My mind is the only sanctuary that has not been stolen from me. Men have tried to breach it before, but I've learned to defend it vigorously, for I am only safe with my innermost thoughts.— Murtagh
Murtagh Morzansson (or simply Murtagh) is the tritagonist/central antagonist of the Inheritance series.
He serves as an anti-hero in Eragon, and then as the main antagonist of Eldest, one of the two main antagonists (alongside Galbatorix) of Brisingr, and a major antagonist - turned anti-hero in Inheritance.
He is a male human who was at one point Eragon's ally, but was enslaved by Magic and forced to fight for the Broddring Empire. He was the son of Morzan, the man who betrayed the Dragon Riders to Galbatorix and helped destroy them and the First (and Last) of The Forsworn (Wyrdfell in the Ancient Lagnu age) and Selena, Morzan's Black Hand and the most feared of all the Broddring Empire's spies and assassins. He was the eldest of Selena's two children, the other of which is Eragon Shadeslayer; consequently being Eragon's half-brother and Roran Stronghammer's first cousin. He was a fiercely loyal companion and an accomplished swordsman. He wielded a hand-and-a-half sword and later, Zar'roc, which he stole from Eragon, a yew bow, a dagger and a white horn with silver fittings. He rode a warhorse named Tornac, which was named after his old swordsmanship tutor. During Eldest, one of King Galbatorix's Dragon eggs hatched for Murtagh and he named the red Dragon Thorn. He was the main antagonist in Eldest.
In addition to being a Dragon Rider he was also the Broddring Empire's strongest magician after Galbatorix, the Broddring Empire's general and champion (involuntarily), the only known child of a member of The Forsworn and one of the three principal characters in the Inheritance cycle. After killing Hrothgar, Murtagh became a Kingkiller.
Selena, a young woman from the village Carvahall, fell in love with Morzan. After almost three years of traveling with him, she became pregnant with his child. Morzan spirited her off to his castle and hid the pregnancy from everyone but Galbatorix. Murtagh was born in his father's castle nine months later. Selena, pregnant, worried for her children's fate and left Morzan. She could not afford to take Murtagh with her.
He was a victim of fate, and had been since the day he was born.— Eragon Shadeslayer, thinking about Murtagh
Murtagh explained parts of his past to Eragon and Saphira in Eragon, and he explained more to Nasuada in Inheritance, but little was known about his early years. He was taken from his mother Selena at birth and given to a wet nurse. Selena was only allowed to see him for brief visits every few months. As the son of the violent and twisted Dragon Rider Morzan, Murtagh experienced an unpleasant childhood. At the age of three, Murtagh's back was laid open from shoulder to hip when Morzan threw his sword, Zar'roc, at the boy in a drunken rage. Selena disappeared around this time, to secure a better life for her second, unborn child. Selena's illegitimate second son, Murtagh's younger brother, was revealed later to be Eragon. Upon her return to Morzan's castle in the Spine, Selena fell grievously ill and died. Even after his father died at the hands of Brom, Murtagh continued to avoid the courts and its intrigues as much as was possible while living in King Galbatorix's castle at Urû'baen. In Inheritance, an intoxicated Murtagh comes to see Nasuada in the Hall of the Soothsayer. He drunkenly tells her of his upbringing in the palace:
[...] [S]ometimes weeping and sometimes raging, he told her of his upbringing in Galbatorix’s court, of the distrust and jealousy he had faced as the son of Morzan, of the nobles who had sought to use him to win favor with the king, and of his longing for the mother he barely remembered.— Inheritance, p.452
Escape from Urû'baen
His tone was so different from what I had encountered before; it made me realize he didn't possess the mercy or foresight to gain the people's loyalty, and he ruled only through brute force guided by his own passions. It was at that moment I determined to escape him and Urû'baen forever.— Murtagh
On his 18th birthday, Murtagh was summoned into Galbatorix's presence for a private meal. The king, in a seemingly rare good mood, readily offered his "friendship" to the son of his deceased ally and Murtagh accepted it. Later, however, he realized that he had made a mistake in doing so when Galbatorix commanded Murtagh to take a company of soldiers and destroy the village of Cantos, which was known to harbor rebels, as well as slaughter its population without even attempting to see if all of them were guilty or not. That night, Murtagh fled Urû'baen with his faithful teacher, Tornac, who was an expert swordsman. Galbatorix, however, anticipated Murtagh's flight and posted men to guard the gates. Tornac was killed by a knife in the back as they fought their way out of the city and Murtagh continued on alone. The death affected him greatly. In Inheritance, Murtagh reveals to Nasuada that while Tornac was not only his friend growing up, he was like a father to him. He taught him, comforted him and berated him when he was too arrogant. Tornac was also very wise that if he had caught Murtagh getting drunk the first day he talked with Nasuada, he would have beaten him for what he did.
Travels with Eragon
I do not belong to either the Varden or the Empire. Nor do I owe allegiance to any man but myself.— Murtagh
Murtagh fled to the estate of an old friend who sheltered him for a time while he mused on his next course of action, as he was unwilling to side with either the Broddring Empire or the Varden. However, he heard news of a new Dragon Rider and decided to follow the trail of the Ra'zac in the hopes of meeting him. He tracked the vile creatures to a point outside Dras-Leona. Fortuitously, he was able to help rescue Eragon and Saphira from the Ra'zac, although Brom received a mortal wound in the process.
Murtagh accompanied Eragon and Saphira to Gil'ead where Eragon was captured: Murtagh and Saphira successfully rescued him and Arya from captivity in Gil'ead, despite the appearance of the Shade Durza. Murtagh was able to temporarily disembody the Shade by shooting him between the eyes.
Flight to the Varden
I always did like races.— Murtagh
Murtagh agreed to accompany Eragon and Saphira in their search for the Varden, which was made more urgent because of Arya's desperate condition. She had been poisoned in Gil'ead by Durza and the Varden was the closest source of the antidote. The unlikely company crossed the Hadarac Desert without ado, aside from an encounter with slavers. Murtagh killed the bandits' leader, Torkenbrand, by beheading him while he was incapacitated. This caused Eragon much grief and started a conflict between them.
They eventually reached the Varden, pursued by a band of Kull. Faced with confronting the Kull on his own or entering the Varden, Murtagh reluctantly continued by Eragon's side.
You must be willing to protect yourself and what you cherish, no matter what the cost.— Murtagh
Once inside, Murtagh refused to allow the Twins, the Varden's strongest magicians, to probe his mind, as was customary for newcomers to the Varden. When Ajihad recognized him as the son of Morzan, he was imprisoned within Tronjheim. He met Nasuada during this time and entertained himself by reading things that members of the Varden brought to him from the library of Tronjheim.
Later, he was given the chance to prove himself by fighting alongside the Varden during the Battle under Farthen Dûr. He proved himself sufficiently in Ajihad's eyes and he personally accompanied the Varden leader as the last of the Urgals were rooted out of Farthen Dur's tunnels and destroyed. However, Murtagh repeatedly stated that he did not wish to join the Varden, as he did not share their desire to destroy the Broddring Empire as "it would only create chaos".
He knows our true names, Eragon… We are his slaves forever.— Murtagh
Murtagh was targeted by the Twins and a group of Kull while exiting one of the tunnels and subsequently ensorcelled and taken back to Urû'baen. He was then tortured by Galbatorix for his rebellion, both mentally and physically. Still, he determinedly refused to swear any oaths to Galbatorix, relenting only once Thorn hatched for him, unable to endure the pain that was inflicted on his young dragon. They swore their allegiance to Galbatorix in the Ancient Language. Not long afterwards, Galbatorix wore down their defenses and broke their minds, learning their true names and thus enslaving them to his will.
Battle of the Burning Plains
Thorn is my dragon, and a thorn he shall be to all our enemies.— Murtagh
Murtagh learned dark secrets of magic from Galbatorix and was given several of the Eldunarí (young dragons all) that Galbatorix had in his possession. He was then dispatched to The Burning Plains, where an army of Imperial warriors were massed against those of Surda and the Varden, with orders to try to capture Eragon and Saphira. Galbatorix hid the true size of his army from the Varden with a powerful spell that took three days to pierce.
During the battle Murtagh struck down the dwarf king Hrothgar. He also bested the weary Eragon near the end of the battle. After defeating him, Murtagh took Eragon's blade, Zar'roc, claiming that the sword was rightfully his. He then revealed, using the Ancient Language, that Morzan was Eragon's father, meaning that Murtagh and Eragon were brothers. Eragon was bewildered at the news. Murtagh decided at last to exploit a loophole in his orders, which were to try to capture Eragon and spared his friend, at risk of severe punishment brought by Galbatorix for not completing the deed.
Raid on the Varden
Galbatorix was furious with Murtagh for allowing Eragon and Saphira to escape. After Eragon and Saphira killed the Ra'zac, the king "turned his anger" upon Thorn and Murtagh. He then made Murtagh swear additional oaths that would ensure his complete obedience. Murtagh returned to attack the Varden with a troop of painless soldiers. He and Eragon battled once more. Eragon was able to draw on the strength of Arya and the twelve elven spellweavers sent by Queen Islanzadí to aid him. Murtagh surprised Eragon by a display of elf-quick speed and strength during the contest.
During the confrontation, Murtagh revealed that both he and Thorn suffered greatly for the mercy they showed Eragon. Eragon reasoned that Murtagh and Thorn could escape Galbatorix if they changed their True names, an idea that Murtagh said was intriguing and that he might try after careful study. However, Murtagh realized that he and Thorn could not change themselves in an instant and then attacked Eragon. Murtagh pierced Eragon in the hip with Zar'roc. Eragon joined strength with the elves and decided to test Murtagh in a battle of strength in magic. Eragon managed to outlast Murtagh in the brutal contest, but he and several of the elves fainted during the battle. This allowed Murtagh and Thorn to escape unharmed. Before leaving, Murtagh swore that he and Thorn would return, more powerful than ever, as well as defeat Eragon and Saphira once and for all.
Return to Gil'ead
Murtagh and Thorn returned to Urû'baen and from there went to Gil'ead, where they fought with Oromis and Glaedr. Murtagh was recognized to have fear in his eyes, but he and Thorn battled the elder pair fiercely nonetheless. Using the vast amount of energy contained within Naegling, Oromis fought Murtagh while Glaedr battled Thorn. Thorn proved faster and stronger than Glaedr anticipated and the battle went on. Oromis seemed confident that Murtagh's concentration would fail, but Murtagh held on. During the battle, Murtagh seemed to become angry at Oromis for not revealing himself sooner so that Oromis could have helped him. Galbatorix then assumed full control over Murtagh, first speaking to Oromis and Glaedr through Murtagh, attempting to persuade the two ancient warriors to ally themselves with Galbatorix. Oromis suffered a seizure which then made him drop Naegling, thus separating him from his power source that would protect him from harm. Galbatorix dealt Oromis a fatal blow using Murtagh's arm. Glaedr attempted to carry Oromis back to the elves, but was killed (only in the body) by Thorn. According to Christopher Paolini, Oromis would have stood "a good chance" of winning the battle against Murtagh and Thorn if Galbatorix had not interfered and if Oromis had not had a seizure.
It is unknown what happened to Murtagh after Galbatorix used him to kill Oromis and Glaedr. He may have used his remaining power to wreak havoc among the elves, or he may have simply returned to the capital. But it is likely that they were forced to return due to Thorn's grave injury: Glaedr had bitten off several feet of his tail during the battle.
Capture of Nasuada
Later Murtagh played a crucial role in defending Dras-Leona by declaring himself to Eragon when he demanded they lower the city gates. The Varden camped for several days, but when they finally attacked, Murtagh mounted Thorn and battled Saphira, who was interceded by Eragon. He used the ring of Aren to injure Thorn, infuriating Murtagh, who swore he would return. As he fled, the Varden were able to take the city, which he warned Eragon meant nothing to Galbatorix. He then raided the Varden camp, capturing Nasuada and bringing her back to Urû'baen, where Galbatorix tortured her. He later revealed to Nasuada that he was the one who convinced Galbatorix to have her captured, after learning of the King's plans to have her killed. During her captivity, Murtagh was forced to torture her with a hot iron, though he tried to comfort her as much as possible. His visits kept her sane and despite the dire circumstances, they enjoyed each other's company. Murtagh taught Nasuada what to expect from Galbatorix and how best to protect herself from against his attacks and he healed her wounds whenever possible. He promised he would find a way to save her, but at her request, uneasily swore that he would help her end her life if escaping proved to be impossible.
Murtagh worked on a plan to free Nasuada, but Eragon's invasion of the city prevented him from carrying it out. When Eragon finally confronted Galbatorix, the king refused to duel Eragon personally, instead having him fight Murtagh. Murtagh quickly bested Eragon and nearly struck a fatal blow in his anger, but was stopped by Galbatorix and the duel continued. Using the Way of Knowing, Eragon realized that Murtagh was the better swordsman and possessed too much determination for Eragon to defeat in a fair duel. He then deliberately gave Murtagh an opening in order to land a blow, injuring both of them and ending the duel, with Galbatorix announcing Eragon as the winner.
Injured, Murtagh mused that the primary difference between Eragon and himself was that Murtagh had never been willing to sacrifice himself and at that moment he found that his true name had changed. He aided his half-brother by using the Name of All Names to strip Galbatorix of his wards: an important act, as with wards, Eragon would not have been able to kill the king.
After Galbatorix died, Murtagh decided to wander Alagaësia until his anger subsided. Before he left, Murtagh and Eragon said goodbye, acknowledging each other as brothers. The most recently recorded sighting of Murtagh and Thorn was near Du Weldenvarden.
A new objective.
Murtagh reappeared about a year later, in the city of Ceunon. There, operating under the alias ''Tornac'', he spoke with a little girl, Essie, in her family's inn. She was planning to run away from home after a perceived sleight from a friend, and Murtagh tried to convince her not to make a rash decision she might regret later. Then, a mercenary named Sarros leading a group of men, arrived the inn. Murtagh had contracted them to help search for some strange stones. Sarros had found them... but apparently, something had forced the group of the mercenaries to turn against Murtagh and to steal the stones. They took Essie hostage, but Murtagh easily defeated them, despite the fact the mercenaries had powerful magical protection. Murtagh killed two of the men, saving Essie and her family. He left Sarros alive to find out how they had their magical defences, and he was given a bone talisman and told of a powerful witch (Bachel) who had cast them. After giving the girl a fork reinforced with magic and convincing her to stay at home and make up with her friend, Murtagh healed her scar before leaving the the city to join Thorn in the foothills outside it. It is implied than Murtagh was investigating something very important and dangerous at Eragon's behest.
Murtagh was a stoic, young dragon rider. His regular, serious face and fierce dark eyes were framed by the locks of his long dark brown hair. He was clean-shaven, well tanned, fit, muscular, slightly taller (by about one to two inches) than his half-brother, Eragon, very strong and said to be strikingly handsome. Across Murtagh's back was a long, twisting scar, reaching from his right shoulder to his left hip, caused when Murtagh's father, Morzan, hurled Zar'roc at him when he was a child during a drunken rage. Oddly, when Murtagh reappeared in Brisingr, he had black hair instead of brown. In an interview, Christopher Paolini acknowledged this as a small oversight.
Murtagh originally wore battered and travel-worn clothes, but eschewed them by the end of Eldest in favor of a suit of gleaming steel armor. Murtagh carried a yew bow and a white horn with silver fittings. His primary weapon was a hand-and-a-half sword, which was later replaced by Zar'roc. He also wore tights and jerkins that were of maroon or red color.
Powers & Abilities
You cannot hope to compete with me. No one can, except for Galbatorix.— Murtagh
Before becoming a Rider, Murtagh was a powerful warrior in his own right. A lifetime of practice and study in swordplay made him a formidable fighter, surpassing even Eragon in technical skill. Eragon acknowledged Murtagh as a "deadly swordsman". Murtagh was a master swordsman able to fight on par with Oromis. His experience in archery and wilderness survival allowed him to survive by hunting and foraging when on the run from the Broddring Empire. He could talk about hunting and archery for hours, debating their finer points with Eragon for long periods during their journey. His mind was also thoroughly shielded from mental attacks to such an extent that powerful magicians such as Eragon, the Twins, as well as many others have all failed to breach his mind. The only one known to have broken Murtagh's defenses was King Galbatorix, which proves how powerful his mental defenses were. In the final book, Murtagh implied that Galbatorix only managed to penetrate his defenses by threatening Thorn, which echoed his previous statement to the Twins that they couldn't make him open his mind if they couldn't threaten Eragon's life.
After Thorn hatched for him, Murtagh became even more powerful. Murtagh's mind, well-defended as it was, was augmented by the Eldunarí given to him to control. When Eragon touched his mind in Eldest, he felt a "multitude" of consciences trying to get out. Bregan, the blind man who saw lights and energies in Brisingr, described Murtagh's light, saying that the light shone through him as if his power came from another source. After the Battle of the Burning Plains, Murtagh gained increased strength and speed that was equal to most elves and combined with his impressive sword skills, these powers further made Murtagh into an extremely dangerous and powerful Rider, more powerful than many previous Riders before him though not as strong as his father, according to Galbatorix.
Overall, Murtagh's greatest strength was perhaps his formidable magical prowess, which was due to both his heritage as the son of the most powerful Forsworn and his use of multiple Eldunarí. This made him the Broddring Empire's strongest magician after Galbatorix. He could immobilize fully grown dragons with a single word, heal even the most severe injuries in seconds and when coerced to use deadly force, he could unleash blasts of ruby energy strong enough to wipe out an entire group of spellcasters. His reserves of magic were vast, due to the Eldunarí he possessed, though he was still subjected to the rules of magic whenever he used his powers. He was also quite inventive as he placed spells in objects so he could use them quickly.
In terms of swordsmanship, Murtagh was initially equal to Eragon in every aspect even in terms of their stamina and tiring rate. Their sparring sessions were always intense and neither could gain the upper hand on the other and they always kept each other on their toes. However, during their last battle in Inheritance, Murtagh proved to possess superior combat ability to Eragon. Angry at Eragon, Murtagh quickly bested him and nearly dealt a fatal blow before being stopped by Galbatorix. Using the Way of Knowing, Eragon realized that Murtagh was the better swordsman by a margin that prevented him from gaining the upper hand in their fight and that he was too determined for Eragon to defeat in a fair duel. To win the duel, Eragon had to deliberately leave an opening for Murtagh to land a blow before retaliating at the right moment, wounding them both but injuring Murtagh to a greater degree, ending the duel. Eragon admitted that Murtagh would win in a fight to the death.
Murtagh was the second person to know the True Name of the Ancient Language which he used at one time to disable close to a hundred wards. With this knowledge, he became one of the most powerful magicians who ever lived, currently matched only by Arya, as well as the Eldunarí from Vroengard (the others who also know the name) and seconded to Eragon due to his ownership over the 136 Eldunari. However, this was only because Murtagh chose to reveal it to Eragon before he left.
No stranger's life is more important than Thorn's or my own.— Murtagh
Murtagh always exuded a calm, assured air, as well as his voice "is low and controlled, but curiously emotional". Murtagh is very passionate in all that he engaged himself in. He is also compassionate, as shown when he found a loophole in his oath that allowed him to let Eragon go after their first conflict as Dragon Riders and by his refusing to join Galbatorix when first asked. He was very proud that he survived as well as he did under all the difficult circumstances that he was in during his hard life. Indeed, Paolini has stated that, aside from Eragon himself due to the circumstances of her finding, Saphira was most likely to have hatched for Murtagh.
Because of his unpleasant upbringing, a constant sense of danger and multiple attempts on his life, Murtagh became solitary, suspicious, as well as pragmatic. He is always wary of everyone, from strangers to his closest friends. This made him dislike taking chances, especially for the sake of others. He would not hesitate to defend himself or whatever he held dear, no matter the cost to others. He was pragmatic to the point of ruthlessness in this regard, killing anyone he deemed a threat with minimal hesitation or remorse and an attitude that was almost casual. Murtagh is very different in this regard from Eragon and Roran, both of whom could not kill without being haunted by thoughts of the lives they had ended.
Murtagh is also very intelligent and strong-willed. He protected his mind behind nearly impenetrable barriers at all times, shielding the last sanctuary that has not been stolen from him. When he was imprisoned by the Varden, he refused to allow the Twins to enter his mind, no matter what they did. He was prepared to be imprisoned, tortured, as well as confined at all times, but did not give in. When they began bringing him whatever he wanted from the library of Tronjheim, he quickly became fond of the scholarly environment.
Perhaps because of his indomitable will, Murtagh is also quite stubborn on occasion. Whenever he made a decision, nothing could change his mind. He absolutely refused to "repent" for killing Torkenbrand, or to allow the Twins into his mind. The only one who seemed to be able to sway Murtagh's decision one way or another was Thorn, whom he claims to love like Eragon loves Saphira, as well as who would always speak to Murtagh with his mind before either of them made an important decision. This level of cooperation and consideration for each other indicates that while Murtagh is stubborn and sometimes uncooperative, he and Thorn work very well together.
When Murtagh became an unwilling servant of Galbatorix, he abhorred the atrocities he had to perform and disliked carrying them out. However, he loved his new powers and reveled in the destruction he could wreak with them. Because of his cruel lot in life and a past filled with agony, Murtagh delighted in striking back at the world that had shown him little kindness, the result of a suppressed desire for revenge all his life.
Though Murtagh relished his power, he also wanted to be away from Galbatorix, proven when a look of desperate longing appeared in his eyes when Eragon proposed a way to escape and his willingness to listen to Eragon's suggestion. Also, Murtagh said something in the company of soldiers of the Broddring Empire that made them wonder if they were hunting down Murtagh himself.
Murtagh is also introverted. He stated repeatedly that he values his own life and Thorn's, more than any number of others' lives, as well as refused to sacrifice himself no matter how many innocents it would save, citing his enjoyment of life even as a slave to Galbatorix. In his hard life, he had few friends, except for Eragon, Saphira, Thorn, Tornac and Nasuada.
I am not evil! I've done the best I could under the circumstances. I doubt you would have survived as well as I did …— Murtagh
Because Murtagh considered his life to be more important than others, he often disregarded the feelings and suffering of others for his own sake. For example, when Torkenbrand tried to capture him, Murtagh beheaded the slaver without hesitation, remorse, or emotion.
Despite his ruthlessness and his love of power, Murtagh is not sadistic or parasitic. He shied away from acts of excessive bloodshed and cruelty, such as the destruction of Cantos, as well as is willing to help others, such as Eragon, at certain times. He is also empathetic, as he often empathized with the subjects of the Broddring Empire and Nasauda during her capture, as well as did not judge others, unlike Eragon.
Though Murtagh did not love the Broddring Empire or the king, he also held the Varden in distaste. He believed that while Galbatorix was corrupt, the system of the Broddring Empire was sound and the Varden's desire to destroy it utterly was fanatical and destructive. Though he supported Galbatorix as the ruler of Alagaësia, he harbored strong resentment against him and actually betrayed him in Inheritance. Murtagh studied the possibility of changing his true name, which allowed him to disobey and even betray Galbatorix. Paolini himself has said that Murtagh and Galbatorix have had many "difficulties".
When Murtagh pressed his mind against Nasuada's in Inheritance, she insinuates that it is similar to Eragon's, but notes that a foremost difference is Murtagh's anger, an emotion only outshone by his concern for her. His tenure with Galbatorix and role as Nasuada's imprisoner left a drastic change. He began to value other lives more, as well as gaining increased empathy and insight, telling Eragon to comfort Arya as killing Shruikan might have left her deeply disturbed. He later apologized to Glaedr for his part in Oromis' death.
After Galbatorix's death, Murtagh appears to have recovered his moral compass, as in Ceunon, he regretted to being forced to kill, even to preserve his life, and proved to be very generous and valiant, risking his life to save a little girl he barely knows.
When faced with the choice of helping Eragon and Saphira escape the Broddring Empire by accompanying them to the Varden or fleeing the whole situation on his own, he decided to help Eragon even though he knew he could be punished for being Morzan's son.
At the Battle of the Burning Plains, Eragon appealed to Murtagh's sympathies. Murtagh was only instructed to attempt to capture Eragon and Saphira. Therefore, he was able to find a way around his oath to Galbatorix and save Eragon and Saphira.
When Eragon was traveling back to the Varden from Helgrind in Brisingr, he overheard a conversation between a group of Imperial soldiers. They said they wouldn't be surprised if the mysterious fugitive that they were hunting on the King's orders was Murtagh himself, because of something they heard Murtagh say. Although he was forced to serve Galbatorix, Murtagh did not seem happy about it. Its speculated that he may have said something about either a way to break free, or the destruction of Galbatorix's forces.
In their next encounter, Murtagh delayed his attack on Eragon until he heard what Eragon had to say concerning their true names. Even though he had said that Thorn and him were forever slaves to Galbatorix, he still clung to the hope that they could be freed.
Like Shruikan, Galbatorix attempted to turn Murtagh and to Thorn into remorseless killers, often treating them like tools or weapons.
As he was about to leave, she said, “Murtagh.”
He paused and turned to regard her. She hesitated for a moment, then mustered her courage and said, “Why?” She thought he understood her meaning: Why her? Why save her, and now why try to rescue her? She had guessed at the answer, but she wanted to hear him say it.
He stared at her for the longest while, and then, in a low, hard voice, he said, “You know why.”— Nasuada and Murtagh
It is strongly insinuated that both he and Nasuada have feelings for each other. Murtagh was occasionally visited by Nasuada during his imprisonment in Farthen Dûr. Believing him dead after the battle, she mourned his death along with her father's and later seemed distraught upon learning Murtagh now worked for Galbatorix. In Inheritance, Murtagh convinced Galbatorix to capture Nasuada upon learning the King was going to have her killed. They grew close during her own imprisonment in Urû'baen. Galbatorix forced Murtagh to torture her, but Murtagh would later come and heal her injuries to the best of his ability, even putting wards on her to shield her from future pain and promising to find a way to free her. They would both spent time talking together about things they had never discussed with others, even Eragon.
After Eragon killed Galbatorix, Murtagh and Thorn flew away to the north, as they knew they would never be accepted due to all they had done in Galbatorix's name. Murtagh still felt guilty for the harm he had caused Nasuada in his being forced to torture her by Galbatorix and knew his staying would only bring her wrath from the people of the Varden and the kingdom.
- Shur'tugal - Dragon Rider in the Ancient Language
- Galbatorix's right-hand man (formerly) - From his capture till Galbatorix's death
- Wielder of Zar'roc - Used Zar'roc
- Rider of Thorn - Thorn's rider
- Morzansson - Father was Morzan
- Eragon's Half Brother - Eragon's older half-brother
- Kingkiller - Killed King Hrothgar
- Argetlam - Silver Hand due to having his gedway ignasia on his left hand.
- Wanderer - Due to his extensive travelling after the end of Inheritance
Murtagh is similar in several ways to Han Solo of the original Star Wars trilogy. Like Solo, Murtagh was a loner with an ambiguous past, who was pursued by powerful forces that eventually catch him. Some of Murtagh's behavior, such as killing a person who attempts to capture him and bragging about his ride (Murtagh boasted about his horse, while Solo boasted about his ship), are similar to Han Solo's.
In context of comparing/contrasting the two stories, an interesting rumor floated around prior to the release of The Empire Strikes Back. It was outlined in an issue of the major fantasy film and television centered fan magazine called Starlog. When responding to a fan letter about rumors concerning Han Solo dying in the upcoming film the author brings up another article he claimed to have read, "It was in a magazine called Star Wars and it strongly suggested that Darth Vader would capture Han Solo and expose him to the dark side of the Force. This would put Luke Skywalker in the position of having to face Han Solo and it asked the question 'Would Luke Skywalker be able to face and kill his friend?'". The author went on to say that he thought it was without question going to be what happened, and cited scenes in the trailer that he thought helped affirm this. While the rumor most likely didn't have a real bearing on Paolini's plotting, it is still notable in how Murtagh and Eragon (The characters often compared to Han and Luke in the original book respectively) starting in Eldest are put into a strikingly similar situation where the former is captured and through mystical means forced into the service of their stories' respective ruling Empires with his then best friend (the main protagonist) having to face them as enemies. It as we know did not ultimately occur in Star Wars, but is still a fun and ironic tidbit when comparing the two characters.
During Eldest, however, Murtagh becomes more similar to Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). He has a wavy long-haired appearance, wears armor in battle, wields a red sword, harnesses powerful supernatural forces to his will, is the primary servant of the Emperor and is related to the main hero. Murtagh's confrontation with Eragon at the end of Eldest is also similar to the confrontation between Luke and Vader at the end of Empire Strikes Back. Murtagh also threatened to cut off Eragon's right hand during Brisingr (Vader succeeds in cutting off Luke's).
Furthermore, he doesn't want to talk about his past, he states in Eragon that he likes races (Anakin loved Podracing) and he is sort of aggressive for a benevolent being. Then later, like Anakin becoming Vader, Murtagh becomes Galbatorix's servant.
Murtagh has several similarities to Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He is a wanderer who is of noble birth and heir to a position that he eventually takes, as well as is very skilled as a swordsman, archer, as well as woodsman. Murtagh also lends Eragon his assistance and service on his quest to destroy the evil, much as Aragorn did for Frodo. However, there is another character Murtagh is much more similar to, especially after Brisingr: The Witch-king of Angmar.
Like the Witch-king, Murtagh rode a dragonish beast, was the greatest servant of the Dark Lord, wielded a sword as his primary weapon and possessed powerful magic bestowed to him by his master. Murtagh was recruited into Galbatorix's service in a similar way to how the Witch-king was brought into Sauron's: The Witch-king was given a ring of power, which gave him incredible powers but slowly turned him into a ghostly wraith and servant to the Dark Lord: Murtagh was given a dragon egg by Galbatorix, which hatched for him, granting him a range of new powers, but coming with the price that he had to swear oaths of fealty to Galbatorix, making him his servant forever. Murtagh also battled Oromis and Glaedr at the end of Brisingr, just as the Witch-king confronted Gandalf in The Return of the King. The main difference is that Gandalf survived the encounter with the Witch-king, while Murtagh slew Oromis (with Galbatorix's help).
On closer inspection, Murtagh's history and life closely parallels that of Jennsen Rahl of the Sword of Truth series.
- They were both the offspring of a powerful, cruel, dark lord, who was in the service of an even greater dark power (interestingly, their respective fathers, Morzan and Darken Rahl, have many other similarities.)
- They were conceived in a similar manner: their respective fathers seduced a young, seemingly innocent girl for their own benefit.
- Their respective fathers did not care much for them. (Morzan threw Zar'roc at Murtagh when he was only three; Darken Rahl considered Jennsen an abomination of nature and a disappointing disgrace to the House of Rahl, actually wanting her dead though this was true for everyone of his descendant born without magic.)
- They both fled their home while filled with grief after the death of a person close to them (Tornac / Jennsen's mother).
- They were both pursued by the established government of their homeland, which tried to capture them. (Murtagh was pursued by the Broddring Empire, Jennsen was pursued by the House of Rahl.)
- Because of the aforementioned item, they both spent a lot of time traveling, moving through the wilderness and staying alert for any sign of danger. They both developed very good foresting skills as a result.
- They both met and teamed up with a person who resisted the government that pursued them (Murtagh joined Eragon Bromsson, who supported the Varden and resisted the Broddring Empire; Jennsen joined Sebastian, who supported the Imperial Order and opposed the House of Rahl).
- They both eventually betrayed that person and became a principal supporter of their enemy, the very government that had been pursuing them.
- They were both half siblings of the main hero, sharing one parent with them. They met and teamed up with this half-sibling at one point.
- At one point, they were the ally of their half-sibling: during another, they were their enemy.
There are, however, several differences between Murtagh and Jennsen, including gender (Jennsen was female), the parent they shared with the main hero (in Murtagh's case it was his mother, in Jennsen's case it was her father) and the time periods in which they were allied with their half-sibling. (Murtagh started out as Eragon's ally and later became his enemy (though in the end he became and remained Eragon's ally), Jennsen started out as Richard's enemy and later became his ally.)
Etymology and historical information
Murtagh was the name of a High King of Ireland. Murtagh mac Erc ruled Ireland as High King from 512 to 534 A.D.
Murtagh was the name of a character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Jedi Master Murtagh successfully assassinated the Sith Lord known only as the Dark Underlord during the battle of Malrev IV approximately 1750 years before the events of the original trilogy. But, in doing so, Murtagh fell to the dark side. This could be said to parallel Murtagh's fall into Galbatorix's clutches after his heroic actions at the Battle of Farthen Dur.