The first thing I wrote upon starting chapter 20 was, “This was a lot more fun when I was drunk”. Yes, I was unnecessarily angry at a fictional character during the last chapter, but at least I felt something other than sad resignation to keep reading. For awhile, I thought that might be the only note I’d write down, as this chapter is a lot of exposition, and not much else.
I’ve talked a bit about world-building in novels, and I’ve said that in general, I like it better when the characters learn the rules of the universe as the readers do. It feels much more natural, and you’re not overwhelmed with a ton of information at once. Eragon is starting to show me the drawbacks of that method. It makes sense for the story, as Eragon starts out as a know-nothing dragon rider. However, the chapters that are nothing but exposition and conversation are starting to wear on me. Eragon accidentally using magic for the first time, and Brom’s angry admonitions of him were part of the story, though. Despite my earlier criticisms, they were exciting. This chapter is just a casual conversation, written to explain to Eragon and the readers how magic works.
I guess one of the things I don’t like about this chapter is that there’s nothing that breaks up the dialogue until the end. I know that it’s important to get information to the reader, but there’s got to be a better way of doing it than this.
Aside from that, I have several questions, not the least of which is, “why doesn’t Saphira have more screen time?”
Other than that, the Dragon Riders apparently kept their magic a secret, even at the height of their power, so their enemies wouldn’t be able to use it against them. I guess that explains why Eragon was so surprised that he could use magic, but it seems like something like that would be hard to keep a secret. It also really bothers me that Eragon has yet to make the connection that Brom was a Rider.
Brom also mentions that Shades and sorcerers get their magic from spirits, which makes it different from the Riders’ magic. “Spirits” largely gets glossed over in this book, and the next, with the only information we get about them being that they’re bad news. I don’t know if they’re elaborated on any further in the last two books in the series. I’d like to know more, but this chapter certainly wasn’t a good place to add even more details.
It’s also revealed that every person has two names, one that they’re given when they’re born, and a “true” name, which reflects who they really are. Sharing your true name is dangerous, as anyone who knows it has complete control over you. Since I will not likely be reading the final two books anytime soon, I let my curiosity get the better of me and Googled what Eragon’s true name is. This is what Christopher Paolini had to say:
I felt that giving them to readers would spoil some of the mystery and power they hold. You could say the whole Inheritance Cycle encompasses Eragon’s true name. But its short form is a secret between Eragon, Saphira, Glaedr, and Arya.
Aw, come on! I wanna know!