Eragon, Chapter 7: A Name of Power
(I’m changing the update schedule, folks. Don’t worry, this means more Eragon goodness for all of you! There are so many short chapters that I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a review out on Wednesdays as well. And if I slack off… well, at least one of my readers knows where I live, so maybe if you ask nicely he’ll harass me into posting on time. Maybe.)
Roran surprises Eragon on the way home by announcing that the miller from Therinsford offered him a job. Eragon isn’t too happy about this, especially not after he finds out why Roran wants to take the position:
Roran’s shoulders straightened slightly. “I want to marry.”
Bewilderment and astonishment overwhelmed Eragon. He remembered seeing Katrina and Roran kissing during the traders’ visit, but marriage? “Katrina?” he asked weakly, just to confirm. Roran nodded. “Have you asked her?”
“Not yet, but come spring, when I can raise a house, I will.”
My initial reaction was to say that this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. We’re not told how long Roran and Katrina have been courting, but they certainly seem to be serious, and they can’t be the only young couple Eragon’s seen. He’s got to know that courting eventually leads to marriage, if not from specifically being taught so then from observing how the people around him interact. So coming from a knowledge standpoint, he really shouldn’t be so taken aback by Roran’s statement that he wants to marry his girlfriend.
On the other hand, this actually comes across as a realistic human reaction. Sure, Eragon knows that eventually his cousin will get married and settle down, just like someday he’ll do the same thing – but that’s in the future. Right now he’s focused on the dragon, and this is coming out of nowhere. His life has already changed drastically, and now it’s going to change even more – why wouldn’t he be upset?
The boys get home and Eragon immediately goes to the dragon, who is now capable of saying at least one more word (“yes”, if anyone’s curious).
Roran’s announcement had put him in a foul mood. A questioning thought came from the dragon, so he told it what had happened. As he talked his voice grew steadily louder until he was yelling pointlessly into the air. He ranted until his emotions were spent, then ineffectually punched the ground.
“I don’t want him to go, that’s all,” he said helplessly.
This is the first in a long, long line of instances where Eragon simply tells. There is no dialogue, just narration telling us that Eragon told something to someone. And it’s one of my biggest pet peeves in this book.
I can understand the desire to skip over a scene where one character tells another something that the audience already knows. Unless the work is particularly long or complicated, the audience likely already knows what happened and won’t appreciate the refresher. When there’s not a lot to tell, however – when what happened is important, but not overly long or complicated to tell – then I think it should be detailed. This is the perfect time not only to give Eragon some character development, but to develop the relationship between him and his cousin (especially since we are told, never shown, that Roran and Eragon are close). How does Eragon describe what happened? Does he whisper or yell at certain spots? Does he have trouble saying things or blurt it out? Is he matter-of-fact or does he hedge around the issue? Does his anger affect his speech?
How much does he have to say, anyway? What happened can be boiled down to “My cousin told me he was going to take a job in the next village. He said he needs the money because he wants to get married.” If you match that up with the narration, that means that Eragon quickly devolves into yelling and punching things. That says a lot more about his temper than if he goes into a longer rant about how he feels before finally resorting to yelling and violence. We could learn so much about Eragon from this one scene, if only Paolini would have taken the time to write it out. (I have the urge to write corrective fanfiction now. Thanks, Paolini.)
Alas, it’s about feelings and not part of the super awesome Star Wars/DRoP mash-up, so it’s not worth developing. Pity.
Eragon changes the subject by suggesting some of the names that Brom gave him. It shoots them down.
It seemed to be laughing at something Eragon did not understand, but he ignored it and kept suggesting names. “There was Ingothold, he slew the . . .” A revelation stopped him. That’s the problem! I’ve been choosing male names! You are a she!
Don’t tell me you never bothered to check what sex the dragon was, Eragon. Granted, I’m sure it would be difficult, if not impossible, to tell, considering that he’s never seen a dragon before in his life, but did you even try? Of course not. How the dragon is supposed to know the difference between male and female names when she hasn’t been socialized to learn otherwise is anyone’s guess at this point.
Now that he knew what to look for, he came up with half a dozen names. He toyed with Miramel, but that did not fit – after all, it was the name of a brown dragon.
Again, how does he know this? Did Brom give him the corresponding colors with all those names? Why does it matter what color the dragon was anyway? Do you have something against the color brown, Eragon?
Eragon remembers the name Brom muttered at the end and suggests Saphira. The dragon loves it (like there was ever any doubt), and the chapter ends with a happy Saphira humming to herself.
“Eragon’s heart was disturbed. It would take time before he could look upon this development with favor.” (pg. 57)
“Impulsively, he broke a dead branch with his foot.” (pg. 58)