven’t greeted me. Have I offended you?”

Yeah, here’s another typical Sue/Stu trait – people always care deeply about the Sue’s state of mind, even if their DAD just died and they just got pulled into being the puppet leader of a terrorist organization. Because Eragon’s sooooo speshul that everybody HAS to be on his good side!

“No, Nasuada; I was reluctant to speak for fear of being rude or foolish. Current circumstances are unkind to hasty statements.”

Would it be SO hard to just say, “Congratulations” or the purple prose equivalent?

 
Paranoia that they might be eavesdropped on gripped him.

Paranoia is when you experience mistrust that warps your perception of reality – is Paolini saying that his Stu is deluded? And you’d think that the dwarves would give the Council a soundproof room for their important top-secret business…. but then again, since they deliberately leave the dwarves out of all their business so they can kiss elven butt, maybe it ISN’T soundproof.

So Eragon starts using the Magical Stu Tongue: “Atra nosu waíse vardo fra eld hórnya. . . . There, now we may speak without being overheard by man, dwarf, or elf.”

… wow, awkward much? Why can’t Mr. Ye-Olde-Prose-of-Deepest-Violet just say, “There, now we may speak without being overhead by anyone” or “There, now no one can hear us.” Or does Eragon’s little pronouncement ONLY apply to men, dwarves and elves – meaning women, Shades, Ra’zac and dragons can peep as much as they want?

Anyway, Saphira walks around the table (amazingly, without knocking over any chairs or the table), basically sticks her giant eye in Nasuada’s face, and then starts making pompous Suey pronouncements.

 
…her strength must become the Varden’s when she assumes Ajihad’s mantle. They will need a sure guide.

So they choose a teenage girl who hasn’t go the faintest idea what she’s doing. That’s a sure-fire way for the Varden to start showing cracks in about five minutes, and realistically people would see appointing an inexperienced teenager as a sign of weakness.

“Ajihad was a great man—his name will always be remembered. . . .”

I’m not quite sure why he’d always be remembered, or why he’s considered a great man. He was the leader of an UNDERGROUND terrorist organization. If they get squelched by the bad guys, he’ll be a minor annoyance in the history books.

Eragon starts rambling about how Ajihad made him promise to not let the Varden fall into chaos, but also failed to mention how he was supposed to do that. Useful, huh?

 
“I’m not sure what Ajihad meant, nor exactly what he wanted, but I am certain of this: I will always defend the Varden with my powers.”

… except when he goes off for months at a time to do his own thing. That isn’t much a promise, really – and not very effective at keeping the Varden from falling into chaos.

 
“I wanted you to understand that, and that I’ve no desire to usurp the Varden’s leadership.”

…. because it would keep him from rushing around riding his dragon and having Suey adventures, wouldn’t it?

Then Nasuada reveals that she knows that the Council wants her to be a puppet and that she and daddy had planned for all this. This makes the whole thing even more ridiculous – who would assume that a rebel faction would automatically select a kid just because her daddy used to rule? Nobody! As I said before, rebel factions have zero reason to have hereditary leadership, if nothing else because they’re not intended to be long-term organizations.

So Nasuada plans to take control of the Varden instead, which isn’t really something that would end well. Allowing yourself to be set up as a puppet ruler and then deciding you’re the Big Boss without getting rid of the people with the strings… well, it’s begging for an assassination.

It’s also REALLY stupid to assume that the Council wouldn’t have set things up so that, even if the little girl got uppity and tried to boss them around, she wouldn’t have actual power.

“Continue to keep Ajihad’s instruction secret. It would be unwise to bandy it about, as people might take it to mean that he wanted you to succeed him, and that would undermine my authority and destabilize the Varden.”

That really wouldn’t take much. Honestly, she wouldn’t have much actual authority, just because there’s no reason to respect her judgement or abilities. Oooo, she used to talk with her daddy. Whee.

Destabilize the Varden? See above. In a semi-realistic book, it would already be destabilizing because for some reason they’re putting an inexperienced kid in charge of a complex organization.

 
“He said what he thought he had to in order to protect the Varden. I would have done the same.”

Sorry, how does extracting a very generic and vague promise from an idiot farmboy protect the Varden? A kid sitting on a giant lizard is not going to magically make people stop rioting and splitting into factions.

 
“All of Ajihad’s plans, all his strategies and goals, they are mine now.”

Also his collection of furry porn, his life-size stuffed dragon, and his hamster named Wilbur.

Seriously, what were his strategies and goals? And given how delicate political and military strategies can be, it does not make sense that you can just “inherit” them. They would change from one person to the next, and merely hearing about them doesn’t give you the intelligence or knowledge necessary to implement them properly.

Ever heard of Bismarck? A brilliant guy who had incredible political strategies, but nobody except him was capable of keeping them up or forging new ones from the ashes. Guess what we got out of that: World War I!

 
“The Empire will be brought down, Galbatorix will be dethroned, and the rightful government will be raised.”

And pray, what IS the rightful government? Galbatorix has been doing his job quite well for a CENTURY, and clearly the government is well entrenched and fairly efficient as medieval pre-industrial governments go. By all standards, this IS the rightful government of Alagaesia – just because some people don’t like it doesn’t mean that it isn’t rightful.

Apparently Paolini thinks that a government isn’t “rightful” if it’s acquired by usurpation. Of course, he’s apparently unaware that most of the governments that exist today have been usurped at one time or another – if going up against the legal long-term government and creating your own is automatically evil and invalid forever, then the US government isn’t “rightful.” Neither is the English one (starting as far back as 1066, when the Saxons were conquered and their nobility usurped by the Normans). And so on and so on and so on. History fail.

And for that matter, what rightful government would there be? Before Galby, there were apparently just the Dragon Rider Douches and some ineffectual kings/nobility who just crumbled and fell on their bottoms as soon as the Dragon Riders died. What kind of government is that?

Frankly, given that apparently Paolini’s characters would rather have hereditary leaders than a democracy, republic or ruling council, this is just sounding like Nasuada setting HERSELF up to be the queen of Alagaesia by usurping Galby’s position. So now our hero is a sociopathic egomaniacal moron, and the designated Noble Leader is trying to usurp the usurper for her own gain. Whee.

 
By the time she finished, a tear ran down her cheek.

I need to start chugging drinks when they do that. Who cries a single tear? Somebody with only one eye?

“And what of me, Nasuada? What shall I do in the Varden?”
She looked directly into his eyes. “You can do whatever you want.”

…. cuz in a rebel organization, it makes perfect sense that the leader would want the inexplicably influential Designated Hero and his giant firebreathing dragon to just go off and do their thing.

Nasuada’s been in power for ten minutes, and already she’s making idiot decisions.

 
“The council members are fools if they think to control you.”

… and she’s a fool for willingly giving up his proffered help. He said that he wanted to help out and would do anything, and she’s turning it down to piss in the Council’s eye.

 
“If you go against the council or me, we will be forced to yield, for the people will support you wholeheartedly. Right now, you are the most powerful person in the Varden.”

… and she’s actually telling the little dumbass this? Does she also hand razor-sharp knives to people who really, really hate her? She’s ASKING for trouble.

“However, if you accept my leadership, I will continue the path laid down by Ajihad: you will go with Arya to the elves, be instructed there, then return to the Varden.”

Apparently she can’t make up her mind what she’s gonna let Eragon do – one minute she’s announcing that they can do whatever she wants and that she can’t stop them, and the next she’s trying to bribe Eragon into supporting her by… letting do what he wants.

It’s official: Nasuada is the worst negotiator EVER.

 
Why is she so honest with us? wondered Eragon. If she’s right, could we have refused the council’s demands?

Yes, dumbass. And the only reason you didn’t realize that is because you’re a moron who can’t bluff.

 
I think Nasuada is honest because your spell lets her be, and also because she hopes to win our loyalty from the elders.

So basically Nasuada is as manipulative and self-serving as the Council… but because she’s pretty and acts aristocratic, it’s okay when she tries to manipulate Eragon for her own ends.

Eragon isn’t bright enough to realize this, so he asks Saphira if they can trust Nasuada… because clearly a newborn dragon is the best judge of character in the world.

 
Yes, said Saphira. She spoke with her heart.

Which is even more terrifying. Nothing is worse than a stupid politician who doesn’t act with their brain.

So Eragon whips out his sword and walks over to Nasuada, and she understandably freaks out. It’s worth noting that this is a single DAY after their leader was butchered, but apparently security is so lax around their new leader in the COUNCIL CHAMBER that a sociopathic moron can run at her waving a sword.

 
“Nasuada, Saphira and I have been here for only a short while. But in that time”

“… we inexplicably became SO important that we have more power than anyone else around here, including kings.”

“You fought under Farthen Dûr when others fled, including the two women of the council, and have treated us openly instead of with deception.”

  1. Apparently Mr. Awesome SuperWarrior thinks old ladies with no discernible battle skills are weenies if they don’t go out and fight.
  2. Yes, clearly they are just cowards, rather than staying out of the way of people who know what they’re doing.
  3. Uh, Nasuada is manipulating them just like the Council. She’s just trying to bribe them openly, and she’s doing a damn poor job of it by undermining herself.
  4. Fighting in a battle does not a good politician/leader make, especially when that fighting doesn’t involve leadership. It can help, but it does not automatically make you a brilliant leader.
  5. That’s like saying that Winston Churchill shouldn’t have been trusted because he didn’t go out and fight, even though he could get a lot more done with his brains.

 
“Therefore, I offer you my blade . . . and my fealty as a Rider.”

Does Paolini know what fealty involves? It’s basically pledging your loyalty and allegiance to one person – and Eragon’s just doing it to someone he’s known about a week, because he figures that because she’s not Fat’n’Ugly, she must be a good person.

Eragon wanks about how he wouldn’t have said it before the battle, but after seeing all those men die he’s decided to be selfless and fight on behalf of all non-Designated Villains in Alagaesia. Even though he recently declared that life has no meaning.

 
For the time being, the best thing he could do was serve.

… which he’s gonna do by meandering off on his own errand for awhile.

 
Still, he and Saphira were taking a terrible risk in pledging themselves to Nasuada.

It’s hard to be very worried about what’s gonna happen to them when, in fact, it’s already been established that nobody can do anything to them because they are AUTOMATICALLY AWESOME. Nasuada’s already stated that Eragon is the most powerful most popular most influential person in da house, so why should we worry about him pissing off the council?

 
The council could not object because all Eragon had said was that he would swear fealty, but not to whom.

… primarily because of poorly written dialogue to provide a loophole that no actual politician would provide.

Even so, he and Saphira had no guarantee that Nasuada would make a good leader. It’s better to be sworn to an honest fool than to a lying scholar, decided Eragon.

WRONG. First of all, only a moron thinks there are honest people of any intellectual level in politics or leadership. Nasuada’s shown that she’s still dirty (trying to bribe Eragon with something her dad had already promised), but just slightly more open about it – which, from a politician’s POV, is really stupid. If Eragon wanted, he could have refused her little bribe and denounced her for it.

Second, if given an option between those two evils, I’d rather have a competent person who sometimes lies than an incompetent moron who blurts out all their dirty little plans. At least a competent lying person would actually be able to RUN the Varden, whereas an “honest fool” would probably have riots starting by nightfall.

Third, what is with this bizarre idea of Paolini’s that it’s better to have someone openly bribing you than to try to get you to support their unspoken plans? They’re both dirty, it’s just that one is smarter than the other.

 
Surprise flitted across Nasuada’s face. She grasped Zar’roc’s hilt and lifted it—staring at its crimson blade—then placed the tip on Eragon’s head.

Please, please, please let the rest of the scene involve Eragon’s head rolling around the room.

Of course, Nasuada accepts his fealty and Eragon blurts out the whole promise the Council extracted from him, and apparently he figures that since he bounced into swearing fealty to somebody he barely knows, he’s thwarted the Evil Council. Cuz, y’know, manipulating a blithering idiot who doesn’t recognize that Nasuada’s offer is insultingly stupid is obviously a sign of being Evil.

 
Nasuada laughed with genuine delight. “Ah, I see you have already learned how to play our game.”

As well as the Anita Blake cast does. In other words, really boring politics done by somebody who clearly doesn’t know much about it, written by an author who can’t manage complexity.

Anyway, Eragon agrees to give her fealty again in public so everybody and they figure that’s the end of any trouble with the council. Which makes no sense, because they would still be powerful and influential which (in a better book) would be continuing trouble for both Eragon and Nasuada. This is especially true because obviously the Council is smart enough to do their stuff behind-the-scenery, and Nasuada and Eragon are too dumb to hide their shit.

 
“Remember, Eragon, the bond we have just created is equally binding; I am as responsible for your actions as you are required to serve me. Do not dishonor me.”
“Nor you I.”

… was there a sentence removed from that conversation, or is Paolini just failing at formal English?

And since the Sue’s personal woes matter more than anyone else’s, Nasuada goes out of her way to lavish condolences on him.

 
“while I have lost my father, you have also lost a friend.”

… because obviously losing your dad is the same as a losing some dude you’ve known for, like, two weeks. And if she were really so sad about it, she’d send somebody to check the tunnels, just in case he ISN’T dead.

Eragon starts wangsting for no particular reason when he leaves, and how confusing his life is. Saphira basically tells him to buck up and stop whining, but he won’t stop with the wangst. In fact, she gets SO pissed that she singes him.

 
Oops, said Saphira, shaking her head to clear the smoke.
Oops! You nearly roasted my side!

Y’know, this is actually a rather decent conversation, in that you could imagine this happening to a dragon and its rider. I expect it to stop soon.

 
I didn’t expect it to happen. I keep forgetting that fire will come out if I’m not careful. Imagine that every time you raised your arm, lightning struck the ground. It would be easy to make a careless motion and destroy something unintentionally.

This sounds a lot better than it actually is. Think about it – not only does that mean that she could kill somebody if she got distracted, but she’d spew flame while she was asleep. And they’re letting her wander around Tronjheim freely…. why?

I can only assume that fire control is supposed to be like potty-training, where eventually you develop the ability to control it even if you’re not concentrating on it.

Anyway, Saphira demonstrates the sad fact that she’s way smarter than either Eragon or Nasuada by pointing out that she has no problem with breaking Eragon’s promise because she is not personally tied by it. She even states that she’s willing to kidnap him if necessary.

And of course Eragon, being a naive weenie who doesn’t notice bribery and inept politicking, is horrified by this.

 
It should never come to that. If we have to use such tricks to do what’s right, then Nasuada and the Varden will have lost all integrity.

So he’d rather do what’s wrong and have his integrity? What a loser. Yo, in real life, sometimes there ARE situations where you have to choose between doing what’s right and breaking your word. That’s how life is, especially in a war run by stupid people.

And it seems to me that the Varden don’t have much integrity already. Eragon just USED tricks and lies to get his way with the council – and that wasn’t even a moral issue, just because he decided the council was BadBadBad for engaging in typical politics. Nasuada lied by saying she’d honor her father’s decisions and plans, and then trying to use one of those plans to bribe Eragon (which only worked because he’s dumber than she is).

Anyway, they then wander into the city’s library, and Arya’s just sitting there. Except she’s moving. But she’s not.

 
She seemed more agitated than he had ever seen her, though it manifested itself only in the tension of her movements.

Again, is she sort of jittering around in place? Can elves be hyperactive?

 
Unlike before, she wore her sword with the graceful crossguard

… because Elves Crap Gold And Fart Perfume. Ergo, they can’t carry around anything ugly, plain or clumsy.

 
“What have you done?” asked Arya with unexpected hostility.
“How so?”

Somebody needs to reacquaint Paolini with basic English. Not only is that a pretty clear query, but it sounds like he’s asking her to explain a statement, not a question.

Anyway, Arya is understandably pissed that Eragon has been off playing at politics when he probably couldn’t negotiate a two-cent pay raise. Eragon starts making random apologies without having a clue what’s going off, and Arya rips his head off. Metaphorically speaking, sadly.

 
“In all that time, I struggled to ensure the Varden had wise, strong leaders who could resist Galbatorix and respect our wishes.”

… because of course the elves’ wishes matter above all else. They can’t bother to get off their sylvan asses to help the Varden on a regular basis, but heaven forbid their interests not be represented.

If I may rant for a second, this is one of the problems of people ripping off Tolkien’s elves wholesale without bothering with logic. It makes sense in Lord of the Rings that the elves are relatively uninvolved in the war because they’re drifting out of the mortal world, and disconnecting from the mortal world’s affairs as they go. And even then, they manage to be more involved in the War of the Ring than Paolini’s elves apparently have been, since Thranduil was off kicking orcish ass with dwarves and men.

Paolini’s elves aren’t fading, they aren’t leaving, they aren’t being driven out, and they really don’t have any reason to sit in the woods staring at their navels.

 
“Ajihad was committed to your remaining independent so that the balance of power would not be upset.”

Well, he obviously did a damn poor job of doing it since he never told Eragon, “Hey, make sure you stay independent no matter what. You could upset the balance of power, kthnx.” And he gave Eragon a ridiculously vague final request that could be interpreted in a dozen different ways.

Wait, doesn’t that mean that Ajihad was doing political manipulation without being open about it? Clearly he was as Ebil as the Ebil Council, because he was doing the same stuff that they did…. but wait! He’s absolved because he’s a Designated Noble Leader.

And it really says a lot about what Arya thinks of Eragon’s intellect that she thinks he’s completely screwed up her entire life’s work. She clearly thinks he’s a blithering idiot who can’t be trusted with ordering a pizza, and gets mad at him immediately.

Dismayed, Eragon dropped all pretenses.

Wait, he had pretenses? What were those?

 
With short, clear words, he explained

… BUWAHAHAHAHAHA! It is to laugh! Short clear words?!

So he basically explains what he did, but he seems uninterested in the political ramifications of what he’s done or what Arya might think of them. He’s more interested in the fact that Arya’s been hanging around there for seventy years, and dribbling about how hot she is and how she totally doesn’t look old.

 
“Saphira . . . and you . . . understand more than I thought.”

Well, there’s a backhanded compliment. “You two aren’t COMPLETELY the blithering idiots I thought you were, so congratulations.”

 
“Your compromise will be accepted by the elves, though you must never forget your debt to us for Saphira. There would be no Riders without our efforts.”

Now Arya seems to be jumping on the political manipulation train – apparently she now wants Eragon to be indebted to the elves even though only one elf has ever done jack-shit for him. Yeah, he has Saphira. But he wasn’t GIVEN her by the elves, nor was he even given the option of being a Rider. It makes even less sense when you consider that Paolini also claims that dragon eggs will only hatch for their chosen rider. In other words, Saphira would have been useless to them without Eragon, and she wouldn’t hatch for ANYONE ELSE… so if anything, THEY owe HIM.

Elf Sue and her inept Elf Stus LOST the egg when she sent it flying across the country. Eragon found it. He is NOT indebted to the elves, and this is just a transparent attempt to tie him to them so they can keep their perfect graceful foot in the door.

And if you know the background of said egg, you also discover that the only reason the elves HAD the egg was because they STOLE it from Galby. But apparently that’s morally acceptable because he’s a Designated Villain – if someone is a Designated Villain, then anything you steal from him automatically counts as yours. Makes sense.

But since Arya is hawt and an elf, Eragon doesn’t seem to mind that she’s trying to trap him politically into being in her debt. After all, that’s only bad if done by someone ugly or fat.

 
“You have been gone for such a long time; do you miss Ellesméra? Or did you live elsewhere?”

  1. She never said that she hadn’t been to Ellesmera in all that time. She just said that she’d been working among the Varden for seventy years.
  2. Of course she lives elsewhere, moron. She lives with the VARDEN now, so obviously she doesn’t live in Ellesmera.

 
“I have not lived in my family’s house since I left for the Varden, when the walls and windows were draped with spring’s first flowers. The times I’ve returned were only fleeting stays, vanishing flecks of memory by our measurement.”

  1. This sounds very pretty, but it doesn’t actually mean anything except that it was spring when she left. It specifies the time of year, but not the year itself – it could be a dozen, a hundred, a THOUSAND years ago.
  2. So…. she’s paid occasional visits? Whee. Wanna bet she’s estranged from some family member and will make up with them once she gets back?
  3. And wanna bet that Ellesmera is an awful lot like Lothlorien, except stupid and pretentious and really really illogical?

 
He noticed, once again, that she smelled like crushed pine needles. It was a faint, spicy odor that opened his senses and refreshed his mind.

It’s a little creepy that he’s hanging around sniffing Elf Sue. Scratch that – it’s a lot creepy.

“It must be hard to live among all these dwarves and humans without any of your kind.”

Well, if the elves weren’t such stuck-up little farts, they would send a few more.

 
She cocked her head. “You speak of humans as if you weren’t one.”

No, he was not. If I say to a man in a roomful of women, “It must be hard to be the only man surrounded by women,” that doesn’t mean that I don’t consider myself one. It just means that I’m identifying HIM as one of the non-woman people.

 
“Perhaps . . . ,” he hesitated, “perhaps I am something else—a mixture of two races.”

Aaaaaaaaand cue the next Sue trait: a Sue cannot be an ordinary mundane ANYTHING – it ups their speshulness greatly if they get to be a hybrid of some kind, whether they’re born like that or become that way artificially. The worst example of this is Anita Blake (a human/vampire/panwere/necromancer), but Eragon is bad enough.

And given that this guy is such an arrogant little douchey sociopath, it’s kind of creepy that he’s eschewing his ties to the human race.

“That is how it should be,” said Arya. “A pact more ancient and powerful than you can imagine links you.”

A pact doesn’t really count between two people if they didn’t agree to it mutually.

 
“You won’t truly understand what it means to be a Rider until your training is completed.”

“And to do that, you’ll have to meet your resident Yoda.”

 
“But that must wait until after the funeral. In the meantime, may the stars watch over you.”

That sounds quite impressive, except that we later find that all the elves are atheists. So… why would an atheist give someone a blessing, especially if it’s not a casual one like “Bless you” after a sneeze? Apparently they don’t think the stars are gods, so why would they want the stars to watch anybody?

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