Eragon, Chapter 14: Trust Issues

Eragon, pg 101-106

Eragon takes his time asking Brom any questions, waiting until after they’ve all eaten to ask why Brom wants to come with him.

A cloud of smoke left Brom’s lips and spiraled up through the trees until it disappeared.  “I have a vested interest in keeping you alive,” he said.

“What do you mean?” demanded Eragon.

“To put it bluntly, I’m a storyteller and I happen to think that you will make a fine story.  You’re the first Rider to exist outside of the king’s control for over a hundred years.  What will happen?  Will you perish as a martyr?  Will you join the Varden?  Or will you kill King Galbatorix?  All fascinating questions.  And I will be there to see every bit of it, no matter what I have to do.”

I really don’t like Brom’s answer here.  I mean, I know he’s lying, it’s obvious he isn’t just an old storyteller, but you’d think that being a storyteller he’d be able to come up with a reason that made him sound like less of a detached asshole.  He could have said anything else: “I like you, kid.  I want to see you succeed,” or “I’ve spent my life researching dragons and I’m not giving up my chance to finally see one in the flesh,” or “You’re our last hope for beating Galbatorix,” or “Those guys killed my family years ago and I want to kill them as much as you do.”  Anything else would have made him sound a lot less self-serving than “I just want to see what happens.”  It’s not like he’s above lying to Eragon, seeing as how he’s been doing it for almost every scene he’s in.

A knot formed in Eragon’s stomach.  He could not see himself doing any of those things, least of all becoming a martyr.  I want my vengeance, but for the rest . . . I have no ambition.

I do, however, like that Eragon doesn’t want anything else at this moment.  He’s already focused entirely on his need for vengeance, and he comes across as not having thought that far ahead.

Eragon asks, again, how Brom can talk to Saphira.  In response, Brom starts pulling out a sword with a red blade.

The handle fit Eragon’s hand as it it had been made for him.  […]  An air of power lay over it, as it an unstoppable force resided in its core.  It had been created for the violent convulsions of battle, yet it held a terrible beauty.

“This was once a Rider’s blade,” said Brom gravely.  “When a Rider finished his training, the elves would present him with a sword.  […]  This sword is named Zar’roc.  I don’t know what it means, probably something personal to the Rider who owned it.”  He watched Eragon swing the sword.

Something that I haven’t yet mentioned is Paolini’s habit of putting names to everything – and when I say everything, I do mean everything.  Just about every character that speaks is given a name; even a few characters with no lines or screen time are given names.  Several animals are given names, including the horses that Brom and Eragon ride.  Various objects also have names, usually things that are important like the sword.  And if Paolini can use the proper name of an object or animal in place of its noun, he will.  It’s never “the sword”, it’s “Zar’roc”; never “Eragon’s horse” but the horse’s name.  There are very few unnamed characters; even if a character has two lines and then never reappears, you will learn their name and like it.  It gets super old, super fast.  I think Paolini’s trying to emulate Tolkien, but not only is he not Tolkien no matter how hard he tries, it’s also one of the traits in Tolkien’s writing that I found irritating, so all it does is make me want to throw my book at the wall.

Brom tells Eragon he’s giving him the sword, then tells him about his ability to speak with Saphira:

“Now, if you must know, anyone can learn how to speak to a dragon if they have the proper training.  And,” he raised a finger for emphasis, “it doesn’t mean anything if they can.  I know more about the dragons and their abilities than almost anyone else alive.  On your own it might take years to learn what I can teach you.  I’m offering my knowledge as a shortcut.  As for how I know so much, I will keep that to myself.”

You know, I still don’t understand why Brom wouldn’t tell Eragon that he was a Rider.  I would think that would give him extra authority when it comes to training Eragon.  There’s no reason not to tell him, since it would explain why you know so much about dragons and the kind of training he needs, and I daresay it would make him more likely to obey you when you give him commands.  Besides, who the fuck is going to get the proper training to speak to a dragon when most people haven’t seen any dragons in a hundred years?

Saphira inspects the sword and makes the color in the metal ripple when she touches it, which prompts Brom to explain that weird things always happen around dragons and even the dragons don’t know exactly what they can do.  It sounds to me like Paolini is setting up a deus ex machina.  Then Brom tells us that the strangers that attacked Garrow are called the Ra’zac and they’re definitely not human, as he saw beaks and “black eyes as large as [his] fist” when he managed to get a closer look.  He makes the distinction of saying that “[n]o one knows if that’s the name of their race or what they have chosen to call themselves”, which strikes me as an odd thing to say; why would it matter to anyone what the origin of their name was?  For that matter, why would such an idea occur to anyone?  You never hear anyone saying, “Well, they call themselves Urgals, but who knows if that’s the actual name of their race?”

Brom goes on to say that the Ra’zac are super strong and can jump incredibly high, but can’t use magic; have “a strong aversion to sunlight, though that won’t stop them if they’re determined”; and work for Galbatorix as dragon hunters, investigating any rumors of dragons that the emperor hears.  Eragon asks how Brom got the wound on his head, and Brom says that he was sneaking around the Ra’zac’s camp, was ambushed, got knocked out until the next day, and ran into Eragon while he was running after the Ra’zac.

Who is he to think that he could take on the Ra’zac alone?

I could ask you the same question, Eragon.

Unsettled, Eragon asked hotly, “When you saw the mark, the gedwëy ignasia, on my palm, why didn’t you tell me who the Ra’zac were?  I would have warned Garrow instead of going to see Saphira first, and the three of us could have fled.”

Brom sighed.  “I was unsure of what to do at the time.  I thought I could keep the Ra’zac away from you and, once they had left, confront you about Saphira.  But they outsmarted me.  It’s a mistake that I deeply regret, and one that has cost you dearly.”

You didn’t stop to think for five seconds that it might be safer to have Eragon know what he’s up against instead of letting him wander blindly into danger?  You didn’t consider the fact that if you didn’t stop the Ra’zac, Eragon was as good as dead?  You didn’t stop strutting around thinking you could do everything yourself to realize that the lives of two innocent people were on the line, and that if you didn’t step carefully that you could get them both killed?

Dear sweet Cthulhu, I fucking hate you Brom.

“Who are you?” demanded Eragon, suddenly bitter.  “How come a mere village storyteller happens to have a Rider’s sword?  How do you know about the Ra’zac?”

Brom tapped his pipe.  “I thought I made it clear I wasn’t going to talk about that.”

“My uncle is dead because of this.  Dead!” exclaimed Eragon, slashing a hand through the air.  “I’ve trusted you this far because Saphira respects you, but no more!  You’re not the person I’ve known in Carvahall for all of these years.  Explain yourself!”

I never thought I’d say this, but go, Eragon!  I don’t blame him for not trusting Brom; the guy hasn’t been straightforward for the last five chapters.

For a long time Brom stared at the smoke swirling between them, deep lines creasing his forehead.  When he stirred, it was only to take another puff.  Finally he said, “You’ve probably never thought about it, but most of my life has been spent outside of Palancar Valley.  It was only in Carvahall that I took up the mantle of storyteller.  I have played many roles to different people – I’ve a complicated past.  It was partly through a desire to escape it that I came here.  So no, I’m not the man you think I am.”

“Ha!” snorted Eragon.  “Then who are you?”

Brom smiled gently.  “I am one who is here to help you.  Do not scorn those words – they are the truest I’ve ever spoken.  But I’m not going to answer your questions.  At this point you don’t need to hear my history, not have you yet earned that right.  Yes, I have knowledge Brom the storyteller wouldn’t, but I’m more than he.  You’ll have to learn to live with that fact and the fact that I don’t hand out descriptions of my life to anyone who asks!”

BULLSHIT.  I don’t care if it’s hard to talk about or if it brings up painful memories, you owe Eragon an explanation of what exactly he’s getting himself into.  You could have saved Garrow’s life if you’d just spoken up instead of waffling about what to do next and getting your ass knocked out while you played detective.  Eragon won’t know who to trust or where danger might be coming from, and the more you tell him the better prepared he is and the more capable he is of surviving on his own.  If he gets separated from you before you impart your almighty wisdom, are you going to just shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well, not my problem anymore”?  What happens if Eragon gets himself killed because you kept your mouth shut?  How much are you going to regret not talking then, huh?

You don’t even have to tell him the whole story, just the relevant stuff that explains what the fuck is going on.  Tell him you were a Rider, tell him you knew a Rider if you really have to keep it a secret from him, just don’t treat him like a child who’s incapable of understanding things.

Eragon may be an idiot, but at least he has the excuse of being a stupid teenager.  Brom’s nothing but an egotistical asshole.

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One comment on “Eragon, Chapter 14: Trust Issues

  1. Not to mention that Brom is Eragon’s father, you would think that he would be a little bit less of an asshole to him.

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