A Forest of Stone Edit
Eragon is at Bregan hold where Dwarf lives watching a dwarf sporting event. Before we get to the what the sport they're playing we get a description of the hold.
The hold sat on a rounded shoulder of Thardûr mountain, over a mile above the floor of the mist-laden valley, and from it one could see for leagues in either direction, or until the ridged mountains obscured the view. Like Tronjheim and the other dwarf cities Eragon had visited, Bregan Hold was made entirely of quarried stone—in this case, a reddish granite that lent a sense of warmth to the rooms and corridors within. The hold itself was a thick, solid building that rose five stories to an open bell tower, which was topped by a teardrop of glass that was as large around as two dwarves and was held in place by four granite ribs that joined together to form a pointed capstone. The teardrop, as Orik had told Eragon, was a larger version of the dwarves’ flameless lanterns, and during notable occasions or emergencies, it could be used to illuminate the entire valley with a golden light. The dwarves called it Az Sindriznarrvel, or The Gem of Sindri. Clustered around the flanks of the hold were numerous outbuildings, living quarters for the servants and warriors of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, as well as other structures, such as stables, forges, and a church devoted to Morgothal, the dwarves’ god of fire and their patron god of smiths. Below the high, smooth walls of Bregan Hold were dozens of farms scattered about clearings in the forest, coils of smoke drifting up from the stone houses.
Hurm. Hold on the mountain with farms all around it. Reminds me of the holds in McCaffery's Dragonrider's of Pern series. But we already knew he copied that, now didn't we? However, here's an interesting thing: the dwarves flameless lanterns. It appears that they have created practical magic items. They're miners (because they're dwarves) and having an open flame would be dangerous, so they've made flameless lanterns. At least that would be my reasoning, I don't recall the reasoning -if any- for them in the book itself. Still this is a practical application of magic! Really, it seems like the dwarves have unintentionally have more culture than the rest of the races out there, if only because it's being slapped on without much modification. It's a shame that dwarves don't hang out with humans because then they could sell this marvelous technology to them.
Finally, Church? CRYSTAL DRAGON JESUS!!! >.> I know, I know church doesn't exactly have to refer to the Christian religion, but honestly that's the only thing I think of when I read church. Temple is one thing, it's more neutral, but church is pretty specific. It'd be like saying synagogue, which is specific to Jewish places of worship. I suppose the biggest problems is that there aren't enough words out there to describe places of worship. Temple seems to be the catch all phrase. But honestly with the word church being used I get an image of a huge cathedral with stained glass windows and a stone dwarf standing at one end on the altar his hands held out wide and a big welcoming smile on his face.
Sadly, I'm not sure that's what Paolini wanted me to imagine or not. Ah well.
Anyway, we learn that Dwarf was happy to see Eragon, "greeting him like a brother" and then had taken him to the baths and, when he was clean, saw to it that he was garbed in a robe of deep purple, with a gold circlet for his brow.
What an odd thing to do. After all circlets -gold or not - don't seem to be at all a fashion found among the dwarves. It's not something that is mentioned at all. As well as the purple robe. Now purple is traditionally the color of royalty as is wearing a robe. That and wizards, but with the circlet which is like a crown, it leans more to royalty. The phrasing is also out of place. It sounds like something you would read in the bible or an older text, which doesn't fit in with the style of the rest of the book. It sticks out like well a sore thumb. It made me stop and sort of look at it funny. In a way it's like looking at a glossy magazine and then coming across a page of illuminated manuscript. While the page might fit in a book of illuminated manuscripts it doesn't belong in a glossy magazine (unless it's National Geographic). It should have been smoothed over or rewritten. And, for me, expanded on. Why does he get a gold circlet and purple robes? What does it mean? It's like Katrina's wedding dress where he said, as benefits a bride at her first wedding. I think this is one of those things that Paolini has put in for his striving to be as lyrical as Beowulf and Tolkien. Sadly, here it's just another throw-away line, thrown in likely to try and sound like Tolkien.
We get to meet Dwarf's bride, them having gotten married two days before Eragon showed up. She's described as having an apple face. Now I wondered what an apple faced dwarf lady looked like; This is what I came up with:
Hrm... not my sort of girl, but maybe it works for a dwarf? Her name is Hvedra. Which sounds like the noise I make when I hack up flem. She and Dwarf are kinda cute together. They're clearly affectionate, holding hands and rubbing noses together. They got married earlier than they they were planning because they figured they might as well live for the day because tomorrow they might die. Not tomorrow tomorrow, but when they originally planed to get married Galby may have killed them all.
Now, I'm of two minds of this. On one hand why is Galby stepping up everything? Because Eragon suddenly showed up. It seems awfully hasty of him, it's as if he thinks that one callow untrained boy can make a difference. As Eragon is the Hero, of course he will. So, it makes sense that Orik and Hvedra get married. They're seizing life. Which is rather different than our human heroes who always seem to be , "Well if I live until the spring then awesome I can get married, but if not, I guess it wasn't meant to be." It's definitely proactive. I sort of wonder how this sort of attitude got slipped into the books. It could be that since the dwarves don't get that much attention from Paolini beyond being dwarves they're allowed to mature and act more naturally than if they were hard played puppets. Roran also displays this at times, when he's not trapped by Paolini and Eragon's string jerking.
Orik has become clan chief which is also one of the reasons why they decided to get married.
Interestingly, they send word to Nasuada about the up coming wedding to invite him, but she never told Eragon because she didn't want to distract him from his important business. Eragon sees nothing amiss about this, however I would think that it's not good politics to not even tell Eragon so he couldn't send his regrets for not coming. Of course we already knew she was bad at politics, so nothing is new there.
Eragon, Orik and his wife are watching dwarf games. When dwarves get married and if they have the money they stage games for their guest's entertainment, often lasting for days, as have Orik's. Currently they are watching a jousting type tournament while Eragon munches on mutton and bread.
... vow of vegetarianism?
And I say what vow because it's not even dwelt upon. It's just tossed off because that's what you eat at Medieval Times or with dwarves. Mutton and bread. He even got a little crown to wear, if you think about it.
Oh hell. They are at Medieval Times.
The dwarf jousting revolves around dwarf carrying mountain goats that can jump seventy feet at a time. The game is called "Ghastgar"
From opposite ends of a grassy field, two dwarves rode toward each other on white Feldûnost. The horned mountain goats bounded across the sward, each leap over seventy feet long. The dwarf on the right had a small buckler strapped to his left arm but carried no weapons. The dwarf on the left had no shield, but in his right hand, he held a javelin poised to throw.
Eragon held his breath as the distance between the Feldûnost narrowed. When they were less than thirty feet apart, the dwarf with the spear whipped his arm through the air and launched the missile at his opponent. The other dwarf did not cover himself with his shield, but rather reached out and, with amazing dexterity, caught the spear by the shaft. He brandished it over his head.
Mountain goats are about five feet long, at least the big horned sheep I've seen. Jumping seventy feet is about jumping fourteen times their length in one bound. I think. Don't take my word for it though. I suck at math. I think the only way it could conceivably work is if gravity were a lot lighter. Of course it would have to be lighter than on the moon and then I don't think the world would be capable of keeping the atmosphere either.
I don't even know why I try to make sense of it any more. My new explanation is now MAGIC. It should work in every situation. How did the dwarf manage to catch the spear? Magic!
Excellent, it's working already. I feel much better now.
Orik has been elected clan chief as he was designated the previous chief's heir. He's wearing richly attired clothing including a helm. The thing is, which occurred to me, is that why is he wearing a helm outside of combat or say guard duty? They can't be that comfortable to wear, especially if it's decked out in all sorts of jewels. There is no reason for him to do it, beyond he's a dwarf and apparently they have to be wearing armor like things at all times. How else would you know it's a dwarf, after all?
As they watch we learn that Hvedra is the keeper of the clan. She makes sure that the clan runs smoothly. She runs the place basically. All Orik does, I guess, is sit around and be... political with other dwarf clan leaders.
From the fields one of the dwarves that is supposed to get a spear thrown at them decides that he doesn't want to and turns tail. He gets chased around the feild before the spear thrower gets him in the shoulder with the spear and knocks him off. This gets boo'd and hissed at.
Eragon returned his attention to the crowd below as it erupted in a frenzy of hissing and jeering. He saw that one of the dwarves competing in the Ghastgar had lost his nerve and, at the last moment, had yanked his Feldûnost off to one side and even then was attempting to flee his opponent. The dwarf with the javelin pursued him twice around the lists. When they were close enough, he rose up in his stirrups and cast the spear, striking the cowardly dwarf in the back of his left shoulder. With a howl, the dwarf fell off his steed and lay on his side, clutching at the blade and shaft embedded in his flesh. A healer rushed toward him. After a moment, everyone turned their backs on the spectacle.
According to Orik it will take the dwarf's family years to live down this shame. Orik’s upper lip curved with disgust. “Bah! It will be many years before his family is able to erase the stain of their son’s dishonor. I am sorry you have had to witness this contemptible act, Eragon.”
I'm not sure exactly how it's dishonorable. It sounds like something a Klingon would say though. I wonder if this is how sports fans feel when their favorite team loses badly and continually.
One of the interesting things is that there's a mention of Eragon feeling uncomfortable and out of place with the two dwarves's displays of affection. It's a nice bit of humanizing for Eragon. Bending their heads together, he and Hvedra rubbed noses. Eragon glanced away, feeling lonely and excluded. The movement is right and the words just correct. There's nothing flowery or over metaphored here. It's a small effective moment.
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