The Inheritance Cycle came to an end in 2011, finalizing storylines we’d adventured alongside as readers for nearly a decade. But some of the events found at the end of Inheritance weren’t always intended. Christopher recently revealed his original ending for the series, including some pretty shocking character deaths. We decided to take a side-by-side look at the original/unpublished ending vs. what was published in the final book to see how they compare!
Because of the dream Eragon had at the start of the series, Christopher had some tricky work ahead to ensure the vision came true without Arya also leaving Alagaësia:
“Originally, Eragon and Arya were going to leave together, so figuring out how to still have them on the ship, as in Eragon’s dream, took a bit of fancy footwork. It all worked out in the end, though. Literally.”
As we dive into how the ending could have played out, it’s important to note that any content in quotes is directly from Christopher! The rest is general knowledge from the books or, where marked, speculation (thoughts and opinions of the staff of Shur’tugal).
ON ERAGON AND ARYA PARTING
Unpublished ending: “Eragon and Arya were going to leave together.” Christopher’s reasoning for this change was that he felt it “would have broken Arya’s character,” ultimately deciding to separate the pair “because [he] listened to the characters”.
Official ending: It would seem that Eragon and Arya acknowledged their mutual feelings a bit too late. Although Eragon extended an invitation for Arya and Firnen to travel with them to train the new dragons and Riders, she explained that her duty to the elves would keep her behind. This is where the two parted ways.
We still saw Eragon’s dream from the start of the series realized. Arya did accompany Eragon on the boat, while Roran watched from the shore and Saphira and Firnen flew above the ship. However, before the end, Arya and Firnen flew off, finally parting ways with Eragon and Saphira.
Our thoughts and speculation: If the original ending played out, we would have seen Arya leave with Eragon to train the new Riders… but would Arya have still been a Rider herself? We know that Christopher originally considered Elva, among others, as an alternative Green Rider, so the possibility did exist.
It’s tough for us to imagine Arya choosing herself and a potential relationship with Eragon over her perceived duty to her people, especially in a time requiring strong leadership. Arya’s adult life was largely a sacrifice for the greater good of the elves (her time escorting Saphira’s egg and acting as a defacto-ambassador to the dwarves and Varden). We can’t see Arya turning her back on her people in such a way because of a crush.
Plus, if Eragon, Saphira, and the elves can travel to their new Rider training capital, is it really out of the question for Arya and Firnen to be able to fly there and visit? We don’t think so! We’re sure that we’ll be seeing more of the two of them together in Book 5.
QUEEN ISLANZADÍ’S FATE
Unpublished ending: The queen of the elves and Arya’s mother was going to survive the battle for Urû’baen and live to fight another day!
Official ending: After capturing Gil’ead, Islanzadí and her elven army joined the attack on Urû’baen, where she encountered Lord Barst, one of Galbatorix’s lieutenants imbued with the power of an Eldunarí. Though she fought valiantly, the queen was eventually overcome and killed by Barst. Shortly thereafter, the elves chose Arya, Islanzadí’s sole heir, as her successor.
Our thoughts and speculation: Sadly, Islanzadí had to die in order for Christopher’s final ending to come together (Arya becoming queen and remaining behind). Her death played an important symbolic role: a piece in the puzzle of the last generation passing the baton to its successors. The Broddring Kingdom has Nasuada, a young new ruler; the dwarves have Orik, a young new ruler; the Riders have Eragon, the first Rider in decades; Palancar Valley has Roran; and now, the elves have Arya (young in elven years).
The unpublished ending would have significantly altered Arya’s role among the elves. She wouldn’t have been forced to take over as the queen, but it may have been time for a power change regardless, given that Islanzadí had been reigning queen for a substantial amount of time. Maybe Islanzadí would have voluntarily stepped down over time?
What we can conclude is that if Islanzadí survived, Arya would have likely left with Eragon.
MURTAGH AND THORN’S FATE
Unpublished ending: “Murtagh and Thorn were going to die in the final battle.” Christopher explained that he decided against this because “[it would have] been unfair to Murtagh and Thorn.”
Official ending: After Nasuada was kidnapped by Galbatorix, Murtagh had multiple opportunities to spend time with the Varden leader, revealing a kinder side that Eragon and Nasuada thought was lost. He was unable to free Nasuada before Eragon and the Varden reached the capital, where Galbatorix forced Murtagh to fight Eragon. During the conflict, Murtagh realized that his true name had changed and as a result, was free from Galbatorix’s control. Together with Eragon, they defeated Galbatorix, both surviving along with their dragons.
After the battle, Murtagh and Thorn decided that it would be best to travel north alone to cope with what had happened to them and learn to overcome those experiences. Murtagh and Thorn were spotted near Du Weldenvarden in post-Inheritance writings released by Christopher in the book’s deluxe edition.
Our thoughts and speculation: Murtagh and Thorn already suffered enough! Sure, their actions, even when under the control and command of Galbatorix, were often questionable at best… but we think the Murtagh we saw in the first book wasn’t capable of committing the atrocities seen later in the series. It was clear that Galbatorix had a very negative affect on Murtagh’s mind during his time in captivity. Likewise, Thorn never stood a chance at a normal life, having been directly influenced and controled by Galbatorix from birth.
The fairest ending for the Rider and his dragon is to take time to repent, rediscover themselves, and recover as best they can. There’s still purpose for them in the world.
RULER OF THE BRODDRING KINGDOM (FORMERLY THE EMPIRE)
Unpublished ending: “Roran was to end up king” after Galbatorix’s fall and the reclamation of Urû’baen. Christopher believed this ending would have “made Roran terribly unhappy (all he wanted was to go home), [and would have] been incredibly unfair to Nasuada.”
Official ending: Following her rescue after the defeat of Galbatorix, Nasuada was named ruler of the Broddring Kingdom. Her just and fair leadership of the Varden throughout the war demonstrated her ability to lead, love, and respect those in her charge. As part of her first acts as ruler, she renamed Urû’baen to Ilirea, transferred several southern cities to Surda, and created a taskforce to understand and police the use of magic.
Meanwhile, Roran headed back to Carvahall in Palancar Valley — his home and all that he had known prior to the war. Eventually, Roran would help to rebuild Carvahall and becomes the Lord of Palancar Valley. (This information was provided by Christopher in an interview with Shur’tugal.)
Our thoughts and speculation: This is the only one we’re torn on. We think Nasuada is deserving, capable, and ultimately a fair ruler, but we’re still a bit hung up on her having Roran flogged and a tad bit concerned with the potential for negative results as she cracks down on magic users.
It would have been nice to see Roran as ruler, but did he earn it? Sure, he was an incredibly capable leader, strategist, and fighter with a level head and a respect for those under him… but no political experience or leadership experience over thousands of people. Plus, as Christopher said, we agree that Roran would have been miserable. Palancar Valley is where he belongs, and we’re sure that if he ever does get involved in the kingdom’s conflicts, he’ll still be quite the ally and leader at Nasuada’s side.
The information Christopher provided for this article was originally released during his recent Reddit AMA/Q&A. Both answers can be found in full in this recap article on Shur’tugal. Additionally, if you’d like to see Christopher’s full sketch (partially shown above), you can see that here!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the unpublished ending of Inheritance vs. what is now official! Which do you prefer? Are there parts of each that you’d have liked to see? Let us know in the comments!