Chapters Nar Garzhvog, Witch's Brew
Eragon has been summoned to Nasuada's presence and as he enters all the commanders draws weapons at the intruders -Eragon and Saphira. Apparently, the security of the camp is so bad that anyone can walk into the camp without being stopped. Because if it weren't, then the commanders wouldn't have to be so trigger-happy. And they also seem to have memory problems because they don't recognize what Eragon looks like. If they did, again, they wouldn't have to draw their weapons. They only drop their guard when Nasuada tells Eragon to come forward. Or it could be that they don't trust Eragon, which would be extremely sensible of them.
Nasuada informs him that their scouts have discovered some hundred odd Kull coming towards the camp. So, basically, the scouts are able to detect a small group of soldiers approaching, but they completely miss an entire army of ten thousand men. The question then is how could they do this? Well, it's because the plot demands it. The large army couldn't be seen because it had to be a surprise that they're so big. It was a dramatic moment for them to suddenly discover that they were about to be attacked by such a large army. And here once again, for plot's sake, the Kull have to be seen. This gives Nasuada a chance to tell Eragon about it. Eragon "felt his bloodlust rise and he allowed himself a savage grin as he contemplated destroying the Urgals with his new strength" (page 605). Bloodlust is not a good thing. It's usually associated with fighters who are out of control and kill without remorse, mercy, or care. Heroes who suffer from bloodlust -like Wolverine- struggle to keep it under control. It's what makes the difference between him and Sabertooth who revels in his bloodlust (at least he did when he was a villain). Before he can get all blood happy, Nasuada tells him that they're coming in under a flag of truce.
Eragon is unhappy about this, telling her that they're brutes who "relish pain and suffering". And yet he has read the scrolls the elves had on the Urgals about their society and should know better. But there's a reason for his disgust about the Urgals. It's so that he can realize that he was wrong about them. In the meantime, he's very anti-Urgal. Nasuada and Saphira think that he's being silly, and Nasuada agrees to meet with the leader.
The Urgal -or ram, as Eragon remembered they were called - held his head high and bared his yellow fangs, but did not otherwise react to the abuse directed at him. He was a magnificent specimen, eight and a half feet tall, with strong, proud- if grotesque - features, thick horns that spiraled all the way around, and a fantastic musculature that made it seem like he could kill a bear with a single blow. His only clothing was a knotted loincloth, a few plates of crude iron armor held together with scraps of mail, and a curved metal disk nestled between his two horns to protect the top of his head. His long black hair was in a queue. (page 607)
Now according to Merriam-Webster "queue" is an appropriate usage for hair being tied back. However, that still doesn't stop me from imagining his hair standing in line for a movie. It is a word that doesn't make sense in context if only because most American readers aren't going to be familiar with the word, and the English are going to be wondering -like me- why his hair is standing in line. Then there's the plate on their heads. Most animals that have horns like the Urgals do, bighorn sheep, for example, have exceptionally thick skulls to protect their heads from whatever impact they're going to have when they ram into something. They're built to use their horns as weapons and part of that would be to have a thick skull. Having a thin or weak skull would be detrimental to the species. Since the Urgals appear to be a warrior race, one would assume that they would have developed the same protections. It could be argued that this is extra protection, which I will admit to.
Eragon tries to read the Urgal's mind and finds it tightly shielded. Then the Urgal bellows at Nasuada. Everyone reacts by drawing weapons. Bellowing like that is how they greet their war chiefs, as Eragon tells her. So apparently he does know enough about their culture to know their greetings, but still considers them savages and monsters. It's as if he read the words, but didn't process what they mean.
The Urgal's name is Nar Garzhvog. There's some discussion about how the Urgals are the most hated race around. And how since the fall of the Riders they've thrived so much that they can't feed themselves on their lands. So they made a pact with Galby, who betrayed them. So, now they want to fight with the Varden to take him down. Nasuada agrees to the alliance and tells them that they can bivouac near the army. There's that word again. It feels stuffed in there. In any case, the Urgals call Nasuada "Lady Nightstalker" because her father was "Nightstalker, for the color of his skin and the fact that he hunted the Urgals in the tunnels". Since she's his daughter she inherits the title.
The Urgal leaves and an emissary of the Empire approaches. They go see what he wants. The birds of prey are checking him out. Which shouldn't be happening, because birds of prey are not scavengers. You can tell by their name, "birds of prey". They prey on others. Which means that they hunt and not scavenge. In any case, the messenger arrives (on a black stallion. Again with the stallions. Does no one have a mare in this world? I swear my Mpreg horse theory is looking better and better every time. And while I'm on this point, how do they know it's a stallion from that distance?) and tells them that since they've chosen to fight, they're all doomed to die horrible deaths and Sudra is going to be reabsorbed into the Empire. Phrases like "The all-powerful, all-knowing King Galbatorix" are dropped.
And then the messenger randomly throws a head at the Varden.
We don't know who this head belongs to. This head is never brought up again. It's just a head. Being thrown at the Varden. Randomly.
Eragon wants to know if he should kill the guy and Nasuada remarks that no, "I won't violate the sanctity of envoys, even if the Empire has." (page 611). So, we could assume that this head belongs to this envoy. But there was no gasp of recognition from the Varden. No reaction from them at all. It's as if the messenger throw a clump of dirt at them and went "meh".
The point of throwing someone's head at the enemy is to get an emotional response from the people you're throwing the head at. Either one of terror or demoralization or something. When the Orcs in Return of the King, I believe it was, sent back the heads of men who attacked them by flinging them into Gondor, it was to demoralize the troops. It should be something that is discussed. A rallying cry or a speech is necessary to make sure the troops are up to fighting this evil thing.
The way it is displayed here, the head is just a complete and utter throwaway. Paolini wanted to shock his readers by showing how evil Galby's people are because they chop off this guy's head and throw it at his people, but since there's no emotional response from the people the readers don't have one either.
Then in a complete show of hypocrisy and not listening to your leaders, Saphira kills the envoy. She burns him to a crisp.
No one chastises her. Instead everyone cheers and Nasuada even smiles a little. This, of course, brings the Varden down to the Evil Empire's level, but that doesn't matter because it's dramatic!
After this display, time passes and Eragon straps on Saphira's armor at the beginning of the night when they're assuming to be attacked by dawn. Which should wear her out, but since that would be logical, it's not. Dwarf shows up to keep Eragon company. Eragon recognizes him from the feel of his mind, even though Dwarf was shielding himself. When Dwarf wants to know how he did this, Saphira tells him that every mind feels different. However, if we look at Eragon's past behavior, he's unable to tell the difference between different people's minds, which would indicate that he can't tell the difference between people, they're all the same to him. This problem seems to have been rectified or ignored, however, in Eldest.
Dwarf then mentions Murtagh, indicating that Murtagh would be the one keeping Eragon company if he were there. This is the first mention of Murtagh in the entire book since he died in the first chapters and Eragon mourned him for all of two paragraphs. And it's not even Eragon who remembers him, but Dwarf. It's as if Murtagh doesn't exist anymore for Eragon. He's quite dead and forgotten and even after this brief mention, he's once again forgotten. Dwarf tells Eragon that the dwarves in the camp are going to be protecting him.
This then raises the question of why does Eragon need bodyguards. In theory, he's going to be flying in the air on Saphira causing massive bloody havoc. The dwarves are going to be having a hard time keeping up with him since they can't fly and all. There's no way they can protect Eragon this way. Now, if Eragon is not flying around causing bloody havoc in the sky, then it is safe to assume that he's going to be behind the Varden's safe lines, and thus away from the fight and again, not really need bodyguards. Especially since Eragon is supposed to be so good that he doesn't have to worry about bodyguards when he should be able to sense an assassin from a mile away by reading their minds. After all, that's what he was able to do when he was in Sudra and informed the guy there that there was this man that was going to murder someone else. In this instance, the violence wasn't even directed towards Eragon, but he was able to detect it. It can then be assumed that these guards serve no purpose except in name.
Eragon asks Dwarf what he thinks about Nasuada's agreement with the Urgals and he says he agrees with her, even if he doesn't like it.
Then they see Angela and Serious Ass approaching from the enemy camp. None of the sentries notice this. She manages to get into the camp unimpeded or unchallenged. The purpose of this is so that Eragon and Dwarf can have a private confrontation with her and not be bothered with such things as everyone knowing about it and causing a scene. Eragon and Dwarf ask her what she was doing there and accuse her of betrayal to the enemy which she denies saying that Nasuada said it was okay for her to do so. When they challenge the veracity of her claim, Nasuada shows up with a group of Urgals in tow saying, "Yes, I did".
She was looking for Eragon and tells him that because she doesn't want him to get killed, she's assigning him four Urgal bodyguards. So, now Eragon is going to have four Urgals and six dwarves protecting him. She tells him to talk to Saphira about it and Saphira tells him that he'd be an idiot to not accept their help. Eragon agrees, but only if he can read their minds and not find anything suspicious.
Nasuada then tells Eragon that if she falls in battle, she wants him to take over. Eragon, who has even less battle experience and absolutely no experience in leading men, should take over the Varden. And not only that, he's the equivalent of the Varden's meat shield. That is -in RPing terms - the guy who goes out in front to take all the heavy hits to protect the weaker members of the adventuring party. Eragon is their most powerful magic user and fighter. To put him in a position of leadership would prevent him from going out and doing this job effectively. Generals and leaders generally stay behind away from the fights so that they can keep the men in order and make effective tactics and things like that. Sure there are exemptions to this rule, such as Alexander the Great, but Eragon would serve the Varden better by instead of being their leader but being their protector. However, it's just one more thing to make Eragon that much more special to have him in the position to take on the Varden's leadership.
Eragon goes to take a gander into their minds, thinking, "they were feral beasts that would kill him as soon as not and were incapable of love, kindness, or even true intelligence. In short they were lesser beings" (page 617) Now, when a hero like Eragon thinks such a thing, right before going into the minds of such creatures, we know that he's going to be proven wrong and realizes that he was wrong and is then able to correct his flaw, gaining a new appreciation for these "noble savages". Which is just as bad as calling them lesser beings. They're still not civilized. He does acknowledge that Garzhvog's "bloodline was as regal as any prince's. He knew that, though uneducated, Garzhovg was a brilliant commander and as great a thinker and philosopher as Oriomis himself" (page 620).
His prejudice is wiped away by reading their minds. Which is taking the easy way out. Instead of saying, "I may not trust them, I'll let their actions speak for them" he disregards their privacy and picks it out of their mind, thus not allowing them to prove themselves. At one point in reading their minds, he remembers that the Twins did this to him when he first came to the Varden. He doesn't see that what he is doing is just as bad as what they did. He's not as rough as they were, but he's also not "overly gentle" either. This makes him just as bad as the Twins, because he too doesn't restrain his ability to hurt the people he's invading.
Finally, he tells Garzhvog that he'd be proud to have them serve as his protectors.
The night passes and then near dawn, they start hearing cries, screaming from the enemy camp. An enemy camp that is two miles away. That's some good sound carrying conditions there. Apparently, the sounds are from the poison that Angela put into everyone's food. Yes. She somehow managed to get almost everyone's food in an army of ten thousand men, in less than a day. In less than an afternoon. The only way she could do this is if she were the Flash. And even still, she wouldn't have had time to hide the taste of the poison. And no one noticed her or thought what she was doing as suspicious. Now it is possible that they thought she was a part of the camp followers, we haven't seen any mention of them or sign of them.
The cries echo on and on and Eragon thinks, "This was the cost for resisting the Empire. It would be wrong to ignore it. So he sat with his hands clenched into fists and his jaw forming painful knots while the Burning Plains echoed with the disembodied voices of dying men." (page 622) So, the cost of resisting the Empire is having to listen to your enemies die screaming? As opposed to going around and slaughtering people left and right and taking their lives with your own hands? Eragon is eager to take the lives of people with his own hand, but listening to people die is apparently a cost that hurts him. This is Eragon trying to be empathic, but it doesn't make any sense in any sort of context. Especially when matched with his previous behavior.
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