Inheritance, the final book in the Inheritance Cycle, released to fans in November of 2011, ending the four book story of the characters we came to know and love over the course of the series’ eight year run. Although Christopher has stated that he plans to revisit the world of Alagaesia in a fifth book (not a part of the original series, but released as a standalone) and possible prequel, the final pages of Inheritance were the true ending of the series.
Christopher’s first major interview following the series’ ending was with Shur’tugal in early December, 2011. It was perhaps the biggest interview we have ever done, and the fans seemed to agree – the post attracted 700 reader comments in the first two weeks. The interviewed tackled all of the book’s hot topics, including how the ending (with Eragon and Saphira leaving Alagaesia and Arya remaining behind) evolved over time, why Arya chose to be queen, returning to a potential Eragon and Arya relationship, Murtagh and Nasuada’s relationship, and Roran not becoming king.
While the interview is now almost three years old, it remains the most telling and pertinent post-Inheritance interview. Its information and answers are still the best we have to go off of following the Inheritance Cycle’s ending.
We’ve highlighted some of the best content from that interview below.
On how the ending evolved: From Eragon and Arya getting together, Roran becoming king, and Queen Islanzadí surviving to the ending we now know
Mike Macauley: Did you always plan to end the series the way you did, with Eragon leaving Alagaesia with Saphira and Arya staying behind?
Christopher Paolini: The ending evolved as I wrote the story. Originally, Eragon and Arya were to leave together, Roran was going to become king, and Queen Islanzadí — well, at first I was going to kill her, then I decided to let her live, and then I decided that if Arya was to stay, Islanzadí had to die after all.
MM: What caused the major shift in thinking?
CP: Basically, I realized that the characters weren’t the people I thought they were back when I was fifteen, and that if I forced Eragon and Arya together (and it would be forcing them) I would end up breaking Arya’s character. I wrote a big chunk of Inheritance thinking that she and Eragon would be together. However the scenes between them, scenes where they were rather openly flirting, just did not work. Essentially, I was writing Arya the way that Eragon *wanted* her to be, not the way that she actually was. So, I cut back on the flirting. When I did that, I realized that it made no sense for Arya to suddenly turn on a dime at the end and leap into Eragon’s arms. If she did, it would seem as if she was only doing it for the sake of the dragons, not for Eragon, and Eragon himself would have noticed this. It would have left a very bitter taste in peoples’ mouths, I think.
MM: That’s always been my argument. When reading, we experienced a strong, independent character struggle through the death of her companion (and potentially more), constantly denying Eragon’s advances… then to turn on that and run away with him? I’m all for happy endings, but I truly feel that would have not felt proper for Arya.
CP: Originally, my idea was that Eragon’s exposure to the Eldunarí in Vroengard would mature him so quickly (sort of like what happened to him physically during the Blood-oath Celebration) that when he returned, Arya would see that he was now grown up and would be willing to have a relationship with him. However, doing that was too big a shift in Eragon’s character. When I wrote those scenes, I realized that even if the Eldunarí exposed him to all of the wisdom of the ages, it would still take him years, if not decades, to understand it all. The thing to keep in mind is that though the series is over, Eragon and Arya’s story will continue. They’re going to live for a very long time, and their relationship is far from over.
Eragon and Arya together isn’t completely out of the question in future books, and we WILL see them again
MM: Do you ever see yourself returning to Eragon and Arya’s story, possibly giving the hope of having a story with them together, or is that something that will solely be up to the imaginations of your readers?
CP: I have a number of other stories set within Alagaësia that I hope to write. Some of them feature main characters from the Inheritance cycle, others do not. However, I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that we will see Eragon and Arya again at some point.
Plot threads for future books… and there are seven books planned, one of which is a series
MM: Reading through Inheritance, paths and clues for future books are fairly evident. We know that you’re interested in some day writing a prequel story featuring Brom. However, we also know now (as you confirmed through Twitter) that the “two mysterious women” from Brisingr (who made a re-appearance with a third party member in Inheritance) are the main characters of their own story. Aside from these two potential tales, do you have any other stories planned?
CP: Heh. Those are actually two of the *smaller* stories I have planned. The main one (a potential book five) involves something else entirely. At last count, I believe I have around seven more stories set in Alagaësia — and one of those is in fact a series.
MM: You may be apprehensive to give any sort of timeframe for this, but aside from a Deluxe Edition of Inheritance (which we’ll get to in a bit), do you have any idea how soon (or far away) your return to Alagaesia may be?
CP: It won’t be the next thing I do. That much I know for certain. However, beyond that, it’ll really depend on how I feel. I won’t wait too long, but at the same time, I very much want to try my hand at some other stories. As much as I love Alagaësia, it’s not the only world or story that exists in my imagination.
The interview itself is incredibly long and contains a wide variety of information and answers pertaining to Inheritance as well as the future of Alagaesia. You can read the entire interview here.