Q&As with Christopher: the Map, Sci-fi vs Fantasy, and Writing Good Battle Scenes

battle scenes
Image courtesy SplitShire.com


Morzaniant: 1) Will we ever see the rest of Alagaesia put on a map? And if so, are there any other large-scale civilizations? 2) Will the next book let us see (on a map)/go to the other continent(s?) on the planet? The rest of the world has always left me in wonder as to what else is out there; land, species, and culture wise. 3) Will there be any technological advancement with the documents found in Galbatorix’s castle?

  1. Maybe! No immediate plans to do so, though. And no, there aren’t any large-scale civilizations just off the edge of the map.
  2. Maaaybe. 😀
  3. Definitely. I think Alagaësia is on the verge of a scientific/magical industrial revolution.

Good questions!

StarPupil: Some questions from my aunt: Was it difficult to balance the writing of the third and fourth book while going to college and having a social life? Why was it decided to split the third book into a forth, when it seemed like they both had a lot of filler in them. Why didn’t you round out the relationship between Murtagh and Nasuada? It felt like it ended so flat and incomplete.

Never went to college, which simplified things. I listen to a lot of courses from the Teaching Company/Great Courses company, though.

Tough question. What one reader sees as filler, another sees as essential story elements. That said, if Brisingr & Inheritance had been a single volume, it would have rivaled some of Martin’s books for size.

Who said their relationship is finished? 😀

You write about Tronjheim. That is the Norwegian Trondheim, is it not? Have you ever been to Norway? And why this fascination for Old Norse history? Have you read any Norwegian authors? What do you know about Norway today?

Oddly enough, I invented the name Tronjheim on my own, not thinking of the actual city. You can imagine my surprise when someone drew my attention to it! It was one of those strange bits of coincidence that happens when you create a world as large as Eragon’s. In the dwarf language, Tronjheim means helm of giants or giant helm.

What I know of Norway has come mostly from old myths and sagas, which attracted me because of their similarity to more modern fantasy tales. In searching these out, I was trying to find the roots of the genre. My research led me to read lots of the early Nordic stories of heroes and gods. I would love to visit Norway. Having lived in both Montana and Alaska, I think I would feel right at home among the Norwegian mountains and fjords.

If you had to choose one character in all your books who got sort of a rough deal from you, and you could apologize to them for writing their lives that way, who would it be?

It’s hard to pick, but probably Murtagh. He really got the short end of the stick in the Inheritance Cycle, and if he ever met me, he’d have every reason to hate me. In fact, I wouldn’t want to meet any of my characters, given what I’ve put them through!


brainstrain91: How has writing sci-fi been, compared to fantasy? Do you think you’ll stick with it when this book is finished?

Much easier in some ways. For example, it’s nice to finally be able to use more modern language. When working on the Inheritance Cycle, I was constantly second-guessing every word and phrase. Finding the proper balance between readability and a suitably elevated/epic prose style was difficult.

In other ways, sci-fi is much harder. Unlike horses, spaceships can’t travel faster if there’s an urgent need. So figuring out the technology has taken a huge amount of time and effort, even more than working out the magic in the Inheritance Cycle. Plus, there’s always the risk of creating a future so disconnected from anything we’re familiar with that readers no longer care about the subject material. It’s tricky.

I love sci-fi, so I definitely intend to keep writing it on-and-off into the future.


How do you write a good battle scene?

Put people in danger and then work out very logically each physical action from there. Do they cower? Do they duck? Jump, run, attack? It’s pretty simple cause and effect.


For you, what’s the coolest magic in the series? What’s the one thing you would have if you could have anything?

Hmm. I think I’d choose the ability to heal injuries. That way I’d never have to visit the dentist again. In the language I invented for the dwarves, the word for teeth is actually considered a curse. And rightly so, I think.

There is an audio version of Eragon. How is it to hear your own story told by someone else?

It sends shivers down my spine to hear my words come alive. The images shimmer and coalesce with the cadence of the reader. It is amazing!

If you were a song?

The second movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony.

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Immanuela Meijer

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