Chapter Admonishments, Magic is the Simplest Thing
After magically slaughtering the urgals with magic, Eragon, Brom and Saphira leave the village of the dead. As they leave, Eragon notices the Ra'zac's spoors. Now, where did these spoors come from and how come they weren't mentioned before? Brom should have at least pointed them out to Eragon, but as far as we knew from before, they had been following the Ra'zac's tracks. Tracks that they couldn't have followed because they were on horse back. And if they were on horseback when did they have time to leave spoors out on the road. One would assume that they'd be civilized enough to go behind a bush and not in the middle of the road. After all they are wearing clothes. Paolini can't seem to make up his mind if these are animalistic creatures (that would leave spoors) or cunning assassins/evil doers of the King.
Saphira and he converse about the magic and here, Saphira's hive memory fails. She doesn't know if dragon riders can use magic. One would assume that if she knew about the slaughter of somewhere or another that happened before she was hatched and knew who slaughtered other eggs and things like that, she would know about dragon riders and magic. But she doesn't. How convenient.
Brom, however, knows all about the magic. Though he yells at Eragon for using it. Why he does so when Eragon didn't know that he was doing it is beyond me. Anyway, we get an info dump on magic.
It appears to shamelessly steal from the Earthsea trilogy with it's ancient language and true names of things. Apparently if you know it's true name, Brisinger being the true name for fire, for example, you can get it to do whatever you want.
Which is exactly how the magic in the Earthsea trilogy works, to quote Wikipedia,
Magic on Earthsea is verbal: All objects have a true name, in an old language related to the Dragon-tongue which is known simply as the Old Speech. By using this language, it is possible to have power over an object or living thing. To protect themselves from this, most characters have two names: one for everyday use and one, the true name, known only to close friends and family. For example, Sparrowhawk (use name) is known as Ged (true name) only to those closest to him.
One vital aspect of magic is that it is impossible to lie in the old language, so that magic works by forcing the universe to conform to the words spoken by the mage. For example, to say "I am an eagle" in the old language means that the speaker becomes an eagle, so that the statement is no longer false.
Sounds awfully like Paolini's magic, doesn't it?
After this brief explanation Brom gives us our first hint of slashiness when he says they don't need provisions, they can survive on meat alone, Saphira hunting for them. Eragon is very satisfied with Brom's answer.
We get more of a history of magic. Apparently "A Sorcerer ... uses spirits to accomplish his will. That is totally different from [Eragon's] power. Nor does that make [him] a magician, whose power comes without aid of spirits or a dragon. And [he's] certainly not a witch or wizard, who get their powers from various potions or spells" (144)
Looking at this statement from Brom, we see that there are four different types of magic users. Sorcerers, who use magic from spirits, dragon riders, magicians who just get their power from somewhere unmentioned, and witches and wizards who use spells and potions. Now, questions. What is the difference between a spell and using a sentence in the ancient language? Isn't that all a spell is, a combination of words to create a magical effect? And isn't using those magical words the only way you can use magic? This is what Brom seemed to indicate earlier when he was talking to Eragon the night before. Where do magicians get their power from if not from spirits or dragons? They can't just get it willy nilly. Do they use words too? Does everyone use words? If so, what's the difference between any of them? It's all the same magic and all the same magical users. There's no reason for there to be a difference in names. At least, that's what I think.
Brom then tells us how the dragon riders taught the younger ones magic. Something that he couldn't have known, since apparently, the dragon riders didn't let people know that they could do magic. But since Galby is a dragon rider and can do magic and Brom knows this, Brom is obviously Galby. In any case, the young riders are kept ignorant of the ability to use magic and instead are trained in mind and body until the older riders feel that they are responsible enough to use magic. If they discover it by accident they are taken into private lessons. Though, how they could use magic by accident if they don't know any words to use it by is beyond me. Unless it just sort of comes to them, like it did with Eragon. Apparently no rider Eragon's age had ever used magic the way he did back there with the urgals.
Then we learn the bit about how everyone has a true name, and that they elves know about their true names from birth and will sometimes tell people what they are. If I'm any judge of storytelling, Eragon will learn what his true name is when he goes to the elves and it will be a powerful name, the likes of which have not been seen before. If this happens in Eldest, will someone please let me know?
Eragon then gets to do magic. He picks it up exceedingly quickly. At least, he's able to make a rock wobble on his third try. Which is pretty quick. He also starts to be able to hit Brom back, and they've only been sparring for perhaps... two weeks. Brom isn't very good.
Then for some reason, Eragon has a bad dream. There is no reason for him to have this dream. It's never mentioned again in the entire book. It has no impact on him as a character. It's just there. It could be cut. In fact, it should have been cut. It doesn't forward the plot in anyway. It's just there. I hate it.
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