Amid the Restless Crowd.Edit
Arya and Eragon finally get to the Varden. The way the first sentence of the chapter is written it could have been used to cut out all the other stuff that went before. It was mid-afternoon when the Varden finally came into sight. See, they've been on a long journey and now they're back where they belong. Yay! The running chapters didn't even need to be included.
Eragon is ecstatic of having made it back to the Varden as he says, A broad smile stretched Eragon’s face, and he laughed, relieved. “We made it!” he exclaimed. “Murtagh, Thorn, hundreds of soldiers, Galbatorix’s pet magicians, the Ra’zac—none of them could catch us. Ha! How’s that for taunting the king? This’ll tweak his beard for sure when he hears of it.”
How does Eragon even know that Galby has a beard. Perhaps it's because " Galby is evil and everyone evil wears a beard. But enough of a nitpick, what does bother me is that there was no indication of them being chased. It felt more like a paranoid delusion on Eragon's part. All we saw were some random encounters with people who didn't even know who he was. They never said, "Oh! It's Eragon! Capture him!" It was always more "Hey! Suspicious person!" But since everyone knows who Eragon is and what he looks like through the magics of Paolini's mysterious magical internets which we haven't see, Eragon is obviously right.
This is a rather odd chapter and changes Eragon from Fierce Warrior to Teenage Boy. For example, “And why shouldn’t I be?” he demanded. Bouncing on the tips of his toes, he opened his mind as wide as he could and, gathering his strength, shouted, Saphira! sending the thought flying over the countryside like a spear. Bouncing on the tip of his toes. Which isn't what fierce warriors do.
Saphira and Eragon reunite, Saphira chiding him about always getting into trouble. They talk about this for about a page, Saphira upset that Eragon didn't tell her what he was going to do with Sloan and Eragon promising not to do it again. There is hugging and happy things with very much an "Awww" vibe.
When are you not a dragon? asked Eragon as he ran toward her. Light as a feather, he leaped from her left foreleg to her shoulder and thence to the hollow at the base of her neck that was his usual seat. Settling into place, he put his hands on either side of her warm neck, feeling the rise and fall of her banded muscles as she breathed. He smiled again, with a profound sense of contentment.This is where I belong, here with you . His legs vibrated as Saphira hummed with satisfaction, her deep rumbling following a strange, subtle melody he did not recognize.
She says hello to Arya in the same intimate tone that she uses for Eragon, this makes him jealous. But the jealous feeling goes away as he approves of this. Which I think is a missed opportunity. I think it'd be nice if Eragon was jealous, that would humanize him. Saphira is his dragon and they share a special bond, why shouldn't he feel jealous for her to act all familiar with someone else?
Saphria continues our Fatalistic attitude when she talks about what she would have done if Eragon had been captured.
Yes, I like to think I would have rescued you, Eragon,said Saphira, turning her neck to look at him, but I worry that I would have surrendered to the Empire in order to save you, no matter the consequences for Alagaësia . Then she shook her head and kneaded the soil with her claws. Ah, these are pointless meanderings. You are here and safe, and that is the true shape of the world. To while away the day contemplating evils that might have been is to poison the happiness we already have.
This feels like she doesn't care what's going to happen in the future. What will come may come. No one seems to care about or plan for the future, they just figure what will happen will happen and they have no control over it.
A patrol arrives and gives Arya a horse to ride, while I think Saphira walks. This has made me start thinking about dragon physiology. I found a "blueprint" of Saphira with a quick google search
If you look at her and then at other dragons, these dragons being my D&D minis
They don't look like they're very well made for long distance walking or walking at all. They're meant for flying and yet Paolini often has Saphira doing long distance walking and even running. This is rather like having a falcon -for dragons are predators- trying to go around like a chicken. Dragons evolved wings -in theory- so they'd have the advantage of being able to grab prey from above before they even know what hit it. By having Saphira walk, Paolini is treating her like a glorified horse, which she isn't.
As they walk back to camp Eragon comments on how Saphira smells. He also says that he's noticed how humans also smell bad Come now, don’t exaggerate. Although,he said, wrinkling his nose, since the Agaetí Blödhren, I have noticed that humans tend to be rather smelly. Notice the elves don't smell bad, that Arya doesn't smell bad even though she probably hasn't bathed at all either while they've been running. This is another example of Paolini's elves being Just That Special and humans being random grunts. Eragon even says, when Saphira says he smells bad too, that she shouldn't lump him in with the same category with humans because he's no longer completely human.
Because humans are dumb and uncultured and uncouth and ugly. Pretty people don't smell.
Getting into camp they are followed by a lot of the Varden who are all happy to see Eragon, including a few women who ask him to marry them. They are also met by the twelve elves sent by the Queen. Fury or Limp Wiener is there and it is he who asks if they may assume their duties to protect the two of them. After agreeing, Eragon asks if he was an elf he saw at the magical healing celebration. Limp Wiener says he was not and instead it was his cousin. It's an odd bit of conversation and I have to wonder why it's there. Perhaps to make it feel more natural, or to make Eragon seem fallible.
Then Saphira says that the Fury smells wonderful. Apparently he's trying to make himself smell yummy to "females" because Eragon can't smell anything. (I wonder if gay people think he smells yummy. Oh wait there is no gay.) Apparently all the human women are in love with the guy though they're all "crushing" by being shy and giggly and following him around. Eragon notes that Arya doesn't seem to be affected, and apparently she has magical protection.
I hope so. . . . Do you think we should put a stop to Blödhgarm? What he is doing is a sneaky, underhanded way of gaining a woman’s heart.
Is it any more underhanded than adorning yourself with fine clothing to catch the eye of your beloved? Blödhgarm has not taken advantage of the women who are fascinated by him, and it seems improbable that he would have composed the notes of his scent to appeal specifically to human women. Rather, I would guess it is an unintended consequence and that he created it to serve another purpose altogether. Unless he discards all semblance of decency, I think we should refrain from interfering.
Actually I would argue it's not as underhanded as the clothing because it's a visible effect that everyone can see and they're not forcibly captured by it. You know they're dressing up to catch the girl or guy's attention. But these girls probably don't know it's the smell that's getting to them and if they don't have magical protection like Arya and Nasuada they can't help themselves but to be enraptured by it. Even if it is a side effect of something else, it still happens.
Here again we have people being affected by things beyond their control. And here again it's being said it's all right. Our fury's pheromones could be considered at type of date rape drug as it causes the women to not really have a say in their emotions. I am reminded of a similar happenstance in the book Star Trek: New Frontier "Being Human" and "Stone and Anvil" by Peter David. There a crew member, Gleu (who was a member of an alien species nicked name "elves") had this "knack" as he called it to make people find him desirable. He claimed that he had no control over it and he never took advantage of any of the women who were affected by it. They wanted him anyway. However at one point a crew member, M'ress said that she didn't want to have sex with Gleu but his knack made her. She called mind rape. It was a difficult case because how do you prove such a thing, especially since the Selvians refused on "religious" reasons to have their minds scanned.
I find that Gleu's knack is similar to Limp Wiener's pheromone, but while it was treated seriously in the New Frontier novels, here it is brushed off as just another way to attract people.
While you would think that Arya and Eragon would be going to see Nasuada and report back in, instead they end up in where the Caverhall villagers are. On the way the crowd swelled in size until half the Varden appeared to be gathered around Saphira. It makes me wonder if these people have nothing better to do. In any case, Eragon returns to his people who are happy to see him.
Roran and Katrina appear and we get an update on her appearance.
Eragon studied Katrina closely. Her copper hair had regained its original luster, and for the most part, the marks left by her ordeal had faded away, although she was still thinner and paler than normal. Moving closer to him, so none of the Varden clustered around them could overhear, she said, “I never thought that I would owe you so much, Eragon. Thatwe would owe you so much. Since Saphira brought us here, I have learned what you risked to rescue me, and I am most grateful. If I had spent another week in Helgrind, it would have killed me or stripped me of reason, which is a living death. For saving me from that fate, and for repairing Roran’s shoulder, you have my utmost thanks, but more than that, you have my thanks for bringing the two of us back together again. If not for you, we never would have been reunited.”
Let's see, "marks left" are gone, which makes me wonder what they were exactly. Still she's not marked so she's still pretty and perfect. She's just thin. She also apparently was so tortured that she almost died or went crazy, but despite such horrors she's fine. Again, there doesn't seem to be any lasting damage. I think she'd still be traumatized. There should be some indication of her trauma, if only in her eyes, like they didn't smile with the rest of her face or they seemed to be wary of the people around her. Something to indicate that she went through a traumatic experience.
He tells Katrina and Roran that they should live long and prosper. Not in those exact words! Thankfully, but that they should have a lot of children as well. Which makes me think back to Katrina's thinness. She should be showing something by now.
And I lied, apparently the Caverhall people are on the way to Nasuada's tent. Nasuada is looking rather shiny.
Nasuada was garbed in a green silk dress that shimmered in the sun, like the feathers on the breast of a hummingbird, in bright contrast to the sable shade of her skin. The sleeves of the dress ended in lace ruffs at her elbows. White linen bandages covered the rest of her arms to her narrow wrists. Of all the men and women assembled before her, she was the most distinguished, like an emerald resting on a bed of brown autumn leaves. Only Saphira could compete with the brilliance of her appearance.
I imagine this dress is paid for by some of the money that could be helping the Varden. It seems particular that she's spending all this time being fashionable when instead she should be dressed more practically. Again in Mercedes Lackey's Exile's Honor novel there is a similar situation. The Valdemar army has arrayed itself against the Karse army on the border between their two lands. King Sendar and princess Selenay have traveled to the border line as well. Neither of them are seen in the camp wearing anything but their Herald whites or practical clothing. There isn't a special tent for the King with special furniture. It's just a bit bigger and has room for a planning table. Nasuada seems to dress like she's at a Ren Fair. By dressing like a shiny she separates herself from her people and says "I'm not one of you, I'm better than you". Or at least, it should.
Nasuada welcomes Eragon and Arya's return and she ends with this:
She finished by saying, “Aye, Galbatorix may have a Rider and dragon who fight for him even as Eragon and Saphira fight for us. He may have an army so large that it darkens the land. And he may be adept at strange and terrible magics, abominations of the spellcaster’s art. But for all his wicked power, he could not stop Eragon and Saphira from invading his realm and killing four of his most favored servants, nor Eragon from crossing the Empire with impunity. The pretender’s arm has grown weak indeed when he cannot defend his borders, nor protect his foul agents within their hidden fortress.”
Whoopie do. Brom managed to hide from the Empire over fifteen years and he stayed in one place. Also the Empire is spread out and not connected very well. In the first book Eragon and Brom rode for about a week! Before they came upon any human habitation. Escaping through Galby's notice in the Empire is like escaping the law's notice in the Old West of the United States but Paolini here is trying to make it like they escaped from Nazi Germany.
Eragon approves of the speech as it is stirring and made the cheering crowds happy. And apparently she doesn't lie to people so much as only saying things that support her position. A lie of omission could still be considered a lie.
King Orrin also gives a welcome speech but he sucks.
When the Varden’s outpouring of excitement had subsided, King Orrin greeted Eragon and Arya as Nasuada had. His delivery was staid compared with hers, and while the crowd listened politely and applauded afterward, it was obvious to Eragon that however much the people respected Orrin, they did not love him as they loved Nasuada, nor could he fire their imagination as Nasuada fired it. The smooth–faced king was gifted with a superior intellect. But his personality was too rarefied, too eccentric, and too subdued for him to be a receptacle for the desperate hopes of the humans that opposed Galbatorix.
They say it's better to have someone's respect than to be loved by them. You can love people and not respect them. It's respect that you need to lead, not love. But the king just isn't that Special.
After hearing this, Eragon thinks that it would be better to have Nasuada take over the Empire and not king Orrin because he would not be able to unite the land as Nasuada has united the Varden . The thing is Orrin has been a successful ruler of his people and despite harboring the Varden has been able to hold off any significant threat. The thing that I found interesting about the whole Surda/Empire thing is that Galby never took it over because he didn't think of it as a threat. Yet why would he just leave it there if he's a Evil Guy bent on taking over everything? It's just there to provide a base of operations for the Varden as well as an opposing country. A Brittan to Germany.
Then Nasuada says that Eragon should give a speech. Eragon doesn't want to give a speech! Reasonable, I would think. But we don't get to hear his "fumbling words" or attempt at being encouraging like Nasuada does. He is silent and we can't judge for ourselves how good a speaker he is, or bad of a speaker in this case. He is mute and by being mute we can't humanize him, we can't sympathize with him saying "Oh, I would do the same!" or "I know how he feels."
We end with Saphira teasing him about his fear of making a speech in a sort of normal manner. It's a nice moment of two friends joshing each other.
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