Not much is known of Jeod Longshanks upbringing, barring that his father was a merchant.
At some point, he joined the Arcaena, a religious group dedicated to the preservation of knowledge as a safeguard against an unnamed cataclysmic event, becoming an “Eye” in their service. His chosen profession was scholar, which included studies of the ancient language among other things.
Eventually he found a book that detailed a secret passageway into Galbatorix’s castle. He contacted a Varden agent in Teirm, who passed the information to Brom, who then arranged a meeting with Jeod. The two men plotted to steal Galbatorix’s three dragon eggs, becoming good friends in the process. The thief they hired, Helfring, managed to secure only Saphira’s egg, but he fled to parts unknown, so Jeod and Brom set off in pursuit. (It was later revealed that the Eldunarí hidden in the Vault of Souls had spooked Helfring while trying to surreptitiously assist him.) Jeod and Brom eventually tracked the egg to Gil’ead, encountering Morzan and his dragon there who were also in search of the egg. During the ensuing conflict the two friends were separated.
Jeod thought Brom had perished, but in truth Brom had managed to slay Morzan and his dragon. Brom then took the dragon egg to the Varden—promising to train whoever would become the next Dragon Rider—and then hid in Carvahall to watch over his son. The Varden kept Brom’s existence a secret from everyone, including Jeod, in order to protect Brom from the Empire.
After the events at Gil’ead, Jeod didn’t want to continue his work as a scholar. He wasn’t a warrior-type, so with his father’s help he became a merchant , providing a front to move goods into Surda for the rebellion. When Jeod married Helen, her father invested heavily in the business.
Jeod enjoyed Teirm, especially when it wasn’t raining. He and Helen lived there in a mansion adjacent to Angela the herbalist’s shop. He rented an office in the castle, per Lord Risthart’s decree for business owners, though he often conducted his daily dealings elsewhere. His income was eventually good enough for him to hire Rolf, a snobby “ . . . plump butler garnished with overly shiny teeth.” (Narrative, Eldest Deluxe, page 487)
Jeod’s surreptitious and treasonous actions against Galbatorix would ultimately spell his ruin; the Empire’s agents sabotaged his shipments repeatedly, ensuring his bankruptcy:
“. . . starting several months ago, someone’s been attacking our ships. It’s not the usual piracy, because only ships that carry the goods of certain merchants are attacked. Jeod’s one of ’em. It’s gotten so bad that no captain will accept those merchants’ goods, which makes life difficult around here. Especially because some of ’em run the largest shipping businesses in the Empire. They’re being forced to send goods by land. It’s driven costs painfully high, and their caravans don’t always make it.” (Martin, Eragon Deluxe, page 177)
Jeod finally lost the last ship he owned, along with its loyal and brave crew. Merchants who had helped him experienced similar difficulties up and down the western seaboard, suggesting a mole was embedded in the uppermost ranks of the Varden.
And there was another complication. When Helen and Jeod had first courted, she had begged the dashing suitor to whisk her away from her family and travel the land together. But that never happened. At first she settled into a comfortable life as a merchant’s wife, but as his success dwindled, she became increasingly unhappy in the marriage. She pressured Jeod for children, stability, and the wealth she was accustomed to receiving both in her father’s house and with Jeod. She did not know his business misfortunes had little to do with his acumen and everything to do with the fact that he was a Varden agent, a secret he kept from her. (It further raised her ire that if Jeod went bankrupt, her father’s financial standing would be greatly affected as well.) Things were not looking up for the former scholar.
But times would change soon enough. When Brom and Eragon showed up on Jeod’s doorstep, he was absolutely surprised and elated to see his old friend. He would later share:
“I still have not recovered from the shock of seeing him and you, Eragon, standing on our doorstep. Brom always kept his own counsel, but we became close friends when we were traveling together, and I cannot understand why he let me believe he was dead for what, sixteen, seventeen years? Too long. What’s more, since it was Brom who delivered Saphira’s egg to the Varden after he slew Morzan in Gil’ead, the Varden couldn’t very well tell me they had her egg without revealing that Brom was still alive. So I’ve spent the better part of two decades convinced that the one great adventure of my life had ended in failure and that, as a result, we had lost our only hope of having a Dragon Rider to help us overthrow Galbatorix. The knowledge was no easy burden, I can assure you. . . .” (Brisingr Deluxe, pages 283-284)
Brom asked Jeod to help find where the Ra’zac were hidden by tracking their Seithr Oil supply. The merchant was happy to help but didn’t have access to the needed records. While Brom and Eragon figured out what to do next, Jeod welcomed them to stay in his home. The merchant also sent a trusted employee with a message from Brom to Ajihad, along with proof of veracity in the form of Brom’s ring, Aren.
Jeod and Brom spent many hours over a tavern dinner swapping stories. Later when they discovered that Eragon couldn’t read, Jeod encouraged the young Rider to learn, saying “These books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.” (Eragon Deluxe, page 193)
It was in Jeod’s library that Eragon first saw a copy of Domia abr Wyrda, a tome outlawed by Galbatorix. How was this contraband acquired? Well:
“A man came through here a few years ago and tried to sell it to a trader down by the wharves. Fortunately, I happened to be there and was able to save the book, along with his neck. He didn’t have a clue what it was.” (Jeod, Eragon Deluxe, page 193)
Eventually Brom came up with a daring plan: the three men would break into the record room in the castle to find more information on the Seithr Oil. Of course Brom couldn’t resist teasing Jeod about his choice of a rapier as a weapon, calling it a “toad sticker.” His friend was unfazed replying “—this toad sticker is faster than a broadsword.” (Eragon Deluxe, page 213)
They were able to enter first the castle and then the records room with relative ease. After some time, Solembum made a surprise appearance to warn Eragon that the guard they had bribed had told his replacement of their whereabouts. The three were able to finish looking at the scrolls just in time to exit the room and lock the door behind themselves. Their research revealed that the most likely location of the Ra’zac was somewhere in or near Dras-Leona.
When it was time for Brom and Eragon to continue on their journey, Jeod was torn between his duty to stay and his desire for adventure, saying, “It doesn’t feel right that you will leave without me. My heart expects to go along, but the rest of me reminds me of my age and responsibilities.” (Eragon Deluxe, page 220)
Helen had been incredibly resentful of Brom and Eragon’s presence and of her predicament—she had not said a word since their first exchange. Even during their final goodbyes, Helen refused to be gracious or supportive. Brom advised her:
“You have a good husband; take care of him. There are few men as brave and as determined as he is. But even he cannot weather difficult times without support from those he loves.” He bowed again and said gently, “Only a suggestion, dear lady.” (Eragon Deluxe, page 221)
She did not reply, and the Rider and his mentor left.
Jeod, ever the clever man, realized that Brom’s explanation for his disappearance was incomplete:
“When I opened our front door and realized whom I was looking at, I thought that the ghosts of my past had come to haunt me. Brom said he kept himself hidden to ensure that he would still be alive to train the new Rider when he or she should appear, but his explanation has never entirely satisfied me. Why was it necessary for him to cut himself off from nearly everyone he knew or cared about? What was he afraid of? What was he protecting? . . . I cannot prove it, but it seems to me that Brom must have discovered something in Gil’ead when he was fighting Morzan and his dragon, something so momentous, it moved Brom to abandon everything that was his life up until then. It’s a fanciful conjecture, I admit, but I cannot account for Brom’s actions except by postulating that there was a piece of information he never shared with me nor another living soul.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 284)
Only later would it become clear that Eragon was Brom’s son and the reason for his disappearance.
Jeod (and likely his partners as well) declared bankruptcy shortly after Eragon and Brom’s departure, necessitating the sale of all his property to pay off his debts. Longshanks thought his adventuring days were over . . . but not quite yet.
Roran and villagers from Carvahall appeared on Jeod’s doorstep a day before the auction to sell off his assets. They initially gave fake names and expressed a desire to purchase supplies for a long trip. But because all of Jeod’s assets were now owned by his creditors, he could not accommodate their request without facing jail time.
That didn’t mean that he couldn’t offer guidance as to which merchants were honest . . . and gather clues about his visitors;it was clear they were not being open with him. A few questions later he deduced their real identities, telling Roran:
“Brom brought Eragon here, and you look like your cousin. When I saw your poster with Eragon’s, I realized that the Empire must have tried to capture you and that you had escaped. Although . . . in all my imaginings, I never suspected that you took the rest of Carvahall with you.” (Eldest Deluxe, page 493)
After Roran postured aggressively for a time—threatening Jeod’s life in the process—the young man settled enough to recount the Battle of Carvahall and ongoing escape from the Empire.
Joed, in return, revealed that he was a Varden agent, Eragon was a Dragon Rider (and it was for this reason the Ra’zac had killed Garrow), and that Brom and Eragon had visited him. He also told Roran how he and Brom had rescued Saphira’s egg fifteen years ago.
Roran was enraged that his cousin hadn’t done more—even if that meant harming Saphira in the process—to protect Garrow. Jeod counseled that the new Rider could no more harm her than saw off his own leg and had left Carvahall to avenge Garrow’s death while protecting Roran in the process. Roran was unconvinced. However, he was ecstatic to learn the location of the Ra’zac in Helgrind, where Katrina was being held captive. Jeod suggested he recruit Eragon and Saphira to help rescue her.
Jeod relayed more news he had heard from Ajihad’s messenger:
- Brom’s death
- Murtagh’s existence
- Eragon’s capture and subsequent flight from Gil’ead
- Arya’s rescue and the desperate journey to save her from death by poison
- The Urgals and dwarves recent doings
- The Battle of Farthen Dûr, during which Eragon slew Durza
- The Varden’s move to Surda
- Eragon and Saphira’s training in Du Weldenvarden
Roran and his crew debated the veracity of Jeod’s words, but finally accepted them as truth after asking how Jeod knew Gertrude’s name and what Eragon and Brom looked like.
Once again, Roran asked Jeod for help. The merchant came up with a daring plan: he and a few remaining loyal sailors would help the refugees steal the Dragon Wing in exchange for a ride to Surda. The vessel was already well stocked with food, so there would be no need to purchase supplies. And the surprise theft would reduce the risk of being destroyed like the other merchant ships targeted by the Empire:
“The law requires merchant ships to submit their itinerary for approval with the port authority at least two weeks before departure. It takes a great deal of time to prepare a ship for launch, so if we leave without warning, it could be a week or more before Galbatorix can launch intercept vessels. If luck is with us, we won’t see so much as the topmast of our pursuers.” (Jeod, Eldest Deluxe, page 502)
That the villagers agreed was a great relief to Jeod:
“I’ve been aware for almost a year that my true identity—as well as that of many other merchants here and elsewhere who have assisted the Varden—was betrayed to the Empire. Because of that, I haven’t dared flee to Surda. If I tried, the Empire would arrest me, and then who knows what horrors I’d be in for? I’ve had to watch the gradual destruction of my business without being able to take any action to oppose or escape it. What’s worse, now that I cannot ship anything to the Varden and they dare not send envoys to me, I feared that Lord Risthart would have me clapped in irons and dragged off to the dungeons, since I’m of no further interest to the Empire. I’ve expected it every day since I declared bankruptcy.” (Eldest Deluxe, page 501)
In the midst of this meeting, Helen banged on the office door, railing at his stupidity and cowardice, completely unaware of the goings on within. She finally left with the threat:
“I shall wait upon your pleasure in the dining room, dear husband, and unless you choose to attend me by the evening meal and explain yourself, then I shall leave this accursed house, never to return.” (Eldest Deluxe, page 496)
Jeod had yet to tell her that their misfortunes had nothing to do with his business abilities. But he still loved Helen . . . so it was time to confess and see if she wanted to go to Surda with him. She could either return to her father or start her life anew with Jeod. After learning he would hold some level of importance with the Varden, she took some time to consider his proposal.
Preparations for piracy were taken with the precaution that the mansion was likely under surveillance. Jeod “accidentally ran into” five of his trusted sailors, who all agreed to the venture. The villagers did their bit as well.
Finally it was time to leave. Helen did not appear as Jeod and the rest exited the house in the wee hours. They made their way past an illiterate guard who pretended to read the scroll the merchant handed him, allayed the sailors’ concerns about women on board, and then set about the task of actually pirating the Dragon Wing. It worked, and they spent the next two hours preparing the ship for departure. Helen eventually appeared on the gangplank (much to Jeod’s delight), boarding the ship with barely a word.
Teirm’s dock was located outside the city wall, which allowed the rest of the villagers hidden nearby to walk straight up onto the Dragon Wing. Guards sounded the alarm on their approach, and the “pirates” fired flaming javelins at the wharf to distract the soldiers. Once everyone was stowed onboard, the sailed away with a burning wharf behind it. Both Jeod and Roran regretted the innocent people that would be harmed by the flames.
THE BOAR’S EYE
Shortly after they were out to sea, a Ra’zac mounted on a Lethrblaka appeared. Exploiting the Ra’zac’s fear of water, the villager Baldor was able to shoot an arrow into the mount’s flank, sending it careening away.
Three of the Empire’s sloops, swift enough to nearly overtake the Dragon Wing, caught up several days later. Fortunately a two-day long storm interrupted the onslaught. Jeod recommended that they sail through the Boar’s Eye in an attempt to lose the three ships. Nearly trapped by the strong currents of the whirlpool, the villagers alternated with each other at the oars, rowing for their lives. While the Dragon Wing ultimately made it across to the other side, the sloops were swallowed into the sea—but not before sending a flaming magic arrow to burn its prey. The villagers were able to put out the unnatural fire.
It was with great relief that the Dragon Wing and its passengers arrived in Dauth. But it wasn’t the end of Jeod and Helen’s journey, nor of most of the villagers. After hearing compelling reasons from Roran and Jeod, many decided to sail up the Jiet River to the Burning Plains and join the Varden on the battlefront. Defeating Galbatorix was the only way to ensure they would be safe once more.
It was clearly the best choice for Jeod and Helen, but that didn’t stop Jeod from quailing as he spotted the armies on the Burning Plains—the merchant scholar had never participated in a battle before. The conflict went in the Varden’s favor. Afterwards, Jeod was thrilled to meet Saphira. (There is some discrepancy between Eldest and Brisingr about whether Saphira was the first dragon Jeod had seen besides Thorn. In Eldest, she was the first, but in Brisingr, Jeod describes being chased by Morzan’s dragon.)
Jeod was easily accepted into the Varden camp. A party was thrown for Eragon a short time later with Nasuada, the Carvahall villagers, Angela, Jeod, Helen, and a number of others. The merchant entertained the group with a song. But all wasn’t well.
GIFTS OF THANKS
Helen was less than respectful when Eragon later came to visit Jeod and Helen’s tent, insisting on pouring water into a kettle at a snail’s pace before storming out with it. Jeod explained:
“My position with the Varden is not as prominent as she had hoped, and she blames me for the fact. She agreed to flee Teirm with me, expecting, or so I believe, that Nasuada would vault me into the inner circle of her advisers, or grant me lands and riches fit for a lord, or some other extravagant reward for my help stealing Saphira’s egg those many years ago. What Helen did not bargain on was the unglamorous life of a common swordsman: sleeping in a tent, fixing her own food, washing her own clothes, and so on. It’s not that wealth and status are her only concerns, but you have to understand, she was born into one of the richest shipping families of Teirm, and for most of our marriage, I was not unsuccessful in my own ventures. She is unused to such privations as these, and she has yet to reconcile herself to them . . . My own hope was that this adventure—if it deserves such a romantic term—would narrow the rifts that have opened between us in recent years, but as always, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 280)
When asked, Jeod himself didn’t think he was due more consideration, saying:
“For myself, no. For Helen . . . I want her to be happy. My reward was in escaping from Gil’ead with my life when Brom and I were attacked by Morzan, his dragon, and his men; in the satisfaction of knowing that I had helped strike a crippling blow against Galbatorix; in being able to return to my previous life and yet still help further the Varden’s cause; and in being able to marry Helen. Those were my rewards, and I am more than content with them. Any doubts I had vanished the instant I saw Saphira fly out of the smoke of the Burning Plains. I do not know what to do about Helen, though.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 281)
There was nothing more Jeod could do to make Helen’s life better, so he spent his time researching secret entries into Dras-Leona for Nasuada.
When Helen returned to the tent with hot beverages, she stayed to hear Eragon relay Brom’s final days and hours, a tale Jeod had hoped to hear at some point. The scholar had been sad to lose his friend only a few weeks after discovering he had survived the confrontation with Morzan. Jeod worried thieves would chip away at Brom’s diamond tomb, so Eragon resolved to protect it with wards at the earliest opportunity.
Jeod disclosed, when prompted, what he knew of Morzan and Selena. (Eragon thought they were his parents, though he kept it secret from Jeod at the time, sharing only that Murtagh was Selena and Morzan’s son. It was with great relief that Eragon later discovered his father was, in fact, Brom.)
Feeling Eragon could learn much from history, Jeod gave him a copy of Domia abr Wyrda. The scholar had received six copies since arriving at the Varden camp. Later it was revealed that the Eldunarí hidden in the Vault of Souls had instructed the werecat Solembum to arrange for Jeod to give the book to the Rider.
Before departing, Eragon had gifts of his own for the couple to thank them for their help rescuing Roran and the villagers of Carvahall. To Helen he gave a small gold orb she could use to build her own business. To Jeod he promised a ride on Saphira’s back. Both recipients were ecstatic.
THE REST OF THE WAR
Jeod discovered a secret tunnel into Dras-Leona, which was key to the Varden winning the Battle of Dras-Leona. He and Eragon would stay in touch over the course of the war. Sometimes it for something simple like supplying the Rider with a few sheets of the scholar’s parchment paper. Other times it was for more serious matters like when Eragon sought him out before the Battle of Urû’baen in order to give a redacted account of what had happened on Vroengard and what was to come. Eragon knew Jeod had started writing a history, beginning with the rescue of Saphira’s egg, and he promised to share the full story if he survived the confrontation with Galbatorix.
Galbatorix was defeated, and Jeod, Eragon, and Saphira did survive. Nasuada became high queen, and Jeod, under Roran’s command, was among the troops sent to Teirm. Lord Risthart surprised everyone by successfully negotiating the city’s status as a city-state. Jeod was also instrumental in cataloging the vast collection of scrolls taken from Galbatorix’s library hoard.
Helen was true to her word and built up merchant trade that far exceeded Jeod’s former business. They soon owned a beautiful home in Ilirea, thanks to her efforts.
Saphira flew with Jeod for more than an hour, an experience he treasured deeply. Eragon also confided in him regularly, comforted by talking to someone who had also been Brom’s friend. Their discussions would eventually be included in Jeod’s addendum to Domia abr Wyrda.
Time came for Eragon and Saphira to leave Alagaësia. The Rider invited Jeod to accompany them, but the scholar was content to stay with his now happy wife in a place they both called home. But then Jeod did something he had only trusted Brom with before; he divulged his membership to the Arcaena to Eragon:
“I joined them long ago, when I was young and looking for a cause to serve. I’ve provided them with information and manuscripts throughout the years, and they’ve helped me in return . . . Anyway, when I finish writing my account of you and Saphira and the rise of the Varden, I’ll send it to our monastery in the Spine, and it will be included as a number of new chapters in Domia abr Wyrda. Your story will not be forgotten, Eragon; that much, at least, I can promise you.” (Inheritance Deluxe, page 821)
As Eragon and Saphira departed for Ellesméra—and ultimately the unknown lands to the east—Jeod, alongside Nasuada and others, tearily bid them goodbye as they flew away.
Life was good months later. Helen’s business continued to flourish, and they worked together to keep it running smoothly. He dedicated himself to writing his review of events for nearly a year before sending his draft to Ertharis at the Arcaena Monastery. In the accompanying letter, Jeod updated his old friend on all the goings on in the new realm, recounted the Riders’ whereabouts and activities, speculated on Angela’s true identity, and shared:
“As for myself, I’m doing well, as is Helen, better than ever before. Our business prospers, and I feel as if we might actually have a chance of living out our old age in peace and comfort, a fate that hardly seemed possible last year. I would still like to visit Ellesméra or Tronjheim, and it may be that our trading will take us there. But for the present, I have had enough traveling. My days of adventure are over, I hope, and now it is time to devote myself to learning and contemplation, ever my favorite pursuits.” (Inheritance Deluxe, page 870)
Let us hope his wish came true.
“The door suddenly flew open, and a tall man burst out of the house. His expensive clothes were rumpled, his gray hair wispy, and he had a mournful face with short eyebrows. A long scar stretched across his scalp to his temple.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 181)
“As it was, he reserved his attention for the tall man with graying hair who stood behind an oval writing desk. The man—who Roran assumed was Jeod—looked about as tired as Roran felt. His face was lined, careworn, and sad, and when he turned toward them, a nasty scar gleamed white from his scalp to his left temple. To Roran, it bespoke steel in the man. Long and buried, perhaps, but steel nevertheless.” (Narrative, Eldest Deluxe, page 489)
“There was a rapier at Jeod’s side . . . an embroidered jacket hung loosely on his shoulders, matched by a plumed hat.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 182)
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