This article is about the series by Christopher Paolini. For the trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, go to The Inheritance Trilogy (N.K. Jemisin)
The Inheritance Cycle is a young adult tetralogy of epic fantasy novels written by American author Christopher Paolini. Set in the fictional world of Alagaësia , the novels focus on the adventures of a teenage boy named Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, as they struggle to overthrow the evil king Galbatorix. The series was originally intended to be a trilogy (named the "Inheritance Trilogy") until Paolini announced on October 30, 2007, while working on the third novel, that he believed the story was too complex to conclude in just three books.
The first book in the series, Eragon, was published in 2002 and subsequently re-published in 2003; it was followed by Eldest in 2005. Both were New York Times bestsellers. The third book in the series, Brisingr, was published on September 20, 2008, and the fourth and final book, Inheritance, was released on November 8, 2011. The series has sold 33.5 million copies worldwide.
Eragon was originally self-published by Paolini's family in 2002, as Paolini LLC, and re-published in 2003 by Knopf. In 2006, a feature film was released based on the first book in the cycle, Eragon, starring Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Djimon Hounsou. The film received generally negative reviews and closed as the 13th highest grossing fantasy-live action film within the United States.
Homeschooled by his parents, Christopher Paolini graduated from high school at the age of fifteen, but felt he was not yet mature enough for college, so he wrote Eragon in his spare time. After writing the first draft for a year, he spent a second year rewriting it and fleshing out the story and characters, and then presented it to his parents. They had it self-published by the family publishing company, Paolini International, and Paolini then traveled to various schools advertising his novel. In 2002, author Carl Hiaasen discovered the book while his stepson was reading it, and brought it to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. It was republished by Knopf in 2003.
Eldest was released in hardcover in August 2005, and in paperback in March 2007. A limited edition, featuring extras such as a brief history of Alagaësia, a double-sided poster featuring Brom's ring and Glaedr, and a sneak peek of Brisingr was released in September 2006. The deluxe edition of Eldest has an excerpt from the third chapter of Brisingr.][
Brisingr—a word that means "fire" in Alagaësia's ancient language, taken from Old Norse—was published on September 20, 2008. Paolini's announcement of the book's publishing date included the revelation that the Inheritance Trilogy would now contain four books instead of three, thus resulting in the renaming of the series to the Inheritance Cycle.
Inheritance was announced by Random House on March 23, 2011 with the cover artwork. It was released on November 8, 2011 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the fictional land of Alagaësia, there was an order which oversaw the countries and brought peace to the world. This group was known as the Dragon Riders, for they rode dragons, at the birth of which a bond was formed in accordance with a pact made between elves and dragons millennia earlier. One Dragon Rider named Galbatorix had his dragon slain by a group of Urgals which drove him mad. Denied another Dragon by the Council of Elder Riders, Galbatorix blamed the Council for the death of his dragon and sought to destroy the order. He made an alliance with a young rider, Morzan, and with his help slew another rider and took his dragon, Shruikan. Using magic, he broke Shruikan's will and forced the dragon to serve him. Gathering more Riders to his cause, he created the Thirteen Forsworn and with their help, took over Ilirea, the capital of the Broddring Kingdom, and destroyed Vroengard, the center of the Dragon Riders. Galbatorix slew the Elders, their leader Vrael, and most of the Dragon Riders. When the remaining dragons knew they could not win they cast a spell on the Forsworn's dragons, which made the Forsworn dragons unable to be named and became little more than beasts.
Elder Rider Oromis and his Dragon Glaedr fled to Ellesmera, the capital of the forest Du Weldenvarden, while Morzan confronted his old friend Brom, slaying his Dragon. However, Morzan showed mercy to Brom, who later escaped. After the fall of the Riders, Galbatorix reformed the Broddring Kingdom into the Empire, naming himself Emperor, though he never ruled the elves or dwarves.
Over the next century, several of the Forsworn were killed either from battle or power struggles, or committed suicide after going mad. Surda declared independence from Galbatorix and became its own country. Brom created the Varden, a rebellion meant to oppose the Empire, killing three of the Forsworn including Morzan; and orchestrated the deaths of five more. Brom and Morzan's wife, Selena fell in love while Brom was working undercover in Morzan's staff. Selena who had Morzan's son, became pregnant with Brom's child. She returned to Carvahall, her brother Garrow's home, to give birth to the child. After begging her brother and his wife to raise her son, Eragon, as their own, she left Carvahll to return to Morzan and her first son. She died soon afterward. When Brom needed to disappear he traveled to Carvahall to live, disguised as a storyteller to be near his son.
Over the next fifteen years, Galbatorix achieved control over the Shade Durza, and ordered him to attack a courier, Arya, who had been traveling with a Dragon egg, searching for its new Rider. Only two other Dragon eggs remain in the citadel in Ilirea, which has been renamed Urû'baen. Arya attempted to send the egg to Brom, but the remaining Eldunari altered the spell making the egg go to Eragon, because they believed that the egg might hatch for him, who finds the egg while on a hunting trip. Few days later, the egg hatches, and Eragon names the hatchling Saphira, becoming a Dragon Rider through their bond. His cousin, Roran, leaves for a job to earn money so he can start a family with his beloved, Katrina. His uncle, Garrow, is killed by King Galbatorix's servants, the Ra'zac, and Eragon flees Carvahall with Brom to hunt down the Ra'zac, unbeknownst to him that Brom is his father. Brom gives Morzan's sword, Zar'roc, to Eragon.
On the journey, Brom teaches Eragon sword fighting, magic, the Ancient Language, and the ways of the Dragon Riders. On the journey they become close friends. However, their camp is ambushed by the Ra'zac as Morzan's son Murtagh rescues them, but Brom is gravely injured. In his dying breath, Brom reveals to Eragon that he once was a Dragon Rider and his Dragon was also named Saphira.
Murtagh and Eragon rescue the courier Arya who reveals she is an elf and is in need of the Varden's medical assistance. They flee to the Varden, who have been hiding in the Beor Mountain's capital, Tronjheim. The Varden imprisons Murtagh after he refuses to allow his mind to be read, as Murtagh doesn't want them to learn of his parentage. Eragon is introduced to the Varden's leader, Ajihad, his daughter Nasuada, the dwarf King Hrothgar, and his foster son Orik. The Varden are attacked by an army of Urgals and Eragon receives a scar on his back from Durza, but Arya and Saphira create a distraction long enough for Eragon to stab Durza through the heart. In the aftermath, Ajihad is killed by a band of Urgals, and is replaced by Nasuada. Murtagh is captured, and swears fealty to Galbatorix. One of the two Dragon egg hatches for him, whom he names Thorn, and becomes a Dragon Rider through their newly formed bond.
In the remainder of the Rider War, Eragon and Saphira learn under the tutelage of Oromis and Glaedr in Ellesmera.During an elvish celebration, Eragon is changed by the dragons, giving him elf-like abilities (speed, strength) and healing his back as well as all of his other injuries. Eragon then reveals his true feelings to Arya accidentally. After much persistence, Arya angrily rejects Eragon's suit. Meanwhile, Nasuada moves the Varden to the separate country of Surda which is ruled by King Orrin, and Roran moves the villagers of Carvahall to Surda, after their village was destroyed by the Raz'ac, who also captured Katrina. Roran is promoted to Captain while Nasuada allows the Urgals to join the ranks of the Varden. Eragon and Saphira confront Murtagh and Thorn, who slew King Hrothgar. Murtagh bests Eragon, taking his sword Zar'roc and revealing to him the truth that they are brothers.
Eragon, Saphira, and Roran arrive at Helgrind, where they free Katrina. Eragon and Roran destroy much of Helgrind, slaying the Raz'ac while Saphira kills the Lethrblaka, the Raz'ac's adult form. After which, he goes to the Boer mountains and helps Orik become king of the dwarves. After that, Eragon goes back to the Du Weldenvarden and creates his own sword Brisingr, and learns that Brom is his real father (he and Murtagh are half brothers) and of the Eldunari, the hearts of hearts, which is also the source to Galbatorix's power from Oromis and Glaedr.
The Varden captures several cities of the Empire, and Oromis and Glaedr are killed by Murtagh and Thorn, though Glaedr has given his Eldunari to Eragon and Saphira to further their training. Nasuada is captured for interrogation by Murtagh, who heals her of her injuries, which causes an identity switch, breaking his oath to Galbatorix. Eragon travels to the Vault of Souls on the ruined Vroengard, which has a massive amount of secret Eldunari and Dragon eggs hidden from Galbatorix. Taking much of the Eldunari, he faces Galbatorix and after a fierce battle (after Murtagh and Thorn decide to help them), Galbatorix is slain. Meanwhile, Shruikan is killed by Arya.
Murtagh and Thorn retreat to somewhere in the north to have some time to themselves to do some thinking. Nasuada, after a heated debate with the leaders of the Varden, becomes the High Queen of Alagaësia. Arya returns to Du Weldenvarden to help choose a new monarch for the elves after the death of Queen Islanzadí in battle, and is chosen. She takes with her the rescued green dragon egg, which soon hatches for her. Thus, Arya becomes a Rider with her dragon named Fírnen. Near the end of the book, Arya reveals this to Eragon, and Saphira decides to test Fírnen "to see if he has the iron in his bones, and the fire in his belly to match [her]". They become mates shortly thereafter.
Eragon reworks the magic of the original pact between Riders and dragons to include both dwarves and Urgals, allowing the dragon eggs to hatch for members of their races. Eragon, coming to the conclusion that there is no safe place to raise the dragons and train new Riders in Alagaësia, begins planning transport of the Eldunarí and the eggs to a region east of Alagaësia. Save for two eggs which are kept in Alagaësia: one is to be sent to the dwarves, and the other to the Urgals. Those future Riders will travel to Eragon's new home for training, while new eggs will be sent back to Alagaësia to hatch for new Riders.
The series is set on the continent of Alagaësia.
The Beor Mountains are a vast and incredibly tall mountain range in the south of Alagaësia. Within this area is the Az Ragni (river) and Beartooth River, as well as multiple dwarf cities. The city of Tronjheim is located inside the hollow mountain Farthen Dûr. Northwest of Farthen Dûr is Tarnag, the home of Celbedeil, a great dwarven temple.
Du Weldenvarden is a dense forest which covers the north of Alagaësia. The elf cities of Ceris and Ellesméra are located within the forest, as well as the Gaena River and Lake Ardwen.
"The Empire" covers the west of Alagaësia and is the area under the control of King Galbatorix. The area is populated by humans living in cities and towns such as Aroughs, Belatona, Carvahall, Ceunon, Daret, Dras-Leona, Eastcroft, Feinster, Gil'ead, Kuasta, Narda, Therinsford, Teirm, Urû'baen, and Yazuac. The Empire is split by an untamed mountain range known as The Spine. The Palancar Valley, a major valley of The Spine, is the location of Eragon's hometown and is thus where the Inheritance Cycle begins. Helgrind is a large bare rock mountain near Dras-Leona. South of The Empire is the country of "Surda" which seceded from The Empire while Galbatorix was learning to use the Dragon's Heart of Hearts. Surda includes the cities of Aberon, Petrøvya, Dauth, Cithrí, Reavstone, and Lithgow.
The Hadarac Desert is a giant desert which covers the middle of Alagaësia.
Northwest of the mainland lies the island of Vroengard, containing the city of Doru Araeba. This used to be the home of the Riders before they fell. Now, it is inhabited by strange creatures and is almost completely abandoned.
Alagaësia is populated by various sentient races, including Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Urgals (Urgals who grow over 8 feet tall are referred to as a Kull.), Dragons, Werecats, Shades (a human that is possessed by a spirit or spirits that is stronger than the human), and Ra'zac. Alagaësia was once host to a now extinct race known as the Grey Folk.
Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia is a supplemental book to the Inheritance Cycle, published in November 2009. The book takes the appearance of being written by Eragon after the events of Inheritance, and is directed at a "young Dragon Rider" (the reader). Fully in color, the book features fifteen pieces of artwork depicting cities and the various races of Alagaësia. Since it was published before the release of Inheritance, it contains hints of the novel's direction.
In an interview, Christopher Paolini stated that he is considering to write more stories set in Alagaësia. He plans for one of them to be a continuation of the Inheritance Cycle, and the others to be for new story lines (such as a possible prequel centering around Brom).
The books have been criticized for their derivative nature. The two most commonly discussed sources are Star Wars (because of numerous similarities in the plots) and The Lord of the Rings (because of the setting, elven and dwarven races, the language and character and place names). Even many positive reviews note that the work pulls strongly from the conventions of fantasy, in characters, maps, dialogue and concepts.
The reviews of Eldest were similar. Paolini was cited as having developed as a writer from Eragon, but also noted were strong use of The Empire Strikes Back as source material, as well as The Two Towers and Dune. USAToday also cited strong echoes of Star Wars in Eragon's plot, while Entertainment Weekly writes that the plot closely resembles that of The Lord of the Rings.
On December 15, 2006, a film adaptation of Eragon was released. The movie, starring Edward Speleers in the title role of Eragon, as well as Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Rachel Weisz, Sienna Guillory, Djimon Hounsou and Robert Carlyle, was produced by 20th Century Fox. Stefen Fangmeier made his directorial debut with Eragon. The screenplay was written by Peter Buchman. Principal photography for the film took place in Hungary and Slovakia. A DVD of the movie was released March 20, 2007. The film received negative reviews due to claims of amateur writing and of borrowing from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Because of the film's extensive criticism, and of the trilogy being unexpectedly extended into a cycle, there have been no plans for any future films.][