To Answer a King Edit
This has got to be the BEST sentence so far in the entire book. It completely shows what sort of leader Nasuada is and how utterly special that Eragon is. The chapter begins with this sentence:
After Eragon gave his address to the Varden, Nasuada gestured and Jörmundur leaped to her side. “Have everyone here return to their posts. If we were attacked now, we would be overwhelmed.”
How many people here just abandoned their posts just to follow Eragon? A ridiculous amount if they've been left defenseless! They don't care enough about their cause or their duty to stay where they are. Instead they'd rather follow the glittering blue disco ball. The Varden are supposed to be disciplined and better than the Empire's army, but they show none at all. No one on duty should have followed Eragon. I bet no one in the Empire's army would leave their posts to follow Galby. Now it could possibly be argued that it's because he isn't worth being followed or it could be that his troops are better trained and more disciplined.
Eragon, Nasuada, Orrin and Arya retire to Nasuada's tent. There we see that a special flap has been made so that Saphira can stick her head inside without destroying everything. I'm reminded of a doggy door.
Then we get what I think is a queer description of the tent's interior.
Eragon examined the rest of the tent. It was barren compared with when he had last visited, a result of the destruction Saphira had caused when she crawled into the pavilion to see Eragon in Nasuada’s mirror. With only four pieces of furniture, the tent was austere even by military standards. There was the polished high-backed chair where Nasuada was sitting, King Orrin standing next to her; the selfsame mirror, which was mounted at eye level on a carved brass pole; a folding chair; and a low table strewn with maps and other documents of import. An intricately knotted dwarf rug covered the ground.
Military standards are very austere. The less you have easier it is to move. I can't imagine the difficulties they had with that chair, that throne. They're supposed to be a rabble rebel movement barely able to afford to to make weapons and things and they have a throne. Also, now that I think about it there's Nasuada's people, the ones she did emo chicken with, who apparently have gold and money but aren't willing to give it to the cause. Obviously they're more interested in their own comfort than overthrowing Galby.
No wonder the Varden is useless.
I think by saying that the interior of the tent is austere Paolini is trying to say that Nasuada is sacrificing more than someone in the military would do. But then that forgets the point that she used to have more. And let's not forget all her pretty dresses as well, and jewelry.
Anyway, there are people there to meet and greet Eragon. And more people to meet and greet Eragon and more people to meet and greet Eragon. All of this obviously bores Eragon as it would bore anyone who had to stand around and make nice with utter strangers. Eragon's boredom is expressed thusly: In his heart, he howled with frustration and longed to break free of the stifling constraints of good manners and polite conduct and to climb on Saphira and fly away to somewhere peaceful. I find that sentence funny. I think it is the "in his heart" part that gets me. It's a silly sort of phrase that doesn't really mean much beyond he's frustrated.
Eragon turns his attention to the two Urgals who are guarding Nasuada and watching the people's reactions to them. The reactions are of course standard. The ones who pretend they're not afraid, the ones that are afraid, the ones who ignore them and the ones that really aren't afraid. Thing is, I'd likely be afraid. These guys have been their enemies for generations and now they're guarding their leader.
Not only THAT, now that I think about it, but the Urgals have been working for Galby and by having Nasuada with them there it makes it seem like she's sided with him. Rather like how Gandalf knew that Saruman turned when he saw all the orcs around Isengard. If I saw my leader with the enemy's troops of EVIL I'd be worried about their loyalties. Even if the Dragon Rider said they were okay.
I mean normally I would wonder about said rider's loyalties if he's saying the Urgals are okay. But since it's Eragon and he's the Hero and Just That Special what he says is good and right. And therefor all Urgals are automatically Chaotic Good even if there could be a few that did like what Galby was doing. But that would be ridiculous! A race non-humans who have different opinions amongst themselves! Inconceivable!
Eventually everyone leaves when Saphira makes impatient noises. Nasuada apologizes to Eragon for this saying You belong to the people now. They demand that you recognize them and that you give them what they consider their rightful share of your time. Neither you nor Orrin nor I can refuse the wishes of the crowd. Even Galbatorix in his dark seat of power at Urû’baen fears the fickle crowd, although he may deny it to everyone, including himself.
This bothers me. I think mostly because the "people" Eragon was meeting were not "people" so much as nobles. They weren't the common folk but rich and noble folk trying to curry favor. If he really belonged to the people he would be meeting and greeting the people.
Also, if Galby has complete control over everyone and is Evil and Cares Not for what his people want, why would he care about the crowd? Since he does, maybe he's not evil.
Once this is done King Orrin demands an explanation for what Eragon and Arya have been up to. This does not go over well with Nasuada.
Her voice cold, Nasuada said, “You assume too much . . . Your Majesty. You do not have the authority to bind me in place; nor Eragon, who is my vassal; nor Saphira; nor Arya, who answers to no mortal lord but rather to one more powerful than the two of us combined. Nor do we have the authority to bind you. The five of us are as close to equals as any of us is likely to find in Alagaësia. You would do well to remember that.”
I do not see him at all being treated like an equal. He's always late to know things, never in the important meetings, Nasuada here, when she pauses, makes it seem like she's giving him the title not out of respect but because she's "remembering" it. She's bestowing it on him like one would gift a child.
And I like how Eragon and Saphira are automatically on the same level as the others just because of who they are and not because of anything they've done really. They don't have Arya, Orrin or even Nasuada's experience. It's a default ranking.
Then we get into the right of kings makes you fit to rule. IE king Orrin can trace his line all the way back to the first king of Sudra and such they have no right to ignore him. Which is all well and good but I think the fact that he's letting them onto his land and providing them with food and such is a better reason.
However, Orrin does have a point. They have been treating him like as if I were no more than an overzealous, over inquisitive underling whose childish concerns distracted you from more pressing matters
Eragon is more worried about what he should tell them because he only planned on telling Nasuada about Sloan.
A flickering sea-blue shimmer ran from the base of Saphira’s head to the crest of her shoulders as the tips of the sharp, diamond-shaped scales along the sides of her neck rose a fraction of an inch from the underlying skin.
Translation: Saphira shrugs and then tells him to listen to his heart. Yes. Really.
I cannot tell you what is best, Eragon. In this, you must rely upon your own judgment. Listen closely to what your heart says and perhaps it will become clear how to win free of these treacherous downdrafts.
Nasuada apologizes for slighting King Orrin and then Eragon and Arya tell them what happened. After Eragon makes the two of them promise that they'll keep it a secret.
When they're done, both Nasuada and Orrin agree that Eragon did the right thing in regards to Sloan. For Orrin infodumps us.
King Orrin interrupted. “Why do we approve? The rule of law must be upheld. If you had appointed yourself Sloan’s executioner, Eragon, you would have taken for yourself the power that Nasuada and I wield. For he who has the audacity to determine who should live and who should die no longer serves the law but dictates the law. And however benevolent you might be, that would be no good thing for our species. Nasuada and I, at least, answer to the one lord even kings must kneel before. We answer to Angvard, in his realm of eternal twilight. We answer to the Gray Man on his gray horse. Death. We could be the worst tyrants in the whole of history, and given enough time, Angvard would bring us to heel. . . . But not you. Humans are a short-lived race, and we should not be governed by one of the Undying. We do not need another Galbatorix.” A strange laugh escaped from Orrin then, and his mouth twisted in a humorless smile. “Do you understand, Eragon? You are so dangerous, we are forced to acknowledge the danger to your face and hope that you are one of the few people able to resist the lure of power.”
This is the first time we hear about Angvard, we should have heard about him sooner. Back in Eldest when they had the funeral at Caverhall. Eragon should know this. He's still human. He's only been special for a couple of months. Also it makes absolutely no sense. Killing Sloan would have been bad, but what about that poor solider? Also, they were already ruled by the undying with the dragon riders. They were all undying! Some of them were even elves!
Ten bucks says Eragon would be able to resist the lure of the One Ring.
Orrin concludes that it was good that Eragon stayed his hand because it wasn't in self defense or in service of others he would have killed Sloan but to please himself. Because I really think that's the reason Eragon would have given to kill Sloan.
Eventually the questioning is over, Arya goes for a bath and Orrin goes to look at his horses. Eragon offers to heal Nasuada's wounds. Again she refuses. He tells her that she's a good leader and if he's ever offered the throne he'd refuse it.
She remarks that Eragon's family is nothing but trouble. Him, Murtagh and Roran. Immediately Eragon refuses to be related to Murtagh claiming they're not family. Poor Murtagh, I would say, except I wouldn't want to be related to Eragon either. Originally I put married and not related. My brain is all sorts of weird places.
There is more commentage about how the three of them still cause a lot of trouble and seem to have a bit of "madness" coming from Palancar valley where the mad king used to rule. This will probably be important later.
Eventually Nasuada excuses Eragon and asks if he'll have dinner with her and a bunch of other people.
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