The Inheritance Cycle (previously known as the Inheritance Trilogy) is a series of high-fantasy novels by homeschooled author Christopher Paolini. The first book in the series, Eragon, was originally self-published by Paolini International LLC, the Paolini family's publishing business; later it was picked up by Alfred A. Knopf, and went on to become a New York Times bestseller, as did its sequel, Eldest. The third book in the series, Brisingr, was released in 2008 and the final title in the series, Inheritance, was released on November 8, 2011. Originally planned as a trilogy of books, the story evolved into a four book series. Fox 2000, a division of 20th Century Fox, purchased film rights to the first three books, and a film version of Eragon, directed by Stefen Fangmeier, was released on December 15, 2006. The audio editions of the series are narrated by Gerard Doyle, who also performs all character voices.
The series follows the exploits of Eragon, a teenage fosterling who becomes the first of a new order of Dragon Riders. Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, spearhead the attempt to defeat Galbatorix, the evil king of Alagaësia, who hunted down and killed the previous generation of Dragon Riders with help from his traitor Rider allies, the Forsworn .
Inheritance has garnered much attention due to the fact that Paolini was only fifteen when he began writing the first book, Eragon. Inheritance has also drawn a great deal of criticism from those who feel the nature of the books is derivative of other well known works of fantasy and science fiction, such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
Background[edit | edit source]
Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon after graduating from high school at the age of fifteen. Originally intended to be a screenplay, the work instead evolved into a full-fledged novel of nearly five hundred pages. It was originally published by his parents' publishing company, Paolini International LLC, in 2002. Paolini traveled to schools, libraries, and bookstores to promote Eragon - in one case, arm-wrestling a potential buyer to get him to read it - but the novel's popularity did not take off until it was discovered by author Carl Hiaasen, who recommended it to Knopf.
Paolini signed a three-book deal with Knopf, and Eldest, the second book in the series, appeared in 2005. Besides the conventional formats, with cover art by John Jude Palencar, Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance have also been released in audiobook and ebook formats.
Premise[edit | edit source]
Eragon, a 15-year-old farm boy, finds a dragon egg while out hunting in the Spine. When the dragon hatches for him, he takes on the responsibilities of the Dragon Riders and sets out on a quest to avenge his uncle's death by killing the Ra'zac and, eventually, to bring defeat to the evil tyrant who rules Alagaësia.
Books[edit | edit source]
Eragon[edit | edit source]
The first edition of Eragon was self-published by Christopher Paolini's family, and was released in 2002. The second edition, published by Knopf, appeared in 2003. The paperback edition was released in 2005.
Eldest[edit | edit source]
Eldest was released as a hardcover edition in August 2005. A Limited Edition, featuring extras such as a brief history of Alagaësia, a double-sided poster featuring Brom's ring and Glaedr (who was featured on Eldest's Japanese volume 2 cover), and a sneak peek of Brisingr. was released in September 2006. A paperback edition was also released in the same month.
Brisingr[edit | edit source]
New York, NY (January 16, 2008)—Following the #1 bestselling novels Eragon and Eldest, the third book in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle was titled Brisingr, it was announced by Nancy Hinkel, Publishing Director of Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Brisingr (BRIS-ing-gr), an Old Norse word for fire, will be familiar to fans of the cycle as the first word in the ancient language that Eragon hears. The jacket for Brisingr has been illustrated by the renowned John Jude Palencar, illustrator of both the Eragon and Eldest covers. Brisingr was released September 20, 2008.
Inheritance[edit | edit source]
Released on November 8, 2011, this is the fourth and final main book in the Inheritance cycle. Other projects based within Eragon's world are planned. A number of important details have already been released regarding this novel. On March 23, 2011, the publication date, title and cover artwork for this book were revealed. Author Christopher Paolini stated "The burning questions asked by fans around the world will finally be answered in this last installment."
Audiobooks and Electronic Editions[edit | edit source]
The Inheritance Cycle Audiobooks and Electronic Editions offer fans of the series another resource for exploring it. While The Inheritance Cycle remains massively popular in print form, it has also been adopted for a number of electronics.
Audiobooks have been a part of the series pretty much since its inception, with the first release on February 10, 2004, approximately six months since the original Eragon was released on August 26, 2003. All audiobooks in the series are unabridged and all are narrated by Gerard Doyle in the United States and by Andreas Fröhlich in Germany. These recordings have also been released as Audible Audio Editions, a format which can be downloaded to a computer and then used on most mobile devices. Both Eragon and Eldest were released on audio cassette, as well as CD. Due to lack of demand, this format was not offered for Brisingr. The audio edition of Brisingr includes an exclusive interview with author Christopher Paolini by his editor, revealing facts on the development of the novel and the authors' favorite characters and situations. Sample recordings of all are available through Amazon.com and other online merchants.
Additionally, the books in the series can be viewed in print format through at least two different services: Amazon.com's "Search Inside" feature and Google Books. Both are intended only as a free reference for searching and research, and both only allow viewing of a limited number of pages before viewing of further pages is temporarily blocked by IP address. All are also available for Amazon Kindle and other E-Reader formats.
Important characters[edit | edit source]
- Eragon: Son of Brom and a farm boy from Carvahall and the first Dragon Rider since the fall. The fate of Alagaësia rests in him and his Dragon's hands.
- Saphira: Eragon's sapphire blue female (formerly the last female) dragon and best friend.
- Roran: Eragon's and Murtagh's cousin, has made a name for himself as Roran Stronghammer when leading the villagers of Carvahall to Surda after being plagued by the Ra'zac. Risks his life to save the life of Katrina, his wife and then stays to help the Varden, eventually becoming the Lord of Palancar Valley.
- Brom: Storyteller of Carvahall and former Dragon Rider (his dragon was also called Saphira), who served as Eragon's father and first mentor; killed by the Ra'zac while protecting Eragon.
- Murtagh: Son of Morzan and former commander of Galbatorix's Army, who befriended Eragon and travelled with him to the Varden's hideout in the Beor Mountains. Saved Eragon's life several times. Later Galbatorix forces him to become the first Dragon Rider under his rule since the Forsworn were all killed. Eragon's half brother and Roran's cousin.
- Thorn: Murtagh's ruby red male dragon and loyal companion.
- Arya: Elf Queen, former Princess, daughter of former queen Islanzadí, guardian of Saphira's egg; she is saved by Eragon from the clutches of Galbatorix and Durza in Eragon. Accompanies Eragon in most of his missions.
- Galbatorix: Evil king of Alagaësia, who has ruled for over 100 years, most powerful rider ever due to his control over the Eldunarí of many dragons. His magically misled black dragon is called Shruikan.
- Durza: A Shade born under the name Carsaib, who served as Galbatorix's mentor in Dark Magic and commander of the Urgal tribes.
- Orik: New king of the dwarves. Also friend and foster brother of Eragon.
- Oromis: An ancient elf Dragon Rider hidden in the depths of Ellesméra, Eragon's second and more significant mentor, has also taught Morzan and Brom. He is killed by Murtagh while Galbatorix controls him. His dragon is called Glaedr.
- Glaedr: Oromis's massive gold dragon, right front paw lost in battle, killed by Thorn, but only after biting off a good part of Thorn's tail. His soul lives on in his heart of hearts, the Eldunarí, which is in Eragon's possession.
- Nasuada: Daughter of Ajihad, leader of the Varden and now High Queen of Alagaesia.
- Morzan: The first, the last, and most loyal of the Forsworn. Killed by Brom during the Batte of the Riders
Plot summary[edit | edit source]
Eragon, a fifteen-year-old farmboy, brings home a blue 'stone' from the mountain range known as the Spine, hoping it will buy his family meat for the winter. Instead, from it hatches a blue dragon named Saphira, making Eragon a Dragon Rider. According to the storyteller, Brom, in Eragon's home village, Carvahall, the Dragon Riders and dragons were mostly destroyed about a hundred years ago by an evil Rider, Galbatorix; his dragon, Shruikan; and thirteen other Riders and their dragons, called the Thirteen Forsworn. Due to Riders' immortality, Galbatorix is still king, but there is an opposite side of rebels called the Varden, along with dwarves and elves, who oppose him. Eragon lives with his uncle, Garrow, and his cousin, Roran; his uncle's wife, Marian, died a few years ago; Garrow's sister, Selena, Eragon's mother, left after giving birth; and his father is unknown.
When Saphira is several months old, two cloaked strangers, called the Ra'zac, burn Eragon's farm, and kill Garrow. Eragon and Saphira set off to get revenge. They are joined by Brom, who teaches Eragon swordsmanship and magic. He gives Eragon a Rider's sword, called Zar'roc. While visiting Brom's old friend, Jeod, Eragon's fortune is told by Angela the herbalist. He also gets advice from a werecat, Solembum, that there is a weapon under the roots of the "Menoa Tree" and he should go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak his name to the Vault of Souls to gain enormous power. The Ra'zac find them and kidnap them, but they are rescued by a young man named Murtagh. Brom dies from his wounds, revealing that he was once a Rider. He founded the Varden, stole Saphira's egg from Galbatorix with Jeod's help, and killed Morzan, the first and last of the Forsworn, and took his sword, which was Zar'roc. Eragon and Saphira then set off with Murtagh to find the Varden. On their way, they rescue an elf named Arya, whom Eragon saw several times in his dreams, and who tells them how to get to the Varden.
The Varden, led by a man called Ajihad, are hiding with the dwarves in a hollow mountain called Farthen Dûr. When the travelers arrive, Murtagh is locked up by two twin magicians because he is revealed to be Morzan's son, and Eragon and Saphira join the army. Arya is saved from death just in time; she reveals that she was ferrying Saphira's egg between Farthen Dûr and the land of the elves when she was captured. Eragon and Saphira begin to receive renown, and they bless a baby, Elva, in the Ancient Language with magic. Suddenly, Arya's captor, Durza the Shade, leads his army of ram monsters called Urgals into Farthen Dûr, where Eragon kills him with the help of Arya and Saphira, but Eragon receives a scar on his back from Durza's sword. Eragon is mentally contacted by an elf who summons him to the elven capital, Ellesméra. Before he leaves, however, more Urgals come. They kill Ajihad, and Murtagh and the Twins are assumed dead. Ajihad's daughter, Nasuada, leads the Varden to the small independent country of Surda. Saphira promises the dwarf king, Hrothgar, that she will repair a Star Sapphire that she destroyed in the battle. Before he leaves, Eragon is adopted into Hrothgar's dwarf clan.
The Ra'zac return to Carvahall to capture Eragon's cousin, Roran. Instead, they capture his beloved, Katrina, and her father, Sloan, the butcher, who betrays the village by murdering a watchman, as he selfishly didn't want to lose his daughter. With nothing left in Carvahall, Roran leads the villagers to Surda, all under his command. On the way, they are joined by Jeod, who tells them about Eragon.
Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and a dwarf named Orik go to Ellesméra, stopping at a dwarf city. In Ellesméra, they meet queen Islanzadí, who is revealed to be Arya's mother, making Arya the princess of the elves. Eragon and Saphira's tutelage was to be under an ancient Rider named Oromis and his dragon, Glaedr. Oromis and Glaedr tutor Eragon and Saphira from magic to fighting, even literacy, and help make their mental link to each other even deeper. It turns out that when Eragon blessed Elva, he actually cursed her through bad grammar. Instead of shielding her from misfortune, he made her a shield. She now appears to be a young child, but acts and speaks like an adult. During his training, Eragon repeatedly suffers bouts of pain from the scar received from Durza, which raises criticism from his sword partner, Vanir. At an elven celebration, Eragon is turned into a human-elf hybrid, gaining elf-like abilities. He keeps going after Arya, but she rejects him every time. Eventually, she returns to the Varden.
The Varden have joined forces with king Orrin of Surda and lead their army to a place called the Burning Plains on the border between the Empire and Surda. Eragon, Saphira, and Orik arrive just before the battle after magically seeing that they are in danger. Roran, Jeod, and the villagers arrive and start fighting too, as do an army of dwarves. The tide of the battle turns when a mysterious red dragon and Rider appear on the side of Galbatorix, kill Hrothgar, and challenge Eragon. The Rider turns out to be Murtagh, and his dragon is Thorn. They were tortured by Galbatorix and forced to serve him after he discovered their True Names. Murtagh stated that Selena was also his own mother, and Eragon is also the son of Morzan. Since Murtagh is the eldest, he takes Zar'roc from a battle weary Eragon. The Twins also appear, leading the Empire, but are killed by Roran.
After the battle, Eragon promises Roran to kill the Ra'zac and rescue Katrina with him. The two of them, and Saphira go to Helgrind, the Ra'zac's lair, and kill one of them, while Saphira kills the two Lethrblaka, their parents and steeds. They find Katrina, who goes back with Roran and Saphira to the Varden, and Eragon stays behind to deal with Sloan. Twelve elves, led by Blödhgarm, arrive to help the Varden. Nasuada is injured because she endured a trial with one of her own tribe to see who could endure the most pain and lead the Varden. Eragon, meanwhile, staying at Helgrind, kills the last Ra'zac and punishes Sloan. Eragon travels back for the Varden, and is later joined by Arya on the way.
Back at the Varden, Eragon offers to take back the curse on Elva, but she declines the offer. Murtagh and Thorn attack, and Saphira bites off Thorn's tail, forcing them both to retreat. Eragon marries Roran and Katrina after the battle. Because of Hrothgar's death, the dwarves are choosing a new king. Nasuada sends Eragon to make sure they choose Orik, as he is loyal to the Varden.
While in Farthen Dûr, Eragon goes through a lot of arguing, and some dwarves attack him. Orik turns this to his advantage and is chosen. At the coronation, Saphira arrives and repairs the Isidar Mithrim. Afterwards, they fly to Ellesméra. In Ellesméra, Glaedr tells them that Eragon's father was Brom, which Saphira already knew but was forced to secrecy. They also reveal the source of Galbatorix and Murtagh's rising power: dragons' Eldunarí, where their souls are be contained after death. He goes to the elf dwarf-trained smith Rhunön, whom he met earlier, and requests a Rider sword. Although she took an oath never to make another Rider's sword after Galbatorix's rise to power, Rhunön agrees to forge one, but needs the material known as "brightsteel" to make the sword. Remembering Solembum's advice, Eragon looks under the Menoa Tree and finds some "brightsteel", but the tree makes Eragon and Saphira make a promise to repay her for giving it to them, but it is never stated. With Rhunön's help, he forges himself a blue sword, which Eragon dubs "Brisingr". Glaedr then gives Eragon his Eldunarí.
Roran has been sent on a few missions in the southern part of the Empire. One of these is to get the Varden's humans to trust a group of Urgals who have joined the Varden. His bravery quickly makes him rise to become a Varden commander. Eventually the Varden attack the city known as Feinster. Eragon and Saphira arrive in the nick of time and turn the tide of the battle. They sense Glaedr through his Eldunarí: he and Oromis are fighting Murtagh and Thorn at Gil'ead, the city where Arya had been imprisoned. Galbatorix takes control of Murtagh and kills Oromis, while Glaedr's soul lives on in his Eldunarí. While Eragon is feeling the tragedy, Arya is fighting a new Shade called Varaug. Eragon distracts him long enough to let Arya kill him. The battle of Feinster ends, and Nasuada makes plans to attack other Empire cities and kill Galbatorix.
Critical reaction[edit | edit source]
Inheritance became a commercial success, with the first two books topping several different bestselling charts. Eldest was a 2006 Quill Award winner, as a well as a winner of the 2006 Book Sense Book of the Year award.
However, Inheritance has also been accused of plagiarism. The story has basically been called having a Star Wars plot with a Lord of the Rings atmosphere and names.
A boy of foggy origins lives with his uncle in a remote, backwater region of a vast empire headed by an evil Emperor and his right-hand man, who was once prominent in an ancient order of guardians with mystical powers. An object of vital importance to the rebellion against the Empire is transported from a princess under attack to the remote region of the Empire, where an old man lives who once belonged to the ancient order of guardians, and was part of the rebellion. The farmboy comes across the object through sheer luck. The boy seeks out the old man to learn about the ancient order, but eventually has to return to his uncle’s farm. The boy finds that it has been destroyed by fire by the Empire’s agents, and his uncle killed. The boy sets off with the old hermit, who gives him a weapon unique to the ancient order of guardians, a weapon that is also, coincidentally, the boy’s father’s.
As they travel, they train. The old hermit has the boy focus more on swordsmanship, but also teaches him a little bit about the ways of the mystical order of guardians and reason. The boy meets up with a rogue who is full of surprises for all his proclaimed selfishness. The boy also begins having visions of a beautiful woman imprisoned and in need of help–the same princess who sent him the object of importance.
The boy decides that he needs to rescue her, even though he doesn’t know her; further, he thinks of her only as beautiful. The old hermit dies as a sacrifice so that the boy can escape from danger; the damsel is rescued, and they must set off to the rebellion. The Empire tracks them, and shortly after reaching the rebellion, they are attacked. A massive battle happens, one whose outcome will either save the rebellion or destroy them completely.
The boy proves his worth with heroics during the battle, but his crowning achievement is his destruction of one of the Empire’s most prized weapons, a shade. The boy is aided in this by one of his friends, who arrives at precisely the right moment. The boy is lauded a hero.
The boy has a hallucination of a powerful master who can teach him more of the ancient order. The boy travels to the powerful master to learn the ways of the ancient order’s mystical power. While there, he grows very powerful. While he is away, the Rebellion regroups in a new area. Just when the boy is on a roll with his training, and has grown very powerful, he has a vision of his friends in great danger. He decides he must go to help them. His master warns him not to go. The boy promises that he will return. He leaves.
He finds his friends just in time and is able to distract the enemy so that his friends will remain safe. He engages in one-on-one combat with a foe who is revealed to be family–he finds out that his father was the right-hand man of the Emperor–his father was the one who betrayed the ancient order and helped kill them. The boy is shocked and ultimately defeated, but not killed. He loses his weapon and finds out that someone dear to him has been taken by a minor villain, and promises to find this person.
Movies[edit | edit source]
A feature film version of Eragon was released on December 15, 2006. It met with mostly negative reviews, and garnered a rotten 16% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The adaptation took many liberties with the book's storyline; see differences between book and movie.
No plans for a film version of Eldest have been announced, though rumors and speculation exists. Some fans have even started signing petitions for a possible remake of Eragon due to negative reviews and changes in the film.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Christopher Paolini
- Eragon movie
- Criticism of the Inheritance Cycle
References[edit | edit source]
- MacDonald, Jay. "Fantastic Voyage." Book Page September 2005: 5.