March 2010 Monthly Q&A with Christopher Paolini

(Interview released March 18th, 2010)

During the Riders’ most prosperous period, young humans and elves were presented before selected dragons’ eggs to see whether or not the eggs/dragon hatchlings would choose them as Riders. The same was done with Saphira’s egg following the fall of the Riders. How would each child have enough time with the egg in order to see whether or not the egg hatched for them?

Christopher Paolini: A Rider or someone able to sense the thoughts of another living creature (such as Arya) would always be present when humans or elves were brought for the first time before a dragon egg that had been bound with the spells that maintained the bond between Riders and dragons. Besides protecting the egg, this person’s main task would be to monitor the baby dragon’s mental reactions upon meeting each new potential Rider. This was often a long and laborious task, as the dragons were notoriously picky. However, in this manner, the Riders would know which person a dragon had picked to be their Rider the moment the dragon made its decision.

Has a dragon ever been mistakenly bonded with a human or elf that it was not intended for? (Galbatorix and Shruikan excluded.)

Christopher Paolini: As Saphira would say: Dragons don’t make mistakes. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be tricked or deceived.

Did Galbatorix have any siblings?

Christopher Paolini: Yes, but they’re all dead now.

Do any mythological creatures exist on Alagaësia that we have yet to encounter?

Christopher Paolini: Technically they’re not mythological, but I do have some interesting new creatures that appear in a certain section of Book Four.

How large is the section of Alagaësia not shown on the known maps?

Christopher Paolini: All of Alagaësia is shown on the known maps. What lies beyond is no longer considered part of Alagaësia. There is quite a bit more to Eragon’s world than we have already seen (such as the various places where the elves, humans, and Urgals originated), but it’s not something I intend to deal with directly in this story.

Have any characters and their growth/individual story lines throughout the series surprised you over the course of writing the books?

Christopher Paolini: Quite a few characters have surprised me. To name but a few: Nasuada, Angela, Eragon, Roran, Arya, Elva, and many others. Angela the herbalist started off as a private joke—since I based her on my sister, Angela—but she ended up becoming one of the most interesting and odd characters in the series. Likewise, I never intended Nasuada to have such a prominent role, but she’s such a strong-willed person, I couldn’t help but give her the spotlight every now and then.

Eragon and Arya’s relationship originally went in a completely different direction in the first draft of Eldest, a direction that, in retrospect, did not adhere to who they were at the time. Fixing that mistake was one of the most painful writing experiences I’ve had.

In many ways, Roran has proven the most surprising. I had a certain fate in mind for him when I began Eragon (which I can’t tell you without ruining the ending of the series), but when I started writing his point of view in Eldest and Brisingr, I realized that my original idea was entirely inappropriate for the person Roran really was. So, I changed it.

I still find it amusing that Roran has turned into the main action hero of the series, at least, as far as sheer daring goes. Again, it’s something that I never planned, but I’ve had great fun playing around with it. I think it’s important for writers to remain open to changes to their stories, even if they think they’ve plotted everything out to the smallest detail. Inspiration can strike at any moment.

Did the original Saphira disgorge her Eldunarí?

Christopher Paolini: No, but I’d rather not go into any more detail at the moment.