Full disclosure: I was not entirely sober when I read this chapter. My notes reflect this.
In my defense, I’m of legal age, was safely at home, and the worst thing that happened was I got irrationally angry at a fictional character. That last part is not so different from when I’m sober, but this time I was just louder about it.
After so recently declaring that Brom was probably the best character in the book, where did this hatred come from? Let’s find out.
Eragon finds Brom wounded and unconscious, which prompted my note, “Seriously Brom, get your shit together”. I remember Brom being mad at Eragon for using magic, but I didn’t remember that he was wounded in this chapter. It’s a bit disappointing, because Brom’s been a much better character than Eragon. As the mentor figure, I really expected him to do a lot better against two Urgals, which I’m sure he’s slayed hundreds of before. And his excuse is, “I’m old, I can’t fight as well as I used to” is kind of crap, too. Because, you know, he’s an immortal Dragon Rider.
Saphira’s ignorance on the whole matter is also annoying. She doesn’t know what happened to Eragon or why he can suddenly use magic. However, it’s been established that Saphira has some kind of ancestral memory. She fled the Ra’zac because she knew they were bad news, even mentioning a specific battle that Eragon had never heard of. But dragons have been bonded to Riders for centuries, to the point where they’re dependent on to touch of a Rider to even hatch. If Saphira does have this racial memory, why wouldn’t she know that Riders can use magic?
After that question, most of my notes devolve into complaints about Brom, and how he never intended to teach Eragon magic. That seems pretty ridiculous to me. Maybe Brom didn’t want Eragon using magic so early in their journey, but keeping it from him entirely is pretty dumb.They’re eventually going to be facing off against the only remaining Dragon Rider, who we already know is insanely powerful. They’ll need to utilize every weapon they have to defeat Galby, but without using magic, Eragon would be at a huge disadvantage.
Brom explains that using magic is a huge risk, and casting a spell takes your own strength, which is why Eragon passed out after killing the Urgals. If you’re not strong enough to cast the spell, you’ll die. It’s understandable that Brom wanted to protect Eragon, but wouldn’t he be safer if he knew the risks of using magic before he actually tried it? Keeping him ignorant about it could have been much worse.
I do have one more question about magic, and it’s one that I’ve wondered about since I first read this book. To cast a spell, you have to say something in the Ancient Language, the language of the elves. “Brisingr”, for example, is the word for “fire”. To be able to use magic effectively, you need a strong command of the Ancient Language. I do like this idea, because it means there’s really no limit to what magic can do. Much more interesting than picking out set spells from a book. Even better, Eragon’s poor grammar using the Ancient Language becomes a plot point in the sequel.
But Eragon also becomes fluent in the Ancient Language in Eldest, and regularly holds conversations with the elves using it. What’s the difference between talking and using magic? Could he be casting spells while he tries to ask someone about their day? How is everything not on fire?