So this chapter begins in a semi-realistic manner: Eragon wakes up and gets upset because his uncle is dead:
When Eragon’s eyes opened, the memory of Garrow’s death crashed down on him. He pulled the blankets over his head and cried quietly under their warm darkness. It felt good just to lie there . . . to hide from the world outside.
Again, a nice moment. Also a lack of single crystal tears.
Eventually the tears stopped. He cursed Brom. Then he reluctantly wiped his cheeks and got up.
Well, that was an interesting trio of tell-don't-show moments.
So Brom is making breakfast, and Eragon is still pissed. And considering what happened the last time Eragon rode his dragon, he decides to make a saddle for Saphira.
When he finished, Eragon washed his bowl with snow, then spread the stolen leather on the ground.
... I thought this place was barely large enough for the three of them. Is Saphira sitting in a tree?
“Mmm,” said Brom, moving forward. “Well, dragons used to have two kinds of saddles. The first was hard and molded like a horse’s saddle. But those take time and tools to make, neither of which we have. The other was thin and lightly padded, nothing more than an extra layer between the Rider and dragon. Those saddles were used whenever speed and flexibility were important, though they weren’t nearly as comfortable as the molded ones.”
“Do you know what they looked like?” asked Eragon.
“Better, I can make one.”
WHY IS THIS GUY STILL PRETENDING TO NOT BE A DRAGONRIDER? He basically blurts out EVERYTHING that a person could POSSIBLY know about the Dragonriders, and he knows how to do stuff that only they would know how to do, and he was toting around a Dragonrider SWORD... and yet he still won't just say he was one! I mean who other than a Dragonrider would KNOW how to make a saddle for a dragon?! Who else would be toting around a Dragonrider's SueSword? Who else would know EVERY PIECE OF TRIVIA there is to know about them?!
So we get a boring interlude of cutting leather, boring holes, stitching, measuring, and the questionable structure of the saddle.
Attached to the front was a thick loop that would fit snugly around one of Saphira’s neck spikes,
WAIT! Waitwaitwait! A frigging SPIKE? You can't attach a saddle to something like that - it would slip right off!
while wide bands sewn on either side would wrap around her belly and tie underneath.
... just how much leather did Eragon steal?! This is like a whole herd of cows! Or half the Anita Blake cast!
Taking the place of stirrups were a series of loops running down both bands. Tightened, they would hold Eragon’s legs in place.
Okay, what I know about riding could fit in a mouse's thimble. As far as I'm concerned, you sit on the horse and it zooms around. That's it. That's all I know.
But somehow it doesn't seem like a realistic design to me. I mean, you're TYING your legs to your mount, probably doing a continuous split the whole time since dragons are supposed to be BIG. Stirrups are meant to keep you from falling off and help you control your mount - they're not supposed to be the saddle equivalent of a straitjacket! And it seems like a bad idea to have your legs immobilized completely so you CAN'T MOVE them or get off if you want to. What's more, it seems like it would hurt the rider to be having their upper body whipping around like a rag doll while their lower body stayed perfectly stationary.
While Brom worked, Eragon repaired his pack and organized their supplies. The day was spent by the time their tasks were completed.
And where did Brom get all these tools?! Leatherworking is not something you can do so casually!
“You did a good job,” Eragon acknowledged grudgingly.
Brom inclined his head. “One tries his best. It should serve you well; the leather’s sturdy enough.”
For that matter, was the leather even treated? Was it fully dried? Was it tanned?
Anyway, Eragon is reluctant to try his new saddle, since he almost got his penis scraped off the last time he tried. So instead.... they eat dinner and make plans to leave the next day. And Brom finally semi-apologizes without actually saying that he did anything wrong: “Eragon, I must apologize about how events have turned out. I never wished for this to happen. Your family did not deserve such a tragedy. If there were anything I could do to reverse it, I would. This is a terrible situation for all of us.”
Would it kill you to say that you screwed up epically? He makes it sound like this was a fucking act of God, like a meteor landed on Eragon's farm and squished his uncle. Dude, you fucked up. Admit it. Say it! Say it! SAY IT! SAY THE WORDS!
Unsurprisingly Eragon is not moved by Brom's total non-apology, so Brom changes the subject and says that they have to buy horses. Because this is high fantasy, and you need horses. Just ask Diana Wynne-Jones. Someone should send Christopher Paolini a whole box filled with copies of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
Eragon poohpoohs this idea because he has a frigging DRAGON. Can't blame him for that.
“We’re going to need horses.”
“Maybe you do, but I have Saphira.”
Brom shook his head. “There isn’t a horse alive that can outrun a flying dragon, and Saphira is too young to carry us both. Besides, it’ll be safer if we stay together, and riding is faster than walking.”
.... maybe I'm not the tactical genius who got his ass handed to him by a couple of bargain-basement-bin Nazguls, but this doesn't make sense to me.
- You just made him a saddle. Why did you make him a saddle if you don't want him to ride the dragon?
- Nobody was demanding that the house outrun a dragon. Can't Saphira just... fly slower? Is there a minimum speed limit for dragons?
- Why can't you stay together by having the dragon fly over the horse?
In conclusion, Brom is weird and awful and needs to shut up.
“But that’ll make it harder to catch the Ra’zac,” protested Eragon. “On Saphira, I could probably find them within a day or two. On horses, it’ll take much longer—if it’s even possible to overtake their lead on the ground!”
Brom said slowly, “That’s a chance you’ll have to take if I’m to accompany you.”
Do you get the feeling that Brom is one of those grumpy old coots who likes to hold back kids just.... because? These kids today, with your Internets and their blue jeans and their iPods and their dragons and their running water...
“All right,” he grumbled, “we’ll get horses. But you have to buy them. I don’t have any money, and I don’t want to steal again. It’s wrong.”
“That depends on your point of view,” corrected Brom with a slight smile.
... isn't the whole point of a kindly paternal mentor to give GUIDANCE to the impressionable young hero, not tell him to commit crimes?!
“Before you set out on this venture, remember that your enemies, the Ra’zac, are the king’s servants. They will be protected wherever they go. Laws do not stop them. In cities they’ll have access to abundant resources and willing servants. Also keep in mind that nothing is more important to Galbatorix than recruiting or killing you—though word of your existence probably hasn’t reached him yet."
... YES?! SO?! That doesn't mean stealing is okay! I mean, you might be able to make a case if he stole horses from the Evil Army of Evil. But I think that Eragon means buying horses from random kindly civilians who sell horses to other people! That certainly seems to be the implication!
And come on, they don't even HAVE to steal the horses. I mean, apparently Brom can actually pay. I could understand stealing the horses if the Ra'zac were chasing you down the street and you had to choose between
- A) immediate death
- B) impulsive theft
with no third option. But come on! They haven't encountered the Ra'zac, and already Brom is arguing that it's morally okay to cold-bloodedly steal horses from innocent third-party commonfolk... the same commonfolk allegedly being downtrodden by the empire... because the Ra'zac are on the villainous side! ARGHHHHH!
In other words, Brom is insisting that they should steal from innocent citizens and that this is morally okay because the Ra'zac have an advantage. Now, it apparently doesn't matter at all that these people have nothing to do with the Empire and are just trying to make an honest living - it's okay for you to steal from them because you are the Main Character and anything you do to bring down the Designated Villains is acceptable! After all, as long as he gets to level-up, everything is acceptable!
"The longer you evade the Ra’zac, the more desperate he’ll become."
Because he's a Designated Villain and you're a Designated Hero. It's pretty much required that sooner or later you'll kick his ass.
"He’ll know that every day you’ll be growing stronger and that each passing moment will give you another chance to join his enemies."
Just... like... Luke... Skywalker.
"You must be very careful, as you may easily turn from the hunter into the hunted.”
... so yes, he already is the hunted! He's not the hunter, he's been the hunted from the beginning! FUCKNUTS, this is a stupid story! Brom, you fail Gandalf 101 forever! If you're not telling the young hero that it's fine to commit CRIMES or getting his family killed, you're telling him the freaking obvious!
Eragon was subdued by the strong words. Pensive, he rolled a twig between his fingers.
Don't worry, Eragon. Your twig will be a full-grown branch someday!
Take another swig for Unintentional Sexual Moments. Don't worry, they get MUCH worse. And even more explicitly phallic.
“Enough talk,” said Brom. “It’s late and my bones ache. We can say more tomorrow.” Eragon nodded and banked the fire.
... and so he just spurts out all these rather important facts and then... goes to sleep?
"... so that's why you're almost doomed, why we're buying horses and why theft is perfectly acceptable as long as you're the Designated Hero."
"Time for beddy-byes."
"But I don't quite understand-"
"You don't need to. You just need to do whatever I say even though I've royally screwed up everything so far while refusing to actually tell you anything useful."
"But this doesn't-"
"Don't ask questions or I will slap you with my sapphire ring hand."
And I guess... they go to sleep. Does that mean we should knock back another drink, since Eragon is IMPLIED to be going to sleep?