Chapter 22: An Old Friend
We’re still nowhere near the end of our journey through the wilds of Eragon, but my stamina remains high and my resolve is firm. Join me while I fend off clunky adjectives and bland protagonists.
The herbalist’s shop had a cheery sign and was easy to find. A short, curly-haired woman sat by the door. She was holding a frog in one hand and writing with the other. Eragon assumed that she was Angela, the herbalist.
Whoo boy. I know where this is going.
Brom and Angela proceed to have a whimsically quirky conversation in which it becomes apparent that she’s a free-spirited whimsical quirkster, and I find myself wanting to gag.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” she bantered. “Jeod is on the right. And as for the frog, he’s actually a toad. I’m trying to prove that toads don’t exist—that there are only frogs.”
Apparently this character is based off of Paolini’s sister. To what extent, I’m not sure– I’ve never met anyone this insufferable in real life and have trouble believing that Angela Paolini acted anything like this at the time of the book’s writing– but regardless of what inspiration sparked her creation, I severely wish Paolini had edited her out in the second draft.
“Tell him that a friend from Gil’ead is waiting outside.”
Unfortunately Brom is referring to himself here, and not Edris Elba as Roland Deschain from the upcoming feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
Jeod turns out to be an old friend (hence of the chapter title) of Brom’s who thought Brom was dead after some unspecified incident in the past, and who isn’t entirely pleased to learn that he’s been alive all this time.
Enough of this! Get on with the story. That’s always what you were good at,” said Jeod impatiently.
You obviously don’t know Brom as well as you’re claiming, dude.
Brom and Jeod have a needlessly obstuse conversation where Brom explains how he found some sort of Thing and brought it to Their Friends but then the Thing was stolen and he vowed to look after whoever found the Thing and Eragon just sits there silently even though a sentient plank of wood could figure out what Brom is talking about.
Brom explains that they need to take a gander at some trade records for some reason I’ve forgotten about because I don’t care, and Jeod tells him that it will be difficult because they’re held in a castle and no one is allowed to see them for some reason. Please tell me Eragon isn’t going to infiltrate a castle just to get some fucking receipts
They’re trying to hide something from me. The moment I leave they’re going to talk about it. Eragon shoved himself out of the chair and left the room, slamming the door shut. Snowfire had not moved; the knot that held him was fine. Scratching the horses’ necks, Eragon leaned sullenly against the castle wall.
It’s not fair, he complained to himself. If only I could hear what they are saying.
Hey Eragon, why don’t you fucking ask them. They’re clearly keeping important information related to your dangerous quest from you. There’s no reason why you need to to just sit there and accept that. At least try to find out through simple conversation before you start resorting to hijinks.
But no, instead he uses a spell (which he just sort of seems to know for no particular reason) that lets him overhear their conversation, which is very long and rambling and not terribly interesting.
Can you imagine how the dwarves will react? Everyone will be trying to influence him, especially Islanzadi. He and Saphira won’t be safe in Tronjheim until I at least get them through tuatha du orothrim.”
The conlong in this book is weird to a point that’s genuinely baffling. As far as I can tell Paolini just took random words from real languages, mashed them together with some made up ones, and then– and this is the confusing part– changed their meaning; so for example “tuatha” is old Irish and is usually translated as people or nation, “du” is one of the French words for some quantity of something, and I have no idea what orothrim is because I can’t find references to it that don’t relate to the Eragon series. All of this together apparently means “tempering the fool’s wisdom”, which is some sort of grade in Dragon Rider training.
Yeah, I don’t know either.
Also dwarves I guess.
“What’s going on?” he muttered to himself. Jeod and other traders are in trouble for helping people the Empire doesn’t favor. Brom found something in Gil’ead and went to Carvahall to hide. What could be so important that he would let his own friend think he was dead for nearly twenty years? He mentioned a queen—when there aren’t any queens in the known kingdoms—and dwarves, who, as he himself told me, disappeared underground long ago.
I love how Eragon asks “what’s going on” out loud (you know, as you do) and then proceeds to mentally summarise the rambling, needlessly vague conversation he just overheard.
In case you couldn’t tell, there’s some sort of rebellion against the Empire and
Obi Wan Kenobi Brom used to be part of it. I’m not sure why we couldn’t have been told this earlier, such that when Eragon overhears this he could have just been like “oh Brom’s part of the rebellion”. A lot of the plot in this book seems to be mysterious for the sole purpose of having a mystery.
“Would you mind if we went somewhere else to eat? It might be awkward if you came in right now.”
“Whatever makes you feel comfortable,” said Brom.
“The author needed an excuse to not have a scene in my house yet, so I’m just going to insist that we don’t go there for no particular reason.”
There’s a kind of amusing scene where Eragon tries to climb a tree that Saphira is perched in but gets stuck halfway up (the only good bits in this book are when Eragon and Saphira act snarky to each other), then Eragon and Brom start making preparations for their exciting shipping record-relate mission. However!
“I don’t think I’ll be able to help,” Eragon said, shifting uneasily.
“Why not?” asked Brom. “There will be plenty of work for you.”
Eragon lowered his head. “I can’t read.”
That’s an unusually grounded detail to have in a book like this. I approve.
The rest of the chapter is a whole boatload of blathering about books and why Eragon and Brom can’t use scrying to see the shipping records– that last point is expounded on in excruciating detail– but I won’t go into it since it’s incredibly dull.