With the upcoming Cycle book, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, closely approaching its release on 12/31, we’re continuing to explore the many mysteries surrounding the collection of short stories and the characters we’ll encounter within!
We previously dissected the book’s first short story, “The Fork,” featuring Murtagh, the Rider in self-imposed exile and fan-favorite character. Is it a magical fork or is a metaphor for the difficult decisions facing the pair? Will we see them emerge from hiding? Give it a read and join in on the conversation!
Today we’re tackling the book’s second short story, about which we know the most: “The Witch”! The novella is a memoir penned by Angela the herbalist, titled “On the Nature of Stars.” We have several confirmed facts and a plethora of theories to share:
What we do know
“On the Nature of Stars” is an autobiography by Angela the herbalist (actually written by Christopher’s sister, and the real-life inspiration for the character, Angela Paolini).The witch chooses to share three out of order (why?!) chapters with Eragon during her visit to the dragon hold.
The first and only excerpt from The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm, “Chapter 4: Rhymes and Riddles,” reveals the unexpected appearance of Angela, Solembum, and Elva at the Rider’s new settlement. She and Eragon discuss the progress he and the elves have made on constructing their new home in the year since the end of Inheritance, as well as his and Saphira’s ongoing struggles. Checkout our breakdown of the excerpt here!
On the Nature of Stars?
Many fans (and even Christopher) have joked about Angela being a Time Lord – an alien race of time and space travelers, featured in the popular show Doctor Who. We doubt this is the case, but if it isn’t too off the mark, would it be a stretch to assume Angela has a deep understanding of space? Probably.
Space exploration isn’t a likely hobby for any inhabitants of this fantastical land, but we do known that Angela a capable fortuneteller (the extent of this skill remains unknown), a practice often associated with astrology. It’s much more likely her travels, experiences, and abilities have required studying the stars, although what they could reveal is a mystery.
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More practically, there’s the title given to Angela by the Urgals: “Mooneater” (“Uluthrek” in their language). It was a strange and mysterious revelation made in passing, but given what we know about Christopher and his secrets, the name will most certainly become relevant in future stories. When asked how she came by the title, her response (huge shock) told us nothing: “I ate the moon, of course. How else?” It’s very unlikely that her entire autobiography would revolve around the story behind “Mooneater,” but it certainly could make for an interesting chapter…
And of course, there’s always the potential for a much simpler and less fun answer: a metaphor. The name – and “stars” in particular –could be a metaphor for a whole host of things, such as spirits and souls.
There’s no obvious answer to this question, but we’re not ready to dismiss the potential “Mooneater” connection as mere coincidence.
Why an autobiography?
It certainly seems random… which fits the character perfectly. Many of the character’s quirky scenes and tales have been random and puzzling, and that’s part of the fun of her character.
Simple answer? She has many stories to tell! Her propensity for showing up wherever important events are taking place, as well as past experiences shared throughout the series, proves her to have witnessed many interesting events during her hundred+ years of life, possibly including:
- Observing groups of wild dragons, indicating along life during the decades, if not hundreds of years, of peace in Alagaësia
- The founding of the Broddring Empire (revealed by the information above)
- Culture, lifestyle, and events during her time living among the elves in Du Weldenvarden
- Lessons and experiences during her many years as an apprentice of Tenga, the mysterious and powerful spellcaster
- The early days, founding, and decade-long existence of the Varden and their efforts to thwart Galbatorix
- Minor tales and human gossip from running a quirky shop in Teirm, the Empire’s central port city
- Making enemies of the Werecats (as witnessed by her interaction with King Grimrr Halfpaw)
- Participation in many skirmishes, battles, and wars, holding her own as a warrior capable of defeating Kull and other formidable foes
- Living among the dwarves, practicing their culture and learning their complex politics
- The fall of the Riders, Galbatorix’s reign, the rise of Eragon, and the toppling of the mad king
Why out of order?
This is intentional, of course – but why? Sharing too much of Angela’s past could get tricky for Christopher. He’s promised to reveal more about the mysterious witch, but scattering quick peeks allows for the potential of fun reveals while obscuring and hiding even more!
You may also enjoy: “The Fork” – What we know about Murtagh’s short story
It could also be Angela’s idea of a joke. It wouldn’t be out of character, but it would be quite rude given the context (Eragon’s ongoing struggles).
Past, present, or future?
When asked about the book’s timeline, Christopher teased that it “takes take place after the Inheritance Cycle… Sorta. It’s complicated.”It’s likely that the complications are a direct result of Angela’s(intentional?) jumble of chapters!
An autobiography details the events of a person’s life –events they’ve already lived. Already-written chapters implies stories from her past… but we’d be remiss to overlook the fact that time itself is one of the major unknowns associated with the character.
We’ve witnessed her ability to predict the future as well her use of powerful magic to stop time and speed up her own actions. Does Angela’s ability to manipulate time itself hint at a greater skill, such as witnessing future events? Eh… it’s a stretch. (And is an autobiography a great place to share those glimpses into the future? Probably not.)
Contents and implications
It’s impossible to guess how much the partial memoir will reveal. The book itself is just short of 300 pages long, and her tale(s) share space with two other short stories as well as Eragon’s own narrative, so unless there’s some major spoilers jam-packed into those three chapters, it’s unlikely it’ll reveal too much.
You may also enjoy: “Rhymes and Riddles” – an excerpt from the upcoming book
But it could reveal enough. It could hint at her origins– is she a human, or is she more? It could narrow down her age – does she recount a specific event long in the past? It could reveal more of her powers –stories of combat, experiments, lessons learned?
Or it could be three hilarious chapters filled with more quirky quotes about magician-biting mad rabbits, the bad luck of roasted cabbage and earwax, wild earwigs and ferocious hamsters, eating the moon,cheating rooster-head-resembling donkeys, and wise predictions of doom!
One thing’s for certain: don’t expect too much. Christopher has shared his intent to reveal more about Angela in Book 5, and even has an entire book featuring the witch planned (although we wouldn’t expect that any time soon).
Boiling it all down
In the time we spent theorizing about this short story,our minds kept circling back to one important Angela fact: her knack for showing up wherever important events are unfolding. Why did she choose now to visit Eragon and the new dragon hold? The group have been there for a year now, and it isn’t as if this new location is just a quick stroll away from the cities she’d be most likely to inhabit in the west.
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Is Angela’s “random” appearance indicative of an important event about to unfold? What lured her here? What lessons does she hope to teach with what she shares?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, theories, and analysis in the comments and on social media!
All will be revealed when The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm hits store shelves on December 31st, 2018 in North America. (International fans: check with your local bookstores to see if and when the book is headed to your country!)
This article is a part of a paid partnership with Random House Children’s Books to promote Christopher Paolini’s upcoming novel, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm.