Often a companion of Angela the herbalist, the werecat Solembum would ultimately provide vital information to rescue the dragon race and end Galbatorix’s reign.
Nothing is known about Solembum’s life prior to the first time he met Eragon in Angela’s herbal shop in Teirm. The young Dragon Rider thought Solembum was a normal cat until the werecat began communicating with him telepathically. When Angela discovered the two talking, she explained that Solembum rarely liked anyone enough to show himself, much less speak. Only two other people who had come into the shop had been honored in such a way: a blind beggar and Selena.
Inspired, Angela rushed to retrieve some dragon bones with which to read Eragon’s fortune, and he hesitantly agreed to hear her predictions. After she was finished, Solembum padded over to Eragon and privately told him something that would ultimately change the course of the war against Galbatorix: to look for a weapon under the roots of the Menoa tree, and—when all seemed lost—to go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak his name to open the Vault of Souls. The werecat sauntered away after delivering his mysterious riddle.
Off to Tronjheim
Angela and Solembum closed up shop and traveled to Tronjheim and the Varden after Eragon’s fateful visit. Initially unrecognized, the two kept a low profile until magicians realized who Angela was. Unable to gain reprieve from the magic users’ pestering, the two snuck to new quarters in another portion of the city in the dead of night.
When Eragon, Arya, Saphira, and Murtagh finally arrived a month later, Solembum brought Eragon to Angela—who had finally figured out that Eragon was a Rider (something Solembum had known in Teirm but had not chosen to share with her). After they finished talking, Solembum accompanied Eragon back to his quarters.
Later, Eragon was surprised to find the werecat curled up in the hollow at the base of Saphira’s neck, purring away. The two magical beings had befriended one another. But when the Rider asked where Angela was, Solembum refused to tell him.
Times would soon change for the Varden. The Shade Durza, leading a large Urgal army, traveled through tunnels to invade Farthen Dûr. The Varden prepared for the confrontation and met their foes in battle. Solembum fought in his human form alongside Angela. While the Varden were victorious, it was not without heavy costs. Then Ajihad was killed during an ambush and Nasuada became his successor. The new leader relocated the resistance to Surda, and Angela and Solembum decided to go with them. Eragon and Saphira needed to go to Ellesméra for training, but before they left, they spoke with Angela briefly while Solembum contentedly munched on a dead rat.
Sometime after the Dragon Rider had left for Du Weldenvarden, a child Eragon had blessed began showing odd symptoms. It was discovered that he had made a grammatical error, accidentally cursing rather than blessing her. Angela took it upon herself to assist the girl, Elva. When Eragon returned from Ellesméra, the witch reamed the young Rider for his carelessness. He explained his intent to rectify the mistake, which calmed Angela somewhat. Solembum took advantage of the lull to rub up against Saphira. Eragon later mentioned to him that he had met Maud, a werecat who said she knew Solembum. Solembum seem pleased.
The Varden eventually faced the Empire’s army, estimated to be one hundred thousand men strong, at the Burning Plains. Rather than using traditional methods of direct confrontation, Angela and Solembum snuck behind enemy lines to poison food and water supplies. This would make a great difference in the outcome of the battle, pushing the odds in the Varden’s favor. It would take the arrival of dwarven reinforcements to win the battle.
Nasuada was later challenged for leadership of the Varden by Fadawar. She triumphed during the Trial of the Long Knives but was left with deep cuts across her arms. Nasuada refused to be magically restored, rather opting to allow the wounds to heal naturally. Solembum accompanied Angela to Nasuada’s pavilion and ate some of Elva’s food while the witch stitched the Varden leader’s cuts.
Some battles later, Solembum and Angela happened upon the woman called Bladesinger and her young female charge. It’s likely the werecat spoke with them since the witch chose to read their fortune. When Eragon happened to pass by, Angela asked the young Rider to bless Bladesinger as well as the young girl, which he did. After the strangers left, Eragon mentioned Tenga, who he had met during his recent trip to Helgrind. Angela was more than a little shaken that the wizard was alive. Solembum’s reaction made it clear that he did not like Tenga, saying “He is a man who kicks at cats.” (Brisingr Deluxe, page 260)
Later, Solembum witnessed Eragon’s attempt to remove Elva’s curse, which only succeeded in removing her compulsion to act to prevent another’s pain. Rather than offering her allegiance to Nasuada or the Varden again, the child vowed to only help those she chose and stormed out of Nasuada’s pavilion after dismissing her caretaker Greta. Enraged, Angela slapped Eragon, Solembum poised at her feet to attack him as well. The herbalist would now be forced to teach Elva how to behave, and Angela did not at all take kindly to that thought. Displeasure made clear, the witch and werecat left the tent.
The Varden continued their march into the Empire, successfully taking Belatona. Grimrr Halfpaw, king of the werecats, offered to ally with the Varden. Solembum occupied himself in the interim chasing a young female werecat half his age.
Dras-Leona proved a challenge to conquer. In order to break the stalemate, Nasuada sent a small party to infiltrate the city via tunnels under the buildings and streets. Eragon, Arya, Wyrden, Angela, and Solembum quietly forged their way through the underground passages. The werecat left the group to scout the area around them. Suddenly, Angela and the rest heard Solembum’s yowl echoing through the tunnels, and a large group of laughing dead poured out of hidden doors into the chamber to attack. Angela was captured and dragged into one of the hidden doorways, Wyrden was killed, Solembum was nowhere to be seen, and Eragon and Arya were taken prisoner by the priests of Helgrind.
The elf and Rider were left chained in a chamber with two hatching Ra’zac eggs. Somehow the disk over which Eragon and Arya were chained rendered magic useless. In effort to free herself from her bonds, Arya attempted to break her hand enough to slide through the manacle at her wrist. Unfortunately, all she managed was to inflict great damage to herself before passing out, still bound. A novitiate entered the chamber and offered to free the Dragon Rider in exchange for his own freedom, but his bumbling efforts were ineffective. Thinking he was being merciful, the novitiate raised his dagger to kill Eragon before the creatures could eat him alive. Just then Solembum, in his humanoid form, appeared and threw a chunk of shattered amethyst to knock out the “well-intentioned” young man. The werecat appeared battle-damaged: he was covered with scratches and his left ear hung by a strip from his skull. Angela entered the room behind him, not too worse for the wear. As she set about breaking the ring of amethyst crystals that powered the disks where the captives were chained, the first Ra’zac hatched and began moving toward the still unconscious Arya. Seeing this, Solembum leapt between the Ra’zac and elf, swiftly breaking the hatchling’s neck. Eragon burned the other to death in its shell.
Before leaving the chamber, Angela tended to Solembum’s wounds while Eragon and Arya set about healing themselves. They encountered little resistance on their way out, with the exception of twenty fighters who arrived to block the escapees’ way; no matter, Angela cast a mysterious spell that allowed her to stab all of the men through the eye before they had even moved.
Solembum and the rest finally emerged from the tunnels into Dras-Leona’s cathedral, where the High Priest and his subjects attempted to annihilate them. Many of the priests were relatively easy to dispose of, but the High Priest was another matter. Solembum leapt towards the group of zealots carrying their maimed leader on a small platform. The High Priest sent a spell to rebuff the werecat, but Solembum was not affected (although Angela mysteriously stumbled at that moment). The werecat took care of one of the novitiates while Eragon charged forward and eliminated the other three. The High Priest adeptly attacked all of the infiltrators’ minds at once, and only Angela was able to work her way closer to the maimed creature. Successfully defeating the High Priest’s mental attack, she whispered the name that he would know her by, and then quickly dispatched him as he began to howl.
Eragon, Arya, Angela, and Solembum made their way out of the cathedral toward Dras-Leona’s gates while Saphira continued to distract Murtagh and Thorn from above. Hundreds of soldiers had piled an enormous mound of debris in front of the city’s gate, preventing entry. After being spotted, Solembum and the others were forced to fight soldier upon soldier. Desperate to end the confrontation, Eragon tapped the stored energy in Aren and magically lifted the debris and a good portion of the wall up and out of the city, ultimately depositing it into Leona Lake. Murtagh and Thorn were injured in the process, but the Varden were able to enter the city unhindered.
Later that night, Murtagh, Thorn, and a group of the Empire’s soldiers invaded the Varden camp. Solembum and Angela, among others, rallied during the surprise attack. Halfpaw, Shadowhunter, and Solembum each lead a group of werecats to head off the soldiers. Unfortunately, while the Varden successfully rebuffed the soldiers, Thorn and Murtagh captured Nasuada, taking her with them to Urû’baen.
A Last Hope
In Nasuada’s absence, Eragon was her chosen replacement. He realized that he did not have the power to challenge Galbatorix in battle; somehow Eragon had to become stronger. Remembering Solembum’s mysterious advice in Teirm and how helpful it had been in finding the brightsteel to forge Brisingr, Eragon asked Solembum to come to his tent. When the werecat arrived, Eragon asked what he had meant when Solembum told Eragon to go to the Rock of Kuthian and open the Vault of Souls when the need arose. Irritated, Solembum explained that he did not know the meaning, but that all werecats had been imbued with this knowledge to pass on to a Dragon Rider opposed to Galbatorix, whomever that person was. Solembum did not know who had given the werecat race that instruction, but only that it wasn’t Galbatorix and whomever it was meant well. Unable to explain where the Rock of Kuthian was, the only additional help the werecat could offer was to tell Eragon to look in Domia abr Wyrda, as a hint was surely in its pages. Following a hunch he had in Teirm, Solembum had arranged for Jeod to give the book to Eragon some months ago. The young Dragon Rider was irate because the werecat had not shared that information sooner. Solembum simply said that he wasn’t sure if it was actually important. When Eragon desperately pressed the werecat on where the important information was hidden in the book, Solembum suddenly went into a trance-like state and told the Rider to look at chapter forty-seven, page three, beginning at the second passage. Eragon was dumbfounded and frightened when Solembum could not recall the words he had just spoken, but the werecat urged the young Rider to look at the section and see what it said. After some reading, Eragon discovered that the location of the Rock of Kuthian was on Vroengard. Shaken, Eragon asked Solembum what he thought he should do. Should Eragon and Saphira go to the old Riders’ island to investigate? Unwilling to choose for him, the werecat urged Eragon to make his decision wisely, because it could be a trap or the key to winning the war.
Eragon shared his discoveries with Saphira, Arya, and Glaedr. The elder dragon was determined to investigate whether the werecat was telling the truth or not. Glaedr summoned Solembum and forcibly entered his mind, to the werecat’s great displeasure. Once satisfied there was no deceit hidden in Solembum’s mind, the dragon released him. Solembum angrily left with threats flying. Ultimately deciding to trust the mysterious advice, Eragon left for Vroengard with Saphira and Glaedr.
The Varden began the final assault on Urû’baen when Eragon returned from Vroengard, having discovered an incredible secret that would help in the fight against Galbatorix. Angela and Solembum fought the Empire’s soldiers on the city streets as Eragon, Saphira, and others confronted the king. (Roran encountered the witch as they fought with Barst and his troops. She revealed that she knew Eragon had discovered Eldunarí in Vroengard, something she had not been told. (It’s likely that Solembum knew through Angela as well, but there is no explicit confirmation of this in the Inheritance Cycle.) Lord Barst seemed unbeatable. All who went against him fell dead or severely maimed at his feet, including Queen Islanzadí. Desperate to end the bloodshed, Roran asked Angela (and by that, Solembum as well) to bring Jörmundur, Garzhvog, Orik, Grimrr, and Lord Däthedr to him. Once together, Roran revealed his plan, and when they agreed, the attack began. While many died in the process, they were ultimately successful in killing Barst. With the death of the seemingly undefeatable lord, the odds shifted to the Varden’s favor. Eragon, Saphira, and a few others managed to defeat Galbatorix, finally ending the war.
Weeks of clean up, diplomatic missions, and assassination attempts followed. Eragon and Saphira decided to leave Alagaësia in order to protect the many Eldunarí and dragon eggs that they had discovered in the Vault of Souls. Angela and Solembum sought out Eragon to wish him well on his journey. The witch explained that with the advent of Nasuada’s dictate against magic, Angela and Solembum would be relocating to Du Weldenvarden or the Beor Mountains. Eragon invited them to accompany him outside of Alagaësia, but the witch declined in order to observe the developing events within the land and keep an eye on Elva. With no more to be said, the Dragon Rider bid the witch and werecat goodbye. Readers can only guess what mysteries and wonder Solembum and Angela encounter next . . . .
Description in cat form:
“A pair of red eyes suddenly flashed from the dark space, and a large, fierce cat leapt onto the counter. It had a lean body with powerful shoulders and oversized paws. A shaggy mane surrounded its angular face; its ears were tipped with black tufts. White fangs curved down over its jaw.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 199)
“The werecat was purring deeply, his black-tipped tail flicking back and forth.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 451)
“His spiky black hair stood nearly on end, and a feral snarl disfigured his lips.” (Narrative, Inheritance Deluxe, page 295)
Description in humanoid form:
“Irritated, he looked up and jerked with surprise—a small boy crouched on the windowsill. His eyes were slanted, and a sprig of holly was woven into his shaggy black hair… The boy smiled slightly, revealing pointed teeth.” (Narrative, Eragon Deluxe, page 215)
“The werecat, he was puzzled to see, was watching him with ice-blue eyes.
“Weren’t your eyes a different color?” he asked.
Solembum blinked once, and his eyes changed from blue to gold. Then he resumed cleaning his paw.” (Inheritance Deluxe, page 378)
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