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Eragon
Photo credit: Perry Hagopian


 

Thank you for all your submissions!
Scroll down to read Christopher Paolini's responses to your questions.

The question submission period has ended. Check below to read Christopher's responses and see if your question was selected!

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August questions

Amy, Georgia
Christopher - I homeschool my children, and we all love your books. My son especially is interested in writing his own stories, too. He is 11, and has some wonderful ideas. What would you recommend for helping him on his way? What helped you the most?

Iím delighted to hear that you and your children enjoy my books.

Looking back at my own homeschooling experience, I realize my parents are responsible for igniting, maintaining, and encouraging my deep love of reading and writing. Without their support, I never would have been able to finish Eragon and Eldest. I owe my family everything.

The best advice I can give is to encourage your son to read, read, read! And discuss with him how authors craft their plots and dialogue. In addition, he should continue to study grammar and expand his vocabulary.

He should write as often as possible. It doesnít matter what the subject is, as long as it interests him. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, stories, song lyrics, letters, reports—so long as he practices the art of organizing his thoughts and transferring them to paper in a clear, focused, and vivid manner.

Marie, Ireland
Do you ever find it difficult to recall exactly what youíve had each character go through?

I sometimes have trouble keeping all the details straight in my head. So, every time I get an idea for the trilogy, I write it down. Since I began Eragon, I have compiled hundreds of pages of notes concerning the story, names, places, history of Alagaësia, and languages.

Braden, Ohio
How could Thorn have grown so fast when it took Saphira so much longer?

That is one of the mysteries that will be resolved in Book IV. Trust me, there is a reason!

Kelly, Alabama
Dear Mr. Paolini - First off I would like to say that we all enjoy your two books here! Thank you for the wonderful tale youíve written and for the countless hours of enjoyment it has provided for my family.

My question is this: If the Elves & Dragons according to Oromis and Glaedr believe that the soul (spirit) dies with the body, how then do they acknowledge the existence of a shade? Also, did not the magic users speak of summoning spirits? Sorry, that is two questions.

I appreciate your kind words of support! Please give my best to your family.

You ask a very interesting question. In the first draft of both Eragon and Eldest, I included a few paragraphs that addressed this very issueóthat is, the true nature of the spirits that magicians summon. However, these explanations were cut during the editing process for reasons of pacing, and also because I realized the best place for this information was in Book III. What I can say is that spirits such as those that controlled Durza are not the souls of sentient creatures returned from the afterlife, but something else entirely.

Josh, Ohio
How did you come up with the magic system for the book? Why did you decide to make it physically drain magic users?

I put a lot of thought into creating my system of magic, of finding a balance between magical powers and their limitations. Unconstrained, a magician would be all-powerful and unstoppable. I decided that linking magic use with a person's physical strength was a good way to limit power. In general, the Riders' abilities evolved as I wrote the story and thought about what they would need to do their jobs and survive in Alagaësia.

Rebecca, Ontario
Is the Dragon whose name cannot be spoken in any language Eragon the Firstís Dragon? Or a different one?

I ask this because Brom tells Eragon Shadeslayer the name of Eragon the Firstís dragon, BidíDaum, when answering all the questions about dragon history in the first book. However, later no one says the dragonís name and it is implied (at least in my mind) that the Dragon who sealed the deal (whoís name cannot be said) and BidíDaum are one and the same. As you can see I am a bit confused over this and would love for my question to be answered.

Moríranr
Rebecca

P.S. I love Angela and Solembumís characters, conversations with them are some of the highlights of the book for me.

I too am fond of the characters Angela and Solembum. They add a bit of spice and mystery to the story. Iím glad you like them!

To clarify, BidíDaum and the original Eragon convinced their respective races to make peace during the great dragon war. Then the acknowledged leaders of those races, Queen Tarmunora and the unnamed dragon, formalized the peace treaty. The fact that BidíDaum was also white is merely coincidental. I hope that helps!

Daytona, Alabama
If you could be any race and have any ability from your books what would they be?

I would definitely be a dwarf. They have such an interesting language and culture. And Iíd like to be a spellcaster, so I could heal any injury or health problem.

Sarah, Pennsylvania
Which character in the series do you identify with most and why?

The character of Eragon began as me. However, over the course of the first book, he did many things that I havenítósuch as ride a dragon, fight monsters, and use magicóand these experiences have made him a different person than me. Eragon is now his own person, similar to me in some respects, but possessing a unique history, likes, dislikes, friends, and family. I find it interesting to delve inside his mind, but his mind is no longer my own.

Tom, UK
Why did you name the second book Eldest?

The title Eldest has several layers of meaning, some of which will not become apparent until Book III. It refers to Murtagh being Eragonís older brother. But it also refers to Roran, Nasuada, Katrina, Orik, and all the other characters who are either older than Eragon or who are dealing with their own inheritances and assuming the tasks and responsiblities of the previous generation.

Hali, New Mexico
In the Eragon movie, why does Arya have blonde hair? In the book she had black hair.

The movie is an adaptation of my book by the folks at Fox. How they depict the characters is their interpretation of my work.

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July questions

Mike, England
Will Brom's history ever be fully revealed? Maybe you should write a separate series explaining Galbatorix's rise to power!

Bromís story is one of several I have considered writing in the world of Alagaësia. But for the time being, Book Three is the focus of my attention. Once the Inheritance trilogy is finished, I will decide which of my numerous story ideas I will write next. While I may revisit Alagaësia in future books, I look forward to exploring other realms first.

Bryan, Alberta
How come a Shade can only be killed by being pierced through the heart? And if Galbatorix gains power each year, how can Eragon ever beat him?

A Shade can only be killed in that manner because the spirits that control the sorcererís body use a certain technique to bind themselves to his or her flesh. This will be explained in greater detail in Book Three. As for Galbatorix, youíll have to read the rest of the trilogy to find out the answer to that!

Sarah, Michigan
Do the elves' views on the value of life reflect your own ideas? In other words, are you vegetarian as well?

No, I am not vegetarian. One of my goals as an author is to explore various aspects of human nature. Itís my job, then, to attempt to understand why people act, even if it differs from my own point of view or practice, and to present those reasons to the best of my ability. The actions and beliefs of my characters are not necessarily my own.

Larissa, British Columbia
In the chapter titled "Broken Egg and Scattered Nest" Eragon rides Folkvir out to the Place of Broken Eggs to find Saphira. He says to Folkvir "Stay here, graze if you want but stay here." Then he rides Saphira back, what happens to Folkvir?

If you read the chapter carefully, youíll see it ends before Eragon and Saphira actually leave the Stone of Broken Eggs, where they were talking. Therefore, one can assume that when they do leave, Eragon would remember Folkvir and have him return to Ellesméra. For pacing reasons, I felt it was unnecessary to show Eragon and Saphira flying back to Oromis and the Crags of Telínaeír, as well as dealing with Folkvir. All that mattered in that scene was whether or not Eragon and Saphira would mend their differences.

Ann Marie, Ohio
How do you feel about your book becoming a movie?

I very much look forward to seeing the Eragon movie, which will be an interpretation of my work by the folks at the Fox 2000 studio. The process of adapting a novel to the big screen is difficult. Time and budget constrain what can be shown. I recently had the opportunity to view a few short film clips of Brom and Eragon. It was a surreal and thrilling experience to see the actors portraying my characters on-screen.

Sarah, New Jersey
Christopher, How did you come up with the names in your books? They are so different than ours. Did you just jumble up letters or what? P.S. I love your books!

I use several techniques for inventing the names of characters and places. Sometimes I write lists of interesting sounding names, switching syllables and letters until I find ones that I like. Names such as Eragon and Saphira incorporate a bit of wordplay: Eragon is dragon with one letter changed (it also means era-gone, as in a time gone by) and Saphira was inspired by sapphire. When naming places, such as Isidar Mithrim, I often draw from my invented languages. Other times I mine real languages, such as Old Norse, German, Old English, Latin, and Russian for words.

Picking the right name is a process. If I have difficulty choosing the correct name, I use a placeholder until I figure it out.

Kolin, Wisconsin,
Was it hard for you to kill Brom so early in the story? He was my favorite character in the book and to have him die was saddening, but at least Eragon gave him a proper burial.

It was very hard for me to write Bromís death. I hated it. After finishing that scene, I left the computer and didnít return until the following day. Still, it had to be done. I realized that if Brom stayed, he would continue doing things for Eragon, things that Eragon had to learn to handle on his own. After all, this story is about Eragonóand the other younger charactersógrowing up and assuming the responsibilities of the previous generation.

Kristin, Utah
Were there any female Riders? How many?

There were as many female Riders as males when their order flourished. They were probably just a bit smarter, faster, fiercer, and kinder than their male counterparts.

Megan, Texas
I've always been curious about how fast Murtagh I guess "learned" to be a rider . . . is that one of Gallbatorix's powers or is Murtagh just really, really powerful?

Ahh, that is an interesting question. I understand your curiosity, but ask your patience until all is revealed in Book IV. Galbatorixís presence in Eragon and Eldest has been little more than a menacing shadow. In the final book, we shall finally step into his realm and discover . . . Well, I canít give you any hints, but I think (and hope) you will find the conclusion thrilling.

Kris, Pennsylvania
How has the writing and publishing of the Inheritance trilogy affected you?

When I first did public events to promote Eragon, I visited bookstores, libraries, and schools dressed in medieval costume. People were not familiar with the story, so my presentation focused on explaining the world of Alagaësia. Now, hundreds of people attend my book signings and presentations, and many have read my books. It amazes me how carefully some readers follow the plot and ferret out the most obscure clues.

Seven years ago, when I began Eragon, I was simply writing for my own pleasure, trying to capture an adventure that sparked my imagination. I had no idea that I would one day receive letters from fans around the world sharing how the story touched their lives in a personal way. I am deeply moved by many of their stories.

While I am still writing the story that I outlined many years ago, I now feel the presence of my millions of readers. Likewise, I feel responsible to my family, publisher, and to all those who supported my work.

Throughout this experience, I have tried to retain a balanced perspective about all that has occurred. I am still me. My family and my work helps me stay grounded.

 

 

 

Pre-order the Eldest Limited Edition, featuring exclusive new material - on sale September 26, 2006!

 

 

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