After reading a chapter that I actually liked, I was a bit more hopeful as I delved into chapter 12. This one doesn’t even start out with a silly “the X of the Y” title! Instead, it’s called “Deathwatch”. So if you’re wondering if Garrow’s going to die, the chapter title gives it away right there. Of course, if you’ve read enough books like these, you can probably assume that he was a goner anyway. As we all know, the catalyst for the adventure of a lifetime is the death of your caregivers.
It’s another trope that kinda bugs me, but more on that later.
I’m supposed to feel sad, or at least concerned for Garrow. But since he’s had barely any screen time (page time?), it’s hard to really care. Garrow seems like a good person, but that’s all we know about him. Throughout this chapter I was actually thinking more about Roran, who doesn’t yet know how his home’s been attacked and that his father is on his death bed. Maybe it’s a sign of me getting older, but I would be really interested in seeing how he takes the news. We don’t see much of Roran after he leaves, though. In the sequel, Eldest, he gets a much bigger role. And it’s way more interesting than Eragon’s.
But that’s the next book, not this one.
And while this book might be cliche in almost every way, I’ll give Paolini credit for actually having Garrow be covered in burns instead of stab wounds. It’s one of those things that I didn’t really care about when I first read this book, but I wasn’t trained in emergency response then. And during those grisly, grisly classes I had to take, I learned just how awful and potentially lethal burns really are.
I also know how to perform emergency child birth and what to do if you get an eye poked out. Those classes are not for the squeamish.
That’s about it, though. I really hoped that the surprising amount that I liked chapter 11 meant that this book was finally getting its shit together. Instead, the dialogue bounces back and forth between trying to sound medieval, but then switching back to modern language. At this point, I don’t care which style sounds better. I just want it to be consistent.
Compare for yourself: when the characters are discussing the Ra’zac, someone says, “‘I don’t like this. Too much of this rings of wizardry.'”
When two pages earlier, Eragon was saying, “‘It’s okay, I can do it myself.'”
There is something else I’m confused about. When Saphira hatched, she gave Eragon a silver mark on his hand. Its ridiculous elven name translates to “shining palm”, so I have to assume that it does, in fact, shine. Gertrude, who is taking care of Eragon after the attack, asks him how he got such an unusual “scar”. But I’ve never seen a glowing scar before, and with the talk of magic and mysterious strangers in town, wouldn’t she have assumed it was also magical?
This post is getting a bit lengthy, but the following chapter isn’t even two pages long. I think we can fit it here.
It’s also called “The Madness of Life”. Of all the cheesy titles so far, I think this has to be the worst one.
Here’s what happens: Garrow dies, but considering that the previous chapter was called “Deathwatch”, that’s hardly surprising. Eragon is completely inconsolable. Even if I’m not usually a fan of the “everyone you love is dead” idea that always seems to pop up in stories like this, I actually didn’t mind this chapter. Eragon’s utter grief and sorrow at the death of his uncle, to me, is the most relatable thing he’s done so far in this book. Honestly, the only thing I really hate about this chapter is the title.
Maybe Eragon is gradually getting better? Or am I just getting used to it?