Christopher named this character after the American artist Brom.
Brom was born in Kuasta, a remote city near the sea and far south of Carvahall. His mother and father, Nelda and Holcomb, were illuminators by trade. The residents of his hometown practiced numerous strange customs and superstitions not common in greater Alagaësia, such as knocking on door frames three times before entering or exiting rooms. (Brom would later discard these habits during his Dragon Rider studies to avoid being teased.)
When Brom was ten, the dragon Saphira hatched for him, and they began training with Oromis and Glaedr in Ilirea. There, Brom idolized his new friend, Morzan, a fellow student, failing to see the cruelty and pride that permeated Morzan’s character. Oromis was concerned and considered separating the two, but before he could, Morzan let Galbatorix into the city to steal a dragon. Theft accomplished, Morzan and Galbatorix disappeared together. Morzan, along with twelve other defectors, became known as the Forsworn. They would be responsible for the subsequent downfall of the Riders.
Brom was devastated by his friend’s betrayal, but over the next three years, life seemed to return to normal. Then Dragon Riders began disappearing, courtesy Galbatorix and the Forsworn. Barely surviving an ambush by Kialandí and Formora, Oromis and Glaedr rushed back to Ilirea to warn the order of impending attack. The elder Rider and dragon were too weak to be of service, so they took Brom and Saphira with them to Ellesméra to heal. Oromis and Glaedr, still recovering from their injuries, warned their students not to join the confrontation with Galbatorix and his cronies at Doru Araeba, but Brom and Saphira disregarded their advice.
During the battle, Saphira was killed. In the chaos afterwards, Brom lost his sword, Undbitr. Brom was grief stricken. He returned to Ellesméra briefly before marching with the elves to defend Ilirea, the last of the Rider strongholds. Even with the support of the dwarves and Fair Folk, the city fell to Galbatorix and the Forsworn. The old order of the Dragon Riders was no more.
It would have been easy for Brom to fade into the oblivion of his grief following the death of his dragon and the destruction of all he knew, but—contrary to Oromis’s advice, for the ancient elf cautioned against a life centered around the pursuit of retribution and anger—he chose revenge instead. No longer bonded with Saphira, Brom’s aging process resumed at a rate swifter than a Dragon Rider’s but much slower than a human’s. His plan for vengeance would be limited by his life span, so he set about his business swiftly: the deposition of Galbatorix and the end of the Forsworn, Morzan above all.
For a time, all was chaos: Galbatorix expanded and consolidated his Empire, a separatist group of humans seceded from his rule to found Surda, the dwarves retreated to their tunnels in the Beors to escape the new king’s persecution, and the elves withdrew to Du Weldenvarden and protected their lands with enchantments. Brom spent time searching Alagaësia for any Eldunarí that may have escaped Galbatorix, but none had survived, so far as he could tell.
After the creation of Surda, Brom used the turmoil to his advantage and established the Varden, an organization that unified the resistance fighters opposed to Galbatorix and his rule into one force. Brom secured the support of both the elves and the dwarves, convincing King Hrothgar to allow the Varden to base their operations in Farthen Dûr. Surda could not publically back the Varden, out of fear for Galbatorix’s retribution, but secretly lent funds and fighters when they could.
Brom left the Varden in Weldon’s capable hands to continued his vendetta against the Forsworn, and he was highly effective at this task. He was ultimately responsible for the death of eight of the thirteen, three of which he killed himself (with the anonymous, secret help of the Eldunarí in the Vault of Souls). Soon the last living Forsworn was his former friend, Morzan. Reports emerged of a mysterious female assassin, the Black Hand, carrying out the Empire’s dirty business; over time it became clear that she was loyal only to Morzan. Determined to kill her, Brom infiltrated the Forsworn’s castle by finding weaknesses in hundreds of defensive wards and then secured a position as a gardener. For a time, he worked there undetected. But not unaffected: he fell in love with the Black Hand, Selena, and she with him. Brom trusted her with his true identity. In return, she began to feed information about Galbatorix, Morzan, and the Empire to the Varden.
For three years Brom remained at the castle. Selena had only limited, unpredictable visits, so he had to stay for extended periods in order to see her. They grew to consider each other husband and wife, though it was never made official. The fact that Morzan never recognized his former friend in all of that time is a testament to Brom’s skill with disguise.
Then Brom received word about the scholar Jeod Longshanks, who claimed to have discovered a previously unknown passage into Galbatorix’s castle in Urû’baen. Selena had left on another mission a month before, so Brom left with Jeod to organize the rescue of the last three known dragon eggs, all of which were in Galbatorix’s possession.
The men tasked Hefring of Furnost with the theft. While retrieving the eggs, Hefring was frightened and fled with only one of them. (While a mystery at the time, the Eldunarí hidden in the Vault of Souls later explained that Hefring had sensed their remote influence during his mission and panicked. The thief rushed away in a fright and failed to meet Brom at the pre-agreed location.) Brom desperately tracked Hefring for seven months back and forth across Alagaësia, but arrived in Gil’ead just after Morzan had killed the man.
Morzan thought Brom was responsible for the disappearance of his Black Hand (see paragraph below). Brom didn’t know what had happened to Selena, but the knowledge that she was likely in terrible trouble gave him the strength and fortitude to defeat both Morzan and his dragon. Brom knew it was vital to find Selena as soon as possible, so he took Zar’roc and the egg from Morzan’s corpse, stowed the egg in a place he knew his companions would find it (which led Jeod to believe that Brom was dead) and rushed to the Forsworn’s castle, stopping only to sleep. He was two late. She died only a few hours before he arrived.
You see, during the many months when Brom was arranging the theft of Galbatorix’s dragon eggs and chasing Hefring, Selena had discovered she was pregnant with Brom’s child, who had been conceived just before her latest mission. Wanting to protect her second son from Morzan, which she hadn’t been able to do with her first child, Murtagh, Selena secreted herself in Carvahall, where she stayed for the remaining five months. When Eragon was born, she entrust him to her brother, Garrow. It was vital that no one know where she had gone or why, so she returned to Morzan’s castle, saying that she was sick with a mysterious illness. Only after Brom discussed her symptoms with healers who had overseen her care and listened to the servants gossip did he guess what had happened: she had died from birthing complications. A trip to Carvahall confirmed his theory and assured him that the baby was safe for the time being.
Brom then returned to Farthen Dûr in secret to talk with Deynor, the new Varden leader. The few that knew of his presence were shocked; they had concluded that he had died in Gil’ead. Brom wanted only a few to know of his existence for several reasons: “death” ensured that Galbatorix wouldn’t hunt him anymore, Eragon would be protected by anonymity, and Brom would be alive to train future Dragon Riders.
The next step was to ensure the stolen egg would be exposed to as many people opposed to Galbatorix as possible. Brom negotiated with Queen Islanzadí to get permission for the egg to be couriered back and forth between the Varden and elves until it hatched. This was no easy task, since, in light of recent events, the elves were now leery of human Riders and their motivations. But arrangements were finally agreed upon, along with plans for training the new Rider.
Brom joined Arya—one of those entrusted with the last hope of the dragon race—on her first return trip to Ellesméra There he visited his old mentors, Oromis and Glaedr, for the last time. (The elder Rider and dragon had hidden themselves in the elf capital in hope that they would be able to train the next Dragon Rider for his or her confrontation with Galbatorix.) Brom told them about Eragon and entrusted them with his only keepsake of his beloved: a portrait fairth of Selena. He swore Oromis and Glaedr to secrecy about his son’s existence; they were not to tell Eragon the identity of his father and half-brother unless the boy discovered the truth on his own or if withholding the information placed him in danger. (At some point, likely around this time, Brom was also awarded the honor of Elf Friend and given Aren.)
Finally, Brom petitioned Rhunön for a new Dragon Rider sword. She refused, having already sworn never to create another one. Brom became increasingly enraged until Oromis knocked his former pupil unconscious. Errands completed, the former Rider returned to Carvahall.
Brom didn’t want to endanger his son by making it known that the two were related, so he took on the role of storyteller while he lived in the village to watch over his son. Nearly one hundred years old, if not slightly older, Brom’s appearance lent itself to the grizzled, grouchy old man, full of tales of adventure and hardship. No one suspected his true identity or that Eragon was his son.
Brom continued his vigil over Eragon for fifteen years. He tried to prepare for any eventuality by placing wards on himself, carving ancient language glyphs on his staff, and stockpiling massive quantities of energy in Aren. He kept the memory of the Dragon Riders’ history alive by sharing the tale with the villagers, a dangerous action that was illegal within the Empire.
When Arya was ambushed by Durza, one of the king’s minions, she had in desperation teleported the egg to Brom. But the Eldunarí in the Vault of Souls altered the spell’s trajectory so the egg would reach Eragon, who was hunting in the Spine. They did this in hope that the dragon within would bond with the boy. Thus in his fifteen year Eragon discovered the very dragon egg that Brom and Jeod had stolen from Galbatorix all those years ago. At first, Eragon thought the strange blue object was a stone, but then it hatched, and he knew it was vital to the safety of his family to keep the new arrival secret.
When Eragon approached Brom—surreptitiously searching for more information about Riders, dragons, and a proper dragon name—Brom was suspicious but still unaware of the reason for Eragon’s questions. The storyteller was forthcoming with some facts and lied about others, but listed a number of name options. The boy and hatchling would eventually agree on “Saphira,” neither realizing the significance of the name until much later.
Meanwhile, Galbatorix sent the Ra’zac in disguise to search for the egg. Most villagers wouldn’t cooperate with the monsters, but the butcher, Sloan, gave information that led them straight to Eragon.
The young Rider overheard the conversation, but Brom intervened before Eragon could get himself in trouble and escorted his son part of the way home. Eragon’s questions and the Ra’zac’s presence in Carvahall caused Brom to suspect that Eragon was now a Dragon Rider. Along the way to Garrow’s farm, Brom swiftly grabbed Eragon’s hand and saw the gedwëy ignasia emblazoned on his palm. The boy rushed away while Brom turned toward the village with a sense of elation.
That night Brom snuck into the Ra’zacs’ camp to see if he could gather any information. He planned to drive them away and then confront Eragon about Saphira, but the foul creatures had set a trap. Although he escaped their clutches, he was knocked unconscious. When he awoke, he rushed toward Garrow’s farm and found Eragon along the road, unconscious from wounds and trauma, and the boy’s uncle near death (he would eventually succumb to his injuries). Fortunately, Eragon and Saphira hadn’t been at the homestead when the Ra’zac arrived.
Brom entrusted Eragon to the blacksmith, Horst, while the village healer patched up the boy. It was clear that Eragon was no longer safe in Carvahall. Brom packed his belongings; crafted a letter for Eragon’s cousin, Roran, explaining a few things; and waited the weeks until his son had recuperated somewhat. These preparations paid off when he intercepted the young Rider, who was sneaking his way out of the village. Eragon was astounded that Brom knew about Saphira and was leery of trusting the mysterious storyteller, who was not about to give up his secrets. Nonetheless, the three decided to travel together in search of revenge against the Ra’zac. Along the way, Brom would train his young charge as best he could.
The first thing father and son did together was craft a light saddle for Saphira. Brom was clever with his hands, so the final product was well made. Tutorials in sword fighting as well as dragon history and care followed. Eragon learned that Brom was equally proficient with a sword, using either the right or left hand. They purchased horses in Therinsford (where Brom stole money from a con artist who was trying to trick innocent travelers into surrendering an exorbitant bridge crossing fee) and then continued to track the Ra’zac out of the Spine.
The next village Saphira, Brom, and Eragon stopped at was Yuazac. But they saw no people, only bodies—Urgals (enslaved by Durza’s enchantment) had massacred the residents. Two Urgals lingered, and Eragon defended himself by unexpectedly using magic for the first time. Afterward, Brom added magical training to his son’s training regimen.
A brief stop in Daret replenished the travelers’ dwindling supplies. The three continued their hunt for the Ra’zac. Eventually they lost the trail, but then Eragon found a container of Seithr Oil the creatures had dropped and proposed that the group head to the trading cities to find records of who had purchased the oil and where it had been delivered. The closest was Teirm.
Brom brought Eragon to meet his old friend Jeod in the seaside city. The scholar, happily surprised to see that the storyteller still lived, now made his living as a merchant. Unfortunately, the Empire had discovered his affiliation with the Varden and had been seizing his ships, which spelled doom for his business interests. Joed agreed to help find the information about the Seithr Oil, tucked away in countless shipping records. (It was during this time that Brom discovered that Eragon couldn’t read, so he immediately began to tutor his son in the basics of written language.) Eventually they discovered that the oil had been shipped to Dras-Leona.
En route to the city, Eragon, Brom, and Saphira were ambushed by a group of Urgals sent to capture Eragon. The young Rider magically knocked twelve of the powerful warriors unconscious before falling unconscious himself. Brom was disappointed in Eragon’s lack of forethought when dealing with the ambush. The boy’s actions were hasty and could have cost all of them their lives. Once he was sure his son would live, Brom spent two days tracking down and killing nine more of their attackers. The rest escaped to report to Durza. (While tracking these Urgals, Brom swore Saphira to secrecy and then recounted the details of his life. If Eragon should ever discover the truth, the boy would know through Saphira what kind of man Brom was and why he acted the way he did. He also entrusted a memory to the dragon, in which he spoke to Eragon as a father to a son.)
Time smoothed ruffled feathers and the group made their way to Dras-Leona. Brom surreptitiously spoke with servants and slaves, finding out that Galbatorix would be arriving in the city soon. Eragon and the storyteller had only a small amount of time to find the Ra’zac. They needn’t have looked so hard. While Brom was on another reconnaissance trip, Eragon stumbled upon the foul creatures as he investigated the city’s cathedral. The adventurers made a swift escape from the city, the Ra’zac in pursuit.
Eragon, Saphira, and Brom rushed away from Dras-Leona, desperately hoping to outrun their foes, but were caught when they stopped for the night. The Ra’zac were set to kill one or both humans, but Murtagh, a mysterious stranger, suddenly intervened, sending the creatures fleeing into the night. As the Ra’zac left the scene, one of them threw a knife at Eragon, but Brom intercepted the dagger, taking the blow himself. It was a mortal wound.
Over the next few hours, Brom’s health continued to deteriorate. Wounds inflicted by the Ra’zac were always hard to heal, but compounding the problem was the fact that Galbatorix had personally enchanted the dagger so that it could bypass nearly every possible ward. Aren, with all the energy therein that might have been used to counteract the deadly wound, had been sent to Ajihad with a message. So Brom had no recourse, no way to recover.
Quickly slipping into fevered illness, the former Rider called Eragon to his side. It was then that Brom told Eragon that he, too, had been a Rider, showing his gedwëy ignasia as proof. The storyteller left his son a valuable legacy: Zar’roc, Aren (though Eragon wouldn’t gain possession of it until he joined the Varden), a blessing, seven ancient language words that would kill, and a memory given to Saphira. But he still didn’t reveal himself as Eragon’s father.
Eragon wanted to find some way to honor Brom, so he crafted a sandstone tomb on a hilltop near the cave where the storyteller had died. (Christopher based his description of the sandstone hill where Brom was entombed on existing sandstone formations, such as Delicate Arch, which is found at Arches National Park.) On it, Eragon engraved:
HERE LIES BROM
Who was a Dragon Rider
And like a father
May his name live on in glory.
Saphira spontaneously transformed the sandstone tomb into pure, sparkling diamond. Now time would not ravage Brom. He would forever be at rest, hands folded over the hilt of his sword, glyphed walking staff by his side.
It wasn’t until Eragon’s second trip to Ellesméra that he discovered that Brom was his real father and was invited to see the memory he had entrusted to Saphira. In it, Brom explained how proud he was of Eragon, that he and Selena loved him, and how much he had wanted to tell his son that they were related. While he was alive, the secrecy Brom valued and the fear of rejection prevented him from revealing himself to Eragon as his father. This lack of openness was understandable but would contribute to the death of Garrow, for which Brom expressed his regret. The latter part of the memory consisted of advice: protect those you love and use intelligence in wizard duels—even Galbatorix could not predict every possibility, especially with the gaps in his reasoning that ordinary people didn’t have. The storyteller closed by wishing for his son and his dragon to have long, fruitful lives. After Eragon had viewed the memory, Oromis and Glaedr entrusted Brom’s fairth of Selena to Eragon.
It wasn’t until after the defeat of Galbatorix that Eragon and Saphira returned to visit Brom’s tomb. Eragon protected the diamond encasement from thieves/vandals and altered the inscription to read:
HERE LIES BROM
A Rider bonded to the dragon Saphira
Son of Holcomb and Nelda
Beloved of Selena
Father of Eragon Shadeslayer
Founder of the Varden
And Bane of the Forsworn.
May his name live on in glory.
Stydja unin mor’ranr.
And so Brom would never be forgotten.
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