Unsurprisingly Eragon fainted at the end of the last chapter… but for some reason he doesn’t actually wake up in this one. He just staggers out and bumps into Cadoc, who AGAIN is the only one unaffected by what’s going on. First he stayed calm and still during a HURRICANE that sent Saphira flopping around, and now he’s totally unaffected by magical explosions and massive shock waves.
This horse should be the hero of this series! He clearly is the horse version of Superman!
Eragon found Snowfire, nostrils flared and ears flat against his head, prancing by the corner of a house, ready to bolt.
You see? You see? The perfect awesome WHITE horse is freaking out and ready to run away WITH AN INJURED MAN ON HIS BACK, while SUPERHORSE (which is what I’m gonna call Cadoc from now on) is perfectly calm and checking on his master! SUPERHORSE requires no soothing or special treatment! He also has laser eyes, he can fly, he speaks French and Russian without an accent, and he can levitate things with his mind!
SUPERHORSE! The real hero of the Eragon series!
Eragon goes over and checks on Brom, and Brom has passed out from a wound in his arm. The wound bled profusely, but it was neither deep nor wide. So how come it’s bleeding so much? Is Brom just a big weenie at the sight of blood? Never fear, for SUPERHORSE will heal his wounds!
The scrawny teenage boy drags Brom out of the saddle, and is amazed when Brom hits the ground like a man-sized potato. Who knew that teenage boys weren’t strong enough to lift a grown man after getting conked on the head?
And as if this scene weren’t pointless enough, Saphira shows up, having contributed absolutely nothing to the ACTION SCENE. I realize that there might be a certain lack of tension if you have a dragon all the time to fight your battles, but…. well, it sorta loses its effect when the dragon comes back after the battle! I mean, she went off to wait for them… and just sorta wandered back when she heard a small explosion? What if it had been some medieval dude holding a match in a big dung-filled barn? “WOW, A DRAGON!”
I mean, did she figure that Brom telling her to go off somewhere else and wait for them was just a suggestion? Did she get bored and decide to see what took so long?
A scream of rage filled his head. Saphira dived out of the sky and landed fiercely in front of him, keeping her wings half raised. She hissed angrily, eyes burning. Her tail lashed, and Eragon winced as it snapped overhead.
Sorry Saphira, he’s already been saved by…
And by that, I mean happening to mistake a magic spell for swearing. And not a totally useless magic spell like “grow mushrooms! Lots of mushrooms!” So you can stop posing and trying to defend him from the huge pile of dead bodies. You’re just showing us how epically useless you were.
Are you hurt? she asked, rage boiling in her voice.
“No,” he assured her as he laid Brom on his back.
“And now I’m going to have my wicked way with Brom.”
She growled and exclaimed, Where are the ones who did this? I will tear them apart!
“I’ll kill whoever lightly cut Brom’s arm and left you totally unhurt! They will die!”
He wearily pointed in the direction of the alley. “It’ll do no good; they’re already dead.”
You killed them? Saphira sounded surprised.
“But you’re so incredibly lame! I just don’t get it!”
He nodded. “Somehow.” With a few terse words, he told her what had happened
“Me made big boom.”
Saphira said gravely, You have grown.
“Really? Damn, I’ve been waiting for my growth spurt for YEARS…”
“No, I meant that in a vague internal way. Because it’s a sign of growth to accidentally cause an explosion by yelling a word you don’t understand.”
“Oh…. am I taller?”
He cleans and bandages Brom’s cut, which is obviously not bleeding very much or he would have taken longer. And he whines for awhile about how he wishes they were in Palancar Valley, because he knew about Magic Healing Herbs there. Uh, you’re surrounded by HOUSES. Surely at least a few of them have SOMETHING you could use. And why are you using grubby old rags when you could go into a house and find a clean shirt or something? It’s not like the dead people need them!
For that matter, as morbid as it is, why isn’t Eragon pillaging some supplies from the village since all the people are dead? I mean, last chapter they were griping about how they had somehow used up all their water. And they’re probably running low on food. So, uh, why not at least salvage SOMETHING from this disaster?
Saphira insists that they should leave because there might be more Urgals. Yeah, if there were any Urgals around, I think they would have investigated that explosion!
Can you carry Brom?
Your saddle will hold him in place, and you can protect him.
Yes, let’s tie the legs of the injured unconscious man to a dragon, so his top half can flop and roll around until he dies of a broken neck.
She snaked her head past him and caught the back of Brom’s robe between her teeth. Arching her neck, she lifted the old man off the ground, like a cat would a kitten, and deposited him onto her back.
- I’m pretty sure his robe would rip like tissue paper.
- Also, why is Brom still unconscious?! He had a minor injury that bled a lot but then stopped after a minute, and THAT was enough to make him pass out cold?!
- Is this guy REALLY supposed to have been a dragon-rider? Because he seems kinda wussy!
- Oh right, he’s totally is not a dragon-rider and is just a storyteller. My bad.
Sure enough, Brom only wakes up when Eragon has tied his legs to Saphira. Oh, now I get it – Brom’s being lazy. He just wanted other people to lift him up and buckle him in, so he played dead until them.
Brom blinked blearily, putting a hand to his head. He gazed down at Eragon with concern. “Did Saphira get here in time?”
“No, she was completely useless. Why are dragons so awesome again?”
Eragon shook his head. “I’ll explain it later. Your arm is injured. I bandaged it as best I could, but you need a safe place to rest.”
“Because we all know there’s nothing more traumatic than a shallow cut to the arm!”
“Are you sure you want me to ride her?” asked Brom. “I can ride Snowfire.”
“Because he’s WHITE. That means he’s obviously a better choice than a dragon!”
So Saphira flies off with Brom, and Eragon goes trotting off with Snowfire and SUPERHORSE. Which means it’s now time for pointless scenery descriptions, yay!
It led through a rocky area, veered left, and continued along the bank of the Ninor River. Ferns, mosses, and small bushes dotted the side of the path. It was refreshingly cool under the trees, but Eragon did not let the soothing air lull him into a sense of security.
Can I please ask why there is a steppe with a giant river in the middle of it? I mean, steppes are semi-arid, just moist enough that they don’t turn into deserts. But we have this giant river surrounded by plants in the middle of it…. plus random thunderstorms that crop up and almost flood the place!
But then, there’s not a lot of logic to this whole map.
Glancing down, he saw the Ra’zac’s spoor.
“Spoor” just means any trackable sign of an animal. Usually poop or tracks. I think Paolini thinks it’s the former…. ew.
At least we’re going in the right direction. Saphira circled overhead, keeping a keen eye on him.
“And by the way, Brom says he’s motion-sick from all this circling, and if you don’t get your ass in gear he’s going to puke on you.”
It disturbed him that they had seen only two Urgals. The villagers had been killed and Yazuac ransacked by a large horde, yet where was it? Perhaps the ones we encountered were a rear guard or a trap left for anyone who was following the main force.
… or maybe the people of Yazuac were just hopelessly bad fighters, and the Urgals are just THAT GOOD.
And then Eragon has a joygasm because he used MAGICKS!
Somehow I’ve become a sorcerer or wizard!
And I’ve used a toaster. By his logic, that makes me an electrical worker.
But he did not know how to use this new power again or what its limits and dangers might be. How can I have this ability? Was it common among the Riders? And if Brom knew of it, why didn’t he tell me? He shook his head in wonder and bewilderment.
- He has it because he’s a Stu.
- It’s common among Stus/Sues.
- Brom didn’t tell him because Brom obviously loves to fuck with people by not telling them important stuff. Yeah, that’s worked SO well so far.
- So even though dragons are supposed to be attuned to magic and all that, Saphira doesn’t have a clue about the magic either. Terrific.
- Even though she can apparently remember things that happened a century before she hatched.
- Because LOGIC.
Saphira, can you find us a place to stay? I can’t see very far down here.
“I’ll settle for a Motel 6, but I’d prefer the Hilton.”
So at twilight Saphira tells him that there’s a nice clearing ahead where they can spend the night, and despite having a GRIEVOUSLY WOUNDED ARM, Brom managed to gather firewood and start a fire.
Saphira was crouched beside him, her body tense. She looked intently at Eragon and asked, Are you sure you aren’t hurt?
Not on the outside . . . but I’m not sure about the rest of me.
Enough with the “oh, I’m so traumatized by the horrible sights I’ve seen!” crapola, kid. You saw a heap of dead bodies, which would be traumatic for anybody, but then you spent all day geeking out over the fact that “I haz majik!” You obviously aren’t very traumatized by what you saw.
This whole scenario might have worked a lot better if it had been BROM geeking out over Eragon’s magic, since he’s presumably seen dead bodies before and probably worse BECAUSE HE’S A DRAGONRIDER. That way, Eragon could have been numb and traumatized, as he should be. We could even work in that this is doubly traumatic because his uncle died just a few days ago.
I should have been there sooner.
Yes. Yes, you should. What the hell were you doing?
But Eragon just brushes it off, and asks Brom how he’s feeling.
The old man glanced at his arm. “It’s a large scratch and hurts terribly, but it should heal quickly enough. I need a fresh bandage; this one didn’t last as long as I’d hoped.” They boiled water to wash Brom’s wound.
- How advanced is medical science in this world? I mean, do they know about germs? Infections? Sterilization?
- SCRATCH? He describes it as a SCRATCH and yet it’s supposed to be bleeding SO MUCH that he passed out?
When their bellies were full and warm, Brom lit his pipe. “Now, I think it’s time for you to tell me what transpired while I was unconscious. I am most curious.”
“I was totally not faking being unconscious so I wouldn’t have to do stuff for myself. I was NOT doing that.”
His face reflected the flickering firelight, and his bushy eyebrows stuck out fiercely.
Then Gandalf stormed into the clearing and demanded that Brom return his bushy eyebrows.
Eragon tells Brom what happened, and Brom doesn’t react at all. You would expect at least a LITTLE reaction from him, especially since… once again… he could have averted a lot of confusion and potential disaster by just TELLING Eragon what the fuck is going on.
Brom finally stirred. “Have you used this power before?”
“No. Do you know anything about it?”
“I’m not a Jedi!”
“A little.” Brom’s face was thoughtful. “It seems I owe you a debt for saving my life. I hope I can return the favor someday. You should be proud; few escape unscathed from slaying their first Urgal. But the manner in which you did it was very dangerous. You could have destroyed yourself and the whole town.”
- He ain’t kidding about the Urgals, since apparently two of them killed a whole town.
- If it wasn’t just them, then I have no idea why they were there.
- Here’s an idea, dumbass – if you knew that he might do this, why didn’t you TALK to him about it?!
- I mean, doing magic and then not telling him “oh, this is very dangerous” is the equivalent of leaving him in a fast car with the keys in the ignition, but neglecting to mention that driving requires practice.
“It wasn’t as if I had a choice,” said Eragon defensively. “The Urgals were almost upon me. If I had waited, they would have chopped me into pieces!”
… uh, you didn’t do it deliberately. You didn’t have the faintest idea what you were doing. Has Paolini forgotten this? Did he somehow forget this in the last few pages?
Brom stamped his teeth vigorously on the pipe stem. “You didn’t have any idea what you were doing.”
And whose fault is that, you old fart?
“Then tell me,” challenged Eragon. “I’ve been searching for answers to this mystery, but I can’t make sense of it. What happened? How could I have possibly used magic? No one has ever instructed me in it or taught me spells.”
Brom’s eyes flashed. “This isn’t something you should be taught—much less use!”
If he doesn’t even know HOW he’s using it, he can’t stop, you dumbass. Teaching might allow him to keep his magic under control… but that means you might have to actually keep him informed instead of withholding EVERYTHING.
I mean, to use the Star Wars comparison again, this is like if Luke had force-choked Uncle Owen almost to death because Uncle Owen wouldn’t let him go to the Academy, and Obi-Wan refused to tell Luke HOW he did it and HOW to control it because he might possibly do bad things with it. He’s GOT the power already, he learned how to use it because YOU were too lazy to bother making a fire the old-fashioned way, and he’s probably going to hurt someone if you don’t fucking teach him!
“Well, I have used it, and I may need it to fight again. But I won’t be able to if you don’t help me. What’s wrong? Is there some secret I’m not supposed to learn until I’m old and wise? Or maybe you don’t know anything about magic!”
“Boy!” roared Brom. “You demand answers with an insolence rarely seen. If you knew what you asked for, you would not be so quick to inquire. Do not try me.”
“Stop demanding that I actually tell you anything! It’s my JOB to withhold anything important from you until it’s too late! That’s what I do! Don’t rock the boat by expecting me to actually TELL you relevant information after you almost blew up a town! How dare you expect me to tell you anything after me not telling you anything led to your uncle’s death and the loss of your home!”
Here’s some comparisons in the fantasy/scifi world. When Gandalf finds out that Frodo definitely has the One Ring, what does he do? He sits Frodo down on his butt and infodumps him about THOUSANDS of years of history involving the Ring, as well as virtually everybody who was tied to it. He tells Frodo virtually everything he needs right then and there!
And old Ben? He tells Luke a lot of important information about the Empire and the Force and crap. Granted he lies about Luke’s dad and Darth Vader, but not about anything that might have gotten Luke killed or cause him to kill someone else. When it comes to the Force and learning to use it, he’s perfectly happy to tell Luke!
This does not make Brom seem like a wise and knowledgeable mentor! It makes him look like an asshole who is too lazy to actually bother teaching Eragon anything, even if potential DEATH could result from it!
He paused, then relaxed into a kinder countenance. “The knowledge you ask for is more complex than you understand.”
Uh no, it’s not. It’s saying magic words and having shit happen. It’s NOT complicated.
Eragon rose hotly in protest. “I feel as though I’ve been thrust into a world with strange rules that no one will explain.”
Because effectively he HAS. Since magic is pretty much a part of Dragonriders and their stuff, and he’s being pushed into attacking an evil king who HAS MAGIC, keeping him ignorant is just cruel and stupid.
So since Eragon has finally gotten sick of Brom’s refusal to tell him anything, Brom finally relents and tells him a little about magic.
“This magic—for it is magic—has rules like the rest of the world. If you break the rules, the penalty is death, without exception.”
Except when it just gives you a wedgie.
And by the way, most of the rules are tossed out the window in Eldest. By the third book, he’s casually curing cancer.
“Your deeds are limited by your strength, the words you know, and your imagination.”
“What do you mean by words?” asked Eragon.
“More questions!” cried Brom.
“Stop asking questions! I hate answering questions! It means I have to actually TELL you stuff, and I HATE that!”
“For a moment I had hoped you were empty of them. But you are quite right in asking.”
If he’s right in asking, don’t bitch at him for asking!
Brom says that “brisingr” is not a fantasy word for “shit,” it’s actually part of an ancient language that the mundane humans and dwarves forgot, and which we only got back when the Perfect Glitter-Crapping Elves brought it back. Because of course, Elves would NEVER forget a magical language because they’re perfect.
I’ll give you a moment to finish puking from the pro-Elf stuff. It doesn’t make any sense that other people would just FORGET a language that allows them to make freaking magic. And for that matter, unless there was a Tower of Babel situation in Alagaesia, wouldn’t all the current languages be offshoots of the ancient language? Sort of like French, Italian and Spanish all being offshoots of Latin?
Okay, apparently the magical language has a name for everybody and everything in the world, and if you have the power of Sue, you can use the various names in the ancient language to make whatever you’re talking about do whatever you want. Wow, this sounds so very familiar…. where have I heard it before?… it’s on the tip of my tongue…
That’s right. This sounds suspiciously similar to the groundbreaking magical system in Ursula Le Guin’s classic Earthsea series. To sum it up, I’ll let wikipedia tell you what it is:
Magic on Earthsea is primarily verbal. Everything has a true name in the Old Speech, the language of the dragons. One who knows the true name of an object has power over it. A person also has a true name; for safety’s sake, he or she will only reveal it to those he or she trusts implicitly. A “use” name, which has no magical property, suffices for everyday purposes. For example, the wizard whose true name is Ged is known by the use name Sparrowhawk.
Of course, the way it’s presented in Paolini’s world, it doesn’t make sense. If people once used this language constantly in their everyday lives, how could they talk about anything? I mean, if you know everybody’s true names, people could easily control each other. And how could you talk about something like water, fire or explosions without CAUSING those things to go awry?
And how the hell could Eragon cause an EXPLOSION by saying something that he thought was just a random swear word?
A good example: In the Dresden Files series, wizards use languages other than their usual everyday one for magic spells. For instance, Harry uses the word “fuego” when he casts a fire spell. Why? Because if he just said “fire” he would run the risk of causing fires every time he said the word “fire.” So he does it in languages he doesn’t speak to avoid that.
Eragon thought about it for a moment. “Why was the fire blue? How come it did exactly what I wanted, if all I said was fire?”
“The color varies from person to person. It depends on who says the word.”
Why? Because it’s cooler that way! No other reason! And because Eragon has a blue theme going!
“As to why the fire did what you wanted, that’s a matter of practice. Most beginners have to spell out exactly what they want to happen. As they gain more experience, it isn’t as necessary. A true master could just say water and create something totally unrelated, like a gemstone. You wouldn’t be able to understand how he had done it, but the master would have seen the connection between water and the gem and would have used that as the focal point for his power. The practice is more of an art than anything else. What you did was extremely difficult.”
… so in other words, he just contradicted himself by saying that the actual words you use are totally unrelated to the thing you make. I could say “ceramic dish” and have a burrito appear, meaning that apparently the magic is NOT verbally based because you can do whatever you want as long as there’s some tenuous connection. LOGIC.
At least that MIGHT explain… sort of… maybe… how saying what he thought was a swear word could cause an explosion. But when you’re contradicting the whole concept of your magic system and how you use it IN THE SAME CONVERSATION it just… I… I…
So Saphira points out that HELLO, this means Brom is a magician, because obviously he used the word “brisingr” earlier in the book. DUH. For someone who loves keeping secrets that much, he’s pretty lousy at it.
Ask him about this power, but be careful of what you say. It is unwise to trifle with those who have such abilities. If he is a wizard or sorcerer, who knows what his motives might have been for settling in Carvahall?
This sounds really significant, like he might have been hiding because of some magical disaster, or like there was something he needed nearby that could allow him to attack the Empire… but trust me, it’s nothing that cool. It’s basically the Obi-Wan Kenobi reason and nothing more.
And really, are we still pretending that it’s not BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS that Brom is a former Dragonrider.
Eragon points out that he can use magic ALREADY, and Brom finally admits it.
After refilling his pipe, Brom said, “Some simple reasons, really. I am not a Rider, which means that, even at your weakest moment, you are stronger than I. And I have outlived my youth; I’m not as strong as I used to be. Every time I reach for magic, it gets a little harder.”
Eragon dropped his eyes, abashed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” said Brom as he shifted his arm. “It happens to everyone.”
Aside from the misleading “I AM not a rider” (and not “I was not a Rider”), this is actually a rather sad moment, and a big character-builder compared to what we’ve had so far. It’s a nice moment with a powerful man in decline, and the acknowledgement of age and mortality and what they can do to a person’s once-formidable powers. Not to mention what the loss of his dragon WHO WAS OBVIOUSLY NAMED SAPHIRA has done to him.
Brom insists that all future infodumps questions must wait til tomorrow. But he drops one last comment:
He leaned forward, eyes gleaming. “Until then, I will say this to discourage any experiments: magic takes just as much energy as if you used your arms and back. That is why you felt tired after destroying the Urgals. And that is why I was angry. It was a dreadful risk on your part. If the magic had used more energy than was in your body, it would have killed you. You should use magic only for tasks that can’t be accomplished the mundane way.”
“How do you know if a spell will use all your energy?” asked Eragon, frightened.
Brom raised his hands. “Most of the time you don’t. That’s why magicians have to know their limits well, and even then they are cautious. Once you commit to a task and release the magic, you can’t pull it back, even if it’s going to kill you. I mean this as a warning: don’t try anything until you’ve learned more. Now, enough of this for tonight.”
… and for ant-watching. Shaving. Puberty. Growing fur. Making pretty bubbles in the air. Tarting up ravens. Yeah, this warning is pretty much forgotten for the rest of the series, when we see people (mostly Eragon and Glitter-Crapping Elves) using magic really, really frivolously. In fact, we see an entire city-forest filled with Elves who do nothing but dick around with magic.
As they spread out their blankets, Saphira commented with satisfaction, We are becoming more powerful, Eragon, both of us. Soon no one will be able to stand in our way.
Yes, but which way shall we choose?
Whichever one we want, she said smugly, settling down for the night.
…. is Saphira really supposed to be one of the heroes? Because this sounds fucking sinister.
And with that, another chapter ends with the characters going to sleep.