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Chapter 19: Through a Dragon’s Eye
WHEN THE MOON HITS YOUR DRAGON’S EYE LIKE A BIG PIZZA PIE
After a brief YA-flavoured break, it’s time to return once again to the sopporific snooze-fest that is Eragon. As bad as Red Queen was, I was starting to appreciate a book where the story moves forward at a decent pace.
I can’t actually remember where Eragon and Brom are going, or why. Everything about this long travelling section, even down to the landscape they’re passing through, feels like it was inserted into the story just because Paolini thought that Epic Fantasy Novels are required to have a bit where the characters spend ages wandering through empty wilderness and getting into random encounter NPC battles.
Anyway, Eragon prepares to have his first proper flight on Saphira.
“Now remember, grip with your knees, guide her with your thoughts, and stay as flat as you can on her back. Nothing will go wrong if you don’t panic.”
If Saphira is sentient, why does Eragon have to “guide her” at all? Couldn’t they just agree on a direction, and she’d fly there of her own accord?
Clouds floated around them.
The descriptions here make it sound like Eragon and Saphira are 747-at-cruising-altitude high, which makes me wonder how Eragon is still alive. We get a glancing mention of the air being “chilly”, but that’s a gigantic understatement: at that altitude the average temperature is between -55 C and -75 C, more than enough to kill someone not wearing protective clothes. Assuming the low air pressure doesn’t take him out first, of course. Think about how much trouble mountain climbers at the top of Everest have breathing due to the thin air, and then multiple that by more than three.
I know a lot of people’s reaction to complaints like this tends to be “but dragons are also impossible bluh bluh” and yes, they are impossible. But at the same time, I’m naturally assuming that the story’s setting conforms to the same natural laws that apply to us on Earth, and that Eragon, regardless of what magic powers he might have, still has the same physical capabilities and weaknesses as a normal human.
His words were lost as Saphira tilted and rolled completely around. The ground spun in a dizzying circle, and vertigo clutched Eragon.
Saphira continues Brom’s potentially lethal surprise-training technique by doing a barrel roll without warning Eragon first. Seriously, what if he didn’t manage to hold on and just fell off?
There’s a kind of cool bit where Saphira does some sort of mind-meld with Eragon so that he sees through her eyes and perceives them to be the same entity. This is the first and so far only time I’ve actually felt like there was any sort of special bond between the two; I kind of wish we had gotten a bit of this right at the start, when Saphira first hatched.
A bit later Brom continues to be the worst fantasy mentor ever by attempting to communicate with Eragon telepathically, which he can do now I guess. Earlier he warned Eragon to be wary for any attempt by others to invade his mind, and so Eragon– not knowing that Brom could talk to him this way and remembering the warning– naturally tries his best to resist, which Brom berates him for the moment he returns.
I’m really not sure whether the book is deliberately trying to make Brom seem incompetent, or whether it’s just badly written and nonsensical.
“Don’t ever block me out like that again. It’s hard enough for me to reach you without
having to fight to make myself heard.”
Eragon can’t seem to tell who’s trying to reach him telepathically; therefore, guarding against mental attacks by nefarious sorts and also allowing Brom to reach him at all times are mutually exclusive instructions.
Brom finds some tracks indicating that the Ra’zac flew off on some sort of non-dragon flying creature, which poses a conundrum since they can’t track them through the air. But rather than focus on that, how about we settle down for another break?
“There’s no easy solution to this riddle,” said Brom. “Let’s have lunch while we think on it. Perhaps inspiration will strike us while we eat.”
Do we really have to
Eragon finds a flask full of magical super-acid that the Ra’zac left behind, and hatches a convoluted plan to visit cities on the eastern coast and inspect shipping records to track the Ra’zac. Maybe after that we can have a few senate hearings to really liven things up.
“We’ll have to go southwest until we reach a high pass in the Spine. Once on the other side, we can head up the coast to Teirm,” said Brom. A gentle wind pulled at his hair.
I have no idea why that “a gentle wind” sentence is there.
One thing I haven’t pointed out before is how a lot of the chapters end on really odd, abrupt sentences. For example, here’s the ending of this chapter:
Eragon and Brom had their nightly fight, but it lacked energy, as both were preoccupied with the day’s events. By the time they finished, Eragon’s arms burned from Zar’roc’s unaccustomed weight.
And here’s the end of the one before:
They both had large welts when they stopped, Eragon more so than Brom. He marveled that Zar’roc had not been scratched or dented by the vigorous pounding it had received.
These feel like chapter breaks that were inserted for the sole purpose of having chapter breaks, and they give the end of each chapter an unsatisfying, jarring feel.
Speaking of which,