For My Love Edit
This is a Roran chapter so it's one of the better ones. For a given value of "better one". The purpose of this chapter is for Roran to impress the captain he's been assigned to be under. It's the Hero proves that he's awesome and worth being there even though he has no experience scene.
We begin with Roran trying to magically raise his rock. It's kinda nice to see him practicing with his rock as opposed to Eragon who got it off right away. It could be that those that take the time to practice are much better than those who get it over quickly. Roran is having a lot of trouble and isn't getting anywhere yet, but hopefully him trying to raise his rock is a plot point and we see him do it in a spectacular way.
A fellow soldier sits down next to him, he even gets a name: Carn. Carn has bread and cheese. What no meat? I thought meat was a staple diet? Could be that Saphira ate it all. Anyway, Carn wants to know what Roran's up to and Roran says he's just thinking. "Woolgathering".
Then we get a look at the motley crew that Roran is assigned with.
As he ate, Roran allowed his gaze to drift over the men he found himself with. Their group was thirty strong, himself included. They were all hardened warriors. Everyone carried a bow, and most also wore a sword, although a few chose to fight with a spear, or with a mace or a hammer. Of the thirty men, he guessed that seven or eight were close to his own age, while the rest were several years older. The eldest among them was their captain, Martland Redbeard, the deposed earl of Thun, who had seen enough winters that his famed beard had become frosted with silver hairs.
So, why is the guy's beard famous? Or are we talking about another sort of beard here? Famed beard because why? What did his beard do to become famous? Is it a male or female beard? Obviously they've been together long enough that they've gotten silver hairs. Or could it be they're famous because Martland chose an older person to be his beard instead of some cute young thing? Or maybe the beard... I'm going to call it Lucy... did all sorts of neat heroics in Martland's name. Or maybe it's because Lucy was red? Does that mean that there's something special about red haired people? But isn't Katrina also red-haired? And there hasn't been anything mentioned about red haired people being special before. So.... why is Lucy famous then?
I'm not even going to touch the weapons that make up the group of soldiers.
Oh wait, in the next paragraph we learn that Lucy goes down to Martland's sternum. The earl was a short man, with powerful limbs from a lifetime of riding horses and wielding swords. His titular beard was thick and well groomed and hung to the middle of his sternum. The guy has a long beard, this is why he's famous? Perhaps it's because he hasn't died because of fighting with such a long beard and no one's yanked him off his horse. While this is something that has been seen before and is older than print. If that's what he's trying to reference, that's fine, but he should move the mention of the beard's length up further when he mentions that it's famous.
So, Lucy is famous for having long red hair. I can deal with that. Lots of guys like red-heads. In fact there's an entire trope for it.
Marshland gives Roran the standard You Are Under My Command Now© speech.
After looking Roran over, the earl had said, “Lady Nasuada has told me great things about you, my boy, and I have heard much else from the stories my men tell, rumors, gossip, hearsay, and the like. You know how it is. No doubt, you have accomplished notable feats; bearding the Ra’zac in their own den, for example, now there was a tricky piece of work. Of course, you had your cousin to help you, didn’t you, hmm? . . . You may be accustomed to having your way with the people from your village, but you are part of the Varden now, my boy. More specifically, you are one of my warriors. We are not your family. We are not your neighbors. We are not even necessarily your friends. Our duty is to carry out Nasuada’s orders, and carry them out we will, no matter how any one of us might feel about it. While you serve under me, you will do what I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you, or I swear upon the bones of my blessed mother—may she rest in peace—I will personally whip the skin off your back, no matter to whom you may be related. Do you understand?”
“Very good. If you behave yourself and show you have some common sense, and if you can manage to stay alive, it is possible for a man of determination to advance quickly among the Varden. Whether you do or not, however, depends entirely on if I deem you fit to command men of your own. But don’t you believe, not for one moment, not one blasted moment, that you can flatter me into a good opinion of you. I don’t care whether you like or hate me. My only concern is whether you can do what needs to be done.”
“I understand perfectly, sir!”
You're part of the ARMY NOW!!
That aside, again here we have another example of Paolini's unique way of listing extremes. He goes from family, neighbors to friends. However friends are closer to people than their neighbors are. It would be more effective if Marshland said, We are not your family, we are not your friends we're not even necessarily your neighbors. Of course, using neighbors seems out of place. Though it could be said that in smaller villages and things neighbors are more involved in life than in the suburbs. Though, I still say that friends are closer than neighbors. It's less personal than friend is.
Also we have the standard things of "You've done great things but can you do it without the Hero to help you?" and "You will do what I say or else" and "If you do well here you too can have your own command (for $9.95! Act now! Normally sold at $75.95, you can have your own command of men if you call in right this instant!). Sometimes I feel like I'd like to see a scene where the Hero goes to meet the general and is just told there's your bunk, go put your things there. Being treated no different than any other soldier, only getting to see the general at role call.
That's just me though.
Carn it turns out is their spellcaster.
Beside him, he heard Carn muttering phrases in the ancient language, and he smiled. Carn was their spellcaster, sent to ensure that an enemy magician could not kill them all with a wave of his hand. From some of the other men, Roran had gathered that Carn was not a particularly strong magician—he struggled to cast every spell—but that he compensated for his weakness by inventing extraordinarily clever spells and by excelling at worming his way into his opponents’ minds. Carn was thin of face and thin of body, with drooping eyes and a nervous, excitable air. Roran had taken an immediate liking to him.
I think Carn might become a sidekick. He actually seems likable from the description, even if he does suffer from wizards are skinny fellows syndrome. Fantasy wizards are skinny unless they're women then they're beautiful, it seems like sometimes. But that's a side ways dribble.
There's some brief chatter about how awesome Marshland is by some other people and then they go to sleep.
The enemy soldiers are riding mares again, which they only seem to have, while the Varden only seem to have stallions. Roran attacks two soldiers holding spears. He kills one of them, and the second one is some how able to effectively attack Roran while on horseback with a spear when Roran is in hitting it with a hammer distance. Yeah.
Each of these Varden are rather awesome, one guy is holding off three by himself.
Roran does get hurt. But by an upset ox that gorges him in the leg. Not by an enemy solider, but by an ox. Cause he's too good to be hurt by soldiers. Uh-huh then. Eragon's wards apparently protect him from that.
He chases after a solider and manages to get the advantage of him by shouting "Bah!" and startling him.
Then we get to see the AWESOME MAGICAL DUEL Between Carn and the enemy spell caster.
By the lead wagon, Carn stood facing a tall man in robes, the two of them rigid except for occasional twitches, the only sign of their invisible duel. Even as Roran watched, Carn’s opponent pitched forward and lay motionless on the ground.
Yes. That's it.
The entire magical duel.
It's a staring contest between two cats.
Carn stared the guy to death.
I have to say that Paolini's magic duels are really dull.
Really, a fireball wouldn't go amiss here.
By the lead wagon Carn faced a tall man in robes, dodging crackling bolts of blue energy that sizzled through the air. He twisted and turned, waiting for the right moment to strike. Suddenly a dart of ice flung out from his fingers, veering around their battle field and struck the other man in the back causing him to topple over, dead.
I like that much better.
Some of the soldiers manage to circle the wagons to protect themselves, but were stupid enough to only face one direction. This gives Roran the ability to hit them from the rear.
Roran urged Snowfire into a full gallop. He placed his left hand on the front of his saddle, edged his boots almost out of the stirrups, and gathered his muscles in preparation. When Snowfire was fifty feet away from the triangle of wagons, he pressed downward with his hand and, lifting himself, placed his feet on the saddle and stood crouched on Snowfire. It took all his skill and concentration to maintain his balance. As Roran had expected, Snowfire lessened his speed and started to veer to the side as the cluster of wagons loomed large before them.
Roran released the reins just as Snowfire turned, and jumped off the horse’s back, leaping high over the east-facing wagon of the triangle. His stomach lurched. He caught a glimpse of the archer’s upturned face, the soldier’s eyes round and edged with white, then slammed into the man, and they both crashed to the ground. Roran landed on top, the soldier’s body cushioning his fall. Pushing himself onto his knees, Roran raised his shield and drove its rim through the gap between the soldier’s helm and his tunic, breaking his neck. Then Roran shoved himself upright.
I would have had Snowfire jump the wagons and land in the middle, myself. I don't know if a human has the ability to do it. Of course, I don't know how big these wagons are either. They are just wagons. It's funny when the description is important for us to know, we don't get it. We just get a generic 'wagon'. What's in the wagons? Are they covered? How wide are they? All of this makes for showing us how impressive the jump is.
He manages to smash through four of the five soldiers by himself until his leg gives out on him. Personally it should have given up on him when he tried to stand up to make the jump, but it is just a wound of convince. Fortunately he is saved by Jesus! I mean Marshland and Lucy. They're impressed because they tell Roran, "You'll do."
Roran actually reflects on the NPCs he's killed. Which is nice. He feels uncomfortable about what he's doing.
Roran paused by the first two soldiers he had killed and studied their corpses. His saliva turned bitter, and his gut roiled with revulsion.Now I have killed . . . I don’t know how many . He realized that during the madness of the Battle of the Burning Plains, he had lost count of the number of men he had slain. That he had sent so many to their deaths he could not remember the full number unsettled him. Must I slaughter entire fields of men in order to regain what the Empire stole from me? An even more disconcerting thought occurred to him:And if I do, how could I return to Palancar Valley and live in peace when my soul was stained black with the blood of hundreds?
This I like. I like that he's uncomfortable. I like that he thinks upon it and worries about what it's doing to him. Even when he tries to push it away in the next paragraph.
Closing his eyes, Roran consciously relaxed all the muscles in his body, seeking to calm himself. I kill for my love. I kill for my love of Katrina, and for my love of Eragon and everyone from Carvahall, and also for my love of the Varden, and my love of this land of ours. For my love, I will wade through an ocean of blood, even if it destroys me .
Notice, the words, "seeking". He seeks, but doesn't get to it yet. I imagine eventually, he will. As that's how these things tend to go.
As for the wound itself Roran wonders out loud to Carn why didn't Eragon's shields protect him from the ox horn. Carn says that, “No one can prepare for every eventuality. That’s one reason magic is so perilous. If you overlook a single facet of a spell, it may do nothing but weaken you, or worse, it may do some horrible thing you never intended. It happens to even the best magicians. There must be a flaw in your cousin’s wards—a misplaced word or a poorly reasoned statement—that allowed the ox to gore you.”
- coughs* Protect me/him from harm *cough*
I dunno, sometimes simple is better. I mean it shouldn't be too draining as it's all about the intent, right? Which is why you can use the word brisingr for so many different things. It all depends on how you intend for it to be used when you cast the spell. So you intend for the spell to protect you from things that are really dangerous. Like ox horns. Or whatever the person the spell is cast upon feels dangerous. Something.
They kill the remaining enemy soldiers and their oxen, because the oxen are too slow to come with them. It they weren't then they'd take them back to the Varden, because they need the supplies. And THEN they set the supplies (after taking note of what they are) on fire. Including things like uniforms and wheat. Paolini specifically mentions that those two things are in the last couple of wagons.
I would have taken the uniforms, personally. And the wheat. And the supplies. Or something. It's hard to tell, because I don't know how far away they are from the Varden. Apparently far enough that they can't take the supplies, or something. It just doesn't feel... right. I know it's depriving the enemy of supplies, of course. But they're afraid to run into more troops and so how busy is this area that they are afraid to run into more people? There's just a lot of questions, that don't feel answered and make things shaky.
In any case, they all ride off.
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