Lytherus.com, in partnership with our sister site Shur’tugal, sat down for an extensive and exclusive interview with Inheritance Cycle author Christopher Paolini for his first fan-oriented interview since announcing the title and release date of the hugely-anticipated INHERITANCE (Book 4). The second and final portion of this interview is jam-packed with exclusive Book 4 information and reveals, including much to do with Angela, Murtagh, Domia Abr Wyrda, wild dragons, and more! Plus Christopher touches on what we can expect from him post-Inheritance.
The first part of the interview is also available on Lytherus.
Enjoy part two of our exclusive interview with Christopher Paolini:
Mike Macauley: In Brisingr, a sword named Arvindr is mentioned as being a possible sword for Eragon to use to replace Zar’roc. What does Arvindr mean, and what is the color and type of the sword?
Christopher Paolini: Since neither Eragon nor the other viewpoint characters in the story have seen Arvindr, I’d rather not say.
Mike: On the subject of weapons, here’s an odd one for you! If you could add one type of non-medieval weapon to the Inheritance universe – think guns, lasers, attack planes, etc – what would you add?
Christopher: Hmm. I’m not sure. Maybe World War I era planes, because it’d be fun to see a biplane dogfighting with a dragon.
Mike: Although I think it’s a safe bet that the dragon would win, hands down.
Christopher: Of course. No doubt. But it would still be fun to watch. (Not for the poor pilot, of course.)
Mike: Shur’tugal visitor “nashn8er” asked: “In Brisingr when Nasuada came to give Roran the mission to lead the Urgals, it says that she sat on a small chest of belongings that Katrina had brought with her from Carvahall. (pg 576) How is that possible, seeing as she was kidnapped by the Raz’ac?”
Christopher: Good catch. That was a mistake that happened during the editing of the book when several different sections were getting moved around the manuscripts. It was fixed in later printings.
Mike: I don’t think it would be a lot to imagine that Roran gathered her things to make sure that she had some of her belongings once she was rescued, though. He seemed entirely positive of her rescue (and we’ve seen what Roran’s determination can accomplish)…
Christopher: True. But it certainly was a mistake to say that Katrina had brought anything other than the clothes on her back with her.
Mike: This visitor got around to asking a question I’ve had for a long time now: Shur’tugal visitor Kathryn asked: “[My question] regards the aging of Riders. As we learned in the Inheritance novels, a Rider is immortal unless he/she is killed by sword or poison. And as it is pointed out in the novels, both King Galbatorix and Brom lived extraordinarily long lives. However, it sounds like most of the Riders became Riders when they were quite young, so it’s not like they became frozen in time at the age they were when they became Riders. My question is, how does a Rider’s immortality/aging work? It appears that the Riders age slowly, so I was wondering if they just age at a very slow pace (For example, maybe for the amount a normal person ages in ten years, a Rider would only physically age one year – thus they would age at 1/10th the normal rate)?”
Christopher: That is an excellent question. When a person becomes bonded with a dragon, they continue to age as they would until they reach physical maturity. Otherwise you could end up with some very odd situations (such as a Rider who was hundreds of years old but still looked like a ten year old). Once the Rider hits physical maturity, their body pretty much stops changing, except for the ongoing formation of memories. Same for the elves. Now, over extremely long periods, such as hundreds or even thousands of years, further changes to one’s appearance may occur, but they would be subtle — rather like the difference between being twenty-five and thirty, say. It’s possible that if a Rider or an elf who wasn’t a Rider lived long enough, that they would die of old age. However, that would require an extremely long period of time, so long that the person would most likely die of some other cause over the course of it.
Mike: What was the age of the rider who lived the longest?
Christopher: Hmm. Well, theoretically, the oldest Rider would have been a Rider who became bonded with a dragon soon after the pact with the dragons was formed. You really couldn’t have had a Rider any earlier than that. . . . As readers will probably remember, Rhunön is about that age. I think she’s the oldest character to appear in the series to date (Gûntera excepted, of course).
Mike: I have a feeling you won’t be answering this one, but it can’t hurt to ask…Shur’tugal visitor Raymond asked: “When and where did Solembum and Angela meet?”
Christopher: In a bar on Rigel III, during an EMP storm that grounded all of the nearby shuttles. They ended up playing a game of four hand Tyberion poker together, and after surviving a rather large bar fight, they became close friends. . . .
Mike: If it was any other character, I’d call your bluff… but it’s Angela, and that could actually be believable.
Christopher: No comment.
Mike: Doctor Who pops up a lot on our Book Club Podcast, which is odd because the topic is Inheritance… but the fans love it. Many are still surprised to learn that you and your family are Doctor Who fans (though I’m not sure why it’s surprising). In fact, I try to tell as many people as I can that your family is to blame for my Doctor Who addiction! Which leads me to my next question…Is Angela a Time Lord?
Christopher: One second, I have to ask her.
Christopher: Let me answer your question with a question. If Angela is a Time Lord, then where is her TARDIS?
Mike: Well, we can’t assume that her TARDIS would be a giant blue police call box, as that’s specific to the Doctor. A properly-functioning TARDIS blends in with their surroundings, yes? So it’s there, somewhere…
Christopher: True…Well. Let’s just say that if Angela is a Time Lord, she certainly wouldn’t admit it to Eragon.
Mike: It just all makes sense! She is old, we know that for certain. The Doctor travels with a companion, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume other Time Lords do too. Solembum. She has a knack for showing up wherever — and whenever — there’s action.
Mike: Next to the theory that Angela is Galbatorix, I’d say it’s my favorite theory for the series.
Christopher: Same here. The problem with it is, if Angela is Galbatorix, then there’s no way Eragon can defeat her. Seriously, if Angela wanted to kill Eragon, he’d be dead before he knew what hit him.
Mike: Are you implying that Angela is more powerful than Galbatorix, or simply more deadly given how close she is to Eragon?
Christopher: Without giving away any spoilers for Book Four . . . I’m saying that Angela is inherently inexplicable, and that her unpredictable nature makes her a far more dangerous opponent than most realize. If you had to choose, would you want fight her? Or would you rather face Galbatorix? I know which one I’d choose.
Mike: Oh, I’d go for Galbatorix. No doubt about it. I suppose, in that case, that it’s very good for us that Angela has (at least for the time being…) chosen to work with the Varden.
Mike: Now, moving on from Angela… Shur’tugal visitor Preston asked: “Is it possible that in the future we will see a picture of Shruikan by John Jude Palencar?”
Christopher: I hope so. John has done extra cover paintings for the Japanese editions of Eldest and Brisingr, since they were so large in Japanese, they split each book into two separate volumes. If that happens with Inheritance as well, then I’ve recommended that he should paint Shruikan. As an artist, he seems to excel with dark subject material, so I’m sure he would do a good job of it.
Mike: Well, the page count has been made official. We’re looking at 880 pages for Book 4, which is incredible (and exciting). They’ll definitely need another cover for volume 2 of Book 4!
Christopher: Yup. Believe it or not, for a long time, I thought Inheritance was going to be between Eldest and Brisingr with regard to size. Ha! I’m obviously not a very good judge of the length of my own work.
Mike: When you decide to begin on your next project(s), will you be aiming for books around the same size, or will you be writing shorter books for a little while?
Christopher: At the moment, I’m playing with a short story/novella. Past that, I’m going to try to write books that are a bit shorter than I’ve been doing, both for my own sanity and that of my editor. Of course, when I set out to write a story, it always seems to balloon to far bigger than I originally intended, so we’ll see.
Mike: Can’t hurt to ask: science fiction or fantasy for your short story/novella?
Christopher: Science fiction, and the same for my next book. I think. My plans may change. And then I have another fantasy novel I want to tackle. So lots of stuff. It’s very exciting!
Mike: It sounds it! And as I’ve mentioned before, though we still get asked — Shur’tugal won’t be going anywhere after Book 4 has released. You’ve made it abundantly clear that you’ll be writing for years to come, and we plan to follow you and each of your projects. It’ll be a proper Christopher Paolini community!
Christopher: Sounds great. I’m delighted that you’re going to be still helping to support and build the community.
Mike: Speaking of the community, we have a few more fan questions. Shur’tugal visitor Kristine asked: “How was Ajihad able to put a scratch on Durza’s blade when he was a human and Durza had super-human and magical powers?”
Christopher: Heh. Good question. Long story short, he caught Durza by surprise. Long story long — you’d really have to ask Nasuada or Ajihad about that. However, I can say that you’ll find a bit more information about Ajihad’s past in Book Four.
Mike: He was a great character. It was a shame that we saw him for such a short period of time before he was killed.
Christopher: I know. I would like to write more with him at some point.
Mike: Well, you’ve expressed interest in possibly writing Brom’s story. I could see some room there for some great appearances by Ajihad.
Christopher: If I were to tell Brom’s story, we’d definitely see more of Ajihad.
Mike: Inheritance Book Club superstar Helen Beddis asked: “Firstly on learning Eragon’s name Jeod tells us that he has only ever read about three people with that name, Eragon the first Rider is obviously one of them, but who are the other two and what did they do that was worthy of being written about? Is there possibly a link between the four Eragons?”
Christopher: Yes, there might be, but that’s a story for another time and place. (You could probably find some mention of the other Eragons in Domia abr Wyrda, however.)
Mike: Will we see any more of Domia abr Wyrda in Book 4?
Christopher: No comment.
Mike: The piece you included in the Eldest Limited Edition was one of my favorite book add-ons you’ve published to date.
Christopher: Thank you. I had fun writing it. Someday I’d like to write some more excerpts from Domia abr Wyrda.
Mike: Brom says of Vrael in Eragon, “Ancient and wise, [Vrael] struggled to save what he could and keep the remaining dragons from falling to his enemies.” Is this insinuating that Vrael managed to save some wild dragons, or are we reading too far into this?
Christopher: Vrael was trying to save some wild dragons, but he didn’t succeed.
Mike: This may be a path you’re unwilling to head down, but I’ll ask anyway. We debated this on the last podcast… dragons can fly incredible distances, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to assume there are some beyond what we see of Alagaesia — or would it?
Christopher: It would. Dragons have certainly lived pretty much everywhere in the world where Alagaësia exists. However, if any still lived, Galbatorix would have tracked them down and killed or enslaved them. Remember, Galbatorix has the strength of all of the Eldunarí at his disposal. He has enough energy to reach out to any distance with his mind. It would be extremely difficult for wild dragons (who can only rarely use magic) to hide from him. The only reason that Glaedr escaped was because he was under the protection of the elves.
Mike: Every time I feel as though Angela goes away, she manages to pop up again… When Angela read Selena’s future from the dragon bones, was Eragon mentioned? Did Angela know that someday, Eragon would be sitting in front of her as a Rider, having his own future read?
Christopher: When Angela told Selena’s future, I’m sure that she (Angela) spoke about Eragon in somewhat abstract terms. In either case, having her fortune told changed Selena’s life and is one of the things that convinced her to turn against Morzan and hide Eragon in Palancar Valley. Angela, however, didn’t know that she would one day see Eragon himself. . . . At least, I don’t think so. It’s hard to be sure of anything with her.
Mike: At the end of ERAGON, Eragon goes looking for Angela but is told she is gone. Where did she go and why did she go there?
Christopher: Probably to visit someone else in Tronjheim. Tronjheim is a big place, after all, and lots of interesting things happen there. I’m sure Angela had more going on in her life at that time than just Eragon.
Mike: I feel as though, as this point, you could write an entire series just following Angela’s exploits. It’d be never-ending.
Christopher: Believe me, I’ve thought about it.
Mike: Throw in a big blue box and suddenly you aren’t limited to just Alagaesia!
Christopher: [Laughs] Just wait until you read Book Four.
Mike: I think I can speak for every fan when I say: we can’t wait!
Christopher: Me either.
Mike: Speaking of, I’ve got a few more Book 4 questions for you and then our interview is officially wrapped up… but I’m sure we’ll have one more sit-down before the big day! This is something we touched on earlier, but there may be room for a few more answers. You’ve been rather quiet about what we can expect from you after Book 4, other than to say you have many ideas already plotted out. Can you elaborate here? Do you plan to remain within the fantasy genre or will you be venturing out? Do you plan to stick with books or trying your hand on non-book projects?
Christopher: Right now I just have to survive the upcoming book tour, which is going to be a doozy. I’m looking forward to it, but by the end of it, I’m going to be completely exhausted. Once that exhaustion abates . . . then we’ll see. I’ve been thinking up different stories for over ten years now, and I’m not exactly sure which ones I’m going to dive into next. As I said earlier, I think my next big project might be science fiction, but at the same time, I’d like to try my hand at some other non book-related things. I know I’m going to continue telling stories in one form or another. Also, as you know, I don’t like to be too specific about my plans. It’s fun to surprise people as well.
Mike: Surprises are good.
Mike: It’s no secret: fans love Murtagh. Can we expect to see more of him in Book 4?
Christopher: Lots more. Gallons of Murtagh. Buckets of Murtagh. Giant pools of Murtagh. . . . I’ve said too much, haven’t I?
Mike: I’m sure there are some fans who wouldn’t call “too much!” until you’ve outlined every aspect of Murtagh’s involvement in Book 4.
Christopher: Of course.
Mike: Can you tease us about Book 4? Any hints, cryptic information, etc?
Christopher: Hmm. . . Let’s see, aside from Eragon’s funeral, I’m not sure what else I can talk about. No, no, I’m joking.
Mike: I’m guessing we won’t be getting anything else out of you on that one?
Christopher: Let’s see, Book Four hints. . . . Well, the fates of many of the main characters have changed from my original outline for very good reasons that I just didn’t see when I was fifteen. Hopefully the changes have been good changes.
Mike: Well, it’s been an incredible amount of time between the original outline and today. Over a decade. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the characters have evolved over the years!
Christopher: They have, and I’ve changed as well. Eragon certainly isn’t the same person in Book Four that he was in Book One. As the author, it took me some time to internalize those changes and to realize that what I had originally intended to do with Eragon, Roran, Arya, Nasuada, and Islanzadí no longer worked with who they had become.
Mike: It’s interesting to see Islanzadi included there.
Christopher: Yeah. I’ll be happy to talk about this stuff in more detail once the book is released, but until then, I’ve said about all I can.
Mike: What is the biggest question a fan should ask or ponder about Book 4?
Christopher: What is the Vault of Souls? What happens to Murtagh? What happens to Eragon and Saphira when they finally face Galbatorix? And how is motion related to time?
Mike: I can already hear new theories beginning to form in the minds of many!
Christopher: [Laughs] I can tell you now, they’re wrong.
Mike: They may be wrong, but they’re still fun to imagine!
Mike: That’s all for this round of questions, Christopher. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of our questions and to tease us with more Book 4 information! As a reminder to all of our readers, we don’t have much longer to wait to read the final installment of the Inheritance cylce, as Inheritance (Book 4) hits store shelves on November 8th!
Christopher: Thanks for having me here. I enjoyed this, and I’m very much looking forward to people finally getting the chance to read the conclusion of the Inheritance cycle. Until next time, “Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!” May your swords stay sharp.