Comic-Con Interview with Christopher Paolini – Part 1

The wait is over and part one of our exclusive interview with Christopher Paolini from the 2010 Comic-Con International has finally arrived! We sat down with Christopher and threw nearly every good question we received in an over-thirty-five-minute interview. The interview has been broken into three parts and we are excited to share part one with you now. Part one touches on many great topics, including true names (they’re “serious business”!), Joed, Arya, Solembum’s eyes, floating crystals and dream caves, premonitions and prophecies, Tornac the horse, Oromis, Glaedr, sixth senses, and more! Continue reading for the interview!

Comic-Con Interview Part 1 – Audio:

Questions we asked during part one:

  • Why was Sloan’s true name omitted from the books?
    • Will we never see a true name for a main character?
  • Is “Longshanks” Jeod’s nickname or surname?
  • In Eldest, on page 216, Arya says “the wyrm has bitten its own tail” — what did she mean?
  • Solembum has had multiple eye colors. Was this intentional?
  • Are you able to explain the floating crystal on the island of Eom and the dream well in Mani’s Caves?
    • Do these magical phenomenons have any influence on the dreams that Eragon has had?
  • In the world of Alagaesia, does every premonition or prediction in the books have to come true?
  • What happened to Tornac (the horse) after Murtagh was taken by the Twins?
  • What is an illuminator?
  • Was Orimis and Glaedr’s death scene always planned or a last minute decision?
    • Did it bother Christopher to kill them?
  • Will Eragon’s gedwey ignasia functioning as a warning for incoming danger (or sixth sense) be used again in the books?
  • What would happen if someone discovered Saphira’s true name and ordered her to kill Eragon?

Favorite quote from the interview: “True names are serious business.”

Parts two and three will be posted in the coming days (though not too soon — we’ll keep you updated on Twitter!). Make sure you stay tuned — parts two and three get even better! (Part three answers some burning questions about Christopher’s progress through Book 4!) We hope to release a transcript of part one shortly.

Transcript of Part 1
Remember, you can listen to the actual audio from the interview in the audio player above!

Mike: This was submitted by a bunch of people, no specific name. Why was Sloan’s true name omitted from the books?

Christopher: Because, and I thought about that very carefully, I am not going to give any true names verbatim in the series. And that is because Ursula K. Le Guin used true names in her Wizards of Earthsea series. She wasn’t the first; she’s not the last, it’s a very old concept but in her books she actually gave the true names of her characters. But in my book the problem is when I read them, it felt as if they lost their power being put on a page. Because, when I saw them, they were just names, they were just words. They didn’t feel like they had power, to me. So I tried to omit them, also because I believe the true names of my world actually involve more then just a simple word; it could be a phrase or a paragraph could be your true name. It could be a book. I mean it could be a very involved thing and it would be a rather clunky and obtrusive within the pros to be using something like that all the time.

M: So does that mean we’ll never see a true name in the books?

C: No no, I’m not planning on putting any true names in explicitly although they may be referred to. But I’ll never actually right it out.

M: They have been, I think, before.

C: Yep.

M: This is an interesting one—

C: Besides, also, I don’t want any of the fans to be able to control my characters so, you know…[laughter]

M: A couple people asked, is Longshanks Jeod’s last name—or surname…nickname or surname?

C: It’s a nickname.

M: Okay, that was easy!

C: Just like “Stronghammer” for Roran.

M: Valbrandr94, I think, asked: In Eldest, on page 216, Arya tells Lifaen and Narí: Go to Sílthrim and inform Captain Damítha, ‘that which she once hoped for—and feared—has occurred; the wyrm has bitten its own tail.’ What did she mean?

C: Arya is referring to—and actually that city is Sílthrim [pronunciation], it’s hard to pronounce.

M: I told you I’d get one wrong!

C: Arya was basically sending a slightly coded message to her friend saying that Saphira’s egg had hatched. And that was the reference to what she had feared because Arya’s friend had feared that the egg hatching would upset the balance of power and the world would begin to change again. Elves aren’t really big on change, you know?

M: They live so long…

C: Yeah, they have many positive attributes but enthusiasm for new experiences isn’t always one of them.

M: Now this is a question I had while writing The Inheritance Almanac but it came from a lot of people. Solembum has had multiple eye colors throughout the three books including: black, gold, and red. Is it possible this was an error or do werecats have the ability to change the color of their eyes.

C: The red one is, of course, when his eyes were reflecting light. Like the way animals do, which can make them appear reddish or irridescent. The other thing is that he’s a shape-shifter and you’re asking whether or not his eye color can change. He can change his whole body shape. Solembum’s eyes are a source of infinite mystery and we’re not going to get into why the author chose to change his colors.

M: Fair enough.

M: This is another good one and we could probably count up to a hundred the amount of times we’ve gotten this question. Are you able to explain what the floating crystal on the island of Eoam as well as the dream well in Mani’s caves are? Are you able to explain what they are?

C: I don’t want to go into the specifics but they’re natural manifestations of energy which, in Eragon’s world, people tend to call magic. So magic is, of course, the manipulation of energy through your mental powers, essentially. That’s what the telepathy is and all other forms of magic. And, of course, the spirits in my world are actually conscious beings composed purely of energy. And that’s the approach I took to all the magic in my world. It’s almost a scientific approach, saying it’s manipulation of energy and how that works within the world. So those two examples, and they are not the only ones—I might add, there are other places in Eragon’s world where magic can be found in the wild. They’re extremely dangerous. They’re usually far more powerful in, however they’re manifesting, then any one human magician could ever hope to achieve. And they’re generally better off avoided. The Dream cave as the name applies, is a place you can go and experience extremely vivid, magically dreams of various kinds. Sometimes they’re premonitions, sometimes they’re visions of what could have been. Very strange things happen there.

M: Now does that have any influence on some of the dreams Eragon has had?

C: Eragon’s I know I’ve said premonitions usually only go a short distance in the future but Eragon’s kind of an odd case because he’s in a very, very strange position with regard to what’s happening in the world and who he is and his dreams are happening because: one, he’s become fairly powerful and he’s always been fairly powerful with magic. And two: the world is shifting and that’s why sometimes things tend to leak through occasionally in dreams. Although, I should say that his dreams of Arya were not premonitions. They were current events, essentially scrying but they weren’t premonitions and I think I did say that in Eldest.

M: He did have one dream that hasn’t happened yet.

C: True, but he’s also had several dreams that haven’t happened yet, just in general.

M: Now, this is my question, not in the interview but; In your world, is every premonition, does it have to come true? Though we discussed the elf who killed himself to prove not. But, what happens more often?

C: Well, the majority is most of the time, if you have a premonition what you had a premonition of is what comes to place. Because—again—as I said in the books, if you don’t know how that event is going to end up taking place, there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it. However, if Eragon has a premonition of X—and let’s say X is a battle—he’s not the only player involved in the battle. So if Murtagh, for example, were to do something completely out of character or unexpected, Murtagh could end up changing that premonition. Even if Eragon didn’t consciously. So, people’s fates aren’t set in stone. If there’s a premonition of an event, it’s a strong suggestion that it might happen, but it’s by no means 100% certain.

M: So we should be wary of any premonitions.

C: You should be very wary. I just killed a character in the manuscript, you know.

M: Oh geez…

C: Yeah, very bloodily. There were spikes involved.

M: Well, you left Eragon hanging bloodied off of hooks—

C: Manicles, not hooks!

M: Next question, what happened to Tornac the horse after Murtagh was taken by the twins?

C: No, his horse was left at the Varden. I assume that it would have been appropriated by someone else at the Varden. Eragon didn’t need the horse and even if Eragon had asked for the horse to be cared for for a little while in the hopes that Murtagh might have been found. Of course, in the end, he wouldn’t have. And Eragon still had Snowfire at the time and that, to me seemed like, you know, Eragon didn’t need two horses and he ended up giving Snowfire away to Roran. Ultimately, I think Tornac ended up with someone else in the Varden.

M: Well that was asked by Robert the Rider.

M: This one is from AryaxEragon. In Eldest, Oromis said that Brom came from a family of illuminators. What is an illuminator?

C: An illuminator is someone who illuminates of draws pictures or letters, handmade manuscripts. It’s a very demanding skill and tends to drive people blind, actually. But illuminating is a really wonderful form of art and if anyone is unfamiliar with it, I suggest looking of the Book of Kells**9:06(??) online or the Doomsday book or any other famous illuminated manuscripts. Look at some pictures online, they’re really beautiful.

M: Sonia49 asked: Did you plan to kill off Oromis and Glaedr in Brisingr or was it a last minute snap?

C: I planned to kill them from the very beginning of the series. The only big change was that at the end of when I decided to split the last book into two parts, I had to find a good ending spot for the first half of that, the first volume. And since I was decided to kill the men in any case and I knew they were going to die it seemed like their deaths provided a good stopping place for the first volume and a good jumping off point for the next book.

M: Did it bug you to kill them?

C: Of course it did, but I had to do it.

M: Sal asked: In book 1, the gedwëy ignasia seemed to be able to sense danger coming. Several times, right before being attacked, it would, say Eragon felt a tingling sensation coming from his hand. After book one it was never mentioned again, nor was it explained.

C: You know, it’s funny cause I keep meaning to use that again. And it would happen again, it’s not as if I did forget it. The problem is, ever since book one, Eragon has been mainly been wearing gloves because you wear gloves when you swordfight. And I’ve done some sparring myself and, trust me, you want some gloves. You skin knuckles left and right. So, he wouldn’t see any sort of reaction from the gedwëy ignasia. And as for feeling it, there haven’t really been any situations so far where he’s been in any close quarters danger like that which would have allowed any sort of premonition like that to work. At least the way it works in my head. Like Murtagh showing up in Brisingr to attack the Varden was sort of a long distance thing. Murtagh showing up at a distance and it didn’t seem to me like Eragon’s, perhaps little bit of sixth sense, would have worked like that. But it will show up in the last book.

M: That’s quite a useful tool.

C: Yeah, it’s little bit of a spider sense, there.

M: This is a good question, I like this one. Du Súndavar Freohr—

C: Du Súndavar Freohr [pronunciation]!

M: You’re good! [Du Súndavar Freohr] asks: What would happen if someone discovered Saphira’s true name and ordered her to kill Eragon, would their bond take precident over her true name or would she have to kill him?

C: She’d would have to kill him.

M: Whoa.

C: Yes, true names are serious business.

M: Well, that was a good answer—or quick answer.

C: Or she might go to kill him with the intention of killing him and just quick accidentally trip and break her neck. Which she would have the wiggle room to do. But she would have to be on the way to kill him.

A note about Eragon hanging in those manacles: Christopher mentioned that to us in the Suvudu interview, which was taped right before ours, so there doesn’t seem to be any context.