Shadows of the Past. pt.2Edit

After Eragon does his breathing exercises time passes he asks Arya what she thinks about Nasuada allowing the Urgals to join. Arya has this to say, “It was a courageous decision, and I admire her for it. She always acts in the best interests of the Varden, no matter what the cost may be.” I think I've made enough points in the previous chapters stating she was, in fact, not a good leader. But this is all informed ability. We're told she's a good leader so she must be a good leader or else why would we be told she's a good leader? She herself doesn't care one way or the other for the Urgals saying the elves have made treaties with them before.

But they're evil! They were established as being evil. And the elves are good! They were established as being good. Continuity? What continuity?

And then we get an infodump on the Lives of Urgals.

She did not have to explain why. Many of the scrolls Oromis had assigned Eragon to read were devoted to the subject of Urgals, and one in particular, The Travels of Gnaevaldrskald, had taught him that the Urgals’ entire culture was based upon feats of combat. Male Urgals could only improve their standing by raiding another village—whether Urgal, human, elf, or dwarf mattered little—or by fighting their rivals one on one, sometimes to the death. And when it came to picking a mate, Urgal females refused to consider a ram eligible unless he had defeated at least three opponents. As a result, each new generation of Urgals had no choice but to challenge their peers, challenge their elders, and scour the land for opportunities to prove their valor. The tradition was so deeply ingrained, every attempt to suppress it had failed. At least they are true to who they are, mused Eragon. That’s more than most humans can claim.

Um... Just... um.... I never really understood how an entire culture can be based on feats of combat. Also, if the entire culture is based on feats of combat why can't the females be warriors? And that's an entirely unsustainable culture. What Paolini is trying to do here is turn the Urgals in to the Proud Savage Warrior Race. Because everyone needs them. The problem is that he's already established them as the EVAHAL race. He's trying to pull a Klingon here, but with the Klingons there was transition and documentation and diplomacy and Kirk being Kirk and Khitomer massacre by the Romulans which led to the Khitomer Accords. Here though the Urgals just show up and say "Galby tricked us, we want to join your side". There's no reasoning behind it.

Also I want to see how Urgals describe human mating rituals.

So, remember way back in the prologue of book one where Arya is attacked and taken prisoner? Eragon wants to know what happened to her and how she survived it.

“I don’t know how you managed to resist him for so long. I saw what he did to you.” “It . . . it was not easy. I viewed the torments he inflicted on me as a test of my commitment, as a chance to demonstrate that I had not made a mistake and I was indeed worthy of the yawë symbol. As such, I welcomed the ordeal.”

“But still, even elves are not immune to pain. It’s amazing you could keep the location of Ellesméra hidden from him all those months.”

A touch of pride colored her voice. “Not just the location of Ellesméra but also where I had sent Saphira’s egg, my vocabulary in the ancient language, and everything else that might be of use to Galbatorix.”

The conversation lapsed, and then Eragon said, “Do you think about it much, what you went through in Gil’ead?” When she did not respond, he added, “You never talk about it. You recount the facts of your imprisonment readily enough, but you never mention what it was like for you, nor how you feel about it now.”

“Pain is pain,” she said. “It needs no description.”

"True, but ignoring it can cause more harm than the original injury. . . . No one can live through something like that and escape unscathed. Not on the inside, at least.”

I think she's a masochist. Also, I laugh at Paolini here. See Katrina.

We then get into a bit of character background and history of Arya. Eragon says that she's aloof and distant from other elves and everyone. She had a best friend, older elf, and they were "kindred spirits". He accompanied her as she went around as ambassador. Which brings me to an interesting pause. If she had friends when she was ambassadoring around with the Varden, then wouldn't they have seen other elves when she was with the Varden? Especially if she's gotten the egg and moving it around or something instead of keeping it safe in the elf lands or ...

Sorry, lapsed there.

Anyway, this friend of hers turns out to be Fäolin. He's one of the two Red Shirt elves that died when Arya was captured by Durza. Eragon then asks if Arya loved Faolin.

Casting back her head, Arya gazed up at the twinkling sky, her long neck gold with firelight, her face pale with the radiance of the heavens. “Do you ask out of friendly concern or your own self interest?” She gave an abrupt, choked laugh, the sound of water falling over cold rocks. “Never mind. The night air has addled me. It has undone my sense of courtesy and left me free to say the most spiteful things that occur to me.”

“No matter.”

“It does matter, because I regret it, and I shall not tolerate it. Did I love Fäolin? How would you define love? For over twenty years, we traveled together, the only immortals to walk among the short-lived races. We were companions . . . and friends.”

A pang of jealousy afflicted Eragon. He wrestled with it, subdued it, and tried to eliminate it but was not altogether successful. A slight remnant of the feeling continued to aggravate him, like a splinter burrowing underneath his skin.

First, Paolini's neck fetish is back.

Second, "Water falling over cold rocks"? What does that sound like? How is it different than water falling over warm rocks or hot rocks or just... how does that sound like a laugh at all?

Arya does have some emotional and sort of character building scene here. It's just a bit spun around with glitters and sparkle words that the intent and emotion gets side tracked.

Eragon realized she was crying, thick tears rolling from the outer corners of her eyes, down her temples, and into her hair. By the stars, her tears appeared like rivers of silvered glass. The intensity of her distress startled him. He had not thought it was possible to elicit such a reaction from her, nor had he intended to.

She talks about how Durza tortured her and would heal her when she got too damaged and he would torture her again. He was careful not to drive me mad—Galbatorix would have been displeased with that—but he came close I'm not sure how constantly being tortured for ALMOST every part of the day could prevent someone from going mad. Did they have therapy breaks? She talks about how she was going delusional and seeing things. When I looked up, I found myself lying on a branch high in a tree near the center of Ellesméra. The sun was about to set, and the whole city glowed as if it were on fire. The Äthalvard were chanting on the path below, and everything was so calm, so peaceful . . . so beautiful,

And then randomly a guard leaves a white rose in Arya's cell. I had forgotten, but once there was a soldier who left a white rose in my cell. It was the only kindness anyone ever showed me in Gil’ead.

I'm not sure exactly how a rose in the cell is an act of kindness. It's more of a bit of torture in my eyes. A sort of "this is what I'm keeping from you, this is what you can't have" than anything else. And roses are beautiful and then die... I think I'm thinking too much into this.

It's a nice gesture though, it doesn't make any sense, but it's a nice gesture. Which is why it fails.

So, she's been tortured so badly she's become delusional, how does she deal with it when she's free?

“No,” she said. “I suppose not.” With the cuff of her left sleeve, she dabbed her eyes, drying them. “When I awoke in Farthen Dûr, there was too much that needed doing for me to dwell on the past. But events of late have been dark and bloody, and increasingly I have found myself remembering that which I should not. It makes me grim and out of sorts, without patience for the ordinary delays of life.” She shifted into a kneeling position and placed her hands on the ground on either side of her, as if to steady herself. “You say I walk alone. Elves do not incline toward the open displays of friendship humans and dwarves favor, and I have ever been of a solitary disposition. But if you had known me before Gil’ead, if you had known me as I was, you would not have considered me so aloof. Then I could sing and dance and not feel threatened by a sense of impending doom.”

I should be having a nervous break down, but I don't have time for it. Now woe is me. If she's been so abused as she says she says she is, she shouldn't be coherent. She hasn't shown any sort of trauma. It could be said that she should have been holding it in, but there should have been a trigger long before now, especially when she faces Durza at the end of the first book. However her stoicism has been such a part of her personality and we've never seen anyone who knew her before the Durza incident, like members of the Varden (Nasuada for example) or even any of her own people when Eragon was with the elves mention that she's acting funny, this rings sort of false. It feels forced upon her, almost as if Paolini is now, in the third book realizing Oh Hay! People are supposed to have traumatic reactions to these things!

To make her feel better, Eragon finds a seed and grows her a blue lily. Arya is grateful for the flower as she says, “Thank you. Giving flowers is a custom both our races share, but we elves attach greater importance to the practice than do humans. It signifies all that is good: life, beauty, rebirth, friendship, and more. I explain so you understand how much this means to me. You did not know, but—

Funny, that's what I thought it meant for humans too. But this is being said as an example of elves are Better Than Humans. And likely by giving her a flower, Eragon is showing that his thoughtfulness is making him better than human, even if it's just like what any human would do.

And stopping here.

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