Eragon 21: Do NPCs Really Need Names?

Apologies for the unexpected pause in posting; a death in my boyfriend’s family have slowed down blogging for the time being.

I wonder if I’m being too hard on Eragon. As much as I make fun of it, I love high fantasy. My favorite games are the Dragon Age series, I’ve already made references to Lord of the Rings on this blog, and obviously I fell in love with The Chronicles of Narnia before my age had even reached double digits. I’m working through A Song of Ice and Fire, and I have d20 in my purse right now, just in case a Dungeons & Dragons game pops up.

In short, I am a nerdy, and sometimes my thoughts betray how nerdy I actually am. Because, as I was reading this chapter, one of my first thoughts was, “Brom would make a great rogue…maybe who took a few levels in wizard…no, he multi-classed to Spellsword.”

Then I decided maybe I should go outside for a little bit.

When Eragon and Brom  enter another town to re-supply. Paolini runs into the same problem I have at times when I write background characters: naming them. If they’re only appearing in one scene and never again, their names are that important. But it’s really annoying to write or read “the man with the mole” or something of that ilk every time the character gets mentioned. A lot of the time, it’s just easier to give the NPC a name than refer to them by their description, however inconsequential they are. In Eragon, these bit characters often volunteer their names upon meeting Eragon and Brom. When I write brief meetings, I often don’t have the background characters give their names. Usually, I’ll have another character call them by their proper name, at which point “the man with the mole” can be called by his name in the narration. It honestly rarely occurs to me to just have minor characters introduce themselves.

I’m not sure if you’d have guessed, but the girl who blogs about fantasy books and has a home-made Jedi robe in her closet is something of an introvert. For most of my life I have been afraid of people and social situations, and especially the telephone. Even though I’m much more sociable and outgoing now than I was as a kid, I’m still not a person to generally start conversations, and it almost never occurs to me to tell someone my name. Last month I spent an hour talking to someone I met in an airport, and we had a great conversation, and I never told him my name, nor did I learn his. So my question is this: do “normal” people ever just directly introduce themselves?

Trevor, the minor character that Brom and Eragon meet, tells them that traveling has become dangerous with Urgals attacking their villages, and says that the king should be doing something about this. Brom, for whatever reason, agrees.

Wait. Didn’t we establish several chapters ago that the king is crazy and evil? Yet Brom thinks that Galby should know that Urgals are getting organized and attacking people? And no one ever thought that maybe, just maybe the Big Bad had something to do with this?


Also, we get this gem from Eragon.

“And you can do this even though you aren’t a rider?” asked Eragon.


There were a couple things I did like about this chapter, though. First, Brom teaches Eragon about communicating mentally with other sentient creatures, the same way that Eragon is able to talk to Saphira. Though years of playing DnD has made me disagree with Brom’s definition of sentience, it is a cool idea to be able to communicate with any living creature. The exposition didn’t have the clunky handling, either, as it did in some previous chapters. And there’s also this small piece of brilliance from Brom.

Think about it: you can communicate with any sentient being, though the contact may not be very clear. You could spend the entire day listening to a bird’s thoughts or understanding how an earthworm feels during a rainstorm But I’ve never found birds very interesting. I suggest starting with a cat; they have unusual personalities.

Yes. As the proud owner of one the derpiest cats on the planet, I agree so hard. Think of all the other famous fictional cats: the Cheshire Cat, the pirate cat in The Last Unicorn, and…okay, that’s all the cats I can think of, save perhaps Thackery Binx, who isn’t even really a cat.

But wouldn’t you love to know what Princess Monster Truck is thinking? I sure would.


She is everything that is right with the internet.

Even better, my cries for more Saphira have been heard. She tackles Eragon and demands that he start flying with her so she can keep him safe. Some of her dialogue makes her sound like a concerned mom, but I’m happy she’ll be in the story more after this. Now that I’m a pilot, I’m also looking forward to reading more flying scenes, which I suspect will be much different from Eragon’s first flight.


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