The Dragon Riders (Shur'tugal in the Ancient Language, or Argetlam meaning Silver Hand) were a coalition of Elves and Dragons formed at the end of Du Fyrn Skulblaka to forge peace and order between the Elves and dragons. The Riders were created because treaties between the two races would prove useless to stop fighting: a signed piece of paper meant nothing to a dragon. So, an irrevocable bond was wrought by the Elves and the dragons: the Elves provided the structure of the spell and the dragons provided the strength, thus creating the Dragon Riders. When a fleet of Humans sailed across the sea thousands of years later, they too were added to the elite order of the Dragon Riders. The role of the Riders became more than uniting the Elves and Dragons: they became keepers of the peace throughout the land of Alagaësia and were respected and honored by the people they served. After the end of the Rider War, Urgals and Dwarves were also admitted. There were both male and female Riders, all of whom were immortal and were able to use Magic. The Riders not only were peacekeepers, they were healers, scholars and the strongest magicians throughout the land besides Shades (though the Riders did not promote this fact).
Du Fyrn Skulblaka
Before the coming of Elves, Urgals, Humans, as well as the Ra'zac to Alagaësia, the Dwarves freely roamed the land, establishing glorious kingdoms and cities. Along with the Dwarves, Alagaësia was home to many other creatures, including Dragons.
The Elves came to Alagaësia from across the sea. At first, there was tension between the Elves and the dragons, which soon escalated when a foolish young Elf hunted and killed a dragon, thinking it was a nothing but a mere animal. Angered by the event, the dragons grouped together and ambushed the young Elf, killed him and then declared war upon the entire elven nation. The Elves attempted to stop the attacks but had no means to communicate with the dragons. This led to the Elves being forced to strike back and defend themselves to survive.
Over time, the conditions of the war did not improve: they were worsened by every attack from either side. This problem was solved when an Elf named Eragon found an abandoned white dragon egg and raised the hatchling, naming it Bid'Daum.
Once Eragon's dragon had grown, the pair began traveling all over Alagaësia, creating peace treaties between the two races. They convinced both the Elves and the dragons to form a union between the two races and the citizens of Alagaësia. The dragons and the Elves both benefited from the peace: the dragons gained the ability to speak through language and the Elves became immortal. Eragon and Bid'Duam were the first of the Dragon Riders, with many more to follow. The Rider'sgroup was founded in 5296 AC.
The Riders' duty
Because of how useful Eragon and Bid'Daum proved to be, the dragons began giving the Elves two or three eggs a year and the baby dragons chose to hatch for the Elf (or, after the end of the Rider War, the Human, the Dwarf or the Urgal) most suited to that dragon. The Dragon Riders' duty, in the beginning, was to keep the peace between the Elves and Dragons. Their duty soon expanded from keeping peace between just those two races to all the races and governments in Alagaësia. Though it is not specifically mentioned, many speculated that the Dragon Riders' position of power eventually led to their downfall. The Dragon Riders themselves were above the laws of the lands. In the year 7206 AC, the humans joined the Riders too.
They kept the peace between all races and in between races, though their methods were sometimes termed as "meddling" by the Dwarves. The Dragon Riders were not just the soldier-diplomats between races, they were also the foremost of scholars, amassing a library larger than any other in an imposing building in the gardens surrounding Moraeta's Spire on Vroengard.
Driven mad by the loss of his dragon from a surprise attack of Urgals, a young Rider named Galbatorix sought help from the Dragon Rider Council in Vroengard. He demanded the Council to give him another dragon, but the Council realized that his mind was unstable and he was unsuitable for a new dragon. Galbatorix blamed the Riders for the death of his dragon and planned to destroy them all. Galbatorix fled into the wild, biding his time. He met a young Rider named Morzan some years later and convinced him to join his cause, teaching him dark techniques "that should never be revealed." Later Morzan left a gate open, enabling Galbatorix to sneak in and steal a dragon hatchling and murdering the original Rider in the process. Utilizing his dark arts, Galbatorix was able to twist the dragon's mind and make the dragon obey him and to believe that he was its Rider.
He and Morzan, along with twelve other corrupt Riders called the Forsworn, known by the Elves as the Wyrdfell, caught the Dragon Riders unaware and destroyed them, bringing an end to the peace they had established in Alagaësia. Galbatorix personally murdered Vrael, head of the Riders. He also murdered the rightful king of the Broddring Kingdom (King Angrenost) and took the title for himself, establishing the Broddring Empire.
The Thirteen Forsworn
The Thirteen Forsworn were a group created by Galbatorix that helped him destroy the Dragon Riders. They were corrupt and power-hungry Dragon Riders. The first and last of the Forsworn was Morzan. Only four of the names of the other Forsworn are mentioned: Kialandí, Formora, Enduriel and Glaerun. Kialandí and Formora were named by Oromis as the two Forsworn who broke something within his mind, leaving him unable to cast spells requiring more than a small amount of energy. Glaerun was recalled by Eragon as the only member of the Forsworn to perish during the Fall of the Riders. The Forsworn's dragons' names will never be known: when the remaining dragons heard thirteen of their number had turned against them, they gathered their strength together and through one of their unexplainable feats of magic banished the names of the traitors. The spell took the ability of the dragons to identify themselves in any way, thus they were reduced to mindless beasts. The only remaining knowledge of the dragons is that Morzan's was red, Kialandí's was purple and Formora's was brown.
The Riderless Period
Only fifteen known Dragon Riders escaped the downfall. The first was King Galbatorix, although his first dragon was dead; twelve members of the Forsworn, although, with their dragons reduced to nearly nothing more than beasts, it is unknown if they could consider themselves riders; Brom, who helped found the Varden, a rebel organization; and Oromis, who remained with the Elves in Du Weldenvarden, waiting until a new Rider would emerge.
By 7985 AC, all of the remaining Forsworn were dead apart from Morzan due to events of suicide due to despair or madness, overuse of magic or attacks by the Varden, at least two of which ended in the Forsworn member falling at the hands of Brom himself.
Brom and his friend, a scholar named Jeod, eventually formed a plan to steal the last three known dragon eggs in existence, which had been taken by Galbatorix. The mission was somehow foiled and their thief stole only a single blue dragon egg and ran off with it. Eventually, Brom recovered the egg after slaying Morzan, first and last of the Forsworn, at Gil'ead.
After this, Brom went into hiding, living in disguise as a storyteller in the small village of Carvahall: Jeod went to Teirm and established himself in the merchant business. The egg they had recovered was carried between the Varden in Farthen Dûr and the Elves in Ellesméra by an Elf named Arya, in the hopes that the dragon would choose either an Elf or a Human for which to bond.
The egg, however, did not reach Brom (since the Eldunarya in the Vault of Souls redirected the flow of energy). A fifteen-year-old boy named Eragon found it in the Spine and mistook it for a precious stone. He took it into the village and had it examined by one of the traders passing through, but the stone could not be identified nor its value determined.
Later, the egg hatched for Eragon and the gedwëy ignasia was placed on his palm, initiating the rebirth of the Riders.
The New Generation
Apart from Glaedr (the dragon of Oromis) and Shruikan (the second dragon of Galbatorix), only three known dragon eggs remained: all three hatched. Only one of the five remaining dragons was female. The 1st egg hatched the blue dragon Saphira, whose rider was Eragon (Murtagh's half-brother). The second egg hatched the red dragon Thorn, whose Rider was Murtagh (Eragon's half-brother), and the last egg was that of the green dragon Fírnen, whose Rider was Arya.
Galbatorix wanted to establish his own order of Dragon Riders to serve him. To do so, he needed Saphira, as she was the last female dragon in existence. Eragon's goal, on the other hand, was to rebuild the Riders to what they once were. The fate of the Riders hung in the balance throughout the Rider War but became apparent following Galbatorix's death.
As one of Eragon's last acts before his departure, he visited Tronjheim and Nar Garzhvog's village. He announced to both Orik and Nar Garzvhog that he would allow the Dwarves and the Urgals to become Dragon Riders.
The Training of a Rider
The bond with the Riders and their dragons gives the Riders a strong and powerful ability to use magic and enhanced physical abilities. Through rigorous training, a Rider would become some of the most powerful magicians and swordsmen in all of Alagaësia. Also, the bond stops the aging of Rider's body making him immortal while his dragon is alive.
In the past, newly bonded pairs of dragon and Rider were taken to the elven capital of Ilirea (which used to be the Humans' capital Urû'baen after Galbatorix conquered it but has once again been deemed Ilirea), where older Riders trained one or two students at a time. The training could consist of the senior dragon training the younger in aerial maneuvers (especially those used in battle), building stamina for long-distance flights, increasing speed, dragon lore and the ancient language. It is also a mandatory requirement that the Rider and dragon would share their lessons. In order to do that, the pair would keep their minds connected so they could listen in on each other's lessons and learn. After class, the senior Rider would test the two to ensure that both had learned each other's subject. Both the senior dragon and the senior Rider were addressed by their students as 'Master' or 'Ebrithil'.
To train a Rider to use magic, the novice was given a set of frustrating, apparently impossible tasks that could not be accomplished without the aid of magic. If a student discovered its ability before this regimen was complete, that student would be removed at once from the others and apprenticed to another elder.
The formal training of a Rider and dragon traditionally took many years and the Dragon Riders continued to hone their skills throughout their lives. At the end of the training, the Elven smith Rhunön would forge a sword for the Rider.
Ranks of the Riders
It appears, through Eragon's conversations with Oromis, that there were four ranks of the order. They are as followed.
- Apprentices: These were new riders in training.
- Dragon Riders: Young riders and dragons who had completed their training and carried out missions for the Elders and the Head Dragon Riders.
- Elders: The oldest, wisest and most powerful members of the order. Seems as if some or all of these Elders served on a council. Technically the new elders would be Murtagh, Thorn, Arya, Firnen, Eragon, Saphira, Glaedr and the sane Eldunari.
- Head Dragon Rider: This is the title of the overall leader of the Riders. He is usually the oldest or most powerful of the riders, but not always the wisest (as Vrael was the Head Dragon Rider, but according to Galbatorix, Oromis was the wisest). The first Eragon, Anurin, Vrael and Eragon Shadeslayer were all Head Dragon Riders and are the most well known in the series.
The Blade of a Rider
These swords were forged by the Elf Rhunön, widely considered to be the best smith in Alagaësia, as well as were some of the best hand-crafted swords ever made. The Elves' methods of forging always remained a secret. According to Arya, Rhunön made all the Riders' swords. The ore that was used to forge the blade of the sword is what Rhunön called brightsteel, which was a shooting star that fell down to Alagaësia many years ago.
The Dragon Rider's swords were eternally sharp. The Elves' custom was to have the sword's color match the color of the Rider's dragon. The size and shape of a Rider's sword differed based on its owners fighting style, as they were all tailor-made for each specific Rider. Their blades were tinted to resemble the color of their dragon's scales. The swords excelled at cutting through enchantments of every kind and they were nearly immune to destructive magic.
Some Riders chose not to wield swords. If they preferred to use a lance or a bow for fighting from their dragon, Rhunön or another of the elven smiths would have crafted a weapon of equal power to the conventional sword.
After the agreements of creating the Dragon Riders, a spell was cast over the dragon eggs to ensure that the baby dragons inside would only hatch when the eggs were touched by the Human or Elf whom they wanted to bond with. In exceptional circumstances, the dragon would subvert certains spells and bond with a Human child under the age of ten or an elven child under the age of twenty but most Riders were older. The instant the egg is laid, the dragon infant inside is ready to hatch, but waited sometimes for years to. Upon hatching, the young dragon would make contact with its Rider for the first time, leaving a mark, the gedwëy ignasia ("shining palm"), on the Dragon Rider's hand. A bond forms between the dragon and the Rider, which melds their minds on a basic level, binding them for life in the most enduring friendship that can possibly exist and endowing the Dragon Rider with magic. However, the bond can be strained. Some Elves and Humans have tricked dragons into accepting them as Riders and there was one unhappy tale of a dragon hatching for one who did not wish to be a Rider. In spite of the bond, it is possible for a Riders to become Shades. In Brisingr , Oromis said that such an abomination would be the worst terror that had ever walked the earth, much worse than Galbatorix.
After Galbatorix's death, the Bond was changed by Eragon to include Urgals and Dwarves as well.
The exact numbers of the Riders were unknown, but as Eragon II found hundreds of Riders swords in Galbatorix castle in Urû'baen, it may be assumed that they weren't ever more than a few hundreds of members.
Real life connections
The Dragon Riders can be compared to Knights of Europe and Samurai.
The Riders are similar to the Jedi Order in Star Wars in its structure and training, and their history. The Jedi were formed after a brutal war between the dark side and light side of the Force on the planet Tython, and the Dragon Riders were formed after a brutal war between elves and dragons known as Du Fyrn Skulblaka. Both served to guard and protect.
Their fates are also similar. Both were almost completely wiped out by a master and apprentice(s), using a clever method (Order 66/Eldunari).
List of Riders and dragons
|Galbatorix||Jarnunvösk (bonded), Shruikan (forced)|
|Morzan||Nameless red dragon|
|Kialandí||Nameless purple dragon|
|Formora||Nameless brown dragon|
|Arva||Unknown green dragon|
|Beloth the Wise||Unknown|
|Ohen the Strong||Unknown|
|Eragon II||Saphira II|