"Christopher Paolini is a true rarity." —The Washington Post
When fifteen-year-old Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.
Overnight his simple life is shattered, and, gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.
And don’t miss the most recent book set in Eragon's world, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia!
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About the Author
You can find out more about Christopher and Inheritance at www.alagaesia.com.
Read an Excerpt
Eragon knelt in a bed of trampled reed grass and scanned the tracks with a practiced eye. The prints told him that the deer had been in the meadow only a half-hour before. Soon they would bed down. His target, a small doe with a pronounced limp in her left forefoot, was still with the herd. He was amazed she had made it so far without a wolf or bear catching her.
The sky was clear and dark, and a slight breeze stirred the air. A silvery cloud drifted over the mountains that surrounded him, its edges glowing with ruddy light cast from the harvest moon cradled between two peaks. Streams flowed down the mountains from stolid glaciers and glistening snowpacks. A brooding mist crept along the valley’s floor, almost thick enough to obscure his feet.
Eragon was fifteen, less than a year from manhood. Dark eyebrows rested above his intense brown eyes. His clothes were worn from work. A hunting knife with a bone handle was sheathed at his belt, and a buckskin tube protected his yew bow from the mist. He carried a wood-frame pack.
The deer had led him deep into the Spine, a range of untamed mountains that extended up and down the land of Alagaësia. Strange tales and men often came from those mountains, usually boding ill. Despite that, Eragon did not fear the Spine–he was the only hunter near Carvahall who dared track game deep into its craggy recesses.
It was the third night of the hunt, and his food was half gone. If he did not fell the doe, he would be forced to return home empty- handed. His family needed the meat for the rapidly approaching winter and could not afford to buy it in Carvahall.
Eragon stood with quiet assurance in the dusky moonlight, then strode into the forest toward a glen where he was sure the deer would rest. The trees blocked the sky from view and cast feathery shadows on the ground. He looked at the tracks only occasionally; he knew the way.
At the glen, he strung his bow with a sure touch, then drew three arrows and nocked one, holding the others in his left hand. The moonlight revealed twenty or so motionless lumps where the deer lay in the grass. The doe he wanted was at the edge of the herd, her left foreleg stretched out awkwardly.
Eragon slowly crept closer, keeping the bow ready. All his work of the past three days had led to this moment. He took a last steadying breath and–an explosion shattered the night.
The herd bolted. Eragon lunged forward, racing through the grass as a fiery wind surged past his cheek. He slid to a stop and loosed an arrow at the bounding doe. It missed by a finger’s breadth and hissed into darkness. He cursed and spun around, instinctively nocking another arrow.
Behind him, where the deer had been, smoldered a large circle of grass and trees. Many of the pines stood bare of their needles. The grass outside the charring was flattened. A wisp of smoke curled in the air, carrying a burnt smell. In the center of the blast radius lay a polished blue stone. Mist snaked across the scorched area and swirled insubstantial tendrils over the stone.
Eragon watched for danger for several long minutes, but the only thing that moved was the mist. Cautiously, he released the tension from his bow and moved forward. Moonlight cast him in pale shadow as he stopped before the stone. He nudged it with an arrow, then jumped back. Nothing happened, so he warily picked it up.
Nature had never polished a stone as smooth as this one. Its flawless surface was dark blue, except for thin veins of white that spiderwebbed across it. The stone was cool and frictionless under his fingers, like hardened silk. Oval and about a foot long, it weighed several pounds, though it felt lighter than it should have.
Eragon found the stone both beautiful and frightening. Where did it come from? Does it have a purpose? Then a more disturbing thought came to him: Was it sent here by accident, or am I meant to have it? If he had learned anything from the old stories, it was to treat magic, and those who used it, with great caution.
But what should I do with the stone? It would be tiresome to carry, and there was a chance it was dangerous. It might be better to leave it behind. A flicker of indecision ran through him, and he almost dropped it, but something stayed his hand. At the very least, it might pay for some food, he decided with a shrug, tucking the stone into his pack.
The glen was too exposed to make a safe camp, so he slipped back into the forest and spread his bedroll beneath the upturned roots of a fallen tree. After a cold dinner of bread and cheese, he wrapped himself in blankets and fell asleep, pondering what had occurred.
Reading Group Guide
Fantasy is a form of literature that presents psychological realities in an imaginative or fantastical way. Using myth and folklore as a background, modern writers of fantasy set their stories in an imagined world or in a real-life setting where magical events take place.
Ask the group to discuss folk tales and myths they remember hearing or reading in the past. Who were the characters who fought for good, and who were the evil characters? Ask them to describe to each other scenes they remember from those stories. How was magic used? What emotions did the stories evoke? What do they remember about dragons in those early tales? Make a list of character traits exhibited by heroes and villains from folk tales and myths. Which of these traits are most important in real-life situations?
1. Family and Home
Eragon’s family is very important to him, although he never knew his parents. Who do you think Eragon’s parents were? Why is his father’s identity a mystery, and why did his mother bring him to her brother to raise and then disappear? Could Eragon have prevented his uncle’s death?
What was Eragon’s life like before he found the dragon’s egg? How did his discovery of the egg change his life? Do you think Eragon found the egg or the egg was deliberately sent to him?
Why was Eragon comfortable exploring the Spine when everyone else in his village was afraid of the place? What does the Spine represent to the other inhabitants of Carvahall?
Does Brom know that Eragon is special from the beginning? Has he been watching Eragon all along, knowing what his destiny will be? Why do you think Brom settled in Carvahall as the village storyteller?
Do you think Eragon will ever be able to return to the Palancar Valley and Carvahall? He longs for his home in the midst of his adventures, but will he return to the farm when his adventures are over?
2. Destiny and Responsibility
The first line of the story reads: “Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.” What does this opening tell you about the meaning of destiny in the tale? What does the author mean by “a scent that would change the world”?
Names are very important in this story. How does it affect Eragon to learn that his name was also the name of the first Dragon Rider? How does he choose Saphira’s name?
What does Saphira mean when she says, “It is our destiny to attempt the impossible, to accomplish great deeds regardless of fear. It is our responsibility to the future”? Is this true for everyone? What is the responsibility of each of us to the future?
Why does Eragon’s magic diminish his own strength every time he uses it?
Angela the fortuneteller says, “To know one’s fate can be a terrible thing.” Would you want to know your future if someone could tell you? Why does Eragon decide to hear her predictions?
What does she mean when she says, “That freedom [to choose your fate] is a gift, but it is also a responsibility more binding than chains”?
How does Eragon feel about his fate as a Dragon Rider? What are the benefits of his new life? What are the dangers? Would you choose to take on the responsibilities Eragon has–caring for Saphira, rescuing Arya, helping the Varden, fighting the Empire?
3. Trust and Fear
Why does Brom want to travel with Eragon when he is forced to leave his home? How does Eragon know that he can trust Brom?
Who are the Ra’zac and what do they represent to Eragon?
When Eragon realizes that Arya is an elf, does it change his feelings about her? Why does he rescue her from the prison even though it puts his own rescue in jeopardy?
How does Eragon feel when he learns about Murtagh’s parentage? Does the fact that Murtagh’s father was Morzan affect Eragon’s trust of him? Does it affect your feelings about his character?
When Eragon finds the stronghold of the Varden, he is confronted by the Twins. Why does Ajihad trust the Twins? Why do they treat Eragon with suspicion?
4. Good and Evil
Many fantasy novels deal with the struggle between forces of good and evil. Discuss the ways in which Eragon explores this theme and which characters represent good and evil.
The story begins with the Shade and his ruthless ambush of the elf Arya. How did this Prologue affect your anticipation of the story to come? Why is the Prologue titled “Shade of Fear”?
Are there characters who represent pure good and pure evil? Discuss the ways in which an author shows us a character’s true nature. How does a character’s life experience shape his or her actions?
How did Galbatorix establish his rule of Alagaësia? What experiences turned him into a cruel and feared ruler? What do we learn of the Shade’s past when he is killed?
The Urgals seem to be completely ruthless, yet Eragon is hesitant to kill them with his magic in Chapter 30. Why does he only use his magic to stun them? Why is he so upset when Murtagh kills Torkenbrand, the slave trader?
5. Connecting Fantasy to Real Life
What kinds of good and evil do you hear about in the news? Discuss examples from news stories that report events representing the good and evil in our society and around the world.
What circumstances can bring people together to become friends and what can make those friendships grow and develop? What circumstances can hurt a friendship?
Do you feel that some people have a destiny to fulfill or a special reason for living? Name people in history who had a strong responsibility to a cause for good or evil. (Possibilities would be Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King for good causes and Adolf Hitler, Attila the Hun, and Josef Stalin for evil.)