Eragon 35: Helgrinding Through

And we keep plunging into the literary abyss that is Eragon. But this chapter was much better than the past few because–wait for it–something actually happens!

The chapter, “Worshipers of Helgrind” starts with Eragon going out to explore the city of Dras-Leona. The chapter title comes from the citizens of Dras-Leona, who worship Helgrind, the mountain that looms above the city.

Does anyone else think that the name “Helgrind” is just a little too on the nose?

While he’s wandering through the city, Eragon finds a slave auction. He plans to use magic to free a slave that’s being bid on, but realizes that the slave would never be able to escape. So finally, finally, Eragon has learned something. He realizes that he can’t save everyone, but if he fights against the Empire, he can help a lot of people. I’m not sure if I would call this a proper turning point for his character, as he’s never wanted to join the Empire. But at least it’s something.

Going back to the “Galby is a terrible autocrat” theory, sending the Ra’zac to capture Eragon and kill his family might be the worst possible way to get Eragon on his side. It’s a great way to ensure that a unique and soon-to-be very powerful young man hates you. Why couldn’t Galby start with something more appealing: “Join me, I’ll make you a king. You’ll have power and gold and your family will be safe.” That would be a much more interesting–and challenging–test of Eragon’s character.

Back to the matter at hand, Eragon visits a cathedral in the city.  I am actually curious about what Eragon believes in. Religion was never mentioned prior to Eragon and Brom arriving in Dras-Leona, so I’m curious as to what sort of faith they have, if any. When Eragon pays his respects in the cathedral, it’s not to any god (or Helgrind), but to the cathedral and its impressive architechture.

But remember when I promised that something happened in this chapter?

Something finally happens! When Eragon goes to leave the cathedral, the Ra’zac are standing in the entrance.

Now, since it’s been far too long since I’ve made fun of a single sentence…

A sibilant hiss came from the smaller Ra’zac.

I would like to nominate “sibilant hiss” as the most redundant phrase of the book so far.

He had chased the Ra’zac for so many weeks that the pain of their muderous deed had dulled withinin him. But his vengeance was at hand. His wrath exploded like a volcano[.]

I shit you not, I laughed outloud. There must be a way to do purple prose so it’s not so unintetionally funny. This isn’t it.

Eragon does try to fight the Ra’zac, but they’ve got the city guards backing them, and he’s outnumbered. When he finally gets in touch with Saphira (and through her, Brom), they agree that they’re outnumbered* and need to flee the city. They ride as far from the city as they can in the night and set up camp. Not long after they set up camp, Eragon falls unconscious.

He falls unconscious a lot. Let’s see…I think that’s four times so far. And, glancing ahead, it’s going to happen a few more times before the book is finished. It’s gotten to the point where it’s no longer dramatic, and Eragon is more reminiscent of a fragile anime girl or flimsy romantic heroine than a badass Dragon Rider. I’m not really a fan of the constantly fainting character anymore. I first noticed this in the Hunger Games series. Whenever Eragon (or Katniss) faints, when (s)he comes to, there’s someone ready to explain what happened while (s)he was out, instead of the character experiencing it and narrating it for themselves. The literal definition of telling rather than showing. In the cases of Eragon fainting because he used magic that took a lot of energy, it makes sense. But it just keeps happening over and over again, and no longer cares the suspense that it should.

*Outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned

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