The Tree of Life pt. one Edit
There's a song I used to sing in Hebrew School with the lyric "It's the Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it and all of those who do so are happy!" It's a reference to the Torah and it was a fun little son to sing. This is what is now stuck in my head as I'm reading this chapter. Hurray!
This tree of life is the Menoa tree. It's very big.
Thicker than a hundred of the giant pines that encircled it, the Menoa tree rose toward the sky like a mighty pillar, its arching canopy thousands of feet across. The gnarled net of its roots radiated outward from the massive, moss-bound trunk, covering more than ten acres of forest floor before the roots delved deeper into the soft soil and vanished beneath those of lesser trees. Close to the Menoa tree, the air was moist and cool, and a faint but constant mist driffed down from the mesh of needles above, watering the broad ferns clustered about the base of its trunk. Red squirrels raced along the branches of the ancient tree, and the bright calls and chirrups of hundreds of birds burst forth from the bramble-like depths of its folliage. And throughout the clearling,t he sense of a watchful presence pervaded, for the tree contained within it the remnants of the elf once known as Linnea, whose consciousness now guided the growth of the tree and that of the forest beyond.
That is one damn huge tree.
Now there are two possibilities on this tree. One it is a world tree. One of those trees that hold up the world and without it the world will die. The tree in Norse Mythology is such a tree. And then there's the Paolini really has no idea how big big is. From the description of how the Menoa tree was 'created' I'm going with the second option instead of the first. It does not appear to be a world tree, as in the entire world would fall apart if it did. Instead it's just a really big tree with a really big botany fail. The amount of nutrients a tree that size would require is staggering. There couldn't be anything living in miles of that tree. At least not other trees. Unless they were parasites, which there don't seem to be.
The Menoa tree, for those who have forgotten, like I did, was created when an old elf lady killed her lover when he cheated on her with another elf. So distraught was she that she sang herself into the tree and um... yeah. The thing is, I thought elves were okay with lots of love and stuff and not getting attached and um... things like that. Hippies, remember? Free love?
Course, I guess everyone gets jealous now and again.
Eragon and Saphira land and he starts to look for any sign of a weapon in the tangled mass of roots. Because it would be easy to find a weapon in a ten acre field filled with bramble, roots, ferns and what not. A quick glance could do it.
After not finding anything, he takes a piece of bark and wonders if he could turn it into a weapon. Saphria tells him he could make even a blade of grass deadly but it wouldn't do much good against Murtagh or Galby. They try to figure out what serious ass meant realizing that it may not actually be a weapon but a book or a staff carved from the tree. Saphira says that cutting a branch from the tree would be a worthy weapon, not as good as a sword, but still a worthy weapon. But that anyone who cut off or hurt the tree would be in for some dire consequences. As she says, If any creature tried to harm the Menoa tree... I doubt they would live long enough to regret their mistake. <--- This is important. You'll see why later.
They search for a couple of hours and not find anything treasure like. Eragon then tries to get the tree's attention, but doesn't. After all it's a tree and has deep deep thoughts and can't be concerned with the little voices tickling in its little tree mind. Not finding anything he goes to his tree house and sleeps. Or actually, falls into a trancelike state of his waking dreams, and there spoke with his parents I still wish I knew what that meant. Anyway, his parents are proud of him and stuff and they love him and stuff.
The next morning they go to visit Lord Fiolr, he who has the dragon sword. Things get a bit woogie here. From what I know, Galby has only in been in charge for about a hundred years. Which is pretty minuscule as elf lives go. So when Fiolr says "Long has Tamerlein been a prized possession of my family..." it makes it sound like it's been in the family for generations, when it has only been in his poession for less than a hundred years. It belonged to his mate's brother.
Here's the thing, if I recall correctly, elves don't marry. They take 'mates' and they're rather short lived relationships so they can go on to have multiple mates. But, the way Fiolr speaks of his mate he makes it sound like they were married. Also there are few elf children so the likelihood of there being elf siblings seems even rarer, since no one sticks around with anyone long enough to have more than one kid with each other. His mate is - was - "the most wise and fair Naudra". And I'm wondering as opposed to the most wise and fair ex why zee? It seems like all the elves have that sort of title.
So, either they collect mates like Mormons collect wives, or Paolini is having a problem between saying what the elf culture is like and what the text actually says.
Anyway, Eragon promises to give Fiolr the sword back if he or any of his heirs (multiple? From where?) ask for it back. After doing that he can see the sword. Fiolr has a wand in his hand which he strokes with a finger and causes it to glow. Well, the pearl at the tip of the wand glows as he strokes it. I don't know why he's carrying the wand. At least he doesn't seem to wave it around as he talks. Eragon gets to see the sword and realizes that it's not good for him.
He still thinks about taking the sword, but Saphira says that he shouldn't. For two reasons. One because if he doesn't think it'll be proper for him, he shouldn't take it. He shouldn't have his life depend on a weapon he's not sure of. Second she doesn't like the conditions that Fiolr put on the gift. However Fiolr didn't say it was a gift, he said that Eragon could borrow it.
Borrowing is not a gift.
You borrow things with the intent of giving it back. Like from a library. There's a due date.
Gifts you can keep.
Eragon did promise to give the sword back, likely in the ancient language too, since that's all that elves use to speak in.
Saphira is being rather entitled when she assumes that Eragon should be able to keep the sword instead of giving it back gracefully. This of course does continue some of her previous characterization of a selfish, spoiled, entitled princess. See her food and beer demands earlier in the book for more proof on that end. Eragon even tells Fiolr that he can't keep the sword is one of the reasons why he's not using it. The elf doesn't seem to mind at all.
I don't blame him.
Ungrateful brats they are.
They go over to Rhunon's cave to see what they can do there. Rhunon doesn't get any description. Neither did the elf maid that took Eragon to see Fiolr. On the other hand Fiolr got a nice paragraph of description, comparing him to a spear head. *winkwinknudgenudge* Again continuing on the oddness of men having more description than women in the book.
Eragon wants to know if he could use Brom's sword, which is called Undbitr, or as I shall call it Underbite. Rhunon wants to know why he would want Brom's. Eragon tells her.
Rhunon is all "Ah yes, I can see now. I liked him he was rude." Rhunon apparently has been around since before the dragons and elves were nice to each other. Apparently elves were more normal back then. They laughed and fought instead of being all emotionless. I dunno about that one, but whatever. I mean that party they had when Eragon got all healed seemed to be pretty wild. As did a few other other things that happened in the first book. Maybe Rhunon has been in her caves too long.
She tells him the only way to make a good blade is to put the spells into it as the blade is being forged and not afterward. She won't make him a sword because of her oath never to make a sword again. And since she swore it in the ancient language she can't undo it.
Slight tangent. It's near the Jewish High Holy Days right now. Two weeks until Rosh Hashana and then Yom Kippur. One of the things that happens during Yom Kippur is that Jews ask for absolution from oaths they've made to G'd during the year. One of the reasons why we do this is because sometimes we can't fulfill the oath. This frees us from such a problem. We're supposed to, of course, try and do what we said we'd do, but circumstances change sometimes and so sometimes it no longer becomes viable.
I bring this up because it doesn't seem fair that Rhunon should be tied to her oath when it's so necessary for her to make a new sword. It seems like a false problem. And one that should be able to be fixed with another oath or something or another. After all, as it is proved, you never know when you need to break it. Especially since I would think she'd want to do whatever is necessary to defeat Galby.
Unless she doesn't..... hurm...
It's a moot point anyway. She needs brightsteel, or metal that comes from meteorites. Of course. Because elf techniques aren't special enough. The metal has to be special too. What really amazes me is that Rhunon found enough metal to make all of those swords just by wandering around the forest. After all there were hundreds of dragons and riders over two thousand or so years. The amount of metal found in the meteorites mustn't at all be that big because if it was large, the falling meteor would have left a huge crater and been a significant event. What I think would have been more plausible would be something like Mirthril that was mined by the dwarves. That would give the elves a special metal to use and a reasonable source for all of the weapons needed to be made.
As Eragon and Saphira take their leave they figure that brightsteel is what Serious Ass must have meant and that it must be under the tree ... somewhere.
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