Magic, Saphira Hatching, Favorite Scenes, and More
Why did you include magic in the Inheritance Cycle and how did you invent its rules?
I put a system of magic in my books because I thought it would make the story more interesting. That’s also why I added dragons, elves, dwarves, Urgals, and werecats. When I started writing Eragon, I realized that without limits a magician would be all-powerful, so I searched for a way to constrain the magic. I decided to invent a language to control the magic because I reasoned that its use should be difficult, esoteric. If magic could be controlled by the common human language, then it would be accessible to more people and too easy to master. In addition, linking magic use with a person’s physical strength puts limits on that power.
Not everyone in Alagaësia can use the ancient language to do magic. While the ancient language does have magical attributes (for example, you can’t lie when speaking it), you must have an innate ability to manipulate energy with it. This ability varies from person to person, and in some is nonexistent. Although not entirely necessary for the use of magic, the ancient language provides a way to control the release of its power. It takes practice to strengthen one’s innate abilities and learn how to use it effectively.
But realistically, I’m very glad I don’t live in a world where magic exists. If magic were real, think about what a scary world we would live in. People could read your mind and influence your actions—for good or for ill—without you ever knowing. Money would be worthless because alchemists could turn lead into gold. It would be impossible to enforce the law when magicians could mouth a spell and kill a hundred policemen at once. The real world is a much happier place without magic, but we can enjoy playing What if? in our imaginations.
Why was Roran unable to learn magic?
Although magic runs through the land of Alagaësia, some beings are unable to connect with it and use it. Roran was one of those persons. One of the reasons I chose not to give him those powers was to show the strength of his character without having him resort to superhuman powers. Despite his lack of magical talent, he is clever, determined, and a force to be reckoned with.
Was any of the power in Brom’s ring placed there by previous wearers?
Brom’s ring was made many, many years before he was given it, so any power that had been originally embued into ring would have gone by the time it came into Brom’s possession. Therefore, all the power it contained when Eragon discovered it was placed there by Brom.
What symbols or lettering do the elves use to write in the ancient language?
The elves writing system for the ancient language is comprised of symbols, which are not pictograms but “bits” that represent certain sounds and meanings. They are modified with the addition of “tails” or other small marks to indicate tense, person, plurals, etc. They are not alphabet letters, like we use in English, but more like Japanese or Chinese symbols. I’ve only worked out a few of these, such as the gedwëy ignasia on Brom’s ring.
When did Saphira decide that she would hatch for Eragon?
Saphira knew immediately that she would hatch for Eragon, but she was wary because she wanted to be sure that it wasn’t some elaborate trick of Galbatorix to fool her into hatching for him. He had held her egg for eighty some years and had tried numerous schemes to force her out. Also, Saphira was somewhat aware of the trauma surrounding Arya’s capture, so she was very cautious, wanting to make sure that it was safe for her to appear.
What are your favorite scenes from the Inheritance Cycle?
Saphira hatching is one of the highlights of Eragon; she is a dragon, yet she is small and vulnerable. I also love when Saphira and Eragon swim together. Writing that section, I could almost feel the rush of water over my skin as they plunged beneath the surface of the lake.
For me, the Agaetí Blödhren celebration is the highlight of Eldest. I imagined that scene for years before I wrote it. Trying to capture its look and feel was a challenge. It was such a pivotal event for Eragon that I wanted to get it just right.
The forging scene in Brisingr is another one of my favorites. I did a lot of research before writing that, as I wanted it to be as realistic as possible.
In Inheritance, I’m rather fond of Eragon’s capture in Dras-Leona, the moment when he and Saphira see the curvature of the Earth while flying to Vroengard, the scenes with Nasuada in Urû’baen, and the moment when he returns to Brom’s tomb.