Q&As with Christopher: Elva’s Eyes, Dragon Rider Qualities, and a Mysterious Castle

Q&ABannerFire, mysterious castle
Attribution: I, MarcusObal, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


How did Arya, who was born a year before the fall of the Riders, remember the name Rock of Kuthian?

Honestly, I don’t remember the exact year Arya was born off the top of my head. She was born either just before the battle on Vroengard or a year before Galbatorix fled into the wilderness after killing his first Rider, which was the beginning of the fall of the Riders, but still several years from their actual defeat on Vroengard.

In either case, I figured that Arya might have heard the name before the spell was cast to hide the Rock of Kuthian. That, or she would have read the name in the histories she was given during her schooling. Only she wouldn’t have remembered the name after reading it.

Why are Elva’s eyes purple? Is it the natural color of her eyes or has it been affected by Eragon’s blessing/curse?

Elva’s eyes have been affected by Eragon’s actions. The color of her eyes is the physical manifestation of the magic that flows through her, just as Durza’s maroon eyes and crimson hair reflected the amount of energy that coursed through him.

How many Dragon Riders were there between the first and last Eragon? How long did they usually live or serve their duty in peaceful and difficult times?

There were many hundreds of Dragon Riders over the course of the centuries. They tended to have very long lives, but much shorter than the average elf’s because their occupation was so dangerous.

What is the principle of werecats’ and Blagden’s abilities to foretell the future? Is there a difference between the werecats and the raven? Do they sense the future of a person who they meet or do they have a general awareness of the future of Alagaësia in a wider context?

Many people and creatures who have magic in their blood, even beyond the levels of an elf, can sense, at least vaguely, the direction events may take in the near future. This ability is linked to the very nature of magic and is something that the magicians of Alagaësia do not fully understand.

The werecats are an ancient race. Blagden, in contrast, was endowed with his abilities by the elf king, Evandar. Also, Blagden can’t shapeshift.

Are elves capable of loving another person after their partner dies?

Elves are very loyal once they give their heart to someone, and they will mourn for a long time if they lose a partner. Although it may take them decades to recover, they certainly can have other relationships and truly love again.

Why did you decide to make magic physically drain its users?

Unconstrained, a magician would be all-powerful and unstoppable. I decided that linking magic use with a person’s physical strength was a good way to limit power. In general, the Riders’ abilities evolved as I wrote the story and thought about what they would need to do their jobs and survive in Alagaësia.

What is the dwarven name for the Beor Mountains?

They don’t tell outsiders, so I couldn’t say.

On page 530 in Brisingr, Saphira refers to Thorn as “stunted-thoughts-red-scales-Thorn.” Is she simply insulting him, or does she mean that his actual mind has been harmed by his magically rapid growth? And, if that is the case, how would Saphira know? Had she communicated with him?

Dragons don’t tend to fight with their minds the way that humans, or say, elves do. They can certainly attack with their minds if they want—which their cousins, the Fanghur, do when hunting—but, for the most past, dragons prefer to fight with their teeth, tail, claws, and fire. . . . My thought, then, was that when Eragon and Murtagh spoke together after their duel on the Burning Plains and also before their fight in Brisingr, Saphira and Thorn would have had some mental contact, if only out of sheer curiosity. They wouldn’t have been able to resist tasting the flavor of the other’s consciousness. Moreover, Saphira and Thorn would have had a great deal of mental contact during the times they, and their Riders, were engaged in telepathic combat. Even though both sides would have been guarding their own thoughts jealously, it would have been impossible not to sense something about your opponent during such a fierce and intimate clash.

Why does Eragon’s gedwëy ignasia shine from time to time? Does this happen to all dragon riders? Why it is easier for dragon riders to “release” their magic from the hand with the gedwëy ignasia?

No one is quite sure why it’s easier for a Rider to funnel energy through whichever hand bears the gedwëy ignasia, although it has been postulated that the effect is somehow caused by the binding spell that joins dragons to their Riders. As for the glow, again, it’s a slightly mysterious phenomenon; some elves believe it’s a manifestation of excess energy dissipating through the skin. Whatever the case may be, one should never be surprised by the things that happen around dragons.

In the chapter “Among the Clouds” in Brisingr, Eragon and Saphira stop at the edge of Fernoth-Merna and Eragon notices the ruins of an abandoned castle across the way from which he gets an ominous feeling. The exact quote is “The abandoned building seemed gloomy, ominous, as if it were the decaying carcass of some foul beast.” Why does he get such a feeling about that castle? Whose castle was it?

It was a dwarf castle that was destroyed in the Îdgand Era, when Grim Halfstave killed Queen Forna and seized for his own the granite throne under Tronjheim. Eragon found the castle ominous because, well, it looked rather ominous.
There are actually quite a lot of ruins in the Beor Mountains. The dwarves have had more than a few wars amongst themselves, not to mention their ancient conflicts with dragons, Fanghur, Urgals, and the gigantic bears and boars that reside in the mountains. Another famous battle was the Siege of Kvôth, which was attacked during the War of Iron, which pitted humans against dwarves and knurlan against knurlan in a dispute over ownership of the iron mines in the western foothills of the Beor mountains. The human king at the time, King Thedric, did his best to forestall bloodshed by meeting in secret with the dwarf Ivaldn in the city of Furnost, but his efforts proved unsuccessful and, in the end, it fell to the Riders to restore the peace.

Just a bit of history that got cut from Brisingr.

What qualities do you have to have to be a Rider?

Intelligence, honesty, and determination. Of course, that’s in an idea world, and not every Rider possessed those attributes. Ultimately, you only need one ability to become a Rider—the ability to interest a dragon in hatching for you. And dragons often chose the most unlikely of people to become their Riders.

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Immanuela Meijer

Immanuela is the Paolinis' webmaster, archivist, and all around "make-things-go" Renaissance woman.