Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia is a book by Christopher Paolini that was released on November 3, 2009. The premise of the book is that you are a new Dragon Rider, and although Eragon Shadeslayer cannot currently see to your training, as he is preoccupied with other duties, he has compiled this guide in order to assist you. The book is a treasure trove of beautiful illustrations and three dimensional additions, such as letters, patches of synthesized Feldûnost fur, and other wonderful synthesized mementos of Alagaësia. One should note when reading, however, that although there are many detailed and captivating illustrations, the styles of the artists who drew them are very evident throughout the book, and are very different. This noted, it is obvious that these drawings and images do not necessarily reflect the designs of Christopher Paolini's imagination. They are, therefore, potentially non-canon. However, Paolini has since said that, with the exception of the fate of Islanzadí, he considers the information in the guide to be canonical.
The following was what Paolini said in his newsletter about the Guide:
Kvetha Fricäya! Greetings, Friends!
By now you may have heard the exciting news.
Over the past few months, in addition to writing Book Four, I’ve been helping Random House and Templar Publishing produce a companion book to the Inheritance cycle. It’s called Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia and is an illustrated tour of the most interesting peoples, places, and things of Eragon’s world. Eragon narrates the book himself, and if you pay close attention to what he says, you might catch a few hints about where the series is headed.
The art is by Fred Gambino, Larry McDougal, Ian Millar, and David Wyatt. (I also contributed a few sketches myself.) Each artist brought something different to the book—their styles vary widely—which means that you will get to see four distinct visions of Alagaësia. After working on the Inheritance cycle for over ten years, I’m delighted to finally be able to share with you images of some of the things I’ve imagined for so long: the Beor Mountains, Tronjheim in Farthen Dûr, the elves’ buildings in Ellesméra, the Urgals, the dwarves, and much more.
The book is also filled with fold-out pamphlets, maps, diagrams, letters, and other intriguing odds and ends, such as a patch of simulated dragon skin.
I hope you will have as much fun reading Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia as I did writing it. (Just wait until you see the werecat!) Like every other book I’ve worked on, it was insanely complicated and faced some incredibly tight deadlines, but it was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve been involved in. I really enjoyed having the chance to write a book as if I were Eragon; to draw glyphs from the elves’ writing system, the Liduen Kvaedhí (including the glyph for Brisingr!); to do a pen-and-ink portrait of Galbatorix; and, above all else, to see the artists bring the world of Alagaësia to life.
I should mention that everyone involved in Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia was amazing, from my editor Michelle to the wonderful folks at Templar. Thank you all!
On a more personal note, I’ve been having a blast with Book Four. Not too long ago, I finished a large and important chunk of the story, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy, and now things are hopping with Eragon & Co. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but here’s a little teaser: The chapter I just completed is titled Brains! And no, there aren’t any zombies in the book, unfortunately.
Mmm, brains . . .
May your swords stay sharp!
The book is framed as a gift from Eragon to the reader. In fifteen illustrated spreads, the reader is invited to explore the landscape and cities of Alagaësia and its many races, including dragons, humans, Urgals, dwarves and elves.
On the inside front cover of the Book there is a letter that reads:
Kvetha, Shur'tugal. Greetings, Dragon Rider.
Welcome to your new home. I wish I could be here to greet you in person, as does Saphira, but a matter of the utmost importance has arisen, and we must leave at once. I realize that you must have a host of unanswered questions. After all, it's not every day a dragon chooses you to become her Rider and then strangers sweep you away from your family and fly you across the whole of Alagaësia and beyond. Anyone would find the experience overwhelming, especially during such unsettled times, when an unnamed shadow stalks the land. Therefore, I have compiled these papers for you, as an introduction to the most important peoples, places, and things within Alagaësia. They will also explain more about what it means to be a Rider. Study them most carefully, for someday your life may depend upon this information. Mine has, and more than once. Your training will have to wait until Saphira and I return. In the meantime, take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with your surroundings and with the others who live in this hall. Again, welcome. Welcome and congratulations. It is a great honor to be chosen as a Dragon Rider. I hope that you will be happy here, and that you will come to regard us as part of your family.
May the stars watch over you,
The first spread is an introduction with some information about the Ancient Language and some of its glyphs. This spread is followed by several spreads detailing the geography, landscape, and wildlife of Alagaësia. Through the bulk of the book, the history is covered, as well as the dragons, Dragon Riders, and peoples. Each major race is shown in detail, including information on their cultures, languages, and cities. Dust from the Star Sapphire is even shown. The last page is on the Eldunarí.
On the inside back cover there is another letter:
Normally, I would not tell a new Rider like you about the Eldunarí, especially since your dragon is still too young to understand this. But, as I said before, these are unsettled times, and it is possible that you are not safe, not even within these walls. For that reason, I have decided to leave you, enclosed herein, Glaedr's heart of hearts. If the unnamed shadow should attack while Saphira and I are gone, Glaedr will guide and protect the two of you. Pay close attention to what he says, for he is very wise. Take his Eldunarí with you wherever you go and be most careful with it; if it breaks, he will die. I hope my notes have been a help to you. Alagaësia is a wide and wondrous place, and I am sure that as you learn more about it, you will come to love it as I do. Being a Rider means that you must accept certain responsibilities and face certain dangers, but it also allows you to do and see things that others can only dream of. The price is well worth the reward, I think.
Now go and prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
Glaedr's Eldunarí can be seen behind the letter.