Chapters the Storm Breaks, Convergence
Dawn comes and it's time to fight. Eragon gets his bow out and climbs onto Saphira. The soldiers are all wearing rags stuffed in their armor to be quiet so that they won't alert the empire that they're coming. I don't think that'll really work. After all, they're walking across a large flat plain with no obstructions. What they should have done is this, if they really didn't want to be heard or seen. Apparently, however, the vapors have for some reason not risen and creates some cover. So, the army is walking through these noxious vapors with no ill effects. They should be hacking and coughing and dropping like poisoned flies. Instead, they make it all the way to the Empire's camp.
Of course, if we recall correctly, the Varden had a pretty nice fortified position (if lousy sentries) and one would think they would stay in their nice fortified and protected position making the enemy come to them. But that, of course, isn't what epic battles are made of. When they're noticed, Nasuada lets out a battle cry... or at least a long lengthy speech that would have been better said before they rode out. They charge forward, Orrin's cavalry charging the flank with the Urgals.
As Eragon sees this, he thinks to himself, "I must now kill or be killed" (page 624). Now, this is the sort of sentiment that should come from someone who has never killed before. But Eragon has killed before. Has reveled in killing. Has reveled in the idea of killing. Just two chapters before he was eager to go out and smite the oncoming Urgal army. In the chapter before he wanted to know if he should kill the envoy. Not once has he ever hesitated on the idea of killing. Not even during the battle at the Dwarven city. Never has he felt any remorse or fear for killing. To have him think it here is trying to make him seem like he's never killed before and the idea frightens him. This is the sort of sentiment that Harry Potter would think right before he went into final battle with Voldemort. Harry has never killed before, the idea of having to kill is abhorrent to him. It probably even scares Harry, the idea of killing someone. But Eragon has killed before, to have him think this is trite, trying to make him seem afraid of what he has to do when he's already done it.
Saphira and Eragon are staying back from the leading edge of battle to avoid being targeted by the enemy spellcasters. First of all, Eragon is on a dragon. A very large dragon. A very large blue dragon. That's going to be pretty easy to spot. Second of all the enemy spellcasters don't need to see him, they just need to find his mind and attack that way. Third of all, he's on a dragon. Dragons can fly. Eragon should be up in the sky with Saphira razing the enemy. There's no reason for him to be holding back. It doesn't take him any effort for him to fly around breathing flame. That's all up to Saphira. Having Saphira on the ground is wasting her effectiveness in battle. To paraphrase the Evil Overlord's list, "If you have a large weapon of mass destruction, don't save it until the end of the battle but use it as soon and as often as possible".
The Varden spellcasters find the first of the enemy magic users, "Bringing the full power of his will to bear, Eragon demolished the magician's resistance, took control of his consciousness -doing his best to ignore the man's terror -determined which troops the man was guarding, and slew the man with one of the twelve words of death. Without pause, Eragon located the minds of each of the now unprotected soldiers and killed them as well." (page 624) Two paragraph ago Eragon just was thinking about he had to kill, making it seem like he was reluctant to do it, that he had to do it as a matter of survival. Now, without a seconds thought or a bit of remorse he tears into a man's mind and kills him and the people around him. And once done with this, does he feel remorse? No. The ease with which he slew them amazed Eragon. The soldiers had had no chance to escape or fight back. How different from Farthen Dur, he thought. Though he marveled at the perfection of his skills, the deaths sickened him. But there was no time to dwell on it.(page 624)
No, instead of feeling remorse, he revels in it. He's amazed at the death he can cause. We're told that he feels sick at what he does, but he doesn't feel it. We don't see any physical reaction. Being told that he is sick isn't the same as seeing him throw up or having him almost fall off. And then he ignores it completely.
And then the Empire's army starts using catapults and other siege weapons, tossing them into the middle of the battle. Which would be killing off their men as well as the Varden as they throw the missiles into battle. Eragon thinks that they need to destroy them, but he doesn't want Saphira to fly least she gets attack by magic users. Which she could still be as she's a Large Very Visible Dragon.
Finally, we get to the real reason for Saphira to be on the ground. Eight soldiers break through the lines and attack Saphira. Something that wouldn't have to have happened if she were in the sky razing the troops with fire from above. But instead she gets attacked and his bodyguards get some use.
To deal with the large siege engines Eragon infiltrates the soldiers who are working on them minds and makes them sabotage the machines.
Time passes and Eragon starts to wonder why none of the magicians are attacking him. Apparently, they were ordered not to kill him or Saphira. Eragon wonders why they're not supposed to kill him when he's obviously fighting for the Varden. Apparently, the idea of Galby trying to make him join the dark side doesn't occur to him.
Nasuada appears and tells him, now is the time for him to attack. Eragon agrees and instead of flying off into the sky to rain death from above, he and Saphira merge personalities... and charge, Eragon running on the ground next to her.
I'm going to take this moment to talk about a dragon. Dragons have wings. Dragons are meant to fly. In many ways, dragons could be considered birds of prey. They're made to fly and grab prey from above. Those sort of creatures are not made for running. They're made to dive and attack. For Saphira to run and charge, she would have to be built more like a horse. But her body should be built more for getting up into the air and staying there. That requires different muscle build than a creature built for charging.
In any case, they charge and bring much death to everyone. At one point Eragon we learn that it's harder for Eragon to kill humans than Urgals because "that could be me". They show no mercy anyway. At one charge Eragon manages to dodge a hail of arrows. From the description, it sounds like a similar barrage that is seen in 300. Of course, the archers are firing right into the melee and just as likely to hit their own men as the enemy.
As they attack, Saphira starts to get hurt as does Eragon. Things that could have been avoided if they weren't on the ground but in the sky above the reach of the melee weapons. Again this isn't an effective use of Eragon and Saphira's skills. Eragon is their magical heavy hitter. If he's fighting on the ground he leaves himself open to attack. In the air he'd be untouchable, as Saphira should be swift enough to avoid most attacks.
Just when all seems to be lost a cry goes out, "The dwarves are here! The dwarves are here!"
Rather similar to "the Eagles are here! The Eagles are here!" don't you think?
Feel free to stab yourself with something sharp and pointy now.
Finally, Eragon and Saphira take flight, to see the dwarves coming. King Dwarf is wearing gold armor. He's probably going to die horribly.
As they return to battle, Eragon notices a ship. Thinking it's reinforcements, Eragon goes to check it out.
We then switch perspectives and learn that the ship is the Dragon Wing. Roran apparently heard about the King's army and decided to help. He brings most of the village to fight with him. I'm not really sure what good they'll do in a fight, but hey... why not? It's certainly dramatic.
They approach the battle with remarkable timing, getting there just in the thick of things. After all, it wouldn't do much good for them to arrive too early or too late. They're approaching the battle, everyone being apprehensive and then Eragon shows up.
There is much awe and Roran doesn't know if he loves him or hates him. He and Eragon chat briefly, Eragon telling him to go back downstream. Roran refuses and tells the men to ground the ship and fire the ballistae into the melee. Again, this would hit both sides of the army indiscriminately and cause more harm than good. And then, in a brilliant show of tactics, we learn that Roran brought the families of Carvahall with him on the boat. You don't bring civilians into battle unless you want them to be killed. Which of course won't happen in this case, but if this were a logical battle, this is what happens.
When Horst asks Roran what he plans to do, Roran replies, "Do? Why intend to alter the fate of Alagaesia" (page 636). Obviously, Roran is having delusions of grandeur here.
Next chapter is Eldest. Where we finally learn why the book is titled so.
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