Hi! Since 7th_y said anyone could take over the spork of chapter 38, A Maze Without End (see http://antishurtugal.livejournal.com/799104.html), I’m going to take a shot at it. I’m really sorry if anyone else had already scheduled for it (although I checked the sign-up sheet at http://antishurtugal.livejournal.com/726818.html and no one had second dibs). If there’s really a problem with me doing this, message me and I’ll delete the post.
So, Eragon just was a part of a “conclave of kings” where while the Varden has resolved to continue to Mordor—I mean Urubaen (sorry—just saw Return of the King with my sister last night, and it was awesome!) , they know that they’re kind of screwed. (Remember, Nasuada is gone! OH NOES!)
Eragon and the others spent the rest of the conclave discussing practicalities…
They discuss fun stuff like communication, assigning duties, rearranging sentinels, blah blah blah. Okay, fine. I can understand that they’d need to work this out. But then we have this:
By consensus they agreed to hold off announcing what had happened to Nasuada until the following day; it was better for the warriors to get what sleep they could before dawn brightened on the horizon.
A personal anecdote: This past year, a teacher at my school was arrested for a pretty bad crime. The school sent out an email right when they found out. All of my friends heard about the email, but my parents wanted the school to tell me about it the next day like the email said. So I was in the dark until the next day about what had happened. And I was annoyed that I didn’t know right when everyone else found out (although I do understand where my parents were coming from).
Fine, maybe it’ll trouble the army and they won’t get much sleep. Maybe they can’t do anything about it. But they won’t be happy if they find out that Nasuada was kidnapped and they weren’t told straightaway. After all, they’re the ones fighting for her! By telling the Varden about the crisis straightaway, Eragon could show them that he trusts them, and even if they’ll be flummoxed, at least they’ll appreciate that they knew right away.
…Oh, this book is so much fun. We can waste so much time on the first paragraph of a chapter. Don’t worry; I’ll make sure not to do that for everything.
So we have that, and then we learn that they’ve decided not to rescue Nasuada, because the only way to free her would be to seize Urubaen, and by then she would probably be dead, injured, or bound to Galbatorix in the ancient language. So they avoided the subject entirely, as if to mention it was forbidden. Okay, I concur with this logic. They’re nowhere near ready for Urubaen anyway. Nevertheless, she was a constant presence in Eragon’s thoughts. Every time he closed his eyes… he sees Murtagh and Thorn taking her away. And it makes him even more miserable. Okay, I can understand that too.
Jormundur warns Eragon that the Council of Elders might give Eragon some trouble, because he’s not as good at politics. (Wow, and Nasuada was always so great too—Werecat: “We will be free allies.” Nasuada: “What can we pay you? In cream that normal cats like? Ha ha I’m racist”) I don’t remember the Council being that important before, or troubling Eragon too much, and I doubt it will here. (SPOILER: It doesn’t, as far as I remember.) Saphira says, No one shall get the better of him while I watch. As modest as can be, isn’t she? /sarcasm
Then people leave, and Eragon asks Roran if he believed what he said about Eragon VS Murtagh and Galby being a battle between gods. Roran says yes, because they’re all too powerful for anyone to defeat. “It’s not fair.” Like Roran isn’t overpowered himself, although I suppose he’d say that he gets it from protagonist powers, not magic. He also complains that Eragon has killed too many soldiers, and that the world is unbalanced because people are at the mercy of others.
News flash, Roran! 1) How many people have YOU killed singlehandedly? Isn’t it well over 100? 2) Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that people are at the mercy of others, even in our not-magical world (i.e. dictatorships). Get used to it.
Eragon is pretty darn miserable now, due to both his appointment as leader of the Varden and Roran’s comment. Mainly the former, but a bit of the latter. (Roran, what were you thinking? You’re just adding more stress to an already stressed-out guy!) He goes outside, reluctantly followed by the Nighthawks, and sits with Saphira (who falls asleep… author reason: she’s tired, my reason: in order to avoid having to cheer up Eragon). He can’t believe that he’s leader of the Varden, especially since he was once a poor farm boy. Yes, he does think that. (And he’s thought that before in regard to being a Rider. It’s getting old.)
What was Nasuada thinking when she chose me as her successor? He wondered. (…) Did she really believe I can take her place? Why not Jormundur? He’s been with the Varden for decades, and he knows so much more about command and strategy.
Exactly, Nasuada! For once, I agree with Eragon. A leader of an enormous army can’t just be someone who has Mary-Sue powers! It has to be someone with experience, trained in ‘command and strategy’, to quote the book. It probably takes YEARS to be proficient in those things. (Wait, Nasuada was appointed leader right after her father Ajihad died… Um, did she have experience? I guess she might’ve picked up things from her father, but… The leader of an army shouldn’t be a hereditary position. It should go to those who really deserve it!)
Eragon wonders if he can make hard decisions like Nasuada had, like allying with the Urgals. Since that was the greatest idea ever and created absolutely no problems. /sarcasm
(I will admit it was difficult for her, though, since like the text here reminds us, they killed her father. And the Urgals helped the Varden… I think…)
Then he soon falls asleep, although it’s not really sleep because he’s SPESHUL. I’m not a fan of the waking dreams. It only serves to make Eragon and the elves less relatable to us than they already are. He has some dreams, and then—oh, a SPESHUL SPESHUL dream that he sees even while awake!
A dark and lonely plain lay before him, cut by a single strip of water that flowed slow-moving to the east: a ribbon of beaten silver bright beneath the glare of a full moon…
I don’t think that a flowing river would look like ‘beaten silver’, since silver doesn’t move. It continues:
Floating on the nameless river,
“Nameless”—was that really necessary? Maybe the river has a name and Eragon just doesn’t know it. Or maybe it’s really nameless. But in a dream, how could you know either way?
A ship, tall and proud, with pure white sails raised and ready… Ranks of warriors holding lances, and two hooded figures walking among them, as if in a stately procession. The smell of willows and cottonwoods,
Hmm… Can you smell in a dream? Sorry, got sidetracked there.
And a sense of passing sorrow… Then a man’s anguished cry, and a flash of scales, and a muddle of motion that concealed more than it revealed. And then nothing but silence and blackness.
That sounds familiar! Oh, (spoiler for LOTR) is it from the end of Return of the King? Quite possibly yes! But it’s also from Eragon—you know, the prophecy/dream he has: He watched as a group of people on proud horses approached a lonely river. Many had silver hair and carried tall lances. A strange, fair ship waited for them, shining under a bright moon. The figures slowly boarded the vessel; two of them, taller than the rest walked arm and arm. Their faces were obscured by cowls, but he could tell that one was a woman. They stood on the deck of the ship and faced the shore. A man stood on the pebble beach, the only one who had not boarded the ship. He threw back his head and let out a long, aching cry. As it faded, the ship glided down the river, without a breeze or oars, out in the flat, empty land. The vision clouded, but just before it disappeared, Eragon glimpsed two dragons in the sky. (Thanks to Inheriwiki for the quote, I have a copy but don’t know where it is in the book.) While in Eragon it’s somewhat more in-depth, it’s the same prophecy! Why is Paolini repeating it? To remind us of it, since he might make it important here? (Must resist… urge… to spoil ending…)
Hinting to the reader in advance of an event is called foreshadowing, as you probably know. I personally think foreshadowing using a prophecy/dream is annoying.
Anyway, does Eragon remember that he saw this event in a dream before? I’d say yes, but that would be lying. Seriously, he doesn’t remember? Why don’t you THINK, Eragon?! He just wonders whether he just saw a future event or an event happening currently, and if it’s important to him.
So now he can’t sleep. Good job, whoever gave him the prophecy. So he paces around for a while talks with a Nighthawk about how six of them died, and generally is upset over leading the Varden. I could understand a character being overwhelmed by this. He angsts about rescuing Nasuada, eing responsile for so many people, and he even considers praying to a dwarf god, which we know are real because of “In the Beginning”, but vetoes that since it’s his responsibility. (I guess he’s not elf-atheist?) But still, two or so more pages of him going on and on about himself and the Varden and Nasuada get a bit tiring.
Then—OMG!—he remembers Solembum the werecat’s (that is such a strange name!) advice from the first book: Listen closely and I will tell you two things. When the time comes and you need a weapon, look under the roots of the Menoa Tree. Then, when all seems lost and your power is insufficient, go to the rock of Kuthian and speak your name to the open the Vault of Souls. (Credit to Inheriwiki again.)
So he decides that: If ever my power was insufficient, and if ever all seemed lost, it is now. In other words, he’s going to go plan to find the Vault of Souls. But how? In order to find out, he calls Solembum to his tent and waits.
So that’s this chapter. Not terrible. I mean, I nitpicked somewhat, and the whining gets annoying. But for once, Eragon is a sympathetic character. We can understand the terror a sixteen year old would feel when so much responsibility is placed on his shoulders, even if they are Gary Stu shoulders. But like everything good in the cycle, really—can these events be streamlined a bit so we don’t get bored?
Thanks for reading. Since this was my first spork, I’d appreciate comments and constructive criticism so I can improve at this sort of thing. Go Anti-Shurtugal!