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Brisingr Part Ten

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Chapter Seven: Trial of the Long Knives. Edit

We're sixty pages into Brisingr and there's no sign of a plot. \~/ We've completely wasted the first part of the novel on a side quest. \~/ Isn't that nice? Right. So this time we're with the Varden! We're in Nasuada's POV. Nasuada is the leader of the Varden. Her father who died in book two for some random reason beyond Paolini wanting to start off the book with a tragic death of a main character. Ajihad was not. We barely knew him. \~/ \~/

In any case Nasuada is dealing with men from her father's tribe. These men are black. We have a tribe of black men living on a relatively small continent (guessing from how far it takes Eragon to travel around) and I have no idea where they came from. I mean they must have come from somewhere on the continent but there's no place for them on the map. No logical place. Especially since they have an exceptionally different culture. \~/ \~/

Fadawar, a tall, high-nosed, black-skinned man, spoke with the same heavy emphasis and altered vowels Nasuada remembered hearing during her childhood in Farthen Dûr, when emissaries from her father’s tribe would arrive and she would sit on Ajihad’s lap and doze while they talked and smoked cardus weed.

If we recall, everyone that Eragon has run into speaks the same language in the same way. There have been no accents or anything and he's been all over the place. Every human area has had the same exact culture, used the same exact money and everything. Even the people of Sudra which left Galby's empire speaks the same way. So, where the hell do Nasuada's people come from? Now it could be said that they come from somewhere off the map, but then why would they be so interested in defeating Galby? They wouldn't be effected by his empire. And why would Nasuada's father lead the Varden? So they must live somewhere that's part of the Empire. \~/ \~/

I have no idea where that is at this point. Perhaps we'll find out later.

So, we tangent briefly to talk about Nasuada's guards. They are culturally diverse. Two humans, two Dwarves and two Urgals. As the members of her guard changed every six hours, the total number of warriors assigned to protect Nasuada was four-and-thirty, including the ten additional warriors who remained in readiness to replace their comrades in case of sickness, injury, or death. So, four and thirty, what a archaic and forced way to say thirty four. \~/ But she needs them because of potential assassins! Anyway. She wanted to have guards from all three races to make with the solidarity. Which causes issues, of course. Still she is actually encouraged because they've called themselves the Nighthawks which is a play with the name the Urgals call her: Lady Nightstalker. She is happy that they're all masters of their chosen weapons: Humans with swords, Dwarves with axes and Urgals with an "eccentric collection of instruments". So the Urgals are fighting with trumpets and double basses? \~/ I know that violin bows can be dangerous and tubas can really cause some damage... oh and chimes and harps would cause plenty of havoc.

I do not think that's the word Paolini was meaning. Lighting and lighting bug people. But now I see the Urgals walking around as an orchestra into battle. \~/

She is alone with Fadawar and his men except that Elva the witch child who is hiding behind the curtain. She does absolutely nothing in this chapter. \~/ Her guards are outside the tent because they might protect her from Fadawar and that would be bad. \~/

Fadawar and his people are our token African culture.

Fadawar tapped his four-foot-long scepter against the ground. The chased rod was made of solid gold, as was his fantastic array of jewelry: gold bangles covered his forearms; a breastplate of hammered gold armored his chest; long, thick chains of gold hung around his neck; embossed disks of white gold stretched the lobes of his ears; and upon the top of his head rested a resplendent gold crown of such huge proportions, Nasuada wondered how Fadawar’s neck could support the weight without buckling and how such a monumental piece of architecture remained fixed in place. It seemed one would have to bolt the edifice, which was at least two and a half feet tall, to its bony bedrock in order to keep it from toppling over.

Fadawar’s men were garbed in the same fashion, although less opulently. The gold they wore served to proclaim not only their wealth but also the status and deeds of each individual and the skill of their tribe’s far-famed craftsmen. As either nomads or city dwellers, the dark-skinned peoples of Algaësia had long been renowned for the quality of their jewelry, which at its best rivaled that of the dwarves.

Okay. So... why haven't we seen this before? And it is such a different culture than what's around them that you would think it would have been seen. It just seems so random. It's Paolini trying to make new cultures in an already established world. It's random culture droppage! *headesk* \~/ \~/ \~/

But anyway, Nasuada is trying to show Fadawar that she's not going to be partial to any one group. Fadawar is not happy with this as he says, "“Blood is the most important thing! First come your responsibilities to your family, then to your tribe, then to your warlord, then to the gods above and below, and only then to your king and to your nation, if you have them." There's something wrong with this line of priorities. Like why would you listen to your warlord first instead of your king? I would think a warlord would be subservient to the king. It's just a weirdly worded list which would probably make more sense if we knew more about the culture that's blathering it. \~/

Oh and Nasuada's god? He's called Unulukuna. \~/ \~/ \~/



Unulukuna. I am now thinking ukulele. \~/

So, we have urgals that fight with instruments and a tribe who prays to an instrument. And now I'm picturing the urgals swinging the ukulele believers around in battle. \~/

That's an even weirder image. \~/

So, anyway, Fadawar switches to his native language to insult Nasuada (again the first we've heard there being more than one human culture, in fact Paolini seems to have been insistent that there's only one human culture before hand, see Eragon's speech to Sloan about where they were) which apparently requires Nasuada to speak in kind. Personally, I never understood why. You can talk in you native language all you want, whoopee for you, you're bilingual. I would keep on talking in my native language to show I understand what you're saying, I just won't lower myself to your petty tricks to undermine my authority.But that's just me. \~/ Like when he says, “A woman’s pride is always without sense. You shall fail without our support.”

She realizes it undermines her authority because she mentions this. Again, why I wouldn't play their games. It would make them seem desperate. They argue some more, Fadawar clamming that she is renigging on the deals they made with her father and making them lower than their worth.

And at one point she thinks this:

A sense of resignation overwhelmed Nasuada. So Elva was right—it is inevitable, she thought. A thrill of fear and excitement coursed through her. If it must be, then I have no reason to maintain this charade . Allowing her voice to ring forth, she said, “Requests that you did not honor half the time.”

Ahh... so something has been Seen by the witch child. Not a bad thing, necessarily. It's foreshadowing something. But when we find out exactly what she's seen... well... that's Paolini failing again. \~/

She has a good exchange with Fadwar, which I like.

“You did not. And even if you were telling the truth, the Varden’s position is too precarious for me to give you something for nothing. You ask for favors, yet tell me, what do you offer in return? Will you help fund the Varden with your gold and jewels?”

“Not directly, but—”

“Will you give me the use of your craftsmen, free of charge?”

“We could not—”

“How, then, do you intend to earn these boons? You cannot pay with warriors; your men already fight for me, whether in the Varden or in King Orrin’s army. Be content with what you have, Warlord, and do not seek more than is rightfully yours.”

It's a rather nice sort of put down that a leader should give. Fadawar calls it twisting words and lies, so he challenges her to the Trial of the Long Knives to prove her authority as leader of the Varden. If he wins he gets to be the leader of the Varden, if she wins she gets command of his tribe. It is agreed upon.

To get ready for the trial Nasuada um... takes off her dress in front of everyone because she doesn't wish to ruin it. If anything, I would think that would undermine her authority. It makes her appear to be a sex object to the men as they leer at her. \~/ \~/

Witnesses arrive, “King Orrin of Surda, Jörmundur of the Varden, Trianna of Du Vrangr Gata, and Naako and Ramusewa of the Inapashunna tribe" . They are the council of the Varden, and Orrin is the king whose land they're residing in. And the witnesses are not at all happy with Nasuada's decision to go through the trial. They try to convince her not to do it, but she's given her word and Fadawar wants this and won't be satisfied with anything else. \~/

Yay for uncivilized barbaric ways of deciding who's in charge! See, apparently the Trial of the Long Knives is won by whom ever can make the most cuts on their arms before giving. And of course, since they're black that's the only sort of way they can do such things. *headdesk* \~/ \~/ \~/ \~/

Fadawar's warriors apparently routinely carry drums in their sleeves. Because they pull them out and immediately start drumming. No. Really. \~/

From within their voluminous sleeves, Fadawar’s four warriors produced small, hairy goat-hide drums. Squatting, they placed the drums between their knees and struck up a furious beat, pounding so fast, their hands were sooty smudges in the air. The rough music obliterated all other sound, as well as the host of frantic thoughts that had been bedeviling Nasuada. Her heart felt as if it were keeping pace with the manic tempo that assaulted her ears.

Which is utterly ridiculous. It would impinge on the warriors abilities to do warrior like things by keeping drums in their sleeves. Voluminous sleeves would also impinge on their abilities to do that. Or maybe they're like the Urgals and use instruments as weapons. \~/ \~/

Oooh kay. Now I've got an entire marching band thing going on in my head. See the Urgals are playing their instruments as they go into battle while the warriors with their voluminous sleeves are like those girls who dance with the banners. They even have a guy doing knife tricks! As the oldest warrior pulls out a pair of long knives and tosses them at Nasuada and Fadwar. \~/

So remember that prediction that Elva had? It was this: Nasuada would win.

We're told this right before the trial really gets started. Great way to kill any tension Paolini. What's the point of reading the rest of it, if I know she's going to win? \~/ \~/

I guess for lines like these:

His skin split like an overripe berry, blood welling from within the crimson crevice.

... blueberry. I'm thinking Blueberries here

The belief was that whoever aspired to become the chief of a tribe, or even a warlord, should be willing to endure more pain than anyone else for the sake ofhis or her people. Otherwise, how could the tribes trust their leaders to place the concerns of the community before their own selfish desires?

Or who has the best pain tolerance.

She offered a quick plea for strength to Gokukara, the praying mantis goddess, and then pulled on the knife.

We've had Nasuada's POV in Eldest. Never was such a goddess mentioned. Yay random culture drop! \~/

It’s too much to bear. I’d rather die. . . . Oh please, let it end! It gave her some relief to indulge in those and other desperate complaints, but in the depths of her heart, she knew she would never give up.

I just really hate in "the depths of her heart" type phrases. They just seem to be easy ways outs. Especially since she knows she's going to win. \~/

He remained thus as sweat dripped over his eyes and his wounds shed ruby tears.

I always sort of thought of dripping blood as blobs. And earlier the blood was described as flowing. Now I'm seeing rubies dropping. \~/


Fadawar yields after eight cuts.

Oh, and Nasuada just proved herself to be Just That Special by having more cuts than anyone else before her in the Trial. \~/ \~/

To continue our barbaric culture ways, they can't have the cuts healed magically, but instead the normal slow way so that they can experience the full pain they gave for their people. *headdesk* \~/

Basically the entire point of this chapter was to show the spesuhl new culture that Paolini created because he's so speshul and his world is soooo deep.

There are trees DYING Paolini! DYING because you think you're so great!! \~/ \~/ Thanks for wasting my time. -_-

drinks: 46

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