Chapters Red Blade, White Blade; Visions Near and Far
It's two days after the blood oath ceremony. Eragon no longer needs to sleep, instead he goes into trances that are like waking dreams. There's no reference as to why he does this, or how it happens, but if Eragon is truly elf like, then it could be said that this is because of his transformation. Elves apparently don't sleep. This is something that many elves don't do, from Tolkien to the D&D elves. So, since elves do this, then Paolini's elves do this. Which is all the reason that they need.
Eragon feels that it wasn't his fault for what he said to Arya because he was the equivalent to being drunk. Even if he meant every word of it. Arya, however, had enough of him and has gone on to Sudra. To distract him from his broken heart, Eragon picks up the puzzle ring.
To keep himself from brooding over Arya, Eragon took Orik's puzzle ring from his nightstand and rolled it between his fingers, marveling at how keen his senses had become. He could feel every flaw in the twisted metal. As he studied the ring, he perceived a pattern in the arrangement of the gold bands, a pattern that has escaped him before. Trusting his instinct, he manipulated the bands in the sequence suggested by his observation. To his delight, the eight pieces fit together perfectly, forming a solid whole. He slid the ring onto the fourth finger of his right hand, admiring how the woven bands caught the light. (page 551)
His uber elf powers have now allowed him to solve this ring that his human senses didn't. He doesn't get to solve this ring because he figured it out on his own through determination and practice, but because he's now an elf. This is once again Paolini proving that humans are idiots and elves are perfect, because they can sense the way that the ring needs to be put together while humans just fumble around in the dark.
After doing the ring, Eragon goes off to the practice fields. Vanir is there to challenge him. Eragon draws his sword and feels so light that he pulls it out harder than he needs to and sends it flying into a tree. It sticks in the tree so hard that Vanir has trouble getting it out. He and Eragon then spar. And Eragon is amazed at how easy it is. He now has the speed and strength of the elves. He even manages to jump ten feet into the air and flips over. This reminds me of the joke, where the guy goes into surgery for his hands and asks his doctor, will I be able to play the piano when I'm done, and the doctor goes, of course. Great says the guy, I've never been able to play before. Never before has Eragon shown the ability to do such flips, but now since he's been elfified, he can.
Eragon breaks Vanir's arm and Vanir goes over to the dark side telling Eragon that is worthy of being a Rider. He's even happy that his arm is broken by Eragon, saying that he can say I was beat by Eragon Shadeslayer. Done beating up the elves, he goes and practices his archery skills. Once again he defies nature by being able to shoot thirty arrows in one minute. On his thirty-first arrow, he shatters his bow, by pulling too hard. Eragon is sad at the loss of the bow as he killed his first deer with it and his first Urgal with it and did magic with it for the first time.
When Eragon goes and tells Yoda what has happened to him, Yoda wants to know if he minds being changed. Eragon doesn't. After all his back stopped hurting. Yoda tells him he should be glad for this gift -and gift it is- and now they're on the right track. So, once again, Eragon as a human was useless and only now that he is an elf everything is going to be okay. Eragon couldn't do what he needed to do as a human, he needed to be transformed, and not by hard work or by learning, but by random magic that has never done that before. Yoda then starts to put him through his paces.
As Eragon struggled to complete the third level of the Rimgar, it became obvious that he still lacked the elve's balance and flexibility, two attributes that even the elves had to work to acquire. In a way, he welcomed these limitations, for if he was perfect, what was left for him to accomplish?
The following weeks were difficult for Eragon. One one hand, he made enormous progress with his training, mastering subject after subject that had once confounded him. He still found Oromis's lessons challenging, but he no longer felt as if he were drowning in a sea of his own inadequacy. It was easier for Eragon to read and write, and his increased strength meant that he could now cast eleven spells that required so much energy, they would kill any normal human. His strength also made him aware of how weak Oromis was compared to other elves. (page 537)
Of course, being an elf means that he's smarter and can read better. And everything is just better. But he's not perfect, even though he's beautiful, can fight better than anyone, do things that he couldn't do before he's not perfect. He's just the next best thing. For our ironic sentence competition, I'd like to nominate, "In a way, he welcomed these limitations, for if he was perfect, what was left for him to accomplish?"
So, time passes and one day Eragon goes off to contemplate ants and he hears everything. From plants to birds to single-celled organisms. He decides that "the land itself was alive and sentient. Intelligent life, he concluded, existed everywhere." (page 538) I'd like to disagree with that point. While there may be life everywhere, I don't think that it is all sentient or intelligent. Sentience requires a certain level of awareness and cognitive abilities that many animals, lower life forms, and plants don't have. Most of what they do is reactive to their environment, it's all instinctive movement, they don't think about it, they just do, reacting to stimulus from the outside world. To call all life intelligent, while a fanciful idea, is illogical.
In any case, Eragon goes to Yoda and tells him what he's heard and is told, if there were still riders around he'd be conferred as a full rider. He then gets to learn one of the greatest secrets of magic. You don't need to get energy from yourself but instead can steal it from the world around you. Eragon tries it and kills off a baby mouse and some other cute critters and is horrified, vowing never to use this sort of magic again. But he's perfectly okay with the idea of killing other sentient creatures. Eragon wants to know if it is possible to get magical energy from non-living things, like fire. Yoda tells him that reason says it's possible but no one has found the way to do it yet. I bet by the end of the three books, Eragon figures it out.
Finally, we get the elven view of religion. Eragon goes to Yoda and says, "hey, what's your religion" and Yoda says, "We believe that the world behaves according to certain inviolable rules and that, by persistent effort we can discover those rules and use them to predict events when circumstances repeat." (page 541)
He then goes on to further explain, "But I can tell you that in the millennia we elves have studied nature, we have never witnessed where the rules that govern the world have been broken. That is, we have never seen a miracle. Many events have defied our ability to explain, but we are convinced that we failed because we are still woefully ignorant about the universe and not because a deity altered the workings of nature." (page 542)
The elves must live in a very dull world when they can't believe in miracles. In any case, the elves use logic to explain the world, using magic to discover things instead of science, thus allowing them to have a belief in something other than a god. However even though they admit that they can't prove or disprove the existence of the gods, they still ridicule the dwarves for their belief in gods. Because they have faith in something, as opposed to having proof. There is nothing wrong with having faith, in fact, one could say that the elves have faith that their way of thinking things is correct and that the dwarves are wrong. They believe that reason will explain everything away, even the things that they can't explain.
Yoda brings up the fact that coral isn't really growing rock but instead living and growing organisms and the fact that the dwarves refuse to believe this and instead feel that it is the life within the stone that is being felt and that they can feel the life within all stone. There's no reason why the dwarves can't be right. Yes, coral is made from small animals, but still, that doesn't have to negate their belief. And for all we know, the dwarves do have the ability to detect life within all stone, after all just because the elves can't do it, doesn't mean that others can't.
The elves also apparently don't believe in an afterlife. So, that leaves the question of what is this "void" that they are always talking about? That indicates some sort of afterlife, even if it isn't one where people are playing their harps and everything.
This discovery that there are no gods and that there is no afterlife disturbs Eragon greatly. After all, if the elves were right then everyone else is deluded. Of course, the elves are right because they're elves and right in everything. Saphira says that dragons don't believe in higher powers because they're so powerful and that he "shouldn't ignore reality in order to comfort yourself, for once you do, you make it easy for others to deceive you." (page 544)
That night Eragon has some bad dreams and discovers that someone is scrying on him again. As this leaves him upset and unable to regain his trance he goes to read. And the white raven shows up spouting two riddles or nonsense.
By beak and bone
Mine blackened stone
sees rooks and crooks
and bloody brooks
He then says, "Son and father alike, both as blind as bats"
This gets Eragon going "You know who my father is?"
While two may share two
And one of two is certainly one,
One might be two
Is the raven's reply before flying off. I'm not even going to try and make sense of these riddles. There isn't enough to work with in either of them.
Eragon decides that he needs to scry upon Arya and see how she is. He discovers her in Sudra and they're discussing the upcoming war. Eragon learned a spell that allows you to hear things in your scry, which allows him to hear the conversation that is going on, but not see all the people in the room. One would imagine that he would only be able to hear the people he can see, but that would be logical. If he couldn't hear the other people in the room talking, he wouldn't be able to know that they're preparing for a war and it doesn't look good for them. Which would then mean that he wouldn't be able to make the decision to go help the Varden.
He then scrys on Roran, and discovers that he's on a boat with Jeod. Curious as to why Jeod is there he scrys on Teirm and discovers that their entire wharf has been destroyed. Then that Carvahall has been utterly burned to the ground. He's sad about this and cries and then decides that it's time to fight.
Was it time to challenge the Empire head-on, time to kill and rampage to the limit of their considerable abilities, time to unleash every ounce of their rage until Galbatorix lay dead before them? Was it time to commit themselves to a campaign that could take decades to resolve? (page549)
Yes, "to kill and rampage". Which is what the Empire is accused of doing. Killing and rampaging uncontrollably. Better that he says, "Time to bring the end of the Empire's reign of terror" or something like that, instead of admitting that he's going to kill and destroy things without caring as to the damage that it causes. This isn't why a hero goes to war, to kill and rampage. This is why a sociopath goes out to war. Heroes go to war to stop the killing, not to cause it.
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