NaNoWriMo: Day 1 – Oseania

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Oh come with me now children to a land not so far away, where a kingdom of old dwells amongst the seas frothy spray. The islands of Oseania, nestled by the sea, are but a page away, make haste now, and turn there with me.

So It Begins –

The night was black and the seas were churning as Henry Von Denton struggled to escape the pounding surf. To and fro the waves battered him, threatening to take him into their depths. Henry’s strength was quickly failing him. He knew that he had to reach the shore or else death would soon come. As he was about to give up hope, Henry suddenly felt earth beneath his feet. Adrenaline coursed through his body, he was going to make it. From the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach, Henry knew that the shoreline couldn’t be far off. He pressed on until he finally collapsed from exhaustion on the beach.

The storm ended sometime the next day but Henry did not awake. Two more days passed and yet he did not stir. Henry Von Denton was not dead, however, but lost in a fevered dream. Time no longer had meaning.

–  –  –

“Henry?”

The voice that called to him sounded familiar. The light warm winds that blew against his face reminded him of another time and place.

“Henry, are you okay?”

Henry opened his eyes and was instantly blinded by the glaring sun. Above him stood a man that looked a lot like him. Built like a Viking of old, Eric Von Denton, his father, looked at him with some concern.

“That was some hit to the head you just took. You alright?”

Henry slowly reached for his head and winced over the lump he felt on his right temple. He could feel his heart beat within it.

“What happened?”

“Well, you just got smacked in the head with a falling sail.”

What had happened to the rough sea and the slave ship, Henry thought. Hadn’t he just made the swim of his life? Henry stood up and instantly felt the ship’s sway beneath him. Of course, he was on his father’s ship The Ottoman.

Eric continued to look at his son with great concern, ”You sure you’re okay? You seem a bit out of sorts.”

Henry decided in this moment to just embrace whatever was going on. The nightmare of his time in the mines on Breakwater and his subsequent escape from the slave ship were experiences he was glad to let go.

“Yes father, I’m fine.”

“Well good,” Eric said not believing. “Why don’t you go below and lay down. Captain Tiberius and I have things under control.”

Henry smiled reassuringly and headed below deck. Perhaps his year of living in a nightmare was but a dream? Settling into his hammock, he was soon lulled to sleep by the ships gentle rocking.

–  –  –

When Henry awoke, he no longer felt the ship moving. Instead he felt cold, wet, and feverish. His nightmare had been real.

“Please, do not move,” a deep voice said out of the darkness.

Startled, Henry opened his salt encrusted eyes and found that he was lying upon a hard surface. The room was dimly lit, and he could barely make out the figure of the man who had just spoken.

“Give me just one moment to get this fire going.”

The Stranger’s voice echoed off the walls. Where ever Henry was, the place was cavernous.

“Where am I?”

The Stranger cursed, ”Stupid matches… ah yes,  you are… give me just a moment and the light will answer your questions.”

An unnatural fire suddenly sprang to life in what was a very large fire place. The sparse room was now illuminated in dark blues and sparks of orange. The Stranger moved across the room and placed his hand upon Henry’s forehead.

“You are burning up.”

Henry began to shiver violently as if on cue. The Stranger skillfully helped him remove his wet clothing and wrapped him in a blanket. Sitting now by the fire, dry, Henry asked once again, “Where am I? The last thing I remember was being on my father’s ship.”

“Henry Von Denton, where you are is not important. What is important is where you are going from here.”

“What does that mean and how do you know my name,” Henry asked questioningly. As warmth from the blanket and fireplace enveloped his body, he began to stare at the Stranger, “Who are you?”

“So many questions…so many questions… my name is Christopherson, I am a monk and the last of the Order of Aletheia.”

Henry looked at him in disbelief, “You’re a monk? You look so young.”

Christopherson chuckled, “I thank you for your compliment but assure you I am quite old.”

The crackle of the fire and the smell of pine permeated the room. The monastery was silent, seemingly empty.

“Where are we?”

“The island of Grace.”

–  –  –

Author’s Note: Didn’t write as much today as I would have liked (about 889 words). But I do think I am off to a good start. Drop me a comment and give me some feedback. Thanks.

Brisingr

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Thoughts on Christopher Paolini's epic

Over the past few months I have been slowly reading through Christopher Paolini’s Brisingr, the 3rd book in his Inheritance cycle. The book so far has shown a remarkable improvement in both Paolini’s writing style and growth as a writer. That said, I have enjoyed what I have read until this point (about a quarter of the book left). The other night I came across a scene in the story that I felt was out of place in this epic tale of dragons, dwarves, and elves.

The scene in question involved the title character, Eragon, going to visit the mother of a dwarf who had died protecting Eragon’s life. As this dwarf mother mourned for her son, she prayed to the dwarf gods. This lead Eragon to contemplate a bit of theology. Take a look at the quoted section below and then we’ll continue.

She said, “Tonight Kvistor will dine in Morgothal’s hall. That I know.” She kissed her amulet again. “I wish I might break bread with him, along with mine husband, Bauden, but it is not mine time to sleep in the catacombs of Tronjheim, and Morgothal refuses entry to his hall to those who quicken their arrival. But in time, our family shall be reunited, including all of our ancestors since Guntera created the world from darkness. That I know.”

Eragon knelt next to her, and in a hoarse voice, he asked, “How do you know this?”

“I know because it is so.” Her movements slow and respectful, Glumra touched the chiseled fee of each of the gods with the tips of her fingers. “How could it not be otherwise? Since the world could not have created itself any more than a sword or a helm might, and since the only beings with the wherewithal to forge the earth and the heavens into shape are those with divine power, it is to the gods we must look for our answers. Them I trust to ensure the rightness of the world, and by mine trust, I free myself of the burdens of mine flesh.”

She spoke with such conviction, Eragon felt a sudden desire to share in her belief. He longed to toss aside his doubts and fears and to know that, however horrible the world might seem at times, life was not mere confusion. He wished to know for certain that who he was would not end if a sword should shear off his head and that one day he would meet again with Brom, Garrow, and everyone else he had cared for and lost. A desperate yearning for hope and comfort filled him, confused him, left him unsteady upon the face of the earth.

And yet.

Part of himself held back and would not allow him to commit to the dwarf gods and bind his identity and his sense of well-being to something he did not understand. He also had difficulty accepting that if gods did exist, the dwarf gods were the only ones. Eragon was certain that if he asked Nar Garzhvog or a member of the nomad tribes, or even the black priests of Helgrind, if their gods were real, they would uphold the supremacy of their deities just as vigorously as Glumra would uphold hers. How am I supposed to know which religion is the true religion? he wondered. Just because someone follows a certain faith does not necessarily mean it is the right path. . . . Perhaps no one religion contains all the truth of the world. Perhaps ever religion contains fragments of the truth and it is our responsibility to identify those fragments and piece them together. Or perhaps the elves are right and there are no gods. But how can I know for sure? – Brisingr, p477-479

Notice several things here:

  • Talk of grief and assurance of something beyond ourselves.
  • The worldview that suicide denies entry into Heaven or the beyond.
  • The longing for assurance that there is something bigger/ beyond ourselves.
  • Human nature – to not want to relinquish control.
  • Questions of where we come from/ who created us.
  • Doubt – perhaps there are gods? perhaps there is not?
  • Universalism – all religions have pieces of truth that eventually form Voltron and end up in the same destination.
  • Athiesm -the elves. What is interesting about this is that the elves, in the world of Eragon, practice a sort of nature magic.
  • Lack of absolutes – there is no absolute truth. What is true for me is not necessarily true for you.

I write all of this not to say that theology has no place in a tale of fantasy. (The Narnian Chronicles are a fantastic example of theology being weaved into a story in an indirect way.) I believe that discussions of such are good as long as they do not draw the reader out of the main story. In regards to this scene in Brisingr, I felt that Paolini dealing with Eragon’s struggle with faith, a struggle not let onto until this very moment in this 1000+ page series, was forced. Sure one could argue that Eragon is contemplating faith and the afterlife due to the death of his guardsmen. If this was true though, why didn’t Eragon go through a similar crisis when his mentor Brom died in the first book? Perhaps this theme of faith struggle is echoed in future pages of the series? Time and the speed of my own personal reading will soon answer that question in regards to Brisingr.

While I applaud Christopher Paolini’s efforts in exploring themes of doubt and faith, I also feel like I have been duped. As asked above, why suddenly have a conversation that hasn’t been apart of Eragon’s life or has been explored earlier in the series? The author’s worldview is unknown to me.  I would love to know where he is coming from and if this specific faith conversation reflects questioning going on in his own personal life. For now I proceed with caution…there could be dragons about.

What do you think?