Eragon Chapter 22

The next morning, Eragon gets on Saphira directly after breakfast. He also acts like he’s heading for the electric chair, although you would think a saddle would make all the difference, wouldn’t you?

Brom said, “Now remember, grip with your knees, guide her with your thoughts, and stay as flat as you can on her back. Nothing will go wrong if you don’t panic.”

“And if you get distracted in mid-air and guide her right into a cliff, then you’re screwed. Nothing will go wrong if you don’t panic, assuming you actually stay on her back and don’t fly off like a cheap wig. Have fun!”

Eragon gets on Saphira’s back, and Saphira doesn’t really give a shit whether he’s ready to fly or not. Yes, the rider and dragon are SO attuned to each other! Saphira cares SO much about Eragon’s comfort that she zooms right away into the sky, doesn’t even bother to ease him into it.

Saphira’s really a selfish bitch.

So they fly away… really high. Air-is-getting-thin high. I’m amazed Eragon hasn’t passed out since he went from normal air pressure to thin upper-atmosphere pressure in almost no time. Then Saphira does a barrel roll, which freaks him out and almost makes him puke.

You must become accustomed to it. If I’m attacked in the air, that’s one of the simplest maneuvers I will do, she replied. 

… how does she know that? She’s never been attacked in mid-air, so how does she know WHAT she would do?!

So having made this logical argument, she doesn’t do any more barrel rolls. Instead, they FINALLY make some use of that telepathic connection, and have Eragon see the world as his dragon does for a few minutes. It’s a fairly cool scene, despite the fact that apparently Saphira, being a blue dragon, sees the world in blue. Is everything about her blue? Does she have blue poop, blue blood and blue teeth?

Eragon tried to turn his head and body but could not. He felt like a ghost who had slipped out of the ether.

… what? What does that even mean? That ghosts are paralyzed? Shouldn’t they feel “bodiless”? How would Eragon even know what a ghost feels like?

So Saphira is happy because she’s flying, even though she’s been flying for most of her short life and the novelty should really have worn off by now.

He could feel her body strain against the air, using updrafts to rise. All her muscles were like his own. He felt her tail swinging through the air like a giant rudder to correct her course.

… I thought he felt like a ghost. Last time I checked, ghosts were supposed to be bodiless.

Their connection grew stronger until there was no distinction between their identities.

There were some unexpected effects, though. Saphira spent the next few days ogling elf girls, while Eragon kept injuring himself by trying to fly off cliffs.

They clasped their wings together and dived straight down, like a spear thrown from on high.

They crashed directly into the trees, since Saphira still wasn’t very good at this.

No, they zoom down and then pull up at the last minute, because I guess that’s what Paolini thinks flying creatures do. Honestly, they usually don’t, or at least they don’t for fun.

As they leveled out, their minds began to diverge, becoming distinct personalities again.

Oh poop, I was hoping to come up with a nickname for them. Eraphira? Saragon?

So anyway, Eragon has now decided that he LOVES flying. And all it took was a mild-meld with a giant carnivorous lizard to get him to like it. It makes sense, though – I once mild-melded with a unicorn to get over my fear of swimming.

Do you always see so much blue?
It is the way I am.

So do green dragons see the world in green? Do red dragons see only red? I’m not entirely sure why their outer pigmentation affects their eyes.

So they fly around and exchanged many thoughts as she flew, talking as they had not for weeks, very little of which is actually shown to us. No, we’re TOLD that Saphira gives Eragon lessons about how to hide in the sky… which is pointless since he can’t fly without her.

Near midday, an annoying buzz filled Eragon’s ears, and he became aware of a strange pressure on his mind.

“Brom, I think another bee flew into my head. How do I get it out?”

So Eragon figures out that someone is trying to invade his mind… and for some reason, he DOESN’T assume that it might be Brom. But it is Brom, who is pissed off that Eragon is trying to Zen him away.

What do you think you’re doing? Get down here. I found something important.

“Did you find another antique store?”
“Shut up! My collection of hand-painted teacups is almost complete!”

Now get that oversized lizard of yours to land.

You know, I get that this guy is supposed to be lovably grumpy in the Gandalfian mode….

but after all those lectures about how he should practically worship his dragon, calling her “that oversized lizard of yours” seems a bit hypocritical. Especially since Brom is SO OBVIOUSLY AN EX-DRAGONRIDER, and not just some random old dude who is insufficiently impressed by the dragons.

So Saphira starts flying to meet Brom, and Eragon strung his bow and drew several arrows. Yes, that seems very likely.

If there’s trouble, I’ll be ready for it.
As will I, 
said Saphira.

“If we encounter trouble, we’ll run away!”
“Yes we will! Just like last time!”

Brom is understandably pissed when they show up, because Eragon blocked him out. Here’s what I wanna know: why is he letting them go wander off out of sight? They’re being hunted by people who KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR, and presumably a big blue glittery dragon swooping up in the sky would get somebody’s attention if they passed by.

So it turns out that the Ra’zac flew off on something vaguely dragonlike.

“I’ve heard reports of the Ra’zac moving from place to place with incredible speed, but this is the first evidence I’ve had of it.”

The Dragonriders were in charge for centuries. They never bothered to learn ANYTHING AT ALL about the wildlife that could potentially be extremely dangerous to people? I guess they were too busy going, “Oh, we have dragons. We’re princes of the universe! Let’s sit up here and work our magic and be awesome.”

“They aren’t dragons—I know that much. A dragon would never consent to bear a Ra’zac.”

Why not?

“There’s no easy solution to this riddle,” said Brom. “Let’s have lunch while we think on it. Perhaps inspiration will strike us while we eat.”

“How is eating going to show us how to track dangerous creatures across the sky on unknown steeds?”
“SHUT UP. I need my yogurt to keep me regular!”

Unsurprisingly, eating doesn’t give them any good ideas. Brom’s only ideas are basically suicidal, and he’s a dick about it to boot.

“So what now?” asked Eragon, throwing his hands up.

“That’s up to you,” said Brom. “This is your crusade.”

It’s also all your fault, you worthless old coot. He wouldn’t BE on this crusade if you hadn’t fucked up his life by not warning him about the Ra’zac.

Unsurprisingly this pisses off Eragon, so he stomps off and immediately finds… BA-DUM! a Ra’zac flask that they conveniently left lying in the woods right near where the heroes would be. In a better book, this would be a trap. In this one…

A cloying smell filled the air—the same one he had noticed when he found Garrow in the wreckage of their house.

It smelled like… cheap whiskey.

And yes, Eragon immediately pours this mystery liquid on his finger, even though a smart person would figure out that this unknown substance should probably be left the hell alone until he knows what it is. Especially if he found it at the site of ARSON. But no, dumbass gets a patch of his skin burned right off.

And no, he’s not in agonizing pain after the first minute, nor does he seem shocked.

“My skin, I know,” said Brom. “And I suppose you went ahead and poured it all over your hand. Your finger? Well, at least you showed sense enough not to drink it. Only a puddle would have been left of you.”

  1. Does Brom have any mode except “old cranky fart”?
  2. And even he thinks Eragon is a dumbass.
  3. You know, I’m okay with heroes having some lack-of-common-sense moments, like Luke Skywalker… but Eragon NEVER seems to show common sense. He just blunders around.

Brom then infodumps about the oil, which is called seithr oil and which can be made into some kind of acid that only melts flesh. How terribly convenient. And even though apparently Garrow was covered in burns caused by it, and which smell distinctly like the oil… he never figured out there might be a connection. I guess he was too busy…. doing whatever the hell he was doing. For a few days. God forbid he try to help fix the fuckup he started.

Wait, seithr? “Seithr” is an old Norse term used to refer to a particular form of magic! For fuck’s sake…

Eragon remembered the terrible burns that had covered Garrow. That’s what they used on him, he realized with horror.

Uh, no. We were told that it would melt off your skin, not burn it. There’s a slight difference. My assumption about finding a person covered in burns in a burning house… would be the obvious one.

So even though it’s super-valuable, the Ra’zac lost it because… I guess we had to hear about how it works.

“But why didn’t they come back for it? I doubt that the king will be pleased that they lost it.”
“No, he won’t,” said Brom, “but he would be even more displeased if they delayed bringing him news of you.”

“He’d be super-duper displeased if he found out that they’re the ones who ate the last bonbons. And he’d be super-ultra-mega displeased if he caught them watching porn on his computer.”

“In fact, if the Ra’zac have reached him by now, you can be sure that the king has learned your name.”

“Now aren’t you glad you have that ultra-rare and identifiable name instead of being ‘Bob’ or ‘Steve’?”

“And that means we will have to be much more careful when we go into towns. There will be notices and alerts about you posted throughout the Empire.”

Dude, they’re maybe two days ahead of you, and you don’t even know that they’ve reached the king. The Empire is presumably huge. Unless he has a bunch of dragons whom he’ll send out with wanted posters, IT WOULD TAKE WEEKS to spread the alerts that far! This place doesn’t have Ye Olde E-Maile.

Eragon paused to think. “This oil, how rare is it exactly?”
“Like diamonds in a pig trough,” said Brom.

Thank you for that image.

Brom then mentions that the natural oil is actually used by jewelers for pearls or something, but it’s still pretty expensive. So Eragon has the “brilliant” idea of looking for the shipping records on the oil to see who might have bought it.

“Of course they do. If we could get to those records, they would tell us who brought the oil south and where it went from there.”
“And the record of the Empire’s purchase will tell us where the Ra’zac live!” concluded Eragon. “I don’t know how many people can afford this oil, but it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which ones aren’t working for the Empire.”

Okay, let me try to explain why this is stupid.

  1. This is assuming that there are no middlemen, no smugglers and no suppliers of bulk.
  2. You don’t need to know where the Ra’zac live. They work for the king, so presumably they live somewhere near where he does. Or, as we later find out, they probably don’t have an address or anything.
  3. And this is assuming that the Evil Minions of the Evil King don’t just TAKE what they want when they need some Seithr oil.
  4. And for that matter, why would the Evil King even bother with that? Why not send his own ship to get it?
  5. For that matter, why assume that they even would politely leave their names and addresses? If they’re super-scary Nazgulesque minions of Generic Evil and they wanna buy your oil, then you’re gonna sell it to them and keep your mouth shut.
  6. And if it’s a favorite tool for assassination, that means there would be LOTS of people wanting to buy it. Quite a few of them would be shady sorts. Is Paolini suggesting that all assassins in the Empire work for the King?!

“Genius!” exclaimed Brom, smiling.

I was thinking of a different word. Like “dumbass.”

But no, Eragon’s super-elite detective skills have impressed Brom, who decides that instead of going to where they KNOW the Ra’zac will be heading (the king’s city), they should look for a possibly nonexistent clue in one of the dozens of coastal towns with hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of sea merchants.<

The logic makes me want to cry.

“The last I heard, my old friend Jeod lives there. We haven’t seen each other for many years, but he might be willing to help us. And because he’s a merchant, it’s possible that he has access to those records.”

Unless he personally sold the seithr oil… NO, IT ISN’T. I don’t think merchants let each other just wander into their businessplaces and read their records. For one thing, it means potentially losing their clients.

So Brom is all happy and cheery now, especially since they can get there fast even though this sounds suspiciously like a wild goose chase. And since they’re not in a hurry or anything, since the Ra’zac have probably already told the king about Eragon, Eragon decides to spend the rest of the afternoon riding Saphira so people can see them far and wide.

I’m going to ride Cadoc tomorrow. Before you protest, know that I am only doing it because I want to talk with Brom.

“I don’t want to spend time with Superhorse or anything! It’s only because I HAVE to! I’m not cheating on you! Please don’t sit on me again!”

But no, Saphira has conveniently gotten over her jealousy of Superhorse.

You won’t be troubled by it?
It is necessary.

Bipolar dragon iz bipolar. The previous day she was freaking out because Eragon was neglecting her, and now she’s okay with him riding Superhorse every other day.

So Eragon and Brom have their homoerotic fight, but they’re busy thinking about how today… Eragon burned himself and came up with a really terrible plan to track the bad guys to their New York apartments. I smell filler!


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