Chapters Hammer and Tongs, Retaliation


Our next two chapters deal with Roran and Carvahall. They start off rather slowly as they stick with Roran and Roran is doing nothing except pacing. Literally. It would have been far more interesting have a POV of one of the established persons in Carvahall, like Horst or Sloan. Having a character that is no where near the action is pointless. Especially when he doesn't do anything introspective. Instead he just watches Carvahall and can only guess at what is happening. By keeping the POV with Roran we slow the story down and is just pointless words. We don't learn anything about Roran. All we see is him walking around. It doesn't push the story forward. So removed from the action is he, that we too become removed from the action. We don't care what is happening in Carvahall because we aren't there. We have no emotional investment in it, because Roran is not emotionally invested in it.

In in fact Paolini ends up telling us what is happening by Roran getting information, instead of us learning what happened first hand. These are just infodumps. Roran asks what has been happening and his visitor tells him. For instance, the brewer Quimby dies and is eaten leaving only bones for his widow. The horror that this could be is completely lost because it's told third hand. The immediacy of this action, this horrifying action is utter lost because we don't see them discovering the bones that were broken up to get the marrow. It's completely blunted and doesn't feel real. It's not scary. It just is.

Eventually Roran is brought back into the village for "hammer and tongs". This apparently means to go at it with great force and energy. I had to Google this. A casual reader isn't going to know what this means and it seems completely random. Unless they are familiar with blacksmithing they're probably not going to get where it comes from. However we now understand the where the chapter title comes from even if we don't understand what it means.

Apparently a group, eleven to be exact (including Roran) of the villagers have had enough of the soldiers and the Ra'zac and have decided to drive them out. I shall now go into my D&D manuals and point some things out.

Commoners suck. They aren't proficient with any sort of weapon, except a simple one (those being something like a pitchfork, a knife, a staff) and they probably don't know how to use that for defense or fighting. They don't have any armor or any sort of protection. Warriors or soldiers are fighters. They've been trained in the art of warfare. They know how to use weapons. They wear armor. Their job is to kill and destroy the opposition. There are eleven commoners and thirty soldiers plus two Ra'zac which would be considered high level soldiers. Which means they're exceptionally good at killing things.

Keeping this information in mind we move on. Horst tells the group that they just want to scare the soldiers and not kill anyone. Hi, um, I'm just sort of interjecting here on my thoughts of warfare and what not. I don't think that scaring the soldiers who have been previously shown to be completely uncaring to human life rowdy and dangerous would work. If anything it would make them very annoyed and most likely retaliate with deadly force. If you are going to be attacking the soldiers you shouldn't do it to wound, but to kill, making sure no one gets out alive that way no one gets out to tell other soldiers to bring reinforcements. After all they're basically defying the king's orders when they attack the soldiers which is grounds for treason. Which means they're going to get everyone killed.

Weapons are distributed and Roran chooses a blacksmith's hammer. He choses this because he recalls a story about Gerand, the greatest warrior of his time who killed with a hammer and not a blade. This action here also reminded me of something. But not of a great warrior, but instead of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. In it there is a character, Perrin, who is a simple blacksmith and ends up with a hammer as one of his symbols. Perrin also is the one who rallies his village into rousting the bad creatures from attacking them and sending them fleeing into the dark. He eventually becomes Lord Perrin and is basically, reluctantly, given charge of the people.

The commoners ambush the camp at night with lots of yelling and screaming and then rout the soldiers sending them fleeing. Yes, the trained soldiers' moral breaks by the fierce onslaught of ten men and a thirteen year old boy and they run. The Ra'zac don't even get into the fight because they're swept away by the fleeing soldiers. No one is seriously injured and only one soldier dies. The thirteen year old boy kneels by the dead soldier and stabs him repeatedly, crying. No one is horrified by this. They just sort of shrug and say it was the kid's right.

After they do this, they have a logical discussion about what they did and how the fact that since they just committed what amounts to treason the king is going to send more men after them and likely kill them all. When someone asks why the did this without asking the entire village for approval, the guy is told that he's a coward. Thus goes the voice of reason.

The village decides to fortify itself. They use wood, easily burnable wood, to help make walls and barriers. The soldiers and the Ra'zac come back, of course, and they go about slaughtering people and setting fire to things. The soldiers, of course, have no problems with killing people. If the commoners did it right the first time, they would have killed the soldiers for every soldier that is dead is one less soldier that can kill them when they retaliate.

This time the entire village gets into the defiance act, throwing stones and things. At one point Roran throws his hammer and it hits a Ra'zac's shield. He and Murtagh must have taken the same lessons in weapons. Bludgeoning weapons are not throwing weapons. Once again the soldiers lose the battle, though at least this time they were properly out numbered. The Ra'zac leave but not before giving Carvahall this choice, Give them Roran and they'll be sold as slaves, protect him and they'll get eaten. Lovely choice in the matter, I think. It's definitely a no win situation for the village. If anything such an offer would only incite them to rebel even more, because they don't want to be slaves and the certainly don't want to be eaten. They now have nothing to lose. And people who have nothing to lose are very deadly.

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