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Literature / Eragon

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Eragon is the first novel in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle.

The book is about a farmboy named Eragon who finds what he believes to be a stone while hunting in the mountains. It is revealed to be a dragon egg, and Eragon bonds with the dragon hatchling, whom he names Saphira, and becomes a Dragon Rider. Following the death of Eragon's uncle and the destruction of their farm, Eragon and Saphira set out on a quest for vengeance against the Empire and its Dragon Rider king, Galbatorix, once he finds out about the egg and sends monstrous servants to obtain it.

Paolini began writing Eragon after graduating from home school at age 15. He spent one month planning out the whole Inheritance Cycle series, one year on the first draft of the novel, and another year rewriting to flesh out the story and characters. Upon his parents seeing the final manuscript in 2001, Paolini's family decided to self-publish the novel; they spent a year touring across America promoting the novel, with Paolini giving talks while dressed in a medieval costume. However, this campaign didn't attract nearly as much attention for the book as its discovery by Carl Hiaasen in 2002, who got it re-published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003.


A film adaptation was released in 2006, and a video game adaptation was released as a tie-in to the movie.

This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Eragon and Brom prepare a plan to infiltrate the cathedral which houses their enemies disguised as slaves — only for the plan to crumble apart when Eragon randomly bumps into the enemies and has to flee.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Durza's memory dumps onto Eragon in his dying moments and reveals his tragic past that led him to become a Shade in the first place.
  • BFS: The teenaged protagonist hilariously wields a five-foot blade in earlier publications of the book. This was later retconned to three and a half feet.
  • Bows and Errors: In the first chapter, Eragon is hunting in the woods with a bow. He only strings it when he finds a deer, which is counterproductive given that stringing a bow can be difficult and time-consuming (this isn't the only time he unnecessarily unstrings his bow, either). Immediately afterwards, he takes three arrows from his quiver although he's only nocking one; he then holds the two arrows he's not using in the same hand he's holding his bow, which sounds like an awkward hand position at best.
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  • Clothing-Concealed Injury: After rescuing Arya from prison, Eragon and Murtagh attempt to move the comatose elf to a bed, but her sleeve gets caught in a branch and tears, revealing numerous cuts and bruises on her arm. Worried, they both start stripping her to check on her other wounds, and find her entire body has been beaten whipped, branded, and scarred from long periods of Cold-Blooded Torture. Eragon is them forced to use his magic to heal her while uncomfortably noticing how attractive she is.
  • Crossing the Desert: Eragon, Murtagh, and Saphira have to cross the Hadarac Desert to escape the Empire. Fortunately, Eragon is able to provide a source of water via magic.
  • Deathbed Confession: Before he dies, Brom reveals that he is a former Dragon Rider.
  • Death of a Child: The scene with the pile of the bodies of the villagers of Yazuac, all murdered by the Urgals, describes the event as refusing to spare neither young nor old. The scene is also topped off with the delightful image of a baby impaled by a spike at the very peak of the pile.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Done in the first book as Eragon observes Arya's overall hotness... after she'd been tortured... and poisoned... and is still very much in danger. Overlaps nicely with Beauty Is Never Tarnished. A month in torture, poisoning and living in a dank cell in the basement, without a wash... still hot.
  • Egg McGuffin: The one from which Saphira eventually hatches in the first book.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Justified. While meeting with Jeod in Teirm, Brom sends Eragon away to do some busy work, and Eragon instantly knows they want to talk about things he shouldn't hear, so he finds a secluded spot where he can sit and uses magic to listen through the wall, hearing about all of the things they didn't want him to, such as how Brom and Jeod are agents of the Varden.
  • Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: The story begins with Arya teleporting a dragon egg to the Spine when Galbatorix's agents find her. Eragon finds the egg, kicking off his Hero's Journey.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Subverted. Eragon is forced to leave Saphira and Arya behind when confronting Durza, but they come to Eragon's aid at the critical moment.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Murtagh does this to a slaver named Torkenbrand, killing him.
  • Never Learned to Read: Eragon never learned to read, a fact that surprises Brom because Eragon's uncle Garrow was literate. Of course, it only takes a month of instruction for Eragon to be literate enough to gather information from government records, and only a few months after that for him to read philosophical discourse and write epic poetry (in a different language).
  • Power-Strain Blackout: Eragon's first attempt at casting combat magic causes him to lose consciousness because it takes a large amount of energy out of him at once.
  • Put on a Bus: Roran gets this early on. He returns in Eldest.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Eragon constantly complains about Brom keeping secrets from him.
  • Retired Badass: Brom is a retired Dragon Rider living as an old storyteller in Eragon's home village.
  • Screening the Call: Eragon's uncle Garrow tries to sell Saphira's egg before it can hatch and make Eragon a Rider.
  • Supernaturally Marked Grave: Saphira magically transmutes Brom's sandstone tomb into diamond.
  • A Taste of Power: Eragon casts his first spell instinctively from desperation (he uses a fire spell to kill a pair of attacking urgals), then has to be trained on how to use magic in a controlled fashion. Brom explains that the Dragon Riders of old raised this to an art form by forcing their apprentices to perform impossible tasks until they ended up casting a spell to complete it out of frustration.
  • Tetris Effect: Happens to Eragon when he's learning to read — he keeps seeing letters in his head even when he closes his eyes.
  • To the Pain: Eragon's threat to a soldier early in the first book.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After rescuing Arya, Eragon and Murtagh attempt to move the comatose elf to a bed, but her sleeve gets caught in a branch and tears, revealing numerous cuts and bruises on her arm. Worried, they both start stripping her to check on her other wounds, and find her entire body has been beaten whipped, branded, and scarred from long periods of Cold-Blooded Torture. Eragon is them forced to use his magic to heal her and uncomfortably notices how attractive she is.
    Although he tried to preserve the elf s modesty, he could not help but notice that underneath the disfiguring marks, her body was exceptionally beautiful. He was exhausted and did not dwell upon it — though his ears turned red at times, and he fervently hoped that Saphira did not know what he was thinking.
  • We Have Reserves: Galbatorix uses the Urgals in the first book to weaken the Varden and the dwarves.
  • Winds Of Change: Invoked where the opening lines of the books quite deliberately mention that winds carried a scent that changed the world. Namely, to the force of Urgals serving the shade Durza, it carried the scents of a trio of elves making their way through the woods, which they were planning to ambush, and said ambush is what sets the events of the Inheritance Cycle into motion.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Galbatorix's magnificent plan at the end of Eragon. He recruits his longtime enemies, the Urgals, and offers them free land if they attack the Beor Mountains and stamp out the dwarves and the Varden. This was a particularly ingenious move, because if the Urgals are victorious, that means that two of Galbatorix's principal enemies have been taken off the map, and the Urgals will be too weakened to challenge Galbatorix or fight back if he wants to get rid of them later, all without a single imperial warrior having to die. If the Urgals lose, then Galbatorix has effectively gotten rid of a race he hated anyway (they killed his original dragon in his backstory) before they have a chance to cause trouble for him. The Varden and dwarves manage to stave off the Urgals, leaving both sides significantly weakened but alive. Durza, who was controlling the Urgals, gets killed, causing the much smaller forces of Urgals still alive to turn against Galbatorix shortly afterwards.