Chapters Az Sweldn Rak Anhuin Sounds like someone let the cat on the keyboard, Celbedeil
Switching back to Eragon, we learn that he's been walking for two days in the dwarf tunnels. Nothing much happened during that time, but we learn that Elf Sue is a vegetarian. She also tells Eragon, rather arrogantly, that once he's done with his training with the elves he'll become a vegetarian as well. Why? Well, she can't say in words, but he'll understand later. While being insanely vague, one has to wonder, what is wrong with being a meat eater? And why can't it be explained with words? What is it about being a vegetarian can't be explained? While these are all interesting questions, one must also look at something else. Elves are Paolini's favored race in Alagaesia. He wants to be like them, and Eragon, his self insert, will later become like them, as he is a dragon rider and this is what happens to them after a long while. Since they are his idealized race then they should have qualities that he feels are important. Paolini is a vegetarian. Therefor his elves must be vegetarians. While this may not be a problem, we must remember something else, elf sue wears leather. Now, most people become vegetarians because they don't wish to harm animals. They feel that not eating meat is kinder to animals. So, if this is the elves belief then they wouldn't hunt animals. But they must hunt animals to get their leather. Once they've skinned the animals, what do they do with the carcases? They don't eat it, so it must go to waste. Which seems to be crueler to the animal than just eating it. I think this goes back to Paolini not realizing where his food comes from, ie it doesn't come from the store prepackaged, but it has to die somewhere. To fully actualize this discussion, however, I will have to wait until we learn exactly why Elves are vegetarians.
Tarnag is the new dwarf city that they have come to. Near it is a great lake that flows northward.
Let us look at a map of the world.
Tarang is up in the Beor mountains. The river (in pink) that is near this city flows north. North is away from the ocean. The continental divide is an elevated terrain that causes water to seperate and flow in one direction towards the ocean or the other. If we look at the pink line, it flows north, which means the red line should also flow north, which would take it away from the ocean and into a lake that doesn't have any drainage. But if the red line flows south, then it runs into the pink line which is going in the opposite direction also away from any ocean or sea to drain in. Not only that, but if the lake is starting point then it has two drainages both heading in the opposite directions. As a side not, it would appear that the rivers flow north to south, if you look at the yellow line, where the river starts in the lake and then... just ends in the middle of nowhere never reaching the ocean. A river can't just start in the middle of nowhere and flow into a lake.
But enough with the maps. Onto the city itself. Here the dwarves had reworked the seemingly immutable Beors into a series of terraces. The lower terraces were mainly farms -dark curves of land waiting to be planted- dotted with squat halls, which as best as he could tell were built entirely of stone. Above those empty levels rose tier upon tier of interlocking buildings until the culminated in a giant dome of gold and white. It was as if the entire city was nothing more than a line of steps leading up to the dome. Gandalf passed now into the wide land beyond the Rammas Echor. So the men of Gondor called the out-wall that they had built with great labour, after Ithilien fell under the shadow of their Enemy. For ten leagues or more it ran from the mountains’ feet and so back again, enclosing in its fence the fields of the Pelennor: fair and fertile townlands on the long slopes and terraces falling to the deep levels of the Anduin. At its furthest point from the Great Gate of the City, north-eastward, the wall was four leagues distant, and there from a frowning bank it overlooked the long flats beside the river, and men had made it high and strong; for at that point, upon a walled causeway, the road came in from the fords and bridges of Osgiliath and passed through a guarded gate between embattled towers. At its nearest point the wall was little more than one league from the City, and that was south-eastward. There Anduin, going in a wide knee about the hills of Emyn Arnen in South Ithilien, bent sharply west, and the out-wall rose upon its very brink; and beneath it lay the quays and landings of the Harlond for craft that came upstream from the southern fiefs. [...]
For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain. (Return of the King page 733)
I think that speaks for itself.
In any case, Tarnag is the home of the greatest Dwarf temple run by the priest clan of Quan. This is the first mention of religion in the two books. Humans appear to be religion-less and the elves are an unknown quality as we haven't spent any time in their culture. However Elf Sue has blessed things before so that might hint at a religion. Dwarf mentions to Eragon that she has great arguments with the dwarf priests and that elves do not hold with muttering into the air for help. More on this later though.
As they proceed to the city, they run into a sentry on a dire goat. The sentry and Dwarf have an untranslated conversation in dwarf. Untranslated until you go into the back of the book to see what was said, which of course completely disrupts the flow of the story. This happens a lot in this chapter and is basically Paolini masturbating to how clever he is that he's created a language. Even if the language looks like a cat walking across the keyboard.
At the front of the city they're met by an honor guard on more dire goats who take them into the city which has five levels (so it's totally not copied off of Tolkien.) As they walk, Eragon is surprised that no one cheers his existence. Dwarves do come up to him, bow and say "Shadeslayer". The fact that he is expecting to be cheered shows that he believes that it is his right to have accolades by the random people of the world. That he should be considered a hero of renown even though he's barely done anything. His ego knows no bounds.
However the dwarves become angry when they discover that Eragon has become a remember of the ruling clan. They shout imprecations. (Which is today's Thesaurus raped word of the day) However Eragon is not bothered by this.
When the finally reach the end of their journey they are met by a group of veiled dwarves, which immediately brought to mind the deep down dwarves from the Discworld. These dwarves don't even speak in common. Instead we get a long conversation in dwarf (Which, now that I think about it, puzzles me. Why would dwarves call their language dwarvish? Dwarf is the human word for their people. It would make more sense here to have a special word for their language, like Quenya for Tolkien's elves.) Once again, I am too lazy to look in the back of the book to see what just went on, so I can't tell you the content of the conversation. But the upshot is that those veiled dwarves really don't like Eragon and are now his enemy. (Ten bucks says that by the end of the series this gets turned around).
After these veiled dwarves leave, they meet with the leader of the city. Who welcomes the humanoids but ignores Saphira. If anything this sort of goes back to the idea that the dragons aren't really partners with their riders, but instead talking mounts. After all if they were, they wouldn't be ignored, but instead greeted with the others.
Eragon gets a feast though. And we learn about the veiled dwarves. Apparently they lost a great deal of people to Galby and his Forsworn and now, rightfully so, hate dragon riders and see the fact that Eragon is member of the ruling clan as an insult. However, the leader of the city thinks that they're wrong.
Our nonsensical phrase for today is, "Dawnless morning". If there is no dawn then it's not morning. The dawn causes morning to happen. It is an impossibility to have a dawnless morning. Even if you can't see the dawn, it still happens.
Because the veiled dwarves are hot to trot about Eragon, he can't go wandering around the city. Instead he gets to go to Celbedeil, which is apparently the temple. In a lovely bit of characters knowing something that only an author should know, Eragon sees a dwarf and immediately knows the dwarf's name, even if they haven't been introduced. This is sloppy writing. An author must remember that even though they may know the character's name, the other characters might not, especially if they've never been introduced. And Eragon is never introduced to Gannel (the dwarf). He just knows who he is.
Gannel wants to introduce Eragon to dwarvish beliefs.
In a cute bit, Eragon learns about coral, which Gannel tells him grows like plants. Eragon then comes to the conclusion that rocks must grow and that's why they keep on showing up in the fields.
But moving on through the beliefs, we see several dwarf gods and then this happens" Gannel's voice dropped to a low rasp: "Guntera may be King of the Gods, but it is Helzvog who holds our hearts. It was he who felt that the land should be peopled after the giants were vanquished. The other gods disagreed, but Helzvot ignored them and, in secret, formed the first dwarf from the roots of a mountain
When his deed was discovered, jealousy swept the gods and Guntera created the elves to control Alagaesia for himself. Then Sindri brought forth humans from the soil, and Urur and Morgothal combined their knowledge and released dragons into the land. Only Kilf restrained herself. So the first races entered this world."
Eragon absorbed Gannel's words, accepting the clan chief's sincerity but unable to quell a simple question: 'How does he know'? (page 116)
Now, I'm going to say some things about religion. I talked to my mother who got her degree in comparative religions, so I'm not completely making this up off the top of my head. Religion is basically the expression of the greatest concern of a society or person. If a person is a miser then their religion is money, because that is their greatest concern. Religion also creates order in the world, explaining how things came into being and gives a society a commonality. The dwarves have a religion. Their basic concern is unknown, but they have a religion. The humans of Paolini have no apparent religion, at least not including the folks of the evil mountain and even then their religion appears to be more of a mockery than anything else. They don't have any way of explaining how the world came into being or anything to bind them together as a culture and society. In a world with their technology level, they wouldn't have science to explain how the world works, so they should have some other basis to explain this. Eragon should, instead of thinking, "how does he know" be thinking something along the lines of "Well that's not what I was taught." Instead he's this complete blank slate. This makes the humans and their culture very flat, since they don't have their own mythologies and customs to explain the world around them. They're just there with no ideologies. They're not a real society.
Looking at what Gannel said, in other aspects, he says that one of their gods created the elves on Alegesia, but the elves did not come from Alegesia but from somewhere else. Same with humans. So, Paolini is contradicting himself and his world's history.
Gannel gives Eragon a shiny pendent that will prevent people from scrying on him and explains that humans got their written alphabet from the dwarves.
They then go and see these long murals which explain the the history of the dwarves and the land that they live in. The dwarves were apparently nomads originally. Which makes no sense as nomads are generally not known for being good with stone. They can't afford to bring it with them as it's heavy and would slow them down. Also why would it be important to bury their dead in stone if they have nothing to do with it until they're driven into the mountains? It seems then like the dwarves are only good with stone or born from stone because dwarves are supposed to be good with stone, even if their origins have nothing to do with stone.
Elf Sue shows up and she and Gannel have an argument about their beliefs. Elf Sue accuses the dwarf priests of being materialistic and shouldn't be spending money on a monument to their own wistful thinking. While Gannel is angry and shouting, Elf Sue is calm and rational, while implying that the gods don't exist and that anyone who goes to a temple is a nitwit.
She and Eragon then leave and hang out in a courtyard all night but don't leave until the morning. Which is silly and not a good way to prepare for a long journey. It ends with them boarding rafts and heading down stream.
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