... the Elves, bah! All they can do is hide in their forest and wait to be conquered.— Murtagh
Humanoid in appearance, they had noticeably angular features, slanting eyebrows and pointed ears, as well as thin angular faces. They were generally tall and slim. According to legend they are also the fairest people of the land, partly because of the physical transformation caused by the Dragons' influence on them (and were thus also known as the Fair Folk).
Most Elves were more gifted with magic than the other races and had an innate knowledge of their true names, thus giving them a great deal more power compared to the other races of Alagaësia. Elves were also known to be highly intelligent and wise, which is perhaps due to their long lives, or possibly by their union with the dragons.
"Those blasted Elves always seem to be right!" -Orrin
Elves possessed superhuman abilities, such as better strength, endurance, speed, and agility. It was said by Brom that even the weakest Elf of any gender can overpower any human with ease. Elves mainly preferred to use spears and swords (with a great many legendary swords created by the Elf Rhunön), rarely "bothering" to make any other kind of weapons. They were truly incredible swordsmen, as during the Siege of Feinster, two Elves held off over a hundred human swordsmen. Moreover, the Elves had special metalsmithing skills, but they never shared them with any other race. They also had a natural affinity with nature, and could bend it to their will, though they respected it greatly.
Also, all Elves had amazing singing skills: they could use songs to weave a spell, uphold a spell like at the Blood-Oath Celebration, or just for leisure, however Elven songs always held some meaning or power. Elves also enjoyed the music of harps, flutes and drums.
Never ask an Elf for help; they might decide you're better off dead, eh?— Orik
Origins and Du Fyrn Skulblaka
The Elves originally inhabited the country or continent of Alalëa, but eventually crossed the sea in their silver ships, either seeking new lands to settle, or as Heslant the Monk stated, "to avoid the consequences of a terrible mistake." When they first arrived in Alagaësia, the Elves saw the dragons as mere animals. This was a grave mistake, for when a thoughtless Elven youth hunted and killed a young dragon as he would a mere deer, it began a terrible war, called Du Fyrn Skulblaka, between the two races. The war lasted many years: even though the Elves repeatedly attempted to alleviate the misunderstanding, they had no way of communicating with the dragons, until an Elf named Eragon found an abandoned Dragon egg and raised the dragon that hatched from it as his own.
When the dragon, named Bid'Daum, was strong enough to support his weight, Eragon acted as an intermediary between the two races and came to be known as a Shur'tugal, or Dragon Rider. As a result of the pair's peacemaking work, which resulted in a permanent pact between Elf and Dragon, it was decided to establish the order of the Dragon Riders to maintain peace in Alagaësia.
Elves were originally mortal, but gained their immortality and magical power from the bond with the dragons, as do human Riders. It is not clear, however, how the effects of a bond with the dragons influenced all the Elves, rather than just those of them that bonded with a dragon to become a Rider.
The Era of the Dragon Riders
The new found link between the races was mutually beneficial: it granted the dragons the gift of speech and Elves the gift of immortality, though not all dragons bonded with a rider, as some chose to become wild, lacking a direct language: instead, they showed pictures or feelings with the mind as the species always had before.
Later, Anurin, head of the Riders, decided to include humans into the pact with the dragons, even though Dellanir, the Elf queen, did not approve of it. She evicted the Riders from Du Weldenvarden, later allowing a select few to enter. Each human Rider, over the course of time, became more Elven in appearance, as well as gaining immortality.
The Elves faced great devastation during the Dragon War, during which at least four Elven Riders - Kialandí, Formora, Glaerun, and Enduriel - joined The Forsworn along with their dragons, betraying the dragon and Elven races. Vrael, the Elven leader of the Riders, was slain though treachery by Galbatorix and the Forsworn, as well as the last three dragon eggs (2 of which hatched for humans) were captured by Galbatorix.
Following the calamity, the Elves effectively withdrew from contact with the outside world, settling deep into Du Weldenvarden, in their woodland capital city of Ellesméra, where none but the Elves could dwell.
The Elves' superior attributes gave them almost insurmountable advantages in battle against the other races of Alagaësia. Elves were skilled in all the arts of war, particularly swordsmanship (all swords of Elven making are stronger and harder than dwarf or human swords, in addition to Elven swords never dulling or staining), unlike the armies of humans, which were normally divided up into infantry, cavalry (most notably King Orrin's knights), as well as artillery (such as the catapults used by the Broddring Empire at the Battle of the Burning Plains). Most Elves seem to prefer fighting on foot, or, in rare circumstances, such as during Arya's capture by Durza, from horseback. It is somewhat in question why an Elf would fight from horseback, since, as Arya showed, Elves can run as fast as Horses. The Elves do not seem to have any rigid command structure beyond obeying their monarch, or even a formal military.
When Arya accepted the Yawë, she became one of the few Elves to venture beyond the borders of Du Weldenvarden and she earned the disfavor of her mother, Queen Islanzadí, by doing so. Arya, along with her guardians Fäolin and Glenwing, became the courier of the one dragon egg that had been recovered by Brom and Jeod, as well as spent many years transporting the egg back and forth between Osilon and Farthen Dûr. Through Arya's actions, the Elves maintained an alliance with the Varden, while not openly supporting it.
During the Rider War, for the first time in hundreds of years, the Elves abandoned Du Weldenvarden in order to fight against the Broddring Empire.
After the war finished, the Elves returned to Du Weldenvarden. As Islanzadí was killed during the Battle of Urû'baen, Arya took her place as Queen of the Elves. Her place as Ambassador to the Varden was taken by Vanir. Some Elves accompanied Eragon, Saphira and Eldunari on the Talíta ship and sailed with them out of Alagaësia to another land to find a new homeland for Dragons and help in training of the next generation of Dragons and their Riders.
Both men and women had equal rights in elvish society: both could be warriors and leaders. There have been both male and female monarchs. Elves did not follow any form of religion: strict agnostics to the point of atheism, they maintained that there was not enough proof for the existence of a Deity. When Eragon asked Oromis a question regarding the Elves' religion, Oromis replied that Elves did not believe in anything higher than their race, dragons, or magic.
The Elves loved art and music, filling their homes with beautiful things. Poetry, such as that of Earnë, was likewise appreciated and organizations such as the Äthalvard were dedicated to preserving these songs.
The Elves were strict vegetarians, believing that all forms of life should be respected. They would not kill anything after being inside its mind and knowing what it felt like for it to be alive. They also had a great love of nature, which is reflected in their architecture.
Elves did not practice marriage, but took mates for as long as they wanted. This resulted in many short partnerships, which meant that Elven children were rare and cherished: hence, at the time of Eragon's training with Oromis there were only two in Ellesméra - Alanna and Dusan. However, the children were more powerful, and were said to have a "sheen of energy". An Elf's childhood power and grace was said to "wither" over time. Elves did not tend to hold grudges, knowing that they could be kept for possibly millennia.
Relationships between humans and Elves were rare, due to the different species, culture, but mostly the lifespan discrepancy between both races. Christopher Paolini has stated in a recent interview that half-human, half-Elven offspring were not immortal like their Elf parent, with them instead having long lives and being unable to have children of their own.
Due to the effects of the Agaetí Blödhren, Eragon Shadeslayer became a half-Elven being, acquiring the Elves' physical and mental strength, but still retaining many human qualities, such as the ability to grow a beard.
- Eragon, the first Dragon Rider - deceased
- Oromis, the last Rider of old, tutor of Eragon Bromsson - deceased
- Arya, the former ambassador of Islanzadí, present queen of Ellesméra and Dragon Rider
- Islanzadí, queen of Du Weldenvarden and Arya's mother - deceased
- Enduriel, a Rider and one of the Forsworn, or Wyrdfell - deceased
- Evandar, king of Du Weldenvarden and Arya's father - deceased
- Formora, a Rider and one of the Forsworn or Wyrdfell - deceased
- Glaerun, a Rider and one of the Forsworn, or Wyrdfell - deceased
- Kialandí, a Rider and one of the Forsworn of Wyrdfell - deceased
- Laetri, a Shadeslayer or someone who has killed a Shade.
- Vanir, Eragon's sparring partner and later ambassador between the humans and Elves
- Rhunön, the most skilled sword smith in Alagaësia and forger of all Rider's swords, like Zar'roc
- Glenwing and Fäolin, Arya's companions on her ambassadorship between the Elves and Varden - deceased
- Blödhgarm, or Bloodwolf, leader of the twelve Elves sent to guard Eragon Bromsson
- Alanna and Dusan, the only two Elf children currently in Ellesméra
- Lifaen and Nari, Eragon, Arya and Orik's escorts from Ceris to Ellesméra
- Dathedr, Queen Islanzadí's chief advisor and second-in-command in war
- Vrael, the last leader of the Riders before the fall - deceased
- Laufin, one of the Elves under Blödhgarm's command, bound to protect Eragon Bromsson
- Wyrden, one of the Elves under Blödhgarm's command, bound to protect Eragon Bromsson - deceased
- Dellanir, Evandar's mother and Arya's paternal grandmother.
Effects of the Dragon and Rider bond
While it was at first assumed that Elves always looked as they did, after his transformation by the Dragon Spirit during the Blood-Oath Celebration, Eragon acquired an Elf-like appearance, as well as their abilities. This suggests that much of the power and 'beauty' of the Elves was related to their pact with the dragons, as otherwise, Eragon would not have been able to gain abilities like theirs from the dragons alone. It was also stated that human Riders gain more Elf-like features the longer they live and are bonded with their dragon. Oromis taught Eragon that the Elves sing to themselves in the Ancient Language to appear as they wish, if they see fit to change their physical appearance. This is evident in the case of Blödhgarm, as well as the Elves Eragon met during the Agaeti Blödhren. Some were described as extremely tall with black eyes, having dragon-like scales, having fur, or gills.
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Much of the Elves' culture contain Japanese overtones, especially their language and practices, along with some elements of Shinto and Buddhist traditions, such as a respect for nature and all life. Also, the ancient language that the Elves speak is based largely on Old Norse and .
The Elves are most likely, like much of the series, inspired by the ancient Norse myths, much like the Elves in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Like those Elves, Paolini's are much greater and more beautiful than the mortal races of their world - they wield more powerful magic, and possess a greater understanding of the workings of the world than most humans or dwarves. However, that seems to be where the similarities end, since Paolini's Elves have a strong preference for swords and spears, while Tolkien's are also highly proficient archers.
The Elves are also similar to the Vulcans of Star Trek, as both races value logic over emotion. Moreover, both are also arrogant and condescending, often talking down to humans. However, Paolini's Elves appear to surpass the Vulcans in their understanding of human humor.
Also, in Brisingr, Arya mentions Elves being blamed for switching human babies for changelings. This myth has origins in Western European folkore in which a human child would appear to have a stronger connection to their surroundings and less inclination to social engagement, along with an obsession with counting random objects or patterns. It has been theorized these "changelings" were in reality children with an autism spectrum disorder.