Eragon: Chapter 8

Eragon, Chapter 8: A Miller-to-Be

So, against Eragon’s advice, Roran tells his father over dinner that he’s taking the job at the miller’s.

“I see,” was Garrow’s only comment.  He fell silent and stared at the ceiling.  No one moved as they awaited his response.  “Well, when do you leave?”

“What?” asked Roran.

Garrow leaned forward with a twinkle in his eye.  “Did you think I would stop you?  I’d hoped you would marry soon.  It will be good to see this family growing again.  Katrina will be lucky to have you.”  […]  “So when do you leave?” Garrow asked.  […]  “Good.  That will give us time to prepare.  It’ll be different to have the house to ourselves.  But if nothing else goes amiss, it shouldn’t be for too long.”  He looked over the table and asked, “Eragon, did you know of this?”

He shrugged ruefully.  “Not until today. . . . It’s madness.”

Garrow ran a hand over his face.  “It’s life’s natural course.”  He pushed himself up from the chair.  “All will be fine; time will settle everything.  For now, though, let’s clean the dishes.”

Question: are we supposed to read this as Garrow playing favorites?

If you remember, back in Chapter 2 Garrow was upset that Eragon promised to pay Horst back by working for him in the spring.  Naturally, one might assume that Garrow would be equally unhappy with the idea of Roran leaving, especially considering Eragon’s concerns in the last chapter.  And yet, Garrow is happy to let his son go off and leave the farm to him and his nephew.

Now, one could reasonably assume that Garrow is only so willing because Roran’s ultimate intent is to get married.  However, Roran said last chapter that he wanted to wait to marry Katrina until he was able to raise a house – so even after he marries, he’ll be gone.  Sure, he might help out around the farm at first, but eventually he’ll have to tend to the needs of his family.  Even if he comes home for a time before marrying, Roran will be leaving permanently. If Eragon tried to leave after that – if he met a girl he wanted to marry, or if he decided he wanted to find out what happened to his mother, for instance – would he be granted the same freedom?  Would Garrow just let him go, knowing that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to run the farm by himself, and that eventually he would have to move in with his son’s family or, horror of horrors, finally rely on his neighbors?

It’s never described as favoritism, and Eragon is only worried about the fact that his cousin is leaving, but we all know that authorial intent doesn’t count for squat.

The next few days were trying.  Eragon’s temper was frayed.  Except for curtly answering direct questions, he spoke with no one.  There were small reminders everywhere that Roran was leaving: Garrow making him a pack, things missing from the walls, and a strange emptiness that filled the house.  It was almost a week before he realized that distance had grown between Roran and him.  When they spoke, the words did not come easily and their conversations were uncomfortable.

I know I made a big deal last chapter about how Eragon’s reaction to Roran leaving was perfectly natural, and I stand by that assertion … but I don’t see why he’s so upset.  We’re constantly told how close these two are, but the only interactions they’ve had so far consisted of Roran yelling at Eragon for telling someone about his relationship with Katrina, Roran complaining about Sloan, and Roran telling Eragon that he’s taking the miller job.  We don’t see Eragon and Roran doing anything together outside of those three interactions; we don’t ever see how the relationship between them works.

Eragon spends most of his time venting to Saphira.  With all the complaining he does, I think he may have mistaken her for his LiveJournal.

Saphira was as real and complex as any person.  Her personality was eclectic and at times completely alien, yet they understood each other on a profound level.

What a perfect cop-out for any inexplicable or unrealistic behavior: it’s her alien personality (that I never described because if I detailed exactly how “alien” she is, I might have to stick to my own rules instead of using the character as the plot demands).

The night before Roran was to leave, Eragon went to talk with him.  He stalked down the hallway to Roran’s open door.  An oil lamp restod on a nightstand, painting the walls with warm flickering light.  The bedposts cast elongated shadows on empty shelves that rose to the ceiling.  Roran – his eyes shaded and the back of his neck tense – was rolling blankets around his clothes and belongings.  He paused, then picked up something from the pillow and bounced it in his hand.  It was a polished rock Eragon had given him years ago.  Roran started to tuck it into the bundle, then stopped and set it on a shelf.  A hard lump formed in Eragon’s throat, and he left.

This scene might actually be … well, I hesitate to say moving, but it would at least make me feel a little bit bad for Eragon if it weren’t so flat.  It might also help if Paolini stopped writing scenes that sound like they could have been lifted from soap operas.

Memorable Quotes: None.  This chapter was too short to offer up anything decent.

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