Since it's the beginning of a Paolini chapter, it opens with our hero waking up.

And given all the shit that went down in the last chapter, does Eragon think about how his love interest is currently off hunting bad guys by herself? Does he think about how the Varden's leader was just killed, along with a whole bunch of other people?

Nope, our hero just sits there thinking about how his dragon looks when she's asleep.

Her muscled sides expanded and contracted as the great bellows of her lungs forced air through her scaled nostrils.

In general, that IS what breathing looks like. So… I guess he gets points for accuracy? I don't know why we need to be told this.

Eragon thought of the raging inferno that she could now summon at will and send roaring out of her maw.

As opposed to what, her ears? Her eyeballs? Her butt?

It was an awesome sight when flames hot enough to melt metal rushed past her tongue and ivory teeth without harming them.

I would LOVE to know how that happens, especially since human tongues can be burned by tea that hasn't cooled. The tongue is not intended to be flameproof, it's meant to manipulate and taste food, and in humans, assist in speech - its basically a muscle covered in taste buds. As such, why would it be fireproof. Lemme guess: IT'S MAGIC.

I might be able to swallow the "teeth" thing because she did, after all, come out of an egg that is HARDER THAN DIAMOND. But the tongue is not. Maybe dragon saliva is flame retardant?

And to be fair, I have a lot of the same questions about Godzilla.

Since she first breathed fire during his fight with Durza—while plunging toward them from the top of Tronjheim—Saphira had been insufferably proud of her new talent. She was constantly releasing little jets of flame, and she took every opportunity to light objects ablaze.

This actually sounds kind of cool and rather funny. "Saphira! Quit lighting the chairs on fire, especially when people are in them." The problem is that once again, Paolini doesn't SHOW us this, he TELLS us. It would be funnier if she did this in the hall, and Eragon had to yell at her.

Because Isidar Mithrim was shattered, Eragon and Saphira had been unable to remain in the dragonhold above it.


So after contemplating their rooming arrangements, his dragon's breathing and her fireproof tongue, Eragon FINALLY gets around to thinking about all the actual stuff going on. You know, stuff less important than Saphira's tongue.

Tears filled his eyes, spilling over, and he caught one on his hand.

… and then it evaporated, because water does that and tears are extremely small.

They had heard nothing from Arya until late that evening, when she emerged from the tunnel, weary and footsore.

I thought elves never got tired and ran so lightly that their feet never hurt. I guess Paolini forgot that part of Tolkien canon.

Despite her best efforts—and all her magic—the Urgals had escaped her.

So the super-swift elf couldn't catch up to the shambling noisy horde, each member of which has giant horns on their heads? Okay, I'm betting she sat off in some tunnel and played solitaire, since she's an Ice Princess Who Doesn't Care and because nobody got off their ass to help her.

“I found these,” she said. Then she revealed one of the Twins’ purple robes, torn and bloodied, and Murtagh’s tunic and both his leather gauntlets.

Huh? Wut?

So they stopped while they were fleeing so they could TAKE THEIR CAPTIVES' CLOTHES OFF? In particular, a TUNIC which would require them to stop and wrestle it off the torso? And his gloves? What possible reason would they have to do that?

… is anyone else thinking of bad fanfic right about now?!

“They were strewn along the edge of a black chasm, the bottom of which no tunnel reaches."

Usually people don't NEED a tunnel to go to the bottom of a chasm. There are these things called ropes. Are we really supposed to believe that the dwarves don't have rock-climbing gear, or the ability to get into chasms in their own TUNNELS?

"The Urgals must have stolen their armor and weapons and thrown the bodies into the pit."

So if they took the armor and weapons, why take off the CLOTHES underneath them, and THEN thrown them into the pit? Especially if they don't want the clothes?

"I scryed both Murtagh and the Twins, and saw naught but the shadows of the abyss.”

Not okay. This is a pretty transparent setup for the Twins and/or Murtagh to later make an OH SO DRAMATIC reentrance later in the story, probably on the side of the Fat King.

It's also really sloppy on Arya's part. Okay, she can't see anything except a big black pit. What reason does she have to think that they're DEAD? They might be injured at the bottom of it, or just stranded since there are no tunnels down to the bottom. Or maybe the Urgals WERE smart enough to bring ropes and gear, and have scaled down to the bottom. It smacks of laziness, really.

Also… "naught but the shadows of the abyss"? The faux Tolkienan dramahz,they BURN.

Her eyes met Eragon’s. “I’m sorry; they are gone.”

… so that's it? That's all? They're just gonna give up after ONE person makes a halfhearted attempt to find them? Boy, some friends THEY are. Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn ran for DAYS to save the hobbits, and they weren't even the hobbits with the Ring!

Despite allegedly being the Good Guys, the Varden don't really seem to give a flying shit about their kidnapped fellows, really. They have NO EVIDENCE that these people are dead, and they're just giving up on them because… well, it's inconvenient for Arya, really. Given the amount of blubbering over Random Guards #1-40, you would think that they'd at least want to retrieve poor Murtagh's body.

It was a dreadful, creeping feeling of loss and horror made worse by the fact that he had grown ever more familiar with it in past months.

"WAAAAAAAA, I am THE SUE! Despite the fact that the entire world is allegedly in turmoil, I am SUFFERING SOOOOOOOO because TWO PEOPLE died in the last year, and I didn't even know one of them that well! MY LIFE IS PAIN!"

As he stared at the tear in his hand—a small, glistening dome—he decided to scry the three men himself.

  1. Has Paolini ever seen a tear? Unless we're talking about elephant tears, they don't tend to look like glistening domes.
  2. He's gonna scry in a TEAR? Well, that's pointless. Even if something came up, he couldn't see it. Tears are tiny!
  3. And they evaporate pretty fast.

He knew it was a desperate and futile prospect, but he had to try in order to convince himself that Murtagh was really gone.

That is actually a rather realistic reaction, as is the part where he's thinking that he isn't sure if he wants to see what happened to Murtagh since everybody has decided he's dead with no evidence. Unfortunately, the scrying is interrupted by the dreaded Purple Prose.

Darkness enveloped the liquid, turning it into a small dot of night on his silver palm.

…. Eragon has a silver palm? Since when? Did I miss something?

Movement flickered through it, like the swish of a bird across a clouded moon . . . then nothing.

… and what the hell does THAT mean?! And shouldn't movement be an indication that Murtagh ISN'T dead, since dead people don't move in general?

Another tear joined the first.

Just once, I would love to see someone cry for real in this series. Not little poetic single tears, but big blubbering sobs, buckets of tears and snotty noses.

Anyway, once he gets his single tear out of his system, Eragon immediately forgets all about Murtagh and starts thinking about himself (naturally).

Since recovering from Durza’s wound, he had realized—humbling as it was—that he had prevailed only through sheer luck.

Uh, yeah. Luck, and someone else saving his ass at the last minute.

If I ever face another Shade, or the Ra’zac, or Galbatorix, I mustbe stronger if I expect to win. Brom could have taught me more, I know he could have. But without him, I have but one choice: the elves.

I smell a long boring training session coming up, like those arcs in every shonen anime out there where the hero realizes that he's weak/not strong enough/needs to get stronger. So he immediately goes off to some secluded spot and goes through horribly grueling training under an eccentric yet kindly master, and comes out superstrong and able to fight the Bad Guys. Sometimes they do it multiple times.

Anyway, Saphira wakes up and wishes Eragon a good morning, but he just goes all Emo and starts whining about the sucky security.

Why didn’t sentries in the tunnels warn us of the Urgals? They shouldn’t have been able to trail Ajihad’s group without being noticed. . . . Arya was right, it doesn’t make sense.

Uh, I said that. It DOESN'T make any sense, if nothing else because the Urgals aren't very stealthy and you could probably hear them coming miles away.

Saphira brushes off his emo whines and tells him to eat and find out what's up with the Varden. So Eragon drops the Emo as fast as he dropped the "I'm mourning for Murtagh" mood. However after strapping on his weapons, he's required to pick up a horse saddle. I don't even know WHY the saddle is in there, since it's nowhere near his horse.

So of course….

A line of pain sheared through his torso, driving him to the floor, where he writhed, scrabbling at his back.

Having actually experienced back pain, I can say that the LAST thing you want to do is touch your back, let alone scrabble at it.

It took minutes before the fit subsided and the last throb faded away, leaving Eragon gasping.

Now now, Eragon. What have we told you about peering at Arya in the bath?

Anyway, Eragon recovers and Saphira naturally says that he shouldn't be up and about if he's going to have random pain attacks. You'd expect the hero to say that he can't let this keep him down, or that other people have been injured worse than he is. Not Eragon:

We’re obliged as dragon and Rider to make a public choice regarding the next head of the Varden, and perhaps even influence the selection. I won’t ignore the strength of our position; we now wield great authority within the Varden. At least the Twins aren’t here to grab the position for themselves. That’s the only good in the situation.

  1. I HATE people who try to use their influence in political matters, mainly because such people are usually driveling uninformed idiots.
  2. Example: ALL OF HOLLYWOOD.
  3. It's weird that they DO have any influence on the Varden, mainly because Paolini seems to think that a newborn dragon and a farm boy would be considered politically savvy just because they…. well, because they exist. What sense does this make? They've been around the Varden for, like, a week - and suddenly they're considered the best judges of who should lead the entire resistance? People stupid enough to think that deserve what they're saddled with.
  4. So once again, Eragon's main focus is BIG PULSATING EGO. It never even OCCURS to him that maybe he and Saphira should stand back and observe, and only get involved if things get out of hand. NO! It's their "obligation" to influence the whole shebang, and possibly saddling the Varden with a rotten leader due to his favoritism.

Very well, but Durza should suffer a thousand years of torture for what he did to you.

He should be sentenced to read the entire Anita Blake, Sword of Truth and Twilight series.

So having puffed up his own ego enough for one morning, Eragon goes trotting off to the kitchens so other people can puff up his ego for him. It also raises some interesting questions...

Together they made their way through Tronjheim, toward the nearest kitchen. In the corridors and hallways,

Okay, how big are these corridors and hallways? Usually "corridors" are rather small, and "hallways" (as opposed to "halls") aren't too huge either. Yet apparently Saphira is able to not only fit, but meander comfortably to the kitchen? Ow, my brain.

people stopped and bowed to them, murmuring “Argetlam” or “Shadeslayer.” Even dwarves made the motions, though not as often.

OH ERAGON YOU'RE SO AWESOME LET US BOW TO YOU CUZ YOU'RE A DRAGON RIDER WHICH AUTOMATICALLY MAKES YOU AWESOME… it just never even occurs to Paolini to have his Stu treated like a normal person, or even just without deference and worship, huh?

And... ARGETLAM? Really? As if he hadn't grabbed all sorts of other "kewl" nicknames for himself, we now have a blatant use of the old Irish hero-king-god's name, Nuada Airgetlám. Why? Because that god had a silver hand, and Eragon has a silver MARK on his hand, which are totally the same thing!

And it's not like OTHER dragon-riders had the same mark on their hands! Noooooo, only Eragon gets that name!

Eragon was struck by the somber, haunted expressions of the humans and the dark clothing they wore to display their sadness. Many women were dressed entirely in black, lace veils covering their faces.

Yes, how surprising it is that the humans are sad, and are openly displaying that they're sad. They only just had a huge horrible battle that left a lot of people dead. Why the hell is Eragon "struck" by this? What was he expecting, merriment and confetti? Is it really SO surprising to him that people are sad?

I imagine this is Paolini's clumsy way of trying to indicate that whooooaaaa people are SAD and GRIEVING. But it just makes Eragon seem even more sociopathic and self-absorbed that he actually finds it SURPRISING.

Anyway, since Eragon is SuperFamousAwesomeSpeshul, his breakfast is interrupted repeatedly by people trying to talk to him and getting chased off by Saphira. Better hope none of them is some sort of official messenger.

Who do you think has the means to take control of the Varden now that Ajihad and the Twins are gone?

Oh, lemme guess. Could it be the sociopathic teenager that everybody is sacrificing goats to?

It’s possible you could, if Ajihad’s last words were interpreted as a blessing to secure the leadership. Almost no one would oppose you.

… because of course, having a dragon automatically qualifies you to be the leader of anything and everything. Because you're now cool.

However, that does not seem a wise path to take. I see only trouble in that direction.

Presumably because then Eragon couldn't coast around the countryside dazzling people with his presence.

I agree. Besides, Arya wouldn’t approve, and she could be a dangerous enemy.

"… plus, I would TOTALLY never score with her if that happened."

Elves can’t lie in the ancient language, but they have no such inhibition in ours—she could deny that Ajihad ever uttered those words if it served her purposes.

… except that it would be easy to disprove her lie by demanding that she repeat it in the ancient language, and refusing to do so would be as good as admitting that she did lie. Oy vey. Does Paolini think ANY of this out?

No, I don’t want the position. . . . What about Jörmundur?

Nice to know that Jormundane, who was only the SECOND IN COMMAND, merits attention only if the Great And Mighty Eragon doesn't want it.

Ajihad called him his right-hand man. Unfortunately, we know little about him or the Varden’s other leaders.

So… apparently they don't value Ajihad's opinions at all? Supposedly he was SUCH a great leader and was SO wise, but his right-hand man obviously doesn't have the stuff even though he was placed in a position of power second only to their leader's? Where in the world would THAT idea come from? He'd be the best person in the whole organization, and the natural next choice.

And their only reason for thinking that he isn't: Because they don't personally know him! After all, only a personal friend of Eragon and Saphira could possibly be put in a position of power.

Such a short time has passed since we came here. We will have to make our judgment on our feelings and impressions, without the benefit of history.

… which is, quite honestly, the WORST way to select a political candidate - forget the actual facts and research, just go with your feeeeeeeelings. Because they can NEVER steer you wrong - I know because soppy romantic comedies tell me so! It worked so well for Obama voters! Go with your feeeeeeeelings!

And is Saphira basically admitting that they're the worst possible judges, since they don't know anybody in the Varden or anything about them?

Don’t forget Hrothgar and the dwarf clans; they won’t be quiet in this. Except for Arya, the elves have no say in the succession—a decision will be made before word of this even reaches them. But the dwarves can’t be—won’t be—ignored. Hrothgar favors the Varden, but if enough clans oppose him, he might be maneuvered into backing someone unsuited for the command.

Why should they be ignored or quiet? It's their stocky bottoms on the line - the Varden are basically camping out on THEIR land, in THEIR cities, and are endangering THEIR population while giving very little back except piles of corpses.

But then, they're not pretty awesome perfect elves who Crap Gold, so their opinions are a nuisance.

A person easily manipulated. He closed his eyes and leaned back. It could be anyone in Farthen Dûr, anyone at all.

So…. there's ONE person unsuited to be the Varden's leader in the whole city?

Then Saphira said, Eragon, there is someone here to see you. I can’t scare him away.

Oh, what a bother. How dare a mere mortal refuse to get lost.

Anyway, apparently our Heroic Dragon has been bullying a little boy who is bringing an official message despite the big blue monster that's growling at him.

“You have been summoned, Argetlam, to speak before the Council of Elders.”
“Who are they?”
The question confused the boy even more. “The—the council is . . . are . . . people we—that is, the Varden—choose to speak on our behalf to Ajihad. They were his trusted advisers, and now they wish to see you. It is a great honor!” He finished with a quick smile.

Holy shit. Eragon doesn't have the faintest idea of how the Varden's organization and governance work, he doesn't know who's in charge, and he doesn't know what they do. Yet somehow, he thinks he's the only person who can select a good leader because… he's got a dragon. Yeah.

So Eragon follows the kid, and asks him what his name is.

“Jarsha, sir.”
“That’s a good name. You carried your message well; you should be proud.”

Uh, why is it a good name? Usually when someone has a good name, it has to do with its meaning or namesake. In Jarsha's case… well, we know his name rhymes with "Marsha." And that…. is pretty much it.

Seated there were Jörmundur and two other men, one tall and one broad; a woman with pinched lips, close-set eyes, and elaborately painted cheeks; and a second woman with an immense pile of gray hair above a matronly face, belied by a dagger hilt peeking out of the vast hills of her bodice.

Wanna bet that the pinched-lipped lady is going to be an Ebil Nasty Enemy? Because of course, you can always tell bad guys by how they look. And why do we only hear that the guys are either "tall" or "broad"? No descriptions at all!

Anyway, Eragon and Saphira sit down and Jormundalundalund introduces the faceless Elders to Eragon.

“Thank you for coming, Eragon, even though you have suffered your own loss."

So? I doubt anyone else in the Varden is getting a day off because some dude they've known for a week died.

“They had naught to do with us. They were slime—worse than slime—leeches that worked only for their own benefit. They had no desire to serve the Varden. Thus, they had no place in this council.”

Now, given that Eragon says the exact same things, albeit less eloquently, you would think this would make him think Sabrae might be a smart person. But since she doesn't fit into the fantasy stereotypes of benevolent women, instead he thinks about this: Eragon could smell her perfume all the way on the other side of the table; it was thick and oily, like a rotting flower.

Subtle, Paolini ain't. Because of course, Good People Don't Need Cosmetics… because of course, only bad people are unattractive. Good People smell good naturally, fart glitter and have radioactive bandages.

Jormundalananananana tells them all to shut up, and that they need to choose a successor because otherwise apparently Hrothgar will get his boot in the door. And since Paolini squirms whenever dwarves are onstage, having the dwarves give ANY input would be a Bad Thing.

"We must also consider Du Vrangr Gata, the magic users. Most of them are loyal to the Varden, but it’s difficult to predict their actions even in the best of times."

… yes, because when you're staging a revolution against a superior foe, obviously you should have a bunch of unpredictable magical weirdos who might decide to help you, or they might decide to go conjure birds out of flower petals. Ajihad must have been a world-class moron to allow THAT to happen.

"They might decide to oppose our authority for their own advantage. That is why we need your assistance, Eragon, to provide the legitimacy required by whoever is to take Ajihad’s place.”

I assume that Paolini is trying to create the impression that this is a complex political drama with all sorts of hidden machinations, but frankly he's failing. Instead, he's making the various Varden characters seem weak and paranoid, not to mention rather racist since they don't want the dwarves involved in their decision-making processes (while living in their cities, draining their resources and endangering their population).

Falberd heaved himself up, planting his meaty hands on the table.

Ah, so Falberd is fat. Wanna bet he's bad too?

Anyway he says that the five in the Council have decided who they're gonna support and they're 100% sure that they have the right guy/girl. Amazing. They haven't called Eragon in to tongue-wash his feet and tell him how glad they are that he'll be in charge. But, they want Eragon to promise not to blab the person's identity if they tell him.

This reasonable requestion causes Eragon to act like an idiot and Saphira to turn into a paranoid freak.

Why would they want that? Eragon asked Saphira.

Oh, I dunno. Maaaayybeeeeee... they don't want some idiot blabbing their choice all over the city, so somebody else can undermine them?

I don’t know, she said, snorting. It might be a trap. . . . It’s a gamble you’ll have to take. Remember, though, they haven’t asked me to pledge anything. I can always tell Arya what they say, if needed. Silly of them, forgetting that I’m as intelligent as any human.

Riiiiiight, because asking for some discretion "might be a trap." This is making Saphira look as paranoid as Eragon is stupid, and it's especially bizarre from someone who has exactly ZERO experience in all matters political.

And for that matter, why are they getting all worked up about promising to keep it secret? It's usually considered okay to break a promise if the circumstances demand. They're not demanding he vow it in the ancient language, just saying that he won't walk out and howl, "THEIR CHOICE FOR THE VARDEN LEADER IS..."

Pleased with the thought, Eragon said, “Very well, you have my word. Now, who do you want to lead the Varden?”

.... well, THAT made exactly zero sense.

It also raises the WTFey question of just what is up with the governance of the Varden - so now apparently leadership is a hereditary matter, and if your daddy was the previous leader you automatically get a nomination? And rebel groups now have hereditary-based leadership? What the hell is going on here?

Paolini seems to be doing his best to muddle up whether the Varden will democratically choose a leader, or have one just step up to the plate like royalty. Presumably this is because even he knows that in an organization like the Varden, Nasuada being nominated by anybody would result in a round of hearty knee-slapping hilarity.

He had not considered Nasuada for the succession because of her youth—she was just a few years older than Eragon.

... and probably about as well-equipped to lead.

No real reason existed, of course, for her not to lead,

Aside from total inexperience? Implied favoritism? Extremely limited military knowledge? Lack of any evidence that she can lead a vast multiracial alliance and keep it from being destroyed?

Anyway, Saphira approves of Nasuada being in charge, and... well, not for any real reason. Eragon starts asking while Jormmyboy isn't being made leader instead.

Elessari just smiled, the dagger hilt jiggling on her chest.

Pretty clearly, Paolini has never encountered big boobs, or he'd know that you don't store knives in them... at best, you store stuff in the BRA.

And... ELESSARI? Like Aragorn's name but with a vowel added? Would it have killed him to be SLIGHTLY LESS obvious... oh wait, the last book is called "Eragon."

“Because,” said Jörmundur, selecting his words with care, “Ajihad was speaking of military matters then, nothing more. Also, I am a member of this council, which only has power because we support one another. It would be foolish and dangerous for one of us to raise himself above the rest.”

Which is actually a reasonable answer to make, and shows that Jormywormy has more political awareness and savvy than Eragon can even spell. Let's be honest here: if he's a member of that council, and the others have their own supporters and factions, then they could potentially rip apart the Varden if he tried to take the proverbial throne.

But Paolini demonizes Jormungalung by claiming that he'd grab power if possible, which of course can only be done for Ebil Selfish reasons, rather than wanting to stabilize the extremely unstable group they're in. He even has Saphira call him a "wolf." Ironically, Eragon was arrogantly meditating on how obviously he is the first choice for their new leader a few scenes ago Cuz He Has A Dragon, so I wonder if this is just sour grapes.

In other words, Paolini dismally fails political-thriller writing.

Jiggleboobs starts rambling about how Nasuada is such a loveable flaky leader who can be easily guided, and how she's taking her "rightful position." Since she's being pretty blatant about it, Eragon realizes that they're talking about using Nasuada as a puppet... which, of course, is Always Bad even if it's the lesser of two evils.

And then one of the guys (I think it's the fat one, but who can tell them apart?) says that they're going to appoint Nasuada as their new leader after Ajihad's funeral. They haven't even ASKED her, but they've decided that she'll agree, and they apparently think that nobody could POSSIBLY derail their plans by, oh, say, demanding a leader who has some actual experience.

Oh, and they want Eragon to swear fealty to the Varden, so Hrothgar can't make a justified fuss about their selection.

Saphira quickly touched Eragon’s mind. Notice, they don’t want you to swear to Nasuada—just to the Varden.
Yes, and they want to be the ones to appoint Nasuada, which would indicate that the council is more powerful than she. They could have asked Arya or us to appoint her, but that would mean acknowledging whoever did it as above everyone in the Varden. This way, they assert their superiority over Nasuada, gain control over us through fealty, and also get the benefit of having a Rider endorse Nasuada in public.

  1. In other words, the Council has all the brains that Eragon doesn't have. And the only reason they're being so blatant is apparently because Eragon is too dumb to realize this stuff (and thus convey it to the readers) if they manipulated him.
  2. Note how he oh-so-humbly states that he or Arya could have been chosen to appoint Nasuada... despite the fact that they have no political power or experience. Apparently they're more qualified than the people who actually RULE the Varden, because one is a gold-crapping elf and the other Haz A Dragon. Why the hell would the people who are doing the actual work defer to people who contribute virtually nothing and know even less, merely because they are Super Speshul?
  3. Also, note how someone appointed by a Gold Crapping Elf and a Farm Boy With A Dragon is considered "above" anyone and everyone else, even the people doing the actual work.

Eragon tries to be the oh-so-tuff hero by trying to bluff the Elders by asking what will happen if he decides not to accept the "offer," and suggests that hey, maybe he won't because he's a SuperSpeshul Dragon Rider and maybe HE'LL take over the Varden. Our hero, people.

Eragon also demonstrates that he sucks at bluffing - or detecting a bluff - because he manages it for about two seconds. So basically he waltzes right into the Council's hands.

With Ajihad gone, said Saphira, it may be impossible to remain independent of every group, as he wanted us to. We cannot anger the Varden, and if this council is to control it once Nasuada is in place, then we must appease them. Remember, they act as much out of self-preservation as we do.

Finally, a halfway smart pronouncement.... except that if I recall correctly, Ajihad's last request was that they not let the Varden fall apart. But Eragon really doesn't seem to give a crap about the Varden's well-being, because his main goal seems to be that HIS ego be sufficiently puffed up, and that a leadership that HE approves of (rather than one that might actually work) is put in place.

Evidently Paolini is one of those naive people who thinks that politics is entirely made up of either Ebil Scheming Liars, or Morally-Upright Good Guys... rather than everybody being mostly the former. This is not Game of Fucking Thrones!

But of course, Eragon starts wangsting overtime about how the Ebil Council will obviously try to trap them there rather than letting them go to Ellesmera. It's a pretty contrived whine, since he has a FREAKING DRAGON and could easily fly off whenever he wants to.

Saphira brushed the top of his head with her jaw. Agree to be at this ceremony with Nasuada; that much I think we must do. As for swearing fealty, see if you can avoid acquiescing. Perhaps something will occur between now and then that will change our position . . . Arya may have a solution.

I'm not quite sure why their position needs to be changed, or why they can't come up with some sort of alternative to actually swearing fealty. And how sad is it that Eragon is being given instructions on political wrangling by a NEWBORN LIZARD?

Anyway, he agrees and Jormunglebungle says that they just need to get Nasuada's acceptance... which seems like they're doing all this backwards.

"And Arya too—we need the elves’ approval before making this decision public."

... and WHY is that? The elves don't seem to be contributing something. They aren't providing troops, shelter, magical assistance, food or anything else - they have sent one elf as a representative, and that seems to be it. Who cares about their approval?

On the other hand, the DWARVES are actually involved in this war, and are providing virtually everything for these morons. And in return, the Varden actually go out of their way to AVOID letting the dwarves have any influence on Varden political matters, apparently because... they're dwarves. I mean, they're not tall and elegant and magical like elves, so obviously they're only good to support the Designated Good Guys and nothing else.

"It shouldn’t be difficult to procure; Arya cannot go against our council and you, Eragon. She will have to agree with our judgment.”

... because of course the council means absolutely nothing, but Farm Boy With Dragon's opinion matters SO much.

Fortunately Elessari isn't dumb enough to let Eragon's blatant evasion get past her, so she demands that he promise he'll swear fealty to the Varden. Since he hasn't got a choice, he says he will.

They’re afraid of us!
As well they should be,
sniped Saphira.

Of course they're afraid of you, dumbass. This is a blithering idiot with no long-term vision, budding sociopathic tendencies, and a big fire-breathing lizard that is smarter than he is. If Saphira weren't in the room, I doubt they'd be frightened by Eragon's clumsy attempts at political bluffing.

First came Nasuada, chin held high and eyes steady. Her embroidered gown was the deepest shade of black, deeper even than her skin, broken only by a slash of royal purple that stretched from shoulder to hip.

... yes, because it makes PERFECT sense that an appointed official of a REBEL MOVEMENT would be wearing royal colors, embroidered clothes and a sash-like design. Why doesn't Paolini cut to the chase and give her a tiara?

You know, that's one of the things the original Star Wars movies did right. Leia wore a few flowy dresses, but only in places where she was either given clothes, or was acting in a royal capacity. As a rebel leader, she wore really utilitarian, inelegant, ugly clothing. It didn't matter that she was a princess. They had no resources for purty clothes, and no use for them!

Behind her was Arya, her stride as lithe and smooth as a cat’s, and an openly awestruck Jarsha.


The boy was dismissed, then Jörmundur helped Nasuada into a seat. Eragon hastened to do the same for Arya, but she ignored the proffered chair and stood at a distance from the table.

When is Eragon going to take the hint? She's just not that into you! If he weren't such an arsehole, I'd actually feel sorry for him for embarrassing himself so much.

Saphira, he said, let her know all that’s happened. I have a feeling the council won’t inform her that they’ve compelled me to give the Varden my loyalty.

... and I can see why, since apparently the elves have an inexplicable sense of entitlement as far as the Varden are concerned. "Hey, guess what! We got the arrogant little loose cannon to pledge his loyalty to our organization, even though he was acting like he was loyal to us before! WIN!"

Jormungledunglebungle offers official and personal sympathies to Nasuada, and Nasuada acts all sad and lonely and girly.

She sat, shy and demure, and with an air of vulnerability that made Eragon want to comfort her.

He doesn't see why people are grieving, doesn't bother to go after his abducted friend, and his dragon tries to frighten small children. But hey, he wants to give Nasuada a hug. He's such a nice person.

And then the crappy faux-monarchistic stuff starts pouring out: “This council cannot lead the Varden."

.... why not?

Seriously, why not? It seems like they're running things pretty well as present, and it's certainly a better option than a lone leader getting to make all the orders. Most countries or organizations are effectively run by a pyramidal structure of large elected councils, even if they have a president or a monarch. So exactly why can't a rebel organization be run by a council openly?

Oh wait, Eragon doesn't like the council, so they're automatically unsuited to rule the Varden. Makes sense.

"We ask that you receive the position. As his heir, it is rightfully yours—the Varden expect it of you.”

BULLCRAP. The leadership of a newly-formed political movement - not a monarch, a MOVEMENT which includes other kingdoms - does not have their kids as "heirs" who "rightfully" take over after daddy pops his clogs. They generally have the lesser leaders take up the leadership, not a teenager whose only qualification is that she was related to the previous leader. Even Napoleon II did more than just exist.

This is NOT a kingdom. It's a freaking political rebellion, meaning that it should not logically have hereditary traditions or rulers. And no actual political rebellion would jeopardize its existence and purpose out of some bizarre idea that elected officials = royalty.

And what is Paolini talking about, that the Varden "expect" it of Nasuada? Why would they? If you heard tomorrow that the president had been killed, would the American people EXPECT that his kid would immediately become the new president?

“I never thought I would be called upon to take my father’s place so young. Yet . . . if you insist it is my duty . . . I will embrace the office.”

Evidently Nasuada is as arrogant as Eragon is, since she apparently thought that she WOULD be called on to take her father's place, just not so soon. Cuz she's Eragon's buddy, and thus So Awesome.