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Brisingr Part Twenty Six

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So, I figured out why the previous chapter was called "Intersecting Sagas". Those two women are off on their own saga and they've run into Eragon who is in his own saga. Of course with the chapter title "Intersecting Sagas" and the "will change the fate of the world blah blah blah" it's hit over our heads like a ton of bricks. Which really isn't the way to go about it. It should be done in a subtle way where we are introduced to these characters, get a hint of what they might be doing and how it might change the fate of the world, and then move on. That would leave us to wonder what they might be up to. Of course introducing them would be the problem. Perhaps, thinking about my own things, it would be best for them to be there for a chapter or two, helping the Varden out with something and then moving on.

Interestingly, and I say this in regards to what happens next, they aren't admonished for not staying and helping the Varden in their fight against Evil.

And here is what happens next:

Making Amends. Edit

Angela, Eragon and Saphira arrive at Nasuada's tent, Saphira sticking her head inside of it and Eragon and Angela taking chairs. Nasuada says they're late, they apologize. Also in the tent are Elva and her caretaker.

Nasuada then gives an impassioned speech full of arguments on why Elva shouldn't have Eragon take away her abilities appealing to her noble sentiments and the fact that the fate of the entire land was at stake.

Do you know how I know this? Paolini tells me so.

Along with Angela, Eragon made his apologies for their tardiness, and then he listened as Nasuada explained to Elva the value of her abilities to the Varden—As if she doesn’t already know,Eragon commented to Saphira—and entreated her to release Eragon from his promise to try to undo the effects of his blessing. She said she understood that what she was asking of Elva was difficult, but the fate of the entire land was at stake, and was it not worth sacrificing one’s own comfort to help rescue Alagaësia from Galbatorix’s evil clutches? It was a magnificent speech: eloquent, impassioned, and full of arguments intended to appeal to Elva’s more noble sentiments.

This is a constant failing of Paolini's writing. He tells us people make great speeches but we never see these speeches. Likely this is because he doesn't know how to write the great speeches to make the arguments that Nasuada is making. It is an exceptionally tough thing to write. After all she's basically asking a child not even two years old to suffer unbearable torture for who knows how many years, torture that could possibly kill her because for some reason being able to sense other people's pain is useful.

Just a wee bit sadistic of her.

Thankfully, Elva says no.

Unfortunately, this shocks everyone.

Elva makes a magnificent speech on why she's refusing and this time we actually get to see the speech.

Transferring her unblinking gaze from one person to the next, she elaborated: “Eragon, Angela, you both know what it is like to share someone’s thoughts and emotions as they die. You know how horrible, how wrenching it is, how it feels as if part of yourself has vanished forever. And that is only from the death of one person. Neither of you has to endure the experience unless you want to, whereas I . . . I have no choice but to share them all. I feel every death around me. Even now I can feel the life ebbing out of Sefton, one of your swordsmen, Nasuada, who was wounded on the Burning Plains, and I know what words I could say to him that would lessen his terror of obliteration. His fear is so great, oh, it makes me tremble!” With an incoherent cry, she cast up her arms before her face, as if to ward off a blow. Then: “Ah, he has gone. But there are others. There are always others. The line of dead never ends.” The bitter mocking quality of her voice intensified, a travesty of a child’s normal speech. “Do you truly understand, Nasuada, Lady Nightstalker . . . She Who Would Be Queen of the World? Do you truly understand? I am privy to all of the agony around me, whether physical or mental. I feel it as if it were my own, and Eragon’s magic drives me to alleviate the discomfort of those who suffer, regardless of the cost to myself. And if I resist the urge, as I am this very moment, my body rebels against me: my stomach turns acid, my head throbs as if a dwarf is hammering on it, and I find it hard to move, much less think. Is this what you would wish on me, Nasuada?

“Night and day I have no respite from the pain of the world. Since Eragon blessed me, I have known nothing but hurt and fear, never happiness or pleasure. The lighter side of life, the things that make this existence bearable, these are denied me. Never do I see them. Never do I share in them. Only darkness. Only the combined misery of all the men, women, and children within a mile, battering at me like a midnight storm. This blessing has deprived me of the opportunity to be like other children. It has forced my body to mature faster than normal, and my mind even faster still. Eragon may be able to remove this ghastly ability of mine and the compulsion that accompanies it, but he cannot return me to what I was, nor what I should be, not without destroying who I have become. I am a freak, neither a child nor an adult, forever doomed to stand apart. I am not blind, you know. I see how you recoil when you hear me speak.” She shook her head. “No, this is too much to ask of me. I will not continue like this for the sake of you, Nasuada, nor the Varden, nor the whole of Alagaësia, nor even for my dear mother, were she still alive today. It is not worth it, not for anything. I could go live by myself, so that I would be free of other people’s afflictions, but I do not want to live like that. No, the only solution is for Eragon to attempt to correct his mistake.” Her lips curved in a sly smile. “And if you disagree with me, if you think I am being stupid and selfish, why, then, you would do well to remember that I am hardly more than a swaddling babe and have yet to celebrate my second birthday. Only fools expect an infant to martyr herself for the greater good. But infant or not, I have made my decision, and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise. In this, I am as iron.”

A long speech, but this is well written, if a bit over blown at times. Though since Nasuada seems to be intent on keeping her like this, it may have to be to make the impression she needs. She is realistically bitter about what happened to her and realistically wants it to go away. Her reasons are sound. No one should expect an infant to do what she does. Her life is ruined and Nasuada insisting that she stay like this makes her just as selfish as Elva is supposed to be.

Nasuada reasons with her further. I know this because Paolini tells me so. Nasuada reasoned with her further, but as Elva had promised, it proved to be a futile prospect. Honestly, I can't think of a single reason after hearing that why she should keep her blessing. Of course I don't know why she should keep it in the first place. Again, Nasuada is being selfish and sadistic. So she asks Angela and Eragon to try and help her.

Angela refuses (yay) saying that it's Elva's choice and she shouldn't be harried. Eragon does not (boo).

Eragon was of a similar opinion, but he consented to say, “Elva, I cannot tell you what you should do—only you can determine that—but do not reject Nasuada’s request out of hand. She is trying to save us all from Galbatorix, and she needs our support if we are to have any chance of success. The future is hidden to me, but I believe that your ability might be the perfect weapon against Galbatorix. You could predict his every attack. You could tell us exactly how to counteract his wards. And above all else, you would be able to sense where Galbatorix is vulnerable, where he is most weak, and what we could do to hurt him.”

I'm not sure how she could predict his every attack as he just sits around in his castle (I'm assuming it's a castle) and Elva can only sense pain out for a mile. And what could would it do? How does it help predicting his attacks. Besides! Her thing is that she wants to protect people from pain! So she'd do what she had to do to protect him from pain too! If anything she's a liability.

I think she should go over to Galby's side. He doesn't seem to the sadistic sort. At least... well...I dunno.

ANYWAY, Elva tells him STFU.

Eragon is all don't be hasty!

And I'm all she's had months to think about this! Eragon promised to fix her anyway! Is he a promise breaker now because he thinks it would be more convenient to keep her like that? It maybe easier, but sometimes hard choices must be made and you need to cut off something which could be useful.

I just sounded like a politician there. *shakes NPR out of head*

Saphira asks what's in her heart. Elva responds I already said it.

Nasuada is cranky about it. She said, “I do not agree with your choice, Elva, but we will abide by it, for it is obvious that we cannot sway you. I suppose I cannot fault you, as I have no experience with the suffering you are exposed to on a daily basis, and if I were in your position, it is possible I would act no differently.

Possible? POSSIBLE?! Elva has said she is in mortal agony every second of every moment of every day. It's not emo chicken here, it's living torture. This here clinches the fact that Nasuada has no empathy for other people. She can't imagine living with that sort of pain, but she says she has no experience. Only if she her self experienced it would she be able to understand. She can't put herself in Elva's position. And even if she was in her position she doesn't know if she'd feel the same thing.

Eragon then proceeds to tell Elva the two ways that the spell can be fixed/removed. Angela interrupts him a lot.

The two ways are to remove the spell.

“[The magician] opens himself to the flow of energy within his body and, speaking in the ancient language, recants not only the words of his spell but also the intention behind it.This can be quite difficult, as you might imagine. Unless the magician has the right intent, he will end up altering the original spell instead of lifting it. And then he would have to unsay two intertwined spells.

“The other method is to cast a spell that directly counteracts the effects of the original spell. It does not eliminate the original spell, but if done properly, it renders it harmless. With your permission, this is the method I intend to use.”

Both are basically he needs to get his shit right. I'm not sure what would be more difficult really. However, I think that Eragon chooses the wrong one, for this reason: Elva has to be the source of energy to keep the second spell running.

Eragon kept his gaze fixed on Elva. “The energy will have to come from you,” he told her, pressing her hands with his. “It won’t be much, but it will still reduce your stamina by a certain amount. If I do this, you will never be able to run as far or lift as many pieces of firewood as someone who does not have a similar incantation leeching off them.”

So, now that he's made her a freak he's also going to impair her ability to do stuff. Oh yeah, real good. He can't be the energy source because if he's too far away it'll be to hard to send her energy and it might kill him. He should have tried method A, getting rid of it all together. Alas, he does not.

Elva agrees. And Eragon says if it doesn't work, he'll try again. Looking at the two counterspell methods, both of them, if Eragon fails, will end up with Elva having a second spell on her, except the first method doesn't seem to need to feed off of her. And it makes you wonder why Eragon wouldn't have the right intent?

Nice guy.

Eragon proceeds with his counterspell.

When she dipped her chin again, Eragon took a deep breath, readying himself. His eyes half closed from the strength of his concentration, he began to speak in the ancient language. Each word fell from his tongue with the weight of a hammer blow. He was careful to enunciate every syllable, every sound that was foreign to his own language, so as to avoid a potentially tragic mishap. The counterspell was burned into his memory. He had spent many hours during his trip from Helgrind inventing it, agonizing over it,challenging himself to devise better alternatives, all in anticipation of the day he would attempt to atone for the harm he had caused Elva. As he spoke, Saphira channeled her strength into him, and he felt her supporting him and watching closely, ready to intervene if she saw in his mind that he was about to mangle the incantation. The counterspell was very long and very complicated, for he had sought to address every reasonable interpretation of his blessing. As a result, a full five minutes passed before Eragon uttered the last sentence, word, and then syllable.

I wonder how long it took to cure that woman of cancer? And how long it took him to come up with that spell. I would think "Undo the spell I placed on Elva" would be good enough. But that's just me. This is one of those weird points in the magic continuity. The one word "brisingr" can cause all sorts of magical effects regarding fire and there appears to be one word for healing, and it's all controlled at the magician's intent. Many of the spells appear to be one word only, like the one for raising the stone. And yet here it requires multiple sentences to cast. I would think something like "repair damage" would be sufficient if Eragon is focused on what the damage he wishes to repair. The paragraph sounds really cool though.

Which is one of the big failings of the series. Continuity is sacrificed on the altar of coolness.

The carefully worded spell of Eragon's doesn't appear to have drained him at all. Nor does it appear to have worked. Elva can still feel other people's pain. Eragon starts to think of another spell to use when she tells him not to.

Paolini seems to enjoy, also, coming up with horrible descriptions for Elva's body parts. In this case it's her teeth, An ecstatic glow seemed to emanate from Elva. Her round, pearl like teeth gleamed as she smiled, her eyes flashing with triumphant joy. “No, don’t try again.” I'm seeing a mouth full of pearls here. Not working as teeth.

Anyway, Elva doesn't want Eragon to try again because she can ignore the people's pain. She doesn't feel the compulsion to help them any more. And since she can do that, she can learn to block the pain and won't need another spell to continue to feed off her.

And then she says this:

Elva’s eyes glowed with unsavory glee. “I will never be like ordinary people. If I must be different, then let me keep that which sets me apart. As long as I can control this power, as it seems I now can, I have no objection to carrying this burden, for it shall be by my choice and not forced upon me by your magic, Eragon. Ha! From now on, I shall answer to no one and no thing. If I help anyone, it will be because I want to. If I serve the Varden, it will be because my conscience tells me I should and not because you ask me to, Nasuada, or because I’ll throw up if I don’t. I will do as I please, and woe unto those who oppose me, for I know all their fears and shall not hesitate to play upon them in order to fulfill my wishes.”

What she's saying is this, "I have my free will back and now I have the ability to help people because I want to not because I have to."

This is apparently a bad thing.

Eragon decides that it's an abuse of her power to want to do what she wants and so moves to remove it. Elva stops him. She even calls him on the fact that what he was going to do was wrong because he was doing it without her permission.

In a voice like warm honey, she said, “Eragon, cease. If you cast that spell, you will hurt me as you hurt me once before. You do not want that. Every night when you lay yourself down to sleep, you will think of me, and the memory of the wrong you have committed will torment you. What you were about to do was evil, Eragon. Are you the judge of the world? Will you condemn me in the absence of wrongdoing merely because you do not approve of me? That way lies the depraved pleasure of controlling others for your own satisfaction. Galbatorix would approve.”

BWAHAHAHAHAA... too late. See Sloan.

This however She released him then, but Eragon was too troubled to move. She had struck at his very core, and he had no counterarguments with which to defend himself, for her questions and observations were the very ones he directed at himself. Her understanding of him sent a chill crawling down his spine.

I have yet to see these questions and arguments directed at himself. Srsly.

Elva leaves after saying she doesn't know if she likes or hates Eragon, but she does like Saphira and considers her a friend.

Eragon is troubled because of the monster he's created. Yes, the word monster is used. Because he gave her back her free will and now she may not like him. If she doesn't like him then she is Evil.

Angela is pissed off and smacks Eragon good. As she is taking upon herself the duty to teach Elva some manners for the next decade. He wants to know how she'll do this without Elva making with her "I know what your weakness is". Angela indicates that it's a spell, but other than that refuses to say more.

And with that, she too leaves.

Brisingr
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