“Big Twenty” – Let’s Talk Book Five: Everything We Know About a Potential Fifth Book

Christopher Paolini has confirmed that he will, one day, re-visit Alagaesia. This means that we can expect a “fifth book”, but one that is a standalone book to the series. This is a topic we discuss on our “Book 5 and Beyond – Prequels, Stand-alones, and More” page — but it’s one we need to dive into with greater depth. Who would the story follow? When will the story take place? Who is the bad guy (or bad guys)? Christopher has admitted to leaving us clues throughout the current books — and we’ve picked apart those clues to assemble a pretty good look at what we can expect from a potential fifth book!

Christopher Paolini Confirmed a Fifth Book?

Now before you get all excited – the Inheritance Cycle ends with Inheritance (Book 4). That’s it. The series is over. With that said… yes, Christopher has confirmed a potential Book 5, but any additional books will function as stand-alone novels in the Inheritance universe. Think of them as you think of Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia: it’s a book within Alagaesia, but it isn’t part of the main series. (Note: Book 5 won’t be a picture book.)

Christopher makes no secret of his desire to revisit the world of Alagaesia in the future. In fact, the author has revealed to fans that he’s laid the groundwork for future novels within the current books – most likely Brisingr and Inheritance – and that fans who look hard enough may discover clues revealing what we should expect from Book 5 and beyond.

As we mentioned in a past Big Twenty article, fans reading through Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia may also find a cache of sweet treats detailing “life after Book 4” for our favorite characters. But Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia reveals a bit more than that: it tells us that yes, there will be another Rider after Book 4… and yes, there will be another (or an altered) bad guy.

Take Heed: Disclaimers and Warnings

Before we jump into the meat of things, it’s fair to clarify a few key points. First: this article is pure speculation, working off of the confirmed facts and book information we know and combining this information with theories, ideas, and a douse of insanity. Nothing in this article which speculates about Book 5 should be construed as fact. In fact (get it?), unless we specifically state that “Christopher has said” or “Christopher has confirmed”, you should assume it’s hypothetical discussion.

Second, and perhaps even more important: Christopher will be taking a break from Alagaesia before returning. Whenever Christopher mentions or discusses potential future Alagaesia-based novels, it’s with a caveat: this is not one-hundred-percent set-in-stone, and these will not be written right away. Christopher has said that he has several non-Inheritance stories he would like to tell, and after spending over a decade writing stories in the same universe… well, we can’t blame Christopher for wanting a break!

Let’s Break This Down: Things to Consider

When attempting to wrap our heads around Book 5 and beyond, we asked ourselves several major questions:

  • Storyline – Who will a fifth book follow?
  • Timeline – When does the fifth book take place?
  • Bad guy – Who happens to be messin’ stuff up?
  • Clues – What clues?

We feel that the above questions will offer us a relatively sound understanding – or at least, fleeting idea – of how Book 5 will play out. Let’s break each one down, exploring all possibilities, theories, and more. Plus, true to our nature – we’re going to include some outlandish and humorous possibilities, if not for any reason other than fun!

Storyline – Who will a fifth book follow?

A book needs main characters, of course! It’s safe to say that we have a few decent contenders here, but in the end we’re pretty sure who the book will follow.

Your first thought may be: Eragon and Saphira, of course! But we feel that thought would be wrong. Eragon and Saphira are fantastic characters who we have had the pleasure of adventuring with for many years now, but no one can deny that they’ve had their run. Once their work in Book 4 is complete, they’ll want to retire. Now, we’re not saying they’ll actually retire, but the characters as main protagonists will need a rest. Readers love them, yes, but readers will also want to see new characters, new stories, new emotions, new conflicts. Because of this we feel that Eragon and Saphira’s days of being main characters in a story will end with Inheritance (Book 4).

Tenga, Angela, Solebum, or a combination of the three – now here’s a possibility for you! It’s highly unlikely but also incredibly fun to consider. Christopher has teased that readers will have some great face time with Angela in Book 4. Could this face time set the stage for a potential appearance as a main character in Book 5? Christopher has also hinted that he has inserted plot threads for a potential Book 5 within the story… Tenga made a mysterious and brief appearance in Brisingr, one which could be construed as being a lead-in to a larger role in a future novel. This role certainly could play out in Book 4, but it’s worth considering that this role may very well be a prominent role in Book 5 as well. As for Solembum… well, we know he follows Angela around, so if she’s a main character, so too is he. Verdict: possible, but unlikely.

Elva – fans enjoy pondering Elva as her own story. It’d be interesting, no doubt, but we’re not sure the character of Elva has enough depth or established story in the books to warrant her own tale. There’s no denying that Elva is a fun, unique, exciting, and interesting plot device in Eldest, Brisingr, and hopefully Book 4. But her role is constantly limited to “assistant of whomever”. The character always seems dependent on others, like a plot leech (though the good kind, not the bad)… and we can’t see her parting from the characters she relies on to be the main act in her own adventure. Verdict: not happening.

Mysterious wandering women – This is almost too easy. Of course it’s them! Well, obviously it isn’t confirmed, but it just seems very obvious. We learn that they are important… important enough for them to get some face time with some of Alagaesia’s most powerful people before leaving, destined for greatness. We learn that they are one of few who Angela has ever deemed worthy of casting dragon bones for. Come on, if that isn’t a dead giveaway, we aren’t sure what is!

Just who are these two women we’re discussing? Take a look at these excerpts from Brisingr:

Opposite Angela sat a tall woman with broad shoulders; tanned, weather- beaten skin; black hair braided in a long, thick rope down her back; and a face that was still handsome despite the hard lines that the years had carved around her mouth. She wore a russet dress that had been made for a shorter woman; her wrists stuck out several inches from the ends of her sleeves. She had tied a strip of dark cloth around each wrist, but the strip on the left had loosened and slipped toward her elbow. Eragon saw thick layers of scars where it had been. They were the sort of scars one could only get from the constant chafing of manacles. At some point, he realized, she had been captured by her enemies, and she had fought—fought until she had torn open her wrists to the bone, if her scars were anything to judge by. He wondered whether she had been a criminal or a slave, and he felt his countenance darken as he considered the thought of someone being so cruel as to allow such harm to befall a prisoner under his control, even if it was self- inflicted.

Next to the woman was a serious- looking teenage girl just entering into the full bloom of her adult beauty. The muscles of her forearms were unusually large, as if she had been an apprentice to a smith or a swordsman, which was highly improbable for a girl, no matter how strong she might be.

With a single motion, Angela gathered up the knucklebones in the leather square and tucked them under the yellow sash at her waist. Standing, she flashed Eragon and Saphira a brilliant smile. “My, you both have the most impeccable sense of timing. You always seem to turn up whenever the drop spindle of fate begins to spin.”

Verdict: very likely.

New Dragon Rider – We feel this option has very little possibility as the entire premise of the Inheritance Cycle was readers following Eragon and Saphira, new and inexperienced dragon and Rider, as they learn, mature, and fight bad guys. We’ve experienced that story now. Following a new dragon and Rider down the same path would be interesting, but it’d also feel a bit as though we are reading the same story. Verdict: unlikely.

Timeline – When does the fifth book take place?

It’s safe to say that Book 5 won’t pick up exactly where Inheritance (Book 4) leaves off. By separating the fifth book from the series and making it a stand-alone novel, Christopher will want to pull the two apart. The easiest way for a storyteller to do this is to allow some time to pass in between books. Christopher will want to show how Alagaesia has progressed; how have the characters, races, and Alagaesia as a whole recovered and bettered themselves since the events at the end of Book 4? What’s different? What’s new? The only way to answer these questions without writing the book in question and answer form would be to allow the story to naturally answer these question on its own by setting the book in the future. As we experience the book through the eyes of its protagonist(s), questions will be answered.

Verdict: there will be time between the end of Book 4 and the start of Book 5.

Alternatively, if the story follows the mysterious women, we may find Book 5 picking up where we left them in Brisingr – meaning that the stories would intertwine, all revolving around the same time period as Book 4 (and potentially running beyond, depending on the length of Book 5). This scenario seems a bit less likely due what we interpret as a desire to tell a new story – and the lack of “bad guys” we’ve heard of during Brisingr/Book 4 which the women would tackle. It’s safe to assume they won’t be responsible for Galbatorix’s death if they are the focal point of Book 5, as they would then be major characters in Book 4.

Bad guy – Who happens to be messin’ stuff up?

There’s always a bad guy in a fantasy adventure story, right? Well, almost always… often enough that it’s a safe bet that we’ll see a new bad guy in Book 5. Oh, that and the confirmation of a new bad guy in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia.

We have a few options here, the first being the most obvious: Galbatorix. We have no idea what will happen to Galbatorix in Book 4, but the most likely (and our personal favorite) scenario is that he dies, hopefully painfully. However it is possible that Galbatorix could flee or survive on in another form. This means that Galbatorix could be a future bad guy, either after having fled or in a new form. Verdict: unlikely.

The second obvious answer would be a Shade, however it’s almost safe to say that we’ve graduated beyond Shades being the big bad guys – especially if our heroes were able to defeat Galbatorix. Yes, Shades are powerful. Yes, Shades are one of the most feared beings on Alagaesia. But… we’ve killed two now. We’re over that.

However, imagine a Shade Rider. Or a Shade dragon. Or a Shade rabbit. All are possible, but very unlikely – and unlikely is our favorite verdict so far!

Most plausible is the “unnamed shadow” mentioned in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia. We know that this being is scary and powerful – strong enough to have Eragon leaving Glaedr’s Eldunari behind to watch over and protect the young Rider and dragon.

We also need to consider that Christopher took story time in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia to mention this “unnamed shadow”, and to stress to the reader that it is feared, it is strong, and we are to remain vigilant for it. Christopher’s inclusion of this new baddie seems too deliberate to ignore its role as the bad guy in a potential Book 5. After all, Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia takes place after the events in Book 4 (which we explored previously), which would mean this unnamed shadow is stalking Alagaesia during the same timeframe that we anticipate Book 5 to take place in. Coincidence? We think not! Verdict: very likely.

Clues – What clues?

We think the strongest set of clues this far are:

  • Tenga – We hardly met him, yet he was instantly established as powerful and potentially important
  • Wandering women – We hardly met them as well, but Angela, Solembum, Eragon and Saphira all instantly recognize their importance now and in the future
  • More Dragon Riders – As we explored in last week’s article, we know there will be at least one new Dragon Rider
  • An unnamed shadow – Also from last week, Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia names a new bad guy

We also asked Shur’tugal fans on Facebook which clues they think are hidden in the Cycle and how Book 5 will play out. Here are some of our favorite answers:

  • Brittany B: “I think there could possibly be a ‘sequel’ of sorts focusing on the two mysterious women from Brisingr who Eragon blessed. Of course, that is if they don’t play a larger role in the fourth book…”
  • Brandi S: “I’m leaning toward a story for Angela. She is always were something interesting is happening so it could also include the 2 she read the bones for, the predictions made by the werecat and the future raising and training Elva.”
  • Amber W: “I think it will follow Roran…”
  • Luke M: “If there’s going to be a fifth and separate book after the events of ‘Inheritance’, it’s not going to follow Eragon. Characters like Tenga or the two Eragon blessed are far more likely”
  • Cam M: “If there is a Book 5, it could simply be where Eragon has left Alagaesia as predicted and him settling into the new place.”

Our Favorite Scenarios

New heroes and new bad guys – We’re almost positive that Galbatorix will be defeated, freeing Alagaesia from oppression. We think Eragon and Saphira will have a large role to play, but when we hit the words “THE END” at the end of Book 4, we’ll be leaving Eragon and Saphira as main characters for good.

We believe that Book 5 will take place in the future, leaving a good time gap between Book 4 and Book 5, allowing Alagaesia to re-grow and progress from where it was at the end of Book 4. We believe that Book 5 will introduce us to new main characters, though we’re sure we’ve met them before. Our belief is that the two wandering women will play a large role in this book, perhaps even as main characters.

Lastly, we believe that Galbatorix’s defeat means that he is gone for good as the bad guy. Our best guess for new bad guy is the “unnamed shadow”, for reasons we explored above. We believe the new Dragon and Rider mentioned in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaesia will play a role in Book 5, though their exact role will not be as a main character.

Murtagh: Life After Galbatorix – Unlikely, but fun to ponder. What if Murtagh survives Galbatorix’s defeat? The Varden, realizing Murtagh’s role in Galbatorix’s regime was not entirely voluntary, spares his life but exiles him from the new nation they are forming. The story could explore the fan-favorite character as he starts a new life, finds new adventures, and rebuilds all that was personally destroyed by Galbatorix. Interesting… but unlikely.

The Adventures of Angela and Solembum – Mushrooms! Riddles! Poisons! Trickery! There’s no denying that these two would make quite the unique story. Full of humor, half-truths, constant questioning… there’s no doubt it’d be fun – and bizarre – to read a Book 5 featuring these two at the helm. Unlikely, yes – but you know you’d read it!

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you believe Book 5 will play out? What is your ultimate scenario?
  • What clues do you think Christopher has hidden in the books pointing to Book 5?
  • Would you prefer the story be left alone after Book 4, or are you glad Christopher may one day revisit Alagaesia?