Eragon, Chapter 10: Flight of Destiny
Now that the plot has caught up to him, Eragon runs home to tell Garrow about Saphira. The fact that he should have told him months ago, when the egg first hatched, never crosses his mind. Why tell your family about the possible danger when they can take steps to prevent it when you can wait until the last possible minute and practically guarantee that someone you love will be killed? He decides he should go get Saphira before coming clean to his uncle, so he’ll have proof and so he won’t sound like he slipped a hit his head on a rock.
He touched her shoulder and closed his eyes. Calming his mind, he quickly told her what had occurred. When he mentioned the strangers, Saphira recoiled. She reared and roared deafeningly, then whipped her tail over his head. He scrambled back in surprise, ducking as her tail hit a snowdrift. Bloodlust and fear emanated from her in great sickening waves. Fire! Enemies! Death! Murderers!
What’s wrong? He put all of his strength into the words, but an iron wall surrounded her mind, shielding her thoughts. She let out another roar and gouged the earth with her claws, tearing the frozen ground. Stop it! Garrow will hear!
Oaths betrayed, souls killed, eggs shattered! Blood everywhere. Murderers!
If you’re planning on telling him about the dragon, then I don’t think it matters if he hears her roaring a few minutes beforehand.
Do dragons in this universe have some sort of ancestral knowledge that they all draw from? This seems like an instinctual reaction to a natural enemy, but I can’t see how Saphira could know all the “egg shatters, oath betrayers, murderers” stuff she’s screaming about unless dragons have some sort of ancestral knowledge that they can tap into at any time.
Eragon tries to calm Saphira down by climbing on her back and petting her. I know when I’m faced with an enraged creature capable of killing me in several different ways, my first thought is to get within mauling distance. Anyway, this plan backfires as Saphira blocks him out of her mind and launches into the air, with Eragon clinging to her for dear life. It’s not a good first time, as far as flights go; Eragon pukes over the side and, despite the descriptions of the landscape below, spends more time trying to communicate to an unresponsive Saphira than he does taking in the view. As night falls, Saphira finally lands and lets Eragon off.
As he struck the ground, his knees buckled, and his cheek slammed against the snow. He gasped as excruciating pain seared through his legs, sending tears to his eyes. His muscles, cramped from clenching for so long, shook violently. He rolled onto his back, shivering, and stretched his limbs as best he could. Then he forced himself to look down. Two large blots darkened his wool pants on the insides of his thighs. He touched the fabric. It was wet. Alarmed, he peeled off the pants and grimaced. The insides of his legs were raw and bloody. The skin was gone, rubbed off by Saphira’s hard scales. He gingerly felt the abrasions and winced. Cold bit into him as he pulled the pants back on, and he cried out as they scraped against the sensitive wounds. He tried to stand, but his legs would not support him.
Maybe I’m just being pedantic, but I’m bothered by Eragon’s injuries. I can overlook Eragon not noticing the wounds until now, considering the circumstances under which he obtained said wounds, but if Saphira has particularly rough or sharp scales, then his pants should be ripped to shreds, not just soaked in blood. His pants could have caused enough friction to rub his thighs bloody, but then he would have had to be constantly moving to cause that much injury to himself.
This is also the first mention of Eragon being cold, which just strikes me as ignorant. It’s the middle of winter, and Eragon was flying through the air, at an altitude high enough to overlook the mountain range he lives near. There is mention of high winds, but none of the chilling effect said winds would have on an unprepared Rider. We can assume Eragon is dressed for winter (and that will have to be an assumption, since we never get any clear descriptions of the kind of clothes Eragon wears aside from the previously-mentioned pants), but that doesn’t mean it will protect him from the kind of temperatures and wind chill he would experience while flying. Just one more example of the author not stopping to think about what certain actions mean for his main character.
He [Eragon] turned his head and saw her [Saphira] next to him, crouched low to the ground. He put a hand on her side and found it trembling. The barrier in her mind was gone. Without it, her fear scorched through him. He clamped down on it and slowly soothed her with gentle images. Why do the strangers frighten you?
Murderers, she hissed.
Garrow is in danger and you kidnap me on this ridiculous journey! Are you unable to protect me? She growled deeply and snapped her jaws. Ah, but if you think you can, why run?
Eragon is such an asshole.
This, right here, is the root of my problem with Eragon. Saphira is clearly freaked out, and he berates and taunts her for it. This is a creature he is psychically bonded to, whose pain and fear he can feel as clearly as he feels his own emotions, and his reaction is to yell at her for acting on instinct instead of being convenient and doing what he wants her to do. For all his earlier introspection, Eragon still doesn’t see her as a person. Saphira is something to be controlled; when she resists that control, he uses her loyalty to him against her to try and shame her into following his orders. This is particularly obvious next chapter, when Eragon’s argument for returning to the farm is “You owe me, and I owe Garrow, therefore you owe Garrow”. This does not paint the relationship between Rider and dragon as a particularly healthy one. Eragon and Saphira read more like human and pet than equal partners.
(I also can’t help but notice the unfortunate gender stereotype here, where the woman is irrational and acts on emotions. However, that’s something I will address in future posts; right now it’s just an observation.)
Since he’s not getting any answers out of her, Eragon changes tactics and tells Saphira that he’ll need some shelter if he’s going to survive the night. She agrees, and they curl up together to sleep.
He pulled his arms inside his coat and tied the empty sleeves around his neck. For the first time he noticed that hunger gnawed at his stomach. But it did not distract him from his main worry. Could he get back to the farm before the strangers did? And if not, what would happen? Even if I can force myself to ride Saphira again, it’ll be at least midafternoon before we get back. The strangers could be there long before that. He closed his eyes and felt a single tear slide down his face. What have I done?
That’s right, Paolini ends the chapter with Eragon crying a single emo tear.
“Death is a poison.” (pg. 73) This is Saphira’s answer to Eragon asking her why she ran. I have no idea what the hell it’s supposed to mean.
“He [Eragon] eyed the exposed dirt with distaste.” (pg. 73)