Galbatorix was the King of the Broddring Empire (which covered most of Alagaësia ) from about 7901 AC to 8001 AC having deposed of the previous ruler. He was one of the last Dragon Riders having betrayed them during the Fall; nearly wiping out the entire order. He is the main antagonist of the Inheritance Cycle and the unseen overarching antagonist of both Eragon and Eldest, one of the two main antagonists (alongside Murtagh) of Brisingr, and the main antagonist of Inheritance.
He was the King of Alagaësia by conquest. He was chosen by a Dragon and became a Rider in his early years. His Dragon was killed by Urgals during a reckless journey through The Spine. Galbatorix, driven mad by grief and hatred, demanded another Dragon from the Dragon Rider council, but they refused, sensing his mental instability. With his request denied, Galbatorix took it upon himself to steal another Dragon. He convinced a Dragon Rider to help him kill an elder rider to get revenge. Together they killed the unknown rider and disappeared for a while. He then reappeared with another rider named Morzan. With Morzan's help he killed another rider that had a newly hatched egg. He took the hatchling away and disappeared yet again. He renamed him Shruikan and forced the Dragon to serve him by Dark magic. He waited until Shruikan was big enough to be able to fight multiple dragons at once and then he reappeared with Morzan by his side. He then found twelve different riders who were sympathetic for him and with Morzan by his side they created the thirteen Forsworn, a group of Dragon Riders and their Dragons loyal only to him. They murdered all the other Dragons and Riders in existence, or so he thought. He proceeded to create an Empire through which he ruled most of Alagesia.
Galbatorix had pitch black hair, a sharp face, and a tan skin. However, he is shown to be bald in the film. He appeared to only be in his 4th decade of life despite being over 13 decades old. His only described clothes were a heavy cape and black gloves which he said to have fashined from the wings of Belgabad.
Born in the ancient province of Inzilbêth and one of several siblings (all of whom were dead throughout the books), Galbatorix was accepted into the ranks of the Dragon Riders at the age of ten, after being traditionally tested for great potential. He quickly excelled in all areas of combat and spellcasting, which filled him with pride, arrogance, and vanity. Although some of his fellow Riders were wary of his swift rise to power, the majority of the order neglected caution, ultimately leading to their downfall.
Descent into Madness
Soon after his training had been finished, when he was about 19 years old, Galbatorix, with his dragon Jarnunvösk, two companions, and their dragons, entered the Spine believing their sheerZ their powers would protect them. During this reckless trip, they ventured far north into Urgal territory and they were eventually ambushed in the dead of night as they made camp. All were slain, except for Galbatorix who, despite suffering great wounds himself, managed to defeat his attackers. In the confusion, a stray arrow pierced the heart of Jarnunvösk and without the knowledge to save her, she perished. Driven deranged by the loss of Jarnunvösk, Galbatorix wandered aimlessly in the wild for weeks, utterly delirious. He began to long for death and so he blindly attacked any creature or Urgal he happened upon: however, he was too skilled to defeat and was denied the release he craved. Eventually, he became so terrifying in appearance that the Urgals avoided him altogether. Sometime during this period he likely met Durza, the spirits inside Durza teaching him many things and in return, Galbatorix helped Durza restrain the spirits that controlled him. After a while, he began to hope that the Riders might grant him another Dragon. Encouraged by this, he decided to journey back to the order. Starvation plagued him during this journey and when he finally reached the outer edge of the Spine, he was found unconscious and close to death by a farmer, who promptly summoned the Riders. Once he had recovered sufficiently, he stood before the Elder Riders and demanded that they grant him a new dragon, but Oromis discerned the madness in him and persuaded the other Elders to deny his request.
This effectively drove Galbatorix further into insanity and hatred. His mind became twisted by the previous events until he came, in his grief and rage, to believe that it was the Riders' fault that Jarnunvösk had died. Having firmly convinced himself of this, he plotted his eventual revenge.
The Fall of the Riders
In secret, he began training himself in the dark arts under the tutelage of the Shade Durza. With this newfound power, he persuaded a sympathetic Rider to lure and assassinate an Elder. When the deed was done, he then turned on his ally, murdered him and his dragon in cold blood, then seized his Eldunarí before letting out a demented scream of insanity. The other Riders quickly discovered him in the act, but he fled into the wild, biding his time. He hid in the wastelands in agony with only the Eldunarí for company, always alert for his pursuers, who eventually gave up on their search. Years later, after finally subduing the Eldunarí and bending it to his will, he found another young Rider, a strong, but weak-willed human named Morzan and persuaded him to join his cause. Morzan then aided him by leaving a gate unlocked in the elf city of Ilirea, which later became known as Urû'baen. This allowed Galbatorix to enter and steal the dragon hatchling Shruikan after murdering his Rider. Through the use of certain types of dark magic, Shruikan was bonded to Galbatorix and forced into servitude.
Besides Morzan, twelve other corrupt Riders came to serve Galbatorix out of greed, arrogance, or otherwise some kind of desire for vengeance for perceived wrongs or the desire to tear down what had been built. These thirteen Riders were known as the Forsworn, or Wyrdfell to the elves. With the Forsworn behind him and augmented by the Eldunarí he captured and forced into servitude, Galbatorix returned to the world to challenge the Riders. His desire was not only for vengeance, but to acquire as many Eldunarí as he could. He slaughtered every Rider he came across and took their dragons' heart of hearts, before seizing the whole Eldunarí collection the Riders carelessly guarded - or so he thought. At the behest of Vrael, Oromis and their dragons Umaroth and Glaedr, 135 Eldunarí and 243 dragon eggs, 26 of which had been set aside for the Dragon Riders, were hidden in the Vault of Souls along with the Eldunarí of Umaroth himself, in a subterranean area beneath the roots of Mount Erolas, deep enough to evade magical detection. The memory was magically removed from the minds of all who knew, including the mothers of every egg, using magic similar to that the Dragons had used in the Banishing of the Names. Galbatorix would never learn of the existence of this cache and erroneously believed his victory to be absolute. During this time, he ruthlessly hunted down and murdered his teachers. Eventually, he came to battle Vrael, the leader of the Riders, at the gates of Doru Araeba. Vrael would've emerged victorious during this duel, but just as he was about to deal the final blow, he hesitated, allowing Galbatorix a chance to viciously wound him in the side. Forced into retreat, Vrael hoped to recover at a hidden fortress on top of the mountain, Edoc'sil, or Utgard. He did not get a chance, as Galbatorix hunted him there and in the duel that followed, Galbatorix decapitated Vrael after kicking him between his legs. With the leader of the Riders dead and most of the others massacred, Galbatorix became one of the most powerful beings in Alagaësia, only achieving so because of the Eldunarí's power he used. From this point on, he then became king over all the land.
Galbatorix also stole Islingr, Vrael's sword, from the dead Rider's corpse, claiming it for his own and renaming it "Vrangr". However he failed to obtain the Eldunarí of Umaroth, Vrael's Dragon, as it had been hidden from him in the Vault of Souls.
The Broddring Empire
Galbatorix and his followers defeated both the elves and the dwarves, both of whom afterward went into hiding. Galbatorix then captured Ilirea with the Forsworn, where he deposed and murdered King Angrenost, the rightful ruler of the Broddring Kingdom. With this act, he proclaimed himself the new monarch of Alagaësia. From then on, his domain became known as simply the Empire. It should be noted that despite this, the Broddring Kingdom still officially existed, though by the time of the Rider War it was little more than a name upon royal decrees and became obsolete. Most of those under Galbatorix's rule never even knew it existed. His rule, though, was ruthless and cruel, and although much of the Broddring Empire stayed loyal to Galbatorix, there was a small rebel group called the Varden.
The Varden and the Death of the Forsworn
After naming himself king of Alagaësia, he took an active role among the Broddring Empire. Even so, he spent most of his time in his black castle in Urû'baen, formerly Ilirea. He spent forty years there, gaining power, enslaving his horde of Eldunarí, rarely venturing beyond the walls of the capital, and was accompanied by a massive security detail during the few occasions that he did leave. During this time, his Empire fell into chaos. After finally subjugating the spirits of the dragons confined in the Eldunarí he had captured, Galbatorix then embarked on a vicious and brutal military campaign to restore order in the Broddring Empire.
His ruthlessness and cruelty earned him the enmity of many places, such as Palancar Valley and its village of Carvahall, Eragon's place of childhood, although most of the Broddring Empire remained loyal to him, if only through fear. In particular, the country of Surda sought to remain independent of his rule, but did not believe it wise to take up arms against him. Brom, a surviving Dragon Rider whose dragon, Saphira, had been murdered in the Battle of Doru Araeba, sought revenge against Morzan and Galbatorix. He gathered together many people that had been exiled, imprisoned, or abused by the Broddring Empire, thus forming a rebel organization known as the Varden, which based itself in the lands beyond the Hadarac Desert, which were beyond the limit of Galbatorix's control. With an elaborate network of spies and agents located throughout Alagaësia, it quickly became one of the most well-known organizations that opposed the Broddring Empire. During this time, the Varden assassinated many members of the Forsworn, with Brom being a major contributor by slaying two himself and causing the deaths of five others, leaving only one alive: Morzan, first and last of the Forsworn.
Sometime after subjugating the Empire more-or-less to his will, Galbatorix sought out the two remaining Lethrblaka, who's species had been all but annihilated by the Riders and bartered for their and their newborn Ra'zac offspring's services in exchange for his protection and a limitless supply of their favorite food: human flesh. He also granted them a new home in Helgrind, which he hollowed out and placed concealment spells around to ensure their lair's entrance was hidden on the conditions that they serve him by tracking down and destroying his most terrible and powerful enemies, which the creatures did very successfully. The Ra'zac thereon became Galbatorix's personal dragon-hunters, investigating any rumors of surviving dragons and reporting back to their new master of their findings. Galbatorix also took custody of the Lethrblaka's unhatched eggs, which he presumably took on the unlikely chance his inhuman soldiers were destroyed. Though the exact number of Ra'zac eggs Galbatorix to custody of is unconfirmed, he entrusted a pair of them to the Priests of Helgrind (who secretly worshipped the Lethrblaka and Ra'zac) and apparently scattered the rest throughout the Empire.
After the fall of the Dragon Riders, Galbatorix had in his possession the last three known dragon eggs in Alagaësia, which he kept alive in the hopes of inducting a new order of Dragon Riders into the world under his control. Try as he might, he could not get any of the eggs to hatch for his servants. A thief, hired by the Varden, named Hefring, later attempted to steal the eggs, but during his escape, he was only able to obtain one out of the three eggs, after realizing the Eldunarí had helped him and being terrified. Morzan pursued this thief to Gil'ead, but Brom, still seeking revenge against Morzan, tracked him there and slew him before he could, ending the Forsworn. He proceeded to transport the egg to the Varden, before going into hiding in Carvahall for about twenty years.
The Rider War
Prior to the War
After this incident, Galbatorix extended his friendship to Murtagh, son of Morzan, who had been living in Galbatorix's castle since the death of his parents. Murtagh, though knowing it would be unwise to accept the offer, was seduced by Galbatorix's vision of turning the Broddring Empire into a Utopian society to benefit all Alagaësia, guarded and protected by a new order of Riders. Soon after, however, Galbatorix fell into a rage upon learning that rebels had intercepted and destroyed three brigades of Imperial troops, as well as commanded Murtagh to take a company of soldiers and decimate the village of Cantos, which was known to harbor the rebels. Murtagh refused the order when Galbatorix commanded him to slaughter the town's entire populace and fled Urû'baen with his faithful teacher, Tornac. However, Galbatorix had anticipated this and put soldiers to guard the gates to and from Urû'baen. While Murtagh was able to fight his way free, Tornac was killed in the struggle. Hoping to recapture Murtagh, Galbatorix sent the Ra'zac to pursue him.
Using his powers of dark magic, Galbatorix then took control of all the Urgal clans and placed his Shade, Durza, in overall command. He planned on using the ones who killed Jarnunvösk to eliminate his enemies before he could exterminate them at his leisure. One night, Durza and the Urgals ambushed the elven dragon egg courier, Arya while she was transporting the egg back to the Varden. Although Durza and the Urgals managed to capture Arya, their mission ultimately failed when Arya teleported the egg to the Spine, where it would be discovered by a young farm-boy named Eragon.
Galbatorix, now desperate to obtain the egg, told the Ra'zac to cease their pursuit of Murtagh and hunt down the egg instead. Their search led them to the village of Carvahall, deep in Palancar Valley. Eragon, however, eluded capture, and Galbatorix would later learn from Durza that the egg had indeed hatched for Eragon, becoming Saphira. He told off the Shade's confidence by pointing out that the Varden would be encouraged to challenge him now that they knew Saphira had hatched.
Around the time that Eragon first became a Dragon Rider, Galbatorix, fearing an uprising in the north by local farmers, began the Northern Massacres, where he ordered mass raids by the Urgals on towns he suspected of supporting the Varden. His intentions were to scare them out of supporting the Varden and supporting him instead. Whole towns were decimated and their civilians slaughtered. At Yazuac, the entire population was murdered by the Urgals and piled together high at the center of the city. Some cities, such as Daret, were more fortunate, being able to fend off the Urgal attacks. Others, such as Carvahall, escaped the notice of the Urgals, being hidden by the mountains of the Spine. In order to cover-up these attacks from the general populace, Galbatorix had his agents spread rumors that the Urgals had allied themselves with the Varden and that they were the actual instigators behind the attacks.
The Ra'zac would later encounter Eragon and Brom in Dras-Leona. They succeeded in murdering Brom later that night some distance south of the city, but were driven away by Murtagh, who had apparently been tracking them and Eragon. Murtagh, Eragon and Saphira then made their way to Gil'ead, but were intercepted in their camp the night before they entered the city. Eragon was briefly imprisoned by Durza, but Murtagh and Saphira successfully rescued him, along with Arya.
Sometime in the same week, Galbatorix also planned to leave Urû'baen for the first time in over a decade to deal with the ruler of Dras-Leona, Marcus Tábor, who had been disobeying orders and was becoming increasingly independent, though he privately wanted to search for Murtagh in Dras-Leona.
The Urgals pursued Eragon and his companions south towards the Beor Mountains, where the Varden was secretly located. By then, Galbatorix was aware of the location of the Varden.
The Battle under Farthen Dûr
Gather my armies, and follow them. Leave no one alive.— Galbatorix, to Durza (in the movie)
Eventually, Galbatorix hatched a plan to completely destroy the rebellion, the Urgals, as well as the dwarves altogether. He decided to make an all-out attack on the Varden and the dwarves in their capital of Tronjheim, a city that lay below the mountain of Farthen Dûr, with the Urgals. He chided Durza for failing to apprehend Eragon, having already heard of the "complications" that had impeded the Shade's progress, and placed him in charge of the assault. The Urgals staged a surprise attack on Tronjheim via underground tunnels that connected his hidden fortress in Ithrö Zhâda, a captured ancient dwarven city formerly known as Orthíad. After they crushed the Varden, they would proceed to murder the dwarf king and all his clan chiefs, eventually wreaking enough havoc upon the Beor Mountains to bring the dwarves to their knees. The Urgals would then be weak enough from the attacks that they would easily be wiped out by Galbatorix's armies. At the same time, he planned to capture Eragon and Saphira, so as to reestablish a new order of Dragon Riders under his control, recapture Murtagh, and then concentrate his military power on bringing the elves to heel.
In the Battle under Farthen Dûr, however, his plans ultimately failed when the Varden and the dwarves successfully fended off the Urgals by re-routing them and Eragon killed Durza. The Urgal clans turned on themselves, as Galbatorix forced them to unite against their rules.
Nevertheless, the battle wasn't entirely fruitless for Galbatorix. The Twins, two sorcerers that had served as Imperial spies the entire time they had been in the Varden, betrayed Murtagh and Ajihad by commanding a group of Urgals to ambush them. In the aftermath, Ajihad was murdered while Murtagh was captured and brought before Galbatorix. Although Galbatorix was furious with Murtagh for defying his will, one of the dragon eggs hatched for Murtagh and was subsequently named Thorn. Galbatorix then figured out Murtagh and Thorn's true names and forced them to swear allegiance to him in the Ancient Language. With this act, Galbatorix made Murtagh his greatest general and taught him the secrets of magic and the dark arts. Galbatorix supplied Murtagh with multiple Eldunarí, enhancing Murtagh's power so that it was greater than Eragon's and that of the elves. Murtagh was also more powerful than any of the Forsworn had ever been, however, Galbatorix kept the bulk of his Eldunarí for himself.
The Twins also provided Galbatorix with a very important detail: the name of Eragon's mother, Selena. They had figured out the connection between Eragon and Murtagh while scanning the former's mind. Therefore, both parties presumed that Morzan was Eragon's father, which would be demoralizing to the Varden if they knew that their enemy's own son is fighting for them. However, the Twins information was later discovered to be incorrect, as Eragon's true father was Brom.
Galbatorix desired to bring Eragon and Saphira into his service. Saphira was named after Brom's deceased dragon and was the last known female dragon in existence and when she bred with one of his dragons, the entire species would be reborn once more. He gave Murtagh and Thorn specific instructions not to kill them.
The Battle of the Burning Plains
In the months that followed, Galbatorix decided that he was no longer willing to tolerate the existence of Surda, a country on the southern coast of Alagaësia independent of the Broddring Empire, which had long supported his enemies. After the Battle under Farthen Dûr and Durza's death, the spell binding the Urgals to Galbatorix's will was broken. With this, the Urgals chose to ally with the Varden, despising the treachery Galbatorix had lead them through. Consequently, the king now had no choice but to rely on his standard troops. He ordered Murtagh and Thorn to lead troops from Gil'ead down to Surda to conquer the nation once and for all. He also had one of his military fronts, the Blackmoor Shipping Company, construct the Dragon Wing, which he intended to use as the spear-head of the Imperial Navy, created to attack both pirate ships and mercenary ships employed by the Varden and seemingly transport troops from Feinster to Surda. Meanwhile, the Varden had also relocated from Tronjheim to Surda. Despite Murtagh's attempts, the Surdans and the Varden discovered the approaching Imperial army and they subsequently marched north to engage them in combat at the Burning Plains. Eragon and Saphira, having learned of the upcoming battle, rushed to aid the Varden, leaving their training in Du Weldenvarden behind. With orders to capture both Eragon and Saphira, Murtagh and Thorn fought against them in the following battle and although they may have been victorious, Murtagh's compassion for his younger half-brother allowed him to escape.
Galbatorix was furious with Murtagh for allowing Eragon and Saphira to escape. Upon learning that Eragon and Saphira killed the Ra'zac, a disaster that could easily have been avoided had Murtagh and Thorn followed their orders, Galbatorix slew five nearby servants in a rage and then turned his wrath on Murtagh and Thorn. Then, he deployed Murtagh and a group of his painless soldiers to Surda, with stricter orders to bring Eragon and Saphira to him. However, Galbatorix's plan failed again when Eragon and Saphira drove Murtagh and Thorn away with the help of Arya and twelve other elves.
When Galbatorix heard the elves were attacking the north of his Empire, he responded quickly, rather than waiting for them to come to him. Murtagh was sent to Gil'ead to confront the elves.
While Oromis and Glaedr fought Murtagh and Thorn above Gil'ead, Galbatorix entered Murtagh's mind and asked Oromis to join him. Oromis refused and the battle continued. Galbatorix swore to kill Oromis and take Glaedr's Eldunarí. Unpredictably, Oromis had one of his spasms and Naegling, his sword which had all of his wards, was knocked from his hand. Galbatorix, through his possession of Murtagh, took advantage of the opening and rent Oromis from shoulder to hip with Zar'roc. Although Glaedr attempted to fly Oromis back to Gil'ead so Islanzadí's spellcasters could save him, he was ultimately unsuccessful and Oromis perished. Glaedr dove back into battle with Thorn, but the red dragon was too quick for him to defeat. His physical body died as Thorn bit the back of his head and neck, killing him instantly. However, before departing for battle, Glaedr entrusted Eragon and Saphira with his Eldunarí and consequently kept himself free from Galbatorix's bondage.
Capture of Nasuada
After losing both Belatona and Dras-Leona to the Varden's advance, Galbatorix sent Murtagh to capture Nasuada, the leader of the Varden. Imprisoned in Urû'baen, Nasuada was tortured by Galbatorix who wanted her to join his cause and swear an oath to him in the Ancient Language. However, unbeknownst to the king, Murtagh was helping Nasuada withstand the torments and gradually fell in love with her. Determined to get her out of Galbatorix's hands, he believed that only by delivering Eragon and Saphira to him would work.
Battle of Urû'baen
The Varden, along with the elves and the dwarves, arrived at Urû'baen at long last. Galbatorix gave command of the city's defenses to Lord Barst whom he trusted with one of his Eldunarí. He also rendered all his soldiers in Urû'baen immune to pain.
While the battle raged on, Eragon, Saphira, Arya and Elva confronted Galbatorix. However, Galbatorix used the Name of Names, the true name of the Ancient Language, which he found on a tablet written by a race not of Alagaësia to immobilize them. He also had a boy and a girl held hostage by his side, making it impossible for his enemies to attack him for fear of their lives. Galbatorix expressed surprise to find Umaroth amongst the Eldunari in Eragon's possession. He then revealed his plan to use the Name of Names to win the battle and subjugate every magician in Alagaësia.
Tired of games, Eragon attempted to goad Galbatorix into an honest battle to decide the fate of Alagaësia. Galbatorix didn't care for "honest battles" and instead decided to pit brother against brother, declaring that Eragon and Murtagh will fight a non-lethal duel without magic or Eldunarí. However, Eragon revealed that Brom was his real father, not Morzan. Taken by surprise, Galbatorix said he could tell that he was telling the truth just by looking at him.
Eventually, Eragon won the duel. Then, Murtagh suddenly turned against Galbatorix, stripping him of most of his wards. Galbatorix retaliated and tried to force Eragon to swear fealty to him.
Galbatorix was defeated by the use of an Empathy Spell cast by Eragon without the use of the Ancient Language and aided by the Eldunarí. This spell forced him to understand and feel all the emotions he had invoked in others since he was born, which were mostly painful. As this was not a direct attack and Murtagh had already stripped him of most of his wards, Eragon made Galbatorix vulnerable at long last.
The king was unable to defeat Eragon in swordplay due to the painful effects of the Empathy Spell. He had a brief opportunity to attack Eragon whose leg collapsed from a previous injury, but failed to seize the opportunity due to the Empathy Spell's painful effects. With the king in extreme agony and stripped of most of his wards, Eragon was able to run Galbatorix through. Galbatorix was so overcome by the effects of the Empathy Spell that he pleaded with Eragon to end the spell even as he stood dying. When Eragon refused, the king, out of desperation, commanded himself to "Be not!". The ultimate effect of the suicidal spell that he cast literally caused himself to stop existing, converting every atom of his body into pure energy and creating a massive blast which would have killed all others present if Eragon had not shielded them in time. The shockwave of the blast destroyed the castle and caused great damage to the city and troops outside. The effects of this spell were long lasting and seemed to linger in the city long after the battle was over, similar to a nuclear blast.
Role in the Eragon Movie
In the movie, Galbatorix was portrayed by John Malkovich. Throughout the movie, he is seen giving orders to Durza. In his throne room in the movie, he has a dragon-like throne and a map nearby which, at the end of the movie, he cuts down, revealing Shruikan behind it. He's depicted as calm and very intelligent in the movie and only reveals his frustration at the end of the film after Durza's failure. Most of his backstory was left out and he aims to kill Eragon as well as Saphira, as opposed to trying to use Saphira to recreate the dragons, as is the case in the book. He did, however, refer to Saphira's egg as a "stone", that he "suffers without his stone', as well as that Durza was not to "prolong his suffering".
Powers and abilities
Galbatorix was inarguably the most powerful magician in Alagaësia. Having thousands of the dragons' Eldunarí under his control, Galbatorix's magical and mental powers were close to unlimited. At the peak of his power, he had discovered the True Name of the Ancient Language, giving him complete control over the language of magic and those who used it. With it, he can restrict other spell-casters from using magic via the Ancient Language, break heretofore "unbreakable" oaths sworn in said language, and remove any spell (such as wards) cast using the Ancient Language.
Even in his youth, Galbatorix was a prodigy in combat and spellcasting. When Galbatorix and two other Riders were ambushed by Urgals, he alone was able to kill his attackers and survive. He became stronger after learning the Dark Magic and slew many other fully-trained Riders. It was revealed in Brisingr that he also took energy from Eldunarya.The only Rider who overcame him in a duel was Vrael; Galbatorix survived only through the elder Rider's hesitation to deliver a killing blow as well as his own resorting to kicking the leader of the Riders in his testicles.
In addition, Galbatorix is shown to be a skilled military tactician and political maneuverer and is adept at manipulating people and events. His insanity evidently had no effect on his intelligence. Galbatorix is also highly charismatic. Murtagh stated that he was "the most convincing and frightening man I've ever met". His voice was deep, rich, and seductive, imbued with great authority; many considered it to be among his most deadly weapons.
Numerous characters such as Brom and Glaedr have stated that Galbatorix's greatest strength is not magic or physical might but his ability to dominate the minds of others. Over the years he had bent many a powerful mind to his will, including his second dragon Shruikan, the Shade Durza, and thousands of dragons' Eldunarí. Despite their immense power and will, Galbatorix broke the minds of the dragons one by one until they blindly served him and his servants. On the receiving end of the king's mental attack, Eragon noted that Galbatorix derived a perverse pleasure from breaking into minds: That he enjoyed his opponent's pain and suffering explained why he was so proficient at the task.
For all of Galbatorix's power, his education in magic seems to have been incomplete. He labored under the impression that, once he discovered the true name of the Ancient Language, he would be able to prevent anyone from using magic without his permission. This suggests, as noted by Eragon, that Galbatorix was not aware that it was possible to perform magic non-verbally. During his training, Oromis told Eragon; "Only know this; that which you ask for (non-verbal magic) was not taught to the Riders-and is not taught to our magicians-until they had, and have, mastered every other aspect of magic, for this is the secret to the true nature of magic and the ancient language".
He also appears cocky and overconfident in the books. His decision to not attack the Varden personally when Eragon was weak and vulnerable proved to be his ultimate mistake. His decision to wait out and chip away at the Varden while trying to find the Ancient Language's true name gave Eragon time to become more powerful and sure of himself. He also believed that his power made him untouchable by even the most determined of assassins.
Galbatorix's possible greatest weakness was his lack of compassion and understanding of love. His continued abuses of Murtagh and Thorn estranged them and his inability to see the effect Nasuada had on Murtagh allowed Murtagh's true name to change. His every act of cruelty gave more power to the Empathy Spell when it was cast, eventually giving it enough power that the pain it caused Galbatorix forced him to destroy himself.
In the film, Galbatorix is portrayed as tall, thin and bald with a beard and long, curving nails. He dresses in black armor and has a long black cape, characteristic of villains in fiction.
His physical appearance in the books differs wildly, as the film took a lot of creative liberties. Christopher Paolini illustrated a pen-and-ink portrait of Galbatorix, which appeared in the Deluxe Edition of Brisingr and also in Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia, a sketch that matches the description made of him at the end of Inheritance. In it, he is depicted as a man with long facial features, shoulder-length dark hair, with dark eyes and a worn and aged cloak (cut from one of Belgabad's wings), holding Vrangr in front of him. The book also adds that he is tall, broad-shouldered and well built, features that are not clearly visible on Paolini's drawing.
Personality and traits
In the early days of his life, Galbatorix was a proud and foolhardy man, a trait that was augmented by his superiority to his peers during their many training sessions. His arrogance was looked upon with caution by a few of the Dragon Riders at the time but ultimately dismissed, consequently leading to their downfall.
His recklessness was demonstrated most when he ventured into Urgal territory under the belief that he was strong enough to defend himself. When Jarnunvösk was killed in the ensuing conflict, his mind took its path into madness and insanity. Fractured by the loss of Jarnunvösk, as was a common occurrence upon losing one's dragon, Galbatorix eventually persuaded himself that the Elder Riders were to blame for Jarnunvösk's death.
As shown through many of his actions, Galbatorix had a talent for being very manipulative, possessing a genius level of intellect. Indeed, upon returning from his trip to the Spine, he was initially able to convince his fellow Riders that he was calm and capable of dealing with Jarnunvösk's death. It was not until he was brought upon the Council that he was unable to conceal his demented mind from the Riders. His intelligence is shown when he was able to come up with a plan that allowed him to defeat all but one of the Dragon Riders and kill virtually all the dragons.
At times, he was fully capable of hiding his madness under the guise of a kind, forgiving man fully dedicated to Alagaësia's well-being. At times, he may appear to be a calm, charismatic man, as shown when he attempted to earn Murtagh's trust. Only when his words are denied and his authority rejected does he reveal his true nature and his madness, cursing his enemies and scorning them to death. He is, in reality, easily angered and has a fiery, unmerciful temper. Upon learning of the Ra'zac's death, he slaughtered five of his nearby servants in frustration. When a few Imperial brigades were destroyed nearby, he ordered Murtagh to lay waste to the town of Cantos, a suspected rebel stronghold, as well as have its entire population put to the stake. His cruelty is likely to have been influenced by the dementia formed when Jarnunvösk died, as well as he appears to hold little regard for other beings' lives.
During some of Nasuada's chapters in the latest book we learn that Galbatorix seems to have quite a controlling personality as seen when he explains his plans to Nasuada such as wanting to have complete control in the land over magic with nobody being able to use it unless he himself says so. It is also evident in the way that Murtagh has talked about him and especially in the quote "I can't so much as tie up my boots without Galbatorix saying so".
His talent for breaking into people's minds stems from the perverse pleasure he finds in the act which makes it far easier for him than most magicians.
Despite his insanity and his obvious issues, Galbatorix is apparently a sexually voracious man with a number of concubines kept in his castle to satisfy his sex drive. The fact that they are nothing more to him than concubines shows Galbatorix's inability to care about people due to his lack of emotional intimacy or ties to his concubines.
Like a great many dictators he also seems to have convinced himself that his intentions were in fact noble and thus every cruel act was justified for the greater good.
Behind the scenes
Is it evil that he wants to unite Alagaësia under a single banner, eliminate the need for war, and restore the Riders?— Murtagh
There has been a great deal of discussion among fans about whether or not Galbatorix truly is evil, or if he does have good intentions behind his actions. Some fans believe that his attempt to reestablish the Dragon Riders is proof of this theory. Others say he merely wants to rebuild the Riders to obtain more power for himself and when he creates his new order, he and his Riders would rule in tyranny like he and the Forsworn did in the past. Regardless, when he did have a personal Rider Order through the Forsworn, he did not seem interested in securing peace and prosperity but rather his own dominion through cruel and sadistic methods.
Some fans believe: If he was genuine about using the Name of Names to ensure that no magician would be able to harm another person: human, dwarf, or elf. That none would be able to cast a spell without permission and only magics that are benign and beneficial would be allowed. No more would humans or dwarves have to fear elves. No more would Riders be able to impose their will on others. No more would those who cannot use magic be prey for those who can. To create a world where a person will stand or fall based upon the strength of their limbs and the keenness of their mind and not whether chance has granted them skill with magic. For the good of all, he would impose limits upon every magician there is. This would prevent magicians everywhere to continue to have their way, regardless of the harm they cause others.
The author, Christopher Paolini, has stated that he enjoys doing what he does, adding on to his sadistic nature and perhaps implying his evil mind.
How to Train Your Dragon
Galbatorix is similar to Drago Bludvist in the How to Train Your Dragon animated movie series. When he was young, persons that were close to him were killed (Galbatorix's first Dragon and Rider friends were killed by Urgals, Drago's family and clan were killed by Dragons) and he was the only man who survived this attack. That loss broke his sanity and he became an evil and mad man with a lust for domination over all Dragons. He found a Dragon hatchling and trained him using cruel methods unlike other Riders (as a result his Dragon became mad), and raised him to enormous size. Using his new power he enslaves minds of other Dragons and abuse them (Galbatorix uses Dark Magic, Drago uses mental ability of his Dragon to control another ones as Alpha Dragon ), becoming a tyrannical warlord who wishes to conquer all of the world's Dragons and with them, conquer the world. He is also convinced that his cruel actions have good motives and will bring a peace to the world. During the story he confronts the main protagonist of the saga (Eragon / Hiccup) and nearly kills him, but the protagonist survives the battle and defeats him and frees all enslaved Dragons from his control, becoming the leader of all Dragon Riders. The difference is that Galbatorix and his dragon Shruikan have been killed, while Drago and his Bewilderbeast were just injured, lost power and gone away, and their fate is still unresolved.
Galbatorix is comparable in characterization to Emperor Palpatine of the Star Wars saga: he resembles Senator Palpatine (Darth Sidious) in his rise to domination and unexpected overthrowing of the established order, replacing it with an Empire. Moreover, like Palpatine, Galbatorix has been shown to have a lust for domination and in some ways, an insane persona. This, along with his calm and charismatic nature that breaks away with an unmerciful temper, has earned him stark similarities with Palpatine.
Another character from Star Wars he resembles is Anakin Skywalker. As a Jedi Padawan, he showed great skill, prowess, talent, and potential in his youth, was accepted into the ranks at a young age, gained incredible raw power as he matured, as well as eventually betrayed the order and slew many of his former comrades. In both cases, two of the principal causes were the death of someone close to him and being denied a request by the head Council of their corresponding orders.
Galbatorix can also be compared to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter books. He was a dark lord with unparalleled skill in magic, especially in dark magic, as well as wanted to take over the Earth with the help of his servants, (The Forsworn/Death Eaters) whom he trained in the black arts. Galbatorix also experiments with vessels that held souls, the Eldunarí, just as Voldemort experimented with Horcruxes, which he could use to house his own soul. Both Galbatorix and Voldemort are very charismatic and are able to easily manipulate people's minds.
- Eragon's ability to traverse The Spine without incident is in ironic contrast to Galbatorix. In fact the Spine has brought much good fortune to Eragon, while Galbatorix has suffered much because of it.
- Galbatorix lost Jarnunvösk in the far northern reaches of the Spine and suffered on the journey back, while Eragon found Saphira's egg there and regularly traveled there to hunt.
- Galbatorix lost half of his army there (later revealed to be the result of the Urgals under Nar Tulkhqa and more than half of the army was lost), while Eragon's entire home village was able to travel through it to escape the Ra'zac, with only minimal losses.
- He has a few concubines as mentioned by Murtagh to Nasuada in Inheritance.
- Like Brom, due to the loss of original dragon, Galbatorix began to age faster than a normal Human Rider (if not as quickly as a normal human), causing him to appear middle-aged. His bond with Shruikan, being unnatural, was not able to stop this process.