Moving right along, chapter 24 was another short chapter, but still better than the previous one. Eragon and Brom arrive in Teirm, a large city on the coast. Here, they hope to find a record of the merchant that brought the oil the Ra’zac used. This chapter is largely description of the city, with Brom playing tour guide. We learn the layout of the city, and how it keeps Teirm safe. The only things I really thought were notable about this chapter was just how generic the tavern Brom and Eragon visited, and Eragon and Saphira’s relationship.
Every writers has been told, “show, don’t tell” more than once. Reading Eragon this time around, I realized that most of Eragon’s and Saphira’s relationship in the beginning of the novel was a lot of telling. In recent chapters, we finally get more showing, especially when Saphira demanded that Eragon started flying with her. It gives us this small exchange, too.
“But Brom and I do have some advantages most people don’t. We’ll be all right.”
“If anything happens, I’m going to pin you to my back and never let you off.”
“I love you too.”
At least, I think it’s sweet.
I didn’t think that I would like this chapter. It’s longer than the previous two combined, and I thought it would be more dialogue-heavy exposition. Then something strange happened. I actually started getting into it.
In Teirm, Brom meets up with an old friend, Jeod, who’s quite surprised to see him again. For starters, Jeod thought that Brom was dead, probably for decades. And, suddenly, I wished that I could read this book for the first time again. I’m going to be intrigued by nearly anything that involves faking your death, or leading others to believe you’re dead, especially when you don’t know why the character did that. When I read Jeod’s and Brom’s reunion, I remembered how much I’d wanted to know about Brom’s past when I first read this at fourteen.
This chapter is full of mystery about Brom’s past and Jeod’s identity. When they think Eragon can’t hear them, they discuss places and people Eragon hasn’t heard of: Trojenhiem, Ajihad, Surda. Some of those names you’ll find on the map on the front and back covers, but a lot of it is still unknown. Being able to identify Surda on the map doesn’t mean you know what’s going on there, or why it’s important.
In fiction, having questions the audience wants answered helps keep them hooked. It’s the same reason I’m still reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I don’t necessarily enjoy the books, but goddammit, I need to know what happens next! But at the same time, having too many questions without enough answers can also frustrate the audience and make them give up on the story. This was a problem with shows like Lost and Heroes: questions that never get resolutions.
I think Paolini handled this well. Everything that Brom and Jeod discuss out of Eragon’s earshot (or so they think) is explained and resolved by the end of this book. The plot moves forward from there, giving us more questions, more plots–and they get resolved in the next book. There’s enough there that I want to know more and keep reading, but not too much that it makes me crazy and want to give up on the work.
I have to give props for the glossary in the back of the book, which translates words and phrases from the Ancient Language into English. It gives us enough information to get us through the novel, but it doesn’t give too much away.
I also like Saphira’s sarcasm when Eragon attempts to climb up a cliff to see her, and gets stuck.
You’re right. After all, how can a mere dragon expect to tell a man like yourself what to do? In fact, everyone should stand in awe of your brilliance of finding the only dead end. Why, if you had started a few feet in either direction, the path to the top would have been clear.
Saphira would make a good blogger.
There’s even a dose of realism added. At this point I’m trying not to get too hung up on the details of smaller things, like, “Shouldn’t Eragon have scurvy by now because he’s only been eating meat for weeks?” But I really appreciate that Eragon doesn’t know how to read, like the good medieval peasant he is. It irks me a bit that Garrow could somehow read, but I won’t let it detract too much from this.
If there’s one thing that I don’t like in this chapter, it’d be how Brom spells out the reasons why Eragon can’t contact Roran, or try to draw the Ra’zac off his tail. As much as it I appreciate Brom’s practicality, I think the “stay in hiding so you can protect the ones you love” conversation went on just a bit too long, and it’s nothing new or exciting. Peter Parker could have told you the same thing in fewer words.
Well, at least Roran’s not dead. Someday I’ll elaborate on why I hate the “everyone I love is dead” trope, but for now, that’s another post altogether.