Chapters: A taste of Teirm, An old friend
Eragon and Brom reach the city of Teirm, where the walled city has a gate facing the open sea. If the city is on the ocean, which it must be, because ships are docking at it, how are people supposed to get to this gate that is on the sea? The wall can't enclose the docks because then it would be in the water, so the wall would have to be open on the side of the city that opens to the sea. If the docks are out of the wall, then the City isn't right on the sea like he says it is.
Brom worries that the guards might have gotten Eragon's name, though, I'm not sure how, as information movement doesn't seem to be that quick. They get through the guards by acting as country bumpkins and giving the names, "Neal" and "Evan" and since, according to Paolini's naming conventions these are non important people names, the guards have nothing to worry about. Though these guards definitely trained at the same place that Evil Harry got his minions because they don't question how come two poor country bumpkins have the money for such fine horses. If anything that would get them arrested on horse thieving charges.
As they move through the city, Eragon notices that some of the houses have yards that are unattended. Yards are an invention of the suburbs (even stone ones). People inside a walled city wouldn't waste the space for a front yard because it would be better used for other things, like buildings or street or store front. If you go into any city, even today's modern ones and look around at the buildings, they don't have front lawns. It's only in the suburbs that you have them. So, these people must be really idiotic when it comes to urban planning, or Eragon's seeing things.
They go to a tavern called the Green Chestnut, for some random reason. Brom doesn't say "We're going to the Green Chestnut because they might know where Jeod is." They just go there and Brom asks the bartender if he knows where Jeod lives. How does one random bartender know where one random person is in a very large city? I don't know. But apparently Brom knows which bartender to ask, because this guy knows. In fact someone else knows and he gives the most wonderful directions, for free, "Jeod lives on the west side of town, right next to Angela, the herbalist." (177). Now, Brom and Eragon have never been to Terim, they have no idea where Angela the herbalist's shop is. How are they supposed to find Jeod?
Meanwhile we learn that certain ships belonging to certain traders are always vanishing, going poof. This is, of course, a bad thing. And is mysterious. We'll learn more about this later, I'm sure.
They find the herbalist's shop easily enough. And they meet Angela, who goes against naming conventions by having a normal name but is important. She's also weird. She's trying to prove that toads don't exist. She's also very unhelpful, when they ask her if she can tell them which house Jeod lives in, she says "Yes, I can". This is supposed to make her quirky. Obviously such a quirky character will be seen again, or else Paolini wouldn't have spent so much time making her quirky.
Brom talks to Jeod's wife, Helen and gets upset when, after not giving her any information on who he is or why he needs to see her husband, she says he's busy. She eventually goes and talks to her husband when he says, "A friend from Gil'ead is waiting outside". Jeod is enthusiastic to see Brom and thought he was dead. They go to talk at Jeod's office which is at the castle. Apparently, for some bizzare reason the lord of the city has demanded that all businesses have their main office in the castle. I think Paolini is trying to make the city different from any other city. But it's still weird and not very practical.
We get an abbreviated tale as to where Brom has been all these years. Apparently he was hiding in Carvahall, pretending to be dead. There is mysterious double talk about "Our friends" and things like that. When Brom tells him that he wants to search the records for shipments of Seithr oil (the oil that the poison is made from) Jeod tells him that will take months to discover. This is something important to remember. It would take them months to go through all the records, if they are allowed to go and see them at all.
Then we get a musing about Eragon's name, about how Jeod has only read about three other people named Eragon. This is supposed to show how special the name of Eragon is. Personally, I'm just thinking that the other people named Eragon didn't do anything noteworthy.
Brom kicks Eragon out of the office and so, Eragon eavesdrops on them using magic. We learn that Jeod is one of the merchants who's ships are getting hit. Apparently only people who supply a place called Tronjheim is getting hit and apparently the empire knows about them. Jeod however doesn't believe that there could be a traitor in their midsts, even though it's the only thing that makes sense. Brom decides to send a messenger to someone called Ajihad about the traitor though. However if this Ajihad hasn't figured it out by now, he's pretty dumb.
Jeod must be rich, since he has his own stable. I don't know where the stable is located because the houses look like they're brownstone up against each other houses, like would be in a city. At least that's how it is implied. Since there's a shop right next door to him.
Eragon leaves the city and spends some quality time with Saphira, then comes back and we learn that Eragon has a flaw! Yes. Eragon has a flaw! He can't read! Garrow, who knew how to read, never taught him, apparently considering it an unnecessary luxury. Yet apparently having a large house was an okay luxury. The flaw is of course taken care of when Brom tells Eragon that he'll teach him how to read. By sheer "luck" Eragon picks the most important book in the house to look at. It's a history of the continent which was banned by the empire. There's probably something significant about this. I'm not sure what.
Finally we get to Brom's description of scrying. This description always bothered me. Apparently in Eragon land, when you scry on something you can only see the thing that you are scying on and not what's around them. Which sort of defeats the purpose of scrying. In most other definitions of scrying, in other worlds, you need to know who you are looking for (which is true here) but you can see what's around the person you are scying on, so you can see what they are doing and who they are interacting with. But in Eragon land, you can only see the thing you know about and if you've never seen where they are, all you get is static. Which makes Scrying absolutely useless in trying to discover something about a person or location of something (which is what scrying is for) except if it exists. Is this from some other bit of fantasy that I'm not aware of or did Paolini come up with this by himself. Someone tell me, please.
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