New interview with Christopher Paolini touches on how the Cycle may have been different, Book 5, and the Nameless One

christopher-interviewWe recently asked Shur’tugal readers and Inheritance fans to submit questions for a new interview with Christopher Paolini. After hundreds of submissions, hours picking the best and most interesting, and an exchange with the author, we now have a nearly 2,700 word long interview!

The new interview with Christopher focuses largely on how the Inheritance Cycle may have been different, what we can expect from Book 5 and beyond, as well as what Jeod meant about Angela, Tenga, and the Nameless One/Nameless Shadow in his letter included in the Deluxe Edition of Inheritance.

You can read the full interview after the jump!

Can you give us any hint on what color dragons Saphira may have?

Saphira could have children of any color. It would depend partly on who her partner was and partly on their ancestry.

Could Oromis have joined his mind with Glaedr’s Eldunari before dying in order to stick around for longer?

While perhaps theoretically possible, such a transference would be enormously difficult in the best of circumstances, much less in the middle of battle. Moreover, for Oromis to find space for his consciousness in the Eldunarí, he would have had to displace part of Glaedr’s mind—a price neither of them would have been willing to pay.

In what ways do you see the Inheritance Cycle being different if Brom had not died?

Brom would have continued to train and protect Eragon until he could bring Eragon to Oromis. Then Oromis would have completed the training. The problem with this is that Eragon would have never learned to deal with stuff on his own, which is exactly what allowed him to grow as a person and, in the end, defeat Galbatorix.

How many dragons existed in the Riders’ golden age?

I’m reluctant to give an exact figure. Dragons are so big, the land can only support so many before they eat everything. At their height, perhaps several thousands scattered across the whole world (not just Alagaësia).

If they ever met, would Roran and Murtagh get along?

I think they would regard each other with a certain amount of wariness and professional respect. If they had to work together, I think they would get along better than Murtagh and Eragon do.

If you were to continue writing in the Inheritance universe, will you consider advancing the technological stages of civilization, or will magic hold this back?

Not only would I advance the technology, I would advance the magical research as well. Just think what’s possible if you combine the two!

Are you able to tell us how far off (months, years) from the end of the events of Inheritance we’d see another Alagaesia-set novel take place?

I’d love to answer, but I don’t want to give anything away. However, I think it is safe to say we won’t pick up immediately after the end of Inheritance.

What are the Menoa Tree’s feelings towards Eragon? (hostile, friendly, ambivalent, etc.)


If you pitted Eragon against Arya in a fight-to-the-death challenge, who would win?

It depends on what part of the story you’re talking about. Near the beginning, Arya without a doubt. By the end? . . . Neither. They’re equally matched. They can both defeat each other. Neither has the upper hand.

In Brisingr, Eragon has a vision of a circular stone city with a girl inside, singing “a haunting melody”. Any chance you could tell us where the city is (is it El-harim or the new home of the Riders?) or who the girl is (Elva, one of the elf children, or someone else entirely)?

Great question. No comment. 🙂

What IS energy in the Inheritance Cycle? Is it the stuff we normally use to fuel ourselves or is there something a bit more added to it to make Magic work?

Energy is the force needed to move or change something, same as in our universe. The only difference in Eragon’s world is that living creatures have the ability to manipulate energy with their minds, in the same way we can with our bodies/machines/etc.

Is it possible that Eragon and the Riders will ever return to Vroengard? Will the poison in its atmosphere (I presume radiation), ever diffuse to livable levels?

The radiation will subside with time, but it’s going to be a looong while before it’s completely safe. Some people do live there of course—Eragon glimpsed them during his time on Vroengard—but they’re not the healthiest of folks, if you know what I mean.

Why, if Galbatorix knew of Murtagh’s feelings for Nasuada, and that love can change a true name, would Galbatorix have allowed Murtagh and Nasuada to interact during Inheritance?

Galbatorix didn’t really believe in love. And he didn’t really understand the depth of feelings that Murtagh had for Nasuada. In some ways, he was fairly ignorant when it came to normal human interaction.

In Eragon, Brom says that only three swordsmen would have been able to defeat him. Who were they?

Oromis, Morzan, and possibly Selena. (Haven’t completely decided on the last one.)

Since the name of the ancient language gives you power over all magic, does that mean it can be used for necromancy? Can the power of the ancient language be used to resurrect the dead?

You could reanimate a body, but you would only be controlling the body like a puppet. It wouldn’t live. It wouldn’t be a real person. No, once someone dies, it’s impossible to bring them back until you can somehow reverse every single bit of physical damage, right down to the molecular level.

Is it possible for a Rider to be bonded to two different dragons, from different eggs? Not like Galbatorix, but two dragons at the same time.

Not unless someone messed with the spells around the dragons/eggs with some powerful magic of their own. Either way, it would cause all sorts of problems.

Is it possible for Arya to potentially become interested in another male elf of her own accord or from high elven lord pressure? Will this likely happen? Or will she likely be too busy in her queenly duties and such i.e. not really pay much attention to other elves and because of how she sort of feels for Eragon?

Arya was already in a relationship before she met Eragon, so that’s entirely possible. However, possible and likely are two different things.

How old was Selena when she died?

Mid to late twenties, if I’m remembering correctly.

In the training in Eldest, you mentioned that Saphira’s sire, Iormungr, was the dragon of a Rider. Who was the Rider, and was he/she important?

Iormungr’s Rider may play a part in future stories, but at the moment I haven’t fleshed out any details with him/her.

Is there a spell that would make you able to speak and understand a foreign language, removing the need for translators, such as the case with Eragon and Hundfast?

I don’t think so. Magic isn’t sentient; it can’t understand language or anything else. It’s merely a stream of force controlled by the spellcaster. So if the magician doesn’t understand the language he or she wants translated, magic wouldn’t be able to help.

I know, it’s a bit confusing.

However . . . you could link your mind to the other person’s mind (which is a form of magic) and communicate directly with images and emotions.

You said in another interview that two dragons can hatch from the same egg. If an egg like this hatched for a Rider, would they be bonded to both dragons?

No, because the Riders who put the spells on eggs that allow the hatchlings to bind to elves/humans/etc. would be able to sense if an egg contained one dragon or two. This means they would (a) either avoid eggs with two dragons or (b) modify the binding spell so that each dragon would get a different Rider.

Of course, it could be that the Riders only realized they needed to do this after twin dragons hatched and were bonded to one person, which could have caused all sorts of trouble.

If a dragon hatched for someone but another person touched the hatchling before they did, would that person get the gedwëy ignasia and become the dragon’s Rider?

Yes. And baaad things will happen then.

What was the death toll at the end of the battle of Uru’baen?


Exactly how strong is this brightsteel metal? Are the weapons crafted out of it indestructible once forged?

Very, very strong. One blade could easily support the weight of a large car at one end. That said, it’s not indestructible. Pile on another car or two, and the blade would break if not fortified with addition energy from a spell.

How would you describe your relationship with your characters? Are they like your children? Friends?

Meat puppets that I make dance and laugh and cry . . . and who make me laugh and cry in return. It’s a complex relationship.

Would you be willing to consider a comic book or graphic novel version of the Inheritance Cycle, or possibly a spinoff?

Yes, very much so. I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s just a question of time, though. Hopefully we’ll get to see something like that before too long.

At this point, is there any hope for another Eragon movie?

There’s always hope, but the decision is entirely up to the studio (Fox), and they’ve been reluctant to move forward.

Where is Shruikan’s Eldunari? Who has it?

Good question.

When Nasuada eventually dies or abdicates, how will the next king or queen be elected?

That will depend on the political situation in Alagaësia when she dies. The throne may pass to her eldest child, or the local kings and nobles (such as King Orrin) might be strong enough to push for an election of some kind.

Do werecats have a religion (or some religious habits, or their own idea of how the universe functions) such as elves, dwarves, humans and Urgals do?

Like all cats, werecats believe they are the center of the universe and that everything revolves around them.

They might actually be right.

What would a dragon do if its Rider became a Shade?

Either kill it (and then kill itself) or (depending on the situation) become a Shade itself. A dragon Shade would be truly terrifying, though.

Will Roran ever learn to use magic?

No comment.

We’ve uncovered a small mystery – nobody in the entire series wears glasses. Some people, like the citizens of Carvahall, have an extreme, almost superstitious phobia of forces like magic and thus probably wouldn’t allow a magician to repair their eyesight. Is this accidental, or is there a good reason behind this (a lack of medical understanding of the eye, or something)?

Myopia is really only common among societies where people are indoors a lot and read a lot. Low literacy usually correlates to low incidents of myopia. My guess is that a lot more dwarves are nearsighted (because of all the detail work they do) than any other race in Alagaësia. Of course problems seeing things up-close would be common among older humans—and possibly other creatures—but they’d still be able to function pretty well. It’s a good point, though! I might have to address that directly in the future.

Have you ever struggled between what you would like to happen to a character and what you considered more sensible to occur? Can you tell us when and what did you do at last?

Yes. Usually this occurs when I plotted some bit of the story out years ago . . . and when I actually come to write it I realize that the characters are no longer the people I thought they were back in the beginning.

Oftentimes, I don’t even realize there’s a problem until I find myself unable to write a scene (or scenes) because they don’t feel right. Then the only thing to do is to step back, question my basic assumptions, and reevaluate the whole situation. It’s not easy shifting your expectations, but it’s often necessary . . . and in every case it’s made the story better.

A good of example of this is Roran: originally I was going to make him king at the end of the series. However, that would have been unfair to Nasuada, it would have made Roran miserable (he just wants to go home with his family), and ultimately would have undermined a whole bunch of themes I was playing with.

So Roran got to be ruler of Palancar Valley instead. Still a pretty good prize, I think.

How did Galbatorix feed a dragon of Shurikan’s size without bankrupting his Empire or destroying Alagaesia’s ecology?

Like snakes, dragons don’t have to eat that often, especially if they spend most of their time sleeping/hibernating. Plus, Galbatorix could sustain Shruikan by pouring energy directly into him from the Eldunarí and other sources. But yes, feeding a dragon that big would be a big, big, BIG problem.

In Jeod’s letter in the end of Inheritance Deluxe Edition, he describes Angela as an Inarë that Eragon has seen. What are the Inarë? Where does the legend come from? Elvish? Dwarves? Something else? When did Eragon see an Inarë?

No comment. 🙂

Also in the same letter, Jeod attempts to track her through a spell. He attempts to explain why it didn’t work out. One suggestion is she has the same magic as the “Nameless One”. Who or what is this “Nameless One”? If this is a “no comment” answer: Does it have any relation to the “Nameless Shadow” in Eragon’s letter at the end of the Guide? Why didn’t Jeod go into more detail about what this “Nameless One” is in his letter?

The Nameless One and the Nameless Shadow are two different things/creatures. And Jeod didn’t go into any more detail because the man he was writing to already knows about the Nameless One.

Will Eragon and Saphira leaving Alagaesia have any unintended-negative consequences? For example, will the Urgals not strictly follow Eragon’s suggestion of Olympics. Rarely in life are such problems solved with such simplistic solutions.

Yes. Not having Eragon and Saphira around will definitely send things in a different direction than if they had stayed. As you pointed out, things are rarely as simple as you or I or even Eragon might expect and hope. Which is great . . . for me the author! Gives me all sorts of interesting twists and complications to explore.

If you were a dragon, what would your color and name be?

I’d be a deep purple/black/blue, and my name would be so terrible, no one would dare speak it.

What would Book 3 have been titled had you not split it into Brisingr and Inheritance? I know many thought it would be Empire, but that was never confirmed anywhere, was it?

Empire. The problem with it is that I didn’t like naming the last book after the bad guys. Just didn’t feel right. It was also too restrictive; it didn’t apply to enough of the characters. Once the last book was split, I planned on naming Book IV Eldunarí, but again, the title was too restrictive. Plus, it gave away a major plot point. Plus it was difficult to spell.

When you were well into the process of writing the series and Eragon and Eldest had already been released, did you ever have any really great ideas that you wished you could incorporate in the series but realized you couldn’t because it would contradict things in previously released books? If so, what were some of the ideas?

Hmm. No, I didn’t have any ideas that contradicted earlier stuff (although a few inconsistencies did slip in through simple human error). What I did have was an explosion of ideas for future stories. The setting of Alagaësia is just so rich, I could spend the rest of my life there.

Can Tinkledeath store energy within its diamond blade?

Yes, as can all jewels.

There was a man who got his legs crushed. When Eragon visited the hospital, the man could see Beloth’s belt, Aren, and had said that he could see Murtagh’s Eldunari. How is he able to see these energy sources?

Well, since magic is the manipulation of energy with the mind, I figured that perhaps some sort of traumatic brain injury would allow a person to perceive the process directly. An analogy might be drawn between that and people who can see colors when they hear music or who associate numbers with certain feelings/sounds/personalities/etc.