Christopher Paolini has sat down for a ridiculous amount of exclusive interviews with Shurtugal.com over the past eight years — and each of our interviews has ended up as interesting as its predecessor. Whether talking during one of our many Comic-Con interviews or answering fan questions in our year-long question and answer series, Christopher has never failed to deliver.
We did, however, notice one issue: with dozens of interviews come hundreds of questions and answers… and that’s a lot to sift through! In order to prepare for Inheritance (Book 4), we’ve gone through all of our Book 4-related interviews with Christopher and have pulled the most important answers he’s given, which are now accompanied by official Shur’tugal commentary. These answers are must reads for any fan preparing for Book 4, as they often reveal some incredible information, behind-the-scenes details, and series commentary. This is one of the best ways to prep for Book 4 — don’t be left out!
Wild magic, or manifestations of natural magic in Alagaesia, remains a big mystery for both readers and residents of Alagaesia. Examples of both have been seen within the powerful spirits and referenced in mentions of the Floating Crystal on the island of Eoam, as well as the dream well in Mani’s Caves.
Spirits, and manifestations of natural energies and magic, are likely to play a large role in the final showdown against Galbatorix (and are central in several Vault of Souls theories). Christopher Paolini elaborates on what these energies are and how they are used:
Christopher: I don’t want to go into the specifics but they’re natural manifestations of energy which, in Eragon’s world, people tend to call magic. So magic is, of course, the manipulation of energy through your mental powers, essentially. That’s what the telepathy is and all other forms of magic. And, of course, the spirits in my world are actually conscious beings composed purely of energy. And that’s the approach I took to all the magic in my world. It’s almost a scientific approach, saying it’s manipulation of energy and how that works within the world. So those two examples, and they are not the only ones—I might add, there are other places in Eragon’s world where magic can be found in the wild. They’re extremely dangerous. They’re usually far more powerful in, however they’re manifesting, then any one human magician could ever hope to achieve. And they’re generally better off avoided. The Dream cave as the name applies, is a place you can go and experience extremely vivid, magically dreams of various kinds. Sometimes they’re premonitions, sometimes they’re visions of what could have been. Very strange things happen there.
In the mysterious world of Paolini interviews, “no comment” to a particularly observant or challenging question is usually a, “Yes, but if I say yes, I risk spoiling Book 4.” However, be wary: not all “no comments” mean “yes”, nor do they mean “no”… they simply are a “no comment”. But if it was a no, wouldn’t it be a no? Either way, Christopher’s answer here is almost a clear indication that we’ll see Eragon 1 and Bid’Duam in Inheritance:
Mike: Will you ever go into greater detail on the presumed deaths of the first Eragon and his own dragon?
Christopher: No comment
Theories abound in the Inheritance Cycle community, all revolving around the green egg fragments mentioned in the books, discovered by Eragon while hunting down Saphira after her “run-in” with Glaedr. They were mentioned in passing, and their color — the same color as the dragon gracing the cover of Inheritance — are definitely worth noting. But are they of any importance? Christopher’s answer certainly leads us to believe so:
Christopher: [Long pause.] No. [Tone of sarcasm] It’s just a green egg fragment. Why would you think that was a hint? Oh, because there’s a green dragon on the front of the book? Oh, that… No comment.
More “no comments” — especially followed by a compliment from the author on the quality of the question — seem to be a good thing here. We equate this question to walking along the beach with a metal detector. It’s beeping. We’ve found something. We just haven’t dug it up yet:
Mike: You said that strange phantoms lived in Doru Areba; can you describe those phantoms and do any speaking races that we haven’t encountered thus far live there?
Christopher: No comment. Good question but no comment.
“No comment” seems to be common — but we’re sure you’re noticing a repeating pattern here. No comments mean big things. Yet again, we’re on to something — and this time it’s related to wild magic, which seems to be a recurring “no comment” theme for Inheritance. Spoilers? You betcha!
Mike: 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?
Christopher: 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.
Eldest and Brisingr introduced several gems filled with immense power: Aren, the gem on Naegling (Oromis’ sword), and the twelve gems on belt of Beloth the Wise. Aren and Naegling are both stated to contain vast stores of energy, each capable of moving entire mountains. The gems on Eragon’s belt are some of the best the elves could find, leading us to believe they are capable of storing similar amounts of energy.
Which leads us to an important point: clearly their energy stores will be hugely important in Inheritance… and Christopher mentions that we’ll learn much more about them in the book as well. Here’s some cut-in-the-editing-process story for you:
Christopher: Ah, this is something that I actually discussed in Brisingr, but the section got cut during the editing process. I’m hoping to include it in Book Four instead. Suffice it to say, Aren was crafted by one of the elves’ greatest artisans and is a unique and highly valuable artifact.
We have this interesting, mysterious, and evidently all-powerful character in the books. Her name is Angela. She’s terrifying, witty, and hilarious… and according to the Inheritance community, she isn’t human. That’s just speculation, of course, but we’re inclined to believe it ourselves. Christopher Paolini touched on the topic of half-elves, and even hints that some may exist… and the way he dances around the issue is akin to erecting a neon sign over Angela’s head, arrow and all, reading, “Hey! I’m a half-elf!”
Again, just speculation.
Christopher: [Half-elves] have existed, although most weren’t able to have children of their own. As for whether any exist now . . . let’s just say that if they do, they would have become very, very skilled at blending in with whatever race (elves or humans) they had chosen to live among. Half-elves, half-humans have much-extended life spans, but they aren’t immortal like full-blooded elves.
One observant fan asked a question which seemed to have baffled Christopher… and by baffled, we mean that he seemed delighted that we were on to something. The question? Whether or not Eragon is a catalyst which helps or enables the dragons to more freely use magic. The examples? The Blood-Oath Celebration, Saphira’s magic used to repair Isidar Mithrim, and more.
To paraphrase the fan, “Is it possible that what defines Eragon, at his very core, allows him to assist the dragons work or harness their magic when they would otherwise be unable to?” Christopher’s answer is very suspicious — in a good way:
Christopher: Is Eragon a catalyst that helps the dragons to use magic? Interesting question. . . .Very interesting. Yup. . . . Mmh. . . . Very interesting. Can’t say though. Nope. That would be telling.
The elven children and their power have come up in numerous interviews, but this answer from Christopher seemed to be the most revealing. It’s almost certain that their enhanced magical powers will play a role in Book 4. However, we know that elves revere their children… Would they ever allow them to march to war? Unlikely. Would they ever allow them to test their touch with a dragon’s egg to see if they are a compatible fit? Much more likely… but hey, we could be wrong!
Christopher: [The two elven children] are more powerful, but they have less control over their abilities than adults. Elves cherish their children above all else; they would do anything to protect them, even those they aren’t related to. . . . That’s as close as I can come to answering your question without giving away too much about Book Four.
For some bizarre reason, a large portion of our fan base has developed a cult-like following surrounding the arrogant elven swordsman, Vanir. We saw him in Eldest — he was tasked with training Eragon’s skills with swords. And then we saw him cower as he was mercilessly beaten by Eragon after the Blood-Oath ceremony. According to Christopher, we’ll likely see this odd-fan-favorite again. But in what form?
Christopher: Has he received a lot of attention? I didn’t realize. I miss a lot of message board discussions because I don’t spend too much time online. Vanir may very well appear in Book IV, but more than that I won’t say. He was a fun character to write; I liked having someone who could sneer at Eragon and point out what I thought were the rather obvious problems of having a (then) injured human Rider pitted against Galbatorix.
It turns out that asking a simple question stemming from individual curiousity can reveal some nifty Book 4 facts, as was the case with our question, which asked: “Do any mythological creatures exist on Alagaësia that we have yet to encounter?”
Christopher: Technically they’re not mythological, but I do have some interesting new creatures that appear in a certain section of Book Four.
“Did the original Saphira disgorge her Eldunarí?” At first glance, this seems like a yes or no question, right? What more can there be to that…
Apparently something, according to Christopher’s “No, but there’s more!” response. There’s not much to guess at here, but it’s evident that something secretive is going on surrounding Saphira 1’s Eldunari, or at least the circumstances. A fan favorite theory was that the gem in Aren was Saphira 1’s Eldunari, but that was crushed by Christopher in an earlier interview. Oh well. What do you think the “more details” could be?
Christopher: No, but I’d rather not go into any more detail at the moment.
Fans love back-story, especially when it elaborates on a mysterious aspect of the books… and it doesn’t get any more mysterious than magic. Magic is a topic we’ve seen come up many times throughout the three books, yet the way that a magic user first gains the ability to use magic is never truly explained.
This topic could become even more important in Inheritance as we see key characters, including Roran, struggling with learning to perform magic — a valuable trick that could save a number of lives in any situation. In fact, a large fan theory surrounding Roran’s assumed survival after the fall of the wall in “Into the Breach” revolves around Roran finally learning to use magic.
Christopher goes into detail on how an Alagaesian comes to perform magic for the first time:
Christopher: That’s a very tricky question. The ability to manipulate energy with one’s mind—which is what magic is—seems to be present in every creature in Alagaësia to a greater or lesser extent. In some people it’s so atrophied as to be nearly nonexistent: someone who can receive telepathic sendings but not reach out with their own mind to another being’s consciousness, for example. In others, it’s present just enough to allow a person to both send and receive thoughts and maybe, with a great deal of concentration, cast a spell or two. And then there are those people for whom the whole endeavor is naturally easy, like an elf.
Complicating the issue are three other factors. One, even if they have the ability to use magic, most people don’t use it because they don’t know about it and have no training in it. Two, the difficulty most people encounter when they try to cast a spell is a mental difficulty and has nothing to do with the actual amount of energy the spell will drain from their bodies. Angela the herbalist is a skilled magician, but she’s not considered very powerful because casting spells is extremely difficult for her (and sometimes she can’t even do it) regardless of how much energy the spell will require. That’s why she augments her ability with potions and enchanted objects. Three, one’s innate talent can be improved over time with a variety of methods: practice (this is ridiculously hard, but it does work), becoming a Rider (not an option open to most), becoming a Shade (not the smartest choice in my opinion, but that’s never stopped anyone), and one or two other tricks that I’d like to keep up my sleeve for the moment.
It’s because of all these difficulties that most people and creatures (yes, animals can use magic as well) tend to cast their first spell when they are under extreme duress, as Eragon was in Yazuac. And once you’ve cast your first spell, it’s usually—though not always—easier to cast another one.
So, as you can see, there are any number of reasons why Roran might not be able to use magic. That’s not to say he couldn’t if he were pushed hard enough or if he had the right instruction, but until he learns to find that little place in the back of his mind and reach through it to feel the flow of energy within his own body, he’ll never be able to lift that darn pebble. Ultimately, it’s a question of talent, discipline, desire, and, one would hope, knowledge of the ancient language, although that’s not a prerequisite for casting a spell.
(As a side note, since most people think you need the ancient language to cast a spell, if they don’t know it, they never even try to work magic. This in-and-of-itself limits the number of successful magicians in Alagaësia.)
Shades have played a role in two of the three Inheritance Cycle books… and it looks like we’ll get some sort of fill of Shades in Inheritance. Curious though, it appears the Shade won’t necessarily be human! One fan asked Christopher whether or not it is possible for spirits to posses the body of a non-human, and Christopher’s reply leaves a lot open. Could we finally see werecat Shades? Bunny Shades? Bambi Shades?
Christopher: This is alluded to in Book Four, but the short answer is that spirits can possess the body of any creature, human or not.
So, remember when Eragon overheard a group of Empire soldiers saying, “Unless we be searching for Murtagh. You heard what Morzan’s spawn said as well as I said”? Of course you do, you’re an Inheritance sleuth! Well, it was clear that those words were not included by accident — and Christopher confirmed that fact. It looks like we caught on to something relevant to Book 4. Could Murtagh be rebelling against “The Machine”? Will he finally break free of Galbatorix, and these soldiers are fearing his threats of revenge and retribution? Who knows. Here’s what Christopher had to say:
Christopher: I knew that would catch people’s attention. . . . Let’s just say that there have been some difficulties between Murtagh and Galbatorix that we haven’t been privy to. Not yet at least.
Another no comment may just reveal a possible revival of the thought-to-be-extinct Ra’zac. Will we see them again? Could Galbatorix have two hidden Ra’zac eggs?
Christopher: No comment. (Glad you like the Ra’zac, though. I do too.)
Mike: Are there more Ra’zac or Lethrblaka over the sea/where they came from?
We were surprised to see Christopher candidly confirm that we will be seeing a return of the two mysterious women encountered in Brisingr… and are unsure as to what it could mean. What role will they play? Here’s what Christopher had to say about their return:
Christopher: Yup, we’ll see them again, but I can’t say more than that.
Crushing more of our hopes, Christopher has confirmed that there are no more Riders hidden in the world — only Eragon, Galbatorix, and Murtagh. Eragon is alone in the fight… at least until the green dragon hatches. We’re willing to bet (for the sake of the war) that the Rider of that dragon will side with Eragon:
Mike: Is it possible that there might be more Riders hidden in the world that Eragon could run into?
Christopher: Only Galbatorix.
It’s more than likely that we’ll be seeing Tenga, the eccentric hermit from Brisingr, at some point during Inheritance. His shouting about finding the answer was incredibly ominous, and his relationship with Angela (and Angela’s expanded role in the fourth book) leads us to believe he’ll pop up at some point. Oh, and so does Christopher’s “No comment.”:
Mike: The man Tenga, will we be seeing more of him?
Christopher: No comment.
Not much to say about this one: Christopher’s “No comment” answer regarding the man who can see light (but is blind) seems to indicate that we’ll be seeing him again (as did our recent Big Twenty article).
Mike: The man that lost his sight during the battle and started seeing weird things; like Murtagh’s Eldunari that he had with him, will he be used possibly to help Eragon find the Vault of Souls (which I believe just holds some Eldunari)?
Christopher: No comment.
If you haven’t already picked up a copy of Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia and The Inheritance Almanac, we highly recommend you do so now. Not only are they both official companion guides to the Inheritance Cycle, but they likely reveal more than meets the eye.
We also wrote a Big Twenty article exploring what hidden Book 4 content can be found within… have you read it?
Mike: Did you sneak any hints about Book 4 into Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia?
Christopher: A few hints, but mainly in the written sections.
Mike: Eragon’s letter in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia mentions an unnamed “shadow”. Will this be explained in Book 4?
Christopher: Heh, no comment.
Brom has been a fan-favorite since day one, and we were all incredibly sad to see him go so early on in Eragon. Our emotions were amplified in Brisingr after the discovery that Brom was Eragon’s father. The former Rider, bane of Galbatorix, had given up all that he had in life to settle down in Carvahall, looking over and protecting his son — from a distance. He now resides in a diamond tomb, the ultimate gift in death… which opens the possibilty for a return of the Rider in future books. Here’s what Christopher said when asked whether or not he could be brought back to life in Book 4:
Christopher: Good question. It *will* be addressed in Book Four, but perhaps not how you expect.
One fan seems to have dug some interesting Brisingr (the sword, not the book) information out of Christopher in an unintended way. It seems as though Oromis’ pondering as to why Brisingr lights itself on fire will be addressed in Book 4. Could this odd magical ability be related to the above-mentioned occurrences of wild magic?
Mike: When Eragon tells Oromis that his sword catches on fire when he says ‘Brisingr’, Oromis, uh, looks off into the distance and mutters, “I wonder”, what did Oromis wonder?
Christopher: He was . . . if I’m remembering the scene correctly, I believe he was wondering if . . . if the fact that Eragon was actually involved in the forging and was sort of the instrument that Rhunon used to forge the sword with, if Eragon’s essence, if you will, his personality, had become really linked with the sword, and, it was just . . . I didn’t want to get into a big explanation or theory with that, but that’s what I was thinking of when I wrote that . . . when I wrote that scene. Also because it actually links into some other things that I’m going to be doing with magic in the fourth book which involves. Well, again, I don’t want to say.
These are, of course, just some of MANY interview questions taken from dozens of interviews with Christopher since the release of Brisingr. We highly recommend reading the above and formulating your own theories and opinions. We also recommend reading the two recently-released interviews with Christopher, as they touch on a LOT of Book 4 information, including sneak peeks, some information reveals, and lots of back-story not included in the books:
Of all of the above answers, which do you think will be most important going into Book 4? Which do you think we are correct on? Which do you think we could not be further from the truth on? Let us know in the comments!