The third and final part of our exclusive interview with Christopher Paolini from Comic-Con International has arrived! We sat down with Christopher and threw nearly every good question we received in an over-thirty-five-minute interview. If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to part one and part two, both being hailed as our best interviews yet! The final installment of our Comic-Con interview series touches on a number of interesting topics, including (but certainly not limited to): Christopher’s role as a narrator in the books and upcoming point-of-view shifts in Book 4, pointed ears of former Riders, Rider swords and staves, lethrblaka, Oromis, possible future copies of Domir Abr Wyrda, Werecat Riders, the story of a Rider who didn’t want to be a Rider, sleeping minds, Sharktooth Island, Book 4’s progress, title, cover, and more!List of questions asked in part two:
Do you regard yourself as an omniscient narrator, privy to and indeed controlling all characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions, or do you feel that your characters gain their own anonymity shaped by their own experiences?
Why did Brom not have pointy ears?
Were the Dragon Riders obligated to use a sword or could they choose another type of weapon to be forged for them?
What was your favorite point-of-view to write?
How large are the lethrblaka compared to a dragon, and do they continue growing like dragons or stop at a certain size?
How old was Oromis at the time of his death?
According to your previous Q&As, you seem to know the entire history of Alagaesia like the back of your hand. Will you be considering writing a version of the History of Alagaesia?
I is it possible to create an imitation of the bond a Rider shares with its dragon, with say, a less magical creature such as a werecat? If so, has it ever been done?
Last Q&A we were told there was once a Rider who didn’t want to be a Rider. Will you ever tell his story or elaborate on the story, or at least share a little details about the story?
In Eragon, when Brom was talking to Eragon about the history between Galbatorix and Morzan, he mentioned that there was a place that the two hid in, in an evil place where the Riders dared not venture. What is this place and is it at all related to the Vault of Souls?
If a person is asleep does it make it easier for someone to break into that person’s mind, or does it make it harder that the person is sleeping and focusing only on that? Or, would the person trying to break into the other person’s mind only see the sleeping person’s dreams?
Does Galbatorix have elven features?
So earlier we talked about Mani’s Caves. This person is wondering if you could tell us where the caves are?
Other than the brief mentioning in the first book, Sharktooth Island has played no role whatsoever in the series. Was it put on the map just because or will it have a role in the last book?
How is Book 4 going?
And it’s going to come out “when it’s done”?
Have you chosen a title yet?
Comic-Con Interview Part 3 – Audio:
Transcript of Part 3 Remember, you can listen to the actual audio from the interview in the audio player above!
Mike Macauley: Do you regard yourself as an omniscient narrator, privy to and indeed controlling all characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions, or do you feel that your characters gain their own anonymity shaped by their own experiences?
Christopher Paolini: I am technically speaking – and I am very technical about this in the way I write – I am third person limited point-of-view narrator. There are only a few times I’ve broken that in the entire series; one of which was when I described Eragon from outscribed his point-of-view when we first meet him. The rest of the time, whatever point-of-view character I’m writing from, I use only their point-of-view. If it’s Nasuada, I don’t describe the tears on her cheeks and how they look because she can’t see that herself unless she is looking through a mirror.
I try to let my characters evolve naturally, although I’m still “god of the universe” as far as the world and the story is concerned, but as a narrator I am third person limited.
M: TheJoker asked, “Why did Brom not have pointy ears?”
C: Because he was not joined with his dragon very long. Eragon’s transformation was accelerated by the Blood-Oath Celebration. And two, Brom was pretty old at this point and he would—he had actually been aging, looked older, and I figured that his ears would have sagged a little bit in length as they tend to do, and so even if they had been a little pointed, it really wouldn’t have shown up by then.
M: We’ve gotten this a lot and I find it kind of fascinating—were the Dragon Riders—
C: Of course he had long hair too, so it would have been hard to see. But anyway!
M: Faraway asked this one: “Were the Dragon Riders obligated to use a sword or could they choose another type of weapon to be forged for them?”
C: That is a great question. They weren’t obligated. I think swords have always been considered one of the highest forms of weaponry and have enormous symbolic value. If Brom, for example, had chosen to use a staff instead as his weapon, I’m sure that Rhunön or some other elf would have been happy to craft him a weapon of equal strength and power as one of the swords. So no, it wasn’t obligated, and actually, I’m sure there were a couple of Riders who probably preferred a bow or a spear, especially from fighting on the back of a dragon—having a bow to shoot or a long lance you could use. And now we’re talking about dragon lances! [Chuckles]
M: Yeah, we got that question a lot so we figured we should throw it in! What was your favorite point-of-view to write? I’m going to guess Saphira.
C: It was Saphira, yeah. I’ve actually enjoyed Nasuada’s the more I write her; she’s such a strong and interesting character. Roran is always fun to write because he just gets to be “Action Hero Roran” at this point. Eragon is, well, he’s Eragon – always asking, “Why me? Why is this happening?” But Saphira was a treat, and I actually have a chapter coming up in just a few pages where I’m going to have another point-of-view shift to her in the fourth book. Not a long one but I wanted to do at least one.
M: I like how she thought… how different it was from the other characters.
C: Yeah, and I wasn’t trying to put her down by that. I actually think that’s more of a complicated way of thinking, sort of free associating with everything you refer to.
M: It was very interesting to read. I’m not sure who asked this one—oh, Alpha—“How large are the lethrblaka compared to a dragon, and do they continue growing like dragons or stop at a certain size?”
C: They don’t keep growing like dragons, and the lethrblaka were, at the time of their death in Brisingr, were… you know, I don’t remember if I did a size comparison between them and Saphira at the beginning of Brisingr.
M: I think you may have mentioned it. I think what they were wondering more was, “Can they grow larger?”
C: No, they don’t grow any larger. I mean, I was thinking they were roughly Saphira’s size, maybe a little bit smaller at that point. And of course they don’t have tails the way she does.
M: And that’s an advantage! Same person asked: “How old was Oromis at the time of his death?”
C: Old. Next question! No, he had given a mini biography of himself to Eragon in Eldest when he mentioned he was several centuries old.
M: Brisineo asked, “According to your previous Q&As, you seem to know the entire history of Alagaesia like the back of your hand. Will you be considering writing a version of the History of Alagaesia?”
C: You mean Domir Abr Wyrda. Some day, but I’m not sure anyone would be interested in reading it.
M: Well I would!
C: It probably wouldn’t tell a story.
M: You had it in the Eldest Limited Edition and I thought it was great.
C: There will be a few more excerpts actually in Book 4 [editor’s note: Christopher accidentally said “Brisingr” in place of Book 4 during the interview].
M: Well I enjoyed it, so if you ever want to write one…
C: Some day! Maybe give up on the story and just do world building!
M: There you go! I don’t think everyone would be bummed. Some people would be, I’m sure… they actually want to know what happens at the end of the books. UnknownGuy asked, “I know this is a stupid question but is it possible to create an imitation of the bond a Rider shares with its dragon, with say, a less magical creature such as a werecat? If so, has it ever been done?”
C: That is an interesting question. No, it isn’t stupid. It is actually possible to create a facsimile of the bond with a dragon, which Galbatorix has done with Shruikan. As for other creatures, the bond with the Riders and dragons really depends on the fact that the dragons are ornately magical creatures. They depend on magic to fly, they depend on magic to breathe fire… they’re actually a source of wild magic themselves, in a sense. And being joined with them affects the people being joined with them, including the race as a whole, as I think I have alluded to a few times.
Trying to create that sort of bond with another creature really wouldn’t work the same. The bond that you create between a Rider and dragon is really dependant on this pact—the bond that was established so many years ago. So without that underlying magical foundation to exist, you would have to create something from scratch. You know, you could probably come up with something that would be similar but it would be a pretty involved process and you’d have to definitely be a very experienced magician to make that work.
M: Well with the introduction of werecats in the recent chapter of Book 4, we could always have Werecat Riders!
C: True… I don’t think they’d consent to that. I think werecats are a little too flighty to be like Dragon Riders.
M: That was a great chapter by the way! SomePerson asked, “Last Q&A we were told there was once a Rider who didn’t want to be a Rider. Will you ever tell his story or elaborate on the story, or at least share a little details about the story?”
C: Possibly some day. I think that would be an interesting story.
M: In Eragon, when Brom was talking to Eragon about the history between Galbatorix and Morzan, he mentioned that there was a place that the two hid in, in an evil place where the Riders dared not venture. What is this place and is it at all related to the Vault of Souls?
C: No comment on the Vault of Souls, but the location—again, it’s not really relevant to the store that I’m telling so I haven’t gotten into it, but I thought it was actually one of the places we talked about with wild magic, and that’s one reason that Riders didn’t really go there. And I don’t want to say where it is at the moment, but it’s a pretty wildly-remote place.
M: So we may see it?
C: No comment, no comment.
M: Rhino62 asked, “If a person is asleep does it make it easier for someone to break into that person’s mind, or does it make it harder that the person is sleeping and focusing only on that? Or, would the person trying to break into the other person’s mind only see the sleeping person’s dreams?”
C: It actually makes it a little harder because a dreaming person’s mind is chaotic and unless the dreamer is lucid and aware of what they’re dreaming, which can happen, it would be rather hard. And also, if you’re trying to invade someone’s mind in a dream world, you risk panic, and then they may start fighting back in the way you only can in a dream. It can actually be very dangerous for the person trying to enter the other person’s mind.
M: That would be very interesting to see in the story, if you ever got to it.
Does Galbatorix have elven features?
C: Well, we’ll have to wait until we actually see Galbatorix…
M: Well, we have seen him—you drew him.
C: True, but I drew that overnight, in a rush.
M: For the curious, it is in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia.
C: True, true. I’m not denying—I think that is a fairly good image generally but you’ll have to wait for the specifics for when he actually shows up. In Galbatorix’s case, again I would remind people that he lost his original dragon quite young and that what he has with Shruikna now is not the same sort of bond. However, he is very powerful with magic and he could quite easily reshape his features however he wants. If he wants to look like an elf he would be looking like an elf; if he doesn’t, he won’t. As Arya was doing her “plastic surgery” in Brisingr.
M: So earlier we talked about Mani’s Caves. This person is wondering if you could tell us where the caves are?
C: The floating crystals are on the island, and Mani’s Cave I believe is in the Beor Mountains…. I believe that was first mentioned by Orik. It’s in the Beor Mountains.
M: Other than the brief mentioning in the first book, Sharktooth Island has played no role whatsoever in the series. Was it put on the map just because or will it have a role in the last book?
C: It’s there because the ocean looked too empty without it. So maybe someday, but at the moment—it was named by the Riders, and the reason you know that is because of the title. The name of the island is something you would only think of if you saw the island from above.
M: One last question—we’re just going to touch on it so people stop asking. How is Book 4 going?
C: [Chuckles] It’s going. [Laughs]
M: And it’s going to come out “when it’s done”?
C: Well, it’s going into the shredder right now and it’s coming out quickly! No, no, Book 4 is going well—I’m working ridiculously hard on it. I think that I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m on the downward slide to the end. It’s been the hardest book to write so far, just because of the complexity and the amount of characters… and it’s the end of the store and demands a certain amount of attention. But I’m getting very excited because I can smell the end, and I can’t wait to get there!
M: The last question is—have you chosen a title yet?
C: I’m sure I’ve answered this before!
M: It’s the question we’re always getting so I’m trying to—
C: Unlike Brisingr, I named Book 4 before I began it and I’ve had the title ever since. I’m very pleased with it, I think it’s a kick-ass title. It’s a good title. Unfortunately I can’t tell it to you but as I know I’ve said before, the cover is going to be a green dragon and I’ve actually seen the painting in New York City at Random House. By John Jude Palancar. It’s a really, really good painting. I like it! I think it’s going to make a great cover.