Chapters Child's Play, Premonition of War
We go back to Nasuada for our next two chapters. Nasuada and Elva.
Nasuada is looking over the lace that the magic users are making when all of a sudden Elva bursts in and tackles Nasuada throwing her to the ground just as a thingy goes flying through the air and thumping into the wall. Nasuada is very WTF? and Elva is all creepy, with her all-knowing voice. She also vomits. Apparently, her knocking Nasuada to the floor broke her need to protect people and she so she had to vomit. A dart is discovered in the wall and Elva knows all about it.
The girl's horrible smile widened. "It was an assassin."
"Who sent him?"
"An assassin trained by Galbatorix himself in the dark uses of magic." Her burning eyes grew half-lidded, as if she were in a trance. "The man hates you. He's coming for you. He would have killed you if I hadn't stopped him." She lurched forward and retched again, spewing half-digested food across the floor. Nasuada gagged with revulsion. "And he's about to suffer great pain."
"Why is that"
"Because I will tell you he stays in the hostel on Fane Street, in the last room, on the top floor. You had better hurry, or he'll get away...away." She groaned like a wounded beast and clutched her belly. "Hurry, before Eragon's spell forces me to stop you from hurting him. You'll be sorry, then!" (page 519)
First of all, Elva might want to get her eyes checked out. After all, they're burning rather randomly and then they grow half a lid. The spell that Eragon placed upon Elva requires her to shield everyone, so she shouldn't be able to tell them about where the assassin is. Even if she wanted to. This ability to shield people seems to be rather convenient, sure she retches like mad but still, she shouldn't be able to do it at all. After all, the spell was said in the ancient language and that means it's the truth. It is fact. There shouldn't be any loopholes in fact. She shouldn't be able to tell anyone something that would be able to hurt them. It should be incapable of coming out of her mouth. But this doesn't seem to matter for drama's sake. After all, it's much more dramatic for her to come barreling in and knocking her down and then vomiting than for her... not doing anything at all.
After that incident, Nasuada tells them to go capture the guy and then retreats to her inner chambers where she tells Elva, "I'm in your debt" and Elva says, "You're right." And Nasuada goes, "So what can I do for you?" and Elva goes, "Got anything to eat?" And that's the entirety of the three page chapter. So, it must be asked, what was the point of this chapter or scene? It showed that Nasuada is a target. Something that we already knew. That Elva can know things, which could have been shown in another way. Nothing really happened, if anything, it could have been part of the next chapter which takes place two hours later. There was no need to separate it out into its own chapter.
They bring back the assassin, who Nasuada "felt a certain connection to him, as if his attempt on her life and the fact that she had arranged his death in return linked them in the most intimate manner possible" (page 521). So, basically it sounds like Nasuada is getting sexually excited over being near this dead guy who she ordered to be killed. That's a very interesting kink there.
The assassin, Drail, "was part of a network of agents based here in Sudra who are loyal to Galbatorix. They are called the Black Hand. They spy on us, sabotage our war efforts, and -best we could determine in our brief glimpse into Drail's memories - are responsible for dozens of murders through out the Varden." (page 521) So, we have the Evil King's Evil Assassins' being called the Black Hand. Can we get anymore cliched than that? And if that's not bad enough, this is the first time they've ever heard of the Black Hand. They should have a spy network within the King's court and networks that would allow them to know about these things beforehand.
Nasuada seems to think that it's the magic users' fault for not discovering the Black Hand sooner. After all, they've been sifting through everyone's minds, so they should know these things. Apparently, more mundane methods elude her. After all, people have been spying on others without magic before, so it's perfectly possible to do this. But then again, if you have magic, why bother with the mundane?
After yelling at her magician for not finding out about this sooner, Nasuada is summoned to king Orrin's council chambers. Elva accompanies her. The king's Prime Minister is named Irwin. I have a picture of a small Jewish nerdy looking man with thick glasses now. He doesn't seem very Prime Minister-like. Again, Paolini needs to work on his name choices.
In any case, apparently Orrin's spies misplaced an army. See, they thought the King's army was in Gil'ead but instead it's really moving past Uru'baen and it's a lot larger than they thought it was. Over a hundred thousand soldiers. They say that it's the king's magic that made fools of them. I'm not really sure how you can hide an army that big--it leaves traces--even if you physically hide them. You have to be really unobservant to not notice what a hundred thousand people do to the landscape. But then again, we've already realized that most of these people fail their listen and spot checks, so I guess it's not unreasonable for them to not notice an army moving past.
They start planning for war, because Galby is coming to invade. This includes getting Eragon back and getting help from the dwarves.
Then the matter of lace comes up again. Orrin wants to know about this lace thing that the weaver guilds are complaining about. Apparently the Varden's lace-making efforts are putting a hurt on people's livelihoods. As they're selling it inside Sudra as well as in the Empire. Nasuada's answer to that is, "Oh dear. If it's too much of a burden for your treasury, the Varden would be more than willing to offer you a loan in return for the kindness that you've shown us... at a suitable rate of interest, of course." (page 529). Yes, the Varden just bit the hand that fed them. King Orrin has been more than generous in taking the Varden into his country and helping support them. And in return they start to put some of his people's livelihood in danger and they're not sorry about it at all. This is not how you treat your allies, especially when you're living in their country. Orrin didn't have to let the Varden in--he was doing them a favor--despite the hardship it placed on his people. Nasuada should be more than grateful towards him and at least have enough sense to not sell her magical lace in Sudra. But apparently this doesn't really matter, as long as the Varden is funded.
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