Eragon, Chapter 59: The Mourning Sage
Last chapter! Let’s do this!
For the first two and a half pages, Eragon is unconscious. Unfortunately that doesn’t grant us a reprieve from his POV, because now he’s stuck inside his own head, fighting off Durza’s memories. He sees all the terrible things the Shade has done and starts to question who he is, then remembers “all the events since he had found Saphira’s egg” and starts to defend himself.
He fought against the Shade’s sinister thoughts, weakly at first, then more strongly. He whispered words of the ancient language and found they gave him enough strength to withstand the shadow blurring his mind. Though his defenses faltered dangerously, he slowly began to draw his shattered consciousness into a small bright shell around his core. Outside his mind he was aware of a pain so great it threatened to blot out his very life, but something – or someone – seemed to keep it at bay.
It’s been fifty-four chapters since the whole concept of consciousness and mind-touching and all that has been introduced, and I still have no idea how it works. What does it feel like? How do you put up a shield around your mind? Paolini writes about Eragon’s “consciousness” like it’s a separate entity, not an integral part of him.
He was still too weak to clear his mind completely, but he was lucid enough to examine his experiences since Carvahall. Where would he go now . . . and who would show him the way? Without Brom, there was no one to guide or teach him.
Except the elves everyone keeps telling you about. Most of them probably still remember the Riders from first-hand experience. And is this really the time to be wondering this? Shouldn’t you wait until you’re, y’know, conscious? Or at least sure you’re not going to die?
But wait! While Eragon’s pondering what his next move is, someone manages to contact him:
Come to me.
He recoiled at the touch of another consciousness – one so vast and powerful it was like a mountain looming over him. This was who was blocking the pain, he realized. Like Arya’s mind, music ran through this one: deep amber-gold chords that throbbed with magisterial melancholy.
Finally, he dared ask, Who . . . who are you?
One who would help. With a flicker of an unspoken thought, the Shade’s influence was brushed aside like an unwanted cobweb.
Well, that was anticlimactic.
The person helping Eragon explains that they’ve done all they can, but they’re too far away to do anything more. Eragon asks again who they are.
There was a low rumble. I am Osthato Chetowä, the Mourning Sage. And Togira Ikonoka, the Cripple Who Is Whole. Come to me, Eragon, for I have answers to all you ask. You will not be safe until you find me.
Then he tells Eragon to go with Arya to Ellesmera, and says that he’s “rid the land of a great evil.” Great, pump up his ego some more, why don’t you?
The stranger was right; what he had accomplished was worthy of honor, of recognition. No matter what his trials might be in the future, he was no longer just a pawn in the game of power. He had transcended that and was something else, something more. He had become what Ajihad wanted: an authority independent of any king or leader.
He has? Really? Who granted him this authority? What constitutes independence? Because I’m pretty sure he was taking orders from Ajihad for the last few chapters – that’s not very independent. I mean, yes, technically he could just tell Ajihad to piss off and go do his own thing, but he’s still too untrained to be much of an authority in any respect. He would just wind up getting himself killed. Killing the Shade doesn’t give him authority – or at least, it shouldn’t.
The Mourning Sage tells Eragon to rest, and to not tell anyone about him when he wakes up. Then, with a reminder to seek out the elves, he puts Eragon to sleep (even though he’s not actually awake?).
His last thought was that Brom would have been proud of him.
That really doesn’t say good things about Eragon.
Eragon wakes up with Angela “staring at his face intently”. Creepy. She asks how he feels, then gives him a drink of mead (wouldn’t water be the better choice?). He struggles to remember what happened, and Angela tells him his friends are alive and lets them in to see him. There’s a cute little exchange between him and Saphira where he says he’s proud of her for breathing fire for the first time. Then he asks Arya and Murtagh what happened. Murtagh says that when the Shade died and the spirits inside him flew out across the inside of the mountain, the Urgals “ceased fighting to watch them go,” and then started fighting and killing each other. The Varden got most of them, but quite a few managed to escape into the tunnels. Murtagh calls Eragon a hero, saying that if it wasn’t for him killing Durza they would have lost.
Eragon was troubled by his words but pushed them away for later consideration. “Where were the Twins? They weren’t where they were supposed to be – I couldn’t contact them. I needed their help.”
Murtagh shrugged. “I was told they bravely fought off a group of Urgals that broke into Tronjheim somewhere else. They were probably too busy to talk with you.”
That seemed wrong for some reason, but Eragon could not decide why.
IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE OBVIOUSLY BAD GUYS. YOU HAVE THESE BAD FEELINGS ABOUT THEM BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHARACTERIZATION BEYOND “SLIMY BALD TRAITOROUS JERKS.”
Turning to Arya, Eragon asks why she and Saphira didn’t crash. Arya explains that by the time she got Saphira’s armor off, Eragon was already at the bottom of the slide, and she thought Durza would kill him before she could rescue him. So she created the biggest distraction she could think of and broke the star sapphire. Then, when they were just about to hit the floor, she used her magic to freeze all the pieces in the air and gently lower them to the floor so there wouldn’t be a million glittering pieces of deadly shrapnel flying about.
Eragon finally gets around to asking about his injuries. Angela waffles about, saying he’s been out for a day and a half and that if she wasn’t around it would have taken him weeks to heal, if he’d even lived at all.
Alarmed, Eragon pushed the blankets off his torso and twisted around to feel his back. Angela caught his wrist with her small hand, worry reflected in her eyes. “Eragon . . . you have to understand, my power is not like yours or Arya’s. It depends on the use of herbs and potions. There are limits to what I can do, especially with such a large–”
He yanked his hand out of her grip and reached back, fingers groping. The skin on his back was smooth and warm, flawless. Hard muscles flexed under his fingertips as he moved. He slid his hand toward the base of his neck and unexpectedly felt a hard bump about a half-inch wide. He followed it down his back with growing horror. Durza’s blow had left him with a huge, ropy scar, stretching from his right shoulder to the opposite hip.
Pity showed on Arya’s face as she murmured, “You have paid a terrible price for your deed, Eragon Shadeslayer.”
Murtagh laughed harshly. “Yes. Now you’re just like me.”
Why is Murtagh being such an asshole? He’s supposed to be Eragon’s friend, and you’d think he’d have some empathy considering he has the same kind of injury, but no, apparently he’s got to be a jerk about the whole thing.
Dismay filled Eragon, and he closed his eyes. He was disfigured. Then he remembered something from when he was unconscious . . . a figure in white who had helped him. A cripple who was whole – Togira Ikonoka.
We just found this out two pages ago! Do you honestly think your readers are so stupid they’ll forget what they read earlier in the chapter?
He had said, Think of what you have done and rejoice, for you have rid the land of a great evil. You have wrought a deed no one else could. Many are in your debt. . . .
Come to me, Eragon, for I have answers to all you ask.
A measure of peace and satisfaction consoled Eragon.
I will come.
And that’s the book. It actually comes across as a downer ending, since Eragon has been grievously injured, but at least they killed the Big Bad… who was kind of a let down, considering what little characterization he had came at the very end, and did little to make him an actual character worth caring about (as opposed to a boogeyman who pops up from time to time just to be scary and threatening).
But, hey, we’re done! I mean, there’s three more books in the series and they just get weirder from here, but we’re done with the first one! Rejoice!