“The Hadarac Desert” is yet another chapter that’s all about traveling, and not a lot happens. The only thing that’s really memorable about it is Saphira’s reaction to the desert.
I feel as though I was made for this desert. It has the space I need, mountains where I could roost, and camouflaged prey that I could spend days hunting. And the warmth! Cold does not disturb me, but this heat makes me feel alive and full of energy.
I love Saphira’s excitement, and how she feels so at home here. Other than that, the details of the travel are rather boring. At one point, it’s noted that they’ve traveled 35 leagues in the desert, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s a measure of distance, but…does anyone know what a league actually is? Saying they’d gone 120 miles (roughly the equivalent of 35 leagues, thanks Google!) would give the reader a better sense of distance, but “league” is keeping with the language of the setting.
As they’re crossing the desert, Eragon, Saphira, and Murtagh discuss the Ra’zac. Saphira says that if they meet again, “they will find I am not so easily bound with chains.” Which she shouldn’t have been in the first place, because, you know, she’s a dragon.
But you know what really bugs me about the Ra’zac? Avenging Garrow’s by killing the Ra’zac dictated Eragon and Brom’s movement in the beginning of the book. When they’re outplayed, though, they just give up and move on. It isn’t unreasonable, really, but they still don’t kill the Ra’zac until the third book. By that time, Eragon should have a lot more on his mind that hunting down the creatures he should have killed a long time ago.
The next chapter was another one that I was curious to read again. Despite all my gripes about this book, there are still some things that I thought were pretty cool, and I wanted to see how well they hold up years later. In this case, it’s Eragon trying to communicate with the still-unconscious Arya by entering into her mind. They mentally struggle, and it looks like Eragon is going to lose this fight. Even though I’m not a fan of Arya, it’s impressive how powerful she is, even in this weakened state.
Eragon learns that Arya has been poisoned, and put herself in a self-induced coma to keep the poison from killing her within hours. She says that she can only remain in this state for a few more days, however, or she will die without the antidote. I think this is a really cool idea, and I like how Paolini emphasizes that elves are not just humans with pointy ears. This is made even more apparent when Arya allows Eragon to enter her mind.
The elf warily let their thoughts touch, like two wild animals meeting for the first time. A cold shiver ran down Eragon’s side. Her mind was alien. It felt vast and powerful, weighted with memories of uncounted years. Dark thoughts loomed out of sight and touch, artifacts of her race that made him cringe when they brushed his consciousness. Yet through all the sensations shimmered a melody of wild, haunting beauty that embodied her identity.
Arya tells Eragon that the rebel group, the Varden, have the antidote, and that he needs to bring her to them. She then reveals the route he can follow to find them.
A series of vertigo-inducing images suddenly flashed through his mind. He found himself riding along the Beor Mountain range, traveling eastward many leagues. Eragon did his best to remember the route as craggy mountains and hills flashed past. He was heading south now, still following the mountains. Then everything wheeled abruptly, and he entered a narrow, winding valley. It snaked through the mountains to the base of a frothy waterfall that pounded into a deep lake.
Got all that? Good, because I sure didn’t.
That sounds like an amazingly complicated route, never mind that Eragon has never seen any of these places before. I have a hard enough time finding the right place to go on streets that are labelled, in the city that I live in. I can take mind-talk and elven comas, but I don’t buy Eragon being able to remember the whole route, let alone find it.
Even so, Eragon insists that they follow this route and go to the Varden, and Murtagh immediately objects. He gets quite angry at Eragon for even suggesting that they try to get to the Varden, but his rage–and ensuing fight with Eragon–really comes out of nowhere. At first his gripe seems to be that he’s tired of saving Eragon all the time, and I can’t blame him there. Seriously, our protagonist has lost consciousness so many times I’ve stopped counting. But the crux of the issue really is that Murtagh doesn’t want to go to the Varden, because of his dark and mysterious past.
I can tell you the Varden wouldn’t welcome me even if I came bearing the king’s head. Oh, they might greet me nicely enough and let me into their councils, but trust me? Never.
Couple things here.
I’m pretty sure the Varden would be happy if you killed Galby, no matter your birth. And I’m equally sure that if the band of rebels doesn’t trust you, they wouldn’t let you in their secret hide-out, and definitely not into their councils.
Right as Murtagh is about to tell the truth about why he’s wanted by the Empire, he’s conveniently cut off by the arrival of Urgals marching towards them, delaying Murtagh’s reveal for several more chapter.
Anyway, Murtagh and Eragon come to the mind-blowingly simple decision to part ways when Eragon and Saphira get close to the Varden. It really was that easy, guys. It shouldn’t take an army of not-orcs to help you come to that conclusion.