Brisingr, Chapter one: The GATES OF DEATH OoOOOooOOOoooOOoooooo....
Sorry. I couldn't help it.
So, we begin.Edit
Eragon stared at the dark tower of stone wherein hid the monsters who had murdered his uncle,
I just wanted to say here, this is the first line of the book. First "dark tower of stone" reminds me of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" . Just the phrasing. Also, the comma there between "uncle" and "Garrow" totally unnecessary. His uncle Garrow is just as acceptable if not more than his uncle, Garrow. By putting the separating comma there it gives a sort of emotional distance between Eragon and his uncle. It's not "uncle Garrow" which indicates a familial relationship. He's acknowledging Garrow as his uncle, but instead separating him. This uncle, who happens to be named Garrow. It feels like someone he doesn't have much contact with and is only naming him as an after thought. Garrow is someone who happens to be his uncle as opposed to his uncle Garrow.
Eragon is at Helgrind, which we should all remember as the EVIL MOUNTAIN that people worship. There is some flowery description about the brittle dead flora from the past spring season now dead... or something. He and Roran are there with the nice dagger of a mountain shooting up. If I recall correctly there were three peaks, but that's um continuity, so my bad. Still. They're there.
Paolini quickly stays true to form by throwing in his ridiculous over wrought sentences for simple ideas.
To his left, Eragon heard the steady breathing of his cousin, Roran, who was stretched out beside him. The normally inaudible flow of air seemed preternaturally loud to Eragon with his heightened sense of hearing, one of many such changes wrought by his experience during the Agaetí Blödhren, the elves’ Blood-oath Celebration.
Roran's breathing sounded loud to Eragon because of his heightened hearing. One of the nifty changes that happened to him at his fix it all ceremony.
Still, as point, Paolini' still hasn't gotten the idea that sometimes it's easier to read things when you actually say what you mean instead of wandering around it. Such a sentence even a few paragraphs into the novel is jarring and takes you out as you try and figure out what the fuck did he just say?
We get to the entire purpose of this chapter rather quickly. It's to watch the Evahls of religion. What, you thought he and Roran were scoping the place out to see if Katrina was there? Naaaah.
See, they're watching this procession of priests of Helgrind go up to the altar. And many of these priests are horribly mutilated, missing arms, legs, both. The high priest is nothing but the Black Knight after his encounter with King Arthur. Which makes the following instances with the priest sillier because I keep on imagining him about to scream, "Come on! It's just a flesh wound!"
We continue with our ponderous prose:
Behind the priests trudged a double line of young men swathed in gold cloth. Each carried a rectangular metal frame subdivided by twelve horizontal crossbars from which hung iron bells the size of winter rutabagas. Half of the young men gave their frames a vigorous shake when they stepped forward with their right foot, producing a dolorous cacophony of notes, while the other half shook their frames when they advanced upon the left foot, causing iron tongues to crash against iron throats and emit a mournful clamor that echoed over the hills. The acolytes accompanied the throbbing of the bells with their own cries, groaning and shouting in an ecstasy of passion.
Um... first, "throbbing of the bells with their own cries, groaning and shouting in an ecstasy of passion"? I'm sorry, but there is no way that sentence works well. Also, is there a standard size of a winter rutabaga? I spent a summer where I worked in a zucchini patch, the amount on sexual innuendo that comes out from that is amazing (this ones a little squishy... but this one here's nice and firm. My God look at the size of this one! I don't think it's going to be able to fit!), but anyway they were all summer zucchini and they ran from huge -size of my arm - to small, about the length of my hand.
I spent a good amount of time picturing swinging rutabagas and throbbing... it's really not what he's going for, I know. Also the left right thing... just feels like he's -Paolini- is trying to be different. That's very hard to coordinate. Getting people to step in line with the same foot is hard work. But it sounds pretty, doesn't it?
When they, the priests and a bunch of others from the city reach the crude altar, the Black Knight starts preaching curiously in a mix of the ancient language (mangled) ,
Orc Urgal, dwarf and common. I say curiously for two reasons. One: I don't believe the ancient language is capable of being mangled, according to Paolini's previous statements as whatever you say is supposed to be true, you can't lie in it. So mangling it is rather... hard. Also, I think it would make more sense for them not to mangle it and say things like, "You will all do what I say" thus get perfectly happy minions. But of course they're all ready perfectly happy minions by being part of a religion.
The mixing of other languages would probably be a reflection of the fact that when you go to church/temple/whathaveyou there are often portions that are done in another language. However there's usually a religious significance for it. This just feels like he's doing it randomly. The Priest talks about evil and dark and evil things that are done in evil and dark ways that shouldn't be talked about because they're evil and dark. And it's all because the dragon riders aren't here any more. Srsly. of a malevolent hate that had festered for centuries in the dark caverns of people’s hearts before being allowed to flourish in the Riders’ absence, Because without the riders people are incapable of being good people.
This done, the head priest is lifted up onto the alter and... um... I get Holy Grail flashes. A rivulet of blood sprang from each of the High Priest’s shoulders, flowed down the leather-encased torso, and then pooled across the boulder until it overflowed onto the gravel below.
It's just a flesh wound! Come on! What are you? A coward!
But this I think is Paolini trying to make a comment on religion, especially I think the Communion ceremony.
Two more priests jumped forward to catch the crimson flow in goblets that, when filled to the rim, were distributed among the members of the congregation, who eagerly drank.
“Gar!” said Roran in an undertone. “You failed to mention that those errant flesh-mongers, those gore-bellied, boggle-minded idiot worshipers were cannibals .”
“Not quite. They do not partake of the meat.”
Though, while I'm not sure how Eargon knows they don't partake in the meat *giggles* as he doesn't know anything about their religion as far as I can recall. But the drinking of the blood and the eating of the meat is very reminiscent of Communion.
Also, I think, someone showed Paolini the Shakespeare curse maker. "Errant flesh-mongers" indeed.
After everyone drinks their fill of blood, the Black Knight leads them all on a blood letting ceremony where he rambles off things on a list that they shan't do and they cut their arms with each listing. This reminds me of what the Jews do during the Passover Seder when we recite the ten plagues. For each plague spoken, we spill a drop of wine. But... it's not all... weird and gross like that.
The sermon on the mount now complete he calls out for someone to show off their devotion. One of the bell ringers decides to do so. This ends up with him cutting off his own hand with the crowd going wild and Eragon musing about how senseless it was for someone to mutilate themselves willingly when it was so easily to do it in every day life.
That done, the lot of them leave after leaving dinner for the Ra’zac (two slaves).
Eragon and Roran comment on the horror of what they've seen, and then Eragon goes searching for Katrina with his mind. There is back story about how Katrina was kidnapped when her father Sloan betrayed them etc and how she's like family because she and Roran are going to get married. And then about how he's renounced affiliations with Murtagh because he's evil now having been forced into Galby's service and is basically brain-washed so he doesn't deserve to be related to Eragon and isn't that nice and heroic of our Hero, leaving his family in the clutches of the Big Bad.
I'm getting warm fuzzies all ready.
After some mental probing Eragon decides that she's most likely there. He and Roran decide that they'll wait until the morning to attack because the Ra'zac are stronger at night.
My warm fuzzies increase with this:
“So, we wait for the dawn.” Roran gestured toward the slaves chained to the gory altar. “If those poor wretches are gone by then, we know the Ra’zac are here, and we proceed as planned. If not, we curse our bad luck that they escaped us, free the slaves, rescue Katrina, and fly back to the Varden with her before Murtagh hunts us downOur great and noble heroes aren't going to free the Ra'zac's dinner. Instead they're going to wait and see if they get eaten so they know if their hated enemies are around. They're just as bad as the priests who left them there. Any good hero knows that you free the dinner, no matter what. You don't just let them hang around and if they don't get eaten free them.
Remember, after all, they're supposed to be the Traditional Heroes.
Eragon says that he wishes he could free them but it would let people know things were amiss and that they couldn't attack the Ra'zac in the open when they were going to take the slaves because then everyone would know that they were in the area and so would Galby. Which is silly, because when they attack the Ra'zac then they'll know they're in the area and so will Galby.
He wishes that they'll be okay and then he and Roran return to camp.
While this is all good and well, the way they just leave them there and talk about them makes the two of them sound rather callous. Oh well, those poor slaves, if we're not lucky they won't get eaten.
Eragon does think, "For their sake, I hope the Ra’zac are on the other side of Alagaësia or, at least, that the Ra’zac aren’t hungry tonight ." But he still doesn't do anything about that. He's putting his own selfish desires against the welfare of the two men. After all, Katrina is safe because they need her alive for leverage against Roran and Eragon. Eragon has all of Alagaesia to worry and free, he doesn't have time to deal with petty revenge.
Now, I wouldn't normally take issue with such selfishness, except that Eragon is neglecting his duties to the Varden for this. And it's a side quest that could have been woven into the plot when Katrina actually gets threatened or something. But instead they've risked the Varden's greatest asset for a bit of revenge. Revenge that could very well come later.
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