Tonight's disclaimer: I've had fourish glasses of wine tonight so I may not be making as much sense as I usually do. However, I bet that I'll still be clearer than Paolini so there shouldn't be too much to worry about. Happy Passover!
Chapters Diamonds in the Night, Under a Darkling sky.
Two chapters later and we're back to Roran again. Anyone care? No. Why? Because we're not emotionally invested in the character. All we've seen of Roran is that apparently he's wanted by the king and he ran away and did nothing. Then he fought some soldiers in a rather stupid maneuver. We don't feel for anyone in the village because we don't know anyone there. We know that there's Roran's girlfriend Katrina, but she shows up and does nothing interesting and then leaves.
The people of Carvahall are now worried about what the soldiers are going to do them, what with the Ra'zac's ultimatum of give us the boy or we'll eat you all. Of course if the attacking group, (remember them) hadn't been complete and utter idiots and actually had killed the soldiers instead of trying to scare them then they would have had more time to actually mount a defense because then the Ra'zac would have to go back to get more men. However if they had been REALLY intelligent they wouldn't have done that in the first place.
A group of the village leaders meet at Horst's place and try to figure out what to do. For some reason Roran is invited. He's not a prominent member of the community and he's not at all that important except for the fact that he's the one that everyone wants. But he has to be there so that he can be given the job of over seeing the town defenses. Why would someone give Roran that job when he has no experience or anything near it to know what would be good for a town defense. If anything you would need a man with military experience or someone familiar with such a thing to build decent and fortifiable defenses. Even if they had read it in a book. Roran is a farmer. What he knows is how to is farm and milk cows. He doesn't know how to build defenses.
Pushing this aside we get our description of Carvahall funeral services. Ten white-swathed corpses were arranged besides their graves, a sprig of hemlock on each of their cold chests and a silver amulet around each of their necks.
Gertrude stood forth and recited the men's names: "Parr, Wyglif, Ged, Bardrick, Farold, Hale, Garner, Kelby, Melklof, and Albem. She placed black pebbles over their eyes, then raised her arms, lifted her face to the sky and began the quavering death lay. Tears seeped from the corners of her closed eyes as her voice rose and fell with the immemorial phrases, sighing and moaning with the village's sorrow. She sang of the earth and the night and of humanity's ageless sorrow from which none escape. (page 127)
A very lovely custom, but let us not forget something. The humans have no religion. If you recall, Eragon did not have an opposing view point to Gannel's teachings. There are three symbolic things given to the dead here, the sprig of hemlock, the silver amulet and the black pebbles. These are probably things to move the dead into the afterlife better. But usually cultures with an after life have a religion. They do not, so these are meaningless gestures. Logically the humans should just bury the bodies without any sort of tokens of protection. The reason you would put the tokens there is because you believe that something will happen to your dead on the way out. Eragon has already proven that the humans don't believe this. You don't do things to the dead unless they mean something. While this is a nice stab at a culture for the people of Carvahall it is ultimately meaningless because there is nothing behind it.
To oppose this custom I'd like to point out the way the dead are treated in the Abhorsen Trilogy. There the biggest fear for people is to die and come back to life as an undead servant. A zombie of sorts no longer allowed to complete their journey in death. They have a specific ritual done with magic that burns the body into ashes so that the body cannot be used again, as well as sending the spirit on it's journey. This is a perfectly logical outgrowth of that world's customs and fears and is sort of their religion though religion is not really touched upon in the books. The rites however have meaning because we know why they do it and what are the reasons behind it.
Roran starts counting the people he's killed. Two now. This is strikingly similar to what Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time does. Rand does it because he's a twat and it's Jordan's way of trying to give him a flaw, making him feel guilty about all the women he's killed, even though he doesn't. Roran seems to be doing the same thing. Though he seems to be more conscious of the fact that he had taken a life than Eragon. Eragon never thinks back to all the people he randomly kills, Roran does.
Then we get to Roran's brilliant plan of defending the village. He's going to put a wall around Carvahall (good so far) by laying big trees on their sides and sharpening their branches. One layer of trees. With sharp branches. Not the best line of defense around. And not that great of a wall. Even if the trees are sharpen the branches are still avoidable... or even climbable. They also dig a ditch behind the "wall" of trees. Though it's only two feet deep.
The village manages to do all that in less than a day.
That night after crying over what had happen to him the past few days (a surprisingly human thing to do) Roran asks Katrina to marry him.
Paolini starts to channel Hemingway again for a sentence and then devolves into his usual purple prose talking about pregnant clouds and cords of rain. Roran is happy because he's engaged to Katrina and wants to send her away so she doesn't get hurt. Roran actually gets some character development here in these two chapters because he has reasonable reactions to events and showing some sort of emotional depth. Of sorts.
There's a small bit about one of Hurst's sons arguing with some men and maybe starting a feud but it's only to get the information across that the ways out of the village are being watched so they can't evacuate the women and children.
Then the soldiers attack the village. In the rain, not really a brilliant idea, but no one here seems to be that intelligent. So, the soldiers attack in the rain when visibility isn't that great. However they manage to blow up some of the trees and make a breach in Roran's wonderful line of defense. Roran and Sloan go and defend the breach.
Sloan throws a meat cleaver and manages to crush a guy's skull after splitting the man's helm. Cleavers are not throwing weapons. Even if you did manage to throw it well, it probably couldn't split open a helm and crush a man's skull. To crush a man's skull you need a bludgeoning weapon. Crushing indicates blunt force trauma. Knives are not bludgeoning weapons. Clubs, morningstars, maces and flails are bludgeoning weapons. Cleavers are slashing weapons. Sloan goes into some sort of battle frenzy rage and goes around killing people left and right.
Roran then has the strangest encounter with one of the soldiers. Left weaponless, Roran was forced to retreat before the remaining soldier. He stumbled over a corpse, cutting his calf on a sword as he fell, and rolled to avoid a two handed blow from the soldier scrambling in ankle deep mud for something anything he could use for a weapon. A hilt bruised his fingers, and he ripped it from the muck and slashed at the soldier's sword hand, severing his thumb.
The man stared dumbly at the glistening stump, then said, "This is what comes from not shielding myself."
"Aye" agreed Roran, and beheaded him.
Now why would a soldier stop in the middle of the fight and say something like that? Why would that even occur to him? Not only that but Roran somehow managed to behead the guy in a single stroke from the ground. Beheading someone is a messy business, it's not something that can usually be done with a single stroke, after all you have the neck and and bone in there. Look at Nearly Headless Nick, from the Harry Potter Series. The tried to chop off his head and it took forty five strokes and they didn't get it all the way. A sword is not going to be sharp enough to cut through all that even if he was standing. He'd have to hack at it to get it off. The soldier should have had time to move away from Roran, even if he had his thumb cut off. But apparently time stands still for Roran to get up off his ass and cut of the guy's head.
After this is done, Sloan manages to move three large pine trees back into position. He must be taking steroids. A sort of truce seems to form between him and Roran as Sloan talks to him civilly and doesn't seem to be angry at Roran.
Roran wanders back to the rest of the villagers where he discovers that a ten year old boy was killed. This begs the question of why was a ten year old boy any where near the melee? He should have been told that when a fight starts he should hide away. But apparently his parents were utter idiots and didn't tell him that or they let him in on the fight and now he's dead. This is of course not touched upon and instead gives Roran a reason to angst about what if something like this happens to Katerina.
It ends with him trying to figure out how he's going to have to protect everyone.
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