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A Forest of Stone Pt.2 Edit

The next day Orik and Eragon go and visit a petrified forest. It is supposed to be awe inspiring. It's really a tour of "Look at the neat thing I've put in my world". Honestly. They go, they look at it, and they go home.Orik even calls it a tourist attraction: It is one of the wonders of the Beor Mountains. Everyone who is a guest of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum should have an opportunity to visit it. I hope they have a good gift shop.

Anyway, the section opens up with Eragon being lonely and cramped. He'd gone to sleep in a dwarf room with its low ceiling and half-sized furniture, However, they had clothes Eragon's size. Obviously especially made for him, unless they're in the habit of dressing all passer-byes in purple robes and gold circlets. Which I seriously doubt. He's lonely because Sapira isn't there. So distressed he is of this that, faltered and leaned forward, gripping the rim of the basin, overcome by his sense of isolation. Now, I'm not trying to say I want Eragon to whine about not being near Saphira and everything all the time he's not with her, but the intensity of this expression at this time, seems false as he's never felt like this before. At least not this intense. It feels like Paolini has started writing someone else briefly, because Eragon's never cared -or shown this sort of care - about being away from Saphira. It's always been, "I'm away from Saphira. Okay. Sad face moving on." or "Saphira, what Saphira?"

After his mild angst bout he meets up with Orik and twelve other dwarves with ponies.

... wait, that makes thirteen dwarves with ponies and one more. ... . it's the fucking Hobbit. Now, it could be a homage and everything like that, except that it doesn't fit in well. There should be some reason why these dwarves are going with them on their three hour ride. As guards or something. Mention SOME purpose for their existence beyond there being twelve other dwarves on ponies.

It gets worse. It always does, you realize. Before they leave, Miss Orik appears to say good bye and gives him the horn of Gondor.

When they were ready to depart, Hvedra descended the broad stone steps from the entrance to the main hall of Bregan Hold, her dress trailing behind her, and presented to Orik an ivory horn clad with gold filigree around the mouth and bell. She said, “This was mine father’s when he rode with Grimstborith Aldhrim. I give it to you so you may remember me in the days to come.” She said more in Dwarvish, so softly Eragon could not hear, and then she and Orik touched foreheads. Straightening in his saddle, Orik placed the horn to his lips and winded it. A deep, rousing note rang forth, increasing in volume until the air within the courtyard seemed to vibrate like a wind-sawed rope. A pair of black ravens rose from the tower above, cawing. The sound of the horn made Eragon’s blood tingle. He shifted in place, eager to be gone.

Now, this is a scene of supposed great departure. It is a giving of the gift of great meaning. Hvedra's father rode with someone who is apparently important for some reason and she wishes to give it to Orik so that he will remember her, "in the days to come". This makes it feel like they are going on a Great and Dangerous Journey. After all "days to come" and with the feel of ceremony Paolini's given it. But the reason why they aren't going out isn't for ceremony isn't for great danger. It's as if I were going off to Disneyland and I were given my grandfather's star of David that he wore when he went traveling around the world to remember my mother by. (If he had one...) The Star would be something my mom would give me if I were to go off to Europe, not Disneyland. This leaving scene would be better puncutated by perhaps Hvedra giving them food for the journey, because that matches the importance, the gravity of the situation. They are going on a friendly trip, not a war. The horn is for war, lunch is for friends.

Besides, Orik shouldn't be blowing the horn of Gondor like that out in public.

I imagine Paolini wanted to give Orik the horn for some reason in the future and thought this would be a good way to do it, even if it feels awkward. I think perhaps if Orik already had the horn and Eragon asked him what it was might have been a better way to introduce it. And maybe explain who Grimstborith Aldrim was while they were at it.

So the Dwarves and the Hobbit, I mean Eragon, go off into the fog.

Three hours later they arrive at where they were going. Then they came upon a flat expanse of granite over a thousand feet wide, bordered on the right by a slanting cliff of naturally formed octagonal pillars. Curtains of shifting mist obscured the far end of the stone field. Over a thousand feet? So is that like 1,001 or 1,086 wide? Come onPaolini ! How am I supposed to picture this if I don't know the exact measurements!? Seriously! Such sloppy writing, I've never seen before.

Paolini does have a nice description of the forest.

“I don’t . . . ,” he started to say when a breath of wind ruffled his hair. Under the gentle encouragement of the newborn breeze, the fog thinned and thedisjoined patterns of shade resolved into the boles of large, ash-colored trees with bare and broken limbs. Dozens of the trees surrounded him and Orik, the pale skeletons of an ancient forest. Eragon pressed his palm against a trunk. The bark was as cold and hard as a boulder. Blotches of pallid lichen clung to the surface of the tree. The back of Eragon’s neck prickled. Although he did not consider himself overly superstitious, the ghostly mist and the eerie half-light and the appearance of the trees themselves—grim and foreboding and mysterious—ignited a spark of fear inside of him.

Sadly the first thing that popped into my mind when I read, "the bark was as gold and hard as a boulder" was, "but does it sparkle?". I know, completely the wrong response, but apparently now anything hard and stone and cold automatically equals Twilight vampire. I think I need to clear out my brain, obviously. Anyone got brain floss?

Twilight brainsoaking aside, I do like the imagery of this paragraph. "Pale skeletons of an ancient forest" works rather nicely in my mind with the fog. It gives it an emotionally and visually creepy effect, which is exactly what Paolini is going for. (I hope)

When Eragon asks Orik how the forest came to be, Orik offers this:

Orik shrugged. “Some claim that Gûntera must have placed them here when he created Alagaësia out of nothingness. Others claim Helzvog made them, for stone is his favorite element, and would not the god of stone have trees of stone for his garden? And still others say no, that once these were trees like any others, and a great catastrophe eons ago must have buried them in the ground, and that over time, wood became dirt, and dirt became stone.”

Reading that, reminded me of this passage from the Last Hero by Terry Pratchett

On the veldt of Howondaland live the N'tuitif people, the only tribe in the world to have no imagination whatsoever.

For example, their story about the thunder runs something like this: "Thunder is a loud noise in the sky, resulting from the disturbance of the air masses by the passage of lightning." And their legend 'How the Giraffe Got His Long Neck" runs: "In the old days the ancestors of Old Man Giraffe had a slightly longer necks than other grassland creatures, and the access to the high leaves was so advantageous that it was mostly long-necked giraffes that survived, passing on the long neck in their blood just as a man might inherit his grandfather's spear. Some say, however, that it is all a lot more complicated and this explanation only applies to the shorter neck of the okapi. And so it is".

The N'tuitif are a peaceful people, and have been hunted almost to extinction by neighboring tribes, who have lots of imagination, and therefore plenty of gods, superstitions, and ideas about how much better life would be if they had a bigger hunting ground.

Why? Because out of Orik's three explanations, one doesn't belong. Myth, Myth, SCIENCE! Nothing in the previously shown dwarf culture has indicated any sort of belief in scientific reasoning. That was the point of one of the debates between the dwarf cleric and Arya in the second book. About how things like gods didn't exist and anything could be explained by scientific reasoning. The dwarfs were staunchly Yay Gods while the elf was not. The point I'm trying to make is that the dwarves don't have a scientific way of thinking of things, so it's not likely that they would come up with the third theory. It'd be like a staunch creationist giving equal time to evolution when explaining where men came from. Which isn't very likely, now is it? Well, perhaps in some sort of alternate reality.

I think what Paolini is trying to do is create a great feeling of mythology around these petrified trees, which he does with the first two examples, but the third one rockets us back into the mundanity of reality. While the idea of something being buried in a massive explosion and turned to stone is fucking cool Mythbuster's style, it doesn't fit. Not with how the dwarves see the world. Or if they were going to put a theory like that out, it would have been interspersed with something that the gods did to make it so. It's that last missing bit about the gods that makes it stand out.

Found a while ago, the dwarves have slowly been chipping away at the trees to free them from their prison. I actually like that idea. It's a neat image of these dwarves crafting a forest slowly and methodically. Revealing the hidden from the shadows. It's also where they send the young naughty dwarves to straighten them out. They figure that a year or so of freeing a branch is enough to mellow them out. I kinda like that.

Orik himself spent some time in the forest. Then he ran off and did something stupid. Which injured himself enough that he spent several months in bed.

Then, they get down to business. Orik wants Eragon to support his claim to the throne. Eragon will only support it if Orik supports the Varden. Orik will only support the Varden if Eragon supports his claim.

The other dwarf clans are reluctant to support the Varden because they're afraid to bring Galby's wrath down upon them. They figure if they just leave him alone he'll leave them alone. Orik, however, believes that Galby won't be stopped until he controls all of Alagaësia is his. And yet he's lived peacefully for a hundred years and hasn't gone after Sudra. At least not until the Varden started to invade from there. So, a king protecting his territory is automatically a power hungry bastard. Yup. Gottit.

Eragon hesitates about supporting Orik because he's afraid it might turn the others against him. And Orik is all, It's okay, I've got it all planned out. Still Eragon doesn't really want to do it, which pisses Orik off.

In a deadly quiet voice, Orik said, “You swore a blood-oath on the Knurlnien, Eragon. By every law of our realm, you are a member of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, no matter how greatly others may disapprove. What Hrothgar did by adopting you has no precedent in all of our history, and it cannot be undone unless, as grimstborith, I banish you from our clan. If you turn against me, Eragon, you will shame me in front of our entire race and none will ever trust my leadership again. Moreover, you will prove to your detractors that we cannot trust a Dragon Rider. Clan members do not betray each other to other clans,Eragon. It is not done, not unless you wish to wake up one night with a dagger buried in your heart.”

“Are you threatening me?” asked Eragon, just as quietly.

Orik swore and banged his ax against the granite again. “No! I would never lift a hand against you, Eragon! You are my foster brother, you are the only Rider free of Galbatorix’s influence, and blast it if I have not become fond of you during our travels together. But even though I would not harm you, that does not mean the rest of the Ingeitum would be so forbearing. I say that not as a threat but as a statement of fact. You must understand this, Eragon . If the clan hears you have given your support to another, I may not be able to restrain them. Even though you are our guest and the rules of hospitality protect you, if you speak out against the Ingeitum , the clan will see you as having betrayed them, and it is not our custom to allow traitors to remain within our midst. Do you understand me,Eragon?”

I believe this translates to roughly, "Get your head out of your ass and think. I'm the one person truly friendly to you and your cause and you're not helping it by trying to alienate me."

Eragon however is "But Nasuada said I should make sure I get a king who is friendly to the Varden and I can't support you if you don't have a chance!"

I really want to smack him. Orik has the previous king's approval and he's supposed to be the clan chief by all rights and rules. Orik is clearly the most likely candidate to win and Eragon is waffling. Orik wants Eragon to trust him as his clan chief. As, after all Eragon is supposed to be a member of his clan.

This apparently is a problem.

Eragon groaned and leaned his head against the rough tree and peered up at the crooked, bone-white branches wreathed in mist.Trust . Of all the things Orik could have asked of him, that was the most difficult to grant. Eragon liked Orik , but to subordinate himself to the dwarf’s authority when so much was at stake would be to relinquish even more of his freedom, a prospect he loathed. And along with his freedom, he would also be relinquishing part of his responsibility for the fate of Alagaësia. Eragon felt as if he were hanging off the edge of a precipice and Orik was trying to convince him there was a ledge only a few feet below him, but Eragon could not bring himself to release his grip, for fear he would fall to his doom.

He said, “I would not be a mindless servant for you to order about. When it came to matters of Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, I would defer to you, but in all else, you would have no hold over me.”

Ahhh... whut?

Since when does trusting someone mean relinquishing freedom? And doesn't Eragon already trust Orik? He trusted that Orik would take care of him and give him new clothes. That Orik would give him a place to sleep and food to eat. That's relinquishing freedom of taking care of yourself. He trusted Orik not to kill him. He trusts Orik in all sorts of things that require more "relinquishment of his freedom" than just this. And how is this relinquishing his responsibility? He's doing the responsible thing by going to the person who knows what they're doing.

This isn't the Trust Me of the beginning of a hair-brained scheme. You know the sort that requires ten midgets, a flock of penguins, peanut butter and your grandmother's bodice and ends with half of Los Angeles on fire and you in jail wearing nothing but a fireman's jacket and a pair of clown shoes. This is the trust me of I've been dealing with these people longer than you've been alive and I know how they'll react, so let me do this and that way you won't fuck up so badly you get us all killed. Not that it would happen as you are the Designated Hero and can't Do Wrong.

In either case (well mostly) neither versions of trust requires someone to become a mindless servant to be ordered about. I trust my boss because he knows how to run a library. Actually Eragon is insinuating a little that Orik might be like Galby because isn't that what Galby does? Order about his mindless servants. Is this to be taken to mean that any sort of authority figure is bad and we should all look out for ourselves in an uncontrolled bid for total individualism? And yet at the same time Eragon wants to be taken care of like a child.

In fact, this is actually a very teenager view of the world, now that I think about it. And I'm not going to say that Paolini shouldn't have put it in there because Eragon is a teenager. But teenagers expect to be given everything without thought and at the same time don't want to be told what to do in a bid for trying to get adult and individual freedom from the restrictions of childhood. The only problem is that Eragon is being presented like a responsible adult and not a teenager and the way he's going about it is all wrong.

However, Orik, of course, agrees to Eragon's insulting terms and is happy with it all.

After that they go back home.

Brisingr
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