The Inheritance Cycle: description dumps in Inheritance

There is a weird pattern in Paolini's writing whereby he starts a chapter with action and then halts the forward momentum by dumping significant description, usually with annoying results. Here are my summaries of which chapters subscribe to this pattern.

1. Into the Breach: Begins with a battle cry uttered by Eragon. Right when the fighting starts . . . several sentences of description of the fighting grounds.

2. Hammerfall: Begins with a wall having fallen on Roran. As we listen to Eragon mentally yammering about how his cousin can't be dead, we get . . . a description of the pieces of wall, the rooms that fell apart, and the furnishings within the building that fell apart.

4. King Cat: Eragon's standing in a room with his hand on his sword. Then immediately there is a long description of who else is there and where exactly they are sitting, in addition to details of who has what battle wounds and what colors their clothes are. The recitation goes on for two paragraphs.

5. Aftermath: Begins with Eragon and Saphira landing somewhere and discussing being hungry. And jumps immediately into a paragraph dedicated to description of the courtyard they're in and how they're getting rid of broken stuff, including dead people.

6. Memories of the Dead: We open with a daydream; Eragon's replaying his recorded Brom memory. When he opens his eyes: recitation. What the underside of the tent looks like (with bad similes), followed by the description of water falling, including a drop striking his leg, and a discussion of how he needed to fix the tent's supports.

9. Rudely Into the Light...: Lady's having a baby and Eragon's worried about whether she'll survive. Then we get two paragraphs detailing where people are sitting and intricate details of how exactly they are shredding grass blades and whether they are sweaty, followed by description of what's across the street.

11. No Rest for the Weary: Though it took longer than usual this time. There were a couple paragraphs of Roran and the guards kinda thinking about how they'd kill each other if they had to. Then a big paragraph of description explains what is where in the room--tables, chairs, upholstery, rugs, books, and a few people.

12. Dancing with Swords: We open with Eragon dealing with his boredom by kicking a boulder. Then we get two paragraphs of description featuring details on where the roads in front of Eragon lead to and what rivers they might cross, as well as more discussion of where people are in relation to the gate and what animals are making what sounds around him.

14. Mooneater: Eragon's walking and trying to get the kink out of his neck. Then . . . description dump of the hill he's standing on while he's "pausing to take in the view." Lake description, road description, tents description, paving stones, information about the HISTORY OF THE MORTAR THAT HOLDS THE STONES TOGETHER, and a village close to the water.

16. Aroughs: Roran arrives in a camp. Then we get colors, what's to the south, what the walls look like, description of gates, and description of towers.

17. Dras-Leona: Eragon flies in on Saphira, over Dras-Leona, and we get a description of Helgrind, followed by a description of Leona Lake and the nearby city Dras-Leona.

20. A Flour Made of Flame: Roran and Baldor discuss the new baby while they're riding. Immediately after that, there's description of the canal, the steps, some mud, and four paragraphs describing the barges, what they carried, and how stuff is set up so animals can board even though they're not doing that right now.

21. Dust and Ashes: Roran is in the city they've just breached and we get two paragraphs of description of buildings. Yes, buildings. And how the light is shining, exactly. "High above gleamed a lone wandering star, a furtive spark in the brightening blue mantle, where the sun's growing radiance had obscured all of the other nighttime jewels." Sigh.

22. Interregnum: Roran's brooding and staring at a jeweled cup. Following this are a couple short paragraphs of description telling us about the room he's in, what the curtains look like, and what Roran can see out the window.

28. Under Hill and Stone: Though it was pretty brief this time. Eragon opens the chapter being uncomfortable and trying to adjust his armor. Then there is a short description of the darkness they're in, what the sky looks like, the light source's appearance, how the air feels, and how the rain feels. We jump from there into a flashback and the description is over.

29. To Feed a God: Eragon's bound and trussed up, but we BEGIN with weird description of the light and the sights. Somehow Eragon doesn't realize he's tied up, hanging by his wrists, and gagged, until two paragraphs' worth of description have gone by.

32. Black-Shrike-Thorn-Cave: Saphira's flying around giving us dumb exposition to remind us that she is a dragon, and then we get a description of the city she's flying over with a lot of weirdly placed adjectives.

42. The Torment of Uncertainty: We switch to Nasuada (for the second time in the whole book) as she opens her eyes and looks around, and then she gives us a nice four-paragraph description of where she's been kidnapped to.

44. On the Wings of a Dragon: First flashbacky rambling about Eragon's feelings, then we launch into description of the scenery.

47. A Crown of Ice and Snow: Eragon wakes up and describes the sea and the sky to us.

48. Burrow Grubs: It's short, but when we're told Nasuada had tried to escape a prison and gotten captured, we also get a nice little description of what the hallway looked like.

49. Amid the Ruins: Oh, and how. Over 500 words of description, nine paragraphs, explaining what an island looked like from above.

50. Snalglí for Two: Eragon wakes up. Then BOOM, description of the sky, the light, the buildings, and some very intricate detail on what squirrels sound like and what Eragon thinks of that.

53. A Question of Character: It's a bit unusual because it's not exactly describing surroundings, but we get an entire paragraph describing FROGS so I'm not giving this one a pass.

55. Lacuna, Part the First: It's not terribly out of place because after all the main characters have just walked into a mysterious ancient room, but it fits the pattern.

58. The City of Sorrows: Roran and his men are heading up to the final city the Varden has to take down. Sounds like a good time to drop six paragraphs of description on us, right? By all means, tell us about that plain dotted with farms and how tall the city walls are compared to previous cities you've conquered and all about the weapons you can see.

66. The Name of All Names: Galbatorix and his throne room need six paragraphs of description.

68. The Gift of Knowledge: Kind of. Armor and weapon description.

75. A Man of Conscience: Eragon's walking. We get description of light through the windows, banners, crap on the walls.

It's not actually as bad as I thought it would be--it's not quite half the chapters--but it's still a pretty common pattern.

Another pattern I noticed, though not as prevalent as this one, was for the chapter to begin with a certain tone set and then the narration would go into a flashback that's supposed to bring us to this moment. That situation was by far the second most common way to start a chapter--enough that I kept thinking "he's doing this AGAIN?"--but I didn't bother to count that one.

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