So here it is then! My sporking of chapter 70 of Inheritance: A Sea of Nettles.
Right off the bat we see that Eragon is unharmed (obviously). He immediately starts poking around at everyone’s minds to see who survived and who didn’t. Not surprisingly, everyone is still alive (except for Galby of course. We couldn’t have him survive after such heroics performed by the mighty Eragon and him alone). We go on a bit of a tiny detour as Eragon intrudes Thorn’s mind and does his usual little cutaway from the main scene into one where he marvels at the red dragon’s nobility and notes how Thorn’s thoughts felt “…darker, more contorted than Saphira’s…” Umm… Dark and contorted as in evil, tortured, confused or angry? When I read or hear about someone having “dark and contorted” thoughts, I think of someone/something evil, twisted, or someone/something not right (mentally if you catch my drift). I’m not sure if Paolini meant to compare Saphira to Thorn in this way, but it sounds like he’s admitting Saphira has issues. The cutaway wasn’t exactly a bad thing to do and I thought it was O.K. that the readers finally get to know a bit about Thorn, but describing his mind like that and then comparing it to Saphira’s was a bit too strange for me. Are you trying to admit something, Paolini?
Then we move onto the giant pulsating crater in the floor, which is the result of Galby exploding – kind of like a giant glow stick so that everywhere in the room is incandescent. Then Paolini drops this: “The air smelled like the taste of iron.” Wait, what?!?! How does this make any sense? O.K… I know that sometimes if you smell something so strong you can taste it (since your olfactory receptors are in a region close enough to your taste buds and the nasal passageways lead into the back of your throat, etc whatever…) but seriously? Couldn’t this have been worded a bit better? For example “Eragon recoiled at the bold taste of iron that hung in the air.” Or something like that. I just kept on going back to that one sentence and asking myself why. Did Paolini just try to sound educated here for us, or did he just keep this sentence because he thought it was “cool” and “original”?
But now here’s a tangent I wanted to touch on… Everything within a very good (very sizeable) radius was obliterated when Galby went kaboom. This includes most of the hold/castle and a very good portion of the houses surrounding it. I’m sure humans don’t naturally just spontaneously combust in real life or even in fantasy without magical aid, so this had to be the result of magic (yes it was; I think it was actually the guilt of Galby’s (unapparent?) wrongdoings and other stuff). Why then, might I ask, did Galby’s death not kill anyone (important) other than the people a very far ways down the hall? Wards. Wards and protective spells cast by Eragon and fueled by the Eldunari-plot-devices at the last second. A last ditch effort on Paolini’s part when he realized that he wanted his bad guy to go supernova, but might kill EVERYONE in the process. The biggest use of plot armor I think I’ve seen in this book so far. I thought the chances of being able to cast effective spells in and around Uru’baen was like rolling a twelve sided dice and hoping for the highest pairing? Looks like Eragon brought some loaded dice to the D&D game.
In fact, there was no real loss at the final battle for ANY of the MCs (besides the elf queen lady who wasn’t really a MC to begin with. And sure, she had to die, because Arya isn’t going to die (obviously) and she needs an important role to fill. Elf princess turned elf queen via tragic death of elf queen mommy at the final battle. Paolini’s (effort?) attempt at adding suspense and tension). “Hey guys! Look! I did kill off an important good character, just like Glaedr and Oromis!” Oh wait… Glaedr came back as an Eldunari… Oops. Hey, as an author, I’ve killed off many of my MCs and while I may not be happy about it because they're all dear to me, good and bad people die in real life and sometimes in the most sudden circumstances. If you want your readers to connect and to feel the suspense, emotion, and tension you’re trying to write, put forth some effort and let some characters go on their own natural path. That means NO immortal plot armor. None. Then again, it’s difficult to kill off characters that you’re basically molding to be your PC in your story.
I’m also severely disappointed in Galbatorix. He is a novice villain. Novice… He could have been so much better if Paolini had spent more time building and developing his character and background, etc. You don’t just create one motive for a villain, claim revenge on some ancient dragon riding order, and then keep the guy in his castle for four books. Not satisfied at all. And I’m also disappointed in everyone for goading over Eragon and praising him for his sloppy work. Everyone who hates Eragon is bad, and everyone who likes Eragon is good. This is the way the character classification goes in this book. Nothing more and nothing less.
Moving back on topic… Arya runs off to go find the remaining egg and the crazy Eldunari (obviously she’s not going to die so whatever. I’m not concerned at this point). Eragon shouts after her a bit, but she runs off anyways. Everyone else manages to get on a dragon and escape from the castle. On the way, Murtagh reassures Eragon that the traps they encountered coming in are no longer active.
“What of the traps?” Eragon said.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Murtagh laughed hautily. “They don’t work anymore! Too inconvenient given our situation!”
I know, I know… The conversation didn’t go that way. But seriously? Those traps were huge and extremely dangerous, and don’t you find it just a little bit suspicious that the epicenter of the explosion is the only place that is still somehow sound (most likely magic…) and everything else is ruined? Wouldn’t it be more daring and tense and interesting to see the characters fighting through the traps again? Fighting for their lives and their freedom? Nah… I guess we’re taking the convenient route…
On their way out, Eragon and the gang pass some people. I believe the phrasing went something about seeing people lying around the floor “…the limbs of the dead and dying.” Dying…. DYING? Oh no, seriously, don’t stop to help anyone! Eragon’s thought process: Nope, not going to help. Too important of a MC to risk my butt to try and save you even if you were once a poor enslaved zombie henchmen of Galbatorix (like Murtagh). Dun, dun, dun! Our hero, everybody! How do you even know that those people were bad guys? They could have been some of your Varden allies rushing in to help you, but then were caught off guard by the massive explosion. You’re not going to help them after all the praise and admiration and sacrifice on their part? To clarify some things: I know the Varden aren’t exactly saints; in fact they are literally the opposite of saintly if you look at their actions objectively, but from a non-objective standpoint (like Eragon’s, for example) wouldn’t these gracious allies mean anything to you?
O.K. I’ve given up on that point. Moving along. Bypassing the dead and dying (for shame…) they get outside and Eragon gets a bit peeved because he can’t contact Arya through the enchanted stone of the castle (hmm…. So the stone structures had magic after all). Paolini tries to add some suspense by adding in that the throne room finally caves in and Eragon is worried that he can’t contact Arya because she might be dead (nope, not buying it). But don’t worry, kiddies! Arya shows up, toting along the dragon egg in a pretty case! And the rest of the elf posse is right behind her, also toting along the crazy Eldunari! Yay! Everyone made it! YAY! … yay. They all bounce around (Eragon bounces on his heels; I am NOT kidding you) and then they all huddle as Umaroth (an Eldunari thing) gives Eragon and Saphira back their memories of Vroengard and the tons of other Eldunari and eggs. Eragon tells his elf chums, and then Saphira notices that Thorn and Murtagh are gone. They ran away? Good. I don’t blame them.
Eragon hops onto Saphira gallantly and chases after the escapees, upon which they meet up at a river (from the first book) that is skirted by a thicket of nettles. Hence the title… Sea of Nettles. Mkay… I actually didn’t mind this scene very much at first. Eragon’s reaction to wanting Murtagh to not leave is understandable (unless he just wants him around to say that he has a hold over Murtagh and Thorn). Murtagh says he wants to go away so that he can heal himself mentally because Galby did horrible things to him. There’s a couple quips about being king killers runs in the family and whatnot. Not much importance. But then Eragon decides to mention that there are more eggs! NO! WHY?! How do you know Murtagh is stable enough to handle this? He’s been mentally tortured for who knows how long, and he could be insane at this point (the most insane people are best at hiding their insanity). He could still go nuts and use the name-of-names on you and steal the info, Eragon! Damn you! Bad! Bad, Eragon! Have you not considered that Murtagh might hate your guts and want to turn against you on his own free will? He’s powerful and smart enough to. But Paolini won’t allow this, so I shoudn't even consider it. I’m starting to not like where this scene is going… After this mention, Glaedr pops up and basically blames Murtagh for Oromis’s death (despite it being more or less Galby’s fault) but does this whole “I won’t forgive you, but I’ll be nice and consider you guys dragon riders anyways because I’m old and cranky and have no forgiveness left in me.” Okay… Poor Murtagh. I can see why he wants to leave.
Eragon then goes on to say that Murtagh can come back whenever he wants, and Thorn graciously thanks Eragon for not killing him and Murtagh. Murtagh bitterly agrees even though I believe Murtagh did have the upper hand when he and Eragon were fighting in front of Galby before he exploded. But Murtagh still agrees. Agrees…. Shame. Oh well. Murtagh states that Eragon should teach the new dragon riders and that he would make a wonderful teacher. Could you possibly imagine dozens, if not more, of Eragons flying around on dragons? I’m starting to think that the world is doomed.
Who did it? Paolini did. He finally took the only real competition Eragon had (against the hordes of fan girls and Murtagh admirers) and made him admit that Paolini – er… I mean Eragon – is better than Murtagh. The direct line from Murtagh was: “No, it is as it should be. You and Saphira will make better teacher than we would.” Eragon tries to contradict by replying with: “I’m not so sure of that.” But we all know that he’s thinking the opposite of that (as is Paolini when he wrote this).
Murtagh then releases Eragon from the spell of forgetfulness that Galby placed on Eragon to make him forget the most convenient deus ex machina ever – I mean the name-of-names – and then says the name again so that Eragon can remember it. He tells Eragon not to spread the word around. Fat chance he’ll keep his mouth shut though. Good job, Murtagh… Then Thorn and Murtagh fly away after this little exchange and Eragon watches them – with sorrow in his heart – until they are no longer visible. Then he and Saphira travel back to Uru’baen. End of chapter.
Well, I think I rambled enough about this topic. I’ll spare your eyes and your brains from further torture!
Edit on 6/2/13: Oh gosh, I forgot about the wee children... Someone asked about them. Well, not surrpizingly, nothing happened to them. They were tossed onto Saphira's back and delivered back home as soon as Eragon and the gang got out of the hold. Their house was literally RIGHT THERE. Saphira makes a comment about how they didn't give Galby enough time to find better victims to blackmail her and Eragon with, but we all know that's bull since Galby knew that Eragon was going to try to kill him ever since his little farm boy self came into his meager dragon riding existance. The children were just a failed attempt at plot tension and were brushed aside after the conflict was done since who would want Eragon's glorious celebration bothered by having to find the homes of two random Uru'baeian children? Nope. I rest my case. Sorry for forgetting about that! The children were just so pointless to begin with!