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Shadows of the Past. pt4 Edit

You would think the chapter would be over by now, wouldn't you? But it's not.

The two of them sit in silence for a while with some pretty description of the lonely plains and howling winds. Then something happens, Arya saying they're being watched and warning Eragon not to do anything or use magic or they may end up getting killed. Eragon grabs a rock. A light show shows up.

In the distance, a cluster of glowing multicolored lights appeared. They darted toward the camp, flying low over the grass. As they drew near, he saw that the lights were constantly changing in size—ranging from an orb no larger than a pearl to one several feet in diameter—and that their colors also varied, cycling through every hue in the rainbow. A crackling nimbus surrounded each orb, a halo of liquid tendrils that whipped and lashed, as if hungry to entangle something in their grasp. The lights moved so fast, he could not determine exactly how many there were, but he guessed it was about two dozen.

The lights hurtled into the camp and formed a whirling wall around him and Arya. The speed with which they spun, combined with the barrage of pulsing colors, made Eragon dizzy. He put a hand on the ground to steady himself. The humming was so loud now, his teeth vibrated against one another. He tasted metal, and his hair stood on end. Arya’s did the same, despite its additional length, and when he glanced at her, he found the sight so ridiculous, he had to resist the urge to laugh.

I'm thinking Bride of Frankenstein hair here.

Anyway, one of the orbs detaches itself and goes to Arya. She touches it and has ... an orgasm. Arya closed her eyes and tilted her head back, radiant joy suffusing her features. Her lips moved, but whatever she said, Eragon could not hear. The orb appears to have one too. When she finished, the orb flushed blood-red and then in quick succession shifted from red to green to purple to a ruddy orange to a blue so bright he had to avert his gaze and then to pure black fringed with a corona of twisting white tendrils, like the sun during an eclipse. Its appearance ceased to fluctuate then, as if only the absence of color could adequately convey its mood.

What exactly is happening? We get to find out when the Orb goes over to Eragon. He's not sure if he should touch it, but at Arya's urging he does. What happens next, the text says one thing and the subtext another. It's another one of those Paolini wants it to be "A" but it ends up reading like "b" situations.

Bluish rays shot out from between Eragon’s palm and the surface of the orb, a dazzling, fan like display that overwhelmed the light from the other orbs and bleached everything a pale blue white. Eragon shouted with pain as the rays stabbed at his eyes, and he ducked his head, squinting. Then something moved inside the orb, like a sleeping dragon uncoiling, and a presence entered his mind, brushing aside his defenses as if they were dry leaves in an autumn storm. He gasped. Transcendent joy filled him; whatever the orb was, it seemed to be composed of distilled happiness. It enjoyed being alive, and everything around it pleased it to a greater or lesser degree. Eragon would have wept with sheer gladness, but he no longer had control of his body. The creature held him in place, the shimmering rays still blazing from underneath his hand while it flitted through his bones and muscles, lingering at the sites where he had been injured, and then returned to his mind. Euphoric as Eragon was, the creature’s presence was so strange and so unearthly, he wanted to flee from it, but inside his consciousness, there was nowhere to hide. He had to remain in intimate contact with the fiery soul of the creature while it scoured his memories, dashing from one to the next with the speed of an elvish arrow. He wondered how it could comprehend so much information so quickly. While it searched, he tried to probe the orb’s mind in return, to learn what he could about its nature and its origins, but it defied his attempts to understand it. The few impressions he gleaned were so different from those he had found in the minds of other beings, they were incomprehensible.

"Brushing aside his defenses", "no longer had control of his body", "he wanted to flee from it, but inside his consciousness, there was nowhere to hide", "He had to remain in intimate contact with the fiery soul of the creature while it scoured his memories", these aren't phrases used for joy or good things. Out of the paragraph I can't see one phrase of Eragon's enjoyment of this. The orb is the one filling him with joy. The rest of this, Eragon has no control over his body, nothing he can do to prevent this creature from entering his mind, but this is supposed to be a good thing.

For once the orbs take what they want from him and leave, Eragon fell to his knees, arm outstretched toward where the orbs had gone, feeling empty without the bliss they had given him.

It's a mixed message. They're invading him and going into his most intimate places, but that's okay because it feels good. It's not rape if you enjoy it.

The orbs are spirits, rather like the ones that possessed Durza.

Eragon can't believe how someone could enslave such creatures and vows to have Trianna stop doing it.

He blinked several times and wiped the corners of his eyes with the back of a finger. “How can anyone bear to enslave them with magic? It’s monstrous. I would be ashamed to call myself a sorcerer. Gah! And Trianna boasts of being one. I’ll have her stop using spirits or I’ll expel her from Du Vrangr Gata and ask Nasuada to banish her from the Varden.”

I would not be so hasty.”

“Surely you don’t think it’s right for magicians to force spirits to obey their will. . . . They are so beautiful that—” He broke off and shook his head, overcome with emotion. “Anyone who harms them ought to be thrashed within an inch of their life.”

They're pretty and make you feel nice therefore they are good.

Apparently they make people feel good as a defense mechanism. Pleasing those they interact with is their way of defending themselves. They hate to be bound in one place, and they realized long ago that if the person they are dealing with is happy, then he or she will be less likely to detain the spirits and keep them as servants.

Or keep them around and use them as drugs. I would think that by making people unhappy would make a person less likely to want to keep them around. But if that were so, then they could have the orgasmic experience.

In a reasonable measure though, we learn that Trianna doesn't use her powers with the spirits lightly and only with great caution and preparation unlike Durza. Though now that I think back on it, I wonder why they had her interrogating the spy if she doesn't use them unless she has to. Apparently she's only used them once since being with the Varden. Maybe she's really into that sort of thing.

The spirits also made Eragon's gedwëy ignasia glow. There's actually a rather cute bit where Eragon hopes it stops glowing soon because And it’s silly too. Whoever heard of a Dragon Rider with a glowing body part? Not really sure why it's glowing, but it's a cute bit.

Arya says that Oromis could tell Eragon more about the spirits and he gets cranky because he doesn't know when he'll be able to get back there and there's all this stuff going on. In return, Arya says that he should be patient and that the war isn't going to be over soon. Which is a lie, at least as a reader I know it is. We have one more book and the story we're being told is leading us to a quick Final Battle. A Final Battle that clearly won't happen when Eragon is much older. If it were to be so, the structure would be different.

Of course there is no ticking clock here. The only reason why Eragon is so eager to over-throw Galby is because he's evil. We haven't gotten any hints of the Big Evil Plot of Doom!! We don't even have the Must Stop Him Before He's Taken Everything Over plot. He's already won and been doing a good job at it. So there's no hurry, they have time to plan and figure things out, but Eragon acts like it has to be done Now. Which is probably one of the reasons why the pacing is so screwed up. Eragon professes urgency for something which we see no urgency for.

The spirits aren't souls of anything, just strange lifeforms.

The spirit wanted to know why they had been using magic and Arya says she told it they had freed the spirits held captive by Durza. They were very grateful. Grateful enough to turn the flower Eragon had made for Arya, and that Arya had planted into living gemstone.

At her command, a wash of soft light illuminated the camp. By it, he saw that the leaf and stem of the lily were solid gold, the petals were a whitish metal he failed to recognize, and the heart of the flower, as Arya revealed by tilting the blossom upward, appeared to have been carved out of rubies and diamonds. Amazed, Eragon ran a finger over the curved leaf, the tiny wire hairs on it tickling him. Bending forward, he discerned the same collection of bumps, grooves, pits, veins, and other minute details with which he had adorned the original version of the plant; the only difference was they were now made of gold.

Right, so there's a glowly orb that makes me feel euphoric and turns things into valuable gems. Right, I'm gonna let that one go.

The lily appears to be viable though and may actually propagate itself. And then, I believe I discover the reason for the lily scene. So Eragon can laugh about how the spirits "gilded a lily" like the human expression, "gilding a lily".

A laugh bubbled up inside of Eragon. With barely contained glee, he said, “I’ve heard the expression ‘to gild the lily’ before, but the spirits actually did it! They gilded the lily!” And he fell to laughing, letting his voice boom across the empty plain

Hah. Hah. It is to laugh.

Finally, the chapter is over. And what exactly happened. We learned a bit about Arya's history. And... yes. That's about it, except some info-dumping. And that was a bout twenty pages of chapter.

Brisingr
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