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Headscratchers: Inheritance Cycle

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     Geography and Magic 
  • Just how big is Alagaesia? The maps in the books don't come with scales.
    • Travel times are given occasionally. You could likely get a rough estimate from that. Distances between towns are mention at least a few times as well. If i have some free time I'll try to run the numbers.

  • In the first book, it is stated that Arya is ambushed near Osilon. Later on, it is also said that outsiders (like Durza and his henchmen) cannot penetrate very deep into Du Weldenvarden. From this, it seems like Arya was taking the egg from the Elves to the Varden when she was attacked (she must have been quite far south of Osilon to be close enough to the forest's edge to be attacked). This bugs me. If she is taking the egg between the elves and the Varden, why does she need to go near Gil'ead - surely they could use the secure route Eragon uses in Eldest - up Az Ragni and the Edda River, via Hedarth and Tarnag, and a whole Hadarac Desert away from Galbatorix's flunkies?
    • She easily could have been transporting the Egg from elven towns in the west.
    • She wasn't taking it from the elves to the Varden. Ajihad said that she was returning to Osilon when she was captured. Obviously, Osilon was where the egg was going to be tested next. That was the whole point of why Islanzadi was pissed at the Varden; Arya went missing after she went to them but before she returned to the elves.

  • How much time has actually passed in this story? Saphira has to be over 6 months old when she meets Glaedr, since that is when Brom said the dragon reached maturity. On the other hand, Horst's wife has been visably pregnant since we met her, and that doesn't happen until the second trimester...
    • Saphira's well over a year old by the time she meets Glaedr. She was around six months old when Eragon turned 16, and he spends a good little while traveling through the Beors before he winds up setting off for Carvahall. Elain doesn't wind up pregnant until around the start of Roran's chapters in Eldest.
      • No way she is over a year, she was born in the winter, and there is no indication winter has come around again. Even if it is warmer in the south, it is still going to get cold. Plus, for Elain to be visibly pregnant during Roran's story, she would have had to be pregnant when Eragon left town.
      • Eragon's on the road a good, long while before we wind up shifting to Roran's POV and see Elain's pregnant, seeing as he spent at least a few months on the road with Brom, around a month or so in Teirm, and at least another couple of months traveling to Dras'Leona hunting the Ra'zac, getting captured, and breaking out. The story only really starts going faster around the point Brom dies, in which Eragon and Murtagh basically race against time(though it stilll takes a good month or so) to get to the Varden to heal Arya. So there's plenty of time between Eragon leaving Carvahall and Roran coming back to Carvahall that Elain could have gotten pregnant.
    • This troper would like to point out that by the time Elain actually gives birth (start of Inheritance), the villagers actually chatter about how long her pregnancy's been, so we can safely assume that this means that she has been pregnant for more than nine months by this time, giving the story more time to take place in.
    • Going back to the original question, Saphira is "barely eight months old" when they enter Du Weldenvarden, which was just before they met Glaedr; Eragon mentions it after the Dagshelgr Invocation. The real issue is that a few days after Eragon found Saphira's egg was the same day that Selena returned to Carvahall, and "within five months her son was born." Saphira hatches shortly after that, but when Eragon turns sixteen, Saphira is stated to be "nearly six months of age." She should have been less than five months of age, not nearly six!

  • What exactly did the Menoa tree take from Eragon? Apparently it involved a "twinge in his lower belly"; am I just dense or is the narration implying what I think it is and more importantly WHY would the tree do that?
    • It's left hanging. Sequel Hook? Some people have theorised it was causing the ending to happen, but Angela already predicted that.
    • I chalked it up to a Secret Testof Character, seeing if he'd really go through with a deal with a tree, no matter how absurd it is to even say it. Supported in that when he goes back to fulfill his end of the bargain, the tree just laughs and sends him away scott-free.
    • My theory was that it somehow took Saphira's Eldunari.
    • Perhaps it sterilised him. Or got him pregnant.
    • Some chalk it up to Paolini not being able to think up an adequate request for the Menosa tree to have, or leaving it up to the readers to decide, so he didn't write one in. Afterall, if it were a Secret Test of Character, the tree would have most likely said so.

  • One thing that bothered me in the last book was The nuclear yields and efficiency of the explosions. Just doing the easy e=mc^2, the expected yield is three times that of all real nuclear initiations combined, whereas what was depicted was a explosion that was, on the nuclear scale, a very small sparkler firework (86 Kg of TNT equivalent), and a off-screen one that was the size of a smallish tactical device. For a spell that allegedly converts a person into energy, it's pretty lousy. What I personally would try for is a spell of fast-neutron emission, one that compressed things REALLY FAST, combined with one that extracted deuterium from water and lithium-6 from raw lithium ore and combined them into lithium-6 deuteride and formed that into a sphere. I would run the lithium-6 deuteride generator/shaper, then set off the fast-neutron spell in the center of the sphere. A couple of microseconds later, you have tritium, then set off the compressor and you have thermonuclear fusion! I think that this method, once worked out, would be faster, easier, and have higher yields than the depicted spell. It's also 5 times more complicated, but better!
    • That would need a better understanding of physics than even the elves/Riders have. When they did was impressive enough, not to mention the reference to vroengard clearly being irradiated without mentioning it by name
      • This whole scene is A Wizard Did It. Which, given the context, is totally fine, but applying 21st century nuclear physics to a fictional, ancient/mediaeval setting is silly.
      • If that doesn't do it for you, somehow convince yourself that the spell only converts the most minuscule bit of him imaginable into actual energy, since human bodies shouldn't actually support sustained nuclear reactions.
      • Considering that transforming a thimbleful of dirt into water nearly killed Eragon in the first book, I'd say rs all but explicitly stated that you only transform a little bit of yourself into energy when you cast the nuclear bomb spell.
      • Assuming the spell results in the total molecular annihilation of the caster, and assuming a approximate mass of 120kg for galabatorix, then the resultant blast would be, in energy term, roughly equivalent to 4500 megaton's of tnt. This would produce a three minute 40km fireball, andkill everything within about 20-30 km with the radiation flux. The centre, where the protagonists are, would be, in all likelihood, hotter than the core of a sun.

  • This troper cannot help but wonder how the hell Aroughs was so unguarded that a series of huge raft, roughly 500 feet long each could smash into the freaking gate undetected. Certainly it wasn't entirely undetected, but merely having a few guards adress the problem without sounding any sort of alarm suggests that the city either isn't taking the threat seriously, or is run by cripplingly incompetent people. Seriously, who on earth has the following reaction to being besieged: "Oh, guess the usual guards on the wall will do." It just seems reckless.

     Eragon and Saphira 

Eragon

  • I remember Eragon angsting about killing Imperial soldiers. Why, exactly? He says something about how they are being forced to fight by Galbatorix, but think about it. The Empire is at war with Surda (I think) and the Varden. Thus, he has a draft. It's not necessarily fair, but it can be considered their duty as citizens. It's your country, you defend it. Plus, none of them seem particularly against fighting the protagonists. Couple this with the fact that I did not, in my readings of this series, see Galby do anything really bad to his subjects (directly. Underlings like Durza and that town near Helgrind are pretty messed up), and it seems like Eragon's Wangsting for nothing.
    • Murder of fellow man doesn't come easy to everyone. Even people who see its necessity can have trouble with it, especially if they're young and were raised in relative peace and happiness, as Eragon was. It's called character development: you would prefer he just cheerfully killed soldiers left and right, or was completely cold to the fact that they're fellow human beings? It's not like his angst stops him from doing what needs to be done.
      • He did not anget over the dozens (hundreds?) of soldiers he killed on the Burning Plains. He never even gave it a second thought.
      • He angsts hard about it in Brisingr.
      • It feels forced and nothing changes. He still continoues to kill soilders who he could have otherwised spared.

  • How does a scar on your back that aches every so often cripple you?
    • Umm, the scar wasn't just kind achey, it actually induced seizures in situations where Eragon was put under a lot of stress. How the scar induced violent seizures, I don't know, but it makes some good drama.
    • It's vaguely implied the Shade, with his last breath, cursed the wound. And the scar produced unbearable pain that was impossible to move through.
      • I would attribute it to the fact that Murtagh got his scar as a toddler(how it's still long enough to stretch from shoulder-to-hip, however, is unexplainable) and thus his body was able to grow and adjust to the scar much like how a circumcised male grows and adjusts to the circumcision. Eragon, however, got his scar after most of his growing had finished, at which point it constricted his movements where he couldn't overexert himself without risking a seizure.
      • Why his scar is still that long is easily explainable. Scars are badass. Plain and simple.

  • How does one justify breaking a promise to cure a girl he stupidly cursed without even considering her feelings, just because it seems convenient? Elva's not even two and is facing things no one years older than her should face, but Eragon and Nasuada consider her want for a normal life to be selfish. Granted, it turned out differently, but Eragon was thinking similar thoughts even then.
    • Well, for a start, he didn't curse her on purpose. But seriously, I can kind of sympathise with this. If giving one person back their freedom would result in the deaths of hundreds of other people, wouldn't you be tempted to delay it? It's a matter of weighing one person's life against the lives of many.
      • What it probably meant was, sure he was trying to weigh the pros and cons of doing so, but he never looked for an alternative and was going to just go break his promise before she lectured both him and Nasuada. He cursed her by accident and they're reaping the benefits, but he could have used a variation of the spell on himself or someone else to achieve a similar effect and keep his promise to someone he screwed over.
    • Interesting, but this Troper has a theory: Eragon, certainly in the first book, was likely not powerful enough to give Elva her abilities. But something else happened: Saphira marked her. When Eragon removes the spell, Elva still senses pain, yet she doesn't need to stop it. What if it was Saphira's dragon magic making Elva grow fast and letting her sense pain? Eragon's spell says nothing about giving Elva powers. If not for Saphira, Elva would probably have only had to intervene if she actively saw pain, so Eragon couldn't replicate the spell. Finally, she was going to misuse her abilities for her own gain, possibly against the Varden. have an analogy: it's a bit like having a man with a gun who has been freed from the law. He intends to use it for personal gain. You have the power to bring him under control. Would you not do it?
    • Eragon and Nasuada aren't necessarily portrayed as being right in this issue, just pragmatic. Eragon later seems to consider her an adult, and deals with her as such. Her happiness is very much secondary to the Varden's objectives, and neither Eragon and Nasuada give it much thought while there's a war going on. Their justification is that its for the greater good, and they honestly don't care any further. Does it make them perfect exemplars of morality and righteousness? Nope. Does it make them desperately pragmatic in a bid to win a war? Yeah.

  • Early on in Brisingr Eragon keeps moaning over the fact that he doesn't have a sword and that he could do a lot better if he had one. But didn't he just leave an army behind? Wasn't said army just victorious on the field of battle? What exactly was stopping him from picking up an extra sword there?
    • It's explained fairly well actually: that sword was magically sharp and strong, able to withstand countless clashes of super-human strength. Regular swords need to be resharpened and eventually replaced even from normal wear and tear, let alone the massive beating they endure against Shade or Urgal or Rider's strength. When he finally gets another sword, it's dented and warped beyond repair in his first major battle with it. What he needs is another elven sword, especially if he's going to go back up against Zar'roc.
      • Exactly. Wasn't the big deal about how pretty much any other sword would break when he used it with the super-human strength that being a Rider has given him?

  • What really bugs me is that he just picks up a falchion and can immediately go back to being the best swordsman ever despite the fact that he's trained in fighting with a longsword. Srsly, Paolini, different types of swords are not interchangeable. Fighting with a falchion and fighting with a longsword require completely different techniques.
    • Actually Zar'roc appears to be an arming sword. Murtagh's old sword was a longsword (specifically an estoc, whereas Brisingr was another arming sword (except two-handed).
      • He's not the greatest swordsman. He's sufficiently Unskilled, but Strong. He can go to fighting with a falchion as effectively as with a longsword because he's strong and fast enough to swing it around like a whiffle bat.
      • Yeah, no, this Unskilled, but Strong stuff doesn't really fly with me. Just because you're strong and fast doesn't mean you're good at handling any old sword. Particularly when it's a type of sword you've never been trained to use. A falchion is a single-edge curved sword. A longsword is a double-edged straight sword. You simply can't fight with a falchion in the same manner using the same moves and techniques as with a longsword, or vice-versa. Each one is built around a vastly different fighting style.
      • An English Falchion(which is what matches the description in the book as well as what would fit with the setting) is not curved. It's simply a longsword with a single edge. See here. It's a bit broader at the head, which is easily compensated for by Eragon's enhanced strengths, and it has a single edge. That's all!
      • Not only that, but the smith actually did know what Eragon was used to fighting with. he specifically didn't give Eragon another longsword because Eragon was used to blocking with hte edge (which would render a normal longsword useless), whereas a falchion would allow him to block with the blunt side with only a slight tweak to his technique — which the smith did in fact warn him was necessary.
      • This Troper would like to point out the design of a falchion, it a axe/sword hybrid, similar to the Spanish falcata, you only need to be able to swing and parry to use it effectively. Therefore Eragon just being able to use it makes sense, what doesn't make sense however is how he hasn't lost any skill due to lack of practice.
    • This Unskilled, but Strong stuff doesn't fit. Eragon is apparently skilled enough to go toe-to-toe with Shades, Murtagh (who was well-trained himself), numerous elves and dozens of soldiers. Him picking up a falchion and retaining his previous level of skill makes no sense.
    • There is a scene in Brisingr where he is shown practicing with the falchion, adjusting his technique. It's not a complete Hand Wave on the author's part. As for the previous level of skill, Inheritance has a few chapters devoted to sparring practice (not that kind) with Arya, since he appears to have lost his edge.

  • Some pretty heavily spoilery stuff for the denouement of Inheritance ahead. Be ye warned. So what the crap is with Eragon's leaving Alagaesia at the end of Inheritance? Specifically, leaving friends, family, and love interests behind forever? Sure, he has to raise the dragons, and I understand why he chose where he did, but there is no reason to never see anyone again, especially Arya. Since Arya was now bound as a dragon rider, shouldn't she have reason to go visit Eragon over at his new hangout? Likewise, if the order will be close enough to help Alagaesia during skirmishes, how hard could it be for Eragon to return to Alagaesia to visit people. Sure, he has to keep an eye on dragons, but when they're older, and especially with other riders there to keep an eye out, why can't he go out for a little while to visit his cousin's family, or maybe have a nice romantic evening with the elven queen? If the hideout will be in easy flying distance (relatively, 3-4 days from the nearest livestock or so, I'd imagine, based on Eragon's reasoning). Likewise, it's in Arya's best interests to visit the Rider hideout every so often to train more in being a rider (I can't remember if she kept any eldunari with her, but if not, all the more reason), so even a two-week flight made bi-annually would be worth it. All of those bitter "final farewells" were hard to read through, not just for the emotion, but because the emotion wasn't warranted!
    • It wasn't definite, just a 'for the foreseeable future' thing - Eragon wanted to avoid Alagaesia being caught up in a political mess if people sought to influence the dragons and new Riders for their own ends, as well as to avoid being nominated as a leader himself. I can't honestly remember if any Eldunari did remain, but it would seem likely to me.
    • He wasn't intending to leave forever, but Angela's prediction way back in Book I seemed to imply he would never come back - basically, he thinks he'll somehow die or become housebound or something while out there, so as to fulfil Angela's prophecy, so he warns everyone he loves not to expect him back. There remains the question of why he decided to leave at all in that case, but it's probable that he figured he couldn't trust anyone else to look after the dragon eggs and stuff. Or he's a believer in predestination.
    • He also claims that if he stays, then he would forever be questioned as to why he doesn't lead the various people himself. And to prevent himself from becoming another Galbatorix.
      • Nothing is stopping him from becoming corrupted as Galbatorix in wherever he's decided to raise the dragons and coming back to Alegaesia to conquer it.
      • That only holds water if he appears in public to large crowds and human crowd's at that. Both the elves and dwarfs know the dangers of an immortal king so Eragon could easily visit their cities without influencing them much. There's nothing stopping him from visiting Rohan where only the village would know of his visitation. The only place where people would ask "Why don't you become King" is Nasuada's kingdom and he can easily see her if Arya invites her to the elves.

  • If Eragon is trying to separate the dragons from the Empire why the hell did he leave eggs for new Riders? And if they're expected to go join him then that's even worse! The destruction of the old order came from within their ranks not from outside of it. Now if a rider goes Galbatorix-2 from say... being forcibly emotionally bound to a dragon and torn from their home, things will be even worse because the stronghold of the new monster will be so hard for non-riders to get to!
    • But he will also have to come to them, and it is never stated that the Riders were forced to abandon their families entirely.
      • It will be easy for G2 to get to them because they'll have a dragon. So yeah, really only an advantage to the bad guys.
    • Galbatorix didn't go mad from being bound to a dragon though. He went mad when his dragon was killed right in front of him.
      • That was just an example. The point is that it was a rider who was the problem, not ordinary people, so how does protecting the dragons from everyone BUT the riders make any sense?

Saphira

  • Why is his dragon even listening to him?
    • She doesn't. two or three chapters after she hatches she actually disagrees to the point of not talking to him and taking him out the the middle of the forest to avoid a fight. plus the time she pinned him down and told him to be more careful. plus, there not two completely separate minds, they work together mentally to the point they practically fuse minds at points, so it not that she always listens, its that they almost always agree.

  • This may be utter nitpickery, but I was bothered in the first book when Saphira could fly the warhorses over the river, but she couldn't carry Murtagh, Eragon, and Arya all at once. I'm sorry, even the smallest a horse can be without actually counting as a pony is about 14 hands and 800-900 pounds. Paolini never specifically names breeds, but warhorses were on average about 15-17 hands and weighed about 1200-1500+, more if you're on the far end of the Sliding Scale of Andalusian versus Friesian. If Saphira struggles with three humanoids that weigh about a fourth or (at worst) less than half of one horse, how could she even get airborne with something that weighed more than Eragon and Co.!? The whole "We can't fly on Saphira together! What tension!" thing got a massive BS call from this troper.
    • Saphira was exhausted just lifting the horses across a river. Sure, she could fly a few miles with several people, but what use would that be if she then collapsed?
    • I think it's because its just a river, not more then a mile. She's just doing a short flight with the horses as light as possible. When eragon and Co. fled Gil'ead, it was them with all of their weapons, flying fast as possible, and she was getting wounded by arrows, which tore holes in her wings and hit the muscles themselves. All in all, its like you carrying three cinder blocks across the street vs one, sprinting a mile while being shot with a pellet gun.
    • Even with all three of them in armour, carrying weapons and supplies would not add up to the total weight of one horse.
    • Maybe it was some sort of technical difficulty, like the available space on her back. In the first chapters on Eragon, he notes that the spikes along her spine are not very far apart; the only clear space is the nook between her neck and back. So, maybe they couldn't all fit on her back. Still, there's no reason she coouldn't carry two people on her back and one on her claws.
      • I'm sorry to say this, but even with the stretcher they rig for Arya, Saphira's claws do not make for a nice ride for a squishy mortal thing that dragons like to eat. Her claws are sharp, serrated and dangerous in general, I doubt if Murtagh or Eragon either-one want to be held in them for a long period due to just the basic danger of a sudden gust of wind resulting in their arms disappearing below the shoulder.

     The Elves 
  • Why doesn't anyone take offense to the elves' arrogance?
    • They do, several times, in later novels.

  • You know what bugs me? The fact that Arya won't eat meat but has nothing against wearing leather. Um...what?
    • In addition to all the points below, it could just be a cultural thing. There are Hindu who don't eat beef (cows are sacred animals) but wear leather as long as the animal died of natural causes.
    • Maybe its like Izlandi's feather coat - Arya only collected leather from those animal skins that fall off of natural causes? :P
    • It could be like in Video Game/Mabinogi. Humans (and Elves and Giants) are not supposed to kill animals for Leather (the regular enemies are demons, which don't leave corpses to harvest aside from certain tokens that disappear if you don't pick them up), so high quality Leather is extremely rare. Most Leather that humans have access to is explained as having been either taken off an animal that died of natural causes, but it's perfectly fine to use Leather that you stole off of goblins (since it's already been taken off the animal, and you have no proof that the animal didn't die of natural causes). Aria just uses leather clothing that the filthy, hedonistic, murderous humans made, and can rationalize it as "It wasn't killed for me even if I did commission the clothing, and I have no proof that it was even killed in the first place, so it's perfectly fine for me to wear this nice, comfortable, warm outfit instead of that linen garment that's always letting the wind through".

  • And how about that part in Eldest where she shoots a bird with a broken wing to end its suffering? If elves are willing to kill animals that are unable to survive, what makes them any different than any predatory animal or hunter(ex. Eragon hunting down a doe with a hurt leg in the first book)? If they can use that as an excuse, why not just eat the animals? And furthermore, Arya has a massive amount of magic at her disposal but she claims it was too injured for her to heal. If Eragon were to break his leg, would that be an excuse to kill him too?
    • You'd likely be hesitant to eat anything whose thoughts you've shared. Besides, as far as I know, there isn't a rule saying you have to eat your Mercy Kill.
    • Broken legs =/= broken wings, and furthermore a human's broken leg =/= an animal's broken leg. With the right care, a human's leg can be healed even without magic fairly well. Even with the best of modern science, if say a horse breaks their leg they only have a ~50/50 chance of surviving, let alone recovering enough to stand up ever again: the bones, muscles, weight and movement involved are all completely different. Now, maybe that distinction can be handwaved by "magic," but Paolini decided not to by establishing that a broken wing is beyond Arya's healing skills.
      • The way healing was set up earlier in the story was basically that you needed 1) sufficient energy to replace the natural healing process, and 2) sufficient knowledge of the anatomy in question to replace what was broken (you need to direct the magic to do exactly what you want it to). Lacking the latter was the reason Eragon was unable to heal Brom's stab wound in Eragon (which meant he still bled out internally), but Oromis taught him human anatomy in order to improve his healing skills. if elves know human anatomy, wouldn't it stand to reason they'd know bird anatomy as well? if they do, it's simply a matter of setting the wing's bones in place, or even regrowing new ones (matter transformation is extremely energy-intensive, but given the very low density of bird bones it would be well within Arya's abilities).
      • Actually...Orik puts in his own two cents in response to that. He says something like, “Wow, wouldn’t want to ever ask an elf for help, because they might just decide you’re better off dead.”

  • What really bugs me is that when Eragon enter's Arya's mind when she is drugged, she says: "Apart from my people, the only others that possess the cure are the Varden and Galbatorix." Or something like that. Point is, why does he not go into that great big forest, just a quarter of the distance to the Beors but to the North, where he was going to go, and just scream until an elf heard him? Or is Paolini saying the Elves do not know when somebody enters their sacred Forest Home?
    • By the Time he decides to try entering her mind, he is already at the south end of the desert, way too far from the Forest.
    • Eragon doesn't want to meet the elves at this point anyway, he wants to join the Varden and fight Galbatorix. If his options to get the cure are between finding elves and finding the Varden, it makes sense to go find the Varden and kill two birds with one stone.
    • Plus, there is the question of how would the elves react to an unknown dragon rider bringing their near dead princess to their front door.

  • Why do the elves have no respect for humanity— while the elves were using their innate magical ability to avoid any sort of actual work, humanity was building massive cities, seige engines, crossbows, armor, you name it. And worse yet, the elves still call the technologically superior humans primitive.
    • Being technologically advanced merely means you're not technologically primitive, but has no bearing on whether you are socially, morally, economically, or culturally primitive.
      • And plus, they're Elves. Brom and Orik are both rather scathing of their arrogance toward the other races.
      • Simple racism may also be a point: It was a human Rider that's landed them in their current position. The Elves suffered massive casualties when they tried to overthrow Galbatorix without the backup of the Riders, and they were forced to take refuge in their forest that was truly never secure against Galbatorix because if he really wanted to finish them off, then he would without a second thought. So maybe it's merely resentment toward a human rider dealing a blow to their pride or the fact that their allowing of the Humans into the Riders basically came back to bite them in the ass. Of course, seeing as some of the Forsworn were elves, and that racism is rather backward, it could provide a clue that they aren't quite as advanced as they think they are.

  • Why is Rhunon portrayed as old (with wrinkles, deep voice)? Aren't elves immortal, or are they likely to Age Without Youth after a certain moment?
    • Elves look as they wish to thanks to magic. Oromis is also old-looking, while Islanzadi, for example, isn't, despite being at least several hundred.
    • It's entirely possible that elves are simply incredibly long-lived. Rhunon's by far the oldest of the elves, having been around since the formation of the Riders, and Oromis is the last of the old Riders sans Galbatorix and Brom. Oromis was barely old-looking, though. He had more of a middle-aged appearance.
    • One explanation is Remember how the Human Rider's Elfification takes a few years? Same deal with the elves when they first bonded the dragons, took a few years but they got there. Alternatively, even if the modification happened instantly, or she didn't develop wrinkles that fast, don't forget that she has spent most the last several tens of millenia in front of a forge working, and I'm pretty sure that working in front of a forge for years gives wrinkles early similarly to how the working in the sun does, and she just didn't care to fix them. The voice can be explained as (again) her spending the last several tens of millenia in front of a forge, that's a lot of fume inhalation, even if she did take precautions to reduce it which there was no sign of. Finally she is stated to be the oldest elf still alive, as I said before she was there for at least a few years, probably decades of the Elves war with the dragons, all those thousands of years would have to leave mark(the other elf from that time period is also described as looking old I believe, if without the wrinkles) if she didn't fix it with magic. So pick one of these or combine them to your hearts content. Personally, I think it's a mixture of all three, age pre bonding, forge work, and age now.

     The Riders 
  • Why are there no female dragonriders?
    • Actually, Word of God states that a few of the Forsworn were female.
    • Glaedr referred to one of the two forsworn who "broke" Oromis as female.
    • Keep in mind there were two dragons left in the world by the time of book one. It's not much of a stretch to imagine they both had male riders.
    • In the 4th book, Galbatorix' remaining egg hatches and chooses Arya as his rider, so the series now has at least one (living) female rider.

  • What bothers me is that people automatically write Arya off as the new Rider. I personally am quite positive it's Nasuada. It's 'logically inevitable,' foreshadowed, and the majority of the books aside from Eragon is centered around Nasuada.
    • It is Arya, but it's only an afterthought that serves to leave Alagesia with at least one Dragon Rider after Eragon leaves.

  • Why didn't Brom have pointy ears if he had a dragon for much of his life?
    • For most Riders who didn't have the Deus ex Machina that Eragon did, the whole "elf look" thing happened really gradually—the Riders were basically immortal, so they had plenty of time to change—and we don't really know how long Brom's dragon lived, so it may have been only a short time. Brom's ears may have been pointier than normal, but not enough that it's remarked upon.
    • In Eragon, Eragon notices slight elvish changes after less than a year. Judging by what is said, Brom probably had Saphira I for at least a few years, so I'm not really convinced. Or maybe his hair just grew over his ears.
      • Well, Brom's hair WAS long. Plus, those slight changes Eragon had were just that: slight. They weren't really noticed until he examined himself intently in a mirror. Plus, they only started AFTER Brom had died.
    • Remember that he could use magic? It's not a stretch to think that he changed his ears so he wouldn't raise suspicion.
    • Maybe his ears went back to normal after his dragon died?
    • Anyone with magic can change there appearance. Arya even makes herself look human when she and Eragon are in the Empire. It makes sense that Brom, who knows he's going to be hiding in plain sight in a little rural village, would do that.

  • Could someone please explain to me where the idea of the Dragon Riders being a military junta comes from? I heard this mentioned by the hatedom a lot. I obviously get the 'military' party, but how are they a junta?
    • People refer to the Riders as a military junta because they were not elected and junta simply means a committee of military leaders, so to say that the Riders are a military junta is factually accurate. It has implications, of course, of repressive dictatorship, like the Regime of the Colonels in Greece, or the Derg in Ethiopia. We have only other characters' word to back up the assertion that they were a benign dictatorship, given that they are unelected (though they are pretty good by the standards of the 'verse). The hatedom uses it to point out what they perceive to be Protagonist-Centered Morality and Designated Hero problems with series, and use it as a flippant shorthand to denote the poor characterizationnote  of both sides of Alagaesia's central dispute, especially in Eragon. This is why the hatedom says what it does. We do not need a long thread on whether or not they are correct when they say it.

  • Why does everyone say that the time of the Riders has gone? The King is a Rider, so that means the time never left in the first place.
    • Because the Riders in this instance refers to the (relatively) benevolent organization that acted as oversight to various rulers, not the single tyrant who is sole ruler and repressive.

     The Urgals 

  • In Brisingr, Nasuada says that the Urgals "aren't pure evil like the Ra'zac, just overfond of war". It bugs me that she dismisses an entire race as being pure evil. The Ra'zac are evolved to be humanity's ultimate predator, they're only acting according to their nature, just like the Urgals.
    • Maybe the Ra'zac were magically created, kind of like the orcs in Lord of the Rings.
    • The Ra'zac feed on humans, and Nasuada is a human, so it could simply be her survival instinct.
    • In real life, yes. Nothing is inherently evil. In average-quality fantasy books, enemies are usually evil, unless the writer is making a point. Dragons and Urgals are more Chaotic Neutral/Chaotic Warlike, opposed to the Ra'zac. It's a pretty standard trope, and Tropes Are Not Bad.
    • Just so there's no confusion, it was Arya who said that about the Urgals and Ra'zac, not Nasuada. Though Nasuada does kind of exhibit the same, "be fair to the Urgals, but the Ra'zac are just monsters" kind of attitude.

  • Minor nitpick here. How exactly are the six-to nine-foot tall warlike ox/goatmen who can apparently outrun nearly every other sentient being in the verse be so easy to dispatch? We hear time and again about their miraculous stature, strength and stamina, yet when it comes to down to the battles, we never see it in action! They're just cut down like every other Mook. Worf had the flu, and apparently the 'flu' is some sort of muscular dystrophy.
    • I'm guessing you're referring to the Kull, a specific breed of Urgal (think the difference between a regular Orc and an Uruk-Hai). The only ones who are explicitly taking them down without a sweat are guys like Eragon, Arya, and Brom, all three of which are magic users. Odds are, the average human soldier has to gain up in groups on them...Kull aren't exactly common.
    • Also, humans in numbers possess the advantage of skill and speed. It's a bit like a small and relatively weak man who is an excellent martial artist fighting a larger but untrained man; curbstomp.
    • Also keep in mind that the Urgals are outcasts in Alagaesia who effectively live in one of the wildest and least appealing places there is to live, the Spine. They would not be nearly as well funded or supplied as a human, dwarven, or elven army. Furthermore, the Kull are very dangerous and powerful—Murtagh said it would take five men to kill one Kull. However, the majority of Urgals are not Kull, and the majority of Kull never leave their caves except for war.

  • Here's another one for you - where do the Urgals reside? They're said at various points to be both semi-nomadic and to live in tribal villages set in mountains or caves. But we know they're not in the Beors, because the dwarves freak out when Urgals are found in the tunnels in the first book. And yet during all the time spent in the Spine, they're never seen.
    • Garzhvog mentions a story about when an Urgal village was discovered, the humans immediately massacred them. The only times we really spend any time in the Spine are when Eragon's hunting in it in the first book, when Saphira takes him back to the place where he found her egg, and when Roran leads the villagers of Carvahall through it. Even with their combative nature, the Urgals' first instinct is probably to avoid the large groups of their archrival race marching through the forest as long as they don't come across any Urgal villages, for self-preservation's sake.

     Galbatorix 

  • How can a king rule an empire?
    • Cleared up in Brisingr; Oromis reveals that the Empire is constitutionally still called the Broddring Kingdom. It qualifies as an Empire because Galbatorix added territory to it, cutting off the Elves from the sea and driving the dwarfs underground.
    • Plus, "The Empire" sounds more ominous and evil than "The Kingdom."
    • The same way Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire.
      • ...with the title "Empress of India" and signing her letters "Queen-Empress".

  • Why doesn't Galby come and get Eragon himself?
    • For spoiler-y reasons, he's much more powerful in the capital city, to the point where he can enslave Eragon instead of just outright killing him, which has been his stated goal. Also, according to him, he's been busy with a huge amount of administrative issues, chief amongst which was perfecting anti-counterfeit spells. Which, again according to him, was insanely difficult.
    • He is also engaged with more important things than Eragon, like Trying to find the True Name of Magic, or subduing more dragon souls to gain their power.
    • Overconfidence on his part is also a possibility.
    • Galbatorix is 100% confidant that he can defeat Eragon, Saphira, and the Varden when they arrive at the capital. He probably wants the war to go on and for people to get their hopes up, so he can crush the Varden in a dramatic final battle and make Eragon bow to him after being a known rebel leader, just to give the people more evidence that resisting his rule is pointless.

  • In Brisingr, Galbatorix is shown to have to the ability to posses Murtagh and Thorn When they are facing Oromsis and Glaedr. Why isn't the ability used when they meet in Dras-Leona? Why isn't is used when Murtagh invades the camp? Why doesn't Galbatorix just have Murtagh and Thorn fly over the Varden then possess them and destroy them?
    • Because no matter what else they've got on their side, they're still vulnerable. If Thorn, Saphira, or one of the boys dies, the dragons and the Riders are effectively extinct. Galbatorix isn't going to take the slightest chance that Thorn or Saphira or one of their Riders be critically injured or killed (granted he can't stop Eragon from fighting in the war, and Murtagh is his top-level enforcer), but he needs Saphira alive to lay eggs if he's going to rebuild the Riders. He doesn't want to beat him, but he also doesn't want them dead.
      • This ability isn't shown to be used to optimality efficiently. He could just easily posses Murtagh and Thorn to capture them though he doesn't. So why doesn't Galbatorix just use this ability to capture them is beyond me.
    • I think you're forgetting that until Oromsis experienced his episode and was crippled, they were WINING. Galbatorix possessing Murtagh didn't make him physically better, he just showed up to try for a surrender and then killed when he had the opportunity.
      • There's nothing to indicate that Oromois and Glaedr were winning or losing. Galbatorix possess Murtagh inorder to talk to them and has nothing to do with physically enhancing them. Though through Murtagh, Galbatorix can wield a lot more magic then the pair could. Galbatorix does use magic to hold Oromis and Glaedr in place while he makes a speech for them to join him. When they don't join him, Galbatorix in Murtagh's body slays them both. The problem here is if Galbatorix can just do this, why doesn't he do it when Murtagh confronted Eragon in Brisingr or Inheritance? As this would make capturing both Eragon and Saphira easier. I don't know why the first poster to this question would out right think that Galbatorix would kill them using this ability.

  • Why do the people hate Galbatorix? Honestly, he doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly bad to anyone who is not actively seeking to overthrow and kill him.
    • It's mentioned that he levies crippling taxes throughout the country to pay for the wars, and binds every soldier to his will as part of their enlistment. Also, Durza and Morzan were seemingly psychopaths who were callously evil towards everyone who came into contact with them. Not to mention the suppressed but presumably samizdat knowledge that he wiped out the Dragon Riders and committed genocide against the dragons. Similarly, the Urgal migrations involve a lot of Rape, Pillage, and Burn, which he seemingly does nothing to stop.
      • Problem is, we never see any evidence of the taxes - everyone we see seems to be doing just fine despite the taxes, there's no mention of people being hauled off for being unable to pay the collectors - and Durza was kept behind the scenes, unlike Morzan, who was the Vader to Galbatorix's Palpatine, and Morzan's been dead for at least a decade. The binding each soldier to his will part seems questionable as well, because it's also noted that to force someone swear fealty to you in the ancient language, you have to know their true name, which is more than a little impractical when you're doing this to everybody in your army.
      • You don't need to know someone's true name to force them to swear fealty to you in the ancient language. Just holding a knife to their throat and saying, "Swear undying fealty to me with this special phrase," would work just fine.

  • Regarding the problem of Galbatorix. Isn't it kind of easy to kill him? It has been established that the only reason you don't use one of those instant death spells on other magic users is because they can kill you too. Isn't the sacrifice of a single relatively weak magician worth killing the Big bad? Surely somebody would volunteer for the job.
    • It has twice been stated (by Oromis and by Memory-Brom) that Galbatorix has spent the last 100 years surrounding himself with protection against every conceivable magic attack. Brom says that Eragon's best chance is to remember that Galbatorix is basically insane, and that insane people have gaps in their logic that a smart person can exploit (in this case, by coming up with an attack that Galbatorix never even considered). Also, in the fight against the Ra'Zac, Eragon immediately opens up the fight with seven of his instant-death spells, but they don't work because Galbatorix has warded them against those spells.
    • Not to mention, in order to pull off the plan you just outlined (assuming you could, since Galby is supposed to be quite powerful) you'd have to have a magician who was willing to make that sacrifice. And aside from dramatic license or extreme religious fervor, people like that don't come along every day. Similarly, a Mutual Kill is a possible but not guaranteed result - Galbatorix will be a fast-caster, and the Varden's notional assassin may not be so quick on the draw.
    • With as many wards as Galbatorix has supposedly been layering on, it's a little surprising that anyone who comes within a hundred yards with hostile intent doesn't immediately drop dead. Not to mention that it doesn't seem like many people have a personal audience with the king that often. Hard to plan an attack on a target with no intelligence on his defenses. On the other hand, it's said that "his vices are many," so if he's banging concubines every night you'd figure one of them could slip a knife between his ribs.
    • Even if you could slip an assassin into his harem, what good would that accomplish? The concubine's knife would be deflected harmlessly by a simple ward against close range weapons, leaving a defenseless concubine with a very alive and very angry Galbatorix.

  • When Murtagh says the name of the ancient language to remove Galbatorix's wards, why didn't Eragon just say one of the death-words there on the spot?
    • Plot. Eragon might have been injured and tired, but he could have drawn on the power of his Eldunari (as he did several minutes later, after casting 'the greatest work of magic in history') to pierce through Galbatorix's remaining wards. I mean, his sword practically ignored the wards, so an Eldunari fueled death spell should have done the trick.
      • It would have been too easy, and Eragon was battered, bruised, and not thinking clearly. It's said that Galbatorix's voice clouds your mind, so that might have had something to do with it.
    • I assumed that whole anti magic zone thing was going on and thus he couldn't? The only spells permissible would be the name of the ancient language (which Murtagh used) and spells without the ancient language.
    • It wouldn't have been as dramatic.

  • So... If Galbatorix had said the name of the ancient language before using his magic self destruct spell, would it have been enhanced?
    • Possibly. Perhaps he wasn't thinking straight just then.

  • Why is Galbatorix the name for a man? The ending brings to mind the Latin suffix -trix, which makes a masculine noun feminine, or the English suffix -rix, which does the same thing. I mean, it's really insignificant, but it strikes me as off.
    • The names are based off Germanic languages, not Latin. However, even Latin did have some male names with the -ix, like Vercingetorix.

     The Varden 
  • What the hell was with the Trial of Long Knives and how did it prove Nasuada to be a good leader when such a thing has no leaderly aspects to it?
    • The way This Troper remembers it (and it's been a few months so forgive her if she's way off here) is that it was a test of your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of your group. You can either hand over control to someone who you think will do a horrible job, or prove you will do whatever it takes to make sure who you believe is best for the job (in this case yourself) has it. A good leader is supposed to be able to weigh the good of the whole over the good of one... Even if that one is themself.

  • Should Nasuada be going out into battle during Eldest? She's a normal teenaged girl, unlike her hardened father who fought against Durza, a freakin' Shade, and he even he lost to a rabble of Urgals. At best she's had training in self-defense, but likely little more than that. It wasn't as bad during Eragon because she played archer support then, but going out to the front lines, when she's at best twice as good as your average Varden fodder, is a monumental risk, because unlike Eragon or Arya, she could die quite easily if enough Imperials ganged up on her, and then the Varden are shot for a leader again. Not to mention she made Eragon waste energy warding her in Eldest. Shouldn't commanders of military operations stay at the command center?
    • In Medieval style warfare, which is what I believe Paolini is going for, the leader always led their troops in battle, accompanied by bodyguards to relay orders and messages to their commanders in order to keep communication. It was a lot more prevalent in Japan, where a Daimyo would be expected to lead his troops in battle. It wasn't until Takeda Shingen near the end of the Sengoku era that this trend began to change.

  • How in the name of Gûntera did Roran kill almost two hundred well-trained imperial soldiers? Especially considering he's little more than a farm boy with no formal training in the arts of war, and yet he's apparently the deadliest mortal warrior in the land. How is this possible? I'm assuming Paolini is going to Ass Pull something about his destiny or lineage or something in book four, but 200 people, single-handedly?!
    • Presumably, all of Roran's friends clustered behind and next to him with spears and other long weapons to guard against the enemy attacks and maybe help disarm them, while the narrow corridor funneled cannon fodder towards Roran, who just went berserk for twenty minutes straight. And his friends kept count. And to be fair, he's got Taught by Experience working for him with the hammer. Keep in mind the fact that he's very physically strong, quite possibly the strongest normal human in the series, and he might just be fast enough with a hammer to keep up with swordsmen. His favorite tactic does seem to be "hit 'em in the wrist before they can blink, really hard."
      • On the other hand, Roran's weapon of choice is a hammer. Not a war hammer or anything special, but just your standard-issue forge hammer that he took from Horst's forge back in Carvahall. How he's managed to survive this long against sword- and spear-equipped career soldiers can be chalked up to the same thing that kept Eragon alive - an absolutely absurd amount of luck.
    • The series is written in the vein of Classical epics such as The Illiad, where the heroes are ascribed badass feats such as this - its the highest of High Fantasy, and this is one of the conventions of the genre. Why Galbatorix's mooks kept attacking is another matter, though their oath may compel them to, or Galby uses zampoliti.

  • What bugs me is Roran's whipping. From the description in the book, it sounds like they are using a bull whip. That kind of whip can rip flesh from bone and cause major internal trauma. Fifty lashes from that should have killed him outright. Think about it, those whips can break the sound barrier. Totally aside from the fact that such a level of punishment would turn Roran’s back into hamburger and cause massive blood loss, that amount of force can rupture organs, ruin nerves, and heaven only knows what it would do to his spine.
    • It demonstrates Roran is a Badass Normal who's Made of Iron and Heroic Resolve.
      • Perhaps, but none of that changes the point, and I would call out those books on it too. An arguement could be made for Eragon surviveing because he has magic and a dragon, but Roran is human and there is a limit to what the human body can take.
    • A simple case of research failure on Paolini's part. But I think we can excuse him for that though since a lot of authors put characters through ordeals that they should not be physically capable of surviving. Batman for example canonically has to be stitched back together and have broken bones set by Alfred almost every night he goes out on patrol (one comic I read implied that Alfred once had to retrieve some bone chips from Bruce's spleen). That level of injury should have left Bruce Wayne a cripple, yet he's been fighting crime non-stop for 5-10 years depending on how you calculate Comic-Book Time.
    • What has absolutely no excuse, though, is that before these wounds have even healed, Roran's up, about, and wrestling Urgals. It's noted that his wounds aren't healed with magic, so it's not like he could just shrug that off.

     The Dragons 

  • Oromis states in Brisingr that once an Eldunari is released, it gathers energy for the next several years and has a very formidable store of power. Now, we're given no power ratio, but with that description, it seems like just 1 Eldunari would have completely owned Eragon, Saphira, and the 13 Elves. And we can infer that Murtagh had a lot of Eldunari with him, because Eragon senses "multitudes" of beings in Murtagh's mind. So how the hell did Eragon manage to win that one? It makes no sense whatsoever.
    • I was under the impression that it's just a source of energy, not that it actually amplifies your power. Meaning, with an Eldunari, you can hold a rock up in the air longer. Also, Eragon didn't win so much as not die, and he had an alternate source as well: he'd learned to sap life/energy from other living things around him.
    • Maybe forcing control of the dragons means you don't get the full extent of their power?
    • Doesn't magic require a person to be able to physically do something? What can a sphere do? All I see it as is a Mana Reserve, so it grants longer spellcasting endurance, but still can't do anything you couldn't previously do.
      • In the Eragon-verse all magic is essentially the Cast from Hit Points variety, in the sense that you use your own life force to power your spells. If you have a store of extra energy you can call on in addition to your own life force you can certainly do more than you could previously do.
      • Occam's Razor: the Eldunari are constantly fighting Murtagh, who is mentally weaker than Galbatorix, so when Eragon was fighting him mentally and magically, he was slowly losing control of the Eldunarya he possessed.
    • Murtagh's eldunari are later said to be from very young dragons. He's got a lot of them, but they don't do much. I'm not sure if this was mentioned above, but they're also insane, so they can't focus their efforts and help Murtagh in a concerted attack like Glaedr could. They do help in a mental battle, but only by creating numerous moderately powerful mental attacks, which Eragon could fend off individually. This is made clearer in the fourth book.

  • I have to wonder why Glaedr did not want to breed with Saphira. Yeah, he may not love her, or visa versa, but the only other male dragon on the planet as far as we know, is Thorn, and he isn't really an option. Sure there is the last egg, but it has 50% chance of being female as well, and that doesn't help anything either. Sure, one could argue that the time wasn't right, but 1) they may not have another chance, and 2) the elves would be happy to look after the eggs.
    • It's entirely possible that he was just incapable of breeding. He was, after all, a very old dragon and he lacked a leg. It could just be that he didn't feel comfortable with it, either.
      • Seems unlikely. First, dragons are immortal so says the text, so age is irrelevent. And three legged dogs can work out how to breed, surely something as smart as a dragon can work out the machanics as well. And when the contiuation of your speices and possibly the fate of the world depends on you, there is a good case for setting personal feelings aside.
    • Eragon and Saphira were there for training. They were going to leave soon to take part in combat. The series never says anything about how long it takes dragon eggs to develop to the point they're ready to be laid. If she mated with Glaedr, there's a good chance that battle stress or injuries would hurt or kill the eggs before they could be laid. Or maybe she wouldn't be able to fight at all until she laid her eggs. Either way, it's possible that she couldn't afford to waste the time on eggs.

  • How come the Eldunarya in the Vault of Souls didn't do more to help Eragon? For example, heal Brom's wounds and saving his life.
    • There is only so much they can influence - I assume that curing Brom of a Ra'zac inflicted stab wound was beyond them, given the probable poison and the depth of it, given how far away they are.
      • They turn Eragon into a half-elf healing of his injuries, that nobody could heal, while also giving him super strength, speed, etc. I don't think a simple stab wound was beyond their influence to heal. They can control their magic as well other wise Eragon wouldn't have gotten the egg.
      • I got the impression that they pulled that off by using the shadow-dragon the elves summoned to channel their power. They might not have been able to work that delicately over that much range without such a channel.
      • While the Vault Dragons influenced many things in his life, they were not the ones responsible for Eragon's transformation, at least not directly. As Umaroth said, "We touched the reflection of our race that elves summon during the celebration. We provided the inspiration, and she-he-it provided the strength for the spell". They were simply the architects for his transformation and healing, not the actual healers.
      • While true that they didn't actually heal Eragon. It still doesn't explain why they didn't heal Brom's stab would. It doesn't seem out of their ability to do that. Nor done a multitude of other useful things. For one instance, they could have warned Arya about Durza's ambush and lead Arya to Eragon. Remember, the Eldunarya sensed that Saphira would hatch for Eragon. They could have implanted visions of Eragon to Arya so that she would appear before him.

  • Okay, Galbatorix hunted down and killed all the Dragon Riders. Fair enough. But what about all the wild dragons that were supposed to be hanging around? You know, the ones who would willingly give up about 1-2 eggs per year to make more Riders? I find it highly implausible that the few eggs in Galby's possession are the last dragon eggs in existence.
    • Galbatorix probably killed most of them. He couldn't risk that elves or people like Varden would try to rebuild Dragon Riders with help of wild dragons. These, who survived moved away fo their own safety. Oromis and Brom believe them to be totally extinct, and the fact that they make no appearance even after the Varden revolt gains serious ground would suggest that they are all dead or are done with Alagaesia.
      • Considering that they pretty explicitly state that there's a lot of land outside of the maps we're shown when both Eragon and Murtagh decide to leave for parts unknown and off the map, it's probable that the wild dragons just legged it. Er...winged it.

     Magic 
  • You know how the guys with magic can absorb energy from other people? Why don't they fight battles like that? All you have to do is mass absorb the energy from the poor suckers on the other side, and store it in a ring or something. How come no one does that?
    • The enemy are warded against magic; mages are assigned to protect certain groups of pepole. When said mage is killed, one can drain their group's energy. If Eragon does it, then he leaves himself open to magical counter-attack, which is what all enemy wizards are (cautiously) looking for a chance to do.
    • I believe that that was an option, yet the guys on the other side have magicians too who shielded their guys energy. During the second book when they took out a magician Eragon did just as you suggested, took their energy and stored it. Or he may have just mass killed them.
      • He just mass-killed them. Draining their life energy would have been too much for his sensibilities (and possibly for the sensibilities of anyone who isn't a clinical sociopath), given that doing so involves penetrating their minds and feeling the deaths of each and every one of them as his own.
      • Although considering he has to touch their minds to use one of the twelve words of death as he does near the end of the second book, he does anyway. Presumably it just took focus that he didn't have while large numbers of people were trying to lodge various pointy things in his flesh.
    • Also, it should be noted that according to Word of God, Eragon isn't that skilled with the energy-draining technique and it takes too long to be practical in combat compared to just killing someone with a sword or one of the words of death.
    • Also, remember that Oromis says in Eldest that the knowledge that you can use any life as fuel is a MAJOR secret, known only to a handful of casters of each race to prevent exactly what you're talking about. Almost nobody knows that it's even possible to use someone else to fuel your magic.

  • The entire idea of draining life still bugs me on the grounds that 'life' energy is really just ATP and sugar and such. So logically, you should be able to power a spell using the frosting off a cake.
    • You'd need to digest it first. There's no reason to assume that a fictional universe with magic has the exact same laws of physics - the nature of energy may be different.
    • Perhaps magic energy is some how different from regular energy. Not ATP, but an entirely different substance, that the body produces. Paolini doesn't address the subject though.
    • ATP and sugars are how energy is stored in biological systems. Perhaps only energy that is currently being released can be used. When you move, or think, or do anything that requires energy, your body is tearing apart/burning ATP. It's the same as the difference between a piece of coal and a fire.

  • The "zombie" soldiers. They do not have the ability to feel pain, so they turn into cackling suicidals. Er, what?
    • One of the easiest ways Galby could produce them is by overclocking their adrenaline production (with side helping of endorphine). Anyone who experienced adrenaline-endorphine high can tell you how it affects you.
    • Galby likely either picked soldiers people who were already somewhat crazy, or deliberately broke their minds to make them so. Why? because a soldier who suddenly had all his sense of pain removed would still be naturally afraid of death and wounding, so they could still freakout after being disemboweled and stop fighting to try pull their organs back into themselves.
    • Still doesn't excuse the fact that somehow they can shrug off lethal or incapacitating wounds. Sure, they can't feel pain. Blood loss can still do one of them in easily, but they're portrayed as invulnerable until you take their heads off.
      • They aren't invulnerable. Actually they are far from it, but the problem is that most people would assume that severely wounded person is incapacitated (because they know from experience that guy with that kind of injury passes out from pain moment he's wounded or moment he tries to move despite their injury) and move on to the next threat, however guy that doesn't feel the pain is still capable of delivering killing blow and he will have easy job at doing that when he is no longer considered a threat.
      • The issue isn't that "Feeling no pain = invincible," it's that these painless super-soldiers ignore injuries that would make it mechanically impossible to continue fighting. No matter how numb your pain receptors are, you simply cannot walk on a broken leg or severed spine or swing a sword with a broken arm.

  • How did Angela kill the soldiers beneath Dras-Leona? The "flicker of movement" makes it sound like she did a magical Flash Step, but then she starts talking about time, motion, heat, and energy. If she had only said time, I'd guess she just used Haste, but now I've got nothing.
    • That's kind of the point; she moved at a faster rate compared to others, perhaps slowing time for them.
      • Right, but how does heat come into the equation? I suppose she could have accelerated the molecules in her body to move more quickly. Since thermal energy is (I think) the kinetic energy of subatomic particles, she would technically be heating herself up, but could she survive doing that?
      • IIRC, she was talking about how physics work in general with that context (may be wrong here since I read the whole book on release day and haven't since been able to bring myself to read it again, Downer Ending and all)
      • I don't think that she slowed down time. Her physics jabbering linked time to motion, motion to heat, and heat to energy. Afterwards, she seemed weakened and said that she wouldn't be able to do it again today. Magic is Cast from Hit Points, specifically physical stamina and energy. Simply speaking, she compressed and expended a great deal of her energy in order to move much faster for a short period of time. She wasn't freezing time, it just looked that way because she was using temporary Super Speed that is much greater than what even elves and riders normally operate on.
      • The way I understood this was through her comparison, What is time but Motion, and what is Motion but Heat, She compared Time to Motion, the forward movement, and the constant progression of the river of time, motion is just a level of heat on an atomic scale, the warmer an atom is, the faster it moves, if I understood it correctly at least, she could have acted in either of two ways, the super-speed theory above, Or the idea that all she did was essentially Super-cool the area around her, slowing everything to the point that even time was "So cold" that it couldn't flow. That theory would also kind of help with the theory that Angela was one of the race that bound magic to words, among other evidence, if she were part of that race, I'd think her knowledge of magic would surpass Everyone else's, and this kind of feat would be feasible for her.

     Murtagh 
  • Why is Murtagh treated like such a terrible villain? He is being magically coerced into serving Galbatorix, and the first time he fights Eragon, he lets him go, despite the fact that he knows he will be punished for it. I honestly don't understand why Eragon hates him so much after that, when he should be pitying him.
    • In Brisingr, there are a few moments where Eragon does comment on the pity he feels for Murtagh, who was a good friend and ally before being forced into servitude. Eragon also knows that while he's capable of mercy, hesitating against an opponent who is going to kill you, compelled to do so or not, is grounds for dooming the last resistance to Galbatorix's rule. He forms a more nuanced opinion of Murtaugh once he has calmed down.
    • On the other hand, during their first fight on the Burning Plains, he kills the Dwarf King without so much as a second thought, beats the crap out of Eragon, and steals his sword. It's still bad characterization, though. If we saw him kicking a few dogs or executing a helpless soldier like Eragon did at one point he'd be better portrayed a villain, which with his being an unwilling servant would have pushed him into Alas, Poor Villain territory.
      • Seriously, they are AT WAR with each other. Even if they did have sympathy with him. It won't stop Murtagh from killing everyone in sight.
      • Maybe he was trying to get in Galbatorix's good books in order to save Nasuada, as he did in Book 4. Taking the initiative and disposing of a powerfull enemy will go a long way towards achieving that; sadly for him, he went back to zero points after sparing Eragon.

  • I know this is probably irrelevant, but the fact that Murtagh's scar extends from his right shoulder to his left hip bothers me. He said that he received the scar when he was only three. Now scars don't grow along with your body, so unless his build when he was three is exactly the same as he is now, his scar should be much smaller than that.
    • Don't scars stretch as your skin does? I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that a scar that's a long line across your back would grow as your body does, maybe even breaking into a "segmented" line that still reaches from shoulder to hip, but has uneven patches of good flesh between them.
    • No, scars don't change shape as a person grows. If one received a 10cm scar on his/her arm when s/he was a child, the scar will have the same length when s/he is a full-grown adult. Only the depth of the original injury is important. If the injury was deep enough to cut the muscle under the skin, it rarely heals well and causes the skin surrounding the scar tissue to stretch, restricting movement; he presented that perfectly with Roran's injured shoulder. Maybe he was going for Rule of Cool with Murtaugh's scar.

The Infernal DevicesHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Inkworld Trilogy

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