Who is the dragon on the cover and which story does he belong to? And is that Helgrind?!

Naturally, the first thing to draw our eyes as we looked at the cover of The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm is the dark dragon wrapped around a mysterious mountain. After taking in the title, one big question popped into our heads: “That can’t be Shruikan, can it?” And sure enough, it isn’t! Christopher confirmed that Shruikan had ice-blue eyes. [S]

So who is it? Well, we’re going to try to figure that out, as well as which story it we’ll encounter it in. But first we’ll be taking a detour to take a closer look at that interesting land formation the dragon is wrapped around…

Is that Helgrind?!

Before we dive into the mysterious dragon, we need to address another key part of the illustration: that land formation sure looks like familiar…

Christopher’s inspiration for the Helgrind, center of worship for a disturbing religion and hideout of the Ra’zac was Shiprock, a massive land formation in New Mexico. In the books, Helgrind is described as a mile high land formation topped by four peaks. Let’s look at the cover side-by-side with a photo of Shiprock:

Definitely not concrete evidence, but it’s similar enough for us to lean more toward “it’s Helgrind.” This theory will be featured later in our article. (We’ll have to wait for the book to find out for sure!)

With that out of the way, let’s dive into which story the dragon belongs to!

Worm = Dragon

We’ll start with an explanation of the word “worm” – here, Christopher means “dragon.” Wikipedia explains that the English word ‘worm’ derives from Old Norse orm and Anglo-Saxon wyrm, meaning ‘serpent’ or ‘dragon’. When presented with this, the author confirmed that we’re right. His response: “Bingo. Big badda dragon.” (That eliminates any theories about the creature being a serpent rather than a dragon.)

So “worm” means “dragon,” one of the book’s three stories is about a dragon, and there’s a massive black dragon on the cover. Its red eyes seem ominous, but we won’t jump to any conclusions (yet). Using the trees for scale, this thing is massive. If it’s still alive, it’s most certainly existing outside of the Alagaësia lands we know.

Which stories can we eliminate?

Eragon’s adventure (the narrative framing the three stories): Eragon’s adventures are described as including wrangling the responsibilities required of him at where he and Saphira settled to begin building their dragonhold. The synopsis does mention unexpected visitors, but that seems more likely to reference, say, Angela and Solembum? Known guests. The Eldunari share a vision with him, but it seems odd that the vision would be of a massive black dragon. (Then again, they could have sensed this wild dragon nearby?) We’re calling this one highly unlikely.

Murtagh’s story (“The Fork”): This story title is a reference to a fork Murtagh enchanted. This story takes place in the present. Sure, Murtagh flew to lands unknown at the end of Inheritance, but we think it’d be too far to go by saying that he and Thorn flew far enough that they encountered this massive that had yet to be discovered. And the duo might be powerful, but are they enough to take on a mountain-sized dragon? We’re completely eliminating this one.

Part of Angela’s memoire (“The Witch”): Where do we even start? Is it even possible to predict anything about Angela? A memoir? It could be anything! A recent photo shared that her story/memoir is titled “On the Nature of Stars.” Not “The Nature of Massive Black Dragons of Death”. Angela is mysterious, ancient, and possibly all-knowing. This could be a dragon she saw or encountered years ago. It could be a dragon she sees in the future (because we wouldn’t be shocked if Angela can see or even travel to the future). But the “Nature of Stars”? Hmm… We’re calling this one highly unlikely.

So where does it fit?

Part of the third short story (“The Worm”): This, for us, seems most likely. Why? In this case, “worm” means “dragon,” and there’s a massive black dragon on the cover of a book which is (not coincidentally?) partially named “dragon.” Given this, we’re going to move forward believing that this dragon belongs to the “Worm” part of the book. When asked about the book’s timeline, Christopher said it takes place “after the Inheritance Cycle. . . . Sorta. It’s complicated.” If the “Worm” part of the book also takes place in the present, it’ll be an adventure outside of any land we have yet to explore. Christopher also shared that we can expect to visit “lots of new locations”.

The Urgal legend: The synopsis mentions an Urgal legend. In this context, “legend” very likely refers to a story passed down referencing events far in the past – possibly even myths – and it’s possible a dragon could be a part of that. Definitely not a concrete fit, though. An Urgal legend would likely be about Urgals, right?

Our guesses

First, we’ll say that we believe the land formation on the book’s cover is Helgrind. If that’s the case, this event takes place in the past or future (because there’s no way there’s a mountain-sized dragon has suddenly appeared in the middle of Alagaësia in the year between the end of Inheritance and start of The Fork, the Witch, and The Worm). That part of our theory only holds up if the formation proves to be Helgrind, because it eliminates Eragon’s adventures and Murtagh’s “Fork,” as both are believed to take place in the present.

As for which story we think it belongs to: The Worm (a.k.a. “The Dragon”). It seems unlikely to be a part of Angela’s “On the Nature of Stars” memoir. We’re narrowing our theory down to “The Worm” taking place in the past (future visions such as this seem unlikely in the context of this book). Beyond that, we don’t really know – and the mystery is half the fun!

Is this a dragon from Alagaësia’s history, a wild dragon from lands unknown, an experience from Angela’s future, or a part of the Eldunari’s vision? We’d love to hear your thoughts!