Chapter: Mercy, Dragon RiderEdit
All along I've been pointing out how Paolini says Eragon is a good and wonderful and moral person and the text shows differently. If anyone has any lingering doubt about this, I think this chapter will finally prove otherwise. Remember the title of this chapter. \~/
Eragon and Arya are running. Woo. They sense fifteen soldiers ahead of them. Paolini's preciseness is something that bothers me sometimes. He has this need to be utterly exact to a ridiculous degree. When it's a discussion about trees, like the type of trees or what something is made of, that's fine, but he doesn't need to say fifteen soldiers until we actually meet them and they're counted. A contingent of soldiers or a group of them would be just as fine. Still they sense fifteen soldiers. \~/
They're trying to figure out what to do because they're out in the middle of the open with no other travelers to hide themselves with. They need to hide. Do they use magic and turn themselves invisible before getting off the road some? No. \~/ \~/ \~/ Eragon suggests digging a hole and hiding in it, but that's decided to be too impractical. I'm not sure why that idea even came up. Eragon is tired with running, he's not winded but his body hurts, he's all swollen in joints and has blisters. Using magic heals them a little but makes him more exhausted.
It takes a half hour before they can actually see the horsemen. They run for another ten minutes because the horsemen don't have as keen eyesight as they do before Arya puts on a skirt and they start walking. Yes. They have forty minutes to plan a way to hide, and they don't. The most they discuss is dig a hole? No, that's dumb. Okay, let's keep on running. \~/ \~/ \~/
This is plot induced stupidity here. If Arya and Eragon were to have turned themselves invisible and gone off the path for a while until the soldiers passed, then they wouldn't have any problems. They had plenty of time for this. They could have done what Sam and Frodo did, hiding themselves under their cloaks and making the cloaks look like the ground. \~/ Turning invisible. \~/ The ground may be wide and flat but nothing is perfectly flat, they had more than enough time to get off the road and find a gully somewhere to hide. They could have turned themselves invisible. \~/ Things like that.
They need to be holding the idiot ball for the following scene though to discuss Eragon's Moral Values. Yes, apparently he has some. According to Paolini, anyway. \~/
The two of them make themselves look like harmless travelers, and it takes almost a hour for the soldiers to catch up with them after this.
Yes. They have about two hours to come up with a way to deal with the soldiers and the best they could come up with was digging a hole. Turning invisible anyone?! \~/ It's one of the oldest tricks in the books! Everyone who doesn't want to be seen always thinks, "Gee I wish I could be invisible." Guess what, they have the magic to do it! But they don't. So instead, the following scene happens.
The soldiers on horseback start to pass the two of them when they suddenly turn around and encircle Eragon and Arya. Eragon picks up a pebble from the ground as they wait. Eragon wants to tear them apart with his bare hands, but makes himself not do it because if he were it would make him look like a coward to Arya. Not sure how that works. \~/
Anyway, the two of them are in a circle of spears, not at all reminiscent of what happened to Gimili, Aragorn and Legolas when they first meet Eomer in the Two Towers. \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/ The leader of the soldiers has a nine inch on each side mustache.
There's an odd information fail statement, "So much dirt covered them, it was impossible to see the flames stitched on their tunics." Since this is from Eragon's POV if the flames are impossible to see, he shouldn't be able to see them. But if it said, "it was impossible to see the flames he knew were there stitched on their tunics" that would make more sense. \~/
The man in charge then speaks.
“Now then,” said the man, and his mustache wobbled like an unbalanced set of scales. “Who are you? Where are you going? And what is your business in the king’s lands?” Then he waved a hand. “No, don’t bother answering. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters nowadays. The world is coming to an end, and we waste our days interrogating peasants. Bah! Superstitious vermin who scurry from place to place, devouring all the food in the land and reproducing at a ghastly rate. At my family’s estate near Urû’baen, we would have the likes of you flogged if we caught you wandering around without permission, and if we learned that you had stolen from your master, why, then we’d hang you. Whatever you want to tell me is lies. It always is. . . .
“What have you got in that pack of yours, eh? Food and blankets, yes, but maybe a pair of gold candlesticks, eh? Silverware from the locked chest? Secret letters for the Varden? Eh? Cat got your tongue? Well, we’ll soon sort the matter out. Langward, why don’t you see what treasures you can excavate from yonder knapsack, there’s a good boy.”
Um... the peasants are the ones who grow the food to feed your ass at your fancy estate. And they're the ones who take care of your estate, and your horse, and ... yes. Then there's the mode of speech itself. It's as if Paolini was trying to create a satire of a pompous noble but the style is so different than the rest of the book that it's jarring to read. It kind of reminds me of someone from a Monty Python skit, like the guy who stopped things because they were far too silly. \~/
Does this guy do this to everyone he meets or are Eragon and Arya Just That Special? My guess is that they're Just That Special.
Eragon's armor is discovered when Langward knocks him in the back with the butt of his spear. The leader of the soldiers continues in his curious line of speech, fist accusing them of going to the Varden and then as mercenaries giving honest soldiers a bad name. The man then calls him an incompetent mercenary because Eragon doesn't even have a weapon. Ha.
Then there's this interesting speech:
“Silence, you insolent rascal! No one gave you permission to speak!” His mustache quivering, the man gestured. Red lights exploded across Eragon’s field of vision as the soldier behind him bashed him on the head. “Whether you are a thief, a traitor, a mercenary, or merely a fool, your fate will be the same. Once you swear the oath of service, you will have no choice but to obey Galbatorix and those who speak for him. We are the first army in history to be free of dissent. No mindless blathering about what we should do. Only orders, clear and direct. You too shall join our cause, and you shall have the privilege of helping to make real the glorious future our great king has foreseen. As for your lovely companion, there are other ways she can be of use to the Empire, eh? Now tie them up!”
It sounds like soldiers are being made to swear an oath in the Ancient Language so that they can't be traitors to the cause. Or this guy is a mindless idiot who just believes whatever he's told. And look! Sexism! Women can't be soldiers unlike in the Varden. Here in the Empire they're only good for you know, wink wink nudge nudge. \~/ \~/
Eragon and Arya blink at each other and then kills the mustache guy by flicking a pebble through his head. \~/
Instead, he cocked his arm and, with a flick of his wrist, threw the pebble at the man with the mustache.
The pebble punctured the side of his helm.
And then we get a fight scene where the two of them kill the remaining fourteen soldiers.
Before the soldiers could react, Eragon twisted around, yanked the spear from the hands of the man who had been tormenting him, and used it to knock him off his horse. As the man landed, Eragon stabbed him through the heart, breaking the blade of the spear on the metal plates of the soldier’s gambeson. Releasing the spear, Eragon dove backward, his body parallel with the ground as he passed underneath seven spears that were flying toward where he had been. The lethal shafts seemed to float above him as he fell.
Anyone but me reminded of the Matrix there? He really must have high ranks in acrobatics. \~/ \~/ \~/
The instant Eragon had released the pebble, Arya bounded up the side of the horse nearest her, jumping from stirrup to saddle, and kicked the head of the oblivious soldier who was perched on the mare. He went hurtling more than thirty feet. Then Arya leaped from the back of horse to horse, killing the soldiers with her knees, her feet, and her hands in an incredible display of grace and balance.
GASP!!! LOOK! A MARE!!! EVIDENCE THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN JUST STALLIONS!!!!!
Damn. There goes my Mpreg theory. BUT notice however, that the soldiers, the bad guys, are the ones riding the mare but the good guys always ride stallions. Mares being female are weak and stallions are strong and virile, thus the Empire is weak and the Varden is strong. \~/ \~/
As for the knees bit... um... perhaps they come off? \~/
Jagged rocks tore at Eragon’s stomach as he tumbled to a stop. Grimacing, he sprang upright. Four soldiers who had dismounted confronted him with drawn swords. They charged. Dodging to the right, he caught the first soldier’s wrist as the man swung his sword and punched him in the armpit. The man collapsed and was still. Eragon dispatched his next opponents by twisting their heads until their spines snapped. The fourth soldier was so close by then, running at him with sword held high, Eragon could not evade him.
Trapped, he did the one thing he could: he struck the man in the chest with all his might. A fount of blood and sweat erupted as his fist connected. The blow staved in the man’s ribs and propelled him more than a dozen feet over the grass, where he fetched up against another corpse.
Nuuuu!! You don't dismount when confronting an enemy on foot! You have the advantage of a giant death with hooves while mounted. That's what trained war horses are for! To kill the ground people. That's why mounted police are still used, because they're good for crowd control. It's hard to hit a guy on a horse, but it's not hard to hit a guy while on a horse, especially if you have a spear. The tactics here are abysmal. If Paolini has done any sort of research he would know this. I would say perhaps he does, but previous incidents including Eragon fighting next to Saphira, lead me to believe otherwise. \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/
As for Eragon himself, someone seriously has been checking through the D&D 3.5 player's handbook. That thing he does with the fist? Totally stunning fist, one of the monk abilities. \~/
The blow to the chest does hurt Eragon's hand so that cartilage is coming out of his skin. Ew.
Arya is dealing with two of the last three men, so Eragon chases after the third where we learn about Eragon's heroism and mercy.
The horses had scattered. Only three soldiers remained alive. Arya was grappling with two of them some distance away while the third and final soldier fled south along the road. Gathering his strength,Eragon pursued him. As he narrowed the gap between them, the man began to plead for mercy,promising he would tell no one about the massacre and holding out his hands to show they were empty.When Eragon was within arm’s reach, the man veered to the side and then a few steps later changed direction again, darting back and forth across the countryside like a frightened jack -rabbit. All the while,the man continued to beg, tears streaming down his cheeks, saying that he was too young to die, that he had yet to marry and father a child, that his parents would miss him, and that he had been pressed into the army and this was only his fifth mission and why couldn’t Eragon leave him alone? “What have you against me?” he sobbed. “I only did what I had to. I’m a good person!”
Eragon paused and forced himself to say: “You can’t keep up with us. We can’t leave you; you’ll catch a horse and betray us.”
WAAAAAY back in Eragon there was a scene where Murtagh and Eragon were attacked by slavers. Murtagh killed the head of the slavers after the end of the battle. The man was weaponless, and according to Eragon harmless. Murtagh's reasoning for it was that this way he won't cause any more trouble and come back after them with more men. Eragon was highly disgusted with this and couldn't understand why Murtagh did this. \~/ \~/ \~/
This action of Murtagh's was far better than what Eragon does.
“No, I won’t!”
“People will ask what happened here. Your oath to Galbatorix and the Empire won’t let you lie. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to release you from your bond, except . . .”
“Why are you doing this? You’re a monster!” screamed the man. With an expression of pure terror, he made an attempt to dash around Eragon and return to the road. Eragon overtook him in less than ten feet, and as the man was still crying and asking for clemency, Eragon wrapped his left hand around his neck and squeezed. When he relaxed his grip, the soldier fell across his feet, dead.
How is this mercy? Yes, Eragon is a monster. He's even worse than Murtagh because then he protested such an action, now he does it, without any show of hesitation. \~/ \~/ No, Eragon didn't have to kill him. Arya is surly a better spell caster than anyone in Galby's army (it's not like Galby himself is swearing in every single soldier)she could have broken the oath. If he'd let the man live, the man could go and spread the tale of Eragon's mercy and power. Taking out an entire contingent would be quite a story! The rumors would abound and soon Eragon would have been taking out an entire army with the brush of his hand. It's like what happened in Interesting Times by Sir Terry Pratchett.
Rincewind and the Red Army went around telling the enemy army that there weren't some number of ghosts out there waiting to attack. The rumors spread and men started to desert. Even if these men can't desert, they'll certainly be worried.
The thing though is that Eragon is supposed to be the Hero. The Traditional Hero. Those always give mercy. They always let the unarmed soldier live. It's part of the Code, as Cohen the Barbarian would say. There are just some things that a Hero doesn't do. Eragon is turning out to be more like Richard Rhal, than any Hero. \~/
He feels bad about killing the guy with the thought of Whenever we kill, we kill a part of ourselves and some loathing thrown in. Arya asks him how come he could kill the soldier and not Sloan, he answers that the soldier was a threat, Sloan wasn't. \~/
Arya's response? Arya was quiet for a while. “It ought to be, but it isn’t. . . . I am ashamed to be instructed in morality by one with so much less experience. Perhaps I have been too certain, too confident of my own choices.”
How is this an instruction in morality? Here Eragon is being shown on how Wise and Wonderful he is, even as a young mortal. Wise beyond his years. Which is such a cliche, why can't Arya instruct him that what he did was wrong. Because he's the Hero, of course. \~/ \~/
Eragon wishes there was something they could so that they could stop fighting and killing people, but they can't get to Galby easily. Reasonable enough. For once, Eragon says he feels like a murderer. It doesn't last.
Arya then makes the corpses look like they weren't killed by hand, because out in the middle of nowhere miles away from any civilization, someone is going to stumble upon the bodies, rush back to civilization, be believed, and get a message out to where ever Murtagh -letting him know that elves are in the area- is before they reach the Varden. \~/ \~/ \~/
They're gonna use their magic cellphones.
Though some of the wounds... like the twisted necks? Are gonna be easy to discovered even if they have a large hole in their chests'.
The final thought Eragon has on this? He needs a sword.
Does he take one of the swords from the fallen men?
Arya fixes his hand and there's a look at each other then away bashful moment.
...When the spell ended, he opened and closed his hand to confirm that it was fully cured. “Thank you,” he said. It surprised him that she had taken the initiative when he was perfectly capable of healing his own wounds.
Arya seemed embarrassed. Looking away, out over the plains, she said, “I am glad you were by my side today, Eragon.”
“And you by mine.”
She favored him with a quick, uncertain smile....
See, this is almost subtle, it could even be a hint of Arya's growing affection for Eragon. If she hadn't been made his Designated Love Interest from book one, then this could have actually sort of worked. It's the start of some sort of chemistry. But it feels spoiled because we've been told bluntly that it's going to happen. We don't get to see their relationship evolve. It's like reading the back of a mystery novel and finding out who killed the butler and then going back to read the beginning. Not as satisfying.
This done, they go back to running.
The thing with the chapter title, you're expected that Eragon, the dragon rider, will give mercy, this is what the dragon riders were supposed to do, but instead he just comes off as a brutal killer who has no pity for his enemies or tries to come up with a third solution.
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