And it’s now time for CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! And by that, I mean conversing about stuff that has nothin’ to do with nothin’.
More specifically, Eragon asks Brom, “What is the sea like?” It’s a reasonable thing to ask since he was born and raised in a landlocked zone except for a single river. That said, I’m not sure how much Brom could tell him since his only admitted experience with the sea is in a port town. Port cities tend to be pretty bland, sea-wise. I speak from experience.
“You must have heard it described before,” said Brom.
Yes, because descriptions are all you need to know what the sea is like. By the same logic, you should know just what the desert is like if I say, “It’s dry and dusty.”
Also, Eragon has grown up in the same village as a bunch of other people who have probably never left said village in their LIVES. Who the hell would have told him about the sea?!
So Brom gets dewy eyed and says… this:
“The sea is emotion incarnate.”
… no. No, it’s not. It’s a giant mass of salt water.
“It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles.”
Christopher Paolini lives in Montana. Does it show?
“No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
… so how come you were all, “Hey, you heard people talk about it, so you know plenty”?
“Do you remember what I told you about how the elves came over the sea?”
“See, there’s this place called Valinor…”
I’m actually only half kidding. It’s a pretty blatant rip-off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elves, who also came across the sea from a distant land and have a fascination with the sea. The thing is, they have a fascination with the sea because the sea is how they get BACK to Valinor. Not all the Middle-Earth Elves automatically loved the sea.
This is one of the things that bugs me about Eragon and Dennis McKiernan. I can understand being influenced by an author’s depiction of things like Elves, Dwarves and stuff. Even talented authors can come up with fairly derivative fantasy races.
The thing is, these fantasy races only work if the author is merely influenced by Tolkien… as opposed to blatantly copying him. The Elves and Dwarves in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Summer Tree and the various works of Tad Williams are all obviously influenced in various ways, but they don’t have ALL the same characteristics. Especially when those characteristics don’t make sense (so the Elves just… have a crush on the sea? They aren’t longing for their homeland or anything?) or have nothing to do with the plot (like it does here).
“it affects them deeply and has inspired many of their loveliest songs. There is one that tells of this love, if you want to hear it.”
“It’s called ‘Surfin’ Safari.’ Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learnin’ how… come on, Eragon, SING!”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes. It’s part of your training.”
Brom cleared his throat and said, “I will translate it from the ancient language as best I can. It won’t be perfect, but perhaps it will give you an idea of how the original sounds.”
Yeah, it sounds kind of stupid to have a beautiful narrative song in the ancient language, because you can only speak the literal truth in the ancient language. In other words… farewell metaphor, goodbye simile… because those things are not literally true.
And now it’s time for Paolini’s first published attempt at poetry:
O liquid temptress ’neath the azure sky,
… that’s some Dennis McKiernan prose there, dude.
Your gilded expanse calls me, calls me.
Just a tip: people don’t usually compare the ocean to gold. Silver, maybe, but not gold.
For I would sail ever on,
Were it not for the elven maid,
The person saying this is an elf. Why is he specifying that his girlfriend is also an elf, especially since the elves in this series don’t seem much interested in dating outside the species?
Who calls me, calls me.
“Nuada! Lunchtime! Quit ogling the beach!”
She binds my heart with a lily-white tie,
Never to be broken, save by the sea,
Ever to be torn twixt the trees and the waves.
This part…. does not work. It might work if the “elven maid” was a metaphorical embodiment of the land or something… but no, she’s an actual girl he has the hots for. So in one line he’s saying that she’s the one who keeps him from sailing forever… and in the next, he claims it’s the “trees.”Also, shouldn’t the elven maid also be infatuated with the sea?
And look at that poem. It really wouldn’t work in the ancient language, because according to the rules of his own story, that would mean that the ocean is actually a sexy woman made out of liquid gold, and that his girlfriend reached into his chest and tied up his heart with a white ribbon. And he could only say it if it actually happened.
“There is much more to that song, the ‘Du Silbena Datia.’ I have only recited one of its verses. It tells the sad tale of two lovers, Acallamh and Nuada, who were separated by longing for the sea. The elves find great meaning in the story.”
- The Lay of Luthien, that ain’t.
- I’m serious. I mean, the story of Luthien has a Romeo & Juliet love story minus the suicide and immaturity, action, adventure, Dark Lords, a Silmaril, magic, werewolves, vampires, and an elf/Maiar woman becoming mortal for the man she loved.
- This… is about a love triangle between two elves and the ocean. It’s not very epic.
- And if all Elves are besotted by the sea, I’m not sure why it would separate them. Was one of them aquaphobic?
- And this is more a nitpick, but… the names bother me. Nuada is a genuine Celtic name, and is usually connected to an Irish hero and king of the Tuatha de Danaan.
- But Acallamh… that’s not a name. Not even a place name. It’s Gaelic for “stories,” like in the Acallam na Senorach, a collection of Middle-Irish lays about the need to preserve old pre-Christian traditions and legends while also embracing the new religion.
- Now I understand that Paolini is writing a fantasy story here, so he can make the names whatever the hell he wants. But… if you’re going to use a real language, you should probably use names for NAMES.
They travel south along the Spine, and eventually stumble across a very large, well-traveled road which apparently connects Teirm to Urû’baen. So they’re going to Teirm.
So… question time. If they can easily get to Urû’baen… why are they going to Teirm?
I mean, I’d be the first to yell, “IDIOTS” at somebody sauntering into the capitol city of Evilness, but… they don’t have a real reason to go to Teirm. I mean, the whole point of this is to get revenge on the Ra’zac for murdering Eragon’s uncle. They KNOW that the Ra’zac are working for Galbatorix, and are probably going to be reporting to him anytime now. Galbatorix lives in Urû’baen.
Yeah, MAYBE they’ll find a merchant who’ll say, “Yeah, I sold some oil to some evil cloaked guys,” and MAYBE there will only be a few people who bought it in the last year or so, and MAYBE they will be polite enough to leave their address. I’m pretty sure that address will be Urû’baen.
…. I still don’t know why they’re going to Teirm. This entire errand is USELESS.
And while going on their useless errand, Eragon continues learning the elven language, practicing magic and…. doing dragon stuff.
he was either learning how to care for Saphira
… how? Hasn’t he learned most of the basics? She’s been living in the woods for most of her life, so clearly there are not many major problems to take care of.
Eragon also learned how to kill game with magic, which saved them time hunting. He would hold a small rock on his hand and shoot it at his prey.
Really? REALLY? Only about a week ago, he could only generate fire by SWEARING, and now he’s got pinpoint accuracy by magically shooting rocks at rabbits?! Fuck Hogwarts, Eragon can learn magic in a month or less!
And weren’t we told that you shouldn’t use magic for this sort of thing, because sealing up a small cut would exhaust you? Seriously, it was just a chapter or two ago, but now apparently Brom doesn’t care if Eragon does all this instead of taking the conventional route of shooting them.
And what was the point of making him the OMG BESTEST HUNTER EVA if he’s going to just use magic instead?!
The long days and strenuous work stripped Eragon’s body of excess fat. His arms became corded, and his tanned skin rippled with lean muscles.
… you are supposed to be a FARM BOY.
A farm boy from an impoverished barely-scraping-by farm.
A farm boy in a MEDIEVAL PERIOD.
You should not have any excess fat to burn. You should not NOW be developing muscles when you’ve LEFT the farm. People on farms, especially in the preindustrial era, worked really, REALLY hard and I can guess that their arms were plenty corded.
Everything about me is turning hard, he thought dryly.
“Especially when Brom beats my ass with his stick! I’ve gotten SO hard from that!”
So then they come across a river called the Toark, which apparently goes from the sea to… someplace.
“How can we,” laughed Eragon, “if it flows out of the Spine in this direction? It won’t end up in the ocean unless it doubles back on itself.”
“Well, look at you, Mr. Smartypants know-it-all who’s never left Carvahall.”
“Because in the middle of the mountains rests the Woadark Lake. A river flows from each end of it and both are called the Toark. We see the eastward one now. It runs to the south and winds through the brush until it joins Leona Lake. The other one goes to the sea.”
… okay, I admit I don’t know much about lakes or mountains. But I assume Brom means that the lake is between the mountains, because it sounds like he’s saying that the lake is right up on the mountain range. And given some of the weird, weird stuff that Paolini puts in his books, it honestly wouldn’t shock me.
And no, we never hear shit about this lake. Not even a mention of it, even though the river they’re following will have to join it before going on to the sea.
After two days in the Spine, they came upon a rock ledge from which they could see clearly out of the mountains.
It will look great for the trailer!
I’m only half kidding. You can almost hear the Lord of the Rings soundtrack swelling while Brom is talking.
“Down there and to the north lies Teirm. It is an old city. Some say it’s where the elves first landed in Alagaësia. Its citadel has never fallen, nor have its warriors ever been defeated.”
“It is a place of many antique shops and quaint restaurants. There is much affordable housing there, and the public restrooms are ever clean.”
So they spend the next day riding down and into the woods, which apparently has the climate of the Pacific Northwest. Anytime now, they should stumble across a bland, whiny girl lying in the road whining that Edward is hot and she hates Forks.
“Why is everything green?” asked Eragon. “Don’t they have winter here?”
“I hate Forks Edward is hot everything should be hot dry and miserable I love Edward I’m so pale and smart and humble…”
“Brom, who’s that?”
“Just ignore her.”
“Yes, but the season is mild. Mist and fog roll in from the sea and keep everything alive. Some find it to their liking, but to me it’s dreary and depressing.”
Somehow I doubt it can be drearier and more depressing than an endless boring steppe.
Brom tells Eragon that he’s gonna be riding Cadoc for awhile, because they might meet other people. Apparently nobody notices the dragon flying nearby, because… I guess there are trees in the way.
“Will we use our own names?” asked Eragon.
Brom thought about it. “We won’t be able to deceive Jeod. He already knows my name, and I think I trust him with yours.”
… so you were planning to go get help from a friend of yours, but you only just realized that you can’t give him a fake name?!
“But to everyone else, I will be Neal and you will be my nephew Evan.”
Hello, Aerith! Hello, Bob!
“People have an annoying habit of remembering things they shouldn’t.”
Like how I’m able to remember way too many continuity details from this book.
Also, is Brom planning to mention to Jeod that they’re using fake names? Does he have a plan for explaining that? HAS BROM PLANNED ANYTHING IN ADVANCE?!