Eldest, Chapter 2: The Council of Elders
Alternate title: The Author Has No Idea How Boobs Work
Eragon wakes up and watches Saphira sleep. The sapphire that Arya broke was the floor of the dragonhold they were staying in, so they’ve been relocated to an old guardroom on the bottom level of Tronjheim.
Since she first breathed fire during his fight with Durza – while plunging toward them from the top of Tronjheim – Saphira had been insufferably proud of her new talent. She was constantly releasing little jets of flame, and she took every opportunity to light objects ablaze.
I’d be proud of myself too if I learned how to breathe fire. She sounds like a little kid showing off a new-found talent.
Eragon starts crying as he remembers what happened yesterday.
Tears filled his eyes, spilling over, and he caught one on his hand. […] As he stared at the tear in his hand – a small, glistening dome […]
Tears don’t work that way. Even if you somehow managed to defy physics (that tear is not going to form a perfect little dome when it hits your hand), the human hand is not a flat, non-porous surface. The liquid is just going to spread out and absorb into the skin.
Anyway, Arya came back late last night with one of the Twins’ blood-covered robes and Murtagh’s tunic and gauntlets. She says she found them on the edge of a chasm that stretches down past where any tunnels lead, and assumes that the Urgals stole their armor and threw their bodies over the side. She also says that she tried to scry them and saw only shadows.
In desperation, Eragon decides to scry the missing men himself – using the tear in his palm. Which makes no sense, because it’s such a tiny surface that even if you do see anything, it’s too small for you to make anything out. Why not get a glass of water at least?
Darkness enveloped the liquid, turning it into a small dot of night on his silver palm. Movement flickered through it, like the swish of a bird across a clouded moon . . . then nothing.
How does he see movement if it’s completely dark?
He realizes that he only beat Durza through sheer luck (probably the smartest thought he’s had so far) and comes to the conclusion that he needs to go to the elves to continue his training. Saphira wakes up and they prepare to go eat, but before they can leave Eragon’s back gives out and he’s left writhing in pain on the floor for a few minutes. The pain is bad enough that it affects Saphira as well. As he’s recovering, he remarks that the spasms are getting worse.
On their way to the kitchen, humans and dwarves alike stop and bow to Eragon, calling him “Argetlam” and “Shadeslayer.” Saphira drives off anyone trying to approach while Eragon eats, and they discuss who might take over the Varden. Saphira thinks Ajihad’s dying words could be taken as a blessing for Eragon to take control, but neither of them think it’s a good idea.
A boy interrupts their meal and tells Eragon that he’s been summoned by the Council of Elders. He’s confused by simple questions like “Who are the council?” but he impresses Eragon, who asks his name. Of course. The kid, Jarsha, takes them to the council.
Seated there were Jörmundur and two other men, one tall and one broad; a woman with pinched lips, close-set eyes, and elaborately painted cheeks; and a second woman with an immense pile of gray hair above a matronly face, belied by a dagger hilt peeking out of the vast hills of her bodice.
BOOBS. DO. NOT. WORK. THAT. WAY. And I will tell you exactly why not.
This is an under-bust bodice:
Visually striking, but not much support for the breasts. She’s more likely to be wearing an over-bust bodice:
Note how the breasts are pushed together to form cleavage. Please also note that, contrary to popular media, cleavage is not a bag of holding. You can’t keep an arsenal in there. Most women might be able to fit a credit card or a small cell phone. It only goes so deep.
Going off my own measurements, the distance from the bottom of my bust line to my chin is about 10 inches. I have no idea what kind of dagger she’s packing, so I’ll have to guess at the length. My browsing of Wikipedia and various sword-selling websites tells me the average blade length would be 7.5-10 inches. For fairness, I’ll stick to the low end of the scale. The hilt would probably be another five inches, bringing the dagger to just over a foot long. Which means that it would be smacking her in the face… if the weight of the hilt didn’t pull the dagger forward, which would not only mean it would fall out easily, but that it would be that much easier for someone to either grab it from her and stab her with it, or just smash it into her sternum. It seems like a really awkward place to keep a weapon – she’s likely to accidentally cut her face as she unsheathes it.
Also, I really hope she’s got that thing in a sheath, or else her chest is going to be sliced to ribbons.
“Thank you for coming, Eragon, even though you have suffered your own loss. This is Umérth,” the tall man; “Falberd,” the broad one; “and Sabrae and Elessari,” the two women.
Ah, yes, all women are interchangeable. It’s not necessary for the narration to differentiate between Sabra and Elessari, even though it did for the men. It’s not like they’re individuals or anything. And Paolini certainly couldn’t have just added their descriptions as they were introduced, which would not only erase this problem entirely but also make the text less redundant.
Eragon asks whether the Twins were part of this group, and Sabrae (the woman wearing too much makeup) says they were too self-serving to have a place on the council.
Eragon could smell her perfume all the way on the other side of the table; it was thick and oily, like a rotting flower. He hid a smile at the thought.
How is that funny? “Haha, you smell” is the kind of insult you hear from second-rate grade school bullies. Is Paolini trying to make a joke about how she’s overly made up and thinks she smells nice? Because she’s ugly? Because she’s old? Are we really supposed to think this kid’s a hero when he makes fun of people for their appearance? What are you, twelve?
Jörmundur tells Eragon he’s getting off topic; they’re really here to discuss who will be the next leader of the Varden. They’ve already decided who they’re going to support, but they want Eragon to “provide the legitimacy required by whoever is to take Ajihad’s place.” How Eragon is supposed to “provide legitimacy” is beyond me; he might be a Rider, but he just joined up, like, a week and a half ago. I don’t understand why they’re so trusting of this kid. They know nothing about him.
They make Eragon promise not to tell anyone outside the room who their choice is, and Saphira remarks that they haven’t made her promise anything, so she can go tell Arya if she wants.
Nasuada is their top pick. Eragon can’t tell why they would want her to lead. To stall so he can figure it out, he asks why Jörmundur doesn’t just take over, since Ajihad called him his right-hand man.
A current of unease ran through the council: Sabrae sat even straighter, hands clasped before her; Umérth and Falberd glanced at each other darkly, while Elessari just smiled, the dagger hilt jiggling on her chest.
I’m convinced the only reason Elessari exists is so Paolini could write about boobs.
Jörmundur deflects by saying Ajihad was only speaking of military matters, and that it would be “foolish and dangerous” for one council member to be raised above the rest, because their power comes from supporting each other. Eragon asks if Nasuada has enough experience, and Elessari says the people will love her and she’ll be “guided” by the council.
Understanding flooded Eragon. They want a puppet!
No shit. You wanna spell things out a little louder? I don’t think the entire audience got it before you did.
The council also wants Eragon to be at Nasuada’s appointment as leader, and for him to swear fealty to the Varden. They make it clear that it’s not really a choice; if he refuses, he’ll be publicly snubbing Nasuada and the Varden.
Eragon clenched Zar’roc’s pommel under the table, yearning to scream that it was unnecessary to force him to support the Varden, that he would have done it anyway. Now, however, he instinctively wanted to rebel, to elude the shackles they were trying to place on him. “Since Riders are so highly thought of, I could decided that my efforts would be best spent guiding the Varden myself.”
The mood in the room hardened. “That would be unwise,” stated Sabrae.
Yes, great idea. Antagonize the people who have no qualms about forcing you to do what they want. That won’t end badly at all.
After some discussion with Saphira, who points out that they can’t piss off the Varden, Eragon agrees to be there for Nasuada’s appointment. The council strongarms him into promising to give his word in fealty at the appointment, then breathes a sigh of relief when he says yes – literally:
All around the table were signs of relaxation – even a poorly concealed sigh from Umérth.
Eragon is amazed to discover that the council is afraid of little ol’ him. Nothing frightening about an unknown player in the political game with magic and a dragon on his side, nosirree!
The narrative wastes time by having Jörmundur summon Jarsha, then send him off again for Nasuada and Arya, then spending a couple paragraphs going on about the “uncomfortable silence” where Eragon ignores everybody else in the room. Nasuada and Arya finally appear.
The boy was dismissed, then Jörmundur helped Nasuada into a seat. Eragon hastened to do the same for Arya, but she ignored the proffered chair and stood at a distance from the table.
It fills my shriveled little heart with glee every time Arya snubs Eragon. Do it again!
“Nasuada, Daughter of Ajihad, the Council of Elders wishes to formally extend its deepest condolences for the loss you, more than anyone else, have suffered. . . .”
“We’d also like to apologize for the excessive capitalized letters. We’ve got an infestation and the pest control guy can never seem to find us.”
In a lower voice, he added, “You have our personal sympathies as well. We all know what it is like to have a family member killed by the Empire.”
That would be a nice sentiment if it was ever supported in the text. We have no evidence that anyone other than Eragon, Roran, Murtagh, and Nasuada have lost family members to the Empire. You wanna show some examples, maybe? Make your mad tyrant king actually look like a tyrant, instead of a little kid throwing a tantrum?
Anyway, Nasuada accepts the offer to be the next leader. Hooray for being a political puppet!