Shadows of the Past. pt. 3Edit

Last we left off, Eragon had given Arya a blue lily and Arya had told Eragon that giving flowers is Uber Speshul for elves. Arya notices that Eragon looks a bit tired from growing the flower and asks if he used up all the power from Brom's ring, Aren, already and if not he should use some to re-energize himself.

It took Eragon a moment to remember that Aren was the name of Brom’s ring; he had heard it uttered only once before, from Islanzadí, on the day he arrived in Ellesméra. My ring now, he told himself. I have to stop thinking of it as Brom’s . He cast a critical gaze at the large sapphire that sparkled in its gold setting on his finger. “I don’t know if thereis any energy in Aren. I’ve never stored any there myself, and I never checked if Brom had.” Even as he spoke, he extended his consciousness toward the sapphire. The instant his mind came into contact with the gem, he felt the presence of a vast, swirling pool of energy. To his inner eye, the sapphire thrummed with power. He wondered that it did not explode from the amount of force contained within the boundaries of its sharp-edged facets. After he used the energy to wash away his aches and pains and restore strength to his limbs, the treasure trove inside Aren was hardly diminished.

His skin tingling, Eragon severed his link with the gem. Delighted by his discovery and his sudden sense of well-being, he laughed out loud, then told Arya what he had found. “Brom must have squirreled away every bit of energy he could spare the whole time he was hiding in Carvahall.” He laughed again, marveling. “All those years . . . With what’s in Aren, I could tear apart an entire castle with a single spell.”

There's enough power in the gem there that all his aches and pains went away. Imagine if he knew about it like say... at the beginning of the book? Like after he "rescued" Sloan? Now, I'm not complaining too much about Eragon learning there's power in the ring, after all it was introduced in an okay manner. My problem is two fold: One the amount of power in the stone and two, his automatic thought is DUDE I COULD DESTROY WITH THIS!!! I mean now he has like an endless source of energy. He can just likely fix himself up and not get hurt. It's almost like a Green Lantern's ring. Second, his reaction is just like that of a fifteen year old boy. Which.. while Eragon is a fifteen-sixteen year old boy, Paolini has been trying to portray him as a mature adult. He's reacting to the power in his ring like a kid playing a video game reacts to unlocking a new weapon. I just wonder how soon it'll take for him to forget about the ring.

Wisely, Arya tells him to keep the power for an important time, and to add to it when he can. The problem here, I'm seeing, is that the ring appears to be a never ending bag of holding for magical energy. There doesn't seem to be a limit. Which doesn't seem fair. It's a cheat. It should at least have a limit.

After deciding that the ring is Eragon's inheritance from Brom and that Arya is the only woman he wants to be with, he comes to a more interesting and logical question. What is up with Thorn's growth?

The fire cracked. A flurry of sparks flew upward. Eragon watched with half-closed eyes, contemplating Arya’s revelations. Then his mind returned to a question that had been bothering him ever since the battle on the Burning Plains. “Arya, do male dragons grow any faster than female dragons?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“Because of Thorn. He’s only a few months old, and yet he’s already nearly as big as Saphira. I don’t understand it.”

Picking a dry blade of grass, Arya began sketching in the loose soil, tracing the curved shapes of glyphs from the elves’ script, the Liduen Kvaedhí. “Most likely Galbatorix accelerated his growth so Thorn would be large enough to hold his own with Saphira.”

Look pigeons! It's something that actually makes sense! Eragon's question is perfectly reasonable and so is Arya's response. It does make sense for Eragon to wonder about the growth rate of Thorn and as we know squat about dragon growth, it is reasonable to assume that maybe they do have different growth rates. And it does make sense for Galby to accelerate Thorn's growth to compete against Saphira.

However, Eragon then brings it around to him again. While Arya talks about how difficult it must be for Thorn because "The transformation Galbatorix has forced upon Thorn must be incredibly confusing for him. Thorn now has the body of a nearly grown dragon, and yet his mind is still that of a youngling.” Eragon wants to know how come Murtagh is more powerful than he is. Because it's by power alone that makes a person beatable. Trickery never worms its way into wining things. See, I would have liked to explore maybe how to use Thorn as a baby in a grown dragon's body against Murtagh and Thorn. But instead it's dropped in there to Paolini's fans and questioners so they now know how come Thorn was an adult size and now we can get back to Eragon. In fact he thinks that Yoda knows and that the next time he sees Oromis he'll get the maguffin from him.

Meanwhile Arya has been writing in the dirt.

Arya signed a stop to the sentence she had been writing on the ground. Bending over, Eragon read, Adrift upon the sea of time, the lonely god wanders from shore to distant shore, upholding the laws of the stars above .

“What does it mean?”

“I don’t know,” she said, and smoothed out the line with a sweep of her arm.

This is part of our Doctor Who reference. It is the Face of Boe who calls the Doctor the lonely god. The Doctor does wander about the sea of time but I'm not so sure about him upholding the laws of the stars above. He's more of a law unto himself. ( I'm the Doctor and you're in the biggest Library in the universe. Look me up.) Still, a moot point, it's not really a big deal, sure Paolini can reference the Doctor in such an oblique way, the biggest problem is that what Arya wrote. She calls the Doctor a "lonely god". Elves do not believe in gods. Therefor why would she refer to the Doctor as a "god"? Because that's the "clever way" of referring to the Doctor that people might get.

Being clever is all well and good, but if you're going to be clever, make sure you don't look stupid while doing it. Arya shouldn't call the Doctor a lonely god. Wanderer, stranger, alien... thousands of different things, but not a god. Even since she's just doodling words. The only ones I think who it would be appropriate to doodle this would be a dwarf. But dwarves aren't cool.

It's shrugged off and Eragon tangents onto another topic, namely the names of the Forsworns' dragons. As in, they never say their dragon's name. It's always so-and so's dragon. Paolini is continuing his I Am Clever streak here. What happened was that the good dragons SOMEHOW erased the evil dragons' names.

“Did I not just say it was inexplicable? All we know is that after the dragons cast their spell, no one could utter the names of the thirteen; those who remembered the names soon forgot them; and while you can read the names in scrolls and letters where they are recorded and even copy them if you look at only one glyph at a time, they are as gibberish. The dragons spared Jarnunvösk, Galbatorix’s first dragon, for it was not his fault he was killed by Urgals, and also Shruikan, for he did not choose to serve Galbatorix but was forced to by Galbatorix and Morzan.”

But it was the dragons' fault that they went along with their riders?

Arya nodded. “True names, birth names, nicknames, family names, titles. Everything. And as a result, the thirteen were reduced to little more than animals. No longer could they say, ‘I like this’ or ‘I dislike that’ or ‘I have green scales,’ for to say that would be to name themselves. They could not even call themselves dragons. Word by word, the spell obliterated everything that defined them as thinking creatures, and the Forsworn had no choice but to watch in silent misery as their dragons descended into complete ignorance. The experience was so disturbing, at least five of the thirteen, and several of the Forsworn, went mad as a result.” Arya paused, considering the outline of a glyph, then rubbed it out and redrew it. “The Banishing of the Names is the main reason so many people now believe that dragons were nothing more than animals to ride from one place to another.”

Now this is an interesting deconstruction of a person's identity. Is "I" actually a name or an indication of acknowledgment of a person's self awareness? Does being self aware indicate a knowledge of names and being able to name things? When I refer to I, I do not think of myself as "Kippur" or "real name here" but instead a sort of mental head-space that doesn't even register a name. I =/= Kippur but instead a collection of things that includes "Kippur" as a part. Paolini -and I suppose with his ancient language- is saying that there is a way to distill us down to one thing.

The problem I have with this is that, he contradicts this earlier in the book with Sloan. Eragon tells Sloan that he might not always be held to this "curse" that Eragon has laid upon him because who he is, who his true name is, might change. So, why didn't these dragons get new True Names? Why couldn't magic be used to give them a new True Name? Wouldn't wiping their True Names -everything - about them out, according to the way the magic works, negate them? Wouldn't the change in their lack of name status give them New True names? Don't animals have True Names too? I'm fairly certain that Pepper our parakeet's True Name isn't the Ancient Language word for Parakeet, and he does know when we're talking about him and does have a sense of "self" as he thinks he belongs to the flock of our family.

Long about way short, I don't know if I think the concept of taking away an individual's "name" is well... do-able? At least... well, it doesn't make sense to me.

The final thing I don't get is that there should be plenty of stories about dragons and their riders about with intelligent talking dragons with names. But it seems like those things don't exist. There isn't a mythology of stories and things that existed "before" the fall of the dragon riders. It's just There were Dragon Riders and they were Great! But never any specifics as to what they did which was so great.

We then get the second part of our Doctor Who reference:

Arya smiled. “No.” With a flourish, she completed the latest sentence she had been working on. He tilted his head and sidled closer in order to decipher the glyphs she had inscribed. They read: The trickster, the riddler, the keeper of the balance, he of the many faces who finds life in death and who fears no evil; he who walks through doors

It's a continuation of the first and when Eragon wants to know why she wrote this she says “The thought that many things are not what they appear.” but that doesn't make any sense in context. She's talking about a specific individual not an idea.

Moving on!

So, remember how I've been saying that they just need to find Galby's true name and it'll be fine, apparently Eragon has that thought. “Has anyone tried to guess Galbatorix’s true name?” Eragon asked. “It seems as if that would be the fastest way to end this war. To be honest, I think it might be the only hope we have of vanquishing him in battle.” Just note the end of the sentence there "vanquishing him in battle". Not just vanquishing him, but in battle, like there's no other options or ways to stop him except for fighting him one on one. Which we know will happen.

Apparently three other elves have discovered his true name. Arya doesn't think Galby knows his true name I am of the opinion that he does not, for whatever it is, his true name must be so terrible, he could not go on living if he heard it. (Which only makes me wonder what will happen if Eragon learns his true name. Or at least the true name I think he should have.)

While this discussion is happening Arya is plucking grass and making something out of it. Plucking it and killing it.

Apparently knowing his true name isn't going to do them any good because Galby has created a spell that kills anyone who tries to use his name against him. Since they don't know how the spell kills people, they can't protect themselves against it. Sadly, apparently, "protect me against Galby's killing spell when I use his true name" doesn't seem to be an option. Then to contradict himself again, Arya says that Yoda continues to try and discover Galby's true name. Apparently "use" means speak his true name.

Paolini is certainly throwing a mountain at Eragon here in trying to defeat Galby. And he's also trying to make it so that the only way he can defeat Galby is through an Epic Battle. He's -to use a RPG term- railroading the plot so that there's only one option left for Eragon. At least that's how it feels like to me.

So, all that grass that Arya has been plucking ("No! No! My life! I don't want to die! EEEEEE!!!" shriek the blades) has been made into a woven ship. With a pleased expression, she held out her hands, palms-upward. Resting on them was an exquisite ship made of green and white grass. It was no more than four inches long, but so detailed, Eragon descried benches for rowers, tiny railings along the edge of the deck, and portholes the size of raspberry seeds. The curved prow was shaped somewhat like the head and neck of a rearing dragon. There was a single mast. Ah, I see Arya excelled in underwater basket weaving. Beyond that, I'm not sure if that's possible. But whatever. It's pretty and neat, never mind the deaths of those poor blades of grass.

She breathes on the ship with a magic word and it starts to fly off. It will fly forever where ever there are plants. Which is kind of a neat thing, I think, a tiny bobbing grass ship just flying around. It's a nice image.

Paolini uses the word "pulsing" to describe the fire that Eragon looks at. He wonders if he should put a protective spell on himself so that Galby can't use his True Name against him. Arya says he shouldn't worry about it, after all finding true names is hard. But Galby managed to find Thorn's true name, he's just a wee baby and Murtagh's as well, in a short period of time. Arya says that not even she could probably figure out his name.

We'll see.

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