In this chapter, we are introducing to SuperUltraHunter Eragon, whose name sounds suspiciously like a British pronunciation of "Aragorn." Which must be a coincidence, because this book is NOTHING like Lord of the Rings!

Eragon knelt in a bed of trampled reed grass and scanned the tracks with a practiced eye. The prints told him that the deer had been in the meadow only a half-hour before. Soon they would bed down. His target, a small doe with a pronounced limp in her left forefoot, was still with the herd. He was amazed she had made it so far without a wolf or bear catching her.

This is actually a fairly promising scene, because it has the potential for some actual character development....

Unfortunately, Paolini decides to put in some landscape descriptions instead:

A silvery cloud drifted over the mountains that surrounded him, its edges glowing with ruddy light cast from the harvest moon cradled between two peaks. Streams flowed down the mountains from stolid glaciers and glistening snowpacks.

Unless that is a very large, wide and high mountain, it does not have a glacier on top. Mountains don't really have glaciers - glaciers tend to be enormous ice bodies that travel on the surface of land. They don't perch on top of mountains.

And I'm not sure why the silvery cloud would still be silvery if the moon behind it is red.

A brooding mist crept along the valley’s floor,

It wrote angsty poetry and wore lots of raccoon eye makeup.

almost thick enough to obscure his feet.

Just his feet? Nothing higher up? Don't mists that intense usually rise a bit higher?

Dark eyebrows rested above his intense brown eyes.

In general, that is where eyebrows go. Would they still count as eyebrows if they were under his eyes?

A hunting knife with a bone handle was sheathed at his belt, and a buckskin tube protected his yew bow from the mist.

Weapons porn: the Gary Stu equivalent of a Mary Sue's endless clothes descriptions.

So we find out that Eragon is in the Spine, which is basically a big, significant mountain range that runs through the land of Alagaesia...

And for some reason, it's right next to the ocean.

Another interesting question: how is "Alagaesia" pronounced? I'm thinking Ah-la-gay-see-uh, which is a rather funny way of pronouncing it if one considers the number of unintentionally homoerotic moments in the series. But it could also be Ah-la-gee-zee-uh. Or Ah-la-jee-zee-uh.

I'll just go by the movie's pronunciation, I guess.

Strange tales and men often came from those mountains, usually boding ill.

Sorta like Mirkwood? No! This isn't anything like Lord of the Rings! STOP THINKING THAT, INFIDEL!

he was the only hunter near Carvahall who dared track game deep into its craggy recesses.

... okay, I'm finding this difficult to swallow. This is supposedly a HUUUUUUGE mountain range, one which spans an entire country. Are we supposed to believe that some random rural teenager is the ONLY person in the whole area who follows animals inside? I know this is a blatant attempt to make Eragon automatically cooler and more skillful than everyone around him, but it's a pretty clumsy one.

And for that matter, this is a MOUNTAIN range. I wouldn't expect most of the game to immediately head towards mountains, which tend to have less food, colder temperatures, less shelter and harder terrain than flatter land or forests. They also don't have a lot of reeds, which tend to be in lower areas. You know, because water flows DOWN.

Plus, they have glaciers perching on top. That's weird.

It was the third night of the hunt, and his food was half gone.

He sucks as a hunter. Why not hunt some rabbits or something?

His family needed the meat for the rapidly approaching winter and could not afford to buy it in Carvahall.

I admit that my time in tiny medieval villages has been limited to afternoons at the Renaissance Faire, but I'm pretty sure that nobody in medieval villages BOUGHT meat. They might barter for it, or they might hunt it. But they'd be unlikely to buy it, right? Especially in such a poor one.

And is he planning to use one deer to feed them all winter? Wouldn't it make more sense to devote all this time and energy to growing crops, which can't run away and hide but still provide you with lots of food? Why hunt?

Eragon stood with quiet assurance in the dusky moonlight,

It doesn't seem to be dusky at present. For one thing, the moonlight should still be reddish. And it can't mean "inadequate light" or Eragon wouldn't be staggering around the mountains in search of a deer. Maybe that's why he hasn't caught anything - it's pitch black.

then drew three arrows and nocked one, holding the others in his left hand.

I would love to see how he does this. Nocking an arrow requires two hands - one to hold the bow, and the other to pull back the arrow. It's not something you can really do while holding two others in one of those hands. Does he have extra fingers or something? Can he nock and shoot a bow with only one hand?

So Eragon finally comes across a herd of deer, who are all sleeping. And... what does Eragon do? He FAILS. Eragon is officially the suckiest hunter ever. I'm pretty sure that most bowmen in medieval times could have taken out at least a couple of deer when they're SLEEPING, and perhaps a few more once they started waking up and running away.

Yet he's still aiming for a doe with an injured leg, which he could probably get AFTER the others had escaped. Loser. No wonder he hasn't caught anything.

He took a last steadying breath and—an explosion shattered the night.

"Damn, I knew I shouldn't have eaten those beans for dinner!"

So he shoots at that ONE FUCKING DOE he's obsessed with, despite the dozens of deer all around him. And he misses. Yes, truly he is a master hunter!

Behind him, where the deer had been, smoldered a large circle of grass and trees.

I assume he means that the grass and trees are burned, because circles of grass and trees usually don't smolder.

So the trees have had their needles blasted off and the grass is lying flat. You know, if the blast was that intense and did that much damage, I'd expect Eragon to have gotten hit by a bit more than hot wind. I'd expect at least some reddened painful skin. But what am I saying? Eragon is a Stu and therefore must not be put at risk.

Even then... WHY were the deer not hurt? This happened right in the middle of where they were!

And then... Eragon sees the HOLY MACGUFFIN OF SPARKLINESS!

NO, DAMMIT. It's a big blue egg stone.

Mist snaked across the scorched area and swirled insubstantial tendrils over the stone.

Mist is water vapor, not smoke. They are not the same thing, but apparently they're being used interchangeably here.

So because Eragon is a friggin' dumbass, he pokes at it with his arrow, then picks it up. Honestly, the first reaction most people would have would be to get the hell away from something that obviously caused a massive explosion. A smart person would probably wait at least a day before TOUCHING it.

Nature had never polished a stone as smooth as this one.

I dunno about that - nature has managed some pretty polished stones. 

Its flawless surface was dark blue, except for thin veins of white that spiderwebbed across it.

Keeping in mind that this eventually turns out to be a dragon egg, I cannot help but wonder what the hell those white veins are for. Or the blue coloring. Egg pigmentation has only one purpose: camouflage. And aside from a jewelry store specializing in lapis lazuli, I can't think of anyplace this egg could be camouflaged.

The stone was cool and frictionless under his fingers, like hardened silk.

  1. If the stone is frictionless, how is he holding it?
  2. Hardened silk is not particularly frictionless or smooth.
  3. So we're also told that it's a foot long and weighs several pounds. And Eragon's holding it effortlessly with one hand. REALLY?

Where did it come from? Does it have a purpose? Then a more disturbing thought came to him: Was it sent here by accident, or am I meant to have it?

He is a true Stu. A normal person might have asked the first question, but it would probably be followed by, "What IS it? How did it get here? Does it explode regularly? Should I be running the hell away from here before it explodes again?"

But no, dear Stuey Eragon is busy wondering if it was magically sent for him and him alone! Humility in a hero is totally overrated. He should always assume that the universe revolves around him.

If he had learned anything from the old stories, it was to treat magic, and those who used it, with great caution.

... except if it's pretty and shiny. Then pick it up and start preening. Also, how does treating magic with caution equate to "obviously it was sent magically to SuperStu and Superstu alone!"?

But what should I do with the stone?

Suffer without it?

No, Eragon thinks about how it would be seriously heavy to carry around, and.... OH YEAH, IT MIGHT EXPLODE. He's not really concerned very much about it, because he's holding it right next to his fucking head. But then he decides that hey, he might be able to buy something with it.

... I don't know where he got this idea, since no matter how pretty it is, there's a very limited market for exploding rocks. But then, this is Eragon the Mighty Hunter of injured does instead of whole herds of sleeping deer. Did you expect a smart decision?

The glen was too exposed to make a safe camp,

Is he in the mountains or not? Glens are valleys, usually with watercourses going through them.

And why does he need a "safe camp"? Nobody else goes into these mountains and the only animals seem to be deer. Deer aren't known for their tendency to stalk and kill people who camp out in the open.

I stand corrected.

he wrapped himself in blankets and fell asleep, pondering what had occurred.

How can you ponder what's happened while you're asleep? I assume that however awkwardly, Paolini means he fell asleep WHILE he was pondering.

And if I were the one pondering and/or falling asleep, I'd make sure that exploding rock was a good distance away. No indication of whether Eragon does this or not. I'm betting not.