Eragon, Chapter 33: Trail of Oil
Eragon wakes up with a hangover; Saphira is predictably smug about it, while Brom doctors them both with “copious amounts of hot tea and ice water and washing it all down with brandy.” Sounds like a pretty bad cure to me; drinking water in addition to alcohol can help prevent a hangover (a large part of the cause being dehydration), but I’ve found nothing to suggest that it will ease one, and everything I’ve read suggests that drinking more alcohol will only make things worse in the long run. I wonder if Paolini thought up this “cure” himself, or if he got the information from somewhere else.
They spend the day searching the city for news about the Seithr oil, splitting up later in the day to cover more ground.* This proves to once again be an exercise in pointlessness, because while Eragon finds out where the oil is being kept, Brom comes back with the same information, plus the news that Galbatorix will be in Dras-Leona in a week – which means they have to act fast and get the hell out of dodge before ol’ Galby comes to town. He’s also found out that every month, a couple slaves bring provisions, as well as any Seithr oil that’s been shipped to Dras-Leona, to the base of Helgrind, then disappear forever. Which means that they’re killed, and probably used to make the Seithr oil into flesh-eating acid.
“I thought the Riders demolished the slave trade,” said Eragon.
“Unfortunately, it has flourished under the king’s reign.”
Once again I am astonished at how little Eragon knows about the empire. It would be one thing if he really did live in a small, out-of-the-way village that rarely got visitors, but we’ve already established that a group of traders regularly comes by, and that he’s on a first name basis with at least one of them. Wouldn’t a young boy who has never been away from home want to hear all about the faraway lands a stranger has been to? Wouldn’t he be bursting with curiosity? Furthermore, how long ago did Galbatorix oust the Riders, again? Certainly it was well before Eragon was born – he’s lived his entire life under Galbatorix’s rule. And no one in Carvahall likes the king, so wouldn’t they talk about the more horrific things he’s done (instead of just complaining about taxes)? Not to mention, if the slave trade is alive and well, wouldn’t people also have to take care not to run afoul of slavers?
Since the only other alternatives are to hammer at the base of the mountain and hope to break through, or fly up to the top looking for a way in and announce their presence to the whole city, Brom and Eragon decide that the only way in is to take the place of the two slaves. Realizing how close he is to completing his revenge, Eragon starts getting excited.
Eragon opened his mind and jubilantly told Saphira, We found the Ra’zac’s lair!
When we’re done here, maybe we could visit Carvahall.
What is it you want? she asked, suddenly sour. To go back to your previous life? You know that won’t happen, so stop mooning after it! At a certain point you have to decide what to commit to. Will you hide for the rest of your life, or will you help the Varden? Those are the only options left to you, unless you join forces with Galbatorix, which I do not and never will accept.
Jesus tapdancing Christ on a pogo stick, I hate Saphira.
Eragon has never been this far from home before, or gone so long. He’s camped in the Spine, and he’s probably been to Therinsford once or twice, but he’s never left the mountains until now and he wouldn’t have been away from home for more than a few days considering the amount of work he was needed for. And if that weren’t enough, his most of his family is dead, and he feels abandoned by his one remaining relative who left to start a family of his own.
I could maybe understand her reaction if Eragon were constantly talking about how much he misses Carvahall and complaining that he wants to go home, but in fact he’s done just the opposite. He’s eager for adventure; most of his thoughts of home center around the family that he’s lost. The closest he’s gotten to actually feeling homesick is in Teirm, where he briefly admits that he’d like his life to be normal again and then acknowledges that he can’t do that with Saphira around. He barely even mentions Carvahall. If anything, he hasn’t been nearly as homesick as I would have expected, though that can be explained by his preoccupation with killing the Ra’zac.
I mentioned before that Saphira doesn’t like it when Eragon is inconvenient; here it seems more like she doesn’t like his focus straying from her or anything related to his quest. Brom is okay because he’s a former Rider and therefore teaching Eragon what he needs to know (theoretically, at least), and killing the Ra’zac and joining the Varden are fine because they help weaken Galbatorix . . . but if Eragon goes back home, he’s going to think about people that aren’t connected to the resistance, and therefore aren’t deemed important by Saphira. In fact, she almost seems to be afraid that if he goes back home he might just decide he wants to stay there.
Softly, he said, If I must choose, I cast my fate with the Varden, as you well know.
Yes, but sometimes you have to hear yourself say it. She left him to ponder her words.
The last I heard of it, Eragon had already acknowledged that siding with the Varden was probably his best chance for staying alive, he just wasn’t sure if he wanted to stick with them for life. And hey, way to bully him into making a choice! That’s a great way to make him resent you.
* By the way, remember how I said Paolini always names things, and then uses those names as often as possible? It’s really bad here. He names the inn Brom and Eragon are staying at three times in the space of one page, when once would have been more than enough. (The inn is also called the Golden Globe. I have no idea why he threw in a random reference to Shakespeare.)