I’m stepping in for the spork again (see http://antishurtugal.livejournal.com/803724.html). Yay! As always, if there’s a problem, notify me and I’ll delete the post. Sorry if some of it is formatted badly.
(Why do I always use too big of a font first?)
When we last left off, Eragon just realized that the Vault of Souls plot device introduced in Brick 1 could be helpful for him, since Nasuada’s been captured and all is not well. So he calls Solembum the werecat, annnnnnnnnnd… that’s where this chapter, Fragments, Half-Seen and Indistinct, starts.
Around fifteen minutes later (the book points this out), Solembum comes into Eragon’s tent, sits down, and licks his paws. Well, to be precise, the webbing between the claws of his right paw. Thrilling! Then he says, I am not a dog to come and go at your summons, Eragon. Um, asking someone to come to you if you need them doesn’t mean they’re using you like a dog. Even if you have a rude personality, you’d probably just sigh and say, “What is it?”
Eragon responds, saying that he just needs the cat’s help, and he makes a magical light for them. Then he notices that Solembum’s eyes are blue, when they were some other color before.
Fun fact: I very recently heard in a Paolini interview that he gave Solembum different eye colors in books 2 & 3—which is a trivial, but still annoying consistency error—but he said he’ll make up an explanation for it in book 4. Well, here it is:
“Weren’t your eyes a different color?” he [Eragon] asked.
Solembum blinked once, and his eyes changed from blue to gold.
Whoopee, werecats can change their eye color on demand. So exciting. Isn't it great to fix your consistency errors by giving a character/race a new power?
After this, they finally get to the point—Solembum asks Eragon what he wants. Eragon reminds Solembum of what he told him in book 1 about the Rock of Kuthian/Vault of Souls/Plot Device Storage Facility. Then he asks Solembum,
“So, where can I find the Rock of Kuthian, how do I open the Vault of Souls, and what will I find inside it?”
Tsk, tsk. Eragon, you should know better than that. You’re not going to find all that out immediately, because of course, Solembum doesn’t know. Eragon freaks out a little (“You don’t know?” “How can you not know?”) and Solembum shows his trademark rudeness (“Must you repeat everything I say?”).
Now, here’s the first quiz I’ll give you in this spork: How would a normal human being react? Maybe he/she would be upset, but he/she would calm down, maybe talk some more to Solembum, and then try to find the answers elsewhere. Not everything works out in life, after all.
But this. Is. ERAGONNNNNNNNNN! (Couldn’t resist.) So, how does our sociopathic ‘hero’ react? I’ll give you a moment to think.
(Hums Jeopardy tune…)
Leaning forward, Eragon grabbed Solembum’s large, heavy paw. The werecat’s ear flattened, and he hisses and curled his paw inward, digging into Eragon’s flesh. Eragon smiled tightly and ignored the pain. (…) “No more riddles,” Eragon said. “I need the truth, Solembum. Where did you get this information and what did it mean?”
Um, when someone doesn't know something, you can react like this? I’m going into high school this fall, and this almost makes me scared to get a question wrong.
“Student, what’s the capital of Yugoslavia?”
“Sorry, I don’t know.”
Leaning forward, the teacher grabbed the student’s thin hand. The student’s ears flattened, and he hissed and curled his hand inward, digging into the teacher’s flesh. “No more riddles,” the teacher said.
I’m joking around, of course, but this is somewhat of a strange and violent reaction to “I don’t know”. First, how is it a riddle at all? Second, threatening someone isn’t neccesarily going to make them more likely to answer you—it might make them more defensive. Third, why his paw? It’s just… strange.
Solembum is naturally unhappy and threatens Eragon, so soon Eragon releases him. Way to go, Eragon—not only did you accomplish nothing, but now you’re also bleeding! Then Solembum says that he really doesn’t know, and Eragon has him repeat that in the Ancient Language, which everyone seems to know, strangely. (Wasn’t it something that you have to learn?)
Eragon asks how Solembum knew about the Rock of Kuthian. His response:
Soon after the fall of the riders, a certain conviction came upon the members of our race that, should we encounter a new Rider, one that was not beholden to Galbatorix, we should tell him or her what I told you: of the Menoa tree and of the Rock of Kuthian.
And this certain conviction apparently came out of nowhere, as far as the cat knows (although he refutes the possibility that it’s Galbatorix. What a shame—it would be great if the VoS turned out to be a trap.). This is actually a bit sad—I mean, the Vault of Souls has basis earlier in the series, so it isn’t really a Deus ex Machina. But now that the ‘basis’ came from nowhere—a.k.a. a Deus ex Machina…
Then we get some stuff how the werecats probably had their memories erased, which they may have wanted or not, and that they got the knowledge because they’re the “friends of the riders”, and they were unsure whether they should give the knowledge to Eragon or not. (I bet they’re regretting that, now that he’s turned out to be a sociopath.)
(Strangely, one of Eragon’s lines is italicized and without quotation marks, as if he’s thought-speaking, but the rest of his aren’t italicized and have quote marks. Editing fail.)
Then Solembum mentions that there may be a way to find out the answers he wants. Apparently, he was the one who arranged for Eragon to get Domia abr Wyrda, the history book that so far has been useless in the series. He had a ‘strange feeling’ that Eragon should have it. (I’m not a fan of this ‘strange feelings’ and ‘convictions’ thing. It just seems like a convenient way to make things happen. SPOILER: Turns out Eragon had a guardian angel/dragon spirit/thingy that gave the werecats the advice and pretty much orchestrated a bunch of main plot points.)
Then, for nearly two pages, Eragon gets upset because it’s too hard to read, angsts that Solembum should’ve told him earlier about this, worries that he’ll never find anything useful in the book in time, and keeps yelling at Solembum that he MUST KNOW SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT HOW TO STOP GALBY!
Stop it, Eragon! Just stop! Please! The cat obviously doesn’t know anything else about stopping Galby or about the Plot Device Facility. Give it up already! If he knows nothing more, will yelling at him change anything?
A quote from this irritating section:
“Think, then! If I can’t find some sort of help against Galbatorix, we’ll lose, Solembum. (…)”
Solembum hissed. ‘What do you expect of me, Eragon? I cannot invent help where none exists. Read the book.’
(…) “You have to, or we’re doomed!”
Quiz number 2! What happens now? I’ll give you four choices.
a. A) Eragon goes outside and hunts for more answers on his own, asking other people who might know something.
b. B) Eragon speed-reads the book and does find something, so he apologizes to Solembum.
c. C) Well, Paolini wrote himself into a corner, so… DEUS EX MACHINA TIME!
d. D) Eragon decides that the Varden just has to keep on going towards Urubaen, even though it really seems hopeless. Turns out that the whole Rock of Kuthian/VoS thing was a clever red herring that didn’t matter in the end.
If you chose D… You’re wrong, although that would be a surprising (and nice) twist. The answer, of course, is C!
Basically, Solembum freezes, and then says, Chapter forty-seven. Page three. Start with the second passage there. Wow, that was easy. Instead of Eragon actually needing to put in some effort, he gets the answer given to him out of nowhere. (SPOILER: It’s also from the freaking guardian angels. *headdesk*) Of course, the cat doesn’t remember saying that.
“What do you think it means? [Eragon asked.]
‘It means that we should look and see what’s on page three of chapter 47.’ [Solembum]
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
So Eragon looks at the page (from a chapter about after the fall of the riders), reads aloud a tiny boring bit about the island and its climate (Visit Vroengard today!), whines that it’s irrelevant, and then keeps reading. The book talks about the beautiful, wonderful, awe-inspiring elven (surprise) city of Doru Araeba on the island of Vroengard. I’ll skip over the section for your sanity. Suffice to say that it sounds like an impressive city, but I don’t read fantasy for nearly a page of boring city description.
Then Eragon stops and whines again, although this time I’ll let him since the passage bored me too. Solembum convinces him to keep reading, still aloud. The next passage from the book talks about how the ‘greatest thing in Doru Araeba’ (not an exact quote, of course) is its library. Blah blah blah, has all sorts of knowledge, like the libraries in Star Wars, and it’s located near…
The Rock of Kuthian. Yay! We know where it is! Eragon is awe-inspired, since
Some person or some thing had arranged for him to learn this particular piece of information…
Then the chapter ends with him wondering what awaits them on Vroengard, and he doesn’t want to get his hopes up.
Yawn. I mean, this chapter might be important plot-wise, but it moved kinda slowly.
An idea—couldn’t this chapter and the last chapter be combined into one concise chapter the length of this one? Think about it… It begins with Eragon worrying about what he'll do. Then he remembers about the VoS, and calls Solembum. Solembum doesn't know anything more, but he gets the deus ex machina, Eragon finds out about the Rock of Kuthian. True, you'd have to cut some dialogue and scenes, but it would be worth it. Still, since when is Paolini's writing 'concise'?
And did the name of this chapter really fit it? I mean, what was so “half seen and indistinct” about anything in it? Mysterious, maybe. Irritating, for sure. But it seems to me like another case where the chapter name just sounds cool, which is why he uses it, even though in retrospect it doesn’t really fit the chapter… (Fragments? Of what?)
Well, hope you enjoyed the spork. Comments and constructive criticism welcome. Here's the next few chapters and their sporkers:
Chapter Forty: Questions Unanswered - dibbed by jair_greycoat
Chapter Forty One: Departure - dibbed by ana0119
Chapter Forty Two: The Torment of Uncertainty - dibbed by stealingvowels
Chapter Forty Three: The Hall of the Soothsayer - 7th_y