May 2009 Monthly Q&A with Christopher Paolini

(Interview transcribed on May 29th, 2009, released on June 1st, 2009)

Questions used in this interview with Christopher Paolini were submitted by fans! We will be taking questions for June’s Q&A some time soon. Keep an eye on the front page of Shur’tugal for your chance to get your question asked!

Mike Macauley: Hello Christopher! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! For those who don’t know, we’ll be doing this once a month toward the end of the month for the foreseeable future (or until we run out of questions!). We received over 200 total entries with the amount of questions coming in at close to 1000!

Christopher Paolini: Wow! That’s a lot of questions.

Mike: Let’s jump right in. The first question: ShadeKing (among many others) asks: Is it possible that we’ll see a chapter written in Murtagh’s point of view? Keeping with the POV theme, Jack asked: Will we be reading through Saphira’s point of view again in the books or was that exclusive to Brisingr?

Christopher: Anything is possible. I will be switching points of view in Book Four, as I did in Brisingr and Eldest. When possible, I try to write from Eragon’s point of view, since he’s the main character, but if he can’t be present at some event, I use Saphira’s POV, and if she’s absent, Roran’s, then Nasuada’s, and so forth.

Mike: Great! Saphira’s POV was a really great addition to Brisingr.

Christopher: Glad you enjoyed it.

Mike: We had lots of Eldunar&#237 questions this time around. Gilderien asks: Will an Eldunarí from a young dragon grow along with the dragon, or will it remain the same as when it was coughed up? Keeping with the Eldunarí theme, Inheripotterfreakish asks: What is the plural of Eldunarí?

Christopher: The plural of “Eldunarí” is, in keeping with the rules of the ancient language, “Eldunarya”.

Christopher: As for whether an Eldunar&#237 will continue to grow after being disgorged: no. And that’s another reason why dragons were reluctant to give up their heart of hearts while they were still young, before they had achieved the main part of their growth.

Mike: After the way it was explained in the book, giving up your Eldunar&#237 sounded like it’s a scary decision to make. Look what happened to all of those who at one point did so and are now an unwilling source of a lot of Galbatorix’s evil.

Christopher: Yes. This is a subject that I will be exploring in greater depth in the next book.

Mike: We’re all looking forward to it. It was a great twist!

Christopher: Thank you. I’ve had the idea for the Eldunar&#237 since the very beginning of the series. It was frustrating knowing about them but not being able to talk about the heart of hearts for almost ten years.

Mike: Funny how it’s gone from the one thing you were burning to write about for ten years to the biggest discussion surrounding the books! Here’s out next question – FlaimBroyld (among many others) asks: Going back to when Eragon and Saphira coaxed the Menoa tree into giving them the Brightsteel – does the momentary pain in Eragon’s stomach have anything (or everything) to do with what the Menoa tree wanted from them?

Christopher: Whatever the Menoa tree did or didn’t do, her plans are as long, intricate, and slow-moving as her consciousness.

Mike: Tricky answer! That’ll have us all thinking for sure.

Christopher: 🙂

Mike: We had a lot of attention given to Brom in this round of questions. Unfortunately I was only able to pick a few questions but this one really stuck out – Gilderien asks: How did Brom defeat Morzan and his dragon? Were there other factors to Brom’s success than his quick thinking? Did he have help from his friends’ dragons’ Eldunar&#237? Could his sword, Undbitr, play any role in Book 4?

Christopher: Brom was a formidable opponent, due to his long study of fighting, both physical and magical. We didn’t see as much of him in the first book as I would have liked, but if Eragon were to spar with him now, he would still lose. Brom was good. It’s not that he was stronger than everyone else, or faster, but that he studied how his enemies thought and behaved and then exploited their weaknesses. As for his various fights with the Forsworn, including Morzan and his dragon, I can’t do justice to them here. I would need to write an entire book about Brom to really explain how and why he prevailed over all but the Ra’zac. Undbitr was lost during the fall of the Riders, and, as far as Eragon knows, no one in Alagaësia has found it.

Mike: Interesting!

Mike: Faolins (among many others) asks: Eragon is Brom’s son and both were Riders; Murtagh is Morzan’s son and both were dragon Riders. Is it common for a Rider’s child to become a Rider as well?

Christopher: It wasn’t that common. Eragon and Murtagh are both fairly exceptional. Dragons like symmetry and balance, and they have a strong sense of poetic justice. Choosing the son of the first Forsworn (Morzan) and the son of Morzan’s greatest enemy (Brom) would have appealed to them a great deal. It may not have been a conscious decision on the part of the baby dragons, but after being around Galbatorix and the Varden for so long, Thorn and Saphira would have acquired a strong, if general, understanding of the most important happenings in the land. This is also why Saphira sometimes seems older than she appears.

Mike: Shouldn’t Thorn have known the consequences of choosing Murtagh as his Rider?

Christopher: After over a hundred years as Galbatorix’s captive, I think that Thorn would have been overjoyed to finally come into contact with someone, anyone, who had a spark of honor and decency in him. Because, whatever else you might say about him, Murtagh, didn’t willingly choose to serve Galbatorix.

Mike: I suppose not, but even if it wasn’t his intent, Thorn hatching for Murtagh has really played right into Galbatorix’s hands (as far as we know, anyway).

Christopher: As far as we know.

Christopher: Also, Thorn was sick of just waiting in his egg for so long.

Mike: Can’t say I’d blame him!

Christopher: He wanted to do something!

Mike: I really liked this next question… it’s definitely one that made me think! Gilderienthewise asks: In Eldest, shortly after the Blood-oath Celebration, Eragon wondered if Oromis resented the fact that the magic exacted the night before did not heal his wounds. Although Eragon “discounted the thought,” thinking that “Oromis would never be so petty,” how did Oromis actually feel?

Christopher: Oromis might have felt a twinge of resentment, but he had already made peace with his condition. Moreover, he would have agreed with the dragons that healing Eragon and giving him the strength of an elf was the best thing to do, given the ongoing struggle against Galbatorix. If the dragons had healed Oromis instead, Eragon wouldn’t have been able to fight for the Varden, because of the pain from his back, whereas Oromis could still be of some use in battle, even with his disability.

Mike: And there was simply no way for the both of them to be healed?

Christopher: To expect two such miracles at once is unrealistic. Also, the dragons don’t always have control of their own magic. They did what they could for Eragon, but it was Eragon, not Oromis, who inspired them to cast the spell they did. I’m sure that they would have helped Oromis if they could have.

Mike: All.Hail.Emperor.Murtagh asks: How can the sapphire in Aren contain so much energy? It was stated in Eldest that the perfect diamonds on the Belt of Beloth the Wise would be saturated after only several days of being given energy. How can one jewel hold so much?

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.

Mike: Well that officially kills one of my bigger theories!

Christopher: Which was?

Christopher: Oh, I remember.

Mike: That Brom’s ring was Saphira’s Eldunar&#237.

Christopher: If it was, Eragon would have sensed that Saphira’s consciousness when he reached into the jewel and saw the vast amount of energy stored therein.

Mike: That makes sense.

Mike: Last question – Guest123 asks: Have half-elves (human/elves or otherwise) ever existed? If so, do any exist now?

Christopher: They 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.

Mike: Interesting answer!

Christopher: 🙂

Mike: That’s all for this round of questions! Thanks for taking everyone’s questions this month and thank you to everyone who submitted questions! We’ll see you again next month!

Christopher: I’m looking forward to it. This was fun! Thanks to everyone for such interesting questions. And as Eragon would say, “May your swords stay sharp!”