Escape and Evasion: Pt.2Edit
So, where were we? Ah, yes. Running.
Eragon runs. He sees a flock of starlings and is reminded of his times drinking mint tea with Roran and his uncle Garrow watching the starling flocks at sunset back home. It's actually a very nice image and memory, but there's no lingering on it. It feels like it should lead into more memories of his life back with Garrow and Roran before all of this happened. Something more than just a line about tea on the porch. It's shoveled in and then Eragon notices a large ruin.
So, remember Eragon's oath of Veganism except when it's polite? Apparently he doesn't. Curiosity aroused, he decided to break his fast among the ruins. They were sure to contain plentiful game, and foraging would provide him with an excuse to do a bit of exploring before continuing on his way. I bring this up because he's now in the foot hills where there is plenty of lush greenery and plants to possibly eat. He's not out in the middle of the desert any more when he had nothing else available to eat. Game indicates animals. I would think that once he'd gotten to a place where he can get plants more easily in a sustainable way, he would go back to them. After all, that's what he said he would do. I think what might have happened though is that "plentiful game and foraging" is such a typical phrase that Paolini might have stuck it in there without realizing that's what he did.
Following Eragon into the ruins we get an interesting contradiction. The road that Eragon walks along is unlike any human, elf, or dwarf work he was familiar with. then he sees the ruins of a tower which He suspected that he had found an elven outpost, erected long before the destruction of the Riders. No other race had the skill or inclination to build such a structure. Let's see that means the Ra'zac must have made the road. After all, the Urgals didn't come from Eragon's land until after the humans and elves did. The dwarves didn't do it and neither did the dragons, because dragons don't build things, so that leaves only the Ra'zac as the possible creators of the road. After all they're an ancient race that's been around forever (until Eragon killed the last of them) and they wear clothing... until they're older... so it's more than likely that they could have made the roads. Though I'm sure that's not what Paolini meant. The thing is, when you rule out all the known possibilities, that leaves the unknown. But Eragon didn't rule out all the known possibilities really, just the "Good" races. I bring up the Ra'zac then because we never see anything of their culture. We just know that they're an ancient race, so it's entirely possible they created the road.
It is immediately contradicted when Eragon sees the tower and supposes it of elven make, saying that only they had the inclination and skill for such things. Though the voice inside my head goes, "what about those dwarves, are they chop liver? because I thought they were supposed to be the master-crafters and the elves the tree huggers or something. But then again, the elves are good at everything, so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. It's just that, why couldn't the elves have built a road if they could build a tower?
The problem is that, Paolini is trying to create world depth, "thing so old that it's like nothing any of the known races would have made" thus giving it a sense of history and at the same time trying to show how awesome the elves are with their tower building. He just put them side by side where it doesn't work. It's a big culture clash.
This is not important. For it's time for that very important section: The Crazy Old Hermit Encounter™! That's right, Eragon meets an old crazy hermit™.
A single man sat hunched among the rows of plants, weeding a patch of snap peas. Shadows covered his down turned face. His gray beard was so long, it lay piled in his lap like a mound of uncombed wool.
Without looking up, the man said, “Well, are you going to help me finish these peas or not? There’s a meal in it for you if you do.”
Long gray bearded man who knows Eragon is there and has no problem with inviting a complete stranger to lunch? Yup. Sounds like our Hermit™ Hermits always invite strange adventurers to have lunch with them after the adventurer helps them with whatever chore they're working on. Then during the meal, they'll do something strange and mysterious leaving the adventurer confused.
Eragon introduces himself as Bergan, son of Garrow. The hermit is Tenga, son of Ingvar. The weed peas. Eragon knows he shouldn't be doing it, but he does. Because, you have to stop for an hour to weed peas when you've got an entire rebellion waiting for you, when an old man tells you to. It's a Requirement. Eragon communes with the environment while he weeds. As he weeded, he allowed his mind to expand and touch the multitude of living things within the glade. He welcomed the sense of unity he shared with them.
Doesn't he feel the pain of the poor plants as they're being ripped from their homes in the ground to be tossed away to die, withering away among their peers? He's killing these weeds! And not only that but he's touching their minds as he does! And enjoying it! "Welcoming the sense of unity" generally indicates enjoyment.
Here Paolini has forgotten that weeds are a living plant and therefore would be part of the minds he's touching. Weeds are classified as "unwanted plants" and in many ways aren't thought of as plants but instead things to get rid of. This is how most people think about weeds. They are, however, plants. As plants, they are alive. As they are alive, they should be screaming in agony while they're being plucked from the earth. And this is why the whole being able to sense every living thing doesn't work.
So, after sadistically killing weeds, Eragon has lunch with our Hermit™. The Hermit™ has nice digs for a Hermit™. A spacious kitchen and dinning room full of books, scrolls and papers and a spiral staircase going up to the next floor. When the Hermit™ magically lights a fire in the fireplace without speaking, Eragon immediately assumes he's being attacked. Nothing happens except the Hermit™ goes about muttering to himself while making lunch. It allows Eragon the moment to reflect on what Yoda told Eragon previously about magic. For as Oromis had taught Eragon, words were the means by which one controlled the release of magic. To cast a spell without the structure of language binding that motive power was to risk having a stray thought or emotion distort the result.
This means that the Hermit™ is obviously very powerful, doesn't it? Especially the fact that he has all these tombs and things to read which are very rare, according to Eragon. But nothing comes of this.
The Hermit™ gives Eragon lunch: bread, cheese, ale and meat pie. I'm not sure where the food comes from as the Hermit™ lives in the middle of no where. He has no animals, so he can't make cheese, no fields so he can't make bread or ale, and perhaps he can hunt, but still. This sort of food is the kind that you get when you live near civilization. The Hermit™ is clearly out of the way. BUT what else are you supposed to eat in a fantasy world? Note: Eragon scrapes his plate clean, including the meat pie.
Not eating meat vow? What not eating meat vow?
This seems to have been forgotten in the desire for telling this particular scene.
Continuity? What continuity?
Meat pie is what you're fed so that's what you eat, and never mind thoughts about reservations on having to continue to eat meat or gee it feels icky or he eats everything but the pie. Nope, it's all scraped clean. The word "meat" has been stuck on there as an adjective like "cold" or "brown", the actual fact that it is meat is lost. The word is merely tacked on to describe the food, without thought as to what it is that is being described.
They finish their repast (yes, that's the word he uses) the Hermit™ eating lunch in front of the fireplace mumbling to himself. He seems to have gone OOC some how. He started off as the Strange Mysterious Hermit™ who knows you're there and is really an old sorcerer or what not and has moved into Crazy Mumbling Hermit™ barely capable of coherent communication.
When Eragon asks who built the tower, the Hermit™ says that the "tricky elves" built it. And when Eragon asks what the Hermit™ is doing there: '
“What is it you do here? Are you all alone, or—”
“I search for the answer!” exclaimed Tenga. “A key to an unopened door, the secret of the trees and the plants. Fire, heat, lightning, light . . . Most do not know the question and wander in ignorance. Others know the question but fear what the answer will mean. Bah! For thousands of years we have lived like savages. Savages! I shall end that. I shall usher in the age of light, and all shall praise my deed.”
“Pray tell, what exactly do you search for?”
A frown twisted Tenga’s face. “You don’t know the question? I thought you might. But no, I was mistaken. Still, I see you understand my search. You search for a different answer, but you search nevertheless. The same brand burns in your heart as burns in mine. Who else but a fellow pilgrim can appreciate what we must sacrifice to find the answer?”
“The answer to what?”
“To the question we choose.”
Yes, we've hit full on blather here. Important and intelligent sounding but not when you think about it blather. It's about as deep as a valley girl's mind. Sounds like one too. It feels like -to me- that Paolini is trying for something philosophical. And it feels like it's coming from somewhere else. But in the end it's almost as good as a Begger's Guild professional mumbler.
I think what it is supposed to do is reflect on Eragon showing that he is a deep and philosophical person searching for a deep truth the the universe. Because Crazy Hermits™ are always knowing of the truth and such. Which is why they are Crazy Hermits™
To change the subject Eragon spots some carved animals on the windowsill and asks about them. It turns out that "she" made them. The Hermit™'s ramblings scare Eragon and he leaves the man to his ramblings.
And that's it. We learn there's a crazy Hermit™ in the woods who is a powerful spell caster. Did Eragon try and recruit the fellow for the Varden? No. He just weeded the man's garden, sadistically enjoying the death of the weeds, ate his food and left without saying good bye.
So much more could have been done with this scene, but nothing was. It was just more filler. And another proof that Eragon has no sympathy for other people. He couldn't talk with the Hermit™ long enough to learn anything about him, or even garner his help against the Empire. After all the man is obviously a powerful spell caster! But instead he's just left there. Eragon not doing anything for him. And the scene merely passes into another thing to check off on the cliche list.
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