They are the monsters in the dark, the dripping nightmares that haunt your race. ... All areas where humans are weak, the Ra'zac are strong.— Oromis
Ra'zac (or Lethrblaka when full-grown) were one of the several ancient races that were thought to have followed the humans across the sea to Alagaësia. They were a race that fed on humans and likely came from the same homelands. They may be the reason that the humans migrated from their home over the sea in the first place. Ra'zacs' breath have the power to paralyze humans in a dream-like state, however, it barely clouds the minds of dwarves and is ineffective against elves altogether.
The last two Ra'zac to live before the extinction of their race in Alagaësia (as well as the remaining two Lethrblaka) were servants of Galbatorix, living in their black towers at Helgrind. They were used by King Galbatorix to investigate any rumors of dragons who might have escaped the downfall of the Dragon Riders. They were called by some the king's personal "dragon hunters." They were especially effective against Dragon Riders because their minds were shielded from mental powers.
Unbeknownst to the main characters, Galbatorix hid several Ra'zac eggs throughout Alagaësia, though the only ones found were beneath Dras-Leona. These two were destroyed and killed shortly after hatching by Eragon and Solembum, a Werecat.
The Ra'zac commonly used Seithr Oil and with it murdered Garrow, Parr and countless others. The Ra'zac used bows and arrows usually coated in Seithr Oil. They also used ancient leaf-bladed swords. They had probably been using the swords against their enemies for years without them breaking, in which case the blades would have to be either stolen from elves or heavily enchanted. This enchanting would need to be done so by a very skilled enchanter, since ordinary blades augmented with magic for durability require a magician to renew the spells protecting them and the Ra'zac cannot use magic. There was a taller and smaller Ra'zac (this could correspond with age or gender). The last of the Ra'zac hid in Helgrind and were warded by Galbatorix's spells. They kept both Seithr Oil and torture devices inside their lair. The Ra'zac are known to be mortally afraid of water and the sun, as they cannot swim and sunlight burns their skin and eyes.
The Ra'zac were vaguely human in shape, being bipedal, but this was where their similarity with humans ended. As pupae of the Lethrblaka, they had a hard exoskeleton, and they had a sharp beak, bulbous black eyes as large as a man's fist, and a barbed, purple tongue in their mouths. They were thin-waisted and had hunched backs as a result of the wings growing beneath with a large and deeply ridged chest that gave them an emaciated appearance that made their ribs seem as though they were outside their body, while their thin legs had an extra, backwards-facing joint that gave them an unsettling walking and running gait. In spite of their thin limbs, they were incredibly strong; a Ra'zac could kill a man with a single jab from their beak and they were strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the recently enhanced Eragon and his cousin Roran in melee combat, though they eventually lost.
When a Ra'zac is hatched, it is referred to as a pupa. It develops a roughly human exoskeleton, allowing it to remain somewhat inconspicuous in the company of its favorite prey, humans. During the pupae stage, they wear black cloaks to help hide their true form. In this stage, Ra'zac feed exclusively on human beings, but upon maturing into a Lethrblaka, they will kill and eat anything that moves.
When the pupae reaches the first full moon of its twentieth year, it sheds its exoskeleton, spreads its wings that have developed from a bulge on its back, and emerges as a fully grown Lethrblaka, said to resemble a type of "monstrous dark dragon". The flying mounts used by the Ra'zac were actually their parents, the Lethrblaka. Lethrblaka had the intelligence of a dragon, but they are much more intelligent than the younger Ra'zac and could give out ear-splitting shrieks that most are not able to stand. Magic users, however, could counter it by casting a spell to "empty their ears". The Lethrblaka then reproduce oviparously, renewing their cycle of life.
It is unknown where the Ra'zac originated, but they are not native to Alagaësia. It is most likely they came from whatever place humans abandoned and they may be the reason that the humans abandoned this place.
For many years the creatures roamed wild, killing and devouring humans before the Dragon Riders agreed to put an end to it. During the bloody Ra'zac War, nearly the entire Ra'zac race was exterminated, except for two Lethrblaka, who survived. After his victory over the Riders, Galbatorix sought out the Lethrblaka and their newborn Ra'zac and bartered for their services in exchange for his protection and a limitless supply of their favorite food: human flesh. They then continued their savage eating habits as they did before, finding human flesh a plenty. He also granted them a new home in Helgrind on the conditions that they serve him by tracking down and destroying his most terrible and powerful enemies, which they did very successfully.
Role in Eragon
The Ra'zac were sent to search for the dragon egg that had been teleported by Arya into the Spine. They tortured Garrow with Seithr Oil and burned his farm in their quest for the egg. They were then tracked by Brom, Eragon and Saphira to Dras-Leona. The trio was ambushed and captured. However, when the shorter Ra'zac tried to murder Brom, arrows fired by Murtagh saved them. As they left, the shorter Ra'zac kicked Eragon, wounding him, as well as the taller one threw a dagger. Brom jumped in the way and was left with a fatal injury.
Role in Eldest
The Ra'zac returned to Carvahall, attempting this time to kidnap Roran, who was wanted by the Broddring Empire. They threatened the villagers with slavery, most of whom rallied behind Roran and escaped to Surda. Unfortunately, the Ra'zac were able to kidnap Katrina and Sloan, who they took to Helgrind. Eragon learned about the strengths and weaknesses of the Ra'zac from Oromis and felt that he would be more than a match for them the next time that they met.
Role in Brisingr
Roran, Eragon and Saphira traveled to Helgrind, where the Ra'zac's secret lair was located.
Roran killed one of the Ra'zac, which was revealed to be female, before freeing Katrina, while Saphira slew both of the Lethrblaka. After Saphira, Roran and Katrina departed, Eragon confronted the last Ra'zac. It spoke with him before fighting, saying that Galbatorix would defeat Eragon even if they should fall, because, "He has more heartsss than you do", probably referring to the Eldunarí in Galbatorix's possession.
The last Ra'zac then requested that Eragon ensure that they were remembered by the human race with the image they had always represented: fear, the monsters in the dark. In return, it offered to tell Eragon a secret: Galbatorix was close to finding "the true name." The "true name" probably refers to the true name of the aincient language. Eragon refused to parley with the Ra'zac, saying the information was not definite enough to warrant a favor. The Ra'zac cursed Eragon in anger, saying "Curssse you, Rider! I curssse you! May you find no roossst nor den nor peace of mind in thisss land of yours. May you leave Alagaësia and never return!". The Ra'zac attacked Eragon, who won the ensuing fight by killing the Ra'zac.
Role in Inheritance
While Roran, Eragon and Saphira were successful in defeating the Ra'zac, they did not manage to exterminate them completely: a pair of Ra'zac eggs were kept in secret by the clergy of Dras-Leona, who worshiped the Ra'zac as deities. These eggs were hatched in a ceremony, during which Eragon and Arya were nearly killed by the infant Ra'zac, but the timely arrival of the herbalist Angela resulted in the destruction of the hatchlings, with one being killed by Solembum and the other by Eragon. The eggs looked like "oval objects, each about a foot and a half long and half a foot thick." as was quoted from the book. Their colors were blue black and pitted like sandstone. While as for the hatchlings' appearance was said in the book to having a deeply ridged chest that made it appear as if its ribs were on the outside of the body, not on the inside. Its limbs were thin and knobby, similar to sticks, and its waist was far narrower than any human's. Both legs had an extra backward-bending joint, sort of like a birds legs, but it accounted for the hatchling's unsettling gait. The carapace looked soft and malleable, unlike that of the more mature Ra'zac that Eragon once chased down. Galbatorix mentioned there were more eggs that he had hidden elsewhere. After Galbatorix's downfall, Eragon tried to find more information on these eggs, yet found only old accounts from other Riders.
Although this Ra'zac was the last of its kind to have crossed the Silver Sea, others may yet survive beyond the ocean. It was never confirmed that the entirety of the Ra'zac race crossed and as other humans would still be present in their homeland crossing would make little sense for the Ra'zac as much of their prey would still be available in their homeland. It is possible that there are eggs kept and hidden by the clergy of Dras-Leona or Galbatorix.
The Ra'zac had no access to magic, but they were very effective against magicians because their minds could not be observed or possibly their minds were so alien to magicians that they could not sense them at all. The Ra'zac had a human ally in Galbatorix, who would cast protective wards over them.
The Ra'zac possessed superhuman strength, speed, agility, as well as stamina, equal to an elf. However, they also possessed an ability no elf, Shade, or even Dragon Rider had: an evil breath that fogs the minds of humans (most likely a poisonous gas) and make most people incapable of doing anything. A Dragon Rider is almost completely immune due to their bond with their dragons, who are not affected at all. The Ra'zac also had strong exoskeletons which was as hard and strong as armor and protected the Ra'zac from weak blows without slowing them down with bulky excess weight.
In addition to these abilities, their senses were very strong: they could track scents like hounds, see on a cloudy night or even in complete darkness. But perhaps the Ra'zac's greatest power was the special shields that protected their minds. Even the best human mindbreakers could not detect a Ra'zac's mind. This made it impossible to breach or control them with mental powers, unless the Ra'zac consented to it. It also made the Ra'zac excellent assassins, for not even magicians would be able to detect them until it was too late.
The Ra'zac spoke in their own language of sharp clicks, clacks, clucks, shrieks, chirps and other bird-like sounds. None of this language was translated and the calls may have been unintelligible and even unpronounceable to all but the Ra'zac.
However, the Ra'zac had weaknesses as well. Because their eyes were so sensitive to brightness, strong light pained them, though it was not fatal and wouldn't stop a Ra'zac if they were determined. Powerful light, such as that conjured by the "kveykva" spell would momentarily stun a Ra'zac. Ra'zac also were unable to swim, possibly because of their exoskeleton, as a result, they had a morbid fear of (deep) water and thus kept away from it.
One of the inconsistencies in the Inheritance Cycle involved the Ra'zac. During the confrontation outside Dras-Leona, Christopher Paolini described both Ra'zac as 'he'. However, when Eragon is facing down the second Ra'zac before battling it, it describes the late Ra'zac as 'she'. In order to make them reproduce, one of them had to be a female. It is not known for sure which Ra'zac is which, but it is more likely that the shorter one was female. During the first appearance of the Ra'zac, the taller Ra'zac was described as a "man", while no such description was attached to the shorter one. It should be considered, however, that all descriptions of the Ra'zac as a "he" or a "man" come from the point of view of Eragon, who would have no way of knowing the gender of the two. It is possible that both Ra'zac could be female. Another possibility is that they were hermaphrodites and thus had no gender but mated with any other being of their species.
Both Ra'zac were cunning and cruel, but rather narrow-minded. They were capable of conscious thought and consideration, but were not as intelligent as humans, dwarves, elves, or dragons.
The shorter Ra'zac has been consistently portrayed as more blunt, cruel, as well as impulsive than the taller one: both traits could correspond to age. When talking with Sloan, the shorter one was significantly more threatening than their taller counterpart. When they captured Eragon and Brom, the shorter one suggested just murdering Brom, rather than drugging him and putting up with the trouble he caused.
Role in film
In the Eragon movie, the Ra'zac are creatures with their bodies seemingly crawling with or made up of a colony of insects and seem to have no protruding beak nor wear a cloak, instead being covered with bandage like rags. In spite of this they seem to have a vague human physiology because Eragon is able to kill one by hanging it from a branch with magic and Brom kills the second with a sword stab to the chest. This is different again from the books, where they both stay alive until Brisingr. The Ra'zac possess superhuman strength, speed and reflexes, and their sole weapons are dual knives protruding from their sleeves.
The Ra'zac are extremely dangerous, as Brom pragmatically describes them to be worse than even Urgals. They are certainly diverse, wild and powerful beings, as well as are very difficult to kill. The Ra'zac are seemingly magical beings created or summoned by Durza to hunt for Eragon and Saphira. They appear by bursting from the ground before being given orders by Durza. They then appear in Carvahall and seem to torture Sloan into revealing where Eragon lives. Eragon tries to race home but is too late to save his uncle, who is accidentally murdered in Eragon's place. Unlike in the books Galbatorix had no intention of bringing Eragon over to his side and wished to have Eragon killed. In the film universe the lives of Dragons are bound with their Riders and to kill a rider would be to kill the dragon.
The director Stephen Fangmer cited in the commentary in the DVD that he wanted to "reduce them to hellish creatures that live underground".
- The Ra’zac bear a strong likeness to the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings, owing to their cloaked appearance, their use of winged beasts as steeds, as well as their soporific breath.
- A case could perhaps be made role as a mysterious figure in a black cloak with a monstrous appearance underneath that serves as an enforcer/hunter in the service of the Dark Lord could be compared to the role of the Star Wars villain Darth Maul. In the storylines of major installments (Eragon and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) they are after something major in their master's plan (Saphira's egg and Queen Amidala) and eventually during a tense confrontation a leading hero's mentor is murdered by them right before their eyes. (Brom and Eragon were eventually captured by the Ra'zac, until they were rescued by Murtagh. While fleeing one of the Ra'zac threw a dagger at Eragon, but Brom moved into its path, thus saving Eragon but mortally wounding himself. Whilst Darth Maul killed Qui-Gon Jinn during their and Kenobi's lightsaber duel on Naboo. Whilst the combatants became separated by a laser wall Obi-Wan could only watch in horror as the Sith cut his friend and mentor down.) Eventually that student would later cut down the assailant himself. (Eragon would finally do so in Brisingr after the major confrontation in the Ra'zac's lair whilst Obi-Wan managed to best Maul in the same duel not long after Qui-Gon's death. Though according to subsequent sources he is said to have survived the encounter.) Perhaps the most apt comparison if one were to go down this route would be the Ra'zac species to the Dathomirians in large as both are a dangerous/powerful race of beings that provide a major antagonistic presence in their respective societies. Particularly Asajj Ventress who has a long-running established presence in the Star Wars franchise who whilst never working as an official partner with Darth Maul (like the primary two Ra'zac in the Inheritance Cycle) has a similar position whilst in service to the Sith.
- A strong case could also be that their role of a deadly warrior species/culture could be compared to the Mandalorians from the Star Wars franchise. Both were at some point a more powerful presence but their role in the main narrative of either story is smaller. At which point they are generally used as hunters, assassins, and enforcers. They are very often allied with the dark warrior mystics (Galbatorix's Broddring Empire and the Sith respectively) Each group wears distinctive garb with a threatening appearance that shrouds their faces when out on an assignment. (The Ra'zac's black cloaks and the trademark Mandalorian armor) Both can be quite ruthless/merciless. All are skilled warriors that can keep up with their world's mystic warriors (Dragon Riders and Force Users) and are dangerous aerial combatants. (Whether it be for the use of the Lethrblaka or their starship piloting skills) In the respective sagas' main narrative they are used to hunt down a close friend of the main protagonist (Eragon and Luke) by the Empire (Roran and Han Solo) in an attempt to use them against the hero. The second installment (in terms of release, them being Eldest and The Empire Strikes Back) ending with these groups' representatives (The two primary Ra'zac of the Inheritance Cycle and Boba Fett.) managing to capture somebody important (Katrina and Han) and take them to a major villainous stronghold. (Helgrind and Jabba's palace) leading to the next installment (Brisingr and Return of the Jedi) starting with the heroes mounting a rescue where their captors are finally slain. The dark lords' respective attempts to "harvest" them in secret for their use could also be compared. (Galbatorix at least claimed to have collected Ra'zac eggs that he had hidden whilst Darth Sidious in secret organized for an army of clones of the great Mandalorian warrior/bounty hunter Jango Fett on the obscure planet Kamino for use in the rise of his empire and the destruction of the Jedi)
- The Ra'zac can also be compared to Death (the character) like in animations. Examples are like some versions of The Christmas Carol or Family Guy.This is probably where the idea of the appearance of the Ra'zac came from.
- "Ra" is the name of an Egyptian god, usually depicted as man with a bird-like head, akin to the Ra'Zacs'. Ra, however, is the creator of the universe, while the Ra'Zac are destroyers. Ironically, Ra was god of the Sun, whose light the Ra'Zac shun.
- The Ra'zac share several similarities with the Kalkara of The Ranger's Apprentice.
- Both have a vaguely humanoid appearance, though they presumably share no actual blood with humans.
- Both became servants of the main antagonist (the Ra'zac served Galbatorix, while the Kalkara served Morgarath) in exchange for something in return (in the Ra'zac's case, it was Galbatorix's protection and a supply of fresh human flesh, while Morgarath paid for the Kalkara's services in silver, which the monsters had a obsession with). During both monsters' time under their masters' command, they acted as assassins.
- Both are armed with a paralyzing ability (the Ra'zac's breath and the Kalkara's hypnotic gaze)
- Both fear fire, though for different reasons.
- Both are the remnants of a dying race (although there are apparently still Ra'zac eggs hidden across Alagaesia)