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Brisingr Part Thirty

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I Need a SwordEdit

This is something that Eragon has said almost every chapter. He needs a sword. "I need a sword so I'll make my knuckles all bony instead of taking one of these temporarily until I can get a new one!" Right then.

Here, Eragon finally gets a sword. We're halfway through the book, mind you, and there's still no plot... but... he gets his sword. After putting away his book he goes to the Varden's weapon master. Though, it is not the word Paolini is looking for. I show you:

Once Domia abr Wyrda was safely ensconced in his tent, Eragon went to the Varden’s armory, a large open pavilion filled with racks of spears, swords, pikes, bows, and crossbows. Mounds of shields and leather armor filled slatted crates. The more expensive mail, tunics, coifs, and leggings hung on wooden stands. Hundreds of conical helmets gleamed like polished silver. Bales of arrows lined the pavilion, and among them sat a score or more fletchers, busy refurbishing arrows whose feathers had been damaged during the Battle of the Burning Plains. A constant stream of men rushed in and out of the pavilion: some bringing weapons and armor to be repaired, others new recruits coming to be outfitted, and still others ferrying equipment to different parts of the camp. Everyone seemed to be shouting at the top of their lungs. And in the center of the commotion stood the man Eragon had hoped to see: Fredric, the Varden’s weapon master.

This man is in charge of the supplies. He's directing the commotion. A weapons master would be out training the new recruits. This man is the quartermaster, directing the location of where equipment should go. But Weapons master sounds more impressive than quartermaster. And he is surrounded by a lot of weapons. Weapons Master and Quartermaster are two very different things, with two very different jobs.

As a side note, I don't know about the practicality of refletching used arrows. If that's what they're doing. If they're just fixing the fletching then the archers themselves should be able to do it. It's a bit vaugue there.

Anyway, Eragon and Limp Weiner go into the tent and everyone immediately notices them and stops to look before going back about their business. Fredric is happy to see them. He has a two handed sword he wears on his back and ox-hide leather armor; which smells. He was wondering when Eragon would come to him to get a new sword. Though he says he thought Eragon might be beyond such things as swords. Eragon's answer? No, not yet.

That is rather arrogant of him to say. Dragon riders and elves all use swords and by saying that one day he may not need one indicates that he thinks one day he'll be better than them. Beyond them. He could have been joking when he said it but there are no indicators to say so. It's just, "No, not yet." Not "No, not yet," he said with a grin. Or laughing Eragon said, "No, not yet." Thus it seems like he is saying this in the utmost of seriousness.

Fredric is glad of this as he says that In the end, it always comes down to steel against steel. Just you watch, that’s how this fight with the Empire will be resolved, with the point of a sword being driven through Galbatorix’s accursed heart. Likely it will, because that's how these stories always end. It's just The Way. A one on one battle between the Evil King and the Hero. Once the Evil King is defeated everything is A-Okay and flowers and unicorns appear dancing around in celebration and everyone loves everyone. It turns into a great big hippie fest and the empire is suddenly fruitful and profita.... wait...

Isn't it already fruitful and profitable? Doesn't it already work and people are happy and have food on their tables unless they're involved with the Varden?

Hrmm...

Obviously, then, once Galby is defeated the Empire will crumble, the unicorns will stab people the flowers will eat all the cows and anarchy will reign.

Whoo!

Fredric starts questioning Eragon on his preferences, like does he prefer to fight with a shield or not. Apparently he does, but I can't recall actually seeing him learning to use a shield. Saying he does allows Paolini Fredric expound on his knowledge of using shields with swords and what's best for what.

“With,” Eragon said. “But I can’t carry one around with me all the time. And there never seems to be one handy when I’m attacked.”

Fredric tapped the hilt of the sword and gnawed on the edge of his beard. “Humph. So you need a sword you can use by itself but that’s not too long to use with every kind of shield from a buckler to a wall shield. That means a sword of medium length, easy to wield with one arm. It has to be a blade you can wear at all occasions, elegant enough for a coronation and tough enough to fend off a band of Kull.” He grimaced. “It’s not natural, what Nasuada’s done, allying us with those monsters. It can’t last. The likes of us and them were never meant to mix. . . .” He shook himself. “It’s a pity you only want a single sword. Or am I mistaken?”

Now, I have no idea if this is correct or not. Though! Wall shields, from a quick glance at Wikipedia are made for use with spears and not swords. It sounds impressive and knowledgeable.

And then Fredric runs into something that would cause Albriech to smack him upside the head and take away the name "weapons master" Something that he would be doing for Eragon too. Fredric brings up the "Curse of the Named Sword" as he calls it. That is when a sword becomes so identified with a person that it gets named by the wielder or others and Thereafter, he has to use that sword. It’s expected of him. If he shows up to a battle without it, his fellow warriors will ask where it is, and they will wonder if he is ashamed of his success and if he is insulting them by rejecting the acclaim they have bestowed upon him, and even his enemies may insist upon waiting to fight until he fetches his famed blade.

It's a funny thing about this idea of famous swords. It's definitely common; found in fantasy fiction like flies. But there shouldn't be a reason why the sword that matters as opposed to the person who uses it. After all it's the man not the weapon that defeats the enemies and logically any weapon he had at the time would have done it. Unless it's a super-buffed magic weapon. Then I could see the importance of names. God knows there's nothing as much fun as buffing up your weapons in a D&D game. After that you really don't want to use anything else. However, it shouldn't stop another sword being used. Something that happened to Eragon.

After this, there's a paragraph that looks like the one in Harry Potter when Harry picks out his wand.

Plucking a sword from the rack, Fredric handed it to Eragon. Eragon tilted the tip of the sword up and down, then shook his head; the shape of the hilt was wrong for his hand. The weapon master did not seem disappointed. To the contrary, Eragon’s rejection seemed to invigorate him, as if he relished the challenge Eragon posed. He presented another sword to Eragon, and again Eragon shook his head; the balance was too far forward for his liking.

Homage or not, it's a bit too eerily similar for me. Too close to plagiarism.

It gets a bit weird after that. Fredric starts talking about how he blocks and parries and if it's edge on edge or things like that. I sincerely wish I had the time to look up the information on sword fighting styles to know if this is something Paolini is pulling out of his ass or not. Fredric recommends that he should stop doing that and this upsets Eragon.

“I don’t have time for this,” Eragon snapped, his impatience overflowing. “I don’t have the time to learn a completely different way of fighting. The Empire might attack at any moment. I have to concentrate on practicing what I do know, not trying to master a whole new set of forms.”

Beyond the fact that Eragon is supposed to be a Master Swordsman, since when was the Empire about to attack at any moment? He wasn't to worried about it before when he went off on his side-quest to rescue Katrina or running across the Empire. Or even going around settling debts.

I can't recall a single moment of Eragon worried about the Empire attacking at any moment in the entire book so far. Also why is he getting impatient? He needs a sword and not just any sword. Fredric is trying to give him advice and help him get the perfect sword and he's snapping at the man!

This impatience could be used as a character flaw, except that it's shown too erratically and not in situations where it would be appropriate.

Fredric pulls out a mace in response. Being a glorified club, Eragon refuses it. It's not how he prefers to fight. Even though he apparently likes chopping and hitting people.

Finally we get our Temporary Speshul Sword. You know how I know it is? We get an entire paragraph of description.

“Then I have only one more suggestion, unless you insist upon a traditional blade.” From another part of the pavilion, Fredric brought Eragon a weapon he identified as a falchion. It was a sword, but not a type of sword Eragon was accustomed to, although he had seen them among the Varden before. The falchion had a polished, disk-shaped pommel, bright as a silver coin; a short grip made of wood covered with black leather; a curved crossguard carved with a line of dwarf runes; and a single-edged blade that was as long as his outstretched arm and had a thin fuller on either side, close to the spine. The falchion was straight until about six inches from the end, where the back of the blade flared upward in a small peak before gently curving down to the needle-sharp tip. This widening of the blade reduced the likelihood that the point would bend or snap when driven through armor and lent the end of the falchion a fang-like appearance. Unlike a double-edged sword, the falchion was made to be held with the blade and crossguard perpendicular to the ground. The most curious aspect of the falchion, though, was the bottom half inch of the blade, including the edge, which was pearly gray and substantially darker than the mirror-smooth steel above. The boundary between the two areas was wavy, like a silk scarf rippling in the wind.

Here Fredric proves that he's an idiot when it comes to matching up weapons with wielders. A falchion is a far different weapon than a longsword; what Eragon had been using earlier. It has a different balance and a completely different blade! You can't switch from sword to sword like that. Unless Eragon recently leveled up and took the exotic weapon proficiency feat, he'd be better off using one of those other weapons that he said didn't feel right.

Of course this does not happen.


Oh, the weird band in the metal?

“The thriknzdal,” said Fredric. “The dwarves invented it. They temper the edge and the spine separately. The edge they make hard, harder than we dare with the whole of our blades. The middle of the blade and the spine they anneal so that the back of the falchion is softer than the edge, soft enough to bend and flex and survive the stress of battle without fracturing like a frost-ridden file.”

I have no idea if anything like this is right or not, but I would think a sword made of one piece of metal would be stronger than one made of two or three. Still, it sounds cooler. Talked to a friend who says that it's reasonable correct and it's how they made Katanas. Uh. huh.


As I was saying before, Eragon apparently has picked up the exotic weapon proficiency feat because he has no problems with it. Not a bit.

Eragon understood. With the blade of the falchion at right angles to the ground, unless he deliberately tilted his wrist, any blows he caught on the sword would strike the flat of the blade, saving the edge for attacks of his own. Wielding the falchion would require only a small adjustment to his fighting style.

Striding out of the pavilion, he assumed a ready position with the falchion. Swinging it over his head, he brought it down upon the head of an imaginary foe, then twisted and lunged, beat aside an invisible spear, sprang six yards to his left, and, in a brilliant but impractical move, spun the blade behind his back, passing it from one hand to the next as he did so. His breathing and heartbeat calm as ever, he returned to where Fredric and Blödhgarm were waiting. The speed and balance of the falchion had impressed Eragon. It was not the equal of Zar’roc, but it was still a superb sword.

It should be a hellava lot different! It's times like these that Paolini's ignorance shine through. For him, a sword is a sword and Eragon should at least have a little adjusting to use it. But that's neither here nor there. He's not too happy with the sword because he thinks it makes him look funny, but agrees with Fredric that it wouldn't matter too much once the person laughing's had their head chopped off.

Much to Eragon's chagrin Fredric then insists that he know how to take care of his weapon properly. Because, god forbid, he need to have his weapons in working order. Finally, when Fredric is finished, Saphira arrives to rescue him.

Brisingr
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