November 2009 Monthly Q&A with Christopher Paolini

(Interview released November 12, 2009)

WildLaura asked: If one vows themselves in the ancient language to multiple people, what would happen if said person were to receive orders that contradicted?

Christopher Paolini: Hmm, I’m not sure. Probably your head would explode. Either that, or you would find yourself incapacitated, unable to follow any of the orders, but also unable to relax and do anything else.

Lots of people asked: Will Vanir make reappearance in Book IV? And how do you feel about the attention this character has received since his debut? Was it intended?

Christopher Paolini: Has he received a lot of attention? I didn’t realize. I miss a lot of message board discussions because I don’t spend too much time online. Vanir may very well appear in Book IV, but more than that I won’t say. He was a fun character to write; I liked having someone who could sneer at Eragon and point out what I thought were the rather obvious problems of having a (then) injured human Rider pitted against Galbatorix.

Caedus asked: In Eragon, the Twins ask Eragon to summon the essence of silver. Could Eragon have done it? If not, could he do it now?

Christopher Paolini: No, Eragon couldn’t have done it then. As for whether he can now . . . again, you’ll have to wait until the next book to find out.

ShrrgRider asked: If dragon riders were immortal, and were so powerful, then how did the first riders die? Are there diseases that dragons could catch, or that couldn’t be healed, that killed off the eldest of the riders?

Christopher Paolini: There are a few degenerative diseases that even the Riders were unable to heal, such as the one that afflicted Oromis. However, since they were always putting themselves in dangerous situations, Riders often tended to die violent deaths at the hands of others. Or they lived so long that, like some of the elves, they decided to pass into the void of their own accord. And the few that survived disease, battle, accidents, and ennui ultimately met their end at the hands of Galbatorix and the Forsworn.

ShrrgRider asked: Galbatorix’s first dragon was killed by a stray arrow, but Galbatorix had already finished his training, so he would be competent in the use of wards. Since wards can lie dormant practically forever until they are activated, why wouldn’t his wards have protected his dragon from arrows?

Christopher Paolini: Most arrows, yes. But Urgals can use magic as well. Galbatorix had placed wards around his dragon—which is one reason he was so overconfident, and is also why he didn’t take greater care to shield her during the battle. However, the arrow that killed Jarnunvösk had been enchanted by an Urgal shaman, and even Galbatorix’s spells could not deflect it.

Fireswordshurtugalalfakyn asked: Why does Eragon’s gedwëy ignasia shine from time to time? Does this happen to all dragon riders? Why it is easier for dragon riders to “release” their magic from the hand with the gedwëy ignasia?

Christopher Paolini: No one is quite sure why it’s easier for a Rider to funnel energy through whichever hand bears the gedwëy ignasia, although it has been postulated that the effect is somehow caused by the binding spell that joins dragons to their Riders. As for the glow, again, it’s a slightly mysterious phenomenon; some elves believe it’s a manifestation of excess energy dissipating through the skin. Whatever the case may be, one should never be surprised by the things that happen around dragons.

Lots of people asked: Why was Durza’s sword reputed as such a great weapon? How does it compare to a rider’s sword?

Christopher Paolini: It wasn’t as tough or durable as one of Rhunön’s swords (after all, Ajihad did manage to scratch the blade), but it was certainly better than most ordinary swords, for the spirits controlling Durza could strengthen the weapon with energy from within themselves, thus allowing Durza to cut through objects that would have otherwise been impervious to a steel edge.

Stephen Turton asked: There are golden griffin statues outside of Tronjheim. Were there ever real griffins in Alagaësia?

Christopher Paolini: Nope. Surprising as it may seem, even the people of Alagaësia believe in some mythical creatures.

Chris Addison asked: In our last interview, you mentioned the werecat’s shape shifting ability and how it is similar to the “instinctual magic that Saphira uses.” How do they do it?

Christopher Paolini: They just choose to do it. Werecats (like ordinary cats) do whatever they want to whenever they want to. And if that includes changing shape, why then, they’re not going to let anything as pesky as the laws of nature get in their way. In fact, if a werecat wanted to turn into an equivalently-sized dragon, I’m absolutely convinced that he or she could. They just don’t want to. After all, who would want to be covered in thousands of hard, pointy scales when you already have a beautiful shiny pelt that is the envy of the world?

By the way, if anyone wants to see what I think a werecat looks like (give or take a few minor details) just do an online search for the name Caracal.