Christopher Paolini


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Inheritance Summary

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Inheritance (2011) is a young adult fantasy novel by Christopher Paolini. The fourth installment in Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (which includes Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr), the story follows Eragon, the teenage farm boy turned Dragon Rider, and his dragon, Saphira, as they attempt to defeat the evil king, Galbatorix, and free the land of Alagaësia. The series was originally intended as a trilogy, but Brisingr ran so long that Paolini split it into two books. A film adaptation of Eragon was released in 2006, however, it performed so poorly that the rest of the series was canceled.

Inheritance opens in the middle of a battle over the strategically located city of Belatona. Eragon Bromsson, now known as the Shadeslayer, and Saphira, the dragon bonded to him, are fighting alongside the Varden, a rebellion group, in an attempt to take the city from Galbatorix’s control. The Varden’s next step in their campaign is to free the land of Alagaësia from the tyranny of the evil king. Saphira is nearly killed in the battle, but the Varden are successful.

The next step is to capture the city of Dras-Leona. Hoping to secretly infiltrate the city, Eragon leads a team into the sewers. However, it is a trap, and they are captured. The Varden come to their rescue, and a battle ensues in which the Varden successfully take the city, but Murtagh (Eragon’s half-brother who is enslaved by magic to fight for Galbatorix) and his dragon, Thorn, capture Nasuada, the leader of the Varden. In her absence, the Varden name Eragon their leader.

Eragon decides to find the Vault of Souls to see if he can discover a means of defeating Galbatorix, whose magic is more powerful than any other in the Alagaësia. He visits Solembum the werecat and learns that his search for the Vault is part of a werecat prophecy. Solumbum tells him how to find the Vault on the island of Vroengard, but they must learn their True Names before entering. They do, and once inside, Eragon and Saphira find hundreds of hidden dragon eggs guarded by a large store of Eldunarí (sentient jewels in which dragons can store their consciousness after they die).

Eragon and Saphira learn that Galbatorix’s incredible powers come from the many Eldunarí he has stolen. Several Eldunarí agree to accompany them into the fight against Galbatorix, but others stay behind to guard the eggs. As they leave the Vault, the Eldunarí wipe the memory of the dragon eggs from the minds of Eragon and Saphira so that Galbatorix cannot use magic to obtain the information from them.

Eragon and Saphira meet up with the Varden at the city of Urû’baen, capital of the Empire and the ruling seat of Galbatorix. Along with some Elvin spellcasters, Eragon enters the citadel and must navigate a series of traps in order to reach Galbatorix’s chambers. A battle ensues, during which Galbatorix announces that he knows Ancient Language, which is used to regulate magic, and thus can control anyone whose True Name he knows. He forces Murtagh to fight Eragon, but Eragon defeats him by stabbing him with his magical blue sword Brisingr.

Murtagh’s wound is not fatal. In fact, the encounter changes his True Name, which frees him from Galbatorix’s control. He attacks the king, using a spell called the Name of Names to temporarily stop him from casting magic. Seizing the opportunity, Eragon calls on the power of the Eldunarí to cast an empathy spell on Galbatorix, which makes him feel the full weight of all the pain and suffering he has caused.

Crippled but not yet defeated, Galbatorix uses magic to try to invade Eragon’s mind, but he is stopped by Murtagh, allowing Eragon to stab Galbatorix in the stomach. Galbatorix would rather kill himself than be defeated, and so he attempts one last effort to destroy his enemies as well: he unmakes himself into energy and explodes. Eragon again uses the power of the Eldunarí to shield his comrades from the blast, saving their lives.

After the battle, Eragon and Murtagh reconcile, acknowledging each other as a brother. Thorn speaks to Eragon and Saphira for the first time to wish them well, and then he and Murtagh fly north into self-imposed exile. Nasuada becomes the new queen of the empire. The Eldunarí return the memory of the hidden dragon eggs to Eragon and Saphira, who prepare to oversee a new era of Dragon Riders (the eggs will only hatch when they are touched by their chosen Rider). Eragon rewrites the spell that governs the bond between dragons and Riders so that it includes Urgals and dwarves along with humans and elves. This helps to facilitate peace between the various races in Alagaësia.

However, Eragon and Saphira soon realize that there is no safe place to raise their fledgling dragons and Riders in Alagaësia. Loading the eggs and Eldunarí, into a boat, they sail east to look for a new home. At first, Eragon mourns the loss of his homeland and his love, Arya (the Elvin queen who chose to stay in Alagaësia because of her duty to her people). But in the end, he looks forward to a new life of adventure, “a life with dragons and Riders.”