Eragon 54-55: Stupid is as Stupid Does

Okay, I just need to know–how did the Twins ever get to be part of the Varden?

Just read Orik’s, Eragon’s Dwarf friend, description of them:

Their talents lie in scheming and plotting for power–to everyone else’s detriment. Deynor, Ajihad’s predecessor, allowed them to join the Varden because he needed their support…you can’t oppose the Empire without spellcasters who can hold their own on the field of battle. They’re a nasty pair, but they do have their uses.

How. Can no one. Suspect them.

Everyone knows that they’re evil and sadistic. It’s spelled out right in front of them. And yet no one, no one, even thinks that these two are responsible for the Varden’s information being leaked to the Empire?

This is so frustrating to me, that I’m just going to go ahead and say it: maybe the Varden deserved to get betrayed for being that oblivious.

Apart from that gripe, most of this chapter is nothing but backstory and world building, but it’s at least more interesting than a lot of the stuff in the beginning of the book. Paolini put a lot of thought into what it would be like to have a civilization housed inside a mountain, so props for those details.

I do have to give him credit for what I thought was just a throw-away scene the first time I read Eragon, however.  A woman comes up to Eragon with a baby, saying that the child has no family and asks Eragon to bless her. After some thought, Eragon does so, blessing in the Ancient Language by saying, “Let luck and happiness follow you and may you be shielded from misfortune.”

Pretty good blessing, right? Well, it turns out, Eragon messed up the blessing, and in fact said, “may you be a shield from misfortune”. Being shielded from and being a shield are two very different things, and this “blessing” is really a curse that comes back in a big way in the second book.

I really love how poor grammar leads to a major plot point later on in the story.

The following chapter is blessedly short, where Eragon finds out that Angela and Solembum are with the Varden as well, for some reason. Angela explains that when she realized Eragon was a Dragon Rider, she decided to head to the Varden, because something big was about to happen. Eragon tells her his story since he last saw her, and she’s rather wary when he mentions Murtagh. Apparently, she knows who he is.

Wait, wasn’t his birth kept secret? I guess I can just wave it off as Angela being some kind of witch and knowing plot-related things.

They discuss the Shade, Durza, as well. But there’s something that caught my attention when Angela explains how Shades are created.

Ordinary sorcerers are just that, ordinary–neither better nor worse than the rest of us. They use their magical strength to control spirits and the spirits’ powers. Shades, however, relinquish that control in their search for greater power and allow their bodies to be controlled by spirits.

So…Eragon’s magic, and the magic of the other characters, comes from manipulating spirits? This is the first time spirits have ever been mentioned in this book. It turns out that they’re really freaking important! If they’re the base of magic in this world, and responsible for creating Eragon’s current antagonist, then why is this the first time we’re hearing about them at all?

Even in Eldest, we don’t have an opportunity to learn more about spirits. Eragon asks his new teacher, Oromis, for information about them, and Oromis refuses to tell him anything. I never finished Brisingr, but as far as I read, I don’t recall any more explanations as to what spirits are or how they fit in with the magic of this world.

Yes, this may be a high-fantasy story with dragons and magic, but I want explanations for that magic, dammit!

Angela also mentions something that someone should have done something about before. Explaining how she got into Tronjheim, she tells Eragon that the magic users in the Varden wanted her to join their “secret group”, which is controlled by the Twins.

Wait, what?

Okay, if there’s a secret group (a rebellion within a rebellion?) and they’ve done a good job of hiding it, it would make sense that neither Ajihad nor Orik know about it. Since Angela is largely here for shits’n’giggles and wants her presence to remain hidden, she wouldn’t have any reason to report it.

Eragon and Saphira are here to take refuge and owe the Varden their lives. Ajihad has told them their is a traitor in their midst. That there’s a secret mage group led by the Twins who everyone agrees are bad news is a giant red flag.

Eragon is too stupid to notice this, and asks whether the Twins question her, as they did him.

Then he asks about the architecture of Tronjheim. Not the secret mage group. For all his curiosity, he can’t be bothered to find out anything more about something that is actually interesting and has potentially huge ramifications.

Eragon better be glad he’s fictional, because I want to smack him for that one. I’ll just try to be satisfied knowing that willful ignorance here comes back to bite him in the ass.

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