First some thoughts. See, I was thinking about how the fact that I didn't like Eragon (the character, not the book, though I dislike it too) and came upon several ways I would have rewritten the first chapter that introduced Eragon to make him a more sympathetic character.
For starters, I would have made being in the Spine really dangerous for Eragon. As it is now, Eragon is one of the few people who can go into the Spine and be okay. Which means there's no danger for him. But if he's not, then he's in this dangerous place and he may not get out alive. Then I would have examined why he's in there. He's poor and his family needs the meat. He's gone out into the Spine as a last resort because he can't find any other game closer to home in the safer areas. He's worried a lot for his safety, but he's doing this nonetheless. He has to, it's a matter of survival.
Then when he does find the egg (which would not be frictionless) he would say to himself, this is a potentially dangerous magical artifact, I think I'll take it to Brom the storyteller who seems to know a lot about these things and see if he can help me with it. Since I haven't been able to find meat, I'll ask Sloan if there was a way I could work it off of him.
This would, of course, set the entire story off into an entirely different direction, but it might be more interesting.
Chapters A Rider's Blade, Saddlemaking
Shiny Magical Objects in Eragon's Possession: Zar'roc (a sword) is it just my imagination but does it sound like The Rock, in a really bad accent? And a dragon saddle.
Garrow is dead and Eragon angsts. At first it looks like Saphria is telling Eragon to commit suicide (WHOO!) when she tells him to not live with his grief. He goes on by telling her that life isn't worth living because we all die anyway. (Go with that thought Eragon, GO!) Instead of telling him that he should live because you know about people he cares about and stuff like that, instead because of the deeds that he does, which gives him worth... or something like that. Nothing matters but the act itself. She then suggests that they go after the strangers that killed Garrow. WOO Revenge! This motivates him out of his depression and gives him the uber heal that he needs.
Horst, meanwhile, grows a brain and tells his wife that he doesn't think Eragon was telling them everything. But his reasonings were that he didn't think that Eragon couldn't have noticed losing that much skin on his legs. And he noticed the thing about how Eragon's tracks with Garrow started almost all the way to the village. I keep on wanting to call it a town. Not wanting to answer the questions, this reinforces Eragon's decision to leave.
He steals some hide to make a saddle for Saphira. Though I don't know how he knows how to make a dragon's saddle. Saddle making in general is a very specialized skill. Most people have to go to a special person trained in making saddles to get a saddle. To make a dragon's saddle, you would have to be very specialized because they are an exotic mount and have different needs than a regular horse would have. Like some way to keep the rider on in flight. Somehow, Eragon knows how to do this because it's not a problem in his mind.
Deciding to be petty, Eragon decides to steal meat from Sloan for supplies. Meat is the only food supply he's worried about taking. Personally I would be more interested in getting rations, meat you can hunt for (which he says he and Saphira can do) and it will go bad on the trail quickly. The only meat he should be taking is dried meat, and I doubt you could get that from the butcher's. But apparently this fact has eluded Eragon and he steals meat from Sloan. (Who totally doesn't deserve it either. Anyone want to start up an anti defamation of character league for Sloan?)
Brom shows up. Apparently he has developed teh psychic powers because he was waiting for Eragon where Eragon had hidden his stolen hides. Magic! He confronts Eragon about his gedwey ignasia, the shining palm, which is what that mark on Eragon's hand is called. He knows that Eragon had a dragon. Saphira, once again, shows her hive memory abilities when she says that Eragon should listen to Brom because of the slaughter at Doru Araeba. Whatever that is. Eragon has yet to question how she knows these things. Or how Brom can talk to her. This is just accepted.
He accepts Brom's help and accepts the fact that Brom has already written a letter to Roran explaining what happens. What I would wonder is, how does Brom know enough about this already that he can write a letter before hand? How did he know what Eragon was going to do? These aren't answered. Though Brom does get to do some mysterious muttering.
They recover some supplies, but not any food, so the only food they have is meat. Which can't be good for you. And to throw off perusers they take a circuitous route... in the snow to a hidden place that Eragon knows. Yes. They leave a lot of footprints, so that they can't be followed, in the snow. And this is after they tell Saphira to fly so they wouldn't be able to see her footprints. Brilliance.
After they reach the hiding spot we learn that King Galby has been around for hundreds of years. In all this time no one has over thrown him. He must be doing something right to have lasted this long. I mean, you can't rule an evil empire through fear alone, especially since this one isn't in a state of terror. People aren't afraid to speak their minds. And he's been at it for over a hundred years and the kingdom still works. This is the important thing. The kingdom still works, it's not in a state of disrepair. People aren't afraid for their lives. We haven't seen anything to make Galby evil, except for the fact that he went buggy and killed all the dragon riders. But if he's insane then how can he rule a kingdom well enough that it functions for hundreds of years and not have been overthrown?
But I digress.
Brom gives Eragon a shiny sword, called Zar'roc. It sounds like The Rock. I shall now refer to it as The rock of DOOM. "The handle fit Eragon's hand as if it had been made for him." (102) Who here didn't see that one coming? Anyway, the sword apparently is a dragon rider's blade. Brom knows an awful lot about dragons and their riders. He says that there isn't anyone alive who knows more than him. Which then begs the question, how does he know this, and how does he know so much about dragon riders and dragons without having been one?
Saphira continues to be undefined in her magical powers (which leaves a wonderful out for Paolini if he should ever need it, if he never defines what a dragon can do, then he can always say, well people never knew that they could do that). And with a line like, "Things... happen around them, mysterious things that are impossible anywhere else" (105) you know that's going to happen.
Brom continues to know far too much than he should. The creatures that killed Garrow are called Ra'zac. They apparently don't look human, they have beaks and large beady eyes. Now, if we think back to Sloan. Being confronted with something like this, would you keep a secret? Especially when you don't think it's a secret? But still, Sloan is evil. Brom also knows how to make a saddle for a dragon.
Now, in Anne McCaffery's Pern Series, the only people who know how to make riding straps for dragons are dragonriders. They're the only ones who would need the skill. Brom knows how to make one. Now, why would Brom know how to make a saddle for a dragon? It's not a very useful skill unless you have a dragon. Eragon doesn't question this.
Padding appears mysteriously. They only had leather for the saddle, but apparently Brom has padding for it. He doesn't leave to get padding. It just shows up. He doesn't use their blankets for padding. He just has padding. It is there. Perhaps it was in the clearing where they have been staying. I'm not sure if the saddle's design is any good, he's held onto the dragon by his legs through a series of loops that can be tightened. Different... but I'm not sure it works.
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