Literature: Inheritance Cycle

The Inheritance Cycle, formerly known as the Inheritance Trilogy is a series of High Fantasy novels written by Christopher Paolini. The first book was originally self-published by Paolini and his parents, but has since migrated to Alfred A Knopf on the recommendation of Carl Hiaasen. It contains the following books:

  • Eragon (2003)
  • Eldest (2005)
  • Brisingr (2008)
  • Inheritance (November 8, 2011)
  • Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia (2009) (canon, but not part of the Cycle)

An officially endorsed guidebook, The Inheritance Almanac, was released in October of 2010.

The novels tell the tale of Eragon, a farmboy who discovers a dragon egg in the mountains and is amazed when it hatches for him. He raises the dragon, Saphira, and becomes bonded with her as a Dragon Rider. Unfortunately, the evil Galbatorix, the ruler of The Empire who betrayed and destroyed the Dragon Riders long ago, finds out, and sends his impenetrably cowled Ra'zac servants to capture Eragon and Saphira. They escape, but the Ra'zac burn down Eragon's home and kill his uncle. Our heroes set out for revenge, joined by the village's old storyteller, Brom, who, as it turns out, is a former Dragon Rider himself. On their quest, Eragon and Saphira meet up with a Badass Anti-Hero with a Mysterious Past, rescue an elf princess, join the Varden (La Résistance), learn the truth about Eragon's past and his missing father, and face down foes far more powerful than themselves—eventually culminating in a final battle against Galbatorix himself.

The first book was adapted into a film in 2006, but there are currently no plans for any movie sequels.

The final title in the series, Inheritance, answered a number of key mysteries regarding the series, such as what was contained in the Vault of Souls and the fates of major characters like Galbatorix and Eragon, but left open certain nagging mysteries such as the source of the witch Angela's powers. Following its publication, author Christopher Paolini floated a number of possibilities regarding what he might work on in the future, including a hypothetical fifth title, spin-off titles focusing on characters other than Eragon, or separate works in other genres. As of 2014, however, over three years after the publication of Inheritance, no further titles have been published and no new projects have been officially announced, though Paolini states on his official Twitter feed that he is currently writing a science fiction title.

All titles in the series have been published in multiple languages, including German, Spanish and Swedish, among others.

Not to be confused with The Inheritance Trilogy, especially since that was the name of this series before book 4 came along.


This series of books provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Angela's sword Tinkledeath.
    • All of the Riders' swords are this. All regular steel blades are no greater than cottage cheese in combat with a Riders' sword, and the elf who makes them uses a special kind of metal called Brightsteel, which gives the swords increased sharpness and durability.
  • The Ace: Arya and Angela are both good at magic, physical combat, and related skills, but Angela is a Plucky Comic Relief character most of the time.
  • Achey Scars: The gigantic scar that Eragon got during his battle with Durza causes him immense pain until it is healed in the second book.
  • Amplifier Artifact: By storing energy in gems, they can be turned into power-sources that will up the magical abilities of anyone using them.
  • Anti-Hero: Murtagh all the way. Elva also seems to be leaning in this direction after her curse was broken and she was able to use her empathetic powers without direct cost to herself.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Battle strategy of the Urgals.
  • Applied Phlebotinum, in the form of Functional Magic.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Urgals' entire society is based on this trope.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: A scene in the third book has Roran standing triumphantly atop a pile of 193 slaughtered mooks.
  • Author Appeal: Arguably the elves, particularly Arya (whose beauty is oft-mentioned in the narration, and leaves Eragon in awe). However, Paolini says his favourite race is the dwarves (he often speaks a bit in Dwarvish when he goes to IRL events).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Galbatorix, Murtagh.
  • Automaton Horses: Lampshaded with the elves' horses. Both played straight and lampshaded elsewhere, such as in the first book where they ride through a desert for almost a week, although Eragon does use magic to raise water from the ground.
  • Author Avatar: According to some, Eragon is Christopher Paolini and Angela is, well, his sister Angela. Paolini himself admits that Angela is based on his sister, and that Eragon "started out" as an autobiographical character but eventually developed into his own character.
  • Badass Normal: Roran is one of the few normal humans among the main cast, but he still manages to win a wrestling match with an Urgal, among other impressive feats.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Ajihad, who has a beard but no hair.
  • Bald of Evil: The Twins are a pair of bald identical twins who are revealed to be spying on the Varden as Galbatorix's agents.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Yeah, Galby is dead, but half the surviving Eldunarya are insane, Arya and Eragon and Firnen and Saphira have to be separated, Nasuada has a whole lot on her plate, and Murtagh and Thorn are outcast. Eragon has to leave Alagaesia forever too.
  • Black Blood: Applied rather literally to the Urgals.
  • Blessed with Suck: Elva. She is cursed to feel the pain and uncertainties of everyone around her, forcing her to endure constant torment. Later, the negative side effects are taken away by Eragon.
  • The Berserker: In Brisingr, Imperial berserkers who have had their ability to feel pain magically removed are introduced. Additionally, despite developing into a strong military commander capable of devising plans nobody else could ever think of, Roran is capable of summoning a berserk-like rage that allows him to slay nearly 200 soldiers in one battle.
  • Body Horror: The bewitched soldiers in the third book feel no pain, and thus fight through dismemberment that by all rights should have killed them. Most Varden lose their nerve while fighting these guys, because fighting someone with half his face hanging off his bare skull — who laughs at you, no less — is horrifying.
  • A Boy and His X: X being dragon. Eragon and Saphira, and also Murtagh and Thorn.
  • Cain and Abel: Eragon and Murtagh. Who is who depends on your personal interpretation.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Carvahall receives a lot of trouble from this trope even after Eragon leaves.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Since Paolini's Elves are pretty and magical, they know everything and are very happy to tell you that.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Ordinarily, magic works like this. Except for dragon riders, who can borrow their dragon's hit points (and dragons have plenty to spare). Skilled magic users can borrow hit points from the local wildlife (killing it in the process if they aren't careful). Except for people who get hold of an Eldunari, who can borrow a dead dragon's hit points.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Trianna says it's wise Eragon doesn't want to be king, because a king is simply a man imprisoned by his duties.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Glaedr tells Saphira to "keep her heart safe" before she and Eragon leave to go help the Varden fight the Empire's army in Eldest. Later revealed that he was referring to a special magic stone every dragon has called an Eldunari which is basically their source of magical power and where their souls go if the Eldunari is removed from their bodies, they're also the source of Galbatorix's power, so that's quite a big gun.
  • The Chosen One: When Saphira hatches for him, Eragon becomes the first new Dragon Rider in a century, as well as a symbol for all those who oppose Galbatorix.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Angela, who comes out with random nonsequiturs frequently. In her spare time, she tries to prove that toads don't exist.
  • Come to Gawk: In Inheritance, Sloan believes that this is what Eragon wants when Eragon comes to visit around the end of the book, but he's off-the-mark. Eragon had forgotten Sloan was there until he spotted him and feels so guilty about bringing Sloan's daughter, Katrina, there when he knows that he can't see her that he restores Sloan's eyes, which had been pecked away by the Ra'zac.
  • Covered in Mud: In Eldest, Eragon has a seizure caused by a cursed injury to his back. He's feeling terrible already because of the seizure and because it was in front of his teacher, but then he becomes especially embarrassed when he realizes that rolling around on the ground caused him to get his clothes (which were new and a gift from the elves) covered in dirt/mud.
  • Creation Myth: According to the dwarven calender in the deluxe edition of Eldest, the world was created 8000 years ago by several gods, after they vanquished the giants.
  • Creepy Child: Elva. She has the voice of an adult.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Elva, though in constant pain, figures out very quickly how to use her empathetic abilities to her advantage, eventually becoming a Manipulative Bastard antiheroine.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Elva.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In Inheritance, Nasuada suspects that Galbatorix might do this to her after she kills her jailer. Instead, he does something so much more horrifying that she likely can barely think of food when it's over, yet alone eat any.
  • The Determinator: Roran. He'll do absolutely anything to accomplish his goals, and woe onto anyone who gets in his way.
  • Deus ex Machina: Frequently, especially the Blood Oath Ceremony, which magically transforms Eragon in a super-attractive half-elf and heals his crippling back scar. Also Saphira who says she can change reality in some unspecified way, although not at will. Although this is not unique to her, all the dragons can.
  • Distressed Damsel: Arya, and later Katrina. And later on, Nasuada.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom/Vagueness Is Coming: Angela the herbalist in Eldest:
    Mmm....she's doomed! You're doomed!! They're all doomed! Notice I didn't specify what kind of doom, so no matter what happens, I predicted it. How very WISE of me.
  • Doorstopper: Each successive book is about 150-200 pages longer than the previous instalment, with Brisingr topping out at 748 pages. This is the reason for Book Four; "Book Three" was pushing 900 pages and not even halfway finished.
    • A reprinting of Eragon and Eldest in a single volume dubbed the "Inheritance Omnibus" is 1216 pages long and large enough to crush a small dog if dropped from sufficient height.
    • The Japanese translation of Eldest is so large that it is split into two books.
    • Another way to consider it - the audiobook version of Brisingr runs 29 hours and 39 minutes, while the audiobook of Inheritance runs 31:22, though both of these do include an interview between Paolini and his editor that runs about a half hour. Either way, you're looking at well over a day of continuous listening if you wanted to listen to the entire thing all at once.
  • Dragon Rider: Eragon, naturally. Also, Oromis, Murtagh and Galbatorix count. Brom, Orik, and Arya have also ridden Saphira at various points, Brom was also a Rider before his dragon was killed.
  • The Dragon: Murtagh and his literal dragon, who are the dragons for his evil King, and his dragon. Prior to him joining up with Galbatorix, the role of the Dragon was Durza the Shade, and in the backstory before Durza, Morzan the Dragon Rider.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The dwarven capital, Tronjheim, is a city built like a small mountain inside the crater of a much larger extinct volcano so tall the top is inaccessible, even to dragons, making it only accessible by underground tunnels.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Although they aren't exactly best friends, they do get on better than most Elves vs. Dwarves do, although arguably only due to a common enemy. Also, a huge desert in between them probably helps.
  • The Empath: Elva gains the ability to sense others' pain as a consequence of Eragon's botched blessing.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Eragon learns how to draw power from all life around him to boost his own magic, draining nearby things of their Life Energy. The result is plants and small animals dying around him when he needs extra power, if he isn't careful.
  • The Empire: About a century prior to the start of the series, Galbatorix usurped the throne of the Broddring Kingdom, then went on a spree of conquest. The result, referred to as "the Empire", is a large state ruled over with an iron fist by Galbatorix.
  • Expy: The series has gotten a lot of accusations for this, with critics claiming that the series is Star Wars in a fantasy setting and/or ripping off scenes or entire plots from other series.
  • Evil Redhead: Shades. In fact, being transformed into a Shade gives the victim crimson hair.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Helgrind. Also, from the little description given, Uru'baen sounds like one, or at least Galbatorix's stronghold there.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Murtagh, the Twins, and Sloan.
  • Famous Last Words: "Then peace be with you, Eragon Shadeslayer..." - Ajihad
  • Fictionary: Three fictional languages.
  • Forgiveness: Forgiveness is something of a theme in the series. In Eldest, after Saphira apologizes to Eragon for giving him the cold-shoulder throughout most of the book because she was infatuated with Glaedr, Eragon tells her that "Family members forgive one another, even if they don't always understand why someone acts in a certain way. You are as much my family as Roran— more."
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Eragon forgets about Brom's ring during the battle in Eldest.
  • Functional Magic: Basically follows an Inherent Gift structure (though Dragon Riders get a Gift for free), and mages must memorize various magic words for things and then combine them to create spells.
  • General Ripper: Nasuada. If you are on the side of the Empire, she'll do everything she can do kill you, and celebrate when you're dead. Disobey her orders, and the best you'll get is 50 lashes to the back, even if you saved the Varden a costly defeat by doing so. Eragon might also qualify. Averted by Jormundur and Murtagh.
  • Generation Xerox: Murtagh is doomed to follow in the footsteps of Morzan, his father. Eragon likewise follows in his father's footsteps. Each has a dragon of the same colour as his father's.
  • Genericist Government
  • Giant Flyer: Besides the dragons (obviously), there are the Fanghur from the Beor Mountains and the Ra'zac's adult form, the Lethrblaka.
  • Good All Along: The Urgals. Or at least most of them.
  • Grand Theft Me: Spirits like to do this to unsuspecting spellcasters. If they succeed, a Shade is created.
  • Groin Attack: One of the things Galbatorix is actually definitely guilty of.
  • Healing Hands: Healing magic is used often in the series, and most magic is channeled through the user's hands.
  • Here There Were Dragons: 100 years ago, Evil Overlord Galbatorix threw down the Dragon Riders and forced every magic user to swear loyalty to himself and swear the Empire, resulting in magic becoming much rarer, dragons nearly going extinct, and the power of the elves to begin to fade away. However, Galbatorix regrets his past actions and is now actively working to resurrect the dragons under his command.
  • Heroic Resolve: Roran uses a lot of this to survive being given 50 freaking lashes!
  • Hero Insurance: Eragon, being the poster boy for the Varden, has a license to kill, maim, and destroy as much as he pleases. Possible Subversion in Brisingr when Eragon finds a man that he had previously stolen from and pays him far over the original price with gold, while he says he really didn't mind, considering how Eragon used them and that he destroyed the rest before leaving Carvahall anyway.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Ellesméra.
  • High Fantasy: Its scale and scope may certainly remind a reader of a certain other series.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Everyone sucks at battle-planning, doing things no sane person who has at least played a Total War game would do, like having archers and siege weapons shoot into a melee, abandoning a perfectly good defensive position to meet a smaller enemy force in the open field, and having heavy infantry charge a great distance.
  • Humble Pie: Glaedr swears up and down to Eragon and Saphira that there is no way, not in a million years, that the Vault of Souls could possibly contain Eldunari. When it turns out to contain not only those, but dragon eggs as well, he is at once overjoyed, triumphant and shocked, but also has to eat a heavy amount of crow. It's unclear exactly why the possibility of how they were hidden the way that they were (deep underground) never occurred to him.
  • I Am Who?: Eragon's identity is a closely kept secret until Brisingr wherein it's revealed that he is the son of Brom.
  • Idiot Ball: Neither the heroes nor villains are safe from this.
  • Idiot Hero: Eragon's youth and lack of education shows on occasion, such as when he makes a grammatical error in the Ancient Language that turns his blessing into a curse.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Each novel in the series introduces a new, differently-colored dragon as a character. This dragon gets his/her picture on the cover of the book, and the book is the same color as his/her hide.
  • I Know Your True Name: Used in conjunction with Words Can Break My Bones. In Inheritance, before Angela the herbalist kills the high priest of Helgrind, she tells him that it should know her name, and then whispers her name in its ear. We don't get to hear what it is, but whatever it is is enough for the priest to emit a sustained, horrified shriek before Angela says "Oh, enough already!" and stabs it to death.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: Eragon thoughout most of Eldest.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Dwarves, who live much longer than humans, are repeatedly stated to reproduce at a slower rate. This is even more extreme with the immortal-unless-killed elves, who are even less prolific than the dwarves. At the beginning of the cycle, it's been over a decade since the last elf children(twins) were born.
  • Indo-European Alien Language: In the early books, the Ancient Language apparently follows exactly the same grammatical constructions and rules as English. This was cruelly exposed in Eldest, where Paolini also drops a huge clanger when Oromis talks about Eragon's screw-up with Elva, applying idiosyncratic rules of English, wrongly, to his fictional language. (Just for the record, "May you be shielded," is not in the past tense). This is improved on in later books.
  • Instant Expert: Eragon learns magic faster than any of the other characters, despite him being Just a Kid. He also learns to read in a week, and never has literacy problems after that, in either his own or the Ancient Language.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: In the first book, subverted by Arya and Saphira at the critical moment, in a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Eragon is told that this is likely to happen with Galbatorix, since he's the only member of the Varden powerful enough to stand a chance.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Murtagh does this to a slaver named Torkenbrand, killing him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Brom, Ajihad, Hrothgar, and Oromis. Glaedr just happens to have survived by giving away his 'heart of hearts'.
  • King Incognito: Murtagh appears to be just an ordinary rogue, albeit one with a lot of expensive stuff, until it is revealed that he is the son of Morzan, Galbatorix's most powerful general, and soon after takes his father's place as the Empire's champion.
  • Knight Templar: Eragon, arguably, and the Varden in general. In fact, all the factions (both good and bad) have traits of this, except the dwarves.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Sloan.
  • Lady of War:
    • Nasuada, who succeeds her father as leader of the Varden, is graceful and poised. When the Varden invades the Empire, she leads her army from the battlefield.
    • Arya possesses the same grace and beauty as the other elves. She's also a deadly warrior and formidable magic user.
  • Language of Magic: The magic in this world was bound to the Ancient Language by a mysterious race of Precursors.
  • Language of Truth: The same as the language of magic. Doesn't apply when written though, only spoken or when in someone's mind. Any oath sworn in the Ancient Language is also binding, making it impossible to break unless you are released from it.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: The variant with sea to the south as well.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: After she arrives in Ellesmera, Arya stops wearing a leather band in her hair to show how relaxed she is.
  • Life Energy: Used to fuel magic.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Elves, Dragon Riders, Ra'zac, and Shades. Kull might also count; they can run as fast as horses and are tough enough to fight five men at once.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Each book has received a "Deluxe Edition" reprinting which usually includes some goodies like drawings from cover artist John Jude Palancar and/or Christopher Paolini himself. Deluxe Editions are usually released a year after the original publication and can be distinguished by a ring of gold around the cover. Eragon and Eldest were reprinted together in an Omnibus edition which was so big it could be used as a bludgeon.
  • The Load: Eragon himself in the first two books, as he always has to either become unconscious or be saved by someone in order to get anything done.
  • Loophole Abuse: If you know someone's true name, you can use the Ancient Language to compel them to do your bidding, but your orders have to be very specific. This was how Murtagh was able to allow Eragon to remain free at the end of Eldest — "Galbatorix ordered me to try to capture you, and I did try." In latter installments, it becomes obvious that Galbatorix has modified his orders to prevent this sort of thing, but the fact that Murtagh is still able to flee at all indicates that the orders are now something along the lines of "Capture him if at all possible, but flee if you can if it becomes obvious you can't win at the moment."
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Used twice.
  • Magibabble: Oromis gets quite in depth about the rules of magic. Justified in that the misuse of magic can easily result in the death of the magician, those around the magician, or other catastrophic consequences.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Actually quite consistent and elaborate rules of magic govern the use of the Ancient Language.
  • Magic Knight: Shades, Elves, and Dragonriders tend to train in both combat and magic.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Elva, being an empathic antiheroine, uses her power to discern a person's weaknesses and vulnerabilities, then say exactly the thing that she knows will give them the most comfort or the most pain. At one point, she does this to Eragon, and is able to bring him to his knees just with some well-chosen words.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Eragon and Arya. (Interestingly, Arya once indirectly described such a relationship to be viewed by the elves as similar to paedophilia on the elves' part. And it's implied that the perfect elves may not be right about everything after all.)
  • Meaningful Name: "Eragon" is "dragon" with one letter changed, but then Paolini retconned this into "era gone by".
  • Mighty Glacier: Dwarves. Dragons lean towards this as they get older, growing gradually bigger but losing mobility.
  • Million Mook March: Galbatorix's army, fully marshalled at the end of Eldest numbers over 100,000. To put that into perspective, the Varden's forces number about 4,000 at the start of the books.
  • Mind Probe: The main psychic power. Unfortunately, this particular ability can be used for Mind Rape.
  • Mind Rape: Often used by the Big Bad. Also done by the Twins on Eragon — they just didn't care about the pain they caused as long as they got what they wanted to know.
  • Monster Fun Facts: The Urgals.
  • Mundane Utility: Frustrated with trying to use a razor, Eragon uses magic to give himself a shave.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Saphira knows what Eragon is thinking when he looks at Arya . . .
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: You only name your child Galbatorix if you want him to grow up to be evil.
  • Nephewism: Eragon is raised by his aunt and uncle, without ever knowing his parents.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: This ties in with Instant Expert. It becomes way more obvious with the compressed movie adaptation ("OMG I GOTZ MAGICK?!").
  • Nose Tapping: A traveling trapper does this when sharing rumors about there being a Rider in Alagaësia.
  • Not Quite Dead: Murtagh and the Twins.
  • Not So Different: The heroes have committed some distasteful actions of their own, such as poisoning Galbatorix's army before a battle. Lampshaded by Elva, who points out to Eragon, "Galbatorix would approve." when he tries to forcibly remove her powers after botching the job the first time.
  • The Obi-Wan: Brom.
  • Offstage Villainy: One of the most common complaints about the The Inheritance Cycle is that the reader is never actually shown Evil Overlord Galbatorix doing anything particularly evil to the people of Alagaësia other than raising taxes. Brisingr may count, though, given how its stated that he enslaved the souls of the dragons he killed. Just the fact that he successfully overthrew the Dragon Riders seems to be enough justification for the war waged by the Varden, the elves, and the dwarves in the series. His servants also come down hard on Carvahall in Eldest. Like most petty tyrants, he also suppresses literature and speech against him and his destruction of the dragons has caused a general decline in the fortunes of almost all races. Even Oromis of the elves admits they are not what they once were.
  • Old Master: Oromis.
  • The Only One: By the last book, Eragon is the last sane, free Dragon Rider left after Brom is killed by Durza and Murtagh is enslaved by Galbatorix, who mind controls him into killing Oromis and Glaedr.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Galbatorix, while strong enough to wipe out the Varden by himself, decides to spend his time in the capital city, Uru'baen. Lampshaded when Nasuada thinks about how Galbatorix's pride is the only thing keeping the Varden from being destroyed.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They're called Urgals. They also turn out to have been under Mind Control of the Shade Durza. Once released, they're so pissed off with Galbatorix that they swiftly move to join the Varden, a move that is reluctantly accdepted. They prove powerful and erstwhile allies. In the end, Eragon is so impressed with them, and also concerned politically about their future, that he grants them the power to become dragon riders.
  • Patchwork Map: On the inside covers of the books.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Eragon's philosophy is this. Possibly Lampshaded when four different characters, Murtagh, Sloan, Elva, and a soldier in Feinster, call him out on this.
  • Plot Leveling: In Brisingr, Eragon suddenly starts encountering enemies immune to his new story-breaking powers. However, most of them have been encountered by Roran and the Varden.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up:
    • Elva in Eldest (A Wizard Did It).
    • Also there's Thorn, born close to a year after Saphira yet is nearly as large as she is when he's first confronted at the end of Eldest, although this is only because Galbatorix did it, Thorn is still mentally only a few months old despite having the body of a grown dragon..
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Powerful magicians are best not spied upon...
  • Posthumous Character: Morzan, Eragon the first Rider, and Brom after the first book.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Eragon with La Résistance, Roran with his village.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Urgals qualify after Eldest. Elves and Dragons have traits of this, too.
  • Psychic Powers: Anyone who can use magic also gains the ability to touch other minds via a Mind Probe. It is also mentioned that non magic users can have this ability too(then called "Mindbreakers"), although so far the only mentioned case of this is with dragons (who technically are magic users, but not at will).
  • Psychic Static: This technique can be learned by just about anyone with the right willpower to block psychics. It seems to be widely used in governments, to prevent any rogue Mindbreakers from stealing important information.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Ra'zac and Zar'roc, amongst others.
  • Purple Prose:
    • Surroundings and settings tend to be somewhat excessively described. Noticeably less in Brisingr, and to a lesser degree, in Eldest.
    • Happens in-universe when Orik drinks faelnirv – he claims it gives you "the gift of loquacion", but rather than making him talk a lot, it makes him speak this way.
  • Rebellious Princess: Arya, to some extent.
  • Rejection Ritual: Some crimes in dwarven society are punishable by a form of banishment known as vargrimstn, where they treat the exile as though they had ceased to exist. Eragon notes how chilling it is when after one high-ranked dwarf is pronounced banished, the other dwarves act as though his continued ranting is just ambient noise, and when he grabs hold of one of the other council members, the guards that pull him away do so with an attitude suggesting that they're just helping the councilor straighten his clothes.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: Shruikan is absolutely ENORMOUS. The narration shows that Eragon has a bit of trouble understanding that the gigantic black thing behind Galbatorix's throne is one creature.
  • La Résistance: The Varden, with support from both the dwarves and Surda, has been opposing Galbatorix's rule for the better part of a century.
  • Retcon: A couple of details (see BFS on this page for an example) were changed, generally for the better. Mostly averted with regard to the actual storyline.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: The Varden (rebellion) is good, while The Empire is evil. The Varden does have its bad eggs, however, and Inheritance explores the fact that once Galbatorix is defeated, there's still a vast Empire to rule over, most of which just consists of ordinary citizens who were subjugated by Galbatorix's rule.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Murtagh, after his capture and Mind Rape.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The people of Palancar Valley descend from King Palancar, who was Royally Screwed Up, including Eragon and Roran.
  • Rule of Cool: Possible Lampshade Hanging when the elven blacksmith chastises Eragon for specifying a design for purely aesthetic reasons, as well as by Angela in the battle at Feinster.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Every emotional scene is punctuated with "a single shining tear". This leads to the unfortunate implication that many of the characters never cared much for their loved ones, as more tears have been shed for other, lesser things.
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: Magic works by the same laws and logic as physics.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Murtagh makes a speech about this at the end of Eldest, basically saying that they're a bunch of cowards who oppress humans.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Brisingr, Arya doodles something about a lonely god in the sand in reference to Doctor Who. Paolini mentions this in the afterword. He says he did it because he's a fan of the doctor. "And to those who got the line about the lonely god, all I have to say is that The Doctor can be anywhere at any time, even alternate dimensions. Hey! I'm a fan too!"
      Eragon: "What does it mean?"
      Arya: "I don't know."
    • In Inheritance There's another Doctor Who reference. Angela, the herbalist, is knitting a blue hat with runes around the edge. When asked what the runes say, she responds: "Raxacori—Oh, never mind. It wouldn't mean anything to you anyway." There is a planet in Doctor Who called Raxacoricofallapatorius (it's where the Slitheen come from.)
    • In Inheritance There are lots of Doctor Who and other references. Including Solembum mentioning a box that was bigger on the inside.
    • Morn (who is himself a Shout-Out/parody).
    • Some people and places are named after people he knows, for example, Angela (his sister), and Palancar Valley (named after the artist who does the cover art).
    • "Barges? We don't want no stinking barges!"
  • Shown Their Work: While working on the novels, Paolini sometimes spent hours at a time researching on the Internet something like different types of seaweed. He discusses this in an interview with his editor available as a bonus on the audio edition of Inheritance.
  • Single Tear: As many anti-fans have pointed out.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Galbatorix, naturally.
  • Soul Jar: The Eldunari.
  • Snake Talk: The Ra'zac have a hissing accent.
  • Spider-Sense: Eragon's gedwëy ignasia (Shining Palm, the mark he got from becoming a Dragon Rider) sometimes itches when he's just barely missing something significant nearby. For instance, when he's about to be attacked it quite often itches, and having a werecat sneak by at the edge of Eragon's sight seems to have triggered it another time.
  • Straw Character: An argument is presented between representatives of the religious Dwarves and atheist Elves. The Dwarf is as wasteful and ranting, the Elf is calm and wise.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In the first chapter of Eldest, Ajihad succumbs to wounds from an Urgal ambush.
  • Super Soldier: The soldiers Galbatorix deleted the capacity to feel pain from are able to continue fighting long past the point at which normal humans would be incapacitated.
  • Super Speed: Possessed naturally by elves, Shades, Ra'zac, and Kull. Dragon Riders seem to gain this over time.
  • Super Strength: Elves, Shades, the Ra'zac, and Kull naturally possess great strength. All Dragon Riders gain this gradually, regardless of race.
  • Surprise Party: In Brisingr, after Eragon returns to the Varden's camp and gets settled in, he heads off with Nasuada to what he thinks is going to be a boring dinner of political conversation with nobles who want to fawn over him and his dragon Saphira. But when Nasuada opens the flap to the tent, it turns out to be a surprise party arranged by her and Eragon's adoptive brother Roran featuring most of the villagers of his hometown of Carvahall and many other people he knows and likes.
  • Taking You with Me: Eragon's move that finally unhinges Galbatorix is to cast a spell, along with the power of the dragons, that causes him to feel every feeling that he's evoked in others throughout his life, both good and bad. The agony of it is so terrible that Galbatorix eventually decides he just can't take it anymore and declares "Be not!" in the Ancient Language, annihilating himself and producing a nuclear blast of energy that very nearly destroys Eragon and everyone else with him and would have likely destroyed a large portion of Uru'baen as well had they not been so far underground and had Eragon not cast the appropriate protective spell.
  • Tempting Fate: Eragon trying to summon the true form of his sword.
  • These Hands Have Killed: After Eragon heals the baby Hope in Inheritance, he says that his hands are too bloody for that type of work.
  • Think Nothing of It: In Brisingr, Angela the herbalist tells Roran this after he thanks her for healing the injuries on his back from whipping. She then changes her mind and says "Or rather, thank something of it, but do not consider it overly important. Besides, it amuses me to have tended injuries on both your back and Eragon's."
  • Title Drop: In each book. Eragon is obvious. The climax of Eldest drops both the book's title and the title of the series, when Murtagh takes Za'roc from Eragon as his inheritance from their father. After all, he is the eldest brother.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Prior to the release of Brisingr, Christopher Paolini announced that a major character would die at the end of the book. That character was Oromis, the Old Master. Glaedr survives in his Eldunari but is physically dead.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Brom's ring.
  • Took a Level in Badass
    • Eragon. Special mention during Eldest, in which he is trained to the level of a full Rider in a fraction of the time it should have taken.
    • Roran. In the same title that Eragon is taking his level in badass, Roran is doing the same - going from simple farmer to fighter of Ra'zac and badass leader of the entire village of Carvahall.
  • Trilogy Creep: What was once a "Trilogy" is now a "Cycle" with four books, considering Brisingr (the third, and what was meant to be the final, book) was around 900 pages and not even at the halfway point of completion.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Spirits, which can be summoned by sorcerers to accomplish magical feats, will do this at the first opportunity if the sorcerer isn't capable, to create shades.
  • Twist Ending: Eldest reveals that Murtagh and Eragon are brothers. Inheritance reveals that they are actually half-brothers who share a mother.
  • Unequal Rites: Magicians have independent power, sorcerers enslave spirits for power, wizards and witches gain power from charms...
  • Unmanly Secret: Referenced in the thoughts of the Varden leader Nasuada in Inheritance when she thinks about how certain men within her army have revealed things about themselves to her that would be surprising given that their outward loves seemed to be only "wine, women, and war," such as a tendency to memorize romantic poems.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • Arya and Eragon at the end of Book IV.
    • Murtagh/Nasuada
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: As a general rule, none of the heroes' brilliant plans are explained onscreen beforehand.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Sloan's tirade about Eragon features a veritable barrage.
    Sloan: . “You’re nothing but the yellow-bellied offspring of a canker-ridden bunter. You’re a bastard, you are, and an unlicked cub; a dung-splattered, tallowfaced rock-gnasher; a puking villain and a noxious toad, the runty, mewling spawn of a greasy sow. I wouldn’t give you my last crust if you were starving, or a drop of water if you were burning, or a beggar’s grave if you were dead. You have pus for marrow and fungus for brains, and you’re a scugbacked cheek-biter!”
  • Vanity Publishing: Started as this, before a larger publisher got their hands on it.
  • Veganopia: Elven society. Justified somewhat in that it's difficult to eat something when you can hear its thoughts and empathize with it.
  • War Is Hell: Though the series has endured criticism for glorifying war, the characters regularly discuss how fighting and killing stains both their hands and their souls, how it gives them nightmares and troubles them during the day besides and try to find ways to resolve conflicts peacefully when they can.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The Elves, in relation to humans. Also, the Riders, if they live long enough.
  • We Can Rule Together: In Brisingr, Eragon receives this offer from his father Morzan.... but A.) It was only a nightmare (Morzan had long been dead.) and B.) Morzan wasn't really his father; he just thought that he was, until he later learned otherwise.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Eragon. Lampshaded by Saphira:
    Saphira: Nothing out of the ordinary ever occurs to me when I'm by myself. But you attract duels, ambushes, immortal enemies, obscure creatures such as the Ra'zac, long-lost family members, and mysterious acts of magic as though they were starving weasels and you were a rabbit that wandered into their den.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Four examples: Firstly, Murtagh heavily criticizes Eragon's (and the Varden's) moral stance and allegiance at the end of Eldest, going so far as to say that Galbatorix isn't bad enough to earn what Eragon's doing to the Empire. Secondly, Sloan gives Eragon a massive tongue lashing in Brisingr when he encounters him, complete with lots of fantasy swear words. Thirdly, after Eragon attempts to heal Elva of her curse, he makes a mistake and only succeeds in making it painless, leaving Elva still empowered but no longer shackled down with a desire to help others, turning her into an Anti-Hero. Shortly after, he decides that she isn't mature enough to handle such power and tries to take it from her, whereupon she puts him down and tells him he's behaving as Galbatorix would. And fourthly, a soldier in Feinster complains about Eragon "taking glory for himself" by disrupting the peace and slaughtering even those who have been forced to serve the Empire. YMMV, but some people consider such moments a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A source of angst for Eragon.
  • A Wizard Did It: The ancient language.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: The Ancient Language, being the language used for magic, is perfectly capable of killing you. If mishandled, it can also kill its unwary user.
  • The Worf Effect: Islanzadi, an established badass, is killed without significant effort by Barst.
  • X Meets Y: It's like the plot elements of Star Wars coupled with the atmosphere of The Lord of the Rings!
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Everybody is always rambling about how awesome the days before Galbatorix were.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The archaisms in the books are often used incorrectly. An example would be Orik saying "mine King, Hrothgar." "Mine" is only used before vowels. Characters also use "thou" and "you" within the same sentence. This may be a stylistic decision on Paolini's part, though some (especially those who know a bit about old English) feel that it breaks the Willing Suspensionof Disbelief.
  • You Are Not Alone: Both Brisingr and Inheritance end with Eragon and Saphira at first feeling a sense of loss and emptiness, but then realizing that they are not alone and they both have people to help and guide them, as well as people of their own to help and guide.
  • You Can Talk?:
    • When Solembum the Were Cat speaks to Eragon telepathically the first time. Eragon utters: "You said that!" followed by the reply: "Who else?"
    • In Eldest, Roran does this with Saphira as well. Even though she doesn't speak to him directly, Roran exclaims "she speaks!" when Eragon repeats her words to him for the first time.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Eragon has had a much nicer life than his analogue.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Elva, being the emotional manipulator that she is, purposefully uses this tactic against Eragon, telling him that Galbatorix would approve of his actions. This leaves him badly shaken and questioning his morals. Why he didn't come to this revelation right after what he did to Sloan is anyone's guess.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Angela claims in the first book that Eragon doesn’t want to see her "irritated".


Alternative Title(s):

The Inheritance Cycle