Let’s Read Eragon ch. 18

eragon_book_cover

Chapter 18: Admonishments

Having Brisingred the Urgals to death, Eragon goes to check on Brom.

There was a long, blood-soaked cut on the old man’s right arm. The wound bled profusely, but it was neither deep nor wide. Still, Eragon knew it had to be bound before Brom lost too much blood

INFECTION

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

Do fantasy authors think micro-organisms didn’t exist until we invented microscopes? If the characters in your gritty Ye Olde fantasy world get cut to ribbons, their wounds will get infected at least some of the time. Especially if they’re travelling through deserted lands on horseback, like our heroes are doing now.

Saphira said gravely, You have grown.

Eragon leveled up!

With a few deft strokes he cleaned the cut and bandaged it tightly. I wish we were still in Palancar Valley, he said to Saphira. There, at least, I knew what plants were good for healing. Here, I don’t have any idea what will help him.

Aren’t they like a few days away? I know the valley is likely to differ in terms of flora, but you’d think knowledge of the plants in the immediate vicinity would have percolated around at least a bit. The book is acting as if Eragon and Brom have traveled across half a continent (remnants of an earlier draft, maybe?).

Somehow I’ve become a sorcerer or wizard!

‘Yer a wizard E–

No that’s too lazy, even for me.

How can I have this ability? Was it common among the Riders? And if Brom knew of it, why didn’t he tell me? He shook his head in wonder and bewilderment.

Eragon thought about how he was now a sorcerer or wizard. Having finished this, he wondered how he had become a sorcerer or wizard. Then he shook his head and experienced the following emotions.

For some reason Brom starts admonishing Eragon (hence the chapter title) for using magic, even though he made it pretty clear that he didn’t actually do it on purpose. But whatever, I guess we need some character conflict to liven up the story. Lord knows it needs the help.

Take a look at the following conversation:

“Well, I have used it, and I may need it to fight again. But I won’t be able to if you don’t help me. What’s wrong? Is there some secret I’m not supposed to learn until I’m old and wise? Or maybe you don’t know anything about magic!”

“Boy!” roared Brom. “You demand answers with an insolence rarely seen. If you knew what you asked for, you would not be so quick to inquire. Do not try me.” He paused, then relaxed into a kinder countenance. “The knowledge you ask for is more complex than you understand.”

[…]

Your deeds are limited by your strength, the words you know, and your imagination.”
“What do you mean by words?” asked Eragon.
“More questions!” cried Brom. “For a moment I had hoped you were empty of them. But you are quite right in asking.

Brom tells Eragon he shouldn’t use magic but won’t explain why, gets angry when he naturally asks for more information, throws him a few scraps of meaningless nonsense, gets angry again when Eragon asks for clarification, and then tells him that actually he was justified in asking and proceeds to give him some of the information he just claimed was too complex to tell him.

Worst mentor ever.

Eragon being able to use magic at all feels a bit much, given that he also seems to have elven blood or something, and is the first new dragon rider in umpteen years. It would be like if Luke Skywalker simultaneously became a Jedi and an assassin, or if Harry Potter was both a wizard and a vampire.

Brom goes on to explain that magic in this world is name-based so hooray, we’re getting more Earthsea rip-offs again. “Brisingr” is the name of fire (and also the name of the fourth book in Christopher Paolini’s acclaimed Inheritance cycle series, which is available for purchase in a wide range of both digital and physical formats).

Brom is a magician! That’s how he was able to light the fire on the plains. He doesn’t just know about magic; he can use it himself!
Eragon’s eyes widened. You’re right!
Ask him about this power, but be careful of what you say. It is unwise to trifle with those who have such abilities. If he is a wizard or sorcerer, who knows what his motives might have been for settling in Carvahall?

Why can’t the characters agree on what magic-users are called? Why do they keep saying “wizard or sorcerer”, is there a difference?

“Where did you learn to use magic?”
“That is one fact I’ll keep to myself. . . . Suffice it to say, it was in a remote area and from a very good teacher.

Nobody talks like this. “I learned it from someone else” would have been a perfectly decent explanation; the rest only makes sense if you assume that he’s deliberately trying to sound mysterious.

Brom raised his hands. “Most of the time you don’t. That’s why magicians have to know their limits well

So magic-users are called magicians? Have we settled the matter now? Brom is one, so presumably he’d know.

As they spread out their blankets, Saphira commented with satisfaction, We are becoming more powerful, Eragon, both of us. Soon no one will be able to stand in our way.

It’s a little early to be going all Anakin Skywalker, Saphira.

 

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Read Eragon ch. 18

  1. Christie Greenwood

    “It would be like if Luke Skywalker simultaneously became a Jedi and an assassin, or if Harry Potter was both a wizard and a vampire.”

    Please let this be a reference to My Immortal. Vampire Potter, anyone? 8D

    Reply
  2. autobaan

    >“Boy!” roared Brom. “You demand answers with an insolence rarely seen. If you knew what you asked for, you would not be so quick to inquire. Do not try me.” He paused, then relaxed into a kinder countenance. “The knowledge you ask for is more complex than you understand.”

    The dialogue is truly the worst. Isn’t Brom supposed to be more of a Gandalf looking character in the book (as opposed to the Aragorn like character in the movies)? I guess that was he was going for here, wise, old mentor speak.

    Though Eragon does get another wise, old mentor later in the books so this cliche is a bit redundant.

    Reply
  3. Signatus

    “INFECTION”

    Not to mention they get cut to ribbons with nasty, dirty swords.

    ” And if Brom knew of it, why didn’t he tell me?”

    You know? That’s actually a VERY good question. Magic is a consequence of being a dragon rider. Brom knew all about this stuff. Magic in this world is DANGEROUS to the bearer, to the point a badly pronounced word can actually kill you (similar to what happened to Qvothe when he tried to summon the name of the wind and he almost suffocated when all the air pumped out of his lungs). One would have thought that this is something relevant enough to have informed Eragon about, before he accidentally killed himself by throwing a spell he couldn’t handle.

    “Worst mentor ever.”

    Paolini is trying so hard to conceal Brom’s identity he’s made a character that doesn’t make any sense. He’s a dangerous man who won’t tell his student all about the risks of something that’s naturally going to come to him. Brom’s not concealing some secret knowledge. Eragon IS going to wake up into the magic whether he likes it or not. The logical thing would be teaching him how to control his gift.

    Again, either have the man make up a story about how he trained young dragon riders or something, if you want so hard to keep his identity secret, or have him tell the friggin truth. I mean, there is NO reason to keep his identity secret from Eragon. It would make sense if Brom thought the boy was with the evil king, but he’s obviously not so, why are you keeping this information from him? Sense it does not make!

    “Eragon being able to use magic at all feels a bit much,”

    It is. Again I’m going to mention something I think would make for a cooler story. Great power means great responsibility… and great drawback. Werewolves are vulnerable to silver, change in full moons whether they like it or not and, if you follow that lore (I don’t), they become bestial and bloodthirsty. Vampires are vulnerable to sunlight and, even Meyer did this, bloodlusty. Mages in many books means dedicated years of study to control the shit unless you want to blow yourself up. Every powerful creature has a certain way to balance it out to keep it from becoming a demigod. Even dragons, which are ridiculously powerful, have some vulnerability like softer bellies of something (and getting their wings ripped to shreds pretty much means flying is over).

    Not dragonriders in this book. They get all the cool stuff about becoming a rider. A powerful, magical, talking beast that’s able to carry you through the sky. Powerful magic. They even become elven like (pointy ears and such… because of course, they weren’t going to grow scales). But they don’t get any drawback. They don’t become meat hungry predators, or feel isolated from their peers as they suddenly see them as prey, or inferior or something. Yeah, they have ridiculously long lifespans and that’s a curse… excuse me while I go to that corner to burst out laughing.

    They are way too powerful. They are… well, a 15 year old boy’s wet dream.

    “Brom is a magician!”

    You’re an idiot, Eragon. But, ok, at least you’ve realized there is something going on with Brom.

    I’ve just thought, wouldn’t it have been cool if Brom had actually been Galbatoryx and was taking Eragon with him to gain his trust and join the dark side? I think it would have made a better story.

    Reply
    1. Aaron A.O. (@AaronAO)

      If Brom was Galbatoryx it’d raise the question of why he’s futzing about with this kid instead of running his kingdom. But then if you’re an immortal wizard/sorcerer/magician-king you’ve got to keep busy somehow. And it’s not like there’d be anyone to tell him otherwise.

      Reply
      1. Signatus

        You bring a good point. Still, the bad guy using true cunning to obtain the alliance of the only dragonrider in over a 100 years would be far more interesting than the mysterious, old, wise mentor guiding the boy towards rebellion, and it would be interesting to see the outcome. Instead we basically get a nonexistent evil overlord who doesn’t do much, really, and seems to have managed the kingdom rather nicely, but we’re told he’s evil (and his attempts at evil are so laughable it makes Team Rocket’s ideas seem intelligent and thought out).

        All in all, in the end I got the feeling I was reading about a terrorist group attacking a kingdom just because they believed their king was tyrannical and evil, even when people seemed happy enough and there was not really much in terms of repression that would indicate otherwise. I mean, some of his evil deeds were sending tax collectors to these God forsaken town to collect taxes, which is as evil as it gets (I guess soldiers patrolling the paths to keep bandits off get payed by the trees or something).

        Reply
    2. zephyrean

      > similar to what happened to Qvothe when he tried to summon the name of the wind and he almost suffocated when all the air pumped out of his lungs

      Nitpick: Kvothe didn’t try invoking the name of the wind when he nearly suffocated, he tried a sympathic binding. Those actually obey the conservation of energy; naming doesn’t, which is why it’s A Big Deal. (Kvothe did get spellshocked in the second book.)

      > I’ve just thought, wouldn’t it have been cool if Brom had actually been Galbatoryx and was taking Eragon with him to gain his trust and join the dark side? I think it would have made a better story.

      I’d read that. I’d pay money to read that.

      OP> Why do they keep saying “wizard or sorcerer”, is there a difference?

      Yes, wizards carry spellbooks and prepare spells, sorcerers have known spell lists but don’t need to prepare them ahead of time. Also, applying metamagic to sorcerer spells makes them a full-round action, because Skip hates sorcerers.

      (What I’m saying is Paolini played too much D&D 3E. I bet the words “sorcerer” and “wizard” are encountered together in those books like 10 times more often than separately.)

      Reply

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