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In the Beginning: A History of Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr
Count the number of sentences on this page that begin with the word "And." The repetitive structure gives the chapter a poetic feel, making the subject matter seem more dramatic.
How is saying "five-and-ten" different from saying "fifteen"? Listing numbers in this old-fashioned way adds a sense of formality and contributes to the dramatic style of the chapter.
What obstacle(s) must Eragon and Saphira overcome in order to vanquish Galbatorix?
Into the Breach
"Inheritance" is the last in the four-book series referred to as "The Inheritance Cycle." Published in 2011, "Inheritance" sold over a half million copies on the first day it was released, topping the best seller lists. The series's popularity among fantasy readers is due, in large part, to the vivid mixture of imaginary and historical details that bring the world of Alagaësia to life. An avid fantasy reader himself, Author Christopher Paolini enriched his books with his expertise in ancient legends, medieval warfare, and dragon lore. (This annotation contains an image)
What do Eragon and Arya's interactions in battle reveal about their relationship?
This castle diagram may help you identify some of the terms used in the description of the Varden's attack. (This annotation contains an image)
Blödhgarm is the leader of the twelve elves sent by the elf queen, Islanzadí, to protect Eragon and Saphira. Blödhgarm has used elf magic to modify his appearance so that he is covered in blue fur, has fangs, and sees through bright yellow eyes. (This annotation contains an image)
Similar to a spear, a lance has a long handle with a pointed end. A barbed blade has sharp points projecting backward designed to cause damage when the blade is pulled out. (This annotation contains an image)
In the previous book, "Brisingr," Eragon and Arya learned the source of Galbatorix's immense magical power. Galbatorix stole as many Eldunarí, or dragon hearts, as possible. In these special hearts reside the spirits and the magical power of each dragon. Though their bodies are gone, their magic and consciousness remain.
The Dauthdaert's power lies in the fact that it
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to help you choose the best synonym (same meaning) below for the word precarious.
Within only the first chapter, Saphira has been dangerously wounded and Roran's life hangs in the balance. This dramatic opening is an example of "in medias res." Watch the video below for an explanation of this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
Glaedr is still overwhelmed by grief following the death of his Rider, Oromis.
By opening the novel in medias res, what does the author accomplish?
Since the crisis, or central ordeal, is the point at which the hero conquers the main source of evil in his society, what will be the central ordeal in Inheritance?
Both Eragon and Roran are hugely heroic characters in this series. Although they have different personalities and strengths, they both fit a pattern common to many heroes. Watch the video below to learn about the pattern known as the hero's journey. (This annotation contains a video)
Shadows on the Horizon
Why is Eragon relieved when he only has to kill three of the guards?
Lord Bradburn's outburst against the elves and Urgals emphasizes an important problem in Alagaësia. Although warriors from most of the races of Alagaësia have come together to fight Galbatorix, many of the individuals within the land do not approve and hold strong prejudices against one another.
A common element of fantasy stories is that they tend to take place in a pre-industrialized society. The castle setting, the old-fashioned fighting methods, and the healers instead of doctors are all indicators of this primitive setting.
In this instance, a "standard" means a flag or symbol that represents a country or military unit. (This annotation contains an image)
Angela's character is something of a mystery throughout the series. Although she is an herbalist, she is also a witch who trained under the elf, Tenga. Angela has a companion named Solembum who is a werecat. As depicted below, Solembum can take the form of either a cat or a human boy. (This annotation contains an image)
The humans, elves, dwarves, and Urgals have all been supporting the war against Galbatorix for months. Why have the werecats decided to join them at this late date?
Eragon's physical ability to view the world from above is symbolic of his role as a Rider. Riders are supposed to be above the petty disagreements between people, see all points of view, and work to unite all of Alagaësia in peace. (This annotation contains an image)
Memories of the Dead
What does Eragon's discussion of Brom and Murtagh reveal?
"Deloi sharjalví" means "Earth, move!" If you are looking for more translations of words spoken in the Alagaësian languages, you can find them in the back of the book. Click on the "C" in the upper left, then scroll to the bottom of the chapter list and select the "Pronunciation Guide and Glossary."
Based on this passage, how does Eragon feel about Arya?
What Is a Man?
The three diamonds that mark the end of the previous chapter indicate a change in location, time, or point of view. In this case, the point of view has changed to convey Roran's thoughts and feelings. Watch the video below to determine the name for this point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the point of view of this chapter?
One important theme throughout the Eragon series is the importance of freedom. The characters fighting on the side of goodness value both freedom of body and freedom of mind and conscience.
Descriptions in "Inheritance" are often enhanced by the use of figurative language. In keeping with the old-fashioned setting of the story, much of the figurative language contains comparisons to natural objects that would have been commonly recognized in a pre-industrial society (such as tortoise shells). The video below will help you identify more types of figurative language as you continue reading. (This annotation contains a video)
This chapter explores Roran's concept of what it means to be a man (note the chapter title). Which quality below does Roran seem to value the most?
The Price of Power
The Trial of the Long Knives is a cultural ceremony among the Wandering Tribes to see who can endure more self-inflicted knife wounds. Nasuada bested her tribesman Fadawar and thus secured her position as commander of the Varden. After the trial, Nasuada cut the sleeves off her gowns to prominently display her bandaged arms. (This annotation contains an image)
Nasuada's arms are symbolic of her character, as is Roran's hammer. Nasuda's arms represent her courage and dedication; Roran's hammer represents his strength. Watch the video below for further information on symbols and be on the lookout for more as you continue reading. (This annotation contains a video)
Which rewording below best paraphrases the highlighted line? Use the dictionary feature to help you if need be.
The Du Vrangr Gata are a group of spellcasters working for the Varden.
The Varden's current location in Belatona is marked with a red dot. The city of Dras-Leona lies to the north, while the country of Surda lies to the south. (This annotation contains an image)
What seems to be the relationship between Nasuada and King Orrin?
Rudely into the Light …
As Eragon embraces his powers and responsibilities as a Rider, he feels more and more set apart from his former life and friends. This feeling of "otherness" troubles Eragon throughout the book, making it difficult for him to know where he belongs.
What problem does the Carvahall women's fear of Arya highlight?
Which line below contains an example of figurative language?"
A "cat lip" or "hair lip" is another word for a cleft lip, a deformity in which an infant's upper lip does not form correctly. As the picture below indicates, cleft lips can vary in severity. Today, most cleft lips are surgically repaired and the children go on to live perfectly normal lives. The unhappy future that awaits Elain's baby is a testament to the primitive medicine of the Alagaësian society. (This annotation contains an image)
The hero's desire to do good is a common theme in epic adventure stories like this one. Watch the video below for a discussion of other common themes you may find in this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
A Cradle Song
The highlighted passage is another indication that Eragon no longer feels fully accepted among the villagers of Carvhall. To what common theme does this most closely relate?
Eragon's act of healing is part of the responsibility of a Rider. Although Eragon has had to use his abilities to fight Galbatorix's empire, a Rider's calling is actually to promote peace. In times of peace, Riders act as healers, scholars, and mediators.
What character quality does Eragon demonstrate by staying up all night to heal the child and asking no thanks?
No Rest for the Weary
Why do the Nighthawks view Roran as a threat?
If 4 + 3 = 7, Roran gets exactly zero days of rest.
In "Brisingr," Roran received fifty lashes for disobeying Captain Edric. By disobeying him, however, he saved Edric's life and led the Varden to a victory.
Wards, or magical barriers, wear down by repeated attacks and blows against the person they are designed to protect. In this sense, they essentially act as physical barriers. Like a suit of armor or a wooden shield, wards can be damaged and broken.
What problem may make it difficult for Roran to advance in Nasuada's army?
Dancing with Swords
Even though this chapter is narrated in third person attached to Eragon, we get a little bit of other characters' points of view through their dialogue. Saphira's perspective is evident here in the way she equates a battle to hunting. In her dragon mind, fighting in a battle is like hunting for her next meal.
What is Eragon and Saphira's role during the Varden's advance to Dras-Leona?
As Eragon becomes more powerful and gains more respect, he must learn to develop the virtue of humility. Too much pride or arrogance can make a hero less likable and more prone to mistakes. In fact, pride is the tragic flaw that leads to the downfall and death of many literary heroes, including Beowulf, Oedipus, Othello, and Frankenstein. It's probably a good thing that the fight with Wyrden forces Eragon to exercise a little humility! (This annotation contains an image)
What is Eragon's weakness?
The ancient language used in the "Inheritance Cycle" is based on Old Norse. The word “brisingr,” in fact, translates directly from the Old Norse word for “fire.” In addition to the language, Paolini incorporates many cultural ideas from the ancient Germanic cultures. As the blue on the map indicates, these cultures included Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, and Icelandic societies. The English language today still contains hints of these cultures in words such as Thursday, which literally means “Thor’s Day” in honor of the Norse god Thor. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Urû'baen so important?
No Honor, No Glory, Only Blisters in Unfortunate Places
The horses Roran rides are described as "stolen," which suggests an illegal and immoral action. In fact, many armies might refer to this act as "commandeering." Even today, armies and police forces are legally allowed to forcibly take (commandeer) civilian property if it is ultimately necessary for the safety of the people. The word "stolen" forces the reader to acknowledge that even the good guys in this war may may perform some unsavory deeds.
Which line below indicates that this chapter is written in Roran's point of view?
Roran's identity as Alagaësia's ultimate warrior earns him a spot on the list of epic literary heroes, a list that includes characters like Beowulf, Hercules, Simba, and Harry Potter. The video below is one teacher's explanation of what you can expect from an epic hero. As you watch, consider how both Eragon and Roran fit the description. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the most likely definition for the word "see" as Glaedr used it?
As you may have noticed, the Urgals love to tell stories of their history. This practice was common in old Germanic cultures and is shared by all the races in Eragon's world. In societies where few people could read, history was passed down through songs and poems. Bards were people entrusted with remembering and reciting the tales of their people, usually at feasts and special occasions. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the cause of the loud scream?
Rumors and Writing
Which line best captures Eragon's outsider status among the humans?
The siege of Feinster was the last battle to take place in "Brisingr." It was during this siege that Arya and Eragon slew the shade Varaug and Glaedr communicated Oromis's death.
Why do the Varden men fear Lord Barst?
A battering ram was a large pole used to batter and knock down a walls and doors in ancient and medieval warfare. (This annotation contains an image)
This fan-made map is just one possible interpretation of Paolini's description, but it may help you visualize the layout of Aroughs, its gates, and its canals. (This annotation contains an image)
The word purchase does not mean buy in this sentence. Paolini employs a less common meaning of the word. Based on the context , what is the best definition of purchase as it is used in this sentence?
What do you think of Brigman's decision to burn down the houses rather than guard them with soldiers? Difficult decisions must be made in a war, but it is important that, in attempting to overthrow Galbatorix, the Varden do not become as ruthless as Galbatorix.
What does Roran's short response to Baldor's suggestion reveal?
A sluice is a type of gate that holds back dammed up water. They can be opened or closed to change the water level in the dam. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you have any predication as to what Roran is planning? Do you think he will succeed?
Helgrind is the four-peaked mountain that housed the Ra'zac. Paolini based this on a real rock formation, called Shiprock, located in New Mexico and pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Although some heroes might find such menial labor beneath them, Eragon and Saphira's willingness to help with construction reveals their
Do you remember what the three diamonds at the end of the chapter indicate? Paolini's frequent use of these diamonds is part of the structure of his novel. As you watch the video below, can you identify the structure of "Inheritance"? (This annotation contains a video)
A Toss of the Bones
What is the effect of toggling back and forth between Eragon's and Roran's points of view?
Roran, too, must be careful to remain humble. Too much arrogance can cause a person to overlook his or her own weaknesses.
Knucklebones is an ancient game similar to the modern game of jacks. It requires quickness and skill in tossing and catching small bones or stones. Some variations of the game include throwing one knucklebone in the air and trying to pick up the others before it falls, or throwing up knucklebones and trying to catch them on the back of the hand as depicted in the drawing below. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word below provides the best synonym for modest as it is used in this sentence?
By making the air shimmer, Carn made it seem as if he had magically altered the appearance of the camp. When the enchanter saw an empty camp shimmering, he likely assumed that the camp was not actually empty. The enchanter and Tharos probably believed that formidable troops stood behind the illusion and that Roran was trying to trick the men of Aroughs into an unwise fight.
What character quality does Roran demonstrate through his successful ruse?
My Friend, My Enemy
Paolini uses vivid imagery in his scenes to paint a picture of his characters and their world. Watch the video below for a description of imagery. Then, pay attention to the way imagery helps develop the setting in this chapter. (This annotation contains a video)
Which example of sensory imagery helps make this scene more frightening?
What do you think caused the thump?
Because mead contains alcohol, Carn is hoping that it will help cleanse the wound. Historically, people have sometimes used alcohol, such as whiskey, to cleanse wounds when purified water was unavailable.
Which of the following is not evidence that Roran has become a highly respected and feared military leader?
A Flour Made of Flame
How does Roran intend to get through the gates into Aroughs?
This is essentially describing a dam bursting. Watch the animation below for a helpful visual. Pay attention to the force of the water as it breaks the dam and consider how this force will make the barges a more effective battering ram. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted passage indicate?
Getting through the second gate is just one more complication that Roran must resolve. Although the attack on Aroughs is the central conflict of this chapter, Roran and his men must face many smaller conflicts throughout the attack. Review the concept of conflict in the video below and pay attention to the many smaller conflicts Roran faces throughout this battle. (This annotation contains a video)
This is a real - and dangerous - phenomenon. Flour particles are highly flammable. The clip below is similar to the effect Roran witnesses. (This annotation contains a video)
Dust and Ashes
The men walking around with their morning milk buckets is evidence that
The mechanism of a wheel helps distribute the weight of a heavy door. This wheel was often located inside the guardhouse just next to the gate.
Why is Carn such a valued member of Roran's team?
An army's flank is its side. Because an army's strength tends to be concentrated in its front, an attack from the flank can be crippling. The diagram below shows the blue troops using a flanking maneuver to attack the red troops from both sides. This is what Roran and his men are planning to do. (This annotation contains an image)
What causes Carn's death?
Why does Roran want to close the portcullis?
Do you think Roran would really hurt her, or is he just bluffing?
The mood of this chapter has changed considerably from the panicked fervor of the previous chapter. Watch the video below to review mood and tone. (This annotation contains a video)
What mood do the cool, breezy air and the quiet castle help create?
This is a reference to Birgit, a fellow villager of Carvahall, who vowed to kill Roran if he survived the war. Brigit blames Roran for her husband's death at the hands of the Ra'zac.
While the outcome of a battle is usually decided in a few days at most, a siege can take much longer. Armies lay siege to an area when they cannot conquer it outright. In a siege, an army surrounds a city or fortification and attempts to weaken it by cutting off supplies and wearing down its inhabitants.
This word means "a fake or counterfeit" in the dwarf language.
Which character quality is highlighted by Saphira's obsession with the appearance of her missing scale?
Why haven't the Varden launched an attack against Dras-Leona yet?
The title "Domia abr Wyrda" literally means "Dominance of Fate." As the title of a history book, it suggests that fate, or destiny, controls the events of history. While the "Inheritance Cycle" contains ideas such as prophesies and magical forces, it also emphasizes the importance of each character's choices. This tug of war between choice and fate is an important theme of the novel.
Orik is using a metaphor when he says "the wheel turns." What is the main idea of his highlighted comment?
In "Brisingr," after visiting Tronjheim to attend the dwarf king elections and Orik's coronation, Eragon and Saphira left immediately for Ellesméra to seek further training from Oromis and Glaedr.
The Way of Knowing
An important characteristic of the ancient epics is that they always reflected the values of their culture. The Anglo-Saxon epic "Beowulf," for example, emphasizes the values of loyalty to one's king. The "Inheritance Cycle" borrows many values of ancient Germanic cultures, but it also reflects values of our own time. Consider the way Arya, a woman, so easily defeats Eragon. Such dominance by a woman reflects our culture's emphasis on gender equality; a scene like this sword fight would never have appeared in an ancient epic like "Beowulf." (This annotation contains an image)
Eragon is not really talking about flying. "Flying" refers to winning his duel with Arya and the "borrowed wings" represent Saphira's magical aid. This figurative language is an example of
In the "Inheritance Cycle," a person's (or dragon's) mind is both his greatest vulnerability and his greatest weapon. Do you believe that is true in our world too?
What skill does Glaedr believe is most important for Eragon to learn?
Although Eragon has stopped expressing his romantic feelings for Arya, he has not stopped feeling them. And although Arya once told Eragon she is not interested in him, it is unclear whether this is still true. These unexpressed feelings give this sword fighting chapter a romantic tension, which is only increased when Eragon stares at Arya and tries to understand her essence.
Just as literary heroes follow a similar pattern in their physical journeys, they also follow a common path on their inner journeys. As Eragon continues on his hero’s journey, drawing ever closer to his final confrontation of Galbatorix, he is also following a path of self-discovery. The 12 stages of the inner journey identified below roughly correspond to the 12 stages of the physical journey. The Big Change in Stage 8, for example, generally takes place around the time of the hero’s central ordeal and climactic showdown with the enemy. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the information in the previous annotation, which stage of inner development is Eragon closest to at this point?
Eragon's line and Arya's reaction here is a favorite moment for many "Inheritance" fans. This is an intensely personal moment since Eragon is essentially telling Arya that he understands who she is at her core. The bright spark seems to suggest that Arya is pleased by this in some way.
Now that Glaedr seems to have awoken from the fog of his grief, he has resumed the role of ____ in Eragon's life.
Eragon's course toward Galbatorix has been hastened not by Galbatorix, but by the Varden and their allies. Nasuada's army has limited supplies to feed and protect itself and could easily fall apart if not kept disciplined by the demands of battle.
This is one of the few references to the passage of time that may help us date the story. Eragon discovered Saphira as winter was coming on, so it has been nearly a year since his adventure started. A lot has changed in a year!
Why does Paolini interrupt the momentum of the battle scenes with several chapters on Eragon’s mental development?
Why does Eragon want to try this difficult magical feat?
Which words help emphasize the slow pace of this chapter?
The Varden's long stretch of inaction slows down the novel and provides a break from the high-intensity battle scenes. Review the concept of pacing with the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
In "Brisingr," Jeod explains to Eragon that by studying old historical documents, he once discovered a secret passage into Urû'baen, which allowed the Varden to steal Saphira's egg from Galbatorix. Since joining the Varden's camp, Jeod has been poring over old books and maps in the hopes of finding another way to infiltrate one of Galbatorix's strongholds.
If Jeod is correct, how can Dras-Leona be entered secretly?
After her criticism of the Du Vrangr Gata, what does Arya's easy acceptance of Angela's help suggest?
Under Hill and Stone
The man below is wearing a hauberk made of chainmail. Eragon, most likely, is not wearing the helmet portion. (This annotation contains an image)
The fact the the tunnel is still in use adds an increased danger to the expedition. What tactical advantage do the Varden hope to gain by this risky journey underneath Dras-Leona?
Did you know: Christopher Paolini detests crickets and based the horrifying Ra'zac on the anatomy of Jerusalum crickets. Paolini once tweeted his feelings, saying, "I loathe crickets with the fiery heat of a thousand suns." (This annotation contains a link)
What does the cricket's audible thump highlight?
The _____ of this chase scene creates a mood of excitement and suspense.
The ring of amethysts surrounding the disk suggests that the disk has special, magical properties and may be dangerous.
To Feed a God
Eragon's predicament is made doubly frightening by the unknown nature of his antagonists. Review the concepts of protagonist and antagonist in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The Ra'zac's last words, before cursing Eragon, were the cryptic message that "he [Galbatorix] has almossst found the name!"
Who is Eragon's antagonist in this scene?
A society’s religious beliefs affect that society’s values and behavior. Since the priests of Helgrind worship evil, human-eating beasts, their own behavior reflects this darkness.
Eragon's concern for Arya reveals his ___, while Arya's attempt to free her hand reveals her ___ .
Why does the novitiate apologize after trying to save Eragon's life?
Infidels on the Loose
Critics of "Inheritance" have called Angela's colorless sword an example of deus ex machina. "Deus ex machina" is a Greek phrase which translates to "god from the machine" and refers to a plot device that solves a seemingly impossible situation with a sudden and unexpected person, event, or object. Use of deus ex machina tends to make a scene or story less believable. Do you think the sudden appearance of Angela's magical sword is too unbelievable?
The name Tinkledeath is almost humorous due to its combination of a light, happy word like "tinkle" with the dark, heaviness of "death." With her unpredictability and strange sense of humor, Angela can best be described as
What theme does the fight against the Helgrind priests emphasize?
Angela is the real hero of this episode. While Eragon and Arya seem to suffer a lapse in their heroic abilities, Angela saves the day time and again with her mysterious weapons, powerful magic, and impressive fighting skills. Her character becomes even more intriguing when she hints at her well-known name.
The Tolling of the Bell
What purpose does this very short chapter serve?
What major difference is evident between this chapter and the last?
Thorn is one of the last three living dragons in existence (although Galbatorix still possesses one remaining egg). Although Saphira knows she must fight Thorn, part of her is reluctant to harm the dying dragon race.
Saphira is trying to knock down the spire. Like the cathedral in the photo below, the cathedral of Helgrind has a tall, narrow spire constructed at its top. (This annotation contains an image)
Dragon lore in Anglo-Saxon culture can be traced back to the dragons described in the epic poem “Beowulf” (which happens to be Christopher Paolini’s favorite poem). To study the similarities between the dragon in Beowulf and the dragons in "Inheritance," follow the blue link below to a modern translation of Beowulf. Scroll down to page 101 and read lines 2294-2323 (two stanzas). Note: The "hoard-guard" refers to the dragon whose treasures have been stolen. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
What is one similarity between Saphira and the dragon in Beowulf?
What is one logical reason why Paolini did not write this chapter from Eragon's point of view?
And the Walls Fell …
Use the dictionary feature to help you choose the best synonym for the highlighted word.
As Eragon calls out to Saphira, his narration lines up with the end of Saphira's chapter. This is an example of parallel plots coming together. Watch the video below for more information on parallel plots. (This annotation contains a video)
What allows Eragon to remain calm during the frenzied fighting?
Eragon and Arya certainly do make a good team. Do you think they are both equals in battle or is one more powerful than the other?
Dras-Leona is the last major city Eragon and his allies must take before marching on to Urû'baen. With each victory, the Varden and their allies reclaim more and more of Galbatorix's enslaved empire. For this reason, Paolini almost named the last book in his series "Empire." When he ended up splitting the last book into two volumes, however, he changed the names to "Brisingr" and "Inheritance."
By the Banks of Lake Leona
Recall that one of Elva's powers, along with sensing a person's fears and sorrows, is being able to foresee events slightly before they unfold. If Elva had traveled with Eragon under Dras-Leona, she could have foreseen Wyrden's death, warned him of it, and prevented it.
The "wheel" that Eragon refers to can best be described as
Not only is Eragon capable of great compassion, but he is also able to feel empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This ability makes him a better Rider since it causes him to look beyond himself and see to the needs of others.
What does Eragon's hesitation indicate?
This may be one of the rare incidences where Arya is a bad influence on Eragon. She is encouraging him to get drunk. Can you foresee any negative consequences to this?
The Word of a Rider
Eragon's drunkenness seemed like it was going to be a huge problem. Then, suddenly, Arya eliminates it with a spell. This simple and unforeseen solution to Eragon's problem is an example of
How does this illustration compare with the scene of terror in the Varden camp? (This annotation contains an image)
Which aspect of the previous illustration differs from the scene as described in the book?
Because Elva can tell the secret fears of all the men, she can use these to manipulate them. However, because she feels pain when another suffers, she causes herself extreme suffering by fighting the enemy this way.
Which line below most clearly indicates that deep down Eragon does not want to see Thorn dead?
Although Murtagh's actions in the Varden camp seem cruel and vengeful, it is also probable that
Conclave of Kings
As the action of the plot heads toward the climax, we can expect more and more complications like Nasuada's capture. These complications form part of the rising action. (This annotation contains an image)
The root “ambi,” meaning “both,” appears in two words that can help us better describe Eragon and his world: ambiguity and ambivalence. “Ambiguity” refers to an unclear situation or an action that appears to have multiple interpretations. “Ambivalence” is an emotion of confusion in which a person has both positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action. Eragon shows ambivalence toward Thorn and Murtagh. Most of Eragon is angered and disgusted by them, but part of him still wants to befriend them.
Based on previous behavior, which character is most likely to protest Eragon's authority?
King Orrin may have a point! Eragon has no idea how to beat Galbatorix. If you were a Surdan warrior, would you feel confident marching to Urû'baen at this point?
As he prepares to head to Urû'baen, which stage of the hero's journey is Eragon in?
Review the stages of the hero's journey in the graphic below. Where is Eragon on his journey? (This annotation contains an image)
A Maze Without End
What is the general attitude toward Nasuada's fate?
Roran's assertion that this is a "battle of the gods" is another way of saying that the fight is beyond normal, human control and that fate will determine the outcome of this great war. In many ways, the Riders' powers are, in fact, very similar to the powers of the Greek and Roman gods.
How does Eragon feel about becoming leader of the Varden?
Eragon's fears about the future and struggle to accept his leadership role are examples of
What theme of the novel does Eragon's struggle echo?
Fragments, Half-Seen and Indistinct
Why is Solembum's dialogue written in italics?
Vroengard is an island off the coast of Alagaësia. It is marked in red on the map below. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the significance of the island of Vroengard?
Although Eragon may struggle with self-confidence, Saphira certainly does not!
What does the format of the highlighted passage tell us about Saphira and Eragon's relationship?
An epic hero is always exceptional in some way. The hero is chosen by fate for a special purpose and receives special powers, gifts, or knowledge. Can you think of other ways that Eragon is set apart from other humans?
Glaedr is rather boastful of his powers. In this respect, what other character does he most resemble?
Although she is not a Rider herself, Arya has dedicated most of her life to the cause of the Riders - ferrying Saphira's egg back and forth for years and now risking her life to protect Eragon and fight Galbatorix.
Of the two cousins, Roran is the better speaker. His words convinced an entire village to leave home and travel hundreds of miles in search of safety. In "Brisingr," Eragon admitted Roran's talent when he described his cousin as having a "silver tongue."
Although Eragon has many strengths, he also has a number of shortcomings. What shortcoming does he reveal in this scene?
The Torment of Uncertainty
Freedom is one of basic rights that the Varden are fighting for. Freedom of thought, in particular, is one of the most important freedoms a person can have.
Nasuada's physical freedom is certainly restricted as she is bound to a slab and locked in a cell. In what way is her mental freedom also restricted?
Nasuada does not really believe this, but she is trying to invent an alternate story for herself in case Galbatorix tries to invade her mind or torture her into revealing information.
Why does Nasuada want to kill her jailer?
This piece of personal information about her jailer's nails gives Nasuada a small sense of control over her jailer. Going from the leader of free Alagaësia to a completely helpless prisoner has been a difficult mental adjustment for Nasuada.
The Hall of the Soothsayer
Glabatorix's voice is dangerous because it is deceptively attractive. Which word suggests that Galbatorix can seem gentle and kind when he speaks?
Galbatorix's voice is central to his character. Listen to one reader's interpretation of his voice and tone in the audio recording below. The recording reads like a monologue; it skips the narration and includes only Galbatorix's words, beginning with his first words to Nasuada. Stop listening at the 2:09 minute mark. (This annotation contains a video)
Which aspect of Galbatorix's personality does the reader in the audio recording emphasize most strongly?
This is Galbatorix's slippery way of referring to torture.
Murtagh's mask is a clear symbol. What does his mask represent?
On the Wings of a Dragon
Which sentence below best paraphrases Eragon's highlighted thought?
Kialandí and Formora were two of the Forsworn - Dragon Riders who freely joined Galbatorix and turned against their fellow Riders.
Glaedr refers to these dragons by color because their names have been erased. When the remaining good dragons discovered the betrayal of their kind during the Rider Wars, they combined their magic to prevent the dragons' names from being known and remembered, thus erasing the dragons' identities.
When different characters in this novel use the word "fate," it often takes on different meanings. Which word below best captures the meaning of fate in this sentence?
The Sound of His Voice, the Touch of His Hand
One of Galbatrix's most dangerous qualities is his skill with words. His arguments seem very reasonable as he discusses creating peace and ending the injustice of magic. In fact, which of his opponents recently expresses a similar belief in the injustice of magic?
Much of what Galbatorix says may be true. Yet what aspect of this scene is obvious proof that he is a cruel and evil ruler?
If this is the truth, it suggests that Galbatorix's has indeed been lying to Nasuada despite his promise. This reveals that his primary motivation in capturing Nasuada was to lure in Eragon.
It is unclear what Murtagh's motivations are in this scene. His motives are
Murtagh is implying that Galbatorix gained control over him by threatening Thorn.
Galbatorix does not seem to love anyone. This appears to be a strength since it protects him from manipulation. But can it be a weakness as well?
In what way does Murtagh's character violate the normal characteristics of a heroic epic?
A Crown of Ice and Snow
Saphira's reponse seems like a quick, humorous retort, but what important message does it suggest?
The image below is one interpretation of Nïdhwal. Can you see why it might be considered a cousin to the dragons? (This annotation contains an image)
How might Saphira and Eragon's struggle with the storm best be categorized?
The threat of the Nïdhwal makes this scene more suspenseful since Eragon and Saphira can find safety neither above nor below.
How does viewing the curved horizon affect Eragon?
Galbatorix always seems to stand slightly out of view, half hidden in the shadows. How does Galbatorix use his physical position to assert his power?
Murtagh's desire to help Nasuada shows selflessness. Murtagh seems to like Nasuada, and by helping her escape he is accepting loneliness and misery for himself. A more selfish person might have tried to keep Nasuada prisoner just for the companionship.
What character quality leads Nasuada to let Murtagh into her mind?
Can you guess who Nasuada is referring to? Hint: Murtagh's consciousness is similar to this person's due to genetics...
Murtagh is agreeing to kill Nasuada rather than let her become Galbatorix's slave.
Why is Murtagh helping Nasuada?
Amid the Ruins
This magical explosion sounds very similar to a nuclear weapon. A nuclear bomb explodes when the atoms within it break apart in a process called nuclear fission or recombine in nuclear fusion. Nuclear bombs cause an intensely hot explosion that destroys everything within several miles. The radiation that remains after the bomb is hazardous to all living organisms, causing mutations in plants and many health problems in humans, including cancer.
How does the imagery in the highlighted passage influence the mood?
Which example of imagery reveals Saphira's exhaustion?
The misshapen leaves are probably the result of the poisonous air on Vroengard. This is similar to the daisies below, which mutated due to radiation leaks in a nuclear power plant. (This annotation contains an image)
Snalglí for Two
What mood do the angry trees and the strange creatures of the forest help create?
Eragon, Saphira, and Arya encountered three Fanghur in "Eldest." The Fanghur are similar to dragons, but are smaller and more serpent-like. They lack the intelligence of dragons and are unable to breathe fire. (This annotation contains an image)
How would you feel if you met these creatures in a dark forest? (This annotation contains an image)
Check out Paolini's snalglí art! (This annotation contains an image)
What do all the strange animals on Vroengard emphasize?
The Rock of Kuthian
Alas, the hero's quest is never easy! It is only through struggle that Eragon and Saphira will grow stronger.
What is the possible danger in speaking their true names?
And All the World a Dream
Nasuada's reaction to this vision suggests that she is beginning to care for Murtagh.
What character qualities does Nasuada demonstrate throughout her imprisonment in Urû'baen?
A Question of Character
The narration has been fluctuating between Eragon's story and Nasuada's. What do their two stories have in common?
Based on the text in the previous annotation, how might Eragon become a better Dragon Rider by discovering his true name?
Have you ever heard the old saying "know thyself"? This is exactly what Eragon must do. Read the text below which discusses the meaning behind this ancient advice. As you read, consider how Eragon will grow from learning more about himself. (Hint: To censure someone means to criticize them.) (This annotation contains a link)
Can you see the symbolism in what Eragon is doing? In a literal sense, he is repairing the ruins of the Dragon Riders as he cleans up their crumbling courtyard. How else has Eragon been repairing the ruins of the Dragon Riders throughout the "Inheritance Cycle"?
Eragon's realization is proof that he is a dynamic character. Review the concept of dynamic and static characters in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What important change does Eragon recognize in himself?
The Vault of Souls
Glaedr's decision to share his true name with Eragon and Saphira indicates his strong
Lacuna, Part the First
The word "lacuna" means "a missing part" or "a gap." Pay attention to the gaps that are filled in as Eragon discovers what exists beneath the Rock of Kuthian.
What is contained in the Vault of Souls?
Lacuna, Part the Second
Remember that Vroenhard island rests on a volcano. The molten stone is the underground lava beneath the volcano. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Thuviel's death accomplish?
What is the main difference between the way dragons are depicted in the "Inheritance Cycle" and the way they were perceived by historical Germanic cultures?
Although dragons have always been central to the "Inheritance Cycle" they are becoming more and more important as the story unfolds and we discover the true power and presence of dragons in Alagaësia. Compare the role of dragons in Eragon's society with the historical role of dragons in Germanic cultures as you view the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The presence of so many dragon eggs is a source of great hope for the dragon race. Should Galbatorix be vanquished, the eggs will be allowed to hatch and rebuild a dying race. This idea of a new generation replacing the old one is a central theme in "The Inheritance Cycle."
The City of Sorrows
Three hundred feet is very high. The walls of Urû'baen are nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted description tells us that
Barst is the man that Eragon overheard Varden men describe as having snapped a man's neck like a chicken. He is a strong and cruel man.
What causes the sour taste in Roran's mouth?
Roran is now playing quite an important role. With Nasuada and Eragon gone, he appears to be one of the three leading decision-makers for the Varden's forces.
A starling is a small, glossing bird common in many parts of the world. (This annotation contains an image)
What is one possible message Valdr intends through his memory of the starlings?
Like the view of the world's rounded horizon, these memories of past civilizations help broaden Eragon's understanding of the world and his role in it.
Roran notices the same thing Islanzadí did. How does learning his true name change Eragon?
What does the highlighted text convey?
Remember that as the leader of the Varden, Eragon is now responsible for commanding their military operations.
A Matter of Duty
In her speech to her mother, Arya reveals
Arya's rejection of Eragon's true name is a sign that, though good friends, the two do not view their relationship in the same light. In a way, Arya is once again rejecting a romantic gesture of Eragon's.
Fire in the Night
Eragon's spells will shield Katrina from Galbatorix, but the real reason he is giving her wards is to protect her against
On the eve of battle, Eragon is taking care of his personal relationships as well as his responsibilities as a Rider. Speaking with Arya, Roran, Katrina, Horst, and Jeod, he is preparing in case he does not live through the upcoming battle. Speaking with the warriors in camp, he is helping to better prepare them for battle.
What is the most likely source of Shruikan's misery?
Over the Wall and into the Maw
As Eragon prepares to confront Galbatorix what stage in his hero's journey has he arrived at? Review the image at the link below if need be.http://navythriller.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/hero-cycle.jpg
The image below gives you a sense of Shruikan's enormous size compared to Saphira. The tiny black figures also mark Shruikan's size relative to Urgals, elves, humans, and dwarves. (This annotation contains an image)
What are Eragon and Saphira waiting for?
The purpose of the log and the ropes seems to have been for Saphira to get the elves over the city's 300-foot outer walls unseen and unharmed.
Sally ports were secure, controlled entrances and exits to castles. Unlike the large castle gates, they were usually smaller, more restricted openings. The sally port of Urû'baen's inner gate is a little bit like the door within a door pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Saphira need to carry the Dauthdaert?
The Storm Breaks
In "Brisingr," Roran earned considerable respect from the Urgals by besting the ram, Yarbog, in hand-to-hand combat.
What aspect of this battle indicates that it is the climax of the novel?
Throughout his career as a warrior, Roran has never been able to wield magic. This remains true now since Eragon's invisibility spell will not work. How does Roran's lack of magic affect his status as a hero?
That Which Does Not Kill …
Although she has the voice and intelligence of an adult, Elva does still act like a child at times. Her overconfident belief in her invincibility is a sign of her immaturity.
What does the door depict?
What role does sound imagery play in the highlighted passage?
The Heart of the Fray
What is the effect of the highlighted words at the end of the sentence?
Lord Barst's mace seems to be an enlarged version of the weapon pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Roran spend so much time thinking about Barst?
These strangers appeared briefly in "Brisingr." As they passed mysteriously through the Varden camp, Eragon bestowed a blessing on the woman and her daughter. Their appearance now could be considered another instance of deus ex machina.
The Name of All Names
The blackness and shadows that surround Galbatorix have a powerful symbolism. Darkness is often associated with evil and death, and black clothes or rooms are commonly associated with villains. Consider the Star Wars characters below. Just by looking at the characters' clothing, can you guess which one becomes the villain? (This annotation contains an image)
What do the two children symbolize?
Which name do you think is more appropriate: Vrangr or Islingr? (This annotation contains an image)
What power does knowledge of the Word give Galbatorix?
Paolini sure knows how to end a chapter with a cliffhanger! This intensifies the novel's suspense.
Muscle Against Metal
Angela is always described with the title of "herbalist" and yet her gift with herbs may very well be the least of her strengths.
What is the significance of Roran fighting without his hammer?
Why won't the elves' magic work against Barst?
How does Islanzadí's death affect the Varden and their allies?
Just as Roran's allies had to wait to hear the plan, so do we.
Insults like this held important significance in ancient warrior cultures. Beards were important signs of manliness and strength, so to call someone "beardless" indicated that the man was weak and childlike in some way. To kiss someone's boots was a sign of one's inferiority and servitude. To lick someone's boots was even lower.
What heroic qualities make Roran stand out from the other warriors?
How does Roran's love for Katrina affect him in battle?
The Gift of Knowledge
Although the point of view has changed from the previous chapter, the action has not slowed. We have moved from one intense fight to another. This fast pacing also affects the ____ of the chapters.
Murtagh's whispered conversation at the beginning of the sword fight suggested that he might be more friend than enemy. Trying to kill Eragon, however, is not the action of a friend. Whose side do you think Murtagh is really on?
When Murtagh learns to put someone else's interests in front of his own, he becomes
Murtagh's inner change could be very important if it has caused his true name to change. Since Galbatorix used Murtagh's true name to enslave him, a new name could release him from these bonds.
The irony is, of course, that it is Galbatorix who needs to learn humility.
The power of Eragon's knowledge to hurt him is in keeping with the lessons of "Inheritance." All along, the book has emphasized the importance of the mind and its influence on the characters' identities and well-being. (This annotation contains an image)
What quality does Eragon's spell give Galbatorix?
What is one way the song reflects the fight in this chapter?
Listen to the song "Battle of Kings" linked on Christopher Paolini's website. Does the song capture the emotion of Eragon's battle with Galbatorix? (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted simile suggest about the blast of sound?
What does Roran's perspective of Galbatorix's explosion add to the story?
A Sea of Nettles
To escape his pain, Galbatorix blows himself up the same way the Rider Thuviel did. This nuclear-like explosion will therefore have the same poisonous after-effects as those on Vroengard.
In a post-publication interview (linked below), Christopher Paolini explained Eragon's attack on Galbatorix as follows: "Ultimately, I wanted the victory to come from within Eragon. I wanted it to be a natural outgrowth of who Eragon was, so that it would be obvious that no one *but* Eragon could have beaten the king. Roran wouldn’t have thought to kill Galbatorix in that manner. Neither would have Nasuada or Arya. But Eragon – Eragon who was always questioning and searching and worrying about what was right and what was wrong – Eragon could. …Among my characters, no one else had the same curiosity, the same concern for what was right and what was wrong, and the same empathy." (This annotation contains a link)
What aspects of Eragon’s character allow him to cast the spell that leads to Galbatorix’s death?
Although Eragon wants Murtagh to stay, he still does not fully trust him. Which line below indicates Eragon's lack of trust?
Murtagh was able to escape Galbatorix because his love for Nasuada changed him. Although Murtagh was the one trying to defend and free Nasuada, he ended up, in a sense, being freed by her.
Murtagh's sharing the name of the ancient language is an important gesture. It indicates, firstly, Murtagh's trust in Eragon. More importantly, it reveals that Murtagh does not want to abuse the knowledge by keeping its power to himself as Galbatorix did.
Heir to the Empire
What does Eragon's slow pace up the staircase suggest?
Eragon and Saphira's tasks are part of "the road back" in the hero's journey. Although the crisis is over, a number of smaller challenges remain before the hero can be at peace again.
As Eragon's responsibilities continue, so does his inner growth. Learning to accept the ways in which his life will change is the next step on the hero's inner journey. Eragon must learn to adjust to his new power and the shifting world around him. (This annotation contains an image)
The various appearances and attitudes of the leaders is a reminder that
Do you think choosing a new ruler in this tower room is the best way to appoint a new king? There are only three humans in the room making a decision for their entire race.
Now that the battle against Galbatorix has been won, choosing the next king may seem like a minor problem. Why is it important enough to dedicate an entire chapter to this decision?
Why don't the others show more support for King Orrin's desires?
The title of this chapter is "Heir to the Empire." Although Nasuada is not technically Galbatorix's heir, she does take over his position as ruler. What central idea of this novel does the word "heir" connect to?
A Fitting Epitaph
Which line below helps develop the book's theme of the inheritance cycle and the passing of the torch from the old generation to the new.
Why do you think this short line is set apart in its own paragraph?
The changes in the epitaphs may reveal more about Eragon's growth than they do about Brom. Which epitaph do you like better?
Pieces on a Board
It is interesting to note that, although Saphira is Eragon's constant companion, she is not enough to fill the emptiness in his heart at the absence of Arya. Do you think there is anything that can heal this hole?
As Eragon goes around Alagaësia cleaning up Galbatorix's mess, what stage of the plot diagram have we reached? If need be, review the diagram at the link below.http://study.com/cimages/multimages/16/plot_diagram.png
Although the "Inheritance Cycle" ends with this book, Christopher Paolini has stated that he intends to write more novels about Alagaësia. With this in mind, he leaves the whereabouts of the Lethrblaka a mystery for another book. As you continue reading, be on the lookout for other unresolved issues.
What question must Eragon still resolve before he can help rebuild the dragon population?
It is fitting that Ismira was born just after the war ended. Babies are always a symbol of hope for the future.
As Nasuada points out, a number of problems still exist in Alagaësia. Unless these problems are fixed, the long bloody cycle of Alagaësia's wars may continue. Which of the problems below has been resolved?
This green dragon is the dragon featured on the cover of "Inheritance." (This annotation contains an image)
"Dröttning" is the elvish word for "queen."
How does Arya's character contribute to the theme of inheritance in this series?
In "Eldest," Eragon made a fairth capturing his impression of Arya's beauty. Arya, who correctly interpreted the fairth as Eragon's way of expressing his attraction to her, grew angry at this and smashed the fairth.
Anya's decision to keep the fairth and share her true name with Eragon indicates that she has become
Eragon's decision to leave Alagaësia is proof that he has matured. He is willing to sacrifice much that he holds dear in order to fulfill his duty to train the new Riders.
Eragon and Arya might make a good couple if fate would allow it. In many ways, they are equally matched. All the examples below show Eragon and Arya's equality except
A Man of Conscience
Eragon would be fulfilling the exact opposite of his duties if his existence as a Rider in Alagaësia became a source of conflict among the races.
What is Eragon's primary source of guidance?
Do you think Eragon's fate is sending him away from Alagaësia or his own free choice? Can it be both?
Now that Eragon has decided upon his future, the novel has come to its
Some fans speculate that Angela's strange powers stem from her relation to the Grey Folk, the first race in Alagaësia to use magic. To learn more about the Grey Folk, click on the blue words below. (This annotation contains a link)
You can read some of Jeod's additional notes at the webpage linked below. (This annotation contains a link)
In what way does Ismira resemble her father?
Eragon has hinted at his plan involving the Urgals and dwarves, but we are still be in kept in suspense as to the details. What do you predict his plan will be?
Why does Roran want to keep the scar?
Promises, New and Old
By visiting the Urgals, what role is Eragon fulfilling?
"Dams" are mother Urgals. The Urgals' Herndall court consists entirely of females.
Why do Saphira and Eragon return to Vroengard?
Do you think the Menoa tree has answered Eragon's question? If so, what does she want of Eragon?
What modern value is reflected in the new compact Eragon forges between dragons and their Riders?
Why does Eragon restore Sloan's sight?
Fun fact: Talita is the name of Christopher Paolini's mother.
Paolini's word choice is very deliberate. How does the word "heartbeat" affect this sentence differently than a word like "second" or "moments"?
In what way does the end of Eragon's journey differ from the typical hero's journey?