Message in a mirror Edit

One of the better pieces of writing advice that I've gotten, at least in my opinion is that the point of view of a scene should always be from the person who has the most at stake. That way it means more and gives more emotional relation. This becomes exceptionally evident in the following chapter. It is from Saphira's Point of View (again) but it is Nasuada that seems to have the most at stake. Also this is a chapter of telling, not showing, which really makes it dull. Or even more dull than it could have been. It doesn't help that Saphira is bored silly.

So, Saphira is bored drowsing in front of Eragon's cloth-shell-tent. It's nice and warm, but she is bored. She's been flying night patrols which is boring. And it is boring. Apparently the only excitement was seeing the stunted-thoughts-red-scales Thorn. Who didn't do anything interesting but fly deeper into the empire. This made the Varden all upset and they wanted Blue-Wiener-Elf to fly on Saphira's back disguised as Eragon. Which she refused to do.

As she idles about she hears people running to and fro to Nasuada's tent. It doesn't matter to her, because they're always doing it. And then some more go. She takes a nap deciding it's not interesting enough to investigate.

So we've had about a page of Saphira lying around caring about nothing going around her and being bored. So, why should I care about what's going on? Why shouldn't I just skip this section if there's obviously nothing important happening. If there was, I'm sure that Saphira would be interested. After all, isn't it from her point of view? Why am I reading this if nothing interesting is happening. After all, I want to read about interesting things.

Unless I'm reading literature of course, then I'm allowed to read about boring things like shopping lists and the futility of life and the color of the dress in the window described in agonizing detail and what it means to the person and how it is an example of the consumer society. It must be done in disjointed prose. Long rambles about the dreams the character had the night before and how it relates to their relationship with their ex-boyfriend/girlfriend from college and how life would have been much better if they stayed with them instead of taking that spiritual trip to Tibet where they spent two years with a monk in a monastery learning about the meaning of butterflies in the great circle of life is also a must. If really desperate, experimental stories where the author is daring and avanant gaurde by not using the letter "h" in the entire novel is also acceptable.

As we've long ago established that Paolini's work is not literature, he does not get to do this. Limpet prose aside, I don't want to be bored reading about bored characters. Even if they are dragons.

So, she sleeps and is woken up by people shouting. What are they shouting about, I don't know, because Saphira only cares about the fact that they are disturbing her sleep. She decides that if it doesn't stop by the time she counts to thirty three (why that, I don't know) she will do something. It stops when she reaches seven and twenty. Yes, he actually says that. No, I don't know why. If he's trying to be avanant gaurde he fails at life. Since they stopped, she decides to go back to sleep. But, Nasuada shows up and wants to talk in private, in their heads.

Annoyed, Saphira agrees to it.

What she gets from Nasuada's mind at first are disjointed images and emotions from the woman: a gallows with an empty noose, blood on the ground, snarling faces, dread, weariness, and an undercurrent of grim determination. Okay, that's mildly interesting. Nooses and blood is always something for excitement.

And now we get some telling instead of showing.

See, apparently all that shouting was about a Varden member going over to the Urgal camp and killing three Urgals. Why? Because they're Urgals.

Nasuada shook her head.I almost wish they had, because then the Urgals would not be so upset; revenge, at least, they understand. No, that’s the strange part of this affair; Othmund hates the Urgals for no other reason than they are Urgals. They have never wronged him, nor his kin, and yet he loathes Urgals with every fiber of his body. Or so I gather after having spoken with him.

Let's see here. Urgals have been basically been considered Evil. They did Evil things. They worked for the Evil Empire. They are an Evil Race of Evil with no redeeming Values. At least this is what humanity has been told and believed for generations. Of course they're evil. Nasuada's sudden about face with them is completely artificial. She trusts them because Eragon trusts them even though they've killed her father.

Also, why didn't we get to see her talking to this guy?

So, when they made a pact of peace, Nasuada said that anyone who killed an Urgal would be hanged just as if they killed a human. Fair enough. And she knows that the others will hate her for carrying out the sentence because you know, she's picking Urgals (who are Evil) over her own people (who are also evil, but we don't talk about that).

See, I'd liked to have seen this confrontation between Nasuada and the others as she pushed her position instead of being told about it. This is an interesting bit of potential character development to see how she handles the people against her and her command decisions.

We don't get to see that.

We're just told about it. And we get to see Nasuada angst about it.

No. The men needed to know I would not condone such acts. Otherwise, they might have turned against the Urgals the very day Nar Garzhvog and I made our pact. Now, however, I must show them I meant what I said. If I don’t, there will be even more murders, and then the Urgals will take matters into their own hands, and once again, our two races shall be snapping at each other’s throats. It is only right Othmund should die for killing the Urgals and for defying my order, but oh, Saphira, the Varden will not like this. I have sacrificed my own flesh to win their loyalty, but now they will hate me for hanging Othmund. . . . They will hate me for equating the lives of Urgals with the lives of humans. Lowering her arms, Nasuada tugged at the cuffs of her sleeves.And I cannot say I like it any more than they will. For all my attempts to treat the Urgals openly and fairly and as equals, as my father would have, I cannot help but remember how they killed him. I cannot help but remember the sight of all those Urgals slaughtering the Varden during the Battle of Farthen Dûr. I cannot help but remember the many stories I heard when I was a child, stories of Urgals sweeping out of the mountains and murdering innocent people in their beds. Always Urgals were the monsters to be feared, and here I have joined our fate with theirs. I cannot help but remember the many stories I heard when I was a child, stories of Urgals sweeping out of the mountains and murdering innocent people in their beds. Always Urgals were the monsters to be feared, and here I have joined our fate with theirs. I cannot help but remember all that, Saphira, and I find myself wondering if I have made the right decision .

Really? Just. Really? Why couldn't we have seen that? It's much more interesting to have seen that than watch Saphira doze. It's clearly much more important than the fact that Saphira napping.

Saphira tries to comfort Nasuada by saying that she should remember that elves and dragons once fought and dragons and dwarves didn't like each other but they learned to get along. And if she's strong enough humans and the Urgals can too. Which ... kind of actually makes sense. And would have worked better if we'd gotten this after seeing Nasuada struggle with it. The impact would have been stronger than just this summary. But then we wouldn't have this random Saphria POV chapter. Which is clearly important for some reason. I'm sure. Just give me a bit to figure out why.

Okay. Can't think of any reason.

In fact, really, this horrible choice that Nasuada had isn't even why she came over to talk to Saphira.

Wait. Also, a sudden thought. The Urgals are a proud Warrior Race. This guy managed to sneak into their camp, past all their guards and awake Urgals. Kill three of them in their sleep and get back out with no one being the wiser.

Yeah. I don't by it.

My guess would be that some Urgal killed the three other Urgals in their sleep and the human decided to take the credit for it, not realizing that Nasuada would actually go through with her 'threats' of hanging. That's just me. I think that would have been more interesting, at least.

So, real reason why Nasuada showed up to talk to Saphira. She got a message from Eragon saying that he wanted Saphira to join him. This makes her all excited and she almost takes off. Nasuada asks her to wait so she can tell the dragon the situation. Basically that Eragon and his guard were attacked, though he's okay. She says that if she'd been there the hacking cough clan wouldn't have gotten away so easily.

Finally she takes off and she's excited because she gets to go see Eragon. We then get an odd thing.

Opening her jaws, Saphira roared her joy and confidence to the world, daring whatever gods there might be to challenge her, she who was the daughter of Iormûngr and Vervada, two of the greatest dragons of their age.

First. Didn't she mention some sort of dragon god (at least we think it's a dragon god) earlier? So why would she think "there might be" instead of just "Daring whatever gods who heard her to challenge her" or something along those lines.

Second: Saphira knows who her parents are? Really? Why weren't we informed of this... three books ago? This would have been fascinating to know! Maybe in book two she could have asked Yoda. We could have learned a bit about dragon family structures and history and things like that. Why are these two dragons the greatest of their age? Who were their riders? Were they just as great? Blarg. I hate throw away lines like this.

Anyway, if I were to rewrite this chapter, it would either have Saphira get more interested in it and not all snoozy. Cut the chapter. Have Nasuada call Saphira as soon as she got the mirror call from Eragon and then the incident with the guy. Cut the chapter. Have it from Nasuada's Point of View. Cut the chapter.

So. There's another pointless chapter down the drain.

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