Vroengard Island has always been a place of legend amongst those who have lived in the shadows of the Fall of the Riders. Before Eragon, Saphira, and Glaedr traveled to the island in search of the Vault of Souls, few had visited in the one hundred years after the bloody battle and destruction of the Riders’ capital, Doru Araeba.
It took nearly four books for fans to get a glimpse of this once-majestic island, but when the time came in the Inheritance chapter “Amid the Ruins”, fans were not disappointed. Christopher beautifully described the ruins of Doru Araeba and the way the land had reclaimed the area in the years since the Fall.
DeviantArt artist Bethany Thomasson, also known as “Pilgrimwanders”, brought the moment of discovery to life in a piece of fan art:
The thick gray clouds parted, and from his place on Saphira’s back, Eragon beheld the interior of Vroengard Island.
Before them was a huge bowl-shaped valley, encircled by the steep mountains they had seen poking through the tops of the clouds. A dense forest of spruce, pine, and fir trees blanketed the sides of the mountains as well as the foothills below, like an army of prickly soldiers marching down from the peaks. The trees were tall and mournful, and even from a distance Eragon could see the beards of moss and lichen that hung from their heavy branches. Scraps of white mist clung to the sides of the mountains, and in several places throughout the valley, diffuse curtains of rains drifted from the ceiling of clouds.
High above the valley floor, Eragon could see a number of stone structures among the trees: tumbled, overgrown entrances to caves; the husks of burnt-out towers; grand halls with collapsed roofs; and a few smaller buildings that looked as if they might still be habitable.
A dozen or more rivers flowed out of the mountains and wandered across the verdant ground until they poured into a large, still lake near the center of the valley. Around the lake lay the remnants of the Riders’ city, Doru Araeba. The buildings were immense – great empty halls of such enormous proportions that many could have encompassed the whole of Carvahall. Every door was like the mouth to a vast, unexplored cavern. Every window was as tall and wide as a castle gate, and every wall was a sheer cliff.
Thick mats of ivy strangled the blocks of stone, and where there was no ivy there was moss, which meant that the buildings blended into the landscape and looked as if they had grown out of the earth itself. What little of the stone was bare tended to be a pale ocher, although patches of red, brown, and dusky blue were also visible.
Almost all the buildings were damaged, some more severely than others. The damage seemed to radiate outward from a single point near the southern edge of the city, where a wide crater sank more than thirty feet into the ground. A copse of birch trees had taken root in the depression, and their silvery leaves shook in the gusts of the directionless breeze.
The open areas within the city were overgrown with weeds and brush, while a fringe of grass surrounded each of the flagstones that formed the streets.Where the buildings had sheltered the Riders’ gardens from the blast that had ravaged the city, dull-colored flowers still grew in artful designs, their shapes no doubt governed by the dictates of some long-forgotten spell.
Altogether, the circular valley presented a dismal picture.
– “Amid the Ruins”, Inheritance