Eragon 22-23: Not Half Bad

Something unusual happened. I actually liked this chapter. While I was looking forward to reading flying scenes, especially because I’m a student pilot. However, I was sure that they would only disappoint. They did not. I even loved Eragon’s anticipation as he prepares to fly with Saphira.

Saphira waited impatiently while Eragon tightened the bands around his legs. Are you ready? she asked.

He sucked in the fresh morning air. No, but let’s do it!

That is exactly how I feel when I’m getting ready to take off. I’m always nervous and excited, but pretty soon, the sheer joy of being able to fly takes over. Then the book describes Saphira’s grace, riding on updrafts, performing aerial maneuvers…and I almost exploded in nerdy joy when Eragon sees that Saphira uses her tail as a rudder. And then, then it gets even better when Saphira lets Eragon enter her mind see the world through her eyes, feel the sheer joy of flying. GOD I WANT TO DO THIS SO BAD WHY ARE DRAGONS FICTIONAL.

It’s a good thing there’s only one of me right now, because I can’t even.

Okay, time to take a deep breath, and stop fangirling.

After weeks spent tracking the Ra’zac, it seems that Eragon and Brom have finally lost the trail. That they managed to have it for that long is kind of dubious to me, but whatever, at this point I’m along for the ride. The Ra’zac appear to have taken flight, which kind of begs the question why they took so long to fly away in the first place. Also, having not found Saphira or Eragon in Carvahall, I feel like they were doing a really shitty job of finding Saphira. Wrecking Eragon’s farm was the equivalent of leaving the hero for dead in a cunning trap, and anyone who’s ever watched a Bond movie knows how that ends.

My brain just stopped for a second. I just realized the Ra’zac are Ringwraiths. I guess I can’t like this chapter anymore.

Along with the flying, though, I’m glad that the plot’s finally moving along. Eragon finds a flask of oil that’s used to burn flesh and muscle, and nothing else. That’s pretty fucked up. Brom elucidates some of them ways it could be used against your enemies and generally be cruel. The teenage version of myself (and the part of me that likes to torture characters) thinks that’s awesome. More than I want to admit.

I also like that Brom and Eragon decide to use a decidedly mundane method of tracking the Ra’zac after they find the oil. No spells, no mind-reading, just tracking where the oil was shipped from and to. It’s as simple as finding the right document. And after so much swords and sorcery, I appreciate this practical approach.

I’m glad I liked this chapter, because the next one was just padding. I really can’t see how this made it into the final cut of the novel. Eragon is curious about what the ocean is like, and Brom tells him “the sea is emotion incarnate”. What?

Most of this chapter is, essentially, a montage. Eragon and Brom traveling, practicing swordplay and learning how to use magic. So little happens in this chapter that the most memorable line might be when Eragon thinks, “Everything about me is turning hard.” He’s thinking about his muscles and how fit he’s becoming, but I’m still immature enough to snort at that. Then I remember that this book was written by a fifteen-year-old. I’m only picturing a young Christopher Paolini also laughing at that line, or trying to convince someone that it’s so deep. The latter is what I would have done at fifteen, and the former is what I’m doing now. Because I am still a child and low-hanging fruit will always make me chuckle.




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