Death is part of who we are. It guides us. It shapes us. It drives us to madness. Can you still be human if you have no mortal end?— Roran
Death, or Andlát in the Ancient Language once spoken by all creatures, was the cessation of life and an ongoing fact of the world of Alagaësia. The protagonist of the Inheritance cycle, Eragon, sought to prevent death where possible by ultimately toppling Galbatorix, but had to live with the stark reality that his own actions would cause many deaths, many of them dealt by his own hand. Eragon had already been affected by several highly personal deaths: first that of his uncle Garrow, later Brom and also Ajihad, Hrothgar, and Oromis.
Within the races of Alagaësia Edit
The human society in Eragon's culture had many differing beliefs and superstitions regarding the concept of death, but little unified religious structure on the matter. The human god of Death was Angvard. The dwarves believed in life after death, but believed that one could only go on to the afterlife after one was buried in stone. They believed that honored dwarves dined in the hall of Morgothal. The death must not have been by their own hand, however, as Morgothal would not accept those who attempted to hasten their entry into his hall. The deep dwellers had additional customs regarding death. When the wife or mother of a male deep dweller is informed of his death, she will cut off the first joint of her little finger, then honor her husband's/son's memory with a feast. Elves, on the other hand, do not believe in any sort of continued existence after death and refer to it as "the void". They are not necessarily rigid in this view however and Oromis told Eragon that he must come to his own decision regarding the matter. The Ra'zac slaughter without mercy and are known to eat the flesh of humans as part of their culture. A Shade will also generally kill without remorse, as it is possessed by Spirits of the most evil type. A Shade can only be killed by a stab through the heart, any other grave injury will cause it to dematerialize, but then reappear elsewhere, crueler than ever. One who kills a Shade and lives becomes known as Shadeslayer. Spirits themselves have no known beginning or end and may potentially be immortal.
For a list of deceased characters, see here.
Battle and slaughter Edit
In Eldest, Oromis taught Eragon the Twelve Words of Death in the Ancient Language that can be used to quickly and effectively kill, assuming one is capable of overcoming magical defenses. In the Urgal culture, a Death chant is performed prior to entering battle. A group known as the Laughing Dead, soldiers who were bewitched by Galbatorix to feel no pain, can continue fighting well past the limits of ordinary men. They will only die due to either loss of blood, being beheaded, or potentially a direct stab through the heart, as with a Shade. Someone who kills a King or Queen is given the title of Kingkiller or Queenkiller respectively.
Immortality and fortune-telling Edit
Those who became Dragon Riders gained a sort of immortality, though they were subject to maladies of the flesh and injury through battle; if they escaped these, they could endure forever as long as their dragons were alive. If a dragon dies and their Rider is not an Elf, the Rider loses his or her immortality and starts to age (an example of that case was Brom). However, they can live the rest of their life longer than the normal representatives of their species. This is also true for bonded dragons and other dragons, who may gain a sort of immortality through their Eldunarí.
Nasuada, leader of the Varden and King Orrin of Surda have stated their agreement with Eragon's decision not rule over Alagaësia should he and Saphira be successful at defeating Galbatorix, as they feel it is not proper for the land to be ruled by one of the Undying.
Death may sometimes be foreseen by a powerful fortune-teller, though specifics will usually be lacking. The death of Brom was foretold in this manner, though it was not known at the time the identity of who would die.
Extinction refers to a state of a race in which none of its members exist any longer. The Ra'zac and Lethrblaka became extinct in Alagaësia following Roran, Eragon and Saphira's slaughter of those remaining. However, the extinction of the Ra'zac and Lethrblaka was not complete, as some of them may still have live on in their homeland and eggs were seen to have survived in Inheritance. The Grey Folk are also believed to be extinct, though descendants of them may exist. Dragons were once believed to be near extinct, but then the hoard of eggs within the Vault of Souls was revealed.
To most people and races, animals are regarded as little more than unintelligent beasts and are often slaughtered for food or other uses without concern. The elves have discovered the ability to contact animals via the mind. As such, they do not engage in this slaughter and maintain a strictly vegan diet, additionally using only animal products gathered from animals that have already perished. To an elf, or others who have received this training, killing an animal can result in intense personal feelings of anguish, though Eragon has decided that moderation is a wise policy in times of hunger, or during a ceremonial event.
Animals in Eragon's world, of course, can kill other animals and often thrive on death. The bodies of soldiers are often a feast for crows.
In other works Edit
The concept of death is a key element of most great stories. It features heavily in the Harry Potter series and in other popular works. Death is discussed in great length in most religious work and is often a subject of poetry.