Chapters The Obliterator, Narda


What we have now is the training montage. Eragon is learning how to control energy which he excels at for "he possessed the talent to judge nigh exactly how much strength a task required and whether it would exceed that of his body." (page 390). Now aside from the use of the word "nigh" I would like to point out that Eragon has continually shown that he does not know how to do that because he's constantly drained himself to the point of collapsing. Yet apparently now he knows how to do this. And not only that he has a talent for that. It would be nice to have been shown this before hand. But, this isn't important because Eragon has to be that good at the most difficult thing. Yoda continues to try and kill Eragon with the excuse of teaching him how to detect and neutralize poisons. He's been poisoning his food. Eragon has to neutralize poison, go hungry or get sick. He gets sick several times, but unfortunately Yoda heals him.

He learns all about the magic of the elves including the fact that they can alter their bodies. In fact Yoda says that this is their greatest weakness, they're vain. And they use their magic to make them look like they want. Now, earlier, Yoda mentioned that not all the elves have magical abilities and those that do have it in negligible amounts. Barely enough to heal a bruise. But they have enough power to change their bodies to reflect their personalities. Yet, they all seem to look the same, from what we've been seen. But we're told that some elves alter there anatomy to various environments or seem more animal than elf. Funny how we haven't seen those sorts of elves before.

Eragon also becomes a voracious reader. Which now can excuse any sort of dictionary and thesaurus abuse coming from him. He learns about alternative ways of thinking which "challenge his beliefs and reexamine his assumptions from everything from the rights of an individual within society to what caused the sun to move across the sky." (page 392). Looking at this sentence I would like to remind us that Eragon's beliefs in the rights of the human individuals in society is rather similar as ours. IE that people have the rights to live as the wish and that slavery is wrong. Which then begs the question what is it that the elves believe and what were on these scrolls that made him change or challenge his beliefs. Does he now think that slavery is a good thing?

Another thing that he does learn is that elves do not believe in marriage. "but rather they took mates for however long they wanted, whether it be for a day or a century." Not only is this a conformation of my belief that the elves are hippies, but this free love ideal is also a conformation that this is Paolini's perfect society. After all he can love who he wants when he wants and for as long as he wants. It's all free love and sex. Something that any young man would desire. No commitment necessary. Which of course goes in the face of his idea of their being a true love. But this contradiction isn't important because it's what Paolini wants and the convention of the fantasy genre. Human and elves don't generally inter marry but when it did happen mostly it happened between the Riders. But for some reason the Immortal forever young riders grew old and died while the elves do not which caused the relationships to end. I'm not sure how exactly that works. The only thing I could begin to assume is that it's supposed to be a warning for Eragon that he and Arya won't work.

In any case they train. And Vanir continues to dislike Eragon. So do his cronies. They all like Saphira, but dislike Eragon. Eventually Eragon loses his temper and attacks Vanir with magic. Vanir beats the shit out of him again with magic, but without saying a single word.

Eragon asks him why Vanir dislikes him so much, it's because he's human, like Galby and a cripple. But before Eragon could wallow in misery, Saphira tells him that Vanir is wrong and that she picked the right person. Thus eliminating any potential self doubt that he could have.

When he goes to Yoda, he's told he shouldn't have let his temper get the better of him. After that, Eragon asks how did Vanir do magic without saying anything. We then learn that the ancient language isn't how magic really works. "Sound has no control over magic. Saying a word or phrase in this language is not what is important, it's thinking them in this language." With a flick of his wrist, a golden flame appeared over Oromis' palm, then disappeared. "However, unless the need is dire, we still utter our spells out loud to prevent stray thoughts from disrupting them, which is a danger to even the most experienced magic user." (page 398)

To this I ask, what dire circumstances were there for the queen when she made flowers appear out of nowhere without saying a word? "Now Oromis smiled. "Why indeed? I must point out that we ourselves are not the source of magic. Magic can exist on its own, independent of any spell, such as the werelight in the bogs by Aroughs, the dream well in Mani's Caves in the Beor Mountains and the floating crystal on Eoam. Wild magic such as this is treacherous, unpredictable, and often stronger than we can cast.

"Eons ago, all magic was thus. To use it required nothing but the ability to sense magic with your mind - which every magician must possess - and the desire and strength to use it. Without the structure of the ancient language, magicians could not govern their talent and, as a result, loosed many evils upon the land, killing thousands. Over time they discovered that stating their intention in their language helped them to order their thoughts and avoid costly errors. But it was no foolproof method. Eventually, an accident occurred so horrific that it almost destroyed every living being in the world. We know of the event from fragments of manuscripts that survived the era, but who or what cast the fatal spell is hidden from us. The manuscripts say that, afterward, a race called the Grey Folk -not elves, for we were young then - gathered their resources and wrought an enchantment, perhaps the greatest that was or ever shall be. Together the Grey Folk changed the nature of magic itself. They made it so their language, the ancient language, could control what a spell does... could actually limit the magic so that if you said burn that door and by chance looked at me and thought of me, the magic would still burn the door, not me. And the gave the ancient language its two unique traits, the ability to prevent those who speak it from lying and the ability to describe the true nature of things. How they did this remains a mystery." (page 398)

Now besides this being a long and pointless info-dump on magic, it also resembles the Charter in Garth Nix Abhorsen series. There was wild magic and then some great people beings got together and tame it making it only safely usable by means of signs or words. But it's still possible to use the untamed magic, but it's more dangerous that way and definitely not recommended. It's also considered the greatest work of magic known. However a big difference between the Abhorsen series and this, is that we learn about the charter and how it works through it being shown while learning bits about its history through out the three books. We never learn exactly how the Charter was created or why it was created, but that's not important to the books. Here we learn who created the magic why it was created and sort of how in a large boring chunk of "You're not supposed to know, but I'll tell you anyway" info dumping. This adds nothing to the story except giving Eragon the ability to do wordless magic. Which is kinda like wandless magic in the Harry Potter fan fictions. Even if he's ever drugged again and unable to think of the ancient language he can still use magic. Because magic doesn't depend on the ancient language. In fact, according to this, you don't even need the ancient language to do magic. It's all about the intent.

Eragon doesn't lose his temper ever again at Vanir and his back starts to act up more frequently. But no one does anything about the pain. Or looks at his back. Or tries to figure out how to break the curse. They just let him fall about in pain. Which is really not how you want to have your savior. If these elves were really were interested in his welfare they would have healers around the clock trying to figure out how to fix it. Instead they have him just deal with it.

Obviously they really want him to die.

Then we have this ridiculous scene: One morning as he clung to a spike on her neck, Eragon said, I have a new name for pain. 'What's that?' 'The Obliterator. Because when you're in pain, nothing else can exist. Not thought. Not emotion. Only the drive to escape the pain. When it's strong enough the Obliterator strips us of everything that makes us who we are, until we're reduced to creatures less than animals, creatures with a single desire and goal: escape'A good name then.

(page 400)

This is where we get the title of our chapter from. However, I would like to point out, if he had any brains, he would be looking for a way to fix it, instead of suffering these continuing bouts of pain. Which proves that he's a masochist after all, if he really wanted the pain to stop, he would have done something about it. That and his tendency to torture and kill random people means that he's sadomasochistic.

So, Eragon is now a sadomasochistic sociopath. Such a lovely role model for our children.

Eragon suffers some more pain while with Yoda and tells him to shove the yoga. Yoda tells him not to abandon hope and that he stands between the light and the dark. "Ignorance, fear, hate" are their enemies and he should deny them with all his power. And that sounds an awful lot like the Jedi code. Eragon listens to him and gets up. Afterwards they take a bath in a stream.

Meanwhile, back with Roran, the village of Carvahall has reached Narda. It takes them a month to get there. It took Eragon and Brom less than a month to travel further than that. Though this could be explained that they were on horseback and Carvahall had a lot of people on foot. Roran continues to mimic Perrin by growing a beard.

Surprisingly they've had very few losses in the travel over the Spine. Three old people froze at one point and someone drowned in a glacier stream. Oh and a child broke his arm. These people are extremely lucky. Especially since the Spine is supposed to be so evil and dangerous that lots of people died horrible deaths when they went in there. To equivalent this to real life, the hardest part of the journey on the Oregon trail was crossing the Rocky Mountains. Now their wagons put them at a disadvantage but they still suffered the most losses in the mountains. The village had no experienced mountaineers no trail to follow. And they only lost four people and had one accident. This is unnatural luck. Unrealistic even.

Roran and a group of people go into Narda. At the gate they're asked what they're doing there. They lie and when one of the guards asks what Roran's hammer is for, he says for cracking glaze, cause he's a potter. Once inside, the guards swallowing that lie, they discover wanted posters for Roran and Eragon. The reward for Roran is 10,000 crowns. For Eragon they're going to get an earldom. They're both wanted for treason.

The group splits up and Roran, Hurst and Baldor go looking for a boat to transport the village to Teirm. Roran stares at the ocean and somehow knows what a sea gull is, but not a pelican. The only thing they can find is a guy with three barges. Which they agree to charter, even though they don't have the money. Our good future's king's solution? Steal the barges or incapacitate the owner and the crew. Apparently he's never heard of bargaining. They don't even try to bargain with the barge owner. They just take his price and then decide to not pay him and steal from him. Once again this is an example of the slip shod morality that is being applied to Paolini's heroes. It's okay to do wrong things because they're good and it's necessary for the greater good. But taxes? Nope, automatically makes you evil if you're Evil.

Of course the best part of this chapter, and term used loosely, is when the villagers discover that they have to take barges. One of them declares, "Barges? We don't want no stinking barges!"

Yes, Paolini just dropped a movie reference into his book. In fact if I didn't know any better, I would have said that the entire reason he has the barges is so that he could use that one line.

All argument to the barges is dropped when Roran declares it's the barges or walking.

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