It is truly shocking how little I care about the goings-on in Carvahall, Eragon’s village. Since I’ve read Eragon already and know what’s going to happen, there’s no tension in this chapter anymore. I wonder if this is one of the reasons I never read this book twice, despite how much I enjoyed it the first time around. So far it’s the longest chapter in the book, and it’s nothing but exposition.
Before I get into that, though, I want to pick apart the text.
“He helped himself to a piece of chicken, which he devoured hungrily.”
Does anyone else see what’s wrong with that sentence?
I’ve taken enough creative writing classes to know that you should (a) avoid adverbs and (b) use verbs for description.
I love how Stephen King put it in his memoir, On Writing:
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day…fifty the day after that…and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s–GASP!!–too late.”
One or two adverbs here or there are okay. Too many, though, and they become annoying and repetitive, and make your writing look lazy and weak.
And this ties into into (b) use verbs for description.
Don’t get me wrong, adjectives are great. But verbs are better.
“I don’t like it,” she said in a soft voice.
“I don’t like it,” she whispered.
They both mean the same thing, but the second sentence should feel stronger and put a more immediate picture in your mind than the first. If it didn’t, I’ve clearly done something wrong here. Like adverbs, adjectives can get ungainly when they’re overused. Don’t use two words when one will suffice.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, my problem with the above sentence is two-fold. Obviously, I don’t like “hungrily”. But it’s also redundant. If Eragon is “devouring”, he’s clearly hungry; there’s no need to say he devoured something “hungrily”.
“Eragon devoured the chicken.”
“Eragon hungrily ate the chicken.”
Either of these would have been better than what we got.
I just spent way too much time picking apart one sentence that’s probably gone unnoticed by most readers.
As for the rest of this chapter, it’s mostly just exposition. A good portion of it is just the villagers talking about how much they hate the Empire. I think it would be better if it was done using more dialogue and didn’t rely on the narration so much, but it also seems to repeat itself a lot.
The most important part of this chapter comes at the end, when Brom tells the story of the Dragon Riders. They were a group of Mary Sues humans and elves who rode dragons and kept peace throughout the land. So, you know, Jedi, but with dragons. As you might imagine, some tragedy befell them, and now the Dragon Riders are no more. Or, as Brom tells it:
“‘Some saw his abrupt rise as dangerous and warned the others, but the Riders had grown arrogant in their power and ignored caution. Alas, sorrow as conceived that day.'”
Hahaha! This is another case of flowery words backfiring. “Conceived”? Really?
“Brom, how did the Riders fall?”
“Well, Eragon, when a Dragon Rider loves arrogance very much, they conceive sorrow!”
The story is about a Rider named Galbatorix…
…yes, that’s his real name. Not a name that he took after going crazy and becoming evil. Sigh.
Galbatorix’s dragon was killed, he went crazy, and the Riders refused to give him a new one. Now, Brom talks a lot about how cunning Galbatorix is, and how skilled he was with magic and a sword. Basically, a real bad-ass. When he goes to overthrow the Riders, though, he can only do it with the help of an accomplice, Morzan.
“‘Galbatorix convinced Morzan to leave a gate unbolted in the citadel Ilirea, which is now called Urû’baen.'”
Two things here: First, all of those names are so cringe-worthy. The dragon Galbatorix steals is even named “Shruikan”. You know, “shuriken” spelled wrong.
Second, Brom spent so much time telling us how dangerous Galbatorix was on his own, I’m kind of finding it hard to believe that all he needed was a gate left open instead of melting the lock with magic, or blasting it open, or disguising himself as another Rider. Once Shruikan is all grown-up, Galbatorix and thirteen other defectors kill the other Dragon Riders. Vrael, leader of the Dragon Riders, fights Galbatorix, but…well, this is the part where I nearly threw the book down with rage.
“‘As they fought, Galbatorix kicked Vrael in the fork of his legs. With that underhanded blow he gained dominance over Vrael and removed his head with a blazing sword. [. . .] And from that day, he has ruled us.”
A crotch shot?
A CROTCH SHOT?!
THE WORLD WAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF A CROTCH SHOT?!
THE ENTIRE WORLD COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED IF VRAEL WORE A CODPIECE.
WHAT IS THIS SHIT.