The Varden were members of an alliance that opposed the rule of King Galbatorix and his Empire. They consisted mainly of men and dwarves, though there was an alliance between the Varden and the elves, as well. The Varden also enlisted the aid of a group of magicians known as the Du Vrangr Gata (translated "The Wandering Path"). The Surdans were also known to aid the Varden in transporting supplies and sheltering those who did not wish to fight. Ajihad was the leader of the Varden, but was killed by Urgals in Eldest. Nasuada took his position.
The Varden's standard was described as a white dragon holding a rose above a sword pointing downward on a purple field.
The principal original founder of the Varden was Brom, who oversaw the establishment of the organization before handing over command to Weldon to pursue other exploits against the Broddring Empire, most notably hunting down and killing the Forsworn. Weldon was eventually replaced by Deynor, who was succeeded by Ajihad, the Varden's leader at the time of Eragon's arrival. Following Ajihad's death after the Battle of Farthen Dûr, his daughter, Nasuada took control. She decided to move all of the Varden to Surda, where she lead jointly with King Orrin, the king of Surda. After the death of Galbatorix, it was decided that Nasuada would lead the human kingdoms, with Surda and Teirm as her vassals.
Council of Elders
The Council of Elders was the governing body of the Varden, aiding the Varden's leader in his or her decision-making as well electing each new leader. Another of their most important duties was to be the voice of the Varden's people to their leader.
After Ajihad's death, during the period in which the Council was deciding who to select to be the next leader of the Varden, Eragon learned that many members of the Council were corrupt, out to accomplish their own personal agendas instead of those of Ajihad and the Varden. They planned to elect Nasuada for their own benefit, believing that she was not strong or experienced enough to lead the Varden on her own and would thus be vulnerable and easy for them to manipulate.
Foundation and Early Days
Brom helped to found the Varden in an attempt to destroy the Empire. He "gathered together many of those who had been exiled, freed some who had been imprisoned, as well as with them formed the Varden." However, he was still driven by a desire for vengeance to pursue and kill Morzan, the first of the Forsworn, who had killed the original Saphira (Eragon's dragon's namesake, Brom's dragon). So he chose a close friend named Weldon to serve as leader of the Varden and thus Weldon became its first leader (excluding Brom, who was only leader of the Varden during its foundation and left after that relatively short period).
Recovery of the Eggs
In addition to a formidable army, the Varden had an elaborate network of spies and agents located throughout Alagaësia: notable among these were Brom, who continued working for the Varden while trying to hunt down Morzan, as well as Jeod. In the years before Eragon's discovery of Saphira, the Varden worked hard to weaken Galbatorix's rule. Their agents assassinated many members of the Forsworn. These attacks would be vital to the rebellion in upcoming years.
Brom and Jeod developed a plan to steal the three dragon eggs in Galbatorix's possession. An agent of the Varden called Helfring infiltrated into Urû'baen, but his mission was partially foiled and he was forced to flee with only one egg, pursued by both Morzan and Brom. Morzan obtained the egg at Gil'ead before he was defeated by Brom. The egg was successfully delivered to the Varden, but many believed Brom to be dead.
Deal with the elves
Having retrieved the one egg, the Varden and elves fell into a dispute about who should be the new Dragon Rider. The elves did not want the new Rider to be a human and the Varden disliked the idea of an elf Dragon Rider deciding Alagaësia's fate.
After many debates, it was agreed that the elf Arya would carry the egg between the Varden base at Farthen Dûr and the elves' forest. Each race would have an equal opportunity of the egg hatching for them. Regardless of whom the egg hatched for, both races would be a part of the young Rider's training. Brom would teach the basics to the new Rider and then the Rider would be sent to Ellesméra to complete his or her training.
New Rider War
The Battle under Farthen Dûr
The Varden intercepted an Imperial message, informing them of an impending attack on Farthen Dûr by Urgals and Kull camped at Ithrö Zhâda. The Varden and dwarves were able to prepare for the assault with the help of Eragon, his dragon Saphira, the elf Arya, Murtagh, as well as the witch Angela. After Eragon killed the Shade Durza, a controlling link on the Urgals' minds was broken and different tribes within the Urgal army turned on each other. This infighting gave the Varden the victory.
In the aftermath of the battle, Ajihad's scouting party, which included Murtagh and the Twins, was ambushed by a group of Urgals. Ajihad was killed and Murtagh as well as the Twins were captured and assumed dead. In reality, the Twins, who were actually spies for the Broddring Empire, had arranged the ambush in order to take Murtagh to Urû'baen, where the red dragon Thorn hatched for him.
The council elected the seventeen-year-old Nasuada as the new leader, figuring that she would be merely a puppet in their hands. To their dismay, Eragon swore allegiance to Nasuada, and not the council. Then, their plan backfired in its entirety when Nasuada proved a headstrong and resolved ruler.
The battle had taken a heavy toll on the dwarves' supplies, so Nasuada was forced to relocate the Varden to the neighboring country of Surda, which was sympathetic to their cause. Still short on funds, Nasuada ordered the Du Vrangr Gata to magically manufacture large quantities of lace, which the Varden then sold to the inhabitants of Surda. Her action understandably angered the Silk Guild, but it ensured the Varden's survival.
The Burning Plains
Galbatorix moved against the Varden once more, this time sending a large army and the new Dragon Rider Murtagh, to The Burning Plains, northwest of Surda. Together with the armies of Surda under King Orrin, as well as Arya, Eragon and villagers from Carvahall, Nasuada and the Varden again managed to defeat the Imperial forces, mainly because Murtagh and Thorn decided to ignore their orders and return to Urû'baen without Eragon and Saphira.
In the Ancient Language, Varden means "Warders." This is a very loose translation from the word in the Ancient Language. "Varden" can be more explicitly and appropriately interpreted to mean "Shielders," "Protecters," "Defenders," or other similar terms. The root word "Varden" is also found in "Du Weldenvarden," the name of the elves' sacred forest into which the Fair Folk withdrew after Galbatorix's takeover of Alagaësia and the fall of Ilirea (later renamed "Urû'baen").
- (Founder and former leader: deceased)
- (Brom' successor: deceased)
- (Weldon's eventual successor: deceased)
- (Deynor's successor: deceased)
- (Ajihad's daughter and successor)
- (Commander and Councillor)
- The Twins
- (Co-leaders of Du Vrangr Gata: deceased)
- (Successor to the Twins)
- (Champion of the Varden, sworn vassal to Nasuada and temporary successor to Nasuada)
- (Elven ambassador)
- (Allied Healer and Spellcaster)
- (Former bodyguard to Nasuada)
- (Former Caretaker of Elva)
- (Varden Soldier- formerly Captain)
- (Spellcaster of Du Vrangr Gata: deceased)
- Roran Garrowsson/Stronghammer
- (Varden Commander)
- Martland Redbeard
- (Varden Commander)