Eragon is a simple farm boy, living in a village in a secluded corner of a country known as Alagaësia. So far, so tame.
One day, while out hunting, he hears an explosion in the woods. When he investigates, he finds a blue stone in the middle of the wreckage. Thinking he might sell it for some food (seeing as how it scared off all the deer—way to go, exploding rock), he takes it home.
Back at the farm, he tells his Uncle Garrow (who has raised him from childhood) and cousin Roran about what he found. When they can't sell the stone, Eragon ends up keeping it in his room. Then, late one night, the stone squeaks. Then it cracks. Then out pops a dragon. Well, then.
When he touches the dragon, Eragon is overcome with a charge of energy. He seems to have developed a mental link with it, and he's got a white scar on his palm to show for it.
Eragon ends up hiding the dragon in the woods, sneaking off to bond with it as the creature gets bigger and bigger. Over time, their bond develops and Eragon names this she-dragon Saphira. But trouble comes to town. Two shady characters show up asking about the stone, so Saphira grabs Eragon and they hightail it (literally—he flies on her back) out of town.
When they return, it's more bad news. Eragon's home has been destroyed and Uncle Garrow eventually dies from the wounds he suffered in the explosion. (Tissue break.) Eragon is majorly bummed out, to put it mildly, but he decides to take vengeance on his uncle's killers. Garrow was found with a scrap of black cloth in his hand, so Eragon's pretty sure those two shady fellas who showed up in town had something to do with his death.
As he leaves his village to start on his revenge trek, Eragon is waylaid by the town storyteller, Brom. He tells Eragon that the two baddies he's after are supernatural beings called the Ra'zac, who are working for the evil King Galbatorix. Killing them will be a pretty tall order, so Brom convinces Eragon that he needs his help. All three—Brom, Eragon, and Saphira—head off on the trail of the Ra'zac.
As they travel through Alagaësia, Brom starts to train Eragon in the ways of magic and swordplay. He explains that Eragon has inherited the mantle of the Dragon Riders, a group of heroes who have long since died out. He and Saphira are the first of their kind to come along in many years, and now they are wanted by Galbatorix and his Empire—either to join the forces of evil or… die.
Eragon trains and grows stronger, and eventually the three of them track the Ra'zac to a town called Dras-Leona. Unable to take their revenge, the three of them are instead chased from the town and poor old Brom is killed in the process. Saddened by yet another loss in his life, the hole left by Brom is filled with a new stranger named Murtagh, who agrees to help Eragon on his quest for his own reasons (which he won't tell Eragon…or us—boo!).
Things go well until Eragon is captured by a bunch of monsters, called Urgals, who work for the king. Eragon gets locked up, but Murtagh helps to break him out. In their escape, they also rescue an elf named Arya (natch), whom Eragon has seen in his dreams. Just one problem: she's unconscious. Meanwhile, Eragon is attacked by an evil magician or Shade named Durza. Not to worry: Murtagh shoots Durza in the face with an arrow (muahaha)… but we're not sure if he's really dead.
Are you exhausted from all the excitement? Too bad, there's more. After the escape, the group is chased all the way across the Hadarac Desert and into the gigantic Boer Mountains. There they find protection with a rebel group called the Varden, who are working with the elves and the dwarves to unseat the king and bring down the alliance. Sounds great, right? But—oops—turns out Eragon and Co. have led the Urgals right to the mountain hideout.
It's not all bad, though (for us, at least). It leads to a colossal battle, which the good guys win (gasp!) and in which Eragon manages to kill the Shade. (He does it the only way he can: tickling him to death. Oh wait, no, he stabs him in the heart.) While Eragon is laid up, recovering from the battle, he's visited mentally by the Cripple Who is Whole—yep—who invites Eragon to visit him (or her, unclear). Eragon agrees—because, you know, things have been simple for him up to this point—and the book ends with his resolution to make it happen.
Shade of Fear
- Something called a "Shade" is hanging out in the forest. He's tall, looks human, but has "crimson hair and maroon eyes" (Prologue.1). Hmmm.
- He tells twelve Urgals to get ready to attack whoever is coming down the path. It's either that, or they'll, you know, die. Talk about a motivational speech. (By the way, an Urgal is a human-like creature that has bowed legs, short, thick arms, and horns on its head. In case you weren't familiar.)
- Everyone hides, but nothing happens for hours. Eventually, though, three white horses appear on the path.
- At the front and rear ride male elves, all decked out for battle. Between them is a dark-haired female elf. She's got some sort of pouch in her lap that she keeps checking.
- As they ride into the ambush, the wind changes direction, and the foul smell of the Urgals alerts their horses.
- The elves turn around to flee, but it's too late. The trap is sprung. The Urgals make it rain—with arrows, that is. The male elves are cut down. The Shade says a magic word and blasts the horse out from under the female elf.
- She recovers, though, and runs off into the woods. (Woo! Yeah, we're already rooting for the elves.) The Shade tells the stinky Urgals to give chase.
- While they're doing that, he climbs up onto a nearby rock and starts setting the forest on fire with magical blasts. Soon, there's a ring of fire around the perimeter, cutting off the elf's retreat. Lady elf is surrounded.
- But as the Shade and the Urgals close in, the elf pulls a stone out of her pouch and magically makes it disappear. The Shade fires a blast to stop her, but it's too late.
- The elf is knocked out by the Shade's blast, but the stone is already gone. The Shade ain't happy.
- To cheer himself up, he kills the nine remaining Urgals (the elf killed three when they tried to catch her). Then he ties the unconscious elf to his horse and rides away, the forest in flames behind him.
- Yeah, we're thinking this guy is bad news.
- Eragon is hunting, tracking a deer. He's so good at it that he can tell the deer he's after has a slight limp.
- We learn that he's fifteen, has dark eyes, and is dressed like… a hunter (buckskin, knife, and worn clothes, to boot).
- Eragon is in the Spine. What's that? Why, it's a mountain range in the land of Alagaësia—obviously. People are afraid to go too far into these mountains; they think that bad things go down there. Not Eragon, though. He's the only one brave enough to hunt there.
- Still, his luck has not been great. After three days, he has nothing to show for his efforts. That's a bummer, because winter is coming and Eragon's family could sure use the meat.
- But luckily, Eragon comes across the herd. He finds the deer that he's been tracking, takes aim with his bow and arrow, and… BOOM!
- Not killing boom. Explosion boom.
- The explosion from behind him spooks the deer. Eragon manages to get a shot off, but he misses.
- Eragon turns around to find a blue stone, lying in a crater in the middle of a scorched radius of grass and trees.
- (Don't you love it when you know more—even just a tiny bit more—than the character?)
- He watches it for a while, but nothing happens. So he goes over to the stone and picks it up. It's polished smooth and oval-shaped.
- Eragon is worried that the stone might contain some kind of magic. But he figures he can sell the stone to pay for much-needed food. Why not? Into his sack it goes.
- The next morning, Eragon heads for home.
- Now we get to learn a little more about the Spine. People think that it's a cursed place. Apparently, King Galbatorix won't even go there, after having lost half an army in the place. But Eragon gets by just fine.
- Eragon makes his way out of the mountains towards Palancar Valley. After a few days, he comes upon Carvahall, a lonely little village near the Anora River. (This is quite a world that's being created for us, that's for sure).
- He makes his way into town at dusk, and heads toward the butcher shop. There he finds (appropriately enough) the butcher, a man named Sloan.
- Sloan is small, with "a sallow, pockmarked face" and "suspicious" eyes (2.12)—in other words, not a real looker.
- He makes fun of Eragon for not getting anything on the hunting trip. (Apparently, Sloan's not falling back on a winning personality.)
- Eragon's there to buy meat, but Sloan wants the moolah up front.
- His wallet is a little light (as in empty), so Eragon offers the stone instead.
- Sloan only offers to fork over three crowns as payment. It's not much, but Eragon has to accept. But when he tells Sloan that he found the stone in the Spine, the deal is off. Sloan kicks Eragon out of his store without the meat.
- As he turns to leave, Eragon sees Horst, the smith. Horst is a big, burly dude. Also coming into the shop is Sloan's daughter, Katrina.
- Horst wants to know what's up.
- When Sloan tells his side of the story (lies), and Eragon tells his (the truth), Horst decides that he'll buy Eragon's meat for him. What a guy.
- Katrina also takes Eragon's side, but her father shouts at her to leave. Sloan still doesn't want to sell to Eragon, but he does it anyway.
- Outside the butcher shop, Eragon offers the stone to Horst as payment for the meat, but Horst won't accept. Instead, he tells Eragon that he can come over and help him with his work at the forge next spring, working off the debt in Eragon's free time.
- Eragon is psyched. Then he gives Horst a message from Roran, who is Eragon's cousin. The message is for Katrina, Horst's daughter. The takeaway is basically that Roran will be in town soon, and that he thinks Katrina is way, way pretty. Aw.
- After delivering the mushy missive, Eragon heads for home. It's another ten miles out of the village. (This is when grandpa chimes in with "When I was a kid…".)
- When he arrives home, his Uncle Garrow is there to greet him. When Eragon shows him the meat and tells him what happened, Garrow is not thrilled. When is Eragon going to get the spare time to work off the debt with Horst?
- Eragon doesn't know. Or care, really. He's mostly just concerned with his cool rock.
- The whole rock thing calms Garrow down a bit; he says they can find out what it's worth when the traders come to town.
- Eragon wonders why Sloan was such a jerk about accepting the stone in the first place.
- Garrow explains that Sloan's wife died in the Spine, and that Sloan hasn't been back since. Still, that's no reason to bark up Eragon's tree, he says. Eragon heads to bed, happy to be home.
- Now we get bit more about Eragon's background. We're starting to see that he's our protagonist (if the title didn't make that clear enough).
- Sixteen years ago (to the day), his mother, Selena, showed up at her brother Garrow's farm. She was four months pregnant. She gave birth to Eragon, but then begged Garrow and his wife Marian to raise him. She left the farm and never returned.
- So that's depressing.
- Marian died, but Eragon still remembers what it felt like to learn that she wasn't his real mother, and that Garrow isn't his real father. He's been plagued with doubts about his parents ever since. (Obvi.)
- He heads down to breakfast (chicken—no waffles) where he finds Garrow and his cousin Roran. What is with these names, by the way?
- Eragon catches Roran up on the stone (in case you're just tuning in!), and then they all head out to work in the fields. Winter is on its way and they need to get the harvest in.
- Sure enough, nine days later a blizzard blows in. Garrow is worried that the traveling traders might not show up now to help them price the stone. But eventually, they roll into town; Eragon, Garrow, and Roran head to Carvahall to meet them.
- Roran heads off to amuse himself, while Eragon and Garrow check out the traders' market. Eragon notices that the traders and their families seem warier and more beaten-down than usual. We're picturing a pretty grey scene here.
- He and his uncle find Merlock, a trader who specializes in jewelry (and, apparently, magical stones that show up out of nowhere with powerful explosions).
- They tell Merlock that they are selling, not buying, but that they don't want to show him what they have in public. Top secret mission, you know.
- Back in Merlock's tent, they show him the stone, which he weighs, measures, and examines carefully.
- After all that (drumroll, please) he tells them that he has no idea what it's worth (great detective work, Merlock!). He does tell them that it's harder than any rock he knows of, though, and also it's hollow.
- He tells them that the stone is simply not a practical thing to buy. If they want to sell it, they should head to the southern cities. (You know, where people are less practical?) Then Merlock asks them why they wanted to show him the rock in private.
- Garrow explains that it comes from the Spine, and that makes the villagers nervous. (We're starting to think that every time we say the word "Spine" we should insert some spooky sound effect.)
- Merlock shares that the merchants have seen some dark times, too: "illness, attacks, and the most cursed black luck" (3.49). Some group called "the Varden" has increased its attacks, so King Galbatorix has forced cities to send more soldiers to fight them. The Urgals are apparently on the move, too. Worst of all, there are rumors of a Shade being seen. Not good.
- (Don't worry if you're a bit confused—things will become much clearer, trust us.)
- Garrow thinks that this is all nonsense, but Merlock tells them that they're isolated in the village and aren't exposed to what's happening in the wider world. You know, bubble syndrome.
- On that cheery note, Merlock takes his leave.
- Garrow goes off to see if he can find more about what's happening, leaving Eragon to wander around the marketplace. We're picturing Aladdin, minus the Hammer pants.
- Eragon sees that jerk-face Sloan, so he ducks into Morn's, a tavern.
- Morn, the bartender, is happy to see Eragon, but soon he's griping about the merchants. He claims that they're not paying a fair price for the grain they've got to sell. They're also telling a bunch of wild stories that are scaring the villagers. Bottom line: without the benevolent protection of King Galbatorix, the whole village would end up as Urgal-food, or worse. Gulp.
- Eragon sees that the local bar patrons are arguing with some traders about whether or not these threats are real. The crux of the argument centers around the rebel group, those Varden we heard about before. The traders say that they are spies looking to destroy the Empire, but the locals disagree.
- Eragon finally challenges a trader to prove that the Varden are the bad guys, but the trader blows him off. (Which, as we textual-evidence lovers know, means he can't prove it.)
- It looks like the folks in Carvahall are no fan of the Empire. They are remote enough that they don't like Galbatorix and don't think he's done anything to keep them safe.
- A bit about the Varden: they are a rebel group that has been attacking the king's forces for more than a century (when Galbatorix first rose to power). So far, the king has been unable to find their hideouts and end the threat.
- Eragon leaves the tavern, and the arguments, and walks outside. He finds Roran and Katrina all hugged up and talking to each other. Ooh la la.
- Katrina runs off before Eragon reaches them, but Roran sticks around. He's worried about how Sloan will react if he finds out that his daughter is seeing him. He thinks that it would come to blood between them—and Eragon can't disagree.
- And on that note… dinner time!
- They go to Horst's, where a great spread is set out. Then they all head over to the traders' camp to watch the minstrels perform plays and do tricks. Awesome.
- After those shows, Brom the storyteller is up. He has a white beard, and is known to spin a pretty good yarn.
- The one he tells now is about the Dragon Riders. Pay attention—this one will come in handy later.
- Long ago, these immortal warriors fought for goodness and justice. Under their protection, a golden age of peace and prosperity reigned. Humans were friends with elves and dwarves, everyone had enough food to eat and money to spend, gas was $1 a gallon…oh, wait. That was 1999.
- Then a young rider named Galbatorix came to power. He was the most powerful rider ever, but he was reckless. He took a trip with two friends, deep into Urgal territory. They were ambushed. The friends died, and so did Galbatorix's dragon.
- Mad with grief, our man G wandered, lost, killing everything in sight. Eventually, he tried to make his way back home through the Spine. He was found, near death, and nursed back to health by his fellow riders.
- When he recovered, Galbatorix demanded a new dragon, but the council of the Riders basically said, "so, you want us to give you a new dragon to replace the one you rode into an ambush and got killed? Um… no."
- Ol' G was not happy. He plotted revenge and recruited another Rider to help him. Together, they killed an elder, and then as thanks, Galbatorix killed the Rider who had helped him. Nice guy!
- After the foul deed was discovered, Galbatorix fled to the wastelands, only to return after he convinced another Rider named Morzan to help him. (Apparently he wasn't paying attention to what happened to the last guy.)
- Morzan helped Galbatorix steal a dragon hatchling, and together they went off to learn the dark arts.
- After a while, Galbatorix, with his black dragon Shruikan and best buddy Morzan, began to wage war against the Riders. They were powerful enough to attract twelve other Riders to their cause, and, with Morzan, they became known as… let's just do some quick math… the Thirteen Forsworn.
- The Thirteen Forsworn were tough and nasty. They fought elves and humans until Vrael, the leader of the Riders, bested Galbatorix in combat. But for some reason, he hesitated and didn't drop the killing blow on Galbatorix. (Has he never seen a movie or TV show? Kill the guy while you still can!)
- In that moment, that dastardly G wounded Vrael in the side. Then he chased Vrael down and found him recuperating from his wound at Utgard Mountain. There, in another fight, "Galbatorix kicked Vrael in the fork of his legs" (3.109). That's right, a crotch shot. We interrupt this story, Shmoopers, to bring you this unsolicited editorial: "NOT COOL." Okay, back to the tale.
- After dealing this low blow, the dirty, despicable Galbatorix lopped off Vrael's head.
- And that's how Galbatorix became king. (Cue the chorus of boos.)
- Thus concludes Brom's cheery little tale.
- Eragon thinks that he spies a tear on Brom's cheek. Garrow informs him that, if the Empire heard that Brom was repeating that tale, he'd be put to death. Ooh, forbidden stories!
- When Eragon returns home that night, he decides to check out the stone some more. He bangs on it a bit, but can't chip the surface.
- Oh, then he hears a squeak coming from inside the stone. NBD.
- He wonders if he was meant to have the stone—maybe it really is magical. This is a kid with dreams.
- Later that night, a loud squeaking wakes Eragon up. This ain't no mouse we're talking about.
- He looks around in the darkness, but can't see a thing. As he gets up, he realizes that the squeaking is coming from inside the stone. Hmmm.
- Eragon has about had it with this magical rock that can't be sold and is now acting like a busted alarm clock.
- He tries to go back to sleep, but he wakes up a while later. Yup, it's the stone again. This time, it's rocking wildly back and forth.
- As he gets up, the stone rocks off the shelf and rolls toward him.
- It starts to crack open, and… out pops a baby dragon.
- Baby dragon! Cute, right? It's covered in blue scales and is just a little longer than Eragon's forearm.
- It crawls around the room for a bit, bumping into the furniture. Dragon Roomba?
- When Eragon finally touches the dragon, an odd thing happens: pain shoots up his arm and through his body.
- When he finally recovers, his right palm has a white oval burned into it. Then he feels "something [brush] against his consciousness, like a finger trailing over his skin" (5.5).
- He touches the dragon again, but this time he's not shocked.
- Eragon feeds the dragon some dried meat, which it chomps down hungrily. After the meal, it crawls onto his chest and falls asleep. Aww.
- Eragon carries his little buddy to bed with him and thinks about becoming a Rider himself. On the one hand, he could become famous and powerful. On the other, the Empire would kill him and his family if he was found out.
- (Is it just us, or is Eragon dealing with this whole baby dragon thing creepily well?)
- Eragon decides that he'll keep the dragon, but how will he tell Garrow about the new addition?
- The next morning, Eragon takes the dragon out to the woods. With some rags and leather strips, he builds a little shelter in a tree for the dragon.
- He uses his mental connection with the dragon to tell it to stay put in the nest. Eragon is sure that it understands him.
- Eragon returns to the farm, where the day passes pretty quickly. And sure enough, when he gets back to the tree, the dragon is still there. And bonus, there are feathers strewn around from where it's been munching on a few unfortunate local birds.
- Eragon gives the dragon a guided tour of the forest, talking to it all the while, before he has to get home.
- He worries about leaving the dragon overnight, but it's apparently a plucky little guy, because it's totally fine when he returns the next morning at sunrise. It leaps down from the tree and into his arms. One more time, all together now: aww.
- This routine continues for a while. Eragon sees the dragon in the morning and then at night before bed.
- In the meantime, the dragon is growing, doubling in size the first week of its life. Eragon has to build a new shelter to hold it.
- Soon, the dragon outgrows even that. Eragon lets the not-so-little-anymore guy roam free, but he tells him that the farm is off limits. Also, he warns the dragon to watch out for hunters. Good call.
- How does he tell the dragon all this? Well, as the dragon ages, Eragon develops a stronger and stronger mental connection with it. It's like he can project his thoughts into the dragon's consciousness, and vice versa. Pretty cool, right?
- The dragon keeps growing, but it still can't do the one trick we're waiting for: no breathing fire quite yet. It does, however, start to leave signs all over the forest that, you know, a dragon lives there. Not only are there huge claw-prints, but there are also piles of dragon poop everywhere—a dead giveaway.
- Eragon knows that he has to tell Garrow and Roran about the dragon, but he wants to chat with Brom about it first.
- He decides to head into town to rap with Brom, but the dragon is not too crazy about that. As he goes, Eragon hears the dragon calling out to him in his mind. Sad!
Tea for Two
- Eragon shows up at Brom's house, looking for information. Brom invites him in, and they sit by the fire. No roasting chestnuts, sadly.
- Eragon wants to know what's up. He asks Brom what was so special about the Dragon Riders.
- As he prepares to answer, Eragon recalls hearing from his uncle that Brom had moved to Carvahall about fifteen years ago.
- Brom begins his answer:
- Dragons are as old as Alagaësia itself. They are the "true" inhabitants of the land (6.14). In fact, they were in Alagaësia before even the elves showed up in silver ships.
- Eragon wants to know more about the elves, but Brom is annoyed because he's interrupting. Still, he tells Eragon that the elves come from a land called Alalëa, although only the elves know what and where that is. Oh, we love us some mystery.
- The elves are a strong and magical race, and one of the early elves hunted a dragon for sport. This did not win him any popularity contests with the local dragons.
- In fact, a war kicked off between the elves and dragons. It lasted until an elf called Eragon found a dragon egg.
- Huh? We thought Eragon was a farm boy.
- Well, he is, but this Eragon was the founder of the Dragon Riders. He thought that raising a friendly dragon might help end the war between the dragons and the elves. Sure enough, he and his dragon, Bid'Daum, helped forge a treaty that ended the war.
- The Dragon Riders were a way for elves and dragons to maintain peaceful relations, but soon they were given a home of their own on the island of Vroengard. There, they grew to be the most powerful force in Alagaësia.
- Brom finishes his answer, but Eragon's not out of questions yet. He wants to know what his name means.
- Brom doesn't know, but he says that it's a good name to have. Like Shmoop.
- Then he tells Eragon that the humans didn't come to Alagaësia until three centuries after the Dragon Riders were formed. When Galbatorix destroyed them, the dwarves retreated into their tunnels in the mountains. Today, nobody knows how many dragons are left.
- Eragon then has some practical questions for Brom: How big do dragons get? (Answer: really big.) When do they mature? (Around six months of age they can mate and breathe fire.) Can they listen to their Rider's thoughts? (Brom says they can't.) How long do they live? (Forever, if they or their Rider aren't killed.)
- Brom starts to gets suspicious about why Eragon has all of these questions, but Eragon says he heard about dragons from a trader… whose name he conveniently forgot. Real slick, E.
- Then Eragon asks about Riders. Brom tells him that they live supernaturally long lives and are "stronger of body, keener of mind, and truer of sight than normal men" (6.58). They also develop pointy ears over time, though not as pointy as an elf's. Or Dr. Spock's.
- Eragon asks if dragons are smart. Answer: yes, as intelligent as a human.
- Did Brom ever see a dragon? "Nay" (6.64).
- Finally, Eragon asks Brom to tell him some dragon names. Brom lists a few, finishing with "Saphira."
- Eragon thanks Brom for all the info, says he has to go, and then takes off.
A Name of Power
- Eragon is heading home with Roran, who tells him that he got a job offer with a miller named Dempton. Eragon is shocked to hear that he's going to take the job. After all, it means leaving Carvahall and his family.
- Still, Roran needs the money. For what, you ask? He wants to marry Katrina.
- Eragon is sad to hear this, but it makes sense to him. He doesn't think Garrow's going to take it well, though.
- When Eragon gets home, he goes out into the woods and confides in the dragon. He's majorly bummed about Roran's leaving. The dragon is a good listener.
- Then Eragon decides that the dragon needs a name. (Thanks, Eragon! We were getting tired of calling it "the dragon" all this time.)
- He goes through a bunch of the male names he got from Brom, but the dragon's not feeling them.
- That's when Eragon realizes that the dragon is a she.
- Finally, they settle on "Saphira" for her name. Whew.
- At dinner, Roran breaks the news to Garrow about his new job.
- Roran and Eragon are expecting the worst, but Garrow is actually okay with it: "It's life's natural course," he says (8.12).
- Roran is leaving in two weeks, but in the meantime Eragon feels bummed out and awkward around his cousin.
- On the bright side, Saphira is getting bigger. Eragon can now sit on her, in the hollow between her neck and shoulders.
- They spend a lot of time together. Eragon teaches her new words, and she teaches him about how a dragon thinks and behaves.
- Eragon struggles to find a good time to tell his family about Saphira. It's never a good time to break the I've-been-raising-a-baby-dragon news.
- He finally decides to tell Roran the night before he's about to leave for the miller job. When he gets to Roran's room, though, Eragon sees him start to pack a gift that Eragon gave him: a polished rock. (We're guessing that iGadgets and video games weren't around in Alagaësia.)
- Something stops Roran, though, and he puts the rock back on the shelf.
- Eragon is now super-bummed, and he leaves.
Strangers in Carvahall
- It's the morning of Roran's departure.
- At breakfast, Garrow gives him some coins he's been saving and a kiss on the noggin.
- Then he gives both Roran and Eragon advice: basically, to be respectful, honest, but independent people. You know, the kind of advice good fathers give their sons and nephews.
- After the speech, Roran and Eragon ride off for Carvahall.
- In the village, they meet up with Dempston at Horst's smithy.
- While Dempston is getting everything ready to go, Horst pulls Eragon aside. He tells Eragon that yesterday two men in dark, hooded cloaks and carrying swords showed up. They were asking about Eragon's blue stone. Nobody said anything, but Horst thinks someone like Sloan would tell them about Eragon. Yikes.
- Eragon doesn't mention that the stone is now a dragon. Instead, he says good-bye to his cousin and then skedaddles.
- He makes like he's headed home, but then he doubles back. He sneaks over to Sloan's, where he overhears that jerky jerk-face telling two men about him and the stone. What a… jerk.
- The two strangers thank Sloan and head outside. When Eragon moves to get a better look at them, they see him. Oops.
- He's powerless to do anything, frozen with fear. The strangers advance until…
- Brom shows up to save the day. He calls out for Eragon and the strangers "hiss" and take off (9.48).
- Brom asks Eragon why he looks sick, but Eragon plays it down. Then he advises Eragon to walk home. But before he does, Brom wants to know if Eragon remembers the name of that trader who told him about the dragons.
- Eragon stonewalls him: "Nuh-uh."
- As he turns to leave, Eragon's mitt falls on the ground. Brom picks it up to hand back to him, then jerks Eragon's wrist and gets a good look at the white scar on Eragon's palm—you know, the one he got when he first touched Saphira.
- Eragon takes off, and Brom goes on his way, whistling merrily.
Flight of Destiny
- Eragon hurries home to mentally converse with Saphira about the hooded strangers. When she finds out, she has a major freak-out.
- Saphira lashes her tail and claws the ground. In an effort to calm her down, Eragon climbs onto her back (seems perfectly logical).
- Bad move, E.
- Saphira launches into the air, with Eragon clinging to her back. They go so high that he gets frost on his eyelids.
- Eragon tries to get her to land again, but Saphira is not listening. She keeps flying, and Eragon does his best not to throw up from all the wild motion.
- Saphira flies into the mountains until it gets dark. Finally, she lands in a small clearing, and Eragon can at last climb down.
- He's in rough shape. He's freezing, his muscles are cramped from hanging on for so long, and, worst of all, his inner thighs are bloody where Saphira's scales rubbed against his legs. And you thought riding a dragon would be fun!
- Saphira is still in freak-out mode and refuses to take Eragon back. She's worried about the "murderers" (10.17).
- Eragon has no choice but to go to sleep. Saphira at last curls around him, and the warmth of her body staves off the chill. She even puts her wing over him like a big blue tent. So sweet.
- Eragon warms up, but he's worried about what might happen to Garrow and the farm if the strangers go to his home.
The Doom of Innocence
- The next morning, Eragon gets up and fashions a makeshift crutch out of a tree branch. His legs are still too painful to walk without help. Resourceful, much?
- He goes to get a drink from a stream, then realizes that Saphira has brought them right back to where he first found the egg.
- He goes back to Saphira and basically calls her a chicken to get her to take him back to Garrow's farm. Nice move.
- His mockery works, and they take off again, racing back home. Eragon's legs are bleeding again. Ouch and yuck.
- When they near the farm, smoke and flames are visible from the air.
- Uh oh.
- Saphira lands nearby and Eragon sees that the farm house has been completely destroyed. All the animals are gone and Garrow is nowhere to be found.
- Eragon is super-mad at Saphira for taking him away, but she says that he'd be dead if she hadn't done it.
- They start looking for Garrow, and Eragon finds him buried under a pile of rubble.
- Saphira helps dig him out, but Garrow is in a bad way. He's covered in burns that are "chalky white and [ooze] clear liquid," with "the odor of rotting fruit" (11.24). Once again: ouch and yuck. Eragon also finds a scrap of black cloth clutched in his hand.
- He makes a carrying board for Garrow and Saphira carries them both to Carvahall.
- It's tough going for her, though, and Saphira has to rest, landing a little ways out of the village. Eragon drags his uncle the rest of the way into Carvahall while Saphira makes herself scarce in the nearby woods.
- He pulls Garrow the rest of the way into town, then collapses as he sees Brom come running up to meet him.
- Talk about epic.
- Eragon is dreaming. He sees proud figures with silver hair and lances boarding a ship. They are upset to be leaving wherever they are. Also, Eragon notices two dragons in the sky above them.
- When he wakes up, he's in bed and bandaged up. The town healer, Gertrude, is napping next to him.
- Eragon sits up, which wakes up Gertrude. He asks her about Garrow.
- The news is not good: Garrow's burns aren't healing and he's got a fever that won't break.
- Eragon wants to see him, but Gertrude says he has to eat. After all, he's been out for two days. Time flies when you're dreaming about dragons.
- She asks him if Garrow was injured in the barn fire. Then she asks him about the scar on his palm. (This Gertrude is a nosy Nancy!)
- Eragon deflects her questions as best he can, then has a bit of soup. He asks to visit Garrow.
- Gertrude lets him up, and she helps him walk from her house over to Horst's place, where Garrow is being treated.
- Horst's wife Elain invites Eragon in, and tells him that Garrow's not doing well.
- Eragon struggles up the stairs to see him.
- Garrow is on a bed, being tended to by Katrina. His skin is burning hot to the touch, and Katrina tells Eragon that there's not much else she can do for him but apply a cool cloth to his head.
- Eragon sits there in silence, until Horst shows up and drags him downstairs to eat something.
- Horst wants to know what happened at the farm, but Eragon still doesn't come clean about Saphira. He tells Horst that he was walking in the woods when it all went down. Also, he hurt his legs trying to pull Garrow out of the rubble. (Yeah, that's the ticket.)
- Horst asks Eragon about strange tracks out at the farm, but Eragon doesn't give anything away. Then he suddenly realizes that nobody has told Roran about what happened.
- Horst's two sons, Albriech and Baldor, volunteer to ride to Thereinsford where Roran is staying and break the news to him gently.
- Then Eragon hears Saphira in his head. She wants to know how Garrow's doing. Eragon tells her that he'll have to be away for a couple of days, which bums her out quite a bit.
- He gets up to return to Gertrude's house, but Elain offers to make him up a room at her house instead, so that he can be closer to Garrow.
- He accepts, then goes to check on Garrow one last time. Gertrude says that he may be getting a bit better, but only time will tell.
- Eragon goes to his room and passes out.
The Madness of Life
- Eragon wakes up suddenly in the middle of the night and rushes to Garrow's room. Everyone else is already there.
- Garrow has died.
- Eragon is devastated. He reflects on how he's now lost all of his family.
- Eragon feels Saphira enter his mind to comfort him, but he pushes her out. He collapses in his grief before passing out again.
A Rider's Blade
- Eragon wakes up, but he's totally depressed. Duh.
- Saphira comes into his mind to give him a pep talk.
- At first, Eragon doesn't want to hear it, but then Saphira suggests that they take revenge on those dark strangers who killed Garrow. After all, he's a Rider, and she's a dragon. It's kind of their destiny to be a powerful force of good.
- At first Eragon is skeptical, but soon he's convinced. The thought of vengeance, and the fear of getting caught with Saphira, are enough to get him out of bed and moving.
- As he does, he overhears Elain and Horst talking. Horst is not convinced that he's heard the full truth from Eragon about what went down.
- Time to go, E!
- Eragon sneaks out of the house and heads out of Carvahall. On his way, he makes a quick stop at Gedric the tanner's to pick up three leather ox-hides. Natch. (He needs to make a saddle for Saphira.)
- Don't worry—Eragon's a good kid. He makes a note to himself to repay Gedric for these hides he's about to swipe, and repay Horst for his hospitality… someday.
- Then he heads over to Sloan's to steal meat for his upcoming trip. No notes to repay Sloan the jerk.
- As he's stealing meat, he hears his name being called out. He ducks and sees Horst pass by, looking for him.
- When he heads outside to grab his freshly stolen hides, Eragon runs into Brom.
- Brom tells Eragon that he (Brom) knows about Saphira, and he knows that Eragon is a Rider. It's pretty obvious, really.
- Eragon mentally reaches out to Saphira, but Brom has already communicated with her and told her to hang back.
- Eragon finally fesses up to Brom, and Brom offers to come along for the ride and help.
- Eragon agrees, but wants to leave a message for his cousin. Brom says he's already taken care of it, and he's left notes for the other villagers to help cover their tracks. Well how about that, Helpy Helperton!
- Eragon takes off with Brom back to the farm. When they arrive, Saphira lands in front of them. Rather than freaking out (as one might expect when one sees a dragon), Brom just says, "So… it starts again" (14.73). We get the feeling that this ain't his first dragon rodeo.
- Brom and Saphira are formally introduced to each other, and then Eragon goes rummaging through the wreckage to recover his bow.
- It's just about time to camp, now. They all head to a secluded clearing in the woods and set up shop. After a dinner of meat-chunk and salt-lump stew (yum!), Eragon and Brom talk further.
- Eragon wants to know why Brom wants to tag along. Brom says the trip would be good story-telling material. When Eragon asks how Brom can talk to Saphira, Brom says that he'll fess up, but that Eragon might not like his answers.
- He goes to his pack and pulls out a finely wrought red sword with a black symbol inscribed on it. Eragon senses power in it. (Whatever that means…)
- Brom explains that the sword, called Zar'roc, used to belong to a Rider. Now, says Brom, it belongs to Eragon.
- Eragon wants to know more about how Brom got the sword, but Brom deflects the question. He tells Eragon instead that anyone with the right training can talk to a dragon. He offers to teach Eragon everything he knows. Just how he knows what he knows, though, will have to remain a mystery.
- Eragon seems cool with this. He asks about those strangers, and Brom tells him that they are called the Ra'zac, creatures in the service of King Galbatorix. Also, "they aren't human. When [Brom] glimpsed one's head, it appeared to have something resembling a beak and black eyes as large as [his] fist" (14.103). Ew.
- They are also incredibly powerful, even if they have an aversion to sunlight. Eragon shouldn't underestimate them. The king uses them to investigate sightings of dragons.
- Now it's Brom's turn to ask questions: How did Eragon get Saphira's egg?
- Eragon gives him the full back story, and Brom is impressed.
- Now it's Eragon's turn again: How did Brom get that nasty bump on his head?
- Brom says basically, "Oh this? I was single-handedly fighting the Ra'zac and they gave me this as I was driving them away."
- "Who are you?" Eragon asks (14.120). Yeah, we're curious, too.
- But Brom's not giving up that info. "I've a complicated past," is about all he'll really say (14.125).
- Eragon, miffed, just goes to sleep.
- The next morning, Eragon wakes up and spends a bit of time crying privately over Garrow. Also, he's still majorly ticked off at Brom.
- After breakfast, he lays out the stolen hides and starts to fashion a saddle for Saphira.
- Brom says that he knows about two different kinds of dragon saddles, and offers to help design one for him.
- Brom starts to show him how to design the saddle—In case Eragon needs to do it again on his own in the future. Hey, you never know.
- Saphira asks Eragon if he'll be trying out the new saddle soon. Eragon puts her off—he's still a bit nervous from the first time he flew on her.
- Over dinner that night, they decide that it's time to get going after the Ra'zac. Brom says that they'll need horses.
- Eragon wants to ride Saphira, but Brom tells him that she's too young to carry them both, and that they'll be safer if they stick together.
- Eragon reluctantly agrees, but where will they get the horses? He's not down with more stealing.
- Brom says that it depends how you look at it. He reminds Eragon that the Ra'zac are agents of the king, and so have all the legal advantages. What they're about to do is in fact super-dangerous.
- After that cheery thought, it's time for bed.
- They start out early in the morning on the Ra'zac's trail. Saphira flies about them as they walk.
- To take his mind off his chapped and bleeding thighs, Eragon asks Brom more questions about dragons.
- It turns out that they won't hatch until they are good and ready. That is, they wait until the person destined to be their rider comes along.
- Brom goes on about the mating habits of dragons, as well as military strategies when riding them. All good info.
- They walk all day until they near the village of Therinsford.
- Eragon asks again about who owned the sword that Brom gave him, but Brom won't say. When Eragon starts to fuss again, Brom says, "All will be told in time" (16.20). Way to be super dramatic, Brom.
- They decide to make camp. After dinner, Eragon settles down next to Saphira—that is, until Brom throws a stick at him.
- Training time!
- Brom and Eragon start to swordfight with sticks. It does not go well for Eragon. Long story short: in no time, Brom is splashing cold water on his face to wake him up… after, you know, knocking him out.
- Eragon gets up, angry for revenge, but Brom continues to pummel him unmercifully like a deranged Mr. Miyagi. Still, Brom tries to teach Eragon as he's kicking his butt.
- Eventually, Eragon collapses in a bloody heap. Talk about the school of hard knocks. (See what we did there?)
- Saphira makes an odd growl; then Eragon realizes that she's laughing at him.
- The next day, they reach Therinsford before noon. Saphira takes off as they enter the village.
- They have to cross the Anora River to enter the village, but there's a greasy dude on the bridge charging five crowns to cross. Daylight robbery!
- They pay and walk across, but Brom bumps into the bridge keeper. On the other side, he reveals to Eragon that he totally lifted that guy's coin purse. Score.
- Eragon says that it's stealing, but Brom defends his actions as justified.
- Now to business: They pay a boy to take them to the nearest horse seller. He takes them to Haberth, who offers to sell them two horses.
- Brom likes one, but not the other. He's interested in Snowfire, Haberth's prized white stallion.
- Haberth names a huge sum for him, since he doesn't want to sell ol' Snowy. Brom matches it, though, so he's got a deal.
- In the meantime, Eragon realizes that he can reach out with his mind to the horses in much the same way he communicates with Saphira.
- Brom tells Haberth that he'll take good care of Snowfire, then slips away into the village. Eragon leads the horses out of town and meets Brom there.
- Brom's found out that the Ra'zac definitely passed through town.
- Eragon mentions to him that he can touch the horse's mind with this own, and Brom says that this power is unusual in such a young Rider.
- They jump on their horses and head south out of the Palancar Valley. On the way, they pass a crumbling ruin where Riders used to guard the valley. It reminds Eragon of the legacy of heroism that he's inherited. (In case this whole thing wasn't feeling epic enough already.)
- Their travels take them to the edge of a vast plain at the edge of the valley. Before they head into it, they make camp for the night. Eragon decides to name his horse Cadoc, after his grandfather.
- And then it's time for another game of "Get Battered by the Stick" with Brom. Oh, good.
Thunder Roar and Lightning Crackle
- Eragon starts the next day out by fantasizing how he'll kill the Ra'zac, but his stiff and sore body brings him back to reality. He complains to Brom that their training sessions will be the end of him, but Brom says that he's tough enough to take it.
- They head out onto the plains, with Saphira flying high above them out of sight.
- Brom finds some Ra'zac tracks and determines that they must have headed east, toward the village of Yazuac. They head after them.
- The ceaseless wind starts to get to Eragon. First his legs are chapped, and now his face is chapped. Can a Rider get some Carmex?
- They make camp in the open. Brom is having a hard time getting a fire going with all the wind. Eragon hears him say, "Brisingr!" and it starts right up, though (17.17). That was easy.
- They plod along for another day. The day after that, they see a storm front heading toward them.
- The wind picks up big time, and Saphira is forced to land. The wind is so strong, though, that it blows her around, what with her big leathery wings, and slams her into the ground. Eragon rushes over to help her get her wings folded back up.
- They struggle back to where Brom is, just in time to be pelted by sheets of rain and lightning flashes.
- Around sunset, the storm starts to clear, and they make camp.
- Luckily for Eragon, Brom is too tired to spar tonight. We wonder why.
Revelation at Yazuac
- They keep traveling, but Eragon notices that they're running low on water. They'd better reach Yazuac soon. Brom is confident, though, and, sure enough, they get there later that day.
- Saphira goes to hide while Brom and Eragon head for the village.
- Saphira doesn't like all this hiding business. She's a dragon, not some criminal!
- As Brom and Eragon near Yazuac, something's not right. Nobody's out on the streets; no dogs are barking.
- They enter from a side street, sword drawn and bow cocked. What they see is pretty awful: a big pile of bodies—women and children included—piled up in the middle of the street.
- Eragon shoots a crow that's about to feast on the dead folk, then throws up.
- Brom comforts him and explains that we can't understand why these things happen. It's just due to pure evil. (Not super comforting, B.)
- Investigating the scene, Brom determines that Urgals, not the Ra'zac, did this. Then he realizes that some Urgals must still be around. He tells Eragon to take off.
- Eragon starts to gallop off on his horse, but he's knocked off by an Urgal. He sees Brom turn back to try to help him, but another Urgal steps in the way. All Brom can do is offer this helpful advice: "Run, you fool!" (18.37).
- Eragon takes that advice, stopping to shoot an arrow at the Urgal. The monster blocks it with his shield and keeps coming. He tackles Eragon. Eragon pops up first, though, and see the second Urgal wound Brom with an axe. Just as he's about to finish Brom off, Eragon runs over to attack him. He tries to lure both Urgals away from the wounded Brom and runs off among the houses of the village.
- As the Urgals close in, a strange, powerful sensation comes over Eragon. He pulls back his bow to shoot an arrow. When he lets fly, he says the word, "Brisingr!" (18.43).
- BOOM! The arrow takes off one Urgal's head, then kills the other one with the force of the blast.
- Eragon looks down and realizes that the scar on his palm—his "gedwëy ignasia" for all you Rider insiders—is glowing white hot.
- He watches it fade back to normal, then collapses against the nearest wall.
- Eragon recovers his strength a little, but he's still pretty shaky.
- He finds Cadoc and then Snowfire. Brom is slumped over in Snowfire's saddle, with a nasty gash on his arm.
- Saphira calls out to Eragon in his mind, asking if he's okay. When he says he is, she swears bloody vengeance on the Urgals. Eragon tells her there's no need: they already went out—with a bang. Then he slaps his knee and gives Saphira a high-five. Or something.
- They need to get out of the village, now, and get Brom some medical attention.
- Saphira puts Brom on her back while Eragon leads the horses. As they leave the village behind, Eragon notices the tracks of the Ra'zac.
- Then it hits him: he used magic to kill those Urgals! Eragon is super-stoked about that, but he has many questions about this newfound ability. For example, why didn't Brom tell him about this?
- They continue on. Saphira scouts ahead for a secluded camping spot. Finally, they settle down for the night and Brom listens to Eragon tell him about the magic blast that he unleashed.
- Brom thanks Eragon for saving his life, but then says that Eragon shouldn't have used the power. He had no idea what he was doing and could have destroyed himself and everything around him.
- Eragon points out that, if Brom would, you know, teach him about this stuff, then he would know what he's doing.
- Brom says that the magic is too powerful and complex a force to teach. There are hard and fast rules to magic that must be adhered to. The punishment for violating them is death.
- Eragon presses him: for example?
- Brom asks him if he said anything to release the blast. When Eragon replies, "Brisingr," Brom explains that magic stems from an ancient language that "describes the true nature of things, not the superficial aspects that everybody sees" (19.50). The better this language is learned, Brom explains, the more powerful a magician one can become.
- Saphira realizes that Brom is himself a magician. She passes this on to Eragon.
- Brom admits that he knows a bit, but that he's getting old and is not as strong as a full-fledged Rider like Eragon.
- Speaking of old age, it's now bedtime for Brom. Before he goes to sleep, though, he warns Eragon that magic takes as much out of a person as any other difficult physical task. That's what makes it so dangerous. Once you commit to using it, you can't cancel it, so magicians have to know their physical limits well.
- Despite Brom's warning, Saphira is stoked about how powerful they are becoming.
Magic is the Simplest Thing
- Back on the trail, Eragon wonders what those Urgals were doing in Yazuac. Brom figures that they probably broke off from the main force to loot the place.
- Brom recounts his side of the battle, then imparts a bit more info about all this magic business:
- All Riders can use magic. That's what makes King Galbatorix so darn powerful. The problem is, the Riders received comprehensive training in how to direct and channel their magical powers. This means that, without his degree from Hogwarts, Eragon will be at a disadvantage in a magic duel.
- Brom says that he'll do his best, though, to train him on the run. After all, Eragon has already shown promise with that whole exploding-Urgal-head trick.
- To get better, Eragon will have to improve his ancient language vocabulary. Speaking the words is what releases the power. Also, it's impossible to lie when speaking in that language. Another thing to know about this language: if somebody knows your true name, they can use magic to exert tremendous power over you. For that reason, most people have two names, one they use casually and the hidden one that they keep secret. (There's no mention of how John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt factors in here.)
- Eragon would like to know his hidden name, but Brom warns him that obtaining that knowledge can prove very dangerous.
- Eragon learns that magic can also heal (though it takes a lot of energy), but Riders are forbidden to use it to raise the dead. That's something that could kill a magic-user.
- Brom demonstrates some magic that's more Eragon's speed. He teaches him to cause a pebble to levitate from his palm. After a few tries, Eragon succeeds.
- Brom also mentions that magic is affected by distance. The farther away from the source it is, the more energy it takes to work.
- Then Brom has Eragon keep practicing with the pebble. He teaches him some new magic words, then spars with him that night after dinner. Even left-handed, Brom still has mad skills.
- Their days slip into a pattern: Brom gives Eragon magic lessons during the day, sword-fighting lessons at night. Along the way, Eragon is getting stronger, as is Saphira.
- After some time on the road, they come to the village of Daret.
- Eragon has a nightmare about Garrow, who turns into the Ra'zac. Luckily, Saphira is there to make him feel better.
- Brom and Eragon enter Daret with Saphira hiding nearby.
- The place looks empty; dust devils twirl through deserted streets.
- As they move in further, a wagon is suddenly pushed in front of them to block the path. Out jumps a rough-looking dude with a bow and sword, ordering them to halt. Other archers pop up from surrounding roof tops. Yikes.
- Eragon and Brom are ordered to explain themselves, and Brom replies that they're just looking to buy supplies.
- The men reluctantly agree to fetch them what they want, but Brom and Eragon have to stay right where they are. The villagers have had too many scrapes with Urgals lately to trust strangers.
- Brom gives them his shopping list, and someone is sent to fetch the items.
- In the meantime, the man who stopped them offers his name: Trevor. He asks them for news of what's going on elsewhere, and Brom tells them about the massacre at Yazuac.
- Though Trevor is upset by this, he tells them that the people of Daret refuse to leave their homes. He's been put in charge of defenses since he used to serve in the king's army.
- Meanwhile, the runner comes back with the requested items, including a pair of gloves that will nicely hide Eragon's gedwëy ignasia from prying eyes.
- Eragon and Brom head out, with a message from Trevor to pass along. He wants them to tell the Empire about what's going down around there, since nobody's sent any help. They promise to relay the message.
- As they head out of Daret, Brom scolds Eragon for not using his powers to sense Trevor's intentions telepathically. Eragon didn't know that he had this power, but then Brom says he should only use it sparingly. Like, not to eavesdrop on strangers in besieged villages, Brom?
- Brom suggests practicing mind-reading on cats, as they're interesting creatures.
- Eragon asks if others could read his mind, and Brom says yes, but that he'll know if someone tries to enter his mind. If they do, he can put up a wall to protect his thoughts, but it takes lots of practice to do so.
- Eragon thinks that the more he knows about magic, the more it creeps him out.
- They meet back up with Saphira, and she is not happy. She's mad that Eragon keeps getting into sticky situations without her. She pins him to the ground and demands that he ride her the next day.
- Eragon's not too wild about this idea. We're guessing the memory of chapped thighs stays with you for a while, but eventually he agrees. Saphira lets him back up, content.
- That night at camp, it's time to spar again. But this time, Brom wants to use real, live swords. Uh oh.
- Not to worry. He shows Eragon how to blunt the edge of his sword with magic. They can still break bones, though, he says, so be careful.
- They spar with the swords, and both are bumped and bruised in the mock battle.
- Eragon, though, has more bumps and bruises than Brom does. Just sayin'.
Through a Dragon's Eye
- The next morning arrives. Time to ride the dragon, Eragon.
- He's nervous, but he hops on Saphira's saddle and off she flies. Hey, thinks Eragon, this ain't so bad. Then Saphira starts twisting and diving.
- Eragon is dizzy, but she says that it's important to practice these moves, in case they have to fight in mid-air.
- Then Saphira joins her mind to Eragon's. He finds himself looking through her eyes. The world takes on a bluish tint. Trippy.
- In this melded state, Eragon starts to understand how much pleasure Saphira takes in flying. His fear melts away and he, too, starts to enjoy himself.
- At one point, both Eragon and Saphira start to merge into a single consciousness during the flight. Nice.
- Eventually, though, Saphira goes into a steep dive and her mind starts to separate slowly from Eragon's.
- Eragon is wowed by the experience. He's sorry that he hasn't flown on her back more and promises to fly on her all the time from now on.
- Well that takes care of that.
- Saphira goes on flying, showing Eragon how she reads the land from up in the sky. He's learning so much and having so much fun that at first he doesn't notice Brom screaming at him in his mind to get back down to earth.
- After they land, and after Brom gives Eragon a tongue-lashing for ignoring his mental call, Brom shows him what's so important: a confusion of Ra'zac footprints. There are other prints there, too. It looks like the Ra'zac have taken off on some giant birds.
- They sit down for lunch. How will they track the Ra'zac now? It's not like they'll be leaving footprints on the clouds or anything.
- Eragon is at a loss for options and stalks off into the woods. There he stumbles on a metal flask with the Ra'zac's symbol on it. A clue!
- He upends the flask and lets a drop of clear liquid fall on his finger. Ouch! It burns as if it were fire. A small patch of skin has been eaten away.
- Eragon takes his find over to Brom, who explains that it's oil from a Seithr plant, which grows only in the far north. It's very rare, used in torturing and assassination. Eragon guesses that this is what burned his Uncle Garrow.
- All of the sudden, another light bulb goes off above Eragon's head. If this stuff is so rare, and it has to be shipped to get here, there must be records that show that kind of transaction.
- Brom is picking up what Eragon's putting down. If they can trace the shipments of Seithr oil that the Empire is ordering, they'll be able to track down the nasty Ra'zac.
- He suggests that they head to the port city of Teirm, on the coast. One of his old buddies, Jeod,lives there.
- Cool beans, says Eragon, then he jumps on Saphira's back for some more riding. He lets her know that he has to ride with Brom the next day, though.
- Saphira's okay with this, since she knows that Eragon still has much to learn from Brom. Plus, that will give her some time to go hunting. Win-win.
A Song for the Road
- On the road the next day, Eragon asks Brom about the sea. What's it like?
- Brom gives a very poetic answer (really, go check it out—we'll wait). He tells Eragon that the sea is so important to the elves.
- How important? Well, they have songs about it. Wanna hear one? Okay… ahem... well, you see, we just strained our vocal chords doing some operatic solos in the shower this morning. Why don't you go check out Brom's version of the song for yourself?
- They continue to travel toward Teirm, and Eragon practices his magic and sword fighting all along the way. He's getting pretty good at both, and his body is getting all muscular and buff.
- They come at last to the Toark River, which they can follow through the mountains of the Spine right to Teirm.
- As they near the city, the land becomes green and mossy. Brom explains that this is due to the fog and mist that hangs over the places—kind of like Portland, but with fewer hipsters and more castles.
- Brom suggests that they stick together from now on—no more riding Saphira. As a further precaution, they should use aliases. Brom will be "Neal," and Eragon will be his nephew, Michael Bolton. Just kidding. His new name is "Evan." Tricky!
A Taste of Teirm
- At last they arrive at Teirm, which is surrounded by a huge, white wall.
- Eragon tells Saphira to stay hidden. She tells him to stay out of trouble.
- When they get to the gate, Eragon and Brom give their fake names in their best accents and act kinda silly/demented. The guard waves them through.
- Eragon notices that the city is designed with buildings that get progressively taller as they get closer to the castle. Brom explains that this allows archers to shoot down at invaders without hitting their buddies in front of them. Considerate!
- Eragon notices that the locals look pretty grim, as if they've recently had trouble, too.
- Brom says that they better find Jeod, so they duck into a tavern called "The Green Chestnut."
- They ask the barkeep if he knows anyone called Jeod, but the bartender is going to need some moolah to part with that info.
- Luckily, a helpful fella named Martin is sitting right there and gives them the info for free (much to the bartender's annoyance). He tells them that Jeod can be found over on the west side of town. Then he volunteers even more info: apparently, local merchants like Jeod have been losing ships right, left, and center. They are being sunk by mysterious attacks.
- Brom and Eragon thank him for the info, down their beers, and take this story over to the west side.
- When they get there, the west side of town is pretty ritzy, and Eragon feels out of place.
An Old Friend
- Eragon and Brom enter an herbalist's shop to ask which house belongs to Jeod. Angela (the herbalist) teases them about how they phrase their questions, but eventually tells them what they want to know.
- Angela is trying to prove that toads don't exist, only frogs. Angela is…odd.
- They leave the shop and go knock on Jeod's door. At first there's no answer, but then his wife comes to the door. She tries to tell them that Jeod is very busy, but eventually goes to get him. (Doesn't anybody do what they're asked right away in this town?)
- Jeod comes to the door. He's an old-looking fellow with a big scar on his head. He recognizes Brom at once, shocked to see him. He's happy, though, but says that they can't talk there. He ducks back into his house and comes out again with a rapier (a long, skinny sword) by his side. He's also got on a fancy hat and cape. Well, then.
- They walk toward the city's citadel, where, Jeod explains, all the business owners are forced to keep their offices. He leads them through the gate and into his designated room in the castle.
- At last, they can talk. In a castle.
- Jeod and Brom reminisce about the time when they last saw each other. They were separated in some kind of "turmoil" in the city of Gil'ead. Eragon gets the feeling that they're leaving out a lot of details since he's sitting there.
- Brom explains that he fled to Carvahall and laid low after they were separated.
- Then he quickly changes the subject to Eragon's quest to find the Ra'zac. He explains their plan to track the Seithr oil shipments and asks if Jeod can help.
- Jeod agrees; he'll put them up at his house while he helps them.
- Then he compliments Eragon on inheriting such a unique name.
- Brom asks Eragon to go check on the horses. Eragon knows that he's being asked to leave so that Brom and Jeod can talk in privacy.
- He takes the hint, though he's not happy about it. But then realizes that he's got magic on his side.
- He whips out a pack of cards and starts to shuffle—ah, we kid. What he really does is use magical super-hearing to eavesdrop on Brom and Jeod's convo.
- Jeod is complaining about how the shipments to a place called Tronjheim are not getting through. Maybe there's a traitor in their midst. He suggests that Brom take Eragon to Tronjheim, but Brom says that the dwarves would "tear him apart" (25.70). Dwarves!
- Instead, Brom decides to send word to someone named Ajihad. Plan decided. They get up to leave.
- All of this eavesdropping has left many questions in Eragon's mind.
- They walk back to Jeod's house and, along the way, he lets them know that things ain't exactly wonderful on the home front. He's got financial troubles, which doesn't make his wife Helen very happy. In fact, instead of eating in, it might be a better idea if they go out for dinner.
- Brom and Jeod catch up on old times over a yummy meal at a large tavern. Afterward, they head for home, but Eragon wants to walk around for a bit. Jeod warns him to be inside the city walls before dark, and they part ways.
- Eragon high-tails it outside to meet up with Saphira. They discuss their plan to track the Ra'zac. Maybe magic can help them search through the records.
- It's getting dark. Saphira takes Eragon down to the ground, and he makes it back to the city gates just in time. He makes his way back to Jeod's and finds him and Brom in the study. They discuss their plans to search the shipping records.
- Eragon is afraid that he won't be of much help. You see, the thing is, Eragon can't read.
- Garrow never taught him, but Brom tells him that Garrow knew how to read himself.
- No big whoop, says Brom. I'll just teach you to read myself.
- Jeod is excited by that. He describes himself as a "bibliophile," a lover of books. Shmoop's got that title, too.
- He points out all the books in his study, and Brom pulls down one called Domia abr Wyrda, or The Dominance of Fate. It details the history of Alagaësia, but has been banned by the Empire.
- Jeod is tired, so he heads off to bed. Brom and Eragon head to their rooms, too, but Eragon has one more question before he hits the sack. He wants to know if he can use magic to call up an image of something that you can't see.
- Brom says that, yes, the practice (called "scrying") is possible, but only with things that one has seen already. You have to look into a reflective surface. Brom gives him the magic words (not "please" and "thank you"), but tells him not to use them tonight.
- Eragon tells him that he wants to scry his cousin Roran to make sure that the Ra'zac haven't gotten to him. Brom tells him that this is definitely a possibility. Way to cheer things up, Brom!
- But it's unlikely that the Ra'zac will harm Roran, even if they catch him. King Galbatorix likely wants to see if Eragon will join him, so he won't want to kill his cousin and risk turning Eragon against him. So that's the good news.
- But (we knew this was coming), here's the bad news: if the king ever does get the chance to invite Eragon into his service, it will mean that he's close enough to kill Eragon if he refuses.
- Brom says that dying for what you believe in is easy—people do it all the time. "The real courage," he says, "is in living and suffering for what you believe" (25.195).
- With that, Brom has delivered yet another pep talk to send Eragon off to bed.
The Witch and the Werecat
- Eragon wakes up late the next morning.
- Jeod's butler informs him that Brom and Jeod have headed to the castle; they'll be back later that night.
- Eragon decides to go exploring.
- He walks all over town, but then heads back to Jeod's for some free lunch. He ducks into Angela's herb shop, though, before he eats.
- In the shop, Eragon is checking out all the plants and various items for sale.
- On one of the shelves, he sees a red-eyed cat. When he tries to reach out to it with his mind, he's surprised to hear the cat talk back to him.
- At first he thinks that the voice in his head is Saphira.
- He picks up a wooden rod that shocks him. Then he realizes that the voice had warned him not to do that—it belongs to the cat. Correction: it belongs to the werecat.
- Whoa. Werecats are the stuff of legend to Eragon, but here's a live one right in front of him. This one's name is… Solembum. What? You got a better a name?
- Anyway, Solembum's not giving away his hidden name, so that's what we'll all call him, Eragon included.
- Just then, Angela comes in the shop. She's impressed that Solembum chose to speak with Eragon. That's only ever happened with two other people before: a woman and a blind beggar.
- Angela offers to help him buy something, but Eragon is broke as a joke. Besides, he doesn't have much use for herbs and the like.
- She then offers to read his fortune. She runs to the back of the store and returns with a set of dragon knucklebones. Since Solembum spoke to him, she offers to cast the bones and divine his fate for free. She warns him, though, it might not all be good news. That woman Selena did not like what she had to tell her.
- Hey, wait a second. Selena! That's Eragon's mother's name!
- Eragon agrees to hear his fortune. He recognizes authentic magic words when Angela rolls the bones. This is the real deal.
- Angela looks at the bones for a while, then says it's the hardest reading that she's ever done. She points to a bone that stands for infinity, or long life. Then she also sees tremendous conflicts surrounding him. There are many paths open to him, but only one is the way to happiness.
- Angela continues: one bone spells out doom or death, but another means that he'll have to leave Alagaësia forever.
- Then some good news: there's an epic romance with a noblewoman in his future.
- And more bad news: he will be betrayed by a member of his family.
- All of this is pretty intense for Eragon. He drinks some wine to calm his nerves.
- Angela wants to know more about Eragon and his friend. It turns out that she's heard of Brom before.
- Then the werecat comes over to him and delivers two pieces of advice: "When the time comes and you need a weapon, look under the roots of a Menoa tree. Then, when all seems lost and your power is insufficient, go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak your name to open the Vault of Souls" (26.78). Got it.
- Eragon takes off and heads straight for Saphira. They debate telling Brom about his encounter with Angela. Eragon is undecided.
- He heads back to town to meet up with Jeod and Brom. They struck out with the records keepers. Brom has a new plan now. It involves teaching Eragon to read over the next week, and some additional details to be discussed later. (Good luck with that.)
- They all go to dinner, where Helen, Jeod's wife, sits and glares at them. Awkward.
Of Reading and Plots
- The next few days are spent with Eragon learning how to read and practicing his sword fighting and magic in his spare time. In the evenings, he visits Saphira.
- In short order, Brom says he's ready to launch his plan. He clues Eragon in on the deets, but all we get is, "this is what we'll do…" (27.10).
- Eragon speaks with Saphira telepathically, letting her know that they will be leaving soon. He's kind of bummed. He liked his time in Teirm. Still, he knows the life of a Rider can't be a normal one, what with the dragon and all.
- That night, he has a vivid dream in which he sees a young woman in a cell. She is crying a single tear.
- Eragon wakes to finds himself crying, too, before he falls back off to sleep.
Thieves in the Castle
- Eragon wakes up from a nap at sunset. It's almost time for Operation Mystery-Thingy.
- He straps on his bow and meets up with Jeod and Brom. They head off toward the castle.
- When they get to the castle, Jeod gets them past the guard by claiming that Eragon left something in his office. The guard buys it. They're in.
- They find the records office. The door's locked. But wait! Some of us know magic! Brom opens the door with his magical powers.
- The room is filled with scrolls, and they get to work rummaging through them, taking notes of any mention of Seithr oil shipments.
- They continue searching until Eragon hears Solembum in his head. He appears as a small boy with slanted eyes and shaggy black hair. He warns Eragon that guards are on their way.
- They race through as many scrolls as they can before picking up their stuff and heading out the door. Just in time, too, as they can hear the guards coming down the hall.
- The guards show up, but they claim to have gotten lost. Since the door is locked now, these world's-smartest guards decide to let them go on their way. Even better, they march them back to the gate and actually help them escape. Nice.
- Back at Jeod's house, they break out the notes they took and a map. Through their knowledge of Alagaësian geography and process of elimination, they determine that the most likely place for the Ra'zac to be is the city of Dras-Leona. Easy as pie.
- Eragon groans. Dras-Leona is really far away from Teirm. Jeod hands over his map; it looks like he and Brom are going to need it. He has to stay put and tend to his business.
- Brom is resigned to heading back on the road again. Cue Willie Nelson.
- Eragon relates what when down to Saphira.
A Costly Mistake
- In the morning, Brom and Eragon take their leave of Jeod. As they go, Brom tells Jeod's wife, Helen, not to wear her cranky pants so much. She's got a good husband.
- Eragon sees Solembum watching him as they leave the city, so he asks Brom about werecats.
- Brom tells him that they are mysterious and rare creatures.
- Saphira swoops down to join them, and Eragon jumps onto her back.
- After lunch, Eragon switches to riding Cadoc. He needs to get some answers from Brom.
- Brom is not happy that Eragon eavesdropped on his private convo with Jeod, but he says he'll tell Eragon as much as he can. Here's the deal:
- There is war going on in Alagaësia, between the Empire and the Varden. They're fighting over… Eragon.
- Yes, really, but really it's about the next generation of Dragon Riders, of which Eragon is the first. Whoever gets control of the Riders will win control over Alagaësia.
- You see, there are more eggs out there than just Saphira's—two other ones, in fact. Unfortunately, they are both in the possession of Galbatorix.
- It's like a big race: Galbatorix is trying to match the eggs with their Riders before the Varden can swipe them from him.
- For his part, when Brom was younger, he was involved in a plot with the Varden to steal one of the eggs. With the help of Jeod's scholarship, they found a secret way into the castle and got a thief to steal an egg (Saphira's).
- When the thief didn't return to the Varden, though, Brom had to go out and chase down the egg. In the process, he had to fight the king's number one guy, Morzan, last of the Forsworn. (You think he put that on his business card?)
- He ended up killing Morzan and taking it to the Varden, and then he laid low in Carvahall, ready to train the egg's Rider if and when s/he revealed him/herself (i.e., Eragon).
- But how did Saphira's egg land in the Spine?
- Brom guesses that it was transported by magic to protect it from the Empire's forces.
- So, Eragon asks, are they headed to the Varden now?
- Nope—too dangerous, says Brom. There's a lot of political infighting among the Varden. It can get messy. It's actually safer to track down the Ra'zac. After they make the Ra'zac take a permanent dirt nap, Eragon will have to decide whether he wants to join the Varden.
- In the meantime, Brom will guide Eragon through his "tuatha du orothrim," which is basically a phase of Eragon's training.
- So how does Brom know so much about dragons, anyway?
- That will have to wait for another time, says Brom.
- Did Brom know Eragon's mom?
- Yes, he says, and she was a wonderful woman.
- Eragon thinks about everything he's learned on his trip.
- Later on, when they stop for dinner, Eragon heads to a stream. He sees an unusual shape in the mud, but when he jumps over to investigate it, he slips and breaks his wrist. Oops.
- He's okay, though (he's a tough Dragon Rider), but then he realizes that the shape is an Urgal footprint. And it's fresh.
- He mentally shouts at Saphira to protect Brom, then runs back to camp.
- When he arrives, Saphira has Brom wrapped up in a big, leathery bear (dragon? dragonbear?) hug. Brom's not too wild about it, but she's just trying to protect him.
- They jump on their horses and scout about, which is tough to do with a broken wrist.
- Suddenly, they hear a hunting horn. You know who likes hunting horns? Urgals. Time to leave.
- Eragon hops on Saphira and Brom takes the horses.
- Whew! That was close. They must have outrun—nope. The Urgals are right on their heels. Well, Brom's heels. Eragon is up in the air.
- He tells Saphira to land in front of the chasing Urgals to scare them.
- Instead, the creatures pull up short and start talking to Eragon.
- Looks like their master wants a word.
- Eragon considers this, and then politely declines. Actually, he tells the Urgals and their master to go kick rocks.
- The Urgals have a counter-offer: they'll just drag him to their master by force.
- Eragon counters their counter-offer by blasting them in the mug with some magic. Take that!
- It takes a lot out of him, though. He knocks twelve Urgals to the ground, but they recover faster than he does. They head over to get him, but Saphira tears one in half, dragon-style.
- Then she grabs Eragon and takes off.
- Eragon is spent. When he wakes up, he's back at camp. Saphira and Brom are talking. Saphira takes off. Eragon passes out again.
Vision of Perfection
- Brom wakes up with his arm in a splint. Everyone's gone. He rests for a while, but it's boring without anyone around to talk to/ride on.
- So he tries the scrying magic to see where Brom and Saphira are. Looks like Brom is flying on her back, but he can't tell more than that. Then he scries his cousin Roran, who is sitting in a chair somewhere.
- This scrying stuff is neat, thinks Eragon. Who else can I check on? He summons the image of the woman in the cell from his dream. She turns at looks directly at him, which is… awkward.
- The spell ends.
- Saphira and Brom come back. Surprise! Brom is ticked off.
- He's mad about Eragon's use of magic. He and Saphira have had to go clean up his mess. In this case, "clean up" = kill and "mess" = "Urgals you only knocked out, but then let get away."
- Still, three Urgals escaped Brom and Saphira.
- Eragon tries to apologize, but Brom tells him to basically stuff his sorries in a sack. If he's going to be a Rider, he needs to start thinking more.
- Eragon tells Brom about the summons from the Urgals, and now Brom is really not happy. If the Urgals have a powerful leader, that's not good news.
- They hit the road again, but now Brom spends his time running Eragon through complicated mental exercises to try to train his mind as well as his body.
Master of the Blade
- The next day, Brom and Eragon are feeling better.
- Eragon asks Brom about the woman that he scried, but Brom doesn't know her.
- They spend the day traveling and make it to the shores of Leona Lake, camping for the night.
- The next morning, Eragon jumps on Saphira and they dive into the lake together. Fun times.
- He dries off and they head back on the road, with Saphira splashing around in the lake.
- That night, it's time to spar again. This time, though, Eragon wins.
- Sparring's over, says Brom. When Eragon protests, Brom explains that he can't teach Eragon anything more. He's now officially one super-bad hombre with a sword.
- Watch out for things like elves and the Ra'zac, though, Brom warns. They are stronger than humans.
- Eragon wants to know more about how to fight with magic.
- It turns out that there are strict rules. Magicians can't fight until they have breached each other's mental defenses. That way they have a split-second to react to spells. Otherwise, it would just be too dangerous. As it is, even if you have a second of warning about a spell, there's no guarantee that you can do anything to stop it.
- It sounds tough and dangerous.
- Yup, agrees Brom. But he'll train Eragon. In the meantime, here's what to do if he finds himself in a magician's battle: run.
The Mire of Dras-Leona
- As they continue to travel, the road becomes more crowded. Saphira has to stay hidden during the day.
- They soon make it to Dras-Leona. While they never cross any tracks, it's clear that this place is on the wrong side of the tracks.
- For scenery, there's a group of jagged mountains called Helgrind that overlooks the town. Brom says that it's an "unhealthy and malevolent" place (32.14). The locals worship it, though, with blood sacrifices. The priests lop off their limbs to give to the mountains, and spend their time arguing about which of its peaks should be included in their worship. Well then.
- Dras-Leona is dirty. And stinky. And filled with beggars.
- They find a greasy tavern with a cheap room. The food is no good, but the beer! The beer is quite something. Eragon and Brom drink a whole bunch of it.
- Then it's time for bed.
Trail of Oil
- Eragon wakes up and it's like The Hangover, Part 3. Well, not that bad, but he's moving slowly.
- Brom is in worse shape, but they manage to get their act together and go searching for where the Seithr oil might have been delivered.
- At lunch, they've still had no luck. They decide to split up.
- Eventually, Eragon learns of a warehouse where the oil was taken.
- When he meets up with Brom, Brom has learned that the king himself is coming to Dras-Leona.
- They will want to make themselves scarce before he shows up.
- Brom's also learned that the oil is taken from the warehouse to the palace. From there, it's taken periodically by slaves up to Helgrind, along with two weeks' worth of provisions. Hmm…
- The Ra'zac must be up there on Helgrind. But how will they get to them?
- Eragon suggests that they pose as the two slaves and see what's going down. Risky, says, Brom, but intriguing.
- When Eragon relays all of this mentally to Saphira, he suggests that they can head home, after they fill the Ra'zac full of righteous arrows.
- Saphira basically says, "get real, dude. You won't be safe back in Carvahall. Either go into hiding or join the Varden.."
- Eragon picks… the Varden.
Worshippers of Helgrind
- When Eragon wakes the next day, there's a note from Brom: hang out in town, keep your nose clean, and don't go anywhere without your bow.
- Eragon wanders around Dras-Leona to check things out.
- Hey! There's an auction going on. He wonders what they're sell—eesh. It's a slave auction. Not good.
- Eragon's about to blast it with some magic, but then he remembers what happened the last time he tried that.
- He thinks about using his powers with Saphira to help out people like the slaves here.
- Eragon comes to a creepy cathedral and walks on in. The cathedral has tall stained glass windows. But the windows, "[depict] scenes of anger, hate, and remorse" (34.14). Not so nice.
- Nonetheless, Eragon kneels at the altar and bows his head in a sign of respect. When he stands up, though, some familiar figures are in the doorway to the cathedral. The Ra'zac! Dun dun dun.
- Eragon greets them by firing arrows their way. They're too fast, though. Then he realizes that he's got to warn Brom. Time to get out of there.
- He runs out the back of the cathedral, using magic to blast open a locked door, only to find himself in a garden surrounded by high walls. Trapped!
- Nope, not Eragon. He manages to scramble over the wall and takes off running. The Ra'zac are close on his heels.
- He manages to escape them and meets up with Brom back at the inn. They jump on their horses and haul butt for the city gates.
- Not so fast, though. A line of soldiers is blocking their way when they get to the gate.
- Brom is on it, though. He uses magic to knock the soldiers down, while Eragon uses magic to stop the gate from closing. They escape!
- They meet up with Saphira and Eragon hops on. Brom takes the horse and keeps on truckin'.
- They flee for a while, but then a wicked storm comes up. They take shelter for the night from the driving wind.
- So much for Dras-Leona, says Brom. They can't go back there for a while. They should be on guard for the Ra'zac, who must be out hunting them.
- Eragon thinks he sees something, but then it disappears. The next thing he knows, the back of his head erupts in pain.
- Saphira roars.
- Eragon passes out. (Man, that happens a lot.)
The Ra'zac's Revenge
- Eragon wakes up groggily. He's tied up. So is Brom.
- Eragon tries to remember some magic words, but he can't. He's been drugged by those dastardly Ra'zac.
- He sees that Saphira's been muzzled and wrapped in chains, too.
- The Ra'zac taunt Eragon, saying he'll make a good servant for their master.
- Brom stirs. The Ra'zac debate giving him more of the drug, or just killing him outright. They go with plan B.
- As they are about to slit Brom's throat, though, arrows fly at them from an unseen attacker. One of the Ra'zac is hit in the shoulder.
- They take off, but not before kicking Eragon in the side and throwing a dagger at him. Brom, who has staggered to his feet, leaps in front of the flying dagger and takes one for the team. Well, really, he takes one for Eragon.
- Eragon cries out, then he passes out. Again.
- When Eragon wakes up, there's a campfire going. Sitting near it is a stranger with a "serious face and fierce eyes […] framed by locks of brown hair. He [appears] to be a few years older than Eragon and perhaps an inch or so taller" (36.6).
- Dude says his name is Murtagh. He's also an enemy of the Ra'zac.
- Eragon uses magic to untie himself. He's in bad shape. Brom, meanwhile, is in even worse shape. The dagger went right between his ribs.
- Eragon needs to heal Brom with magic, but he's too weak. Saphira offers to lend him her power to cast the spell.
- With her help, he heals Brom's wound, but only the surface.
- Eragon's really weak, so Murtagh offers him some soup. Soup! It always makes us feel better.
- After his soup, Eragon says that they need to get out of there, before the Ra'zac come back with their buddies.
- Brom can't ride, but Saphira can carry him in a litter (like a makeshift stretcher).
- Eragon tells Murtagh to go his own way, to save himself from the danger that he and Brom (and Saphira) are in.
- Murtagh says thanks but no thanks. Besides, they need his help, and he wants to see what kind of interesting things happen to a real, live Dragon Rider.
- Suit yourself, Murtagh.
- They ride through the night and come to a sandstone cave around dawn.
- They make camp in the cave and grab a bite to eat. Brom refuses to drink water.
- Everyone sleeps.
Legacy of a Rider
- Saphira wakes Eragon. Brom is having a fit, thrashing around. He's burning hot to the touch.
- He holds Brom down, then Brom wakes up for a minute. He wants some wine.
- It's not to drink, though. He tells Eragon to wash his right hand with it. Um, okay.
- As he does, he recognizes a gedwëy ignasia on Brom's palm.
- That's right; Brom used to be a Rider, too. And his dragon's name was… Saphira. She was killed when she was young, though.
- Brom says that it's important that Eragon look after his Saphira. He also says that he hasn't got much time left. He offers Eragon a blessing.
- Eragon accepts and Brom says seven magical words to him, then he translates them for Eragon. We're not told what they mean, though. (Come on!) Eragon is only to use them in great need.
- Brom slips back to sleep, and eventually he dies.
- Eragon decides that, despite the risk, they have to bury him.
- He uses his magic to craft a sandstone vault for Brom, then he sets some commemorative runes into the stone.
- That night, he dreams of the imprisoned woman again. We're starting to think this means something.
- Eragon wakes up and is pretty bummed out. He wants to know why this stuff keeps happening to him.
- Murtagh comes over. He asks if that was the same Brom who killed Morzan.
- Yes indeedy, replies Eragon. How does Murtagh know about him?
- It turns out that Murtagh had heard rumors of a new Rider, and so he followed the Ra'zac to see if it was true.
- Eragon tries to read Murtagh's mind, but he is blocked by a solid wall of mental defense.
- Eragon picks up his sword, Zar'roc. He belts it on and decides that he's a fully-fledged Rider now.
- Brom asks to see the sword. He recognizes it. It used to belong to… Morzan!
- Eragon is a bit put off that the sword probably was used to kill good men, but he decides to use it anyway, at least until he can find a suitable replacement.
- Murtagh offers to help Eragon on his quest, but he warns him that it might be dangerous.
- Eragon's response? Danger is my middle name! Eragon Danger… well, okay, it's his last name then.
- Saphira comes back. She misses Brom. So does Eragon.
- It turns out that Saphira knew that Brom was a rider all along. She kept it secret because Brom told her to. He also told her where to find the Varden: a man named Dormnad, who lives in Gil'ead, can show them.
- Off to Gil'ead they'll go, then. Eragon hopes to encounter the imprisoned woman of his dreams along the way.
- Murtagh says he'll go with them, but he won't be going to see the Varden. Too dangerous, he says.
- Before they head out, Saphira touches Brom's tomb with the tip of her nose. The tomb is transformed into "a sparkling gemstone vault" (38.59).
- Now Brom can rest in peace forever more.
Capture at Gil'ead
- They head off, Eragon riding Snowfire and Murtagh on his own horse Tornac.
- They sell Eragon's old horse, Cadoc, at a small village and continue on.
- During their journey, Eragon learns more about Murtagh: the Empire is chasing him, but he won't say why. Also, Murtagh seems to know a lot about the political workings of the Empire.
- They head north, past the capital city of Urû'baen, and keep on rolling. Along the way, Eragon has his sixteenth birthday. They stop off at a Chuck. E Cheese and play ski ball all day. Just kidding. In the middle of the wilderness, Eragon doesn't even bring it up. Sad.
- Saphira is getting bigger, too.
- Eventually, Eragon is well enough to spar again. He takes on Murtagh, but they are equally matched. Both are super-duper swordsmen, so they push each other to hone their skills.
- Eragon also practices his magic, and shares what he knows with Murtagh.
- Finally, they reach Gil'ead, "a rough, barbaric place filled with log houses and yapping dogs" (39.30).
- Murtagh convinces them that he should go into town by himself to track down this Dormnad, seeing as how, you know, Eragon is the most wanted man in the kingdom and all.
- Murtagh takes off, then comes galloping back a long while later. He's set up a meeting with Dormnad at sunrise the next day.
- Unfortunately, Murtagh was recognized in Gil'ead by someone who knew his face. They don't think that will mess up the meeting, though. Sure it won't, guys.
- The next morning, Eragon's scar tingles ominously. Saphira smells horses nearby and an unfamiliar stench.
- All of a sudden, an Urgal appears at the edge of their camp. Eragon blasts him with some magic, though.
- Wait! It was a diversion. The rest of the Urgals storm the campsite. Eragon kills a few, but then he's bonked on the noggin by a club.
- Eragon slips into unconsciousness. (This whole passing out at the end of a chapter thing is getting out of control.)
Du Sundavar Freohr
- Eragon wakes up in a cell with dried blood on his face. It's not his, though. Must be dried Urgal blood. Yuck.
- But that splitting headache is Eragon's.
- Still, he tries to use his magic, but his head is too fuzzy. He must've been drugged. His sword is gone, too.
- He eats some thin cabbage soup and goes back to sleep. What else can he do?
- The sound of marching soldiers wakes him up. They pass by his cell, dragging an unconscious woman. Hold the phone! That's the woman from his dream! And she's an elf!
- Behind the soldiers comes someone else. He's tall, with red hair—a Shade.
- I gotta get outta here, thinks Eragon. He sits down on his bed again, but then he passes out. (Seriously?!)
- When he wakes up again, he realizes that the drug he was given is wearing off.
- Eragon realizes that they're spiking his meals. From now on, he chucks the food and water out his cell window. His mind starts to clear up.
- Later on, the Shade shows up at his cell. He wants to know Eragon's name.
- Eragon pretends to be drugged, and mutters his name. Not that one, says that Shade. He wants Eragon's hidden name.
- Eragon doesn't even know that, so he makes something up: "Du Sundavar Freohr." It translates to "death of the shadows." In your face, Shady.
- Eragon wants to know what the Shade wants. To gloat, is the reply. Then the Shade tells him to think carefully about who he wants to serve.
- He promises Eragon that he'll return soon to continue their convo about names.
- After the Shade leaves, Eragon tries to remember some magic words, but his brain's not up for it just yet.
- Eragon wakes up at night, and feels that the magic has come back to him. Reunited and it feels so good.
- He uses his power to pop the lock on this cell and checks in with Saphira. She's flying over the city somewhere and she tells him that Murtagh is on his way.
- Eragon is discovered by some soldiers in the hall. He gets ready to blast them with magic, but all of the sudden some arrows hit them in their backs. Three go down like sacks of potatoes.
- Eragon zaps one, and the stranger with the bow gets another. One left.
- Eragon leaves the survivor alive to spread the word about his awesome powers. Then he threatens him until he finds out where his sword is.
- It turns out that the old stranger with the beard is Murtagh in disguise. Eragon tells him that they have to rescue the elf woman of his dreams.
- They find her cell and bust her out with the keys from a fallen guard. Upon seeing them, the elf collapses.
- Murtagh puts her on his shoulder and they take off, looking for a way out. Eventually they find themselves in a large banquet room.
- Murtagh runs off to hatch a plan—there's no time to explain. Some soldiers rush by, so Eragon hides under a table… and helps himself to some leftovers from an abandoned plate. Remember that he's been chucking all the food and water out his window, so he's not too fussy about what he eats now.
- Murtagh comes back. He's got Eragon's sword, as well as another strange bow and sword that must belong to the elf.
- Now they just have to wait till Saphira shows up and they'll be home free. Let's hope that the Shade doesn't show up…
- Then the Shade shows up. (Duh.)
- Slim Shady challenges Eragon to a fight, but before they can, there comes a loud booming from the ceiling.
- The Shade attacks, and he's super-strong. Eragon gets the sense that the Shade is playing with him.
- In the meantime, the ceiling is still falling apart. Finally, a huge chunk is torn away.
- Distracted, the Shade takes one of Murtagh's arrows in the shoulder. That's nothin', he says, laughing. But his giggle-fest is cut short, as another of Murtagh's arrows hits him dead between the eyes. The Shade vanishes in a gray cloud.
- Soldiers now rush Eragon and Murtagh, but Saphira pops her head through the hole in the ceiling. She literally tears the roof off the sucker.
- All three of them pile onto Saphira's back and she takes off, absorbing a few arrow wounds to her wings as she flies them out of the city to safety.
A Warrior and a Healer
- Saphira is forced to land, not too far from Gil'ead.
- Luckily, they've made it to their horses.
- Eragon inspects her wounds and heals what he can. They need to pull an arrow out of her wing. Saphira bites down on a tree as they do.
- Once that ordeal is over, they mount up on the horses and Saphira takes to the air. They can see a group of horsemen who have been sent out to look for them, so they race through the night.
- In the morning, they're bushed. Time for camp.
- Saphira shows up and inspects the elf, wondering why the elf is still unconscious. It's a mystery.
- Eragon asks to be caught up on current events.
- It turns out that the Urgals and the Shade are working for the Empire. Boo. So that means that the Urgal's master is King Galbatorix.
- Eragon thinks that the people of the Empire will rebel if they learn that their king is in cahoots with baddies like Shades and Urgals. Murtagh is skeptical. The king can rule them with terror and threats. Plus, he could turn them against a common enemy like the elves or the Varden.
- Regardless of all that, Eragon thanks Murtagh for saving his life.
- As they prepare camp and settle the elf, Murtagh and Eragon notice that she's covered in bruises, scabs, and burns. They also notice a tattoo on her shoulder that matches the symbol on Brom's ring. Eragon silently swears to avenge her.
- Eragon, together with Saphira's power, manages to work some healing magic on the elf. It takes him a while, but he manages to help. Still, he's not sure that the elf will survive.
- Eragon needs rest, but they have to keep moving. He'll eat and sleep in the saddle.
Water from Sand
- They travel all day, taking long detours to avoid detection. There's been no change in the elf's condition.
- Murtagh and Eragon are stuck. They aren't gaining any ground on their pursuers, but they're not sure what to do about it. They can't travel any faster than they're going now. It's time for a new plan.
- Murtagh suggests they leave the Empire. The Hadarac Desert is lovely this time of year!
- Actually, it's not. It's a vast wasteland, filled with poisonous critters and baked by a blistering sun. There's a good reason why it's not part of the Empire.
- Still, it's an empty, vast wasteland, where it will be easier to hide.
- How will they survive there, though?
- Daunted, Eragon goes to scratch around in the dirt. Try it, Shmoopers—it's really a good way to think things through.
- He notices that water seeps into the furrows he's made. Eureka! That's it. If they go to the desert, he can use magic to force water to the surface.
- Eragon tells Murtagh that their problem is solved. Off to Hadarac they go.
The Ramr River
- The next morning, they start out toward the desert. They end up tying the elf to Saphira's belly in order to transport her. Thanks, but we'll stick with coach.
- They take off at a good clip, stopping only to let the horses eat and drink. Saphira's nose sniffs out two potential ambushes, and they try to stay off the main trail after that.
- Eventually, they near the Ramr River. It curves around both to their left and right. They decide to camp during the day and start back again when night falls.
- When they wake, Saphira's still worried about the still-unconscious elf. There's not much they can do, though.
- They make it down to the Ramr, which is wide, deep, and fast-moving. There's no good place to cross anywhere near. How will they ford the river?
- Saphira offers to shuttle them over, but Murtagh is worried about the horses. The dragon already makes them nervous. He's guessing getting picked up and carried over the water is not going to sit too well with either of them.
- There's nothing else to do, though, so the horses are booked on the dragon-shuttle. They kick and scream, but soon it's all over and everyone's on the far side of the river.
- Once they're safely across, it's time for more traveling. Everyone is super-duper tired, but they press on…
- …until they reach the Hadarac Desert.
The Hadarac Desert
- The motley crew camps for a bit on the edge of the desert. Eragon doesn't like the look of the barren expanse before them, but Saphira is all excited. She's got space, yummy things to hunt, and warm weather. What's not to like?
- Eragon says that maybe they can come back when everything's settled.
- After a quick nap, they head into the desert. They come to some crags at sunset and set up camp.
- Eragon summons water with his magic, filling up a hole for the horses and Saphira to drink from. He and Murtagh fill their waterskins, too.
- Eragon's drained from the effort, but happy that his spell worked. Now it's off to bed.
- The next morning, it's freezing. The elf is still not awake.
- As they break camp, "a line of dark smudges [becomes] visible on the horizon" (45.26). Murtagh thinks it could be hills, but Eragon's not sure.
- As they travel onward, Eragon realizes that these smudges are in fact "the bases of gigantic mountains, scores of miles wide" (45.31). These are the Boer Mountains and, boer-y, are they big. (Yeah, we went there.)
- As they near these big mountains, the weather cools and some grass starts to sprout up. A herd of gazelles goes bounding by as they set up camp near the mountain foothills. Saphira looks at them, licking her chops.
- Mmmm… gazelle.
A Path Revealed
- That night, everyone's proud of what they've accomplished: they've covered 60 leagues in just five days.
- FYI: a league is an outdated mode of measurement that was supposed to be the distance a man, or horse, could walk in an hour. Pretty precise, huh? No wonder they stopped using it. If you want to estimate, though, just figure 1 league = 3 miles. So that's 180 miles in five days. Whew.
- Eragon is in a reflective mood—he's finally left the Empire.
- Then an idea comes to him: if he can sense the thoughts of conscious people and animals, maybe he can do the same for unconscious elves.
- He tentatively reaches out to the elf's mind with this own—ZAP! He's assaulted with a painful energy. He struggles but can't break free.
- Eragon mentally shouts out that he's a Rider and a friend, using the ancient language, and the energy lessens its grip.
- The elf allows him to stick around in her brain for a while, since she's curious.
- The elf's name is Arya. Eragon brings her up to speed on what's been going on since they rescued her from jail.
- It turns out that she was given a rare poison. The reason she's unconscious is to slow the poison's effects in her body. If she woke up without an antidote, she'd die. Even so, she doesn't have much time left.
- It also turns out that the Varden just so happened to have the antidote. Eragon offers to take her to them, and she projects a map of where to find them into his mind. Beats GPS.
- She also tells him the secret knock and password that will get them into the Varden's hideout, deep in the Boer mountains.
- The antidote they're after is called "Tunivor's Nectar" (46.30).
- They break off their contact, and Eragon tells Murtagh and Saphira what he learned. Murtagh isn't too jazzed about going to see the Varden.
- They start to argue, and things escalate. Soon enough, Murtagh and Eragon are rolling around on the ground, going at each other.
- Saphira breaks up the scuffle by pinning both of them to the ground with her big ol' paws. She won't let them up until they agree to make peace.
- They settle down, and Murtagh tries to explain why he's so against visiting the Varden. It has to do with who he is and the circumstances of his birth. You see—
- Never mind. We interrupt this story to bring you breaking news: hundreds of imperial troops appear on the horizon. Not just troops, either, but Urgals again. They're lead by a crazy, super-Urgal chieftain. Uh oh. Time to leave.
- As they hurriedly break camp, Murtagh says that he'll come with, but that he'll take his leave when they reach the Varden.
- Off they race, as night descends.
A Clash of Wills
- In the morning, they seem to have outdistanced the Urgals, but everyone is super-exhausted. Saphira has to go hunting to get some food.
- Murtagh and Eragon stop to let the horses drink. When they do, some armed men show up and surprise them.
- Eragon mentally lets Saphira know what's up, and some of the men come charging over.
- They have pretty rusty weapons, and they threaten Murtagh and Eragon with them. They're surrounded. The leader seems pleased: "At least we got healthy ones this time" (47.8). That doesn't sound good.
- He tells Murtagh and Eragon to drop their weapons.
- It turns out that these gentlemen are slavers. When they discover Arya, covered by a blanket, they go hog-wild. An elf will fetch a huge price on the slave market.
- Meanwhile, Eragon is mentally guiding Saphira into an attack. As he signals her, he and Murtagh make their move. Surprise surprise, a fight ensues.
- Saphira lands and Eragon shouts that they've picked the wrong farm boy to mess with. He's a Rider, and anyone who wants to live better get to steppin'.
- Most of the slavers don't have to be told twice. They take off in a panic.
- Their leader, though, a man named Torkenbrand, has been stunned and is slow to get up. Bad move. Murtagh comes over and chops the dude's head off.
- Eragon is not pleased. Why did Murtagh have to kill that man?
- Murtagh says it's not a good idea to take chances, but Eragon is not convinced.
- They ride deeper into the mountains and camp that night in silence. Eragon's not sure what to think about all of this.
Flight Through the Valley
- The next morning, Eragon hops on Saphira and brings Arya's unconscious body along for the ride. He needs some space from Murtagh, as he still can't process him beheading Torkenbrand.
- Saphira urges Eragon to forgive him, at least.
- As they are flying, they spot Urgals following close behind them through the mountains. Time to skedaddle.
- Back at camp, Murtagh helpfully points out that they're beyond exhaustion, and that includes the horses. Still, he'll make sure they reach the Varden. Eragon can't help but like this dude.
- They hustle through the mountains, sleeping in turn on their horses.
- They manage to make some ground on the Urgals, but Arya is dangerously hot.
- Finally, they spot the valley that Arya showed Eragon in their mind-meld. They pass through a dense and spooky old forest.
- As they move deeper into the valley, Murtagh wonders how he'll be able to get out once they find the Varden.
- Eragon jumps onto Saphira for a bit of reconnaissance, looking for an escape route for Murtagh.
- A dove with a white band on its leg flutters by. Saphira snaps at it, but she misses.
- She flies higher into the clouds, so high in fact that Eragon passes out. Looks like Saphira's not equipped with one of those yellow oxygen masks that fall from the airplane ceiling in the event of a sudden loss of pressure.
- Saphira dives back down below the clouds, and Eragon regains consciousness. He's thankful that Saphira didn't pass out, too. It looks like flying out the valley is not an option.
- They go to check on the Urgals, who are coming on stronger than ever. They look to be even bigger and nastier (and stinkier?) than the regular Urgals.
- Eragon conjures up a wall of mist to block their path. The Urgals stop for a minute, but then they figure out that, hey, mist can't hurt you. They shoulder forward.
- Eragon is severely weakened, since he had to cast that spell from a distance. Saphira chides him for not remembering Brom's lessons.
- They make it back to Murtagh. In the meantime, he's come across some giant wolf tracks. Joy.
- They tell him about the equally giant Urgals that are chasing them.
- Murtagh knows these guys. They're called Kull (not to be confused with the awesome sci-fi movie Krull). They are a super-tough brand of Urgal.
- In the meantime, Arya's not looking so good. It's just a bowl of good news for everyone, isn't it?
- Murtagh suggests they take Arya to the Varden now, but Eragon won't leave him.
- Saphira has another idea: attack first. It's just crazy enough to work.
- Saphira and Eragon scoop up a bunch of rocks, then glide over the Urgals' position. At just the right moment, they let the rocks go. Bombs away.
- They hear some howling, so they figure it's working. They continue to harass the Urgals as Murtagh presses on ahead.
- Night descends on the valley. Saphira is circling with Eragon, looking for the waterfall that will indicate the Varden's hideout. They think they see it.
- The two return to Murtagh, who is busy crashing through the forest on foot.
- Arya's still alive, but barely.
- Eragon gives Murtagh the good news: the waterfall is nearby.
- Murtagh wants to know if they found an escape route for him. That would be a… no.
- Murtagh is mighty peeved at this turn of events. Now what will he do?
- Eragon doesn't get what he has against the Varden. They start to fight again.
- Saphira tries to intervene: uh, guys, remember the scary Urgals that are hot on our heels?
- Finally, Murtagh explains why he can't go the Varden: Murtagh is the son of Morzan, last of the Forsworn.
The Horns of a Dilemma
- Eragon is shocked at this revelation. Is this some elaborate trap?
- Murtagh assures him that he's not in league with the bad guys. To prove it, he shows Eragon a really nasty scar on his back. His father Morzan gave it to him when he was only three. (We guess if your title is "last of the Forsworn," you won't be a model parent, but that's just terrible.)
- Eragon realizes that Brom is responsible for killing Murtagh's dad.
- An Urgal horn sounds in behind them. Less talking, more running for your life.
- As they run, Eragon tries to determine for certain if Murtagh is with the Empire, or with them. Saphira trusts him, but she's worried that he'll do something foolish when they reach the Varden.
- Finally they reach the waterfall and the lake it spills into. They walk along the lake's edge toward the falls.
- Suddenly, the Urgals show up. They start to spread out around the lake shore to encircle Murtagh, Eragon, and Saphira (and, we guess, Arya, is who still in sleepyland). Bad times.
- They run toward the falls, but Saphira turns around to cover their escape. She starts shredding major Urgalage, but they return fire with arrows and pierce her wings. She dives into the lake, then shoots up out of the water, snapping at the Urgals and trapping them on one side.
- Murtagh and Eragon, meanwhile, are almost to the falls.
- They make it. Whew.
- Eragon says the magic words that Arya told him and…
- …nothing happens. Maybe try "open sesame"?
- Meanwhile, Saphira has retreated to join them. Now they're all trapped with the Urgals closing in.
- Murtagh uses his sword and Eragon uses his magic to push them back, but they can't hold out forever.
- Suddenly, Saphira realizes the problem: they're on the wrong side of the lake.
- They tie Arya onto Saphira's back, and Eragon mentally encourages the horses. They have to push through the waterfall to get to the other side.
- Everyone dives in, with the Urgals close behind. Eragon struggles to surface, but the force of the water pushes him back down. His heavy, metal sword is not helping him stay afloat.
- Suddenly, a strong hand pulls Eragon out of the water. The Urgals are being forced back under a hail of arrows coming from the cliff.
- Eragon collects himself and realizes that it's a dwarf who has saved him.
- The dwarf would rather be fighting Urgals, but instead he ushers Eragon into a tunnel in the rock.
- When they step inside, Eragon sees a bald man in a purple and gold robe. Totally normal.
- He's got a dagger to Murtagh's throat. That's not good.
- The man says that Murtagh will die if Eragon doesn't do exactly as he says. Saphira is there, and she suggests that Eragon listen to the guy with the knife.
- They step further into the tunnel and it shuts seamlessly behind them. Dun dun dun.
Hunting for Answers
- The bald fellow with the knife ushers everyone down a corridor and into a large room that's covered in marble from floor to ceiling.
- Eragon is worried about Arya, but the bald guy forbids anyone to speak until they've been "tested."
- In this case, "tested" = getting your mind probed by the bald guy to see if you're an agent of Galbatorix. He says that, if they try to hide anything, he'll drive them mad with his mental powers.
- The dwarf who saved Eragon (his name is Orik) steps in and starts to argue with the bald dude. Can't he see that there's an unconscious elf on that dragon's back? He says that Ajihad will be very upset if they let her die.
- This seems to get through to crazy bald dude. He orders the elf to be taken off Saphira's back. The men who do this recognize her.
- The bald guy says that Eragon and his buddies have some serious 'splainin to do, so Eragon tells him about the Tunivor's Nectar antidote.
- The bald guy orders Arya to be taken to healers and then gets back to his probing.
- Eragon is first. The bald man enters his consciousness with a burst of pain, then goes rifling aggressively through his mind. Eragon tries to throw up barriers to prevent this, but Saphira tells him not to do that. Instead, she'll join mental forces with him and hide a few select things (like his knowledge of magic and Murtagh's origin) from the bald guy's search.
- The probe lasts a while longer, as the bald man takes his time, but eventually it's over. He declares that Eragon is not an enemy of the Varden.
- Eragon is wiped out from the experience, but now it's Murtagh's turn.
- Oh no it's not, he says.
- Oh yes it is, counters the bald man. He presses his hand to Murtagh's head, but Murtagh resists him. Orik pulls the bald fellow off him.
- Now he's done it. Bald guy says that Orik is going to be in deep, deep trouble. But Orik counters that, since Murtagh can't use magic, what threat can he possibly pose to the Varden?
- The bald guy is not pleased. He orders Murtagh and Eragon to stay in the room that night. Since he didn't finish his probe, they'll be killed if they try to leave.
- Murtagh and Eragon are too tired to go anywhere anyway.
- Eragon thanks Orik as he leaves, and Orik promises to send some food over.
- Eragon and Murtagh settle down for some sleep against Saphira. But, hey, what's that hot liquid falling on Eragon?
- Oh, right. It's dragon blood. Remember when the Urgals were treating Saphira like a giant pincushion?
- Eragon heals her with his magic, then settles back down to rest.
- He presses Murtagh for more details about his past.
- This is what Murtagh tells him:
- He (Murtagh) is the only child of one of the Forsworn. Morzan met Murtagh's mother in a small village. She fell in love and he basically liked having someone around who did what he asked. Things were hunky-dory back in Galbatorix's court, until she became pregnant with Murtagh. Morzan sent her way to have the baby, hiding the pregnancy from his boss, Galbatorix.
- After Murtagh was born, his mother could only see him on rare occasions. Morzan was meanwhile cruel to Murtagh.
- Then, when Morzan was sent off by Galbatorix to find Saphira's egg, Murtagh's mother vanished. Before Brom killed Morzan, though, she returned. She was very sick, and died shortly after her return.
- So, King Galbatorix arranged for Murtagh's caretaking. On Murtagh's eighteenth birthday, the king invited him to dinner. How thoughtful.
- After dinner, Galbatorix asked Murtagh to help him in his quest to bring peace and prosperity to the Empire. Murtagh was convinced, so he pledged his help.
- Some months later, Galbatorix ordered Murtagh to a town called Cantos, where some rebels were known to hang out. When Murtagh asked how he'd be able to figure out who's guilty and who's innocent, the king told him, "They're all traitors! Burn them at the stake and bury their ashes with dung!" (50.108).
- Aside from the logistical problems this order posed (where are they gonna find that much dung?), this order also posed some moral problems for Murtagh. That's when he decided to escape the king's castle.
- With the help of his servant Tornac, he got away. But not Tornac. Tornac totally got killed.
- After his escape, Murtagh decided to follow the Ra'zac, in the hopes they might lead him to the new Rider. Guess what? His plan worked.
- Murtagh finishes his story and says that he has no more secrets.
- So Eragon wants to know why Murtagh doesn't just up and join the Varden.
- Murtagh says that doing so would definitely get him noticed by Galbatorix, which he's trying very hard to avoid. Also, the Varden want to destroy the Empire. Murtagh thinks the system of the Empire is fine. It's just that it's run by a big jerk.
- Their convo is interrupted by someone opening the door and hurling some food inside the room. No tip for them.
- Still, everyone chows down hungrily, then they hit the hay, or marble in this case.
The Glory of Tronjheim
- Saphira's snoring wakes Eragon. Murtagh is already up.
- Things are kind of boring in the room until Orik and the bald man show back up. It's time to meet Ajihad, leader of the Varden. If they want to eat, they can do it on the way.
- They're marched out of the room and put on their horses. Not Saphira, though—she has to walk herself.
- The soldiers surround them as they march.
- As they move along, Eragon admires the handiwork that went into building such a seamless tunnel. It must be the work of dwarves, he reasons.
- After about an hour, they see soft white glow in the distance.
- The light gets brighter and they come to the end of the hallway and stop before two massive doors. The bald guy orders Eragon to hop on Saphira, and it looks like they're going to be shown off to whomever is on the other side of the door.
- They walk through the doors and see a giant volcanic crater stretch out before them. High above, massive icicles hang down from the volcano's opening. Dead ahead of them, though, lies Tronjheim, a city fashioned entirely from marble, smack dab in the middle of a volcano.
- So that's cool.
- Eragon now notices that this city is not deserted. A bunch of folks, humans and dwarves, crowd around and stare at him and Saphira. Nobody says anything.
- Eragon tries waving at them, but at first all he gets is the sound of crickets. Eventually, though, a cheer goes up and, before they know it, the newest Rider and his dragon are being wildly applauded.
- It looks like the humans here are pretty tough and ready for battle. It also looks like they couldn't have built a better place to hide out from the Empire.
- Their procession reaches the gates of Tronjheim, which open slowly for them. The crowds here are cheering, too, though Eragon notices that many of the dwarves don't look too pleased.
- They head down a massive hallway and into a gigantic circular room whose "ceiling [is] capped by a dawn-red star sapphire of monstrous size" (51.63).
- From here, everyone has to travel by foot. They head down a smaller corridor and are ushered through a massive cedar door.
- They walk into a two-story study that's lined with bookshelves. Ajihad is at the far end of the room, standing behind a desk. His "skin [gleams] the cover of oiled ebony. The dome of his head [is] shaved bare" (52.2).
- He invites everyone to take a seat, and then another man appears. He looks identical to the jerk-faced bald guy who probed Eragon's mind. Two of these jokers?!
- Ajihad explains that they're twins, but they have no names. Then Ajihad stares at them without saying anything for a very awkward stretch of time.
- Finally, Ajihad turns to Murtagh. He tells him that he's not to be trusted if he won't submit to a brain probe.
- Tough cookies, says Murtagh.
- Ajihad says he recognizes his voice, and that it used to belong to a man "more beast than human" (52.9).
- He makes Murtagh get up and take off his shirt, revealing his scar.
- Ajihad recognizes Murtagh for who he is. He says that, if he won't submit to a probe, then he must be imprisoned for the duration of his stay with the Varden.
- Murtagh says he'd rather die than get probed by the Uncle Fester twins, so it's off to jail he goes.
- Ajihad orders everyone out of the room except for Eragon and Saphira.
- When they're alone, Eragon asks about Arya, and it looks like she'll recover.
- Then Ajihad wants to hear their whole story, from start to finish. Eragon obliges.
- Ajihad is sad to hear of Brom's passing, but glad that he's trained Eragon to help the Varden win their war against the Empire. Then he gives them more info about the Shade.
- The Shade's name is Durza. It turns out that shooting an arrow into his face can only make him mad. He's not really dead; the only way to truly kill a Shade is stab him in the heart.
- Then he gives them a bit of background on the Varden's political scene:
- When Saphira's egg was returned to them, both elves and humans wanted the next Rider to be one of them. Then the dwarves got in on the act, although there's never been a dwarf Rider.
- To compromise, the Varden agreed to shuttle the egg back and forth from them to the elven land of Ellesméra every year, so that each would have a chance for the egg to choose its Rider from one of their own kind.
- That's what Arya was doing when she was ambushed by the Shade. (The prologue is making a whole bunch more sense now, eh?).
- After she disappeared, though, the elves got all miffed with the Varden. Their Queen Islanzadí broke off contact and so now the elves don't know about Eragon or Saphira.
- The elves also stopped sending supplies to the Varden, so lately it's been bad times there.
- Getting Arya back should smooth things over with the elves somewhat, but they'll likely demand to be in charge of Eragon's training as a Rider.
- All this puts Ajihad and the Varden in a tight spot. On the one hand, they need to keep the elves happy to maintain their alliance, but on the other hand, they're guests of the dwarves in Tronjheim. The dwarves are relatively friendly to them, thanks to the order of their King Horthgar, but dwarves are no fans of dragons, who used to eat their flocks and steal their gold. Ajihad has to make everyone happy to maintain his work against the Empire.
- Speaking of the Empire, Eragon has a question: Why haven't they already invaded the elven lands?
- Ajihad replies that King Galbatorix is not strong enough to do that yet, but somehow his power is increasing each year.
- Ajihad shows them a decoded note that was taken off the dead Urgal leader. It's burned and bloodstained, but the gist is that it contains orders for the Urgals to coordinate their forces against the Varden and attack a mystery target.
- Eragon asks how the Empire knew where to find him in Carvahall. Ajihad suspects that Eragon's discovery by the Empire, along with Arya's ambush, indicates a traitor in their midst.
- Dun dun dun.
- Eragon wants to know what the Varden want from him.
- Ajihad says that he should not ally himself with any particular faction of the Varden, but that he'll be looked to as a leader among the people. He better prepare for that responsibility.
- For the short term, though, he should just rest up. Eventually, they'll need to administer a test of Eragon's sword fighting and magic skills to see where he is in his training.
- What about Murtagh?
- He has to stay in prison. The Varden are not big fans of his dad, and he's not to be trusted until he submits to a mind scan.
- Oh, says Ajihad, I almost forgot. He gives Eragon a ring that belonged to Brom.
- Then Ajihad turns to Saphira: it is an honor to meet her.
- Saphira is careful. The gist—if you hurt my boy Eragon, I'll bring this volcano down around your ears.
- Ajihad points out that he's got the creepy bald twins to protect him, but Saphira's not impressed. Now Ajihad turns his attention to Orik, the dwarf. He needs to be punished for disobeying his superiors, the bald twins. Eragon speaks up to defend Orik, so Ajihad reduces his punishment from death (yikes!) to being suspended. He also has to show Eragon and Saphira around the place and set them up with a room.
- Eragon asks if he can see Arya, but Ajihad tells him that she'll find Eragon when she's up to a visit.
Bless the Child, Argetlam
- Eragon says he's sorry that Orik got into trouble on his behalf, but Orik is cool with it. In fact, Ajihad did him a favor. He's still got high standing among the dwarves, and now he doesn't have to listen to the Varden commanders—most especially the Twins.
- They walk around Tronjheim, attracting stares.
- Orik points out a good place for Saphira to get some shut-eye: high above the city in a series of caves designed for dragons.
- Eragon wants to go with her, but Orik says that it's impractical to bring him meals and stuff if he's way up in one of the dragon caves.
- Saphira says that it's okay, Eragon should get some sleep down in Tronjheim. Still, he should keep his bow handy, just in case.
- Eragon goes and eats with Orik: fish and mushrooms.
- After their meal, Orik gives him a bit more info on Tronjheim:
- It can hold the entire dwarven nation if need be, though most dwarves prefer to live in caverns deeper underground. There are about 4,000 humans that live there, but many more who oppose the Empire live in the land of Surda, which is south of the Empire, under King Orrin.
- Orik tells Eragon not to worry, though, since more dwarves and elves can help to swell the humans' ranks.
- Eragon asks about the symbol on Orik's cap: a hammer surrounded by twelve stars. It's the personal crest of Korgan, his clan's founder, the same clan as King Hrothgar.
- They take their leave, and another passing dwarf calls Eragon "Argetlam." Orik explains that it means "silver hand" in the elven language. Eragon remembers his gedwëy ignasia.
- Bath time! Eragon realizes that he's pretty ripe, so Orik sets him up with a nice bath and change of clothes.
- When he's changed, Eragon asks Orik about how they can communicate with the upper levels of Tronjheim. It turns out that there's a giant staircase that runs all the way up in a massive spiral. They can hoof it up the steps, or use lanterns to flash signals, or, if it's a real emergency, there's a slide cut into one side of the stairs that they can slide down. Wheee! But the slide is dwarf-sized, so it's too dangerous for a human to try it. Aw man.
- Saphira lands nearby, finished with her own meal. People start to crowd around, and Orik advises them to take off.
- Eragon hops on Saphira but, before they can take off, an old woman latches on to Eragon's foot. She thrusts a bundle in his face. It's a baby. She asks Eragon to bless the child, since she (the baby) has no parents and just the old lady to look after her.
- Eragon hesitates, then says some ancient words after placing his hand on the baby's brow. He's weakened as if he's casted a spell.
- Then Saphira presses her nose to the baby's head.
- The crowd gasps; where Saphira touched the baby is a star-shaped mark, much like Eragon's gedwëy ignasia.
- As they take off, Saphira says that she has given the baby hope, and Eragon's given her a future.
- Eragon is feeling a bit overwhelmed. Not too long ago, he was a simple farm boy, but now he's a powerful Dragon Rider, able to inspire others and tasked with repelling evil. Is he up to the task? Does he even have a choice?
- Saphira says that there's no answer to such questions, so he should put them out of his mind.
- They land on the top of the giant star sapphire, in the dragonhold, and make their way to a shared sleeping chamber.
- Eragon asks for Saphira's impression of Tronjheim so far. She says that the best play is to find out who is in power and make friends with them. Quickly.
Mandrake Root and Newt's Tongue
- When Eragon awakens, he feel relaxed. And safe. But what about Murtagh?
- Then he notices a familiar-looking cat sitting at the edge of his cave. It's our old pal Solembum!
- Ol' Sol wants Eragon to follow him.
- He follows the cat down the giant staircase. Solembum comes to a door and yowls; the door opens, and Eragon follows him in.
- There in the room he finds… Angela. Reunions everywhere!
- Angela explains that she just knew that Eragon was a Rider.
- Eragon tells her that Brom has died, and Angela says that it was Brom's fate to fail at all of his tasks (including loving a woman), save one—killing Morzan. Still, he succeeded at a pretty important task.
- Eragon's curious: What's Angela doing in Tronjheim?
- Angela says she likes to be "wherever important events are occurring" (54.24), and, anyway, Solembum would have come here with or without her. She likes his company.
- Eragon catches her up on the events she's missed out on.
- Angela warns Eragon to be careful about trusting Murtagh, and also to watch out for that nasty Shade character.
- It turns out that a Shade is actually someone who is possessed by an evil spirit—forever.
- So what's Angela doing way up here, above Tronjheim?
- She's hiding out. When she first got there, a bunch of magic users tried to get her to join their secret group, especially the Twins. She got annoyed and so she's hiding out here to avoid them.
- Eragon asks if the Twins scanned her mind like they did to him, but she says that they wouldn't dare try. She's been coming here since they were just knee-high to a grasshopper.
- And that's that. Angela ushers Eragon out, making him promise not to tell anyone that she's here.
Hall of the Mountain King
- When Eragon gets back to his cave, there's a dwarf waiting for him. Orik wants to see him.
- As he turns to leave, Saphira gives him the sword Zar'roc. Despite its bloody history, she says that he can give the sword a new history.
- Off they fly to see Orik.
- When they find him, he tells them that the dwarven king Hrothgar wants to see them both.
- They head to his throne room under the city.
- When they get to the room, they find Hrothgar on a throne carved out of black marble. He's wearing a golden helmet instead of a crown.
- Eragon bows awkwardly, but Hrothgar tells him that there's no need to be so formal.
- He explains that he's getting pressure to give them both the boot, but he's not going to do that. That's nice.
- Hrothgar wants to know why they're both here.
- Eragon says that they want to rest up for a while.
- Well, says Eragon, not entirely. I'm here to help those who need protecting from the Empire, including my cousin Murtagh.
- Hrothgar asks Saphira what she's up to.
- Ditto. She also says that Eragon is the guy for this job.
- Then Hrothgar asks if Eragon will take over the Empire's rule if he manages to knock off Galbatorix.
- Eragon replies that he would only if there's nobody else for the job.
- Bad answer, says Hrothgar. "[N]o race should have a leader who does not age or leave the throne. The time of the Riders has passed" (55.30).
- Then he asks to check out Eragon's sword. He approves, and hopes Eragon can change the blade's luck.
- How's my nephew treating you? Hrothgar wants to know.
- Um, who?
- Orik. Orik is Hrothgar's nephew. The dwarf king heard that Eragon spoke up for him with Ajihad.
- Eragon can tell that this has won him major brownie points with Hrothgar. Only, instead of brownie points, dwarves call it "otho," or faith.
- Well, it's time to wrap up. A dwarf king can't sit around chatting all day. Eragon and Saphira take their leave of Hrothgar.
- They meet back up with Orik. Apparently, the blessing that they bestowed yesterday has the whole city in an uproar. The baby is being hailed as a future hero. Eragon and Saphira better stay out of sight.
- Saphira heads back to the dragonhold. There's someone she wants to meet, but she won't say who.
- Eragon wants to explore, though. Orik offers to show him the city library.
- After breakfast, they head over there. The place is filled with books and scrolls of dwarf and human writers. The elves are pretty secretive, though, so they don't share.
- Orik leaves Eragon to wander around on his own, and he eventually sits down to read some dwarf poetry in translation. Hey, why not?
- Suddenly, though, he's not alone. The bald Twins have shown up. Boo.
- At first they apologize for being jerks to him and his friends. But Saphira warns Eragon (who has contacted her mentally) to be careful of a trap.
- They go back and forth with compliments that are totally insincere.
- Finally, the Twins come to the point. They offer to teach Eragon magic and induct him into their secret magic club. (Maybe he'll learn how to saw a woman in half!)
- Eragon's not falling for it, though. He says the Twins just want to steal what he knows.
- They drop the nice-guy act. It would be really unfortunate if some magic misfired and he were to be killed. He better think about joining them. They give him a day to think it over and take off.
- Saphira advises Eragon to talk to Angela about these jokers.
- Eragon leaves the library and Saphira takes him back to their cave. Eragon's mulling over what to do about the Twins when a woman shows up. Her name is Nasuada; she's Ajihad's daughter.
- She's got a message from her pop: he's glad things are going well, but it's probably not a good idea to go around blessing random babies and attracting attention. Also, it's a good idea to get the magic and sword fighting test over sooner rather than later. Just let Ajihad know when he wants to go for that.
- Eragon invites Nasuada to stick around, but she's got to get going. She's visited Murtagh, too, and suggests that Eragon go pay him a visit. Murtagh's lonely.
- Eragon asks how Arya's doing. Better, says Nasuada.
- He thanks her and her dad for hooking them up with food and shelter. Then she leaves.
- Eragon turns to Saphira and sees his favorite werecat has joined her. Solembum was just the person—um, cat—Saphira wanted to see.
- Eragon figures it makes sense that they enjoy each other's company, seeing as how they're both magical.
- Eragon makes plans to visit Murtagh the next day.
- Eragon wakes up feeling refreshed. He flies on Saphira, then finds Orik.
- He asks Orik about Nasuada. It turns out that she's a lot of help to her dad, Ajihad. Orik doesn't know who her mom is, though.
- Eragon's ready for this testing business. Orik shows them where to go. Even though he advises against it, Saphira goes with Eragon and Orik to the training fields.
- At the fields, both humans and dwarves are practicing their sword work and their marksmanship with bow and arrow. The humans and dwarves tend to stay with their own kind.
- They meet Fredric, a big, bearded fella with a ginormous sword. He seems to be old sparring buddies with Orik.
- Fredric's been told to test Eragon's fighting skill. He proposes they start with bow and arrow.
- Before they can do that, though, everyone's least favorite Twins show up. Double boo.
- They demand to test Eragon's magic before they test his weapon skills.
- Eragon heads with them to an empty part of the field. Saphira promises that she'll help him through the test.
- Before they get started, the Twins want to know if Eragon will join their magic club.
- The Twins aren't happy, but they begin the test. Eragon has to do the tasks they set out for him.
- The first task is to lift a stone to eye level. Easy-peasy, thinks Eragon, but then he feels the Twins assert their mental energies against him. He struggles to raise the stone with this mind, but then Saphira gives him a boost and he does it.
- The tasks continue in this same way: the Twins trying to stop him, but Eragon prevailing with Saphira's help.
- Eragon suddenly realizes that the Twins are eavesdropping on the magic words he knows. From then on, he uses simple combinations so as not to give anything away.
- After more than an hour of testing, they're down to the last task: Eragon must use a silver ring to "summon the essence of silver" (56.39).
- Come again? Eragon doesn't know the ancient, magical word for silver. He'll give it a shot, though.
- As he begins to cast the spell, though, he's interrupted.
- It's Arya, shouting for him to stop.
- She rolls up, peeved at the Twins. Shame on them, she says, for asking "what only a master can do" (56.45). She pronounces Eragon competent, then tells the Twins to shove off, which they do.
- Arya then casts the spell, summoning the essence of the silver ring.
- Then she demands "the right of trial by arms" (56.48). It's about to go down!
- Eragon readies himself. Saphira doesn't think that Arya intends to hurt him, but he's not worried. He decides that he'll take it easy on the elf.
- Bad idea.
- Arya is as good with a blade as our man Eragon is. They go at it for a long time, until finally she slips through his defenses and brings her sword up to his throat. The good news is that Eragon's passed the test. (What happens to the ones who fail?)
- The crowd goes wild. Eragon and Arya have put on quite a display of skill. Eragon's bummed that he lost, though.
- Arya motions to a distant hill, then takes off. It seems she wants to meet with Eragon.
- He jumps on Saphira's back, and admits to her that he finds Arya sort of hot. Saphira is jealous, but she says that she's not.
- When they arrive, Arya speaks to Saphira in an ancient language, then thanks Eragon for saving her life.
- They go for a stroll. Arya relates how she was captured by Durza the Shade and tortured for information on where Saphira's egg went. She's grateful for being rescued.
- She tells Eragon that she's going to stay with the Varden and help Ajihad. Eragon needs to continue his training, though. With the elves. They won't have to leave for a few weeks, though.
- Eragon is a bit miffed at having his life planned out. He asks if she was aware that he could see her in his sleep.
- Arya says that she felt his presence at times, but was not aware that anyone could scry in their sleep. (Today, we might call this "sleep-stalking," but Arya doesn't seem to mind.)
- Eragon then asks Arya about Brom's ring. It matches the symbol of her tattoo.
- Arya says that such a ring is only given to the closest friends of the elves. It's like an elven BFF ring. Eragon should keep it for protection's sake.
- P.S., she says, don't let anyone know about my tattoo.
- Their walk comes to a close.
- Eragon heads to get a bite to eat, then tracks down Murtagh. It's not hard because, you know, he's in prison.
- Actually, when Eragon sees him, Murtagh is staying in a pretty sweet room, with rugs and nice furniture. (Eragon, meanwhile, is sleeping in a cave with a dragon. Who's got it better?)
- All in all, admits Murtagh, he's got a pretty sweet deal. He would stay in that room even if he was allowed out. He knows he gives the Varden the creeps.
- Eragon fills Murtagh in on what's been happening lately, and Murtagh says that Arya must be a pretty powerful elf.
- Eragon asks Murtagh if Nasuada visited him, and Murtagh responds with glowing compliments about her, saying that she's fit to be a princess.
- For some reason, his praise fills Eragon with a sense of foreboding. Hmmm…
- Eragon asks Murtagh when he plans to get out of ritzy jail, but Murtagh says that he's safe, rested, and content to stick around.
The Shadows Lengthen
- Eragon is awoken by Saphira, jabbing him with her snout.
- It's the middle of the night, but an agitated dwarf is there. Ajihad has sent him to fetch Eragon. There's been some trouble. Uh oh.
- He hops on Saphira and they swoop down to meet up with Orik, who leads them to Ajihad's study.
- Ajihad says: Here's the deal. A crazed, bloody dwarf just showed up with the news that an army of Urgals is only a day's march away. Gulp.
- What's worse, they're marching through the tunnels. They plan to attack from under the city. We repeat: gulp.
- They wonder if it's just the Urgals, or if Galbatorix's army has joined them. If they have, that would spell curtains for the Varden. We're talking c-u-r-t-a-i-n-s!
- Ajihad has sent runners to Surda and the elves, but he doesn't expect reinforcements to arrive in time.
- But they have a plan: collapse all but three of the tunnels leading to Farthen Dûr, the actual mountain inside which Tronjheim sits. Eragon and Arya are going to help with that.
- That way, they can control where the Urgals will attack from and mount a coordinated defense.
- All the women and children will be evacuated to nearby valleys.
- That's the plan. They all run off to set it in action. Go team!
- Eragon and Saphira track down the dwarfs they're meant to help with collapsing the tunnels. Eragon uses his magic and Saphira uses her strength to help seal them off.
- Meanwhile, in the flats of Farthen Dûr, outside the gates of Tronjheim, the Varden are coordinating their army into three main groups.
- Everyone is decked out for a fight, in armor and weapons, with standards flying.
- Eragon and Saphira join the army. After a pre-fight snack, Orik gives them a gift from King Hrothgar: dragon armor.
- They struggle to fit her into it, but after they do, Saphira is ten times more kick-butt than usual.
- Eragon is also given some armor, and they march off the army.
- Each of the three sections sets up in front of an open tunnel. They begin to arrange defensive barriers—like sharpened stakes and "Urgals, Go Home" signs.
- Suddenly, Eragon sees Murtagh come riding up.
- It's cool, he says, Ajihad let me out of my cushy cell to come and help. He sees the coming battle as a test of his trustworthiness.
- Ajihad rolls up, too, decked out for some serious Urgal-whoopin'. He tells Eragon to link up with one of the Twins if he spots anything unusual during the battle. The Twins will then mentally relay the message to Ajihad. Eragon's not too cool with that, but it's not like they have cell phones or anything.
- Ajihad asks Eragon what his battle plan with Saphira is, but they don't really have one. They're just gonna "wing it." Yeah, wing it.
- Eragon notices Arya in the army. She's prepared to fight like everyone else. (Considering she's, like, the most amazing fighter, we see this as a sound strategy.)
- Eragon tells her to be safe.
- Everything is in place. Now it's just a matter of time. And more time. And still more time.
- Apparently the Urgals didn't set their battle alarms. They don't show.
- Eventually, Eragon settles into uneasy sleep.
- Then he wakes with a start.
Battle Under Farthen Dûr
- It's Arya that wakes Eragon. The battle is about to begin.
- Everything is still for a moment, then the Urgals start to come out of the tunnels.
- The defenders have set up flaming cauldrons of hot tar at the openings. They now pour it onto the emerging Urgals, who scream out in pain.
- And it doesn't end there. Somebody tosses a torch onto the pitch-covered Urgals, and they go from being burnt to being fully crisped, bursting into flames.
- Into the confused mass of flaming Urgals, Eragon and the others begin firing their arrows. This also takes a toll, until the Urgals get behind their shields. In the meantime, more and more of them are pouring out of the tunnels.
- Eragon is a bit relieved to see no sign of Galbatorix's army among them, but then he hears a familiar, ominous horn. The Urgals charge.
- They're at first repelled by the sharpened spikes placed in front of the defenders, not to mention the sharp spears and pikes being thrusted at them
- Soon, though, they overwhelm the defenses by sheer force of numbers.
- Now it's hand-to-hand combat, as the two armies come together in a mighty clash.
- Saphira and Eragon jump into the fray, smashing and slashing as many Urgals as they can.
- Eragon is separated from Saphira, though, when his sword gets stuck in an Urgal's horns. (This is a bummer for Eragon, but just imagine how the Urgal felt.)
- Eragon uses magic to try to get back to Saphira, but there are too many Urgals in the way. Luckily, Murtagh swings by and helps Eragon onto his horse. They head toward Saphira, who is surrounded by spear-wielding Urgals.
- Eragon makes it to Saphira. Murtagh rides off to kick more Urgal butt, while Eragon and Saphira take off into the air.
- They fly around to the back side of the army, where the archers are hanging out, firing arrows. They dive down and knock off a few archers, then try the same strategy on other parts of the Urgal force. It works well; Eragon fires arrows from Saphira's back until he runs out. He's got some magic left, but he wants to keep it in reserve.
- From Saphira's vantage, they can see how the battle is turning out. The Urgals seem disorganized, without a clear leader, but even so they're forcing the defenders back toward Tronjheim.
- Eragon mentally sends this update to the Twins, who tell him that he needs to go help Hrothgar's section of the army. It's not doing too well.
- They land near Hrothgar and get to work on the Urgals, "mixing brains with metal and bone" (58.29). Well that's a winning combo.
- Hrothgar, meanwhile, is kicking crazy butt with his hammer. No Urgal can stand up to him.
- Eragon gets a little too excited by the dwarf king's display and overreaches trying to stab an Urgal. He ducks under Eragon's defenses and gives him a whap on the helmet. Stunned, Eragon is out of position to defend himself from the Urgal's next blow. Is this it for our hero?
- Of course not. Just as it readies the death blow, a little blade pops out the Urgal's chest from behind. It's Angela!
- She's armed with a staff that sports a blade sticking from each end. She gives Eragon a wink, then goes spinning off to wreak more havoc. Close on her heels is Solembum, in boy form, snarling and holding a dagger.
- Eragon and Saphira take off into the air to give him time to clear his head. He can see that now all three armies are having a bad time of it, with more and more Urgals pressing in.
- The battle goes on and on, but then Eragon is contacted by the Twins. It looks like Urgals are trying to tunnel their way up from under Tronjheim. They need Arya and Eragon to collapse the tunnels there.
- Eragon and Saphira grab Arya, but just as all three are about to take off, an Urgal comes running up and smashes Saphira in the chest with an axe. She takes off anyway, and Arya kills the Urgal, but Saphira's armor has been pinched together by the blow and she'll need some attention.
- Arya offers to help her, once they land up at the dragonhold.
- They arrive high above Tronjheim, where the Twins are meant to be stationed to oversee the battle. They aren't there, though. Hmm, go figure.
- Eragon tells Saphira to take care, then heads for the tunnels under Tronjheim. One problem, though: he's way up above the city. How will he get under it quickly?
- That's right—it's spiral slide time. He jumps onto a leather cushion and starts zipping down the slide channel that's been cut out of the staircase for just such an emergency.
- Whee! Eragon lays flat on his back to stabilize himself as he picks up speed. It's kind of like street luge but, you know, without the helmet, and the hay bales, and well, okay it's nothing like street luge.
- When he gets to the bottom of the staircase, Eragon goes skidding across the floor. He's nauseous, but otherwise okay. He takes a minute to recover.
- The Twins are nowhere to be seen.
- What is to be seen is a big explosion. Urgals start pouring out of a fresh hole in the ground.
- Eragon's not sure if he should seal up the hole, or go unseal the city's gates to let the defenders back in.
- Before he can make up his mind, Durza the Shade pops up out of the hole.
- Eragon warns Saphira, but knows that she's too far away to help.
- The Urgals form a perimeter around Eragon, and the Shade advances. He wants to know where Saphira is. Eragon says no way.
- The Shade throws a sword at Eragon, but it's only a diversion. As Eragon blocks it with his shield, the Shade assaults him with a mental attack.
- Eragon tries his own mental attack, but can't break through the Shade's defenses. He tries attacking with his sword, but that doesn't work either.
- Then the Shade counters with a sword attack of his own, narrowly missing Eragon's ribs. The near-hit gives him an opening in Eragon's mental defenses. He starts to control his mind.
- Eragon dives at the Shade and they wrestle with one another. It's enough of a distraction that at last Eragon is able to breach Durza's mental defenses.
- Eragon gets access to Durza's memories: his troubled boyhood as a nomad son of an outcast father; the old man Haeg who rescued and trained him; the murder of Haeg and the evil spirits that he conjured to avenge the old man's death.
- Then the Shade strikes Eragon in the back. He's laid low by the blow, barely conscious. It seems that the Shade has won, that all is lost.
- Eragon looks up to the heavens in anguish.
- What he sees, though, is the giant star sapphire exploding. A million shards rain down upon him and the Shade.
- Through the hole in the ceiling comes Saphira, with Arya on her back. Saphira breathes a stream of blue-yellow flame.
- Eragon sees Durza's attention drawn to Saphira. Just as the Shade readies some magic to hurl at her, Eragon sees his opening.
- He grabs his sword, says the magic word "Brisingr!", and shoves the flaming blade into the Shade's heart.
- Durza collapses, howls, and then disintegrates into three black spirits who fly out of the city. R.I.P. Slim Shady. And don't come back!
- Eragon passes out. The vision of Arya on Saphira's back, frozen in time, is the last thing he sees.
The Mourning Sage
- Eragon's mind is a confused jumble of the Shade's memories and his own. It's as if they're still fighting, only inside Eragon's thoughts.
- Then, Eragon feels a new presence in his mind.
- This presence calls itself "Osthato Chetowä, the Mourning Sage. And Togira Ikonoka, the Cripple Who is Whole" (59.11). Right.
- Its voice says that, since Eragon is so far away, it can only protect his sanity from the pain. It also says that, if Eragon finds Osthato, then all of his questions will be answered and only then will he be safe. He should just follow Arya to Ellesméra.
- Then the voice says that Eragon has banished a great evil, that he is more powerful than he realizes, and that he should get some rest. Oh, and don't tell anyone about their conversation.
- Eragon drifts back to sleep, thinking that Brom would have been proud of him.
- The next thing he knows, Eragon's being woken up by Angela. She's still in her armor.
- Angela gives Eragon something to drink (cool mead), then he sits up and asks about Saphira and Arya.
- They're fine, says Angela. She opens the door and there they are, with Murtagh, too.
- Arya and Murtagh are bandaged, but Murtagh happily reports that they won.
- When the Shade's spirits fled, the Urgals turned on each other. They've since fled to the tunnels.
- Eragon asks why Murtagh's not back in jail, but now's not the time for that stuff. People are too busy rounding up Urgals or tending to the survivors.
- Also, Murtagh informs Eragon that he's a bona fide hero for having killed Durza.
- Eragon wants to know what happened to the Twins, but Murtagh shrugs it off. Eragon's not too sure, though.
- He also wants to know how Arya and Saphira managed not to crash into the floor. More magic, says Arya.
- Finally, Eragon asks how long he's been laid up.
- It's been a day and a half. If Angela hadn't been around, who knows if he would've lived? Luckily, though, she was able to heal his back. There's just a colossal scar there now… just like Murtagh's.
- Eragon is satisfied at the outcome.
- He resolves to go and see this Togira Ikonoka, the Cripple Who is Whole.
- Sequel, anyone? Yes, please.