Interview with Christopher Paolini
This is a really really long interview with CP about about Brisingr and the upcoming fourth book. It's a little bit old but there's still a lot of information about the fourth book.. I love the Eragon books. I read them all in Dutch and I find them amazing..
Mike: Oh. Absolutely. So I think our first question we got a few times was: What was the specific point of bringing in and then killing the Shade at the end of the book?
CP: You mean when was it that I actually decided to do that, or. . .
Mike: No, I think the person means moreÖ was there a specific point to the plot other than, you know, to bring in another enemy to. . .
CP: Ah! Ah!
CP: Yeah. Well, part of it . . . it was a combination of two separate . . . two separate decisions. One . . . because I had to find a . . . sort of an ending for the book that I hadnít actually planned on, you know, ending a book here. I needed some events that were strong enough to hold reader interest through the ending of the book, and that were big enough to end the book on. Also, since, I guess I can actually talk about the spoilers now . . . now that the book is out.
CP: [Laughs] But since . . . since the point of view shifts were also shifting to Glaedr and Oromis during Eragonís battle, I needed something that would be, if not equally as momentous as Glaedr and Oromisí confrontation with Thorn and Murtagh, at least somewhat as exciting to keep reader interest. And, on top of all that, it seemed to me, you know, in a way, nice to have Arya confront a Shade in the way that Eragon had in the first book, and, part of that is just wanting them both to be on equal footing to a certain degree. But also the fact that she never actually got to . . . to do in Durza as she certainly deserved to. So it was a combination of different elements.
Mike: I think what I liked about it most was how from the first book, you know, Arya and Saphira helped Eragon defeat Durza, and now itís a complete 180 and the other way around so that theyíre almost complimenting each other now. And it . . .
CP: Yeah. Thatís what I was trying to do. And also . . .
CP: I wanted to show how a Shade could be brought into existence. Obviously this is . . . this isnít the only way, it could happen just with one sorcerer. But this . . . this is certainly one of the ways, and I did want to show that.
Mike: That was . . . It was definitely a really cool scene, so I was excited to see that. Immediately once I . . . once I figured out what was going on I was very excited. Okay. Next question: What did the Menoa Tree want from Eragon in return for the Brightsteel? Has she already taken it, and if so, what did she take?
CP: Oh Boy. Thatís a difficult question for me to answer without spoiling something for the future. Letís just say that itís a good question, but not really one that I can answer at the moment. And something I Ė sort of on a Ė not . . . not exactly related to this, but this reminds me, one of the things I did in Brisingr . . . and I think Iíve mentioned it in some earlier articles or interviews, is Iíve threaded a few little scenes and . . . and elements and clues in this book that are actually the set up for some other stories I may write in the future. Well . . . Maybe people will pick that out. Maybe not.
Mike: Well, thatís a little tease and I know that thereís going to be people who immediately go and start, you know, start trying to figure those out.
CP: What about this? What about that?
Mike: That is cool to hear.
CP: No. No. I deliberately left going back to your question, I deliberately left that scene somewhat ambiguous for very good reasons.
Mike: Well, I know that itís the centre of many theories already. [CP laughs] Iíve been really, really keeping my eye out, Ďcause I knew weíd have to be doing an interview soon, and thatís one of the first ones I saw, soÖGood answer. I knew . . . I knew . . . I had a feeling, but anyway. Anyway . . .
CP: Donít worry, some day down the road everyoneís gonna go, ďOooohhh!Ē
Mike: [Laughs] Oh, quite the tease. All right, I donít know if youíll be able to answer this one. Thereís a few of these in here that you might not be able to answer, but we figured, ask them anyway. It canít hurt to ask. So that would be: Are we finally going to get some Murtagh point-of-view in Book Four?
CP: Iím not going to answer that specifically. But I mean we will see, I think itís safe to say, we will see a lot more of Murtagh in the fourth book. Heís sort of been by the side of the story for Eldest and . . . and Brisingr. Obviously, heís very important, but we havenít seen that much of him because every time he shows up heís trying to kill Eragon or . . . to capture Eragon or Saphira. But, he will definitely have a much larger role in the last book. Hopefully people will enjoy it.
Mike: Well, that sounds good. I know . . . itís really funny . . . Iím not sure if youíve ever heard of it, but thereís this giant Murtagh following online. The, you know, the fangirls, they call themselves stuff like Murtagh Fangirls, and itís actually scary how dedicated these people are to one character.
CP: Well, I have noticed that on book tour a lot of fans and a lot of female fans have really asked me to not kill Murtagh in the last book, and they . . . theyíre veryÖtheyíre very concerned about that. Of course, I may or may not; Iím not going to answer that. [Mike laughs] But, I do have a number of surprises up my sleeve, so . . . weíll see.
Mike: Well, that is good. That makes me want to ask another question, but, we . . . I have it somewhere else and I wanna try to keep them in this order that Iíve got, so Iíll have to bite my tongue, but, youíre going to have to bear with me here, but Iím not the greatest at pronouncing certain words, so thereís a few of them Iím looking ahead in the question list, and I already know Iím gonna mess them up, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that you just might have to help me a bit. The first question that isnít going to throw me off, is: Will we be seeing Tenga again?
CP: Again, these are great questions, but I canít really answer it without spoiling something in the story.
Mike: Youíre not going to be able to answer the next question, Iím sure, but Iím going to ask it anyway, and this is one of the oneís Iím not going to be able to pronounce. Will we happen to see Naegling, I think, is that how you pronounce it? The sword of . . .
CP: Yes. [Transcriber's note: Yes in response to the pronunciation question, not the question itself.]
CP: I . . . [Hesitation] Boy, these are tough questions. Iím not sure if I wanna give anymore answers or information about that. [Pause] No, actually, I donít think I will do. [Laugh] Again, these are . . . you know youíve asked a good question when I canít answer it.
CP: Letís put it that way.
Mike: That leads into another question actually. Itís just a small question. Iím not sure youíll be able to answer it, but: Do we have any idea how many EldunarŪ Galbatorix does possess?
CP: I donít want to give a specific figure here, but I think you would have to imagine that he had the majority, assuming, of the dragons that were alive when he began his insurrection. Obviously, some of those hearts he wasnít able to get; the dragons died and the hearts were still in their body, or the dragon destroyed their heart before letting Galbatorix get his hands on it. But youíd have to imagine that Galbatorix got his hands on at least a good chunk of them, uh, perhaps ĺís of the dragons that were alive then, so . . . it would be a substantial number.
Mike: All right, umÖ sorry, I have to actually keep muting my microphone to, uh, cough, so Iím hoping itís actually being muted, Ďcause Iím still sick from New York city, but . . .
CP: [something about Detroit and Chicago]
Mike: Well, there was one other question that kind of followed up, that I wanted to get to ask you, but Iím not sure, I canít find it in this list, so weíll just move on and weíll find it eventually. This is a long one. Murtlin(?) Redbeard is or was the Earl of Thune; where is Thune and is that an old name from before Galbatorixís reign and it goes by another name now? This questionís . . .
CP: Do you want me to answer that, or is there more to the question?
Mike: Well, thereís a little bit more, but itís not really . . . I mean it just says like: UrŻíbaen used to be called, uh, Ilirea, if so what is it called now?
CP: Right. The Earl of Thune - area of Thune - if you will, I imagined was a district or a section within the human empir- . . . the human kingdom that existed before Galbatorixís began his rise to power. It may still exist under that name. And I imagined it was located somewhere near the . . . somewhere along the Spine, within what is now the empire, but I havenít actually, you know, come up with an actual location for that. I didnít need to at the time I was writing the story.
Mike: All right, and there was just a small question attached to that one, which was: Also, why did Galbatorix rename Ilirea to UrŻíbaen? Is there a special meaning in the name of these cities?
CP: If anyone is interested in this, they can, I believe this is in all the editions of all the books. I donít have one with me at the moment, so I canít check this, but I believe right at the beginning of the glossary in each of the books, I have a brief discussion of the origin of the various names . . . the, you know, the various names within the, uh, world of AlagaŽsia, and how they come from different traditions, you know, some are elvish, some are dwarvish, some are human, some even come from the Urgals. UrŻíbaen, and I discuss this in the book, you can see this, if my memory serves me correctly, UrŻíbaen is a combination of, dwarvish and elvish I believe . . . Yeah, itís a combination of dwarvish and elvish. The Ďbaení part means basically Ďbad thingsí and Ďdoomí and various other things, and ĎUrŻí means actually,ĎUrŻíif youíre pronouncing it absolutely correctly, means something like, ísagesí or Ďwisemení or something like that Ė Ďwisdomí. So, essentially the name is Ďthe Downfall of the Wisemení, and that would be a liberal translation of the nameÖthe name, so itís Galbatorix thumbing his nose at the Elves and the Dwarves and everyone else who he was trying . . . that he overthrew.
Mike: I like that. Itís very fitting. It makes sense when you, you know, when you give the libe-Ö liberal translation. I canít talk. Liberal translation.
Mike: I know, it does make sense, and I like that.
CP: A more accurate translation . . . explanation, of this actually should be in the back of each book, if youíre curious.
Mike: Iíll have to take a look, which is surprising that I havenít come across it yet. Iíll take a look after the interview. I donít want to take your book down now . . .
CP: And if itís not in the traditional, the regular version, I know it would be in the deluxe or limited edition Eldest.
Mike: Yeah . . . I do think itís in the limited edition of Eldest. Iím not sure itís in regular Eragon, but Iíll check afterwards and weíll see where that leads. The next question, I canít even do it so Iím just gonna shorten the question to not include the word. What does the name of Bromís sword mean?
CP: Ah! [Pause] ThatÖIím not willing to say yet.
Mike: Uh, okay.
CP: And actually, there . . . not all and I should . . . I should point out not all of the names would, in the Ancient Language, actually have meaning. Bromís sword does. Butnot all the names actually have meanings. Sometimes theyíre simply a name.
CP: Like ĎEragoní himself . . . the name itself doesnít have any meaning within the Ancient Language. Itís simply a name.
Mike: Could you, um by chance, pronounce the name of Bromís sword, if you, if you can.
CP: Iím forgetting the spelling of it now. Could you spell it for me?
Mike: Itís: U-N-DÖ
CP: Oh! [pronounces it]
Mike: Almost quite literally how itís written.
CP: Thatís the nice thing . . . as the . . . like the Lethrblaka.
CP: It really is, uh Ďblakaí means Ďflapperí so itís the Ďleather-flappersí. Same thing. . . íUndbitrí.
Mike: Well, that was, that was easier than I thought. Well, Iíll have to remember that one. Is there anything else that Brom has told Saphira that hasnít been revealed yet?
CP: You donít seriously expect me to answer that.
Mike: Ah. No. Well, you know, I took the questions that we got the most and, you know . . .
CP: I believe that Saphira, and I could be wrong in my memory, again, I donít have a book in front of me, but I believe Saphira said after she shared the memory of Brom with Eragon, and he asked her if there were any more secrets and she said Ďnoí, or something to that effect. Or she said that after the confession of the EldunarŪ . . . the fact that she knew about the heart of hearts.
CP: So . . . youíll have to take Saphiraís word for that. If you doubt her, good look to you.
Mike: Yeah. No, I agree. All right, well that was a . . . that was a . . . I donít think I-I- . . . I caught that in the book. Well, Iíll have to go through it again. Iíve only read it twice since it came out, so Iím still a bit rusty on my facts.
CP: Itís a . . . Itís a big book.
Mike: Oh, it is a big book. But, no, Iím going to be going through . . . I started with a highlighter. I did the first half of the book with a highlighter and a pen, and so Iíve got to read through again for the second half. And go through that and take notes and all that fun stuff for the content, but, all right, next question: Is the flame that surrounds Brisingr any different from an ordinary flame put around a blade with magic? Does it have any hidden properties?
CP: No. Itís simply a flame. I think the only unusual properties it has is that, it is probably, I mean, one: itís actually being sustained by magic, created by the magic, so itís pretty . . . itís almost impossible to extinguish. Probably is impossible to extinguish, and, of course, it doesnít actually harm the blade itself. And it can burn at a heat that would be, you know, very hard to reach with something like a wood fire, for example. Thus, Eragonís able to use it to cut through the, uh, the gate . . . the timbers, the bars of the gate in Feinster during the final battle of the book.
Mike: Right. Okay, I really did love that whole, you know, the . . . the effect of a sword bursting into flame, and I know that you know I used to play World of Warcraft which exaggerates everything in fantasy in their graphics and everything . . . and . . . and immediately when I read that line in the book, I thought . . . I thought back to, you know, a sword bursting on fire in the games that Iíve played, and I thought it was just the coolest thing to picture in my head and the coolest thing to write into the books, so. . .
CP: Well, Iíve actually seen pieces of metal with either, uh some sort of spirits on them, like alcohol, or just . . . just, you know, uh taken right out of a fire, and with flames around the hot metal.
CP: Itís such an amazing sight, and I really wanted to use it the story.
Mike: Iíll see if I can pull up a picture to link from. . . from our interview so people can put a . . . put a picture to what theyíve been reading.
CP: Well, you know, I . . . Iím . . . there is going to be a deluxe edition of Brisingr coming out sometime next year. I believe Random Houseis certainly moving ahead with that, and Iím going to be doing some . . . some, some drawings for that; some more drawings for the deluxe edition of Brisingr, and one of them will be of Eragonís arm and hand holding Brisingr with flames around the blade.
Mike: That will be a cool picture.
CP: I hope so, if I can do it properly.
Mike: If I could draw that would probably be one of the first things Iíd draw from the book, but I . . . my drawing skills stop at stick figures unfortunately, so thatíll be really great to see. I think thatíll be actually amazing to see. And itíd be cool to have in the book. I know Iíd be all geeked out the minute I get it and look at that, but . . . Oh . . . where . . . where was I? So, okay, we just asked the sword, andhereís another question you wonít be able to answer, but I figured Iíd just humor everyone who asked it, and Iíd throw it in here. Will we ever learn the seven words that Brom told EragonÖBrom told Saphira as he was dying?
CP: No comment.
Mike: I called that one before, just for the record. But, no, weíve . . . I mean thatís obviously another huge theory, so we got a lot of those questions, and you know immediately theyíre the questions that are not going to be answered, but I just wanted to humour everybody so theyíd stop asking this question every time I look for interview questions. All right, so the next one was: Will the two women whose fortunes Angela told play more of an important role in the next book?
CP: Oh. Darn it. No comment.
Mike: These are good ones then if . . .
CP: These are all very good questions, and Iím delighted people are this interested in the story, but again, these are things that people are just going to have to wait for the fourth book to see how . . . if and how, they play out.
Mike: Right, all right. Letís see . . . Iím getting lost. Itís just this long list of questions . . . weíre . . . weíre almost through, though. When Eragon tells Oromis that hios sword catches on fire when he says ĎBrisingrí, Oromis, uh, looks off into the distance and mutters, ďI wonderĒ, what did Oromis wonder?
CP: He was . . . if Iím remembering the scene correctly, I believe he was wondering if . . . if the fact that Eragon was actually involved in the forging and was sort of the instrument that Rhunon used to forge the sword with, if Eragonís essence, if you will, his personality, had become really linked with the sword, and, it was just . . . I didnít want to get into a big explanation or theory with that, but thatís what I was thinking of when I wrote that . . . when I wrote that scene. Also because it actually links into some other things that Iím going to be doing with magic in the fourth book which involves. Well, again, I donít want to say.
Mike: Fair enough.
CP: Thereís a lot in the fourth book, letís put it that way.
Mike: Well, I know everyone is already looking forward to it. So, that is the next question, unfortunately, which is: How far are you into writing Book Four?
CP: Uh, not very far, to be honest. I didnít have a lot of time to get started on it before book tour . . . and when I get back, Iím going to take a week or two off and do some drawings for the deluxe edition of Brisingr, then Iíll be . . . Iíll be finally buckling down on the fourth book.
Mike: That will . . . That . . . that will delight many people. I know that the first question when the third book released was: when does the fourth book come out? I was just . . . I was . . . you know, I was just, um, sitting there just having read the book, and Iím like, ďWho cares, you know? Weíve just got this amazing, uh, 700 page book, or 800 page book and weíve got 800 pages worth of stuff to trawl through for the next year and to figure out how all these little pieces . . . and theorize about so . . . Ē
CP: Iím just glad that people are excited enough about the series that they are looking forward to the next book.
Mike: Iím just gonna read the personís question, Ďcause itís . . . itís . . . I donít want to try to reword it. I have a question regarding the gold rings Eragon gave to Katrina and Roran as wedding gifts. Each ring is said to have the power to alert its wearer when wearer of one of the other rings is near death. After the wedding, both Roran and Eragon had escapes from near-death experiences. For example, when Roran was nearly stabbed during a raid on the supply caravan. Did the ring somehow know Roran was not going to die, or did Katrina feel something from the ring and we just werenít told about it.
CP: I think that Katrina certainly would have noticed . . . the ring would have alerted her both during and after the first mission Roran was sent on, and quite possibly, several other times during the other missions. Specifically when, during the Insurrection chapter, when he faces off against all those soldiers and fights them pretty much single-handedly . . . and gets . . . he got pretty badly wounded in a few places, so she would have been aware that he was in danger and probably, she would have been terribly concerned, but since I wasnít writing chapters from her point of viewÖand the chapters when Roran and Katrina are together are usually after theyíve already reunited initially. We donít really see her reactions to that. Also, I Ö when I first wrote that I really was thinking also that, you know, imminent death was actually referring to his physical condition. It wasnítÖ the ring, for example, wouldnít alert Katrina if a sword was descending towards Roranís neck.
CP: It might alert her if heíd been stabbed through the ribs and feeling very badlyÖand sheíd probably sense from the ring that he was in trouble
Mike: So the ring itself . . . thatís its limits is what youíre saying.
CP: Yeah. Itís limited . . . itís linked . . . itís abilities are linked to the physical wellbeing of Roran or Katrina, so if they physically suffer thatís, and get near death, thatís when the others . . . when theyíre gonna know.
Mike: Okay, so weíre not talking about a ring version of Elva here.
Mike: Weíre talking . . .
CP: Weíll see some more about the rings in the fourth book.
Mike: Right. No, I thoughtÖ I thought that was another cool thing . . . all these cool things that were thrown into the book. I loved . . .
CP: What I was thinking of actually, the rings are . . . maybe a way . . . Ďcause wedding rings arenít really tradition in AlagaŽsia, but we might be seeing the beginnings of that tradition here.
CP: Other brides areÖand grooms are going to imitate Roran and Katrina.
Mike: All right. Letís see. I think this is a big question, which I didnít really have a chance to read up on, just to fact check, but I knew I wanted to, so . . . I just figured you could answer it for us better than I got answer trawling through over a 1000 pages. So, the question is: In Eragon it says that if a Rider dies so does his dragon. In Brisingr it becomes apparent that this is no longer the case. Why the change?
CP: Actually, it never actually says that if a Rider or dragon dies so does the partner. What I believe was said was that they usually die, which is the case. It was the movie actually that said that if a Rider dies so does the dragon.
Mike: Yeah. We had that long debate last night. A person who is . . . you met him out in New York City . . . Chris. He and I were going through all the questions and trying to find the good ones, and we had the debate whether or not it was the book that said that or the movie that said that, so . . .
CP: It was the movie, and I actually argued with them, trying to get them to change it.
CP: They didnít. So the way it works is if a Rider or a dragon dies, the surviving partner will usually day either from the mental shock of losing their partner, or simply from suicide or, you know, going mad, or throwing themselves against the enemy that killed their partner. In any case, it would be very . . . itís pretty rare for either member of the partnership to survive too much longer after one of the other dies, and it might just be something simple as just not, you know, not eating and wasting away. Of course that doesnít always hold true as we know from Bromís experience, and of course from Brisingr with Glaedr. But a lot of it depends on the Rider or the dragon having something else to live for past the death of their partner.
Mike: Well that is a good answer. Iím glad we got that, you know, the movie fact and book fact cleared up. So now weíll . . . Ďcause again that was another one of the key theories and key discussions, so I know that will make a lot of people happy to hear that answer. And itíll, you know, spark some new discussions. Letís see, hereís a good one which Iíve been very interested in knowing: How much time has passed between the start of Eragon and the end of Brisingr?
CP: Not as much as you might think, to be honest. I have . . . one . . . one of the things that Iíve made it seem sometimes that more time has maybe passed than actually has, but it hasnít been quite as long as you might think.
Mike: Do you-? Do you have-?
CP: I do actually.
Mike: Okay, Ďcause I think I remember, I think it was . . .
CP: One of the reasons Iím doing that is because, even though the Elves and Dwarves probably have, I know they have, very accurate methods of timekeeping at this point, Eragon isnít familiar with them. HisÖ sort of, his knowledge of timekeeping would come . . . would be a farmerís knowledge, it would be more of the seasons than knowledge of the individual days, or, you know, hours or minutes. He doesnít have clocks where he grew up, and that sort of how Iíve written the point of view of the series.
Mike: That makes sense. I do recall only . . . I think it . . . it might have been in Brisingr once . . . itís . . . a . . . it had been several months since the start of everything, or something to that degree.
CP: Well itís been a bit more than several months, but itís also been a bit less than you might think.
Mike: I just . . . I remember . . . Iím gonna have to go look it up after this, but I remember at one point, I donít know if it was in Brisingr or Eldest or even Eragon, there was a mention of timeframe so Iím just throwing that bit out there for the . . .
CP: One of the markers we canÖ you can go by is the fact that Elainís pregnancy doesnít show up until Eldest, and thatís the first time we know that she is pregnant, and sheís still pregnant in Brisingr, so that obviously places that within a nine month frame.
Mike: Right. Well I know that immediately someoneís going to start writing a timeline, so Iíll beÖ Iíll be interested in seeing that. I tried to tackle a timeline once, but it became too difficult Ďcause, as you said, the book . . . you have written it in more of a farmerís, you know, a seasons type perspective timeline instead of rather specific days.
CP: I remember Iíve counted out all the days, the weeks a couple of times so I do know how much time has passed, but time is, Ďspecially when Eragon is . . . well, actually Iím going to stop talking here.
Mike: Fair enough. Hereís a good question: When Galbatorix stole the black dragon from its Rider, did he also steal the black sword?
CP: Say that again. I didnít . . .
Mike: Okay. When Galbatorix stole the black dragon from its Rider, did he also steal the black sword?
CP: Ah. Weíre speaking about Shruiken, correct? Well, if you remember, actually now Iím forgetting whether Shruiken was still in his egg or heíd already hatched when Ö No, I think Shruiken was still in his egg when Galbatorix stole him, which would mean that Shruiken never paired with another Rider.
CP: At least not properly. As far as Galbatorixís sword, weíre going to get to see his sword in, well, eventually, but Iím not . . . I think itíll make quite an impression. I canít say more than that.
Mike: Can you say what the color of his original dragon was?
CP: You know, I havenít gotten into that yet, and again, I donít want to . . .
Mike: Okay. That was really two questions for that one, so hereís a good werecats question: Are werecats born or made? Are they born human and something happens to them, being bittenÖlike a werewolf or spell, or are they born part cat, part human, just as a werecat?
CP: We will be seeing a lot more of the werecats in the next book, but, again, I donít want to say much more than that. [Laugh] Werecats are, at least within AlagaŽsia, they are considered a separate species, and there are enough of them and common enough that they are known of . . .
CP: Though they are very rare for the most part. But again, my lips are sealed.
Mike: All right, I think this is officially the last question, and it is: There is an injured soldier who claims to see the light. What is his importance, or the importance of what he said? Is he really just mad?
CP: When he was speaking of light, he was really speaking of energy. He somehow during his injuryÖobviously he became . . . was he blind? Physically blind?
Mike: Iím not positive.
CP: But in any case, he saw the light when . . . what he was talking about, he saw the energy of the various creatures and people around him. This somewhat analogous to what Eragon did when he was meditating in Ellesmťra and he could see the consciousness, the spirits of, the minds of all the living things around him, and the larger the creature, the sort of brighter that spark was. And, so what the soldier saw when he looked at Eragon and Murtagh, when he saw Eragon and Saphira I believe, though he was looking at Murtagh, he saw the energy from the EldunarŪ Murtagh had access to, and thatís what he was referring to.
Mike: All right. Thank you for taking your time to answer our questions.
CP: My pleasure and I hope to look forward to speaking to you again soon.