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Literature / Inheritance Cycle

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Cover of the first book, Eragon.

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 (2011)
  • Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia (2009) (canon, but not part of the Cycle)
  • The Tales from Alagaesia short story collection.
    • Volume 1 - The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm (2018)

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, 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 after the film got extremely negative critical reception and relatively underperformed at the box office, there are currently no plans for any movie sequels. However, there have been petitions to reboot the series that (however unsuccessful) did gain sizable support, and Paolini has spoken about the movie after the fact, saying that it told its own story in the same vein that the books told their own story, and left it to the fans of the series to determine which story they like better.


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.

However, there was an approximately seven year gap in the series prior to the announcement of the publication of the short story collection The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, which was stated to feature three original stories set within Alagaesia, interspersed with an unfolding adventure featuring Eragon set a year following the ending of Inheritance. The title includes a tale written by Christopher Paolini's sister, Angela, featuring the Angela the herbalist character she serves as the namesake for. It was published in December 2018.

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

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:

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    Tropes A-C 
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Galbatorix had 13 Forsworn, Riders that turned traitor and joined his ranks. Their leader was Morzan, Murtaugh's father.
  • Aborted Arc: Roran's job at Dempton's mill in Therinsford. He takes it in Eragon in hopes of having money to marry Katrina, and it's a big plot point for a few chapters. But Roran gets Put on a Bus when he leaves for the mill, and is not seen for the rest of the book. And the job itself ends up being cut short by the death of his father, and Roran is back in Carvahall by the beginning of Eldest.
  • 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 - said characteristics are either partly due to, or further enhanced by the fact that magic is heavily used in the forging process.
  • 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.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • We have characters named Garrow, Eragon, Roran, Helen, Sloan, and Selena all from the same out-of-the-way village. Eragon's name is at least noted as odd (he's named after an elf).
    • This occurs with place names as well-as noted by a reviewer of Brisingr in The Sydney Morning Herald (an Australian newspaper), it was strange to see fantastical names such as Uru'Baen alongside more commonplace names such as Lithgow. Word of God states that this is because of many cultures having inhabited the land and left behind place names, which has a reasonable basis in the real world.
    • Yazuac, Carvahall, Du Weldenvarden and... Sharktooth?!
    • The Eragon Sporkings point out in the dissection of Eragon that most, if not all, of the important people have exotic names. Thus, it would follow that the characters themselves are aware of this, which explains why two protagonists who need to sneak into a city choose ordinary names (by Earth standards) and that their obvious unimportance is why the guards wave them on through when they give their names.
    • Somewhat justified for the same reason as the place names, but to a larger degree: most humans have fairly human names, like Angela, Helen, Katrina, and Sloan. It's elves, dwarves, urgals, dragons, and other races who have "weird" names, and makes sense given that the cultures that inhabit the land are far from homogenous and usually stay strictly within their claimed territory on the continent. As for the "important" names, most important characters are magic users (which is rarer in humans than in other races) or nonhuman entities, so it makes sense that few of them have human names.
  • The Ageless: Dragon Riders, elves, dragons, and possibly Shades are all immortal unless killed violently. Notably, Dragon Riders are only immortal if their connection to their living dragons is intact; it's implied that the sheer grief kills many of them if that connection is severed.
  • Alien Blood: Bluish-green on the Lethrblaka, black on the Urgals.
  • Aloof Ally: Elva refuses to help the Varden attack Dras-Leona. She does give in when Eragon asks her to storm Uru'Baen.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Murtagh is the older, stronger, smarter, more pragmatic, more cynical, more experienced half-brother of Eragon. The only area in which his younger brother has him beat is mental health.
  • Altar the Speed: Roran and Katrina in Brisingr. Of the Shotgun Wedding variety.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Ra'zac. Explained somewhat in that they're quite literally humanity's apex predator: they aren't chaotic evil so much as they are a wolf to the human rabbit.
  • Ambadassador: Arya, in no small part due to her inhuman abilities that make her far more competent than any normal human could ever be.
  • Amplifier Artifact: By storing energy in gems, they can be turned into power-sources that will up the magical abilities of anyone using them. They're also commonly used as lights when more common methods are impractical or dangerous, but damaging one of them results in a big explosion.
  • And I Must Scream: Carn kills an enemy mage with a spell that freezes him in place as all the moisture leaks out of his body while he decays until nothing is left but dust.
  • And This Is for...: Roran, to one of the Ra'zac in Brisingr, for his home, for Carvahall, and for his father.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: Galbatorix has the ultimate goal of restricting all magic use, though he doesn't wish to wipe it out entirely. He claims that magic is the great unfairness in the world, as someone either can or cannot use it; there is no learning to use magic, and non-magic users have absolutely no defense against magic users, who can kill them or seriously maim them on a whim. Even Nasuada, who is incapable of magic herself, admits that that's an opinion they share.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: In the form of Functional Magic.
  • Arrow Catch: Eragon in the second book when a volley of arrows is unleashed at him. He deflects most of them with magic, and catches one in his hand.
  • 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.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Battle strategy of the Urgals. It usually works, given their physical advantage over the other races.
  • 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).
  • 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 before eventually developing into his own character.
  • 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.
  • Badass Normal: Roran is one of the few normal humans among the main cast, but he still manages to achieve many impressive feats, including slaying 193 men in a single battle and even defeating the tertiary antagonist by bear-hugging him to death, moments after that antagonist killed the immortal elf queen in single combat.
  • 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.
  • Bastard Angst: Eragon is briefly distraught to learn that his mother and father weren't married. Orimis, whose culture doesn't really have marriage per se, tells him that he's sure they considered themselves the equivalent of married at least. Eragon is cheered up by this, and lets it go.
  • Beard of Evil: Galbatorix is shown in artwork to have a full, sinister-looking beard.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Roran grows one after Katrina is kidnapped by the Ra'zac to disguise himself from his enemies.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Urzhad are cave bears native to the Beor mountains, which can grow to the size of a house and are stated to be dangerous foes even for dragons.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Eragon, Murtagh, Nasuada and the elves could easily nab careers as models. Subverted in the fact that most elves are beautiful because they're fully capable of manipulating their own appearance to their liking with no consequence, and that later on we meet elves who aren't necessarily ugly, but definitely look odd when paired with even the other members of their race, including one who has given himself a full body of royal blue fur.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Courtesy of magical healing powers. Subverted when Nasuada wins the Trial of the Long Knives, and has to let seven fairly deep and hideous scars heal naturally as both part of the Trial and proof of her victory. She even states that, if the rules allowed her to remove them, she still wouldn't.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Eragon decides at the end of the fourth book to leave Alagaesia forever only because a prophecy in the first book said he would.
  • Big Bad: Galbatorix, a former Dragon Rider who turned evil, destroyed the other Riders and took over/is trying to take over the world.
  • The Big Guy: Nar Garzhvog and (ironically) Orik, who are both Blood Knight fighters that use heavy weapons and rack up more than a few in a typical battle body count.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad is dead, half of the surviving Eldunarya are insane, and there's no place to raise the dragons, forcing Eragon and Saphira to leave Alagaesia forever in order to raise them. This prevents their fledgling romances with Arya and Fírnen from ever being. Although that was something of a Foregone Conclusion. Saphira and Fírnen, however, mate, and the vault of dragon eggs is opened, securing the revival of dragons as a race and the re-establishment of the Dragon Riders as a regulatory force of good.
  • Black-and-White Morality: The Varden and Elves are good, The Empire is evil. Eragon tries to give this a significant amount of thought, as a number of characters point out that he's fighting because other people told him to, however right they may be. Finally, he reaches the conclusion that The Varden is still good, despite the suffering they cause and the lack of obvious evidence against the King, because Galbatorix is immortal and they're preventing the suffering that will come with another century of his reign. After a significant amount of angst, Eragon then comes to the bizarre and defeatist conclusion that he has to cross the ocean to train the next generation of riders. He left behind civilization, everything he fought for, the chance to shape the creation of the next major golden age, and the chance to get into Arya's (the only woman for whom he could hold genuine affection) tight leather pants. He's also very clear about the fact that he'll never come back, despite the fact that it's very clearly a journey that could be easily made once or twice every few years, even accounting for the strain on Saphira.
  • Black Blood: Applied rather literally to the Urgals.
  • Blessed with Suck: Quite literally Elva, as her curse was intended to be a blessing, but was misspoken. 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 totally incapacitated them one way or another. 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.
  • Bond Creatures: Dragons, who forged a contract with humans and elves hundreds of years ago that allowed them to forge unique mental bonds and prevent interspecies war. A dragon and their Rider have bonds that stretch very deeply, and the death of one often has negative effects on the survivor.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In Inheritance, Orrin and Nasuada get into an argument over the viability of the Varden continuing their alliance with the Urgals that has shades of this. Orrin argues that, given the age-old hatred and antipathy towards Urgals, the Empire is succeeding in painting the Varden as villains for allying with the Urgals (since the Empire was effectively able to hush up their previous alliance with the creatures) and as a result, Imperial cities are choosing to resist to the bitter end rather than surrender to enemies allied with what they see as monsters, which is costing the Varden more lives to capture Imperial territory. Nasuada argues that since the Urgals have upheld their side of the alliance honourably, turning on them for no other reason than prejudice would just result in the Varden gaining another enemy, and that if they don't try to temper the Urgals' more warlike tendencies, the cycle of violence between their races will resume the moment they no longer have a common enemy in Galbatorix.
  • 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, magical, and incredibly long-lived, they know everything and are very happy to tell you that.
  • Cast from Stamina: Ordinarily, magic works like this. Except for dragon riders, who can borrow their dragon's stamina (and dragons have plenty to spare). Skilled magic users can borrow stamina 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 stamina, which is substantial considering they have no body to be using up energy at any given time. To the extent that, since magic can't lie, if you cast something that requires too much energy, you can't stop it and can simply die from exhaustion. This also limits fighting ability, which is why many magicians have developed several low-energy killing spells ("pinch the Carotid artery," for example.)
  • Cessation of Existence: The elves and the dragons believe this happens when living things die, presumably due to their natural telepathic abilities, as living minds always simply fade and disappear during death. In the end, Eragon himself admits that he would prefer this option to some form of eternal existence.
  • 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.
  • Changeling Tale: These are apparently very common among human-folk. Thus, when Elain is having a child and Eragon asks Arya the elf to assist, she does so, but is very careful not to interfere too much because people fear her intentions. Then, when the child is born with a cleft lip, Eragon is called upon to heal the child. Before he takes the child away, he consents to allow the village healer Gertrude to accompany him into the tent where he goes to heal her, as he is mindful of Arya's warnings about fear of changelings. He knows that her presence will reassure the villagers.
  • 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.
    • See also the slide around Vol Turin (the Endless Staircase), which Eragon uses in order to reach the ground floor in time during the Battle of Farthen Dur.
  • 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 thoughtlessly 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 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 calendar 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.

    Tropes D-F 
  • Dark Magical Girl: Elva.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The punishment of Sloan drew from this. When Eragon wonders whether he was justified in his punishment or if he should have just killed Sloan, Orrin and Nasuada – who have a concept of divine right to rule, and who Eragon reports to directly – tell Eragon that he was correct: he can punish people, but lacks the authority to sentence them to death, and he's so powerful that the moment he begins to play God he'll need to essentially be put down. The right to sentence death is reserved for Orrin and Nasuada themselves, in being the King of Surda and Leader of the Varden respectively.
    • Nasuada, being female, has to go to great lengths to prove herself capable of leading the Varden.
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Eragon's mother. When the series starts, all we know is that his mom has been dead for a while, and that she ran away from his dad who was some kind of evil person. Then we find out his dad was The Dragon and his mom was a Dark Action Girl whose incredible devotion to him was only overruled by her desire to see her second child live a better life, away from his Archnemesis Dad. It's played with in that Eragon's father is actually Brom, and Selene's Heel–Face Turn was a result of her love for him, then their child (Morzan's rarely letting her see Murtagh helped as well).
  • 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: This crops up from time to time, such as ""Sorry," apologized Brom", "If you are watching me, Eragon, then my end has come and I am dead", and Arya being described as "raven-haired" and then a sentence later being described as having a face "framed by black locks", among others.
  • 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 into 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. This is an ability all dragons have, which is the technical excuse for Eragon's change above.
  • Deuteragonist: Roran Stronghammer in Inheritance Cycle, with Eragon as the protagonist and Murtagh as the tritagonist, according to Word of God. Other possible interpretations include Eragon > Saphira > Roran, Eragon/Saphira > Roran > Murtagh, and Eragon > Roran > Nasuada.
  • Dire Beast: The Beor Mountains are home to a number of giant versions of regular wild animals, including feldûnost (giant goats), shrrg (wolves the size of horses), nagra (boars who grow even larger than the shrrg), and urzhad (cave bears the size of houses). Feldûnost are raised as livestock by the dwarves, but the others are dangerous wild animals — nagra are prized as challenging and dangerous prey by particularly brazen dwarf hunters, while urzhad are stated to be dangerous foes even for dragons.
  • Disease by Any Other Name: After a Fantastic Nuke, people are described losing their teeth and hair and getting very sick, matching radiation poisoning. Creatures and plants in the area have also mutated to the extreme, in a stereotypical, more urban legend type result of radiation exposure.
  • Distressed Damsel: Arya, and later Katrina. And later on, Nasuada. Arya makes very clear that once she's out of the physical woods, she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: 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: Almost the whole premise of the series, to the point that Rider is a proper noun. Eragon is one, naturally. Also, Oromis, Murtagh, and Galbatorix count. Brom, Orik, and Arya have also ridden Saphira at various points, and Brom was also a Rider before his dragon was killed. Arya becomes one at the end.
  • 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.
  • Dying Curse: The last Ra'zac's final request is for Eragon to pass on legends of how the Ra'zac were feared. Eragon declines, deciding that the information it gave isn't enough to be of value. It curses him, saying "May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" This chills him, since it had previously been foretold that he would leave Alagaësia forever, and indeed, at the end of the series it becomes true.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Galbatorix' dragon is so insanely huge Eragon initially thinks it's part of the castle. He has a minor freakout when he figures it out, and it's revealed that Galbatorix is artificially forcing him to grow far beyond when he should have stopped.
  • Elective Monarchy: The dwarf clan chiefs vote to appoint another king or queen upon the creation of a vacancy in the position. In Brisingr, after the death of La Résistance-friendly King Hrothgar, a few isolationist clans unsuccessfully oppose the royal candidacy of Orik, his nephew and heir. The elves do the same in Inheritance too, with a number of families, noble houses and elders required to consent on the choice. Arya is the one they appoint in the end.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: They aren't exactly best friends, but they do get on better than most Elves vs. Dwarves do, although arguably only due to a common enemy. The huge desert between them probably helps matters as well. They also have a kind of kinship as the two 'ancient races' that inhabited the continent before humans arrived.
  • 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. To be fair, he's horrified when he realizes that he can kill so inadvertently, and tries to reserve that power for use on plants when he can.
  • 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.
  • Exact Words: Early on in Eldest, the Varden Elders want Eragon to swear fealty to the Varden as part of their plot to turn Nasuada into their Puppet Queen. However, as Eragon only promised them that he would "swear fealty", he is able to swear fealty to Nasuada specifically, leaving the Elders shaking with impotent rage.
  • 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. Although Murtagh didn't do it voluntarily.
  • Famous Last Words: "And now, for the greatest adventure of all..." - Brom
    • "Then peace be with you, Eragon Shadeslayer..." - Ajihad
    • "Do not mourn me." - Oromis. Very poignant as he knew Glaedr would live on through his Eldunari, and Glaedr surviving his grief was essential for Eragon and Saphira's continued education and training.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The elven Dragon Rider Thuriel cast a spell that acted as this, releasing the energy of his body to stop Galbatorix from getting the last dragon eggs on Vroengard. It was complete with deadly radiation that made the whole area uninhabitable for decades to come.
  • Farmboy: Eragon, who starts out as his uncle's adopted son and farmhand.
  • Fed to the Beast: After being caught trying to scout a secret passage into Dras-Leona, the cultists of Helgrind try to inflict this on Eragon and Arya by feeding them to newborn Ra'zac hatchlings. Since the cultists considered the Ra'zac living gods, they felt it was the only fitting punishment for the unforgivable blasphemy of killing the previous creatures.
  • Feel No Pain: Galbatorix has soldiers who have agreed to serve him (rather than be compelled by magic) in return for generous rewards, and cannot feel pain as a result of his spells. They're extremely creepy, and very dangerous-even if suffering crippling injuries, they still strike at the enemy, as only death stops them, or losing so much blood that they pass out.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: The age of majority in Alagaësia is 16. Eragon has his 16th birthday in the first book, but lets it pass without comment due to his grim circumstances at the time.
  • Fictionary: Christopher Paolini invented three languages for the series: the Ancient Language (spoken by elves and magic users, based on Old Norse), Dwarvish (mostly made up by Paolini), and the Urgal language (as of Brisingr, still limited to mainly a few words). There also exists another language spoken by the nomads, but it hasn't been given any detail yet, except for clarification that adding "-no" to the end of a person's name is an honorific. The Ancient Language is similar to English but not entirely the same, so partly crossing over into conlang (although full rules of grammar have yet to be provided), while the dwarven language is far less similar to any pre-existing ones. A common criticism is that the Ancient Language and the Dwarven Language are simply encoded English with a few archaic word orders thrown in to spice it up. This is improved upon slightly in later books. He also drops a huge clanger when Oromis talks about Eragon's screw-up with Elva, where he applies idiosyncratic rules of English, wrongly, to his fictional language. (Just for the record, "May you be shielded" is not in the past tense).
  • Forgiveness: 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."
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Eragon forgets about Brom's ring during the battle in Eldest, and almost immediately after berates himself for not realizing it was there.
  • Fork Fencing: Murtagh does this in the story "The Fork" in The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm: he finds himself in a fight without a weapon, enchants a fork with a spell to prevent it from breaking and uses it to defeat sword-wielding mercenaries, and then presents it to a young girl so that she can keep it to defend herself when needed. (She names it "Mister Stabby.")
  • Functional Magic: Basically follows an Inherent Gift structure (though Dragon Riders get a Gift for free), but combines it with Rule Magic in that mages must memorize various magic words for things and then combine them to create spells. Magic in this world also only reduces the time something takes, not the energy – meaning that something like creating lace, which is low energy but time consuming, would be easy, while something like mining gold, which is both high energy and time consuming, would be incredibly difficult. You still have to have the Inherent Gift, but even that's limited by the fact that you'd need incredible stamina to even consider more high-level or high-utility spells.

    Tropes G-I 
  • Geas: A character who swears an oath in the Ancient Language is incapable of breaking it (though they only have to obey the letter, not the spirit). What is more, a person can be compelled to swear such an oath by someone who knows their true name. There is an out, however – if who they are changes so much that their True Name in the Ancient Language changes, all oaths they've sworn using it up to that point are null-and-void.
  • Gem Tissue: A dragon's Eldunar is stated to be a gem-like body organ.
  • Generation Xerox: Murtagh is doomed to follow in the footsteps of Morzan, his father. Eragon likewise follows in his father Brom's footsteps. Each has a dragon of the same colour as his father's, while Eragon's Saphira even has the same name as Brom's Saphira.
  • Genericist Government: For some reason, Galbatorix is 'King' of the Broddring Empire and nothing is really described about how the government works, save for the fact it's "evil". Slightly explained by the fact that Galbatorix has used his immortal status to be on the throne for hundreds of years, and it's likely that there's no one left who remembers how a line of succession or anything else works without Galbatorix at its head.
  • Giant Flyer: Besides the dragons (obviously), there are the Fanghur from the Beor Mountains and the Ra'zac's adult form, the Lethrblaka.
  • Gift of Song: The elves celebrate the "Blood-Oath Celebration", a massive party dedicated to honor the bonding of elves and dragons together, every 100 years, and it is by far their most important celebration. Each attendant is highly encouraged to present some sort of offering (usually a craft of some kind) that is deeply personal. Eragon, Arya, and Islanzadi all present songs as their gifts to the celebration.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: This is the base argument for the Elves' atheism.
    Oromis: Ask yourself this Eragon: If gods exist, have they been good custodians of Alagaesia? Death, sickness, poverty, tyranny and countless other miseries stalk the land. If this is the handiwork of divine beings, then they are to be rebelled against and overthrown, not given obeisance, obedience, and reverence.
  • Good All Along: The Urgals, or at least most of them. And Murtagh.
  • 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.
  • Handicapped Badass: The High Priest (or is it Priestess?) of Helgrind is missing both legs, both arms, the lower half of their torso, and part of their tongue. This in no way diminishes the fact that they are one of the most dangerous foes that Eragon faces. And not only because of the army of fanatics they command. The Priest turns out to be capable of immobilizing him, Arya, and Solembum at the same time with their mind, something even Durza and Varaug weren't able to accomplish.note  Even Murtagh and Galbatorix needed to use magic to accomplish the same task, whereas the High Priest was able to do it with pure willpower. If Angela hadn't managed to No-Sell the Priest's mental attack, a good part of the main cast would have all been killed by someone with barely enough remaining appendages to talk.
  • 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 Bastard: Eragon is one, the son of Selena and Brom. One could argue that this applies to all Elves, as they don't marry, since while a commitment to another can last hundreds of years it rarely persists through all of their immortal life. However, as a result they don't even really have the concept of "legitimacy," and view it as a pretty silly human notion. Eragon angsts a bit over this after he first hears it, but he's told that his parents actually considered themselves married, assuaging this a bit.
  • Heroic Resolve: Roran uses a lot of this to survive being given 50 freaking lashes!
  • Heroic Suicide: Elven Dragon Rider Thuriel set off the magical equivalent of a nuclear bomb by releasing the energy of his body, which required him to die in the process, saving dragon eggs from Galbatorix on Vroengard.
  • 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. Definite subversion when Eragon refuses to kill Sloan, citing that it isn't his right, and Orrin and Nasuada both agree that the power to kill isn't something they want him to have. He may have a license for it in the sense that he's the hero and can't be put to death or exiled, but his higher-ups will definitely have a punishment in mind if he goes too far, and there are enough people who are more skilled with magic than he is that they can check him fairly effectively once he's away from the public eye.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Ellesméra.
  • High Fantasy: Its scale and scope may certainly remind a reader of a certain other series.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Zigzagged. Arya goes out of her way to pick a fight with the dwarven priest regarding religion. However, none of the other elves display this. Orimis simply explains that they disbelieve in any afterlife, gods or miracles as a result of lacking evidence, but would change their minds if presented with some that was convincing.
  • 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. Slightly justified in that many attackers are magicians, who don't need to be in the melee themselves to kill mass amounts of people, and who can only be killed if the Varden were to either send their own magicians or fight through the smaller enemy force until they reach them.
  • 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 turns out that Oromis, Glaedr, and several other dragons and riders agreed to store the remaining free Eldunari and eggs deep underground and placed a memory enchantment over everyone in Alagaesia to the exception of the next free dragon and rider (Eragon and Saphira) to prevent Galbatorix from learning about it and taking them for himself. It's unclear exactly why the possibility of how they were hidden the way that they were (deep underground) never occurred to him, though it's implied to be part of the memory enchantment keeping his thoughts away from the Vault.
  • 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 Don't Pay You to Think: A Deconstructed Trope in Brisingr. Roran has joined the Varden's army and been sent on a dangerous mission in one of the towns of Galbatorix. He's been given temporary command of a group of warriors, but is still under the command himself of a captain who has just ordered a rock-headed strategy to attack the town that is essentially suicide, a head-on assault pretty much guaranteed to result in failure. After the captain leaves, Roran implements his own strategy, but warns that everyone in his group may be made to take the punishment. All follow him and he ends up killing nearly 200 enemy forces through his own strength, secures the victory, and ends up rescuing the idiot captain and what few soldiers of his own he has remaining. Afterwards, Roran is stripped of his weapon and left for appropriate punishment. Upon return to the Varden, Roran is hailed by a hero, but still ordered that he must take a massive amount of lashes if he wishes to remain with the Varden. Nasuada explains that his punishment must be severe and must be public, or else others will believe they too can disobey orders and the chain of command will break down, and that his success and relationship to Eragon are the only reasons she isn't immediately putting him to death for insubordination. Afterwards, she promotes him to captain, as he is too valuable to lose, and this way she can be sure that the only orders he can disobey are hers, which had better only happen if it's in the process of directly killing Galbatorix.
  • 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, which is partially due to the fact that with such a long lifespan, Elves view children – a lifetime commitment – as the ultimate act of love and bonding. They don't exactly find that bond with every mate.
  • Imposed Handicap Training: Towards the end of the series, Eragon and Arya are sparring to keep their edge in time to fight Galbatorix. Arya pulls out every distracting trick she can think of, including making Eragon Distracted by the Sexy, so as to toughen his mentality in case Galbatorix starts to use illusion magic, he will be able to remain focused on his goal.
  • Indo-European Alien Language: In the early books, the Ancient Language apparently follows exactly the same grammatical constructions and rules as English. In Eldest, Oromis reveals that Eragon's application of English rules to the Ancient Language resulted in him cursing Elva rather than blessing her (just for the record, "May you be shielded" is not in the past tense).
  • 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. It probably helped that his own mind was supplemented by Saphira's, who as a very young dragon was still very receptive to new knowledge and information.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: In the first book, subverted by Arya and Saphira at the critical moment. 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.

    Tropes K-N 
  • Keeping the Handicap: Eragon is left with a nasty and painful back scar from his fight with Durza. He decides against having it removed at first, feeling like it's become a part of him. Ultimately, it's removed when Eragon is enchanted by the Agaeti Blodhren. After she wins the Trial of the Long Knives, Eragon offers to heal Nasuada's deeply scarred arms. She declines on the grounds that she needs to keep the scars to prove that she won and is worthy of being ruler.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Murtagh does this to a slaver named Torkenbrand, killing him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Many, many characters. 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: Nasuada and 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. It's still possible to cast magic without the Ancient Language (in fact, dragons are only capable of casting magic this way and it's the only way to use magic once Galbatorix learns the true name of the Ancient Language and shuts off the magic for almost everyone else), but it's very difficult to get right and can easily go wrong. Dragons themselves can only use magic spontaneously when they get a certain "trigger", which most often happens during times of emotional stress.
  • Language of Truth:
    • It's impossible to lie in the Ancient Language. 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.
    • This lends an interesting element to magic. Spells must be carefully worded to avoid becoming a lie if the spell fails – for example, if someone is restricting you, and your spell is "release me," if they're stronger than you, you'll die, since turning the spell off without getting free would make it a lie and it therefore just eats energy until it kills you. A better spell would be "reduce the energy restraining me," since even if you don't get free, you will have succeeded in reducing the energy a bit. Elves, who speak the ancient language as a native tongue, are the best at working around these nuances.
  • The Lancer: Roran increasingly adopts this role in the Varden and the narrative structure of the series itself.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Elva has a lot of colorful things to say to the people around her, helped by her ability to deduce a lot of information about them with her powers. Eragon, in particular, ends up deservedly on the receiving end of it.
  • 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.
  • Logical Weakness: Elva can deliver breaking speeches due to her knowledge of what pains Galbatorix just stops her from speaking with a spell to begin with.
  • 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, though only once correctly.
  • Magibabble: Oromis gets quite in depth about the rules of magic. Justified in that learning magic in the setting is basically learning an entirely new language while simultaneously learning about the properties and limitations of using that language to preform magic. Its misuse can easily result in the death of the magician, those around the magician, or other catastrophic consequences. Oromis is explicitly teaching Eragon about the language and its full powers and limitations, so going into depth is important (if potentially uninteresting to some readers).
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The abilities and limitations of using the Ancient Language to preform magic is quite consistent throughout all 4 books. Directly stated rules are almost never broken, and if they are it's generally acknowledged as an extremely unusual occurance. The main complaint about the system is that the first book has glaring gaps in relatively obvious uses of magic, such as killing enemies with basically no effort or the existence of magical wards against such attacks. As a result the later books (the second in particular) have a lot of explaining to do both in developing various concepts that were entirely ignored and, more importantly, explaining why no one ever mentioned any of those things to Eragon in the first place. There is some justification in that Eragon's magical education in the first book comes from Brom, who had an incomplete education himself and was also teaching Eragon numerous other skills (like reading and swordfighting) while on the road the entire time. Still, this doesn't really explain why Brom would leave out something as incredibly critical like a magical ward (leaving Eragon vulnerable to being killed by any sort of magical attack), or why no one ever mentions something as apparantly important as Wards to him when preparing for battles. It's explained that The Twins lied, saying that he already knew how to use wards, but from the second book on it's made clear that EVERYONE in battle is under some sort of magic protection and it's mentioned repeatedly, despite them never being mentioned in the first book.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Anything someone swears to do in the Ancient Language will be done – it compels them. The only out is if their personality gets changed so much that they really aren't the same person as who swore it.
  • 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.)
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: In the entirety of the four books, only a single named female character dies.
  • Meaningful Name: "Eragon" is "dragon" with one letter changed, but then Paolini retconned this into "era gone by".
  • Medieval Universal Literacy: Zig-zagged. Eragon is initially illiterate because, although Uncle Garrow was literate, as a farmer in a small village in the middle of nowhere he never really had any use for the skill and so didn't bother to teach it to his son and nephew. Eragon spends part of one chapter about halfway through the first book learning to read.
  • 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 don't care about the pain they cause as long as they got what they wanted to know.
  • Monster Fun Facts: The Urgals.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Magic can be used for any number of mundane purposes. One such example is that when Oromis gives Eragon a razor for shaving, it cuts Eragon so badly that he devises a spell for shaving and from then on shaves in that matter. This is something that is explored in some detail, and even commented upon by certain other characters who fear magic and are disturbed by Eragon's unnatural clean-shavedness even at hours of the day when it wouldn't be normal. Whether or not Oromis did this on purpose to get Eragon to discover the spell is left up to the reader to ponder, though it is indicated that magicians have used such methods with their apprentices in the past. If apprentices didn't tap into their magical power on their own, then the magician would set them some mundane task such as moving a large pile of rocks until they finally grew so frustrated that they unconsciously tapped into their magic for the first time.
    • Nasuada hits upon the idea of using magic to mass produce lace as a means of supplying the Varden with capital.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Saphira knows what Eragon is thinking when he looks at Arya . . .
  • Name Amnesia: When the dragons learned that the thirteen dragons of the Forsaken had turned against their own kind and were actively helping the Forsaken to kill and enslave their own kind, the free dragons grew angry. They gathered their power and performed one of their inexplicable works of magic. Somehow, they stripped the Thirteen of their names. From that moment on, no one could remember, read, write, or speak any name belonging to those dragons. Common names, true names, nicknames, everything. They could not even say "I like this" or "I dislike that", because to do so would be to name themselves.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: You only name your child Galbatorix if you want him to grow up to be evil.
    • Morzan.
  • 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?!"), but is well explained by Eragon training and gaining strength and education over the months to years in which the books take place.
  • 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.

    Tropes O-Z 
  • Offered the Crown: Eragon is given the chance to become king of Alagaesia, but quickly turns it down. Nasuada takes over instead.
  • 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. Though at the end of it, Murtagh is freed and Arya becomes a rider as well, and there are more eggs to be hatched.
  • Only One Name: Roran is "Roran Garrowsson" and Eragon is "Eragon Bromsson". This seems to qualify for all the villagers in their town (real cultures like the Norse used the same, and is still seen).
  • 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 Elves Are D Ifferent: Elves are portrayed similarly to Tolkien's, being immortal, wiser, faster, stronger and more beautiful than the other races and highly skilled at magic.
  • 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 accepted. They prove powerful and erstwhile allies. In the end, Eragon is so impressed with them, and also concerned politically about their future (their battle-hungry but small population frequently ran raids on human cities and left a deep sense of Fantastic Racism behind), 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, which is mentioned to be very confusing and painful for him.
  • 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. Also, as it turns out Selena, mother of Eragon and Murtagh.
  • 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-Assisted Suicide: During one battle, Blödhgarm gets control of an enemy mage's mind, forcing him to kill himself with magic.
  • 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.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Ra'zac and Zar'roc, amongst others.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: This is discussed. Neither of Eragon's teachers, Brom or Oromis, taught the Big Bad of the series, Galbatorix. Oromis says he's glad for it because Galbatorix made sure to personally kill anyone that was involved in his teaching. However, Oromis did teach Morzan, who became Galbatorix’s right hand man.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Because Eragon was given a sword that was impossibly sharp and enchanted to never dull, he never had to bother using whetstones to maintain the edge or even learn how. He's very good at sharpening knives, but quickly gets called out on the delicacy of a too-sharp sword edge. When he must use a regular sword in Brisingr he gets annoyed at how often the blade must be sharpened, and realizes that a few of his techniques such as blocking with the edge rather than the flat only worked because of the magic and are not at all practical with normal weapons.
    • In Eldest, Eragon attempts to use some of the magic he's learned to bless an orphan girl he meets. Unfortunately, his inexperience leads to him casting a curse instead. When he attempts to undo it later once his skills have improved he is still only partially successful, removing the harmful effects but leaving her enchanted.
    • Roran defies his orders and leads the Varden forces to a heroic victory. However, he still went against his orders and Nasuada is forced to punish him in order to maintain discipline and prevent others from falling his example.
  • Rebellious Princess: Arya, to some extent.
  • Reduced to Dust: In Inheritance, this is the grim fate of the enemy magician who fights the magician Carn who accompanies Roran to capture the city of Aroughs. Both kill each other via magic at the same time, Carn's corpse left blackened and withered. Carn, however, kills the enemy magician with an especially grim spell that drains all of the water from his body, leaving nothing but a fine grey dust which settles over the water.
  • 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.
  • Religion of Evil: The cultists of Helgrind are this. Human Sacrifice and ritualised mutilation is common amongst their ranks, to the point their High Priest is little more than a head and limbless torso carried from place to place on a litter, so extensively mutilated Eragon can't tell if the priest is male or female. They're proved to be even worse in Inheritance, where it's revealed the cultists actually worship the Ra'zac as living gods, and seek to ensure the extinction of dragons so there will no longer be checks on their deity's freedom to hunt.
  • 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 (or even thrived!) under Galbatorix's rule, given that since most of them can't use magic, they just lived their lives like ordinary people.
  • 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.
  • Sadistic Choice: Roran is forced to make one when he is punished for defying his orders. He can either take a lighter punishment and be discharged from the Varden, or suffer a more severe one and be allowed to stay. He chooses the more severe option.
  • 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.
  • Slave Mooks: Most of Galbatorix's soldiers and vassals don't serve him willingly, Murtagh included. He'll either coerce them into swearing loyalty to him in the Ancient Language, or make them by learning their true name. We're also told villagers are regularly conscripted, with any who resist being killed.
  • Snake Talk: The Ra'zac have a hissing accent.
  • Snow Means Death: In Galbatorix's backstory, his dragon and friends were slain on a sheet of ice unmelted in summer.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": The true names of werecats are strange spitting, hissing, growling noises, though humans know them by names such as Solembum and Shadowhunter.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Galbatorix is a powerful magic user and also the ruler of the Broddring Empire.
  • 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.
  • Split Hair: Noticeably averted where, while training a dragon rider to care for his weapons properly, an actual metalsmith points out that you don't want that sharp an edge on most blades. Being that fine of a point also weakens the metal by making it so thin it can cut hair, meaning the sword in question wouldn't last very long before being damaged beyond the point of usability as a sword rather then a mace.
  • Standard Fantasy Races: Alagaësia is home to humans, who are the primary point-of-view race and divided among a number of nations and cultures; elves, ancient and immortal forest-dwellers who wield powerful magic, isolate themselves from the outside world and don't generally have a very high opinion of humanity; and dwarves, a proud and clannish people who live in richly decorated holds beneath the mountains. These three groups form a loose alliance united against an evil human empire and the urgals, a barbaric people who are essentially orcs with horns and live in isolated wildernesses (however, like a lot of more recent depictions they're not always chaotic evil, switching to the good guys' side after learning the Big Bad manipulated them into fighting his battles for him). There are also the dragons, powerful but often animalistic beings who by the books' time are all but extinct. Like many dragons in modern fantasy, they're dangerous but also very intelligent, speaking with telepathy and sometimes bonding to elves or humans who become their riders.
  • Straw Character: An argument is presented between representatives of the religious Dwarves and atheist Elves. The Dwarf is emotional ranting, while the Elf is calm and wise. Downplayed, however, in that the Elf deliberately picked the fight, knowing that she could stay calm since she had no stake in it.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In the first chapter of Eldest, Ajihad succumbs to wounds from an Urgal ambush.
  • Supersoldier: 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 (but not Arya, for some reason).
  • 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, think 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 Brisingr, the third book, is both the true name of "fire" and the very first spell Eragon ever cast(way back in the first book). More significantly, it is also the name he gives to his new sword after it is forged...with interesting results. It's not dropped much in the last book, but it's implied that Eragon's Inheritance is the responsibility of leading and rebuilding the Dragon Riders.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: In addition to Ajihad dying in the book's first chapter, Hrothgar at the end of book two. In book three, Master Oromis, the Old Master. Glaedr survives in his Eldunari but is physically dead, and exists merely as an Eldunari in the final book, when Islanzadi dies as well.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Brom's ring.
  • Took a Level in Badass
    • Eragon. Special mention during Eldest, in which he is trained to nearly 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. Brisingr 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.
  • Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Subverted in the second book. Eragon is told by Murtagh that he is the son of Morzan, the last of the Forsworn and overall bad person. As it turns out, however, while his mother was Morzan's wife, his father is actually Brom.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • Arya and Eragon at the end of Book IV.
    • Murtagh and Nasuada, to some extent.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Dragons are capable of performing feats of magic of such scale they might as well be miracles. Unfortunately, dragons are incapable of using the Ancient Language to cast magic and can only use the wordless variation that is entirely dependent on their intentions and mindset at the time, the results are often unpredictable based on that, and they can't even access their innate magic save in specific circumstances often brought about by strong emotions.
  • 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: The series started as this, before a larger publisher got their hands on it.
  • Veganopia: Elven society, and more a Vegetanopia. Justified somewhat in that it's difficult to eat something when you can hear its thoughts and literally feel its fear as it dies.
  • Visionary Villain: Galbatorix. He has grand plans for ushering Alagaesia into an era of peace and prosperity. Too bad he uses such brutal means to achieve his ends...
  • 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. Multiple male characters struggle with the impact of (unnamed) PTSD on their presentation as men in a masculinity-means-strong society, and the torture most of the main women go through definitely leaves a mark.
  • 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. Later, Galbatorix offers this for Nasuada when she's his prisoner. Unsurprisingly, she refuses.
  • 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 Measure Is a Mook?: Played With. Eragon and many of the heroes slice through enemy soldiers and Urgals with abandon because of the war. Though as the books continue and Eragon is exposed to the world beyond his black-and-white beliefs, Eragon does try to factor in that many of his enemies are just normal people, conscripts, or even forcibly drafted with magic. After the climactic battle in Eldest Eragon makes a point to help all injured soldiers regardless of faction, and when seizing a future city he offers a chance of surrender to the Empire's soldiers, and demands his allies treat those that took the offer with respect.
  • 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.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: A source of angst for Eragon. Somewhat alleviated by the fact that there's a whole race of immortals who will live through it with him.
  • 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.
  • 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 werecat 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


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