“Water From Stone” was another chapter I was looking forward to reading, mainly because it was one that I remembered from my youth. Sad to say, I remember this chapter better than some more exciting scenes. The first pages are nothing but exposition as Eragon, Murtagh, and Saphira try to figure where they need to go after escaping Gil’ead. Compounding their problems, Arya still hasn’t awoken, making travel more difficult.
The first half of the chapter isn’t all that bad, even if it is something of an information dump. It’s a back-and-forth exchange between Murtagh and Eragon, with Saphira chiming in occasionally. Earlier, Brom’s long lectures were important so the reader could understand the rules of the world, but they felt forced to me. This one here feels a lot more natural, and the chapter moves faster because there’s more than one person participating. Their conversation, just talking about the map and future destinations, moves the plot forward, while Brom’s lessons rarely felt necessary to the overall story.
They decide to attempt to cross the Hadarac Desert, if they can find a way to keep themselves hydrated without having to carry water with them. To do this, Eragon first attempts to transform some dirt to stone. The magic he casts demands so much power that it nearly kills him. It’s the first time we see Eragon overextend himself this way. We’ve seen him pass out from using magic before, sure, but he falls unconscious so often it’s basically lost all meaning. Instead, he loses a lot of energy and is afraid the magic might kill him. It obviously doesn’t, but we also finally see the consequences of using powerful magic.
Another thing I like about this chapter is that the characters finally encounter a problem that can’t be overcome by brute force. Eragon isn’t strong enough to turn dirt into water, and it looks as though crossing the dessert will be impossible. However, he realizes that there is water under the earth, and all he has to do is lift it up to the surface. Finally, he manages to solve a problem by creative thinking, not his sword.
As far as the next chapter goes, there’s just…not a lot. I actually found most of the chapter to be humorous, though I’m not sure that was the intention. Eragon, Murtagh, and Saphira debate over the best way to carry the still-unconscious Arya, without her being injured by Saphira’s scales or saddle sores. They finally decide to tie Arya to Saphira’s belly, so she can fly and still carry Arya.
This is also the same sort of solution my Dungeons and Dragons group would have come to, so I can respect that.
Again, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be funny, but I got a chuckle out of it. Largely because it’s so undignified. In truth, I never liked Arya too much. She was always too haughty for me, so it’s a little satisfying to see her tied to Saphira. Especially because we can’t go a full chapter without talking about how beautiful Arya is. There’s at least one mention of her “sculpted lips” that made me groan.
Other than that, there’s not a lot in this chapter worth mentioning. Once they figure out how to transport Arya, the only other obstacle they have to worry about is crossing a river. It’s solved pretty simply by Saphira flying Eragon, Murtagh, and the horses across. This chapter is more bland than anything else, and I’ll be happy we when can go a whole chapter without mentioning Arya’s beauty.