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Brisingr Part Thirty Seven

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Man and Wife Edit

Thus begins the chapter of Eragon marrying Katrina and Roran. We shall get a look at some of Paolini's concepts of culture, culture without religion, as well as other things because, as usual, he tends to ramble on.

The ceremony takes place four hours later. It took so long because Nasuada needed the time to gather everyone together. No mention of the 600 dead though. In fact Paolini waxes about the scenery. They're on top of a hill.

Surrounding the hill was a lush meadow that bordered the Jiet River, which rushed past a hundred feet to Eragon’s right. The sky was bright and clear; sunshine bathed the land with a soft radiance. The air was cool and calm and smelled fresh, as if it had just rained

Not the sort of imagery that should be juxtaposed to just after a battle, which probably took place on that same meadow. I guess it took four hours to get rid of the bodies? Eragon notes that none of the Carvahall people were harmed in the battle. God forbid there be some sort of bitter sweetness attached to it. Or we're reminded that you know, people die. Even the non-NPCs. But the Carvahall seem to enjoy the PC's luck at not being seriously hurt. I guess it's something like six degrees of seperation from the main character... you know what. Fuck it all.

I'm going to stop calling Eragon, Roran and the 'main characters' as main characters and stick to PC and NPC, because really that's what it is. The people outside of Eragon and the named characters are nothing but backdrop with no meaning whatsoever. They only exist to give the main characters something to kill or rob from.

Half the Varden seems to be there, but only two Urgals. Cause they're not completely accepted. Only the two in Nasuada's special guard are allowed to come. This appears to be tolerated by the Urgals. The dwarves appear to be absent. I guess they're too NPC to be noticed. Or short. Probably too short. Or maybe they got stuck on clean up duty. Someone has to get rid of the bodies.

The wedding begins with the villagers singing:

With a rustle of cloth, the villagers and the Varden parted, forming a long, open path from the hill to the edge of the crowd. Then, joining their voices, the villagers began to sing the ancient wedding songs of Palancar Valley. The well-worn verses spoke of the cycle of the seasons, of the warm earth that gave birth to a new crop each year, of the spring calving, of nesting robins and spawning fish, and of how it was the destiny of the young to replace the old. One of Blödhgarm’s spellcasters, a female elf with silver hair, withdrew a small gold harp from a velvet case and accompanied the villagers with notes of her own, embellishing upon the simple themes of their melodies, lending the familiar music a wistful mood.

I wonder how ancient is ancient. Also this song seems to be more appropriate for the welcoming of a child than a wedding. After all it speaks of things giving birth and the cycle of life as opposed to the joining of two people in a union, of creating a family and growing old together. I am reminded of a scene in Ella Enchanted where Ella attends a giant wedding. There the bride and groom engage in a pantomime of their lives together. Of building a house and growing crops, of having children and grandchildren and growing old together. Members of the community would join them at parts of the story, children standing in for the couple's future children and things like that. It was very effective symbolizing both the joy and work that being married will have. As well as the commitment.

Paolini does get into that in a bit however.

First we have our obligatory paragraph of description for the happy couple.

With slow, steady steps, Roran and Katrina emerged from either side of the crowd at the far end of the path, turned toward the hill, and, without touching, began to advance toward Eragon. Roran wore a new tunic he had borrowed from one of the Varden. His hair was brushed, his beard was trimmed, and his boots were clean. His face beamed with inexpressible joy. All in all, he seemed very handsome and distinguished to Eragon. However, it was Katrina who commanded Eragon’s attention. Her dress was light blue, as befitted a bride at her first wedding, of a simple cut but with a lace train that was twenty feet long and carried by two girls. Against the pale fabric, her free-flowing locks glowed like polished copper. In her hands was a posy of wildflowers. She was proud, serene, and beautiful.

Now, my question here is what is the symbolism for the light blue. Why is it proper, important, for a bride at her first wedding to wear light blue? It feels like Paolini is merely exchanging light blue for white here. However, checking wikipedia, it notes that

The tradition continues today in the form of a white wedding, though prior to the Victorian era, a bride was married in any color except black (the color of mourning) or red (which was connected with prostitutes). However, in Finland during the 19th century, it was popular for brides to wear dark colors, especially black. Later, many people assumed that the color white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this had not been the original intention. (It was the color blue that was connected to purity.) Today, the white dress is understood merely as the most traditional and popular choice for weddings, not necessarily a statement of virginity. ~Wikipedia

So, amusingly, blue is connected to purity and Katrina is wearing blue when she's most definitely not pure. Of course in Carvahall the traditions might be different. Yet we don't know why light blue is so important. In Dragonquest, by Anne McCaffery, there is a wedding and someone notes that the bride is being bold by wearing green. Green is traditionally a color of bad luck to wear at a wedding, and he supposes that she's trying to make a statement. Unfortunately the bad luck seems to ignore this as there is a dangerous fight at the wedding. It has impact later on in the story. We learn that it's bad luck and then later the same character comments about how the color has brought it. But here, I want to know why light blue is what a bride is supposed to where at her first wedding. And why only here first wedding. Does this mean that there is divorce or is it only in regards to a widow?

Back to Katrina herself, she's still looking remarkably healthy for someone who's been in a traumatic experience recently. Not a tinge of horror left in her eyes or fear or anything. She's fine. She also doesn't look pregnant, still.

Horst and Birgit follow Roran and Katrina. They are going to act as parental representatives for Katrina, since neither of them have parents. Never mind the fact that Sloan is still alive and Eragon liked to his daughter. So, for all intents and purposes she has not a parent. Because ERAGON IS A BASTARD!!

Anyway, the ceremony begins with a bartering of "what will you give my such and such if they get married."


“It is right and proper. What, then, does Roran Garrowsson bring to this marriage, that both he and his wife may prosper?”


“He brings his name,” said Horst. “He brings his hammer. He brings the strength of his hands. And he brings the promise of a farm in Carvahall, where they may both live in peace.”

Astonishment rippled through the crowd as people realized what Roran was doing: he was declaring in the most public and binding way possible that the Empire would not stop him from returning home with Katrina and providing her with the life she would have had if not for Galbatorix’s murderous interference. Roran was staking his honor, as a man and a husband, on the downfall of the Empire.

“Do you accept this offer, Birgit Mardrasdaughter?” Eragon asked.

Birgit nodded. “I do.”


Hurm. Not much there really. There's only the promise of a farm which may never happen. His hammer he uses for war and not to build things. So he brings a promise of death? His name might become sullied if something happens in the war that they don't know of. And his hands might become injured. There's nothing concrete really to protect Katrina in the marriage. He has no concrete assets. Now Katrina on the other hand has something really substantial.

“She brings her love and devotion, with which she shall serve Roran Garrowsson. She brings her skills at running a household. And she brings a dowry.” Surprised, Eragon watched as Birgit motioned and two men who were standing next to Nasuada came forward, carrying a metal casket between them. Birgit undid the clasp to the casket, then lifted open the lid and showed Eragon the contents. He gaped as he beheld the mound of jewelry inside. “She brings with her a gold necklace studded with diamonds. She brings a brooch set with red coral from the Southern Sea and a pearl net to hold her hair. She brings five rings of gold and electrum. The first ring—” As Birgit described each item, she lifted it from the casket so all might see she spoke the truth.

Wow. Just think about what all that jewelery could bring for the army if it was sold. Seriously, she doesn't need that casket of stuff. We don't even get to see everything that is in the casket, we just know there's a mound of jewerly. Just the stuff that we are told about would be enough of a dowery for Katrina. HALF the stuff we're shown could be more than enough of a dowry for Katrina. The best thing is that all of this is being shown off in front of half the Varden and no one will protest or get jealous or think of favoritism. I mean Jeod, one of the great helpers of the Varden, who helped get Saphira's egg with Brom gets bupkis. Roran who brought a bunch of villagers over and whose only merit really is that he's related to Eragon on the other hand....

I like the word bupkis. It's a good word. So is borschet.

So everyone is awed at Katrina's dowry and they move on to Katrina and Roran where Eragon asks if they are satisfied with the deals that Hurst and Brigit made for them. They are. And then he gets to the vows. They're basically do you promise to take care of the other for as long as you both shall live and be a good spouse. Though Katrina has to promise to give Roran kids. (Not that will be a problem) and he doesn't have to promise to be a good dad.

There is an odd turn of phrase here as Eragon goes through the three vows for each of them. For the first two vows, Roran and Katrina repeat back what he says, saying that they swear to do it. For the third one the text just said, "Katrina/Roran swore she/he would".

Actually, let me show you the pair of vows. They are quite uneven in responsibilities, the woman having to take on the harder burden than the man so that it's not an equal relationship at all.

“Roran Stronghammer, son of Garrow, do you swear then, by your name and by your lineage, that you shall protect and provide for Katrina Ismirasdaughter while you both yet live?”


“Do you swear to uphold her honor, to remain steadfast and faithful to her in the years to come, and to treat her with the proper respect, dignity, and gentleness?”

“And do you swear to give her the keys to your holdings, such as they may be, and to your strongbox where you keep your coin, by sunset tomorrow, so she may tend to your affairs as a wife should?”

And Katrina's is:

“Katrina, daughter of Ismira, do you swear, by your name and by your lineage, that you shall serve and provide for Roran Garrowsson while you both yet live?”


“Do you swear to uphold his honor, to remain steadfast and faithful to him in the years to come, to bear his children while you may, and to be a caring mother for them?”

“And do you swear to assume charge of his wealth and his possessions, and to manage them responsibly, so he may concentrate upon those duties that are his alone?”

Get me a beer Bitch! I've got to go stare into my navel cause that's what a Man Does.

Finally Eragon ties a red satin ribbon around their wrists three times and declares them man and wife. The question now is why? What does that symbolize? Why does he need to do it? Why do they do it instead of exchanging rings? Why does he have to do it three times? Why does it have to be red? Does it have to be red or satin? What does three times mean? It'd be very simple to put that information into the description which would give us more information as to how their culture works and thinks.

During the dinner feast Katrina and Roran sit with their hands still tied together I remember LJ user the norseman mentioning something about that in regards to some culture or something of which I do not remember. Eragon comes up and gives them a gift. Apparently the three of them are enemies of Galby (unlike the rest of the Varden) and Galby will stop at nothing to try and capture them (because the Varden didn't exist as a real threat until Eragon showed up, the resistance is never a real threat until the Hero shows up). So he gives them a pair of special rings. Plain gold with glyphs of the ancient language carved on the inside, they can do three things. One turn them invisible, two let the Dark Lord know where they are whenever they where them and three... oh wait wrong rings. Right.

Three things: Call Eragon and Saphira for help, let Eragon and Saphira know if they're near death and let Katrina and Roran always find each other as long as they're both wearing their rings. (Kind of makes it hard for Roran to go sneaking off somewhere, doesn't it?) Eragon also gives Roran Snowfire, Brom's horse. Roran apparently needs a horse. And not only that knows how to handle a horse. A horse that is not trained for combat but likely will be riding into combat. He then goes and sits down to amuse himself by throwing scraps of chicken at Saphira to eat.

So, not only is he not joining in on the party, but he's treating his companion like a dog. He doesn't care that his cousin just got married. He performed his duty and now it's no longer important. When he sees Nasuada leaving the party he goes after her to talk. He asks if she provided the dress and dowry and she admits she did. He then asks about how the Varden is supposed to be strapped for cash, so why did she give Roran and Katrina so much money?

“We are,” Nasuada said, “but not so desperate as before. Since my scheme with the lace, and since I triumphed in the Trial of the Long Knives and the wandering tribes swore absolute fealty to me and granted me access to their riches, we are less likely to starve to death and more likely to die because we don’t have a shield or a spear.” Her lips twitched in a smile. “What I gave Katrina is insignificantcompared with the vast sums this army requires to function. And I do not believe I have squandered my gold. Rather, I believe I have made a valuable purchase. I have purchased prestige and self respect for Katrina, and by extension, I have purchased Roran’s goodwill. I may be overly optimistic, but I suspect his loyalty will prove far more valuable than a hundred shields or a hundred spears.”

Ah yes, not as desperate as before is better than not being desperate at all. This isn't even a bailout here. Katrina and Roran don't really need the money. What are they going to do with it all in Cavarhall, out in the middle of butfuck nowhere? You know, this is sort of like if the United States were to give Canada a bunch of money, no return expected so that they would be friends with us, instead of using the money to help our own ailiing economy because we sort of had a small upturn in profit. Now, I'm not saying that Canada doesn't need the money, I'm sure they do. It seems like everyone does. But the reason why Nasuada is giving Roran the money is so that he'll be bribed into helping her, when he's already agreed to do it. Just like we would be paying Canada to be our allies when they already are. Clearly this is a case of bad money management. Of course if the Varden were anything like the Americans they would throw a hissy fit and yell at Nasusada. But since they're NPCs they don't care, they're the Stepford Wives of Fantasy Novels.

She then says that Eragon should come with her to visit the injured It will do them good to see that we care about their welfare and that we appreciate their sacrifice.” As opposed to giving away the money that they could spend on healing supplies.

Eragon goes back to the party which is a wild time.

Hours passed as Eragon laughed and ate and drank and traded stories with old friends. Mead flowed like water, and the wedding feast became ever more boisterous. Clearing a space between the tables, the men tested their prowess against one another with feats of wrestling and archery and bouts with quarterstaves. Two of the elves, a man and a woman, demonstrated their skill with swordplay—awing the onlookers with the speed and grace of their dancing blades—and even Arya consented to perform a song, which sent shivers down Eragon’s spine.

No dancing though. No music. How odd. Doesn't seem at all like wedding activites. Maybe dancing is too ... mushy? Or something. I don't know.

And I'm going to stop for now right here. The next bit is short, but has nothing to do with this.


Brisingr
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