Eldest

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Eldest
Author Christopher Paolini
Cover Artist John Jude Palencar
Country United States
Language English
Series Inheritance Cycle
Genre(s) Fantasy
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Released August 23, 2005
Media Type Print (hardcover and paperback) and audio-CD
Pages 668 pp (hardcover edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-375-82670-X (hardcover edition)
Preceded by Eragon
Followed by Brisingr

When the first book in the trilogy opens, Eragon is just a farm boy from a remote valley; when he discovers a dragon egg and it hatches, he and the dragon, Saphira, become linked for life and he assumes the only person alive with the rare and powerful status of a Dragon Rider. He and Saphira are pursued by the king, Galbatorix, a Dragon Rider himself who became evil; Galbatorix’s sinister, inhuman agents kill his Uncle Garrow, who raised him, and burn his farm. Eragon flees with the village storyteller, Brom, who turns out to be a former Dragon Rider himself; Brom instructs Eragon in some of what he needs to know, and eventually dies defending him. A series of other adventures leads Eragon and Saphira to Farthen Dûr, a hollow mountain that contains both a dwarf city where the human resistance fighters, the Varden, make their temporary home. Durza, a powerful Shade in Galbatorix’s service, leads an army of the monstrous, warlike Urgals to attack Farthen Dûr; with the help of Saphira, an elf named Arya, a mysterious dream-presence who calls himself The Cripple Who Is Whole, and good luck, Eragon manages to kill Durza, though he sustains a terrible wound across his back in the process.

Eldest opens in the aftermath of this battle. Eragon realizes that he needs to learn more and decides to take the advice of The Cripple Who Is Whole and go to the land of the elves in order to study magic and fighting. Stability among the Varden is threatened when the leader of the group is killed in a follow-up Urgal-tracking operation; Eragon’s friend Murtagh and a pair of sorcerers named the Twins disappear in the same operation. The Varden choose their fallen leader’s daughter, Nasuada, to lead them; Eragon and Saphira, as important public figures, are asked to endorse this choice, which they do. Before they leave the land of the dwarves, the dwarf king asks to adopt Eragon as an honorary member of his family. Nasuada decides to move the Varden to the free land of Surda to organize another strike against Galbatorix.

Meanwhile, Eragon’s cousin, Roran, returns to their home village of Carvahall hoping to marry the butcher’s daughter, Katrina. The village is besieged by imperial soldiers, led by Galbatorix’s sinister agents, the Ra’zac, who are looking for Roran. The villagers begin resisting; they fight well, but their opponents are more powerful and vow to destroy the villagers. When the Ra’zac capture Katrina, Roran organizes his community to travel en masse to Surda to join the resistance, a journey that is completed only with many hardships, and which changes Roran into a toughened, sometimes ruthless leader.

Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and a dwarf named Orik travel to Ellesméra, the capital city of the elves, which is buried deep in a forest, for further training. There the elves reveal to him The Cripple Who Is Whole, an elderly Dragon Rider; he and his dragon can no longer fight, but they instruct Eragon and Saphira. Eragon becomes a very powerful magician and fighter and, in a ritual celebrating the origin of the Riders, a mysterious dragon magic alters his form so that he takes on the strength and appearance of an elf rather than a person. Meanwhile, he falls in love with Arya, who rebuffs his many advances; the match would be impossible, because she is over a hundred years old and an elf princess.

Finally, Eragon and Saphira realize through magical means that Galbatorix’s army is massing for a major attack and go to join the Varden and the people of Surda in the battle. Roran and the villagers arrive via a stolen boat, and Roran makes an important contribution to the battle. Eragon fights mightily, but at a crucial moment another rider appears; one of the two eggs in Galbatorix’s position hatched and Murtagh, who was captured from Farthen Dûr because of the treachery of the Twins, has become a Dragon Rider sworn to do Galbatorix’s will. As he fights his former friend, Murtagh reveals to Eragon that they are brothers; Murtagh’s father, a treacherous Rider who betrayed the order to follow Galbatorix, is also Eragon’s unknown parent. Murtagh’s magic is more powerful than Eragon’s, but he lets Eragon escape. Eragon and Roran are reunited and decide to call each other brother and attempt to rescue Katrina and kill the Ra’zac.

Contents

Eldest Characters:

Eragon

Eragon is a 16 year old ex-farm hand from Carvahall, named for the very first Dragon Rider and now one of the last dragon riders. He finds a dragon egg while hunting in the local mountain rages and trains his dragon in secret. When the Ra’zac attack and kill his family looking for Saphira, he takes to training with Brom and grows into a man while chasing down the Ra’zac. He is very prone to overreaction and anger over injustices and must learn to control the gifts he’s been given by his teachers. In Eldest he travels to the Elf City to train further with Oromis.

Saphira

The dragon found in the Spine by Eragon, Saphira is born of an egg stolen by the Varden from the wicked king. She is kept hidden until Eragon found and raised her. Her wisdom is paramount to Eragon’s growth and via telepathy, she communicates with Eragon, a link created when they first touched. Ironically, her name is the same as Brom’s dragon before she was killed. The two become close friends and confidants in their journeys.

Arya

Arya is the elf that Eragon saves in the first novel. Eragon falls in love with her eventually, to which Saphira takes delight in teasing. When Eragon’s training with the elves is announced, we know that they will spend more time together in the future. She travels with Eragon to the Elf City and is revealed to be one of Queen Islanzadi’s daughters.

Murtagh

Having lived under the rule of Galbatorix, possibly having become a general over time, Murtagh escapes and finds Eragon, the rumored next dragon rider. He is reluctant to join the Varden as Brom killed his father and his relation to the king keeps the Varden from trusting him until he proves himself in battle. He is captured by a band of Urgals in the beginning of the story. Later, he betrays Eragon and is revealed to be Eragon’s brother.

Orik

The dwarf nephew of King Hrothgar and guide to Eragon and his companions while they are in Farthen Dyr. As a warrior of some report, he provides armor to both Eragon and Saphira that saves their lives in the battle with the Urgals.

Ajihad

The leader of the Varden, Ajihad welcomes the three to Farthen Dyr and allows Murtagh to be set free without being punished. He is a ruthless fighter, but a good leader. He dies in the early parts of the novel at the hands of the Urgals.


Roran

Roran is Eragon’s cousin, working in a mill and betrothed to Katrina. Through a vision, Angela mentions a family member betraying Eragon and when Eragon looks in on Roran, he sees him not working in a mill. The matter is left open for further exploration.

Galbatorix

The evil king who rules Alagaesia from the capital city Urû'baen with dark magic and his enslaved black dragon Shruikan. His most notable evil deed was killing all but the last three dragon eggs in Alagaësia, almost causing their race to go extinct.

Oromis

As Eragon’s new mentor, Oromis is also known as The Cripple Who is Whole. He is an elf and a Dragon Rider. His dragon’s name is Glaedr.

Nasuada

After Ajihad’s death, Nasuada takes over as the head of the Varden. She is his daughter and an integral part of the defense against Galbatorix.


Eldest Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1: A Twin Disaster

The book opens in Tronjheim, the city in the center of Farthen Dûr, a hollow mountain. It is three days after an epic battle, where the dwarves and Varden—human resistance fighters—defeated the Urgals and dark magicians sent by the evil king Galbatorix. With the help of Arya, an elf, and his dragon, Saphira, Eragon turned the tide of the battle by killing the powerful Shade, Durza. He is now a hero among the people of Tronjheim, who call him Shadeslayer, but his back is badly injured and he is weakened and shaken.

Ajihad, the leader of the Varden, Eragon’s friend Murtagh, two magicians called the Twins, and a small group of soldiers, have been tracking retreating Urgals through the tunnels of Farthen Dûr. Eragon and others have assembled to welcome the party on its return, but just as it emerges into sight, Urgals attack the men from behind. By the time Eragon and the others arrive to help, Ajihad’s party has been defeated; the Urgals have disappeared with Murtagh and the Twins, and all the other men are dead or dying. Though a rescue party can’t be mustered immediately, on Eragon’s request, Arya follows the Urgals into the tunnels to try to find the captives.

Just before he dies, Ajihad asks Eragon to promise to keep the Varden from falling into chaos and Eragon agrees. What should have been a moment for celebration is instead a sad occasion as the welcoming party returns to the center of Tronjheim.

Chapter 2: The Council of Elders

Arya returns from the tunnels, having found the captives’ clothes but no trace of the men themselves, including when she attempts to scry them, or locate them by magic. Eragon, still having traumatic battle flashbacks, thinks back to the combat and realizes he defeated the Shade only by luck; he determines to follow his plan to leave Tronjheim and study with the elves.

Eragon and Saphira discuss the politics of the Varden, knowing that they will be asked to endorse a candidate to succeed Ajihad. They are asked to meet with the Council of Elders, an advisory group who represent the people to the leader of the Varden.

The Council tells Eragon that they have decided to ask Ajihad’s daughter, Nasuada, to be the Varden’s new leader, and, conferring telepathically, Eragon and Saphira deduce that they hope she will be a puppet they can control. The Council leaders ask Eragon and Saphira to support Nasuada’s appointment, and, in a public ceremony, to swear fealty—not to Nasuada herself, but to the Varden and, by implication, the Council. Not wanting to make enemies, Eragon cautiously agrees. Nasuada is called into the chamber and agrees to accept her father’s position.

Chapter 3: Truth Among Friends

As a representative of the elves, Arya also agrees to support Nasuada. Then the Council departs, leaving Eragon and Saphira alone with the Varden’s new leader. Eragon tells Nasuada about her father’s dying request to maintain harmony within the Varden, and reassures her that he doesn’t want to take power himself. Nasuada tells Eragon that she has no intention of being a puppet, but also confides in him that he has the people’s support and would be able to defy both her and the Council if he chose. Touched by her honesty, Eragon deviates from the Council’s intention and impulsively swears his promised fealty to Nasuada personally.

Saphira then leads Eragon to a meeting with Arya, who is angry at what appears to be Eragon’s support of the Council in establishing a puppet leader; she is worried that without strong leadership, the Varden will not be able to resist Galbatorix. Eragon explains his plans to resist the council, and Arya’s anger subsides.

Chapter 4: Roran

Eragon’s cousin, Roran, returns to the farm where he and Eragon grew up, which was destroyed by Galbatorix’s sinister agents, the Ra’zac, in an attempt to find Saphira’s egg; the attack also killed Roran’s father, Eragon’s Uncle Garrow. Roran has determined to rebuild the farm so that he will have something to offer when he proposes marriage to the butcher’s daughter, Katrina. Pondering why Eragon left the village after causing so much trouble, Roran then returns to the town of Carvahall, where he has been living with the family of Horst, the blacksmith.

Roran visits the local tavern, where a trapper is relating news from other parts of Alagaësia: there is increased turmoil everywhere, Galbatorix’s forces are massing, and there are rumors, which Roran doubts, of a Shade and a new Dragon Rider.

Then Roran meets Katrina, who upsets him by bringing up the idea of marriage before he has improved his prospects enough to make a respectable proposal. She tells Roran that Sloan, her father, is trying to press her into other matches, and asks him to formally ask for her hand before it is too late.

Chapter 5: The Hunted Hunters

Roran goes hunting with Horst’s son, Baldor, who advises him to try to win Sloan over rather than proposing to Katrina without his permission. While tracking deer, they see a party of the King’s soldier’s camped in the forest; the Ra’zac are with them, and Roran realizes that this means that the death of his father and the destruction of his home must have been on the King’s orders. Furious, he wants to attack and take revenge, but Baldor convinces him to return home and warn the villagers. On the assumption that, as Eragon’s only remaining relative, Roran is probably the object of the expedition, Horst and his family send Roran away from the village, into the inhospitable local mountain range, the Spine. There he waits and observes as the soldiers set up camp by the village.

Chapter 6: Saphira’s Promise

Orik, a dwarf, takes Eragon to meet with Hrothgar, the dwarf king. He thanks Eragon and Saphira for their heroics in battle, offers them gifts of armor, and inquires about their endorsement for leadership of the Varden. Eragon explains that he will support Nasuada and asks Hrothgar to do the same.

Then Hrothgar tells Eragon that the dwarves are heartbroken about the destruction of a treasure of Tronjheim, the Star Rose, a giant star sapphire that Saphira and Arya had to break in order to help Eragon defeat Durza. Saphira telepathically tells Eragon that she can restore the gem with magic if the dwarves reassemble all its pieces.

This causes great joy among the dwarves, and they have a banquet at which Saphira tries mead for the first time; after consuming four barrels, she falls over and drunkenly collapses on the banquet table.

Chapter 7: Requiem

Eragon and Saphira awaken, not feeling their best, and hurry to attend Ajihad’s funeral. Ajihad is buried in a special part of the burial ground where dwarves believe they must be encased in stone if their spirits are to be allowed rest. Eragon grieves for the Varden’s leader, and also for his friend Murtagh, who vanished in the same attack.

Chapter 8: Fealty

After the funeral, the ceremony to appoint the Varden’s new leader begins. The Council announces the choice of Nasuada, asserting their own authority by assuming the right to assign power; Arya, Hrothgar, and Eragon all affirm their agreement, and the people as a whole support the choice enthusiastically.

When it comes time to swear fealty, as he agreed to do, Eragon, with a sense of momentousness, presents his sword not to Jörmundur, the Council’s leader, but to Nasuada. The Council appears furious, and Orik later tells Eragon that his action has earned respect for his boldness but has also created powerful enemies. Saphira and Eragon decide they must leave Farthen Dûr.

Chapter 9: A Sorceress, A Snake, and a Scroll

Trianna, a sorceress, approaches Eragon and asks him to take the place of the Twins in leading the magic users of the Varden. Eragon refuses, but she seems to take a romantic interest in him as well as a professional one, and he asks her to share a meal. Just then, Saphira appears and scares Trianna away. Eragon accuses her of jealousy, and they both become increasingly aware of the strain Eragon’s maturing interest in the opposite sex will have on their relationship.

The next day, Nasuada summons Eragon to tell him her plans to move the Varden from Farthen Dûr to Surda, a human land free of Galbatorix’s rule. She asks his permission to announce that he and Saphira, a new dragon and Rider, have joined the anti-imperial cause, and he reluctantly agrees. Then they discuss plans for his journey to the land of the elves for further training. Nasuada gives Eragon a scroll to give to the elf queen, on which she explains her plans to press the advantage gained by the recent battle and try to defeat Galbatorix for good.

Eragon and Saphira go for a flight inside the vast landscape of Farthen Dûr, and stop to talk to Angela, an eccentric herbalist they have met several times before. Angela warns Eragon to be careful of the elves, who feel more passions than they show.

Chapter 10: Hrothgar’s Gift

Eragon and Saphira prepare to leave Tronjheim, along with Arya, Orik, and a convoy of dwarves to take them as far as Du Weldenvarden, the forest where the elves live. Orik gives Eragon the repaired armor Hrothgar promised him, and along with the armor an offer from Hrothgar, never before made to a human, to adopt him as a member of his own family and clan. Eragon accepts and wears the symbol of Hrothgar’s clan on his helm; now all three races have a claim to his loyalty. The party travels to the end of Farthen Dûr and prepares to continue through a system of tunnels that runs through the rest of the Beor mountain range.

Chapter 11: Hammer and Tongs

After days of anxious and impatient waiting in his mountain camp, Roran learns from Baldor that a soldier has killed a villager in a bar fight and that the Ra’zac took the body and seem to have eaten it. A few days later, the soldiers accidentally start a destructive fire, and a group of the villagers decide it is time to fight back. Roran returns from his camp to help.

Chapter 12: Retaliation

Following a hero of legend, Roran chooses a hammer as his weapon of choice. The initial surprise attack succeeds in scattering the Ra’zac and their soldiers, but other villagers fear

that resistance will be useless and want to hand Roran over to the Ra’zac. When the Ra’zac counterattack, Roran acts as a leader among the fighters, and kills two men with his hammer; still, the villagers take heavy casualties. The soldiers are driven off but the Ra’zac promise to return and offer the villagers a choice: turn Roran in and they will be enslaved, resist and they will all be eaten.

Chapter 13: Az Sweldn rak Anhûin

Eragon and his companions emerge from underground and approach the dwarf city of Tarnag, built on terraces on one of the mountains. They see a species of goat, unique to the Beors, and learn of the importance of this and other local animals to the dwarf culture. As they enter the city, they encounter hostility because Eragon is displaying the symbol of Hrothgar’s clan; one onlooker curses him in the dwarf language and then throws down a ring in what seems to be a challenge. The dwarves discuss this amongst themselves, but Eragon does not understand what is happening.

The party reaches their hosts, who come from clans friendly to Hrothgar and Eragon, and are treated to a banquet, including a special dish of an enormous wild boar. Eragon learns that the ring the dwarf threw at him was a sign of complete enmity and opposition. The dwarf’s clan, Az Sweldn rak Anhûin, hates Dragon Riders because the Dragon Wars, when Galbatorix took power, almost destroyed it, and they consider Hrothgar’s adoption of Eragon to be the ultimate insult.

Chapter 14: Celbedeil

Since it seems unsafe to tour Tarnag, Eragon spends the day visiting Celbedeil, an ornate temple at the top of the mountain and learning from dwarf priests, at Hrothgar’s request, about the race’s history and mythology. Also at Hrothgar’s request, a priest gives Eragon a necklace that will make him invisible to scrying, but which will sap his energy if overused. Then Arya appears and picks up a longstanding argument about the dwarf-priest clan’s habit of using its wealth to ornament temples rather than to help the poor. Returning from the temple, Eragon questions Arya about her background and learns that she has been isolated from other elves for seventy years, serving as her Queen’s representative to the outside world, and that her family disapproved of her choice and ostracized her before she left. The next morning, the party safely leaves Tarnag on river rafts which will take them out of the mountains and into the Northern plains.

Chapter 15: Diamonds in the Night

The villagers of Carvahall decide to continue to resist the Ra’zac; they bury their dead and plan to send the children away to a nearby farm. Roran organizes the villagers to construct fortifications around the town. That night, he cries to Katrina about all the losses and about having become a killer, and then asks her to marry him. She says yes.

Chapter 16: Under a Darkling Sky

Roran considers how to convince Katrina to go to safety with the children, and then comes upon men arguing about what to do about the discovery that the passage to the farm is being guarded by the Ra’zac’s men. When the soldiers break through the fortifications, Roran fights alongside Sloan and kills several more men. A child is killed in the battle, and Roran becomes more determined than ever to find a way to send the children and Katrina to safety.

Chapter 17: Down the Rushing Mere-Wash

As they travel along the river to the elves’ homeland, Eragon finds out from Arya that the name of his sword Zar’roc means misery. This compounds his feelings of discomfort with the weapon, which also used to belong to Morzan, who while he lived was the leader of the evil Riders, the Foresworn, and was also Murtagh’s father.

Saphira and Eragon go flying above the river and are attacked by two Fanghur, endangered dragon-like creatures native to the Beor region. Eragon admires a dwarf’s surgically and magically created steel knuckle spikes.

Eragon decides to scry Roran; seeing him in a rare peaceful moment, he concludes with relief that his cousin is all right. That night, Eragon has a strange dream: a fallen man on a battlefield, and an armored hand in the foreground pointing at the body. When he asks Arya about the dream, she theorizes that it is probably not scrying, but a premonition. She explains magic users’ poor understanding of the way visions travel through time and the dangers of trying to manipulate that process.

Chapter 18: Drifting

Eragon’s wounds from the battle with the Shade still affect him mysteriously, and he passes out from back pain while practicing fighting moves. The mysterious pain and sense of weakness makes Eragon irritable; Orik chastises him for snapping at the dwarves assigned to protect his life, and then gives him a puzzle of interlocking rings to distract him.

The next day Eragon sees Arya standing with Saphira and is struck with a pang of emotion that makes his stomach churn and a sense of connection he has never felt before. Later, Orik goes hunting and lets Eragon shoot his bow made of Urgal horn; Eragon retrieves his arrow by magic.

Chapter 19: Arya Svit-Kona

The party continues traveling north and reaches the outskirts of Du Weldenvarden. Eragon continues to have confused feelings for Arya, who takes him aside one night to instruct him in the complicated etiquette of elves. She explains that elves hold grudges for centuries and practice politics of extreme subtlety and complexity. Arya rebuffs Eragon when he attempts to reach out to her in a more personal way, but she accepts the apology that Saphira makes him offer and confides that she is afraid, though she doesn’t say why.

Chapter 20: Ceris

The party arrives in Du Weldenvarden and is met by a group of elves. They spend the night eating and singing in the elf-outpost Ceris; in the morning, the dwarf guard prepares to return home while Eragon, Saphira, Orik, and Arya will continue up the river into the forest. Because they will be traveling in canoes, the dwarves offer to take Eragon’s horse, Snowfire, and care for him. Eragon learns to paddle a canoe; during a break from rowing, one of the elves easily solves the ring puzzle Eragon has been working on for days.

Chapter 21: Wounds of the Past

The villagers argue about whether they should continue to oppose the Ra’zac and the Empire. Roran convinces them that in any case, the children should be sent to camp out in the Spine, even though the mountains are usually considered too dangerous to enter and Sloan in particular hates the Spine because his wife died falling off a cliff there. Roran then asks Katrina to go into the mountains with the children; she make him promise, in return, that he will never again ask her to leave him because of danger, and he reluctantly agrees.

Chapter 22: Wounds of the Present

The village helps the children and their caretakers prepare for the journey into the Spine. Sloan realizes that Katrina is planning to go with them and confronts her angrily. Roran

intervenes and tells Sloan of the engagement and of his request that Katrina go with the children. Rather than accepting this news, Sloan makes Katrina choose between her father and her fiancé; when she chooses Roran, Sloan disowns her and cuts her off from her mother’s inheritance. Horst’s wife, Elain, takes a distraught Katrina back to her house, and Roran accompanies the rest of the party into the mountains to help carry the supplies and set up camp. He asks one of the older children, Nolfavrell, whose father was the Ra’zac’s first victim and who killed a soldier in battle, to take special care of Katrina.

Chapter 23: His Enemy’s Face

Roran returns to Horst’s house and sees Katrina briefly. After she goes to bed, Elain tells Roran that he must take care of Katrina from now on; without her mother’s inheritance, she has nothing. Roran goes to bed and Katrina comes in to join him.

During the night, the Ra’zac and their soldiers enter the house. Roran kills more soldiers, but the Ra’zac still prevail; they wound Roran severely but let him go, and take Katrina back with them. Frantic, Roran and a few others follow them back to the enemy camp, where the soldiers are attempting to mutiny against the inhuman Ra’zac. The Ra’zac kill the leader of the mutiny, but then decide to leave and begin shrieking, summoning horrible flying monsters they will ride away. One takes Katrina from a tent, and the other takes Sloan; Roran realizes that Sloan must be there because he tried to betray the villagers. While Roran and the others watch, the Ra’zac take their prisoners and depart into the night sky.

Chapter 24: Arrow to the Heart

As they continue their river journey into Du Weldenvarden, the elves tell Eragon about the first humans who lived in Alagaësia, in the area around Carvahall. The aggression of their power-hungry king, and the feuding of his descendents, convinced the leader of the Dragon Riders to allow humans to become Riders and oversee their fallible governments. But this system backfired because no one oversaw the Riders themselves, so Galbatorix was able to seize power.

Eragon also learns that at some point in history elves became immoral, although he is unable to find out how. This prompts him to ask Arya’s age; both the elf and Orik warn Eragon not to get romantically attached to her, and Eragon feels humiliated that his feelings were so apparent. It turns out that Arya is 100 years old, young for an elf. Later that evening, Arya coldly shoots a dying falcon to save it from further suffering.

Chapter 25: The Dagshelgr Invocation

The next morning, the amulet the dwarf-priest gave Eragon becomes activated, meaning someone is trying to scry him. The party hurries to continue their journey, until they come to a giant waterfall and have to portage. Over the elves’ protest that it would dishonor a dragon to be a beast of burden, Saphira flies off with Eragon’s heavy pack.

The party approaches the elves’ city of Sílthrim, and Arya asks Eragon and Saphira to hide themselves so that the queen can decide how to handle telling the public the momentous news of a new Rider. Saphira agrees to travel by herself and meet the party on the other side of the city.

That night both Eragon and Orik are drawn to mysterious sounds, and have to be restrained by the elves so they don’t run off. Arya explains that it is Dagshelgr, an elvish holiday whose songs are spells to encourage the forest’s fertility; they cause the trees to bud and the animals to mate. Saphira arrives in the camp and tells Eragon that because of the spell’s influence she now understands what his love for Arya feels like. The elves procure horses for the rest of the overland journey, and as they prepare to ride away, Saphira confides in Eragon that she has just realized to her distress that others of her species don’t exist for her to mate with. Eragon promises to help her search the world for other dragons once they defeat Galbatorix.

Chapter 26: The Pinewood City

The party reaches Ellesméra, the capital city of the elves, whose buildings are all also living trees. Arya explains that the elves create their buildings and tools by singing to the forest to encourage it to grow in the shapes they want. Saphira, no longer in hiding, is greeted by the citizens they encounter as they make their way to the great hall where an assembly of elves rules along with Islanzadí, their queen. To Eragon’s surprise, Islanzadí greats Arya as her daughter and apologizes for having wronged her.

Chapter 27: Queen Islanzadí

Queen Islanzadí asks Arya’s forgiveness for having banned her from her presence and Arya eventually grants it. Then Eragon impresses the gathered elves by greeting the queen correctly, as Arya taught him. At the queen’s request, he begins telling his story; because of spells preventing contact with the outside world, the elves knew nothing of the recent events. Eragon also presents Nasuada’s scroll, and Islanzadí agrees to ally with the Varden. She asks Eragon for a ring Brom gave him, and gives it back to him, naming him Elf-Friend, but warns him that the injuries he sustained in fighting Durza may be too severe for him to undergo the elves’ training. Arya then relates the details of her capture by Durza and the torture he subjected her to.

Eragon, Saphira, and Orik join the elves in a lavish banquet, vegetarian like all of the elves’ food. They are introduced to Blagden, a raven who once saved Arya’s father’s life and so was given intelligence and long life, as well as a gift of prophecy and a tendency to speak in riddles. They also meet a werecat, who asks them to call her Maud. Then Queen Islanzadí escorts Eragon and Saphira to the treehouse where the first leader of the Dragon Riders lived, and tells him that title is his now.

Chapter 28: Out of the Past

Eragon and Saphira wake up in the Dragon Riders’ treehouse, happy and refreshed, to find breakfast and new clothes provided for them. Although the elves have not prepared meat for Saphira, they invite her to hunt in the forest, but she says she is still full from the banquet the night before. Orik arrives to tell them that the elves are waiting for them for something momentous and mysterious. When they descend, they are asked to take an oath to protect the knowledge they are about to receive; Eragon feels manipulated by Islanzadí, but agrees to her request.

They are brought to a place Eragon recognizes from a vision he had while unconscious after his battle with Durza, in which someone named Togira Ikonoka, or The Cripple Who Is Whole, told him to come to Ellesméra. There they see something they had thought no longer existed, another dragon with its own Rider.

Chapter 29: Conviction

Roran awakens in Horst’s house to grief, frustration, and indecision. Finally, he decides that the best way to both protect the village and to try to rescue Katrina would be to lead the entire village over the spine and down the coast to Surda to look for and join the Varden. He gathers the villagers and makes a powerful speech persuading them that Galbatorix’s evil must be resisted and that they will become heroes to the future if they follow his plan. He says he will leave in two days; a few villagers agree to join him immediately; the rest leave to consider their options.

Chapter 30: Repercussions

The villagers continue thinking about Roran’s proposal, unwilling to commit to leaving everything they’ve known and worked for, as Horst’s family prepares for the journey. Roran learns from Gertrude the healer that the wound he received on the night of Katrina’s abduction, a Ra’zac bite, is healing badly and that the use of his arm might be permanently damaged. He begins coming to terms with his new identity as the leader of a community fighting desperately for their lives.

Chapter 31: Exodus

As Roran walks around the village helping people prepare to leave, various villagers let him know they still blame him and Eragon for the troubles that have befallen the village. Horst’s family decides that the travelers will have to bring their flocks with them for food. The next morning the villagers assemble; only a few have decided to remain behind. At the last moment, the tavern-keeper and his wife decide to join the group, and add several casks of beer to the provisions. The carpenter also presents Roran with a staff he made the night before.

Chapter 32: On the Crags of Tel’naeír

Eragon meets the Rider, a very old elf named Oromis, who has been waiting in secret to pass on the lore of the Riders to a new disciple. He explains that both he and his dragon, Glaedr, who is missing a leg, can no longer fight because of injuries; he is The Cripple Who Is Whole. The two pairs of dragons and Riders fly to Oromis’ house, where they discuss the upcoming training; Eragon fears the return of the crushing pain he experiences when his wound flares up, but with Oromis’ encouragement pledges to continue fighting on behalf of the people under Galbatorix’s reign.

Oromis tells Eragon how both Eragon’s teacher, Brom, and the founder of the Foresworn, Morzan, were his pupils. Brom adored Morzan, and his adulation turned to hatred after Morzan and the Foresworn killed his dragon; it led him to found the Varden and kill several of the Foresworn.

Saphira is full of puppy love for the older dragon she never knew existed, and when Eragon is jealous, Oromis cautions him to be patient. While they have a meal, he explains that elves don’t eat meat because they don’t want to cause animals unnecessary pain. Then Oromis introduces Eragon to elvish plumbing and orders him to take a bath every day and shave.

Chapter 33: The Secret Lives of Ants

Back in Ellesméra, Saphira rattles on about Glaedr; Eragon gives up on shaving and removes his facial hair with a spell. When they return to Oromis’ hut, he gives Saphira a new saddle, and she and Glaedr go off to work on flying. Oromis teaches Eragon a series of motions that allow him to exercise without paining his injured back.

Oromis then brings Eragon into a glade and tells him to open his mind to the life around him. Eragon discovers he can connect with the consciousness of animals, and concentrates on ants, learning everything he can about their lives and movements. However, Oromis criticizes him for having only paid attention to the ants, and says he will have to learn to pay attention to everything at once.

They then work on reading and writing in the ancient language. Eragon mentions having blessed a child back in Tronjheim, and Oromis reveals that that because of a grammatical mistake he cursed the child instead, saying she would be a shield when he meant to say she would be shielded from harm. Oromis says that according to the ethics of riders, this child will now be Eragon’s shame and his responsibility. He doesn’t know whether the mark of a Dragon Rider, which Saphira applied to the child, will help her or harm her further, because no one other than riders has ever been marked that way before.

When Saphira and Glaedr return, the two teachers berate the students for not having telepathically communicated each other’s lessons, and instruct them to further open their minds to each other in the future.

Chapter 34: Under the Menoa Tree

Arya invites Eragon and Saphira to spend the evening seeing more of Ellesméra, and introduces them to Rhunön, the smith who made Zar’roc and all the other Riders’ swords. Eragon asks why she bothers to practice her craft when she could just make swords and armor by magic, and Rhunön explains that since everything is easy for elves, pursuing the work they love is the reason for living.

They then visit the Menoa tree, and Arya tells the story of how a woman, spurned by a younger man, killed him and then sang her consciousness into the tree; Eragon takes this as a warning about his own feelings for Arya. They discuss her inheritance of the throne, and he tells her about his mistake in blessing the child.

Chapter 35: A Maze of Opposition

Nasuada and the Varden are now in Surda, and Nasuada is exhausting herself settling small disputes and worrying over the logistics of feeding and quartering her people. She visits Orrin, the King of Surda, in a laboratory where he conducts scientific experiments and urges him to devote more of his attention to governing. They argue over the plans for war with Galbatorix and with the fate of the Varden, who must either assimilate into Surda society or win territory for a homeland of their own. King Orrin refuses to hurry his preparation for war or to give Nasuada more money to feed her people.

Chapter 36: Hanging by a Thread

While angrily leaving Orrin’s laboratory, Nasuada spills a vial of chemicals on her best dress; back in her chambers, the fabric starts to disintegrate. Her lady-in-waiting, Farica, decides to salvage what is left of the dress, and while helping her, Nasuada gets the idea that the Varden can make money by making lace, an expensive commodity, by magic. Pleased with herself, she summons Trianna and orders her to develop a spell that can do this.

Chapter 37: Elva

Nasuada is taken by Jörmundur to see the child Eragon mistakenly cursed. Though she should only be a baby, the child, Elva, has grown to the size of a three or four year old, and speaks like an adult; Nasuada is uncomfortable in her eerie presence. She tells Nasuada that she can see a few hours into people’s future and is irresistibly compelled to act to protect them from harm. Since the suffering of war brings her acute misery, she asks Nasuada to enlist her unusual powers in any way that would make the war with Galbatorix end faster. Nasuada agrees, and asks Angela to watch Elva, to try to protect her and to keep Nasuada apprised of her doings.

Chapter 38: Resurgence

Eragon awakens to find the treehouse being shaken by a bad storm. He and Saphira struggle to close the elvish membrane windows, and with the effort Eragon’s back pain returns. He passes out from the agony, and when he wakes up he finds that Saphira has gotten her head stuck in a stairwell trying to help him. They eventually free her, but the treehouse has been substantially damaged.

Chapter 39: Why Do You Fight?

Eragon and Oromis practice swordplay, and while trying to exploit his teacher’s momentary weakness Eragon has another attack of his back pain. When it subsides, Oromis sends him back to the stump in the forest where he meditated and listened to the ants. When Eragon is finally able to quiet his mind, he learns more about the ants and also tries again to be aware of the life in the forest as a whole.

Eragon asks why this exercise is important, and Oromis leads him to the answer that it will prepare him to be aware of other magicians in the area who might cast spells to harm him. Eragon objects that this general consciousness invades people’s privacy, and Oromis agrees but claims that the price is worth paying. He goes on to lead Eragon to the conclusion that the most important mental skill is logic and that logic must be learned through debating. To begin this training, he asks Eragon to justify the destruction that his war on Galbatorix will bring on innocent people, a question Eragon can’t answer.

Chapter 40: Black Morning Glory

Eragon asks to begin studying magic, and Oromis drills him on basic manipulations of a floating ball of stream-water. When Eragon requests something more challenging, Oromis immobilizes his calves and tells him to free himself. Though Eragon succeeds, Oromis criticizes his spell—free my calves—for being absolute, having only two outcomes, success or death. Trying again with a counter-spell to reduce rather break Oromis’ enchantment, Eragon drains Oromis’ energy and realizes how disabled his teacher really is.

Newly withdrawn, Oromis tells Eragon and Saphira that they must speak only the ancient language from now on. Saphira bites Glaedr’s tail, annoying him, Eragon chastises her, and they argue. Later, Arya takes them on another tour of Ellesméra, and Eragon ventures to express his feelings for her. Arya brushes him off, and Saphira criticizes his boldness in attempting to court the elf princess.

Back in the treehouse, Orik appears, drunk and loquacious. They discuss Eragon’s crush on Arya, and Saphira gets Orik to reveal that he is engaged to a dwarf woman back home.

Chapter 41: The Nature of Evil

A young elf, Vanir, arrives at the treehouse to bring Eragon and Saphira to practice swordplay with other elves. Afraid of a relapse of his back pain, Eragon fights cautiously, and Vanir easily outmaneuvers him, taunting him all the while. Angered, Eragon attacks again and begins overpowering the elf, but his infirmity strikes again, incapacitating him; when he comes to, Vanir is continuing to mock him.

Later, while meditating on the ants, Eragon realizes that a reason war with Galbatorix is justified is to rescue the two remaining dragon eggs and save the race of dragons. Oromis congratulates Eragon for his understanding, and then asks him to consider whether anyone thinks of himself as evil; even Urgals, according to Oromis, should be understood not just condemned.

Oromis instructs Eragon in energy-efficient ways to kill using magic. While discussing magic as a battle tactic, Eragon realizes that at Farthen Dûr, no one had warned him to protect himself against enemy magicians, a fact that leads to realize that the Twins, leaders of the Varden’s magicians, must have wanted him to be captured by Durza.

They also discuss the Ra’zac; Oromis says that they are their own kind of creature not related to any of the other races, and are uniquely designed to hunt humans. Their humanoid forms are actually the pupa stage of Ra’zac development, which lasts for twenty years; adults of the species are the winged creatures Roran saw the Ra’zac riding.

Chapter 42: Image of Perfection

Oromis continues explaining about the Ra’zac; the adult form, Lethrblaka, are much more intelligent than the Ra’zac; they came from the same land beyond Alagaësia as the humans did; and the two Ra’zac terrorizing Carvahall and their parents/steeds are the only creatures of their kind left in Alagaësia.

After this disturbing discussion, Oromis teaches Eragon how to make a fairth, an image that magically records exactly what the magic user sees. Eragon makes a close-up of a tree branch that Oromis criticizes as another example of Eragon’s overly narrow focus. Then Arya and Orik arrive so that Orik can observe Eragon’s education for his report to Hrothgar. Eragon’s second fairth is a portrait of Arya herself so intensely adoring that Arya shatters it in anger and stalks off. Oromis tells Eragon that he must put aside his personal feelings for the greater cause and Eragon promises to apologize.

Chapter 43: The Obliterator

Arya is avoiding Eragon, so he is unable to apologize. Instead, he throws himself into his studies, learning the way the elves imbue objects with energy, along with lessons in history, science, and culture. He also continues sparring with Vanir, who one day provokes Eragon to attack him magically. Vanir, to Eragon’s surprise, is able to defend himself without speaking; after he repels Eragon’s attack, he explains that he dislikes Eragon because he considers himself unworthy to be a Rider and unlikely to be able to defeat Galbatorix.

Oromis explains that Vanir was able to use magic without speaking because magic resides in thoughts rather than sounds, but is practiced through words for better control. In the wake of a terrible accident, an ancient race called the Grey Folk are said to have changed the nature of magic so that it could be constrained and controlled by language if spoken aloud; they also endowed the ancient language with the properties that it requires speakers to tell the truth and is able to describe the true nature of things.

The more Eragon studies and exercises, the worse and more frequent his seizures become until he is dominated by pain and the fear of pain. He nicknames his pain the Obliterator because it drives all other thoughts from his mind.

Chapter 44: Narda

The villagers have crossed the Spine are camped out outside the coastal town of Narda; Roran and a few others tell the sentries they are trades-people and enter the fortified city hoping to charter a boat for the journey to Surda. Roran sees Wanted posters for both himself and Eragon, and is relieved that his new beard has changed his appearance.

There are no boats to be had, so the villagers instead arrange to use three barges piloted by a fisherman named Clovis to take them as far as the next major city, Teirm. They don’t have enough money to pay for the full journey, and Roran suggests they plan to overpower Clovis once they get to as far as Teirm, and perhaps steal the barges. Horst is troubled by this dishonesty but agrees to the plan, but the villagers are distraught at the thought of traveling on barges like cargo.

Chapter 45: The Hammer Falls

While Roran is standing watch that night, the Ra’zac reappear on their flying parents/steeds; the villagers only escape detection because the horrific presence stirs the whole forest into chaos, and this convinces them to accept the barges and leave as soon as possible.

Roran tells Clovis that they will be transporting livestock, and loads up the barges with the villagers’ supplies. He and a few men will help Clovis and his crew sail down the coast a short way, where they take on the rest of the “cargo.” Entering the city again on the morning of departure, the sentries recognize Roran; he acts decisively to kill them before they can give him away. An alarm is raised, but Roran and his men have already departed on Clovis’s boats, and the captain chooses not to go back.

When the barges meet up with the villagers, Clovis protests that he did not agree to transport fugitives. Roran threatens him, but also tells him about the destruction of Carvahall and wins the sympathy of the captain, who no friend of the Empire. Horst comments on Roran’s increasing ruthlessness and tells him to remember who he is.

Chapter 46: The Beginning of Wisdom

Eragon decides to visit Arya’s quarters; she is not there but he finds a poem she has written. When she arrives home, he presents her with flowers and his apology, and they reconcile. Arya tells Eragon that her poem is a contribution to bring to the Blood-Oath Celebration, a centennial ritual commemorating the alliance between elves and dragons that first produced the order of Riders, at which everyone must share a creative work.

Glaedr brings Eragon and Saphira to a distant peak and tells them the history of this alliance: it came about to prevent the two races from destroying each other with war. Melding the two races gave the dragons in general language and civilization, and the elves immortality and strength. When humans also became riders their race as a whole also became gentler and stronger, but now, as the dragon population dwindles, both the human and the elves also decline.

The nature of the Rider/dragon bond is a powerful lifelong attachment, beginning when the dragon egg chooses a rider for whom to hatch. When Galbatorix’s dragon was killed, he acquired a second dragon, Shruikan, but their bond is achieved by black magic and is a perversion. Glaedr tells Eragon and Saphira that a dying dragon or Rider needs to separate his or her consciousness from the other in order to allow the other to survive.

Later, Eragon declares that he is sick of the elves’ vegetarian food, and Saphira invites him to hunt with her. He kills rabbits by magic and cooks them, but at the last minute remembers his meditations in the forest and becomes repulsed by the idea of eating meat. Saphira defends her carnivorous ways, and eats the rabbits for him.

Chapter 47: Broken Egg and Scattered Nest

Saphira and Glaedr fight, and Eragon sets off on horseback to find his injured dragon. She explains to him that she had hoped Glaedr would be her mate, but that he rejected her angrily and then she attacked. She apologizes for her infatuation with the older dragon, and she and Eragon feel a renewed closeness. He tells her to apologize to Glaedr.

Chapter 48: The Gift of Dragons

Oromis tells Eragon and Saphira that they will need to bring a creative contribution to the upcoming multi-day Blood-Oath festival. Eragon decides to tell his own story in the form of an epic poem like those he has been reading in the course of his lessons; he writes furiously, and is very proud of the result.

Although Eragon is protected from the strongest elf-magic of the festival, he still experiences it as a series of disjointed, strange, and wonderful impressions. He recites his poem, and it is well received. Saphira presents her offering, a sculpture in rock and fire.

The central ritual involves two elves tattooed with halves of a dragon dancing until the dragon seems to come alive. It touches Eragon’s marked palm with a mysterious power, and he goes unconscious.

Chapter 49: In a Starry Glade

Eragon awakens in the treehouse and discovers himself transformed; he now resembles an elf and his scar and back-pain have disappeared. He is happy with his new form and the increased powers of perception it brings him. He finds Arya, who plans to leave Du Weldenvarden after the festival ends, and they walk together in the forest; feeling emboldened, he again tries to court her. She tells him her feelings are only those of friendship and that nothing will ever happen between them. After they part, he cries and Saphira comforts him.

Chapter 50: Landfall

The barges arrive outside Teirm, and Roran gathers a small party to enter the city, telling Horst to defend the villagers and the barges, and threatening Clovis against leaving. He adds a young man, Mandel, to the party after Mandel’s mother asks him to stop her son from gambling.

Chapter 51: Teirm

The party enters the city without trouble, takes the cheapest room they can find, and go without supper to save money. The next day, Gertrude the healer leaves with Mandel to look for the famous herbalist Angela, and Roran and the rest of the party scour the city for transportation and supplies to steal or buy. They are in despair when a passerby tells them of an auction being held to sell the supplies of a ruined merchant, Jeod. Ignorant as to Jeod’s true identity as a friend of Brom’s and a freedom fighter, they visit the merchant’s rich-looking house to try to preempt the auction and buy his goods directly.

Chapter 52: Jeod Longshanks

Jeod meets with the villagers, but tells them that he can’t sell his assets because they are all claimed by his creditors. He also deduces that they must be transporting a large group of people, and, by casually questioning Nolfavrell, a child, he learns other information that suddenly leads him to realize Roran’s true identity.

Chapter 53: An Unexpected Ally

Jeod explains that he recognized Roran because of his resemblance to Eragon, and demands the villagers’ real story. As they tell it, Jeod’s wife, Helen, intrudes to berate him about the couple’s business troubles. Then Jeod tells them that he is an agent of the Varden, and reveals the truth about Eragon’s destiny, a disclosure met with laughter and disbelief by the villagers. When Roran begins to believe the story, he is angry at Eragon for bringing so much death and destruction on his family and community for the sake of his dragon.

Jeod reveals that he knows the location of the Ra’zac’s lair, but cautions Roran that a human would only get himself killed storming it and that he will need Eragon’s help to rescue Katrina. Then he and the villagers hatch a plan to steal a large, fully-stocked and state-of-the-art ship belonging to the Empire and to set sail on it together for Surda.

Chapter 54: Escape

Birgit, Nolfavrell’s mother and the widow of the first man killed and eaten by the Ra’zac, tells Roran that she hates him but needs him in the same way that hates and needs Eragon. Meanwhile, Jeod tells Helen about his secret identity and tries to convince her to join the fugitives. Then Roran chastises Mandel for his gambling and, to give him a chance to prove himself, sends him back to the camp with a message about the plan.

Roran, Jeod, a group of hired sailors, and the others sneak onto the ship and overpower the sentries. At the last minute, Helen arrives, having decided to join the group. They sail to meet the villagers, but while they are embarking the harbor guards notice the theft. The sailors launch missiles at the shore, starting massive fires, and the boat is able to leave the harbor safely, though Roran and the others regret the destruction their self-defense caused.

A few hours later, they see a Ra’zac in the sky; Gertrude realizes that it must be afraid of water, because it is not venturing far out over the ocean. Over a great distance, Baldor manages to hit and injure the steed with an arrow, but Roran points out that this action has revealed their location to the Ra’zac.

Chapter 55: Child’s Play

Nasuada looks at the lace Trianna and her magicians have created, pleased with the result. Suddenly Elva enters the room, unsuccessfully restrained by Nasuada’s guards, and tackles the leader, saving her from an assassination attempt. Elva tells Nasuada where to find the magical assassin, and Trianna departs to look for him. Nasuada tells Elva that she is in her debt, and Elva agrees.

Chapter 56: Premonition of War

The assassin commits magical suicide, but not before Trianna learns that he was part of a spy network for Galbatorix called the Black Hand. Nasuada assigns Trianna to use her magicians to try and eradicate these spies.

Nasuada brings Elva to a council with King Orrin and the elders of both Surda and the Varden. Orrin has learned Galbatorix’s army is much bigger than had been previously thought and has been massing for an invasion of Surda; a magical illusion had been concealing its activity, one so powerful that it suggests the hand of Galbatorix himself. The leaders debate military strategy, inconclusively; they have no way to contact Eragon, though he will be necessary if their forces must face Galbatorix, but they do send a message asking for reinforcements to Hrothgar and the dwarves.

Chapter 57: Red Blade, White Blade

Eragon wants to apologize for his indiscretion, but Arya has already left for Surda. He consoles himself by solving Orik’s ring puzzle easily with the new skills resulting from his transformation. Later, his skills also allow him to best Vanir at swordplay, finally earning the elf’s respect. Oromis tells him that such a transformation has never before occurred, and carefully investigates its details; his new strength allows Eragon to see more than before his teacher’s weakness and failing health.

Chapter 58: Visions Near and Far

Meditating in the forest, Eragon becomes conscious not only of animal life but also of the minds of plants; he is finally able to hear everything that is going on around him. Oromis tells him that this would ordinarily complete his training as a Rider, but proceeds to teach him the additional skill of drawing energy for spells from the world around him. When Eragon attempts this, his simple incantation drains all the life from the animals and plants he uses; Oromis tells him it is necessary for him to learn the horrible feeling of a linked consciousness dying to understand the danger of his power.

Nine days later, Eragon learns that the elves have no religion, but believe in a rational universe. His mentor’s conviction that there is no higher power or order disturbs Eragon, though he is somewhat inclined to agree. Some days later Eragon wakes, upset, to a warning from his dwarf necklace that someone is scrying him again. Then Blagden the raven flies into the treehouse and begins singing riddles to Eragon that suggest he may know something about Eragon’s parents.

Frustrated, Eragon decides to scry Arya to make sure she is all right. He and Saphira see her in council with Nasuada and the others and realize the severity and immediacy of the threat to Surda. Eragon also scrys Roran, and sees him on the ship with Jeod and the other villagers; confused, he looks at Carvahall and sees that it has been entirely destroyed. He and Saphira decide that the time has come to leave Ellesméra and fight Galbatorix directly.

Chapter 59: Gifts

Eragon tells Oromis he is leaving, and then confronts his teacher for having kept silent while he knew about Galbatorix’s build-up; Oromis replies that he kept the news secret from Eragon because he needed to continue training to be able to fight effectively. Eragon and Saphira pledge to return to finish their instruction after the battle. Oromis gives his pupil a bottle of sustaining liquor, a belt whose jewels can be used to store energy, and a scroll on which he has written and decorated Eragon’s poem. They also visit Queen Islanzadí, who gives Eragon a new bow to replace the one he broke testing out his new elf-strength. Then they meet Orik, who will accompany them, with the dwarf and human riding Saphira as she flies.

Chapter 60: The Maw of the Ocean

Roran is seasick, and the boat is being followed by three Empire ships that are steadily gaining. After a terrible storm that breaks one of the ship’s masts, Jeod, Roran, and the ship’s captain, Uthar, decide that the only way to evade their pursuers is to sail through a narrow channel between two islands that is filled with a gigantic whirlpool called the Boar’s Eye.

Chapter 61: Running the Boar’s Eye

The ship enters the channel late and misses the optimal tidal conditions for the run, but with sails and changing shifts of rowers, they barely manage to enter and exit the whirlpool’s bounds safely. The Empire’s ships, with smaller crews of rowers, are sucked into the whirlpool and destroyed.

Chapter 62: To Aberon

Eragon, Saphira, and Orik’s flight goes smoothly, and they reach Aberon, the capital of Surda, only to find that Orrin, Nasuada, and the Varden have already left to confront Galbatorix’s army. The guards they encounter suggest they look for the Varden on the Burning Plains, an area with underground peat fires dating back to a battle between dragons and the Foresworn. This reminds Eragon of the dream-vision he had before entering Du Weldenvarden, of a hand pointing to a body lying on a burning, smoky field. Before they leave, Eragon uses his new mental powers to warn a guard of an intended murder; Orik tests Eragon, but is able to keep his own mind closed.

Chapter 63: The Burning Plains

Both armies are massed on the Burning Plains, the Empire far outnumbering the rebels. As Saphira descends, the Varden’s archers shoot at her, but Eragon easily redirects the arrows harmlessly and, when he lands, asks the men to be spared from punishment for their mistake.

The travelers reunite with Nasuada and the other leaders, and then Elva approaches Eragon. He apologizes and asks for her forgiveness, and promises to try to take the spell off her after the battle.

Eragon asks to take control of the Varden’s magic users to organize them for the battle. He also gets a moment alone with Arya and apologizes for his behavior, but she is no closer to reciprocating his feelings than before. Walking through the camp, Eragon and Saphira then encounter Angela, who berates Eragon for his accidental curse of Elva. When Eragon mentions his surprise that King Orrin has brought scientific instruments onto the battlefield, Angela bustles off to see them and confer with the king.

Chapter 64: The Clouds of War

Eragon and Saphira find the Varden’s magic users and persuade a reluctant Trianna to surrender her command to Eragon. Testing the magicians, Eragon finds their skills weak and their training insufficient. As he returns to Nasuada, he sees carrion-eating birds gathering over the battlefield.

Chapter 65: Nar Garzhvog

Against Eragon’s advice, Nasuada agrees to meet with a Urgal envoy. Despite his prejudice, Eragon’s new knowledge allows him to explain to the Varden the meaning behind the Urgal’s aggressive-seeming gestures of friendship. The envoy states that the Urgal feel betrayed by their former ally Galbatorix and want revenge on him; for that reason, they want to fight alongside the human rebels. Nasuada agrees to the temporary alliance.

Then an envoy from the empire appears, responding to the rebels’ refusal to surrender with a declaration of war. As he gallops back to his camp, Saphira lets out a roar that causes his horse to throw him into the fires of the Burning Plains.

Chapter 66: Witch’s Brew

As Eragon and Saphira pass the night before battle, Orik arrives to tell them that he and the dwarves will protect them physically while they use magic against the enemy magicians. Sensing presences returning from enemy lines, they find Angela and her werecat, who refuse to say what they were doing there, but who have Nasuada’s blessing when she appears. She then asks Eragon not to involve the other magicians in a fight against Galbatorix, since they would be needlessly killed, urges him to accept Urgal guards along with his dwarf protectors, and asks him to assume command of the Varden if she is killed.

Mollified, he turns to the Urgals, who surprise him by thanking and honoring him for breaking Durza’s control over them. They allow him to read their minds to test for treacherous intent, and instead he discovers that they are less monstrous than he had thought.

When dawn comes, the Varden hear shrieks coming from the enemy camp, the result of Angela’s nighttime outing; she used her herbalist skills to poison as many of the troops as possible.

Chapter 67: The Storm Breaks

The battle begins. Eragon magically disarms Galbatorix’s cannons, and when the Varden’s magician disable an enemy counterpart, Eragon kills a whole legion of soldiers by magic. But despite other successes, the Varden are weakening against the superior numbers; Nasuada asks Eragon and Saphira to ride out to raise morale, which they do repeatedly, decimating their enemies but also injuring and exhausting themselves. Finally, their hopes are raised when they see Hrothgar’s enormous army approaching. At the same time, they see a boat trying to land, and Eragon and Saphira set out to destroy it.

Chapter 68: Convergence

Though the villagers had landed safely in a Surda port, Roran has convinced them to row upriver to join the Varden in battle. As Saphira is about to attack the boat, Eragon recognizes Roran. They have a brief telepathic conversation in which Eragon tells the villagers to remain in safety. Roran is both impressed and angered to see his cousin again.

Chapter 69: Eldest

Eragon greets Hrothgar and returns to the battle. The tide begins turning in the Varden’s favor, until Eragon gets a terrible surprise: a new and powerful dragon and Rider emerge from Galbatorix’s camp, at the same time that powerful new magicians of theirs also kill the dwarf spell-casters and Hrothgar. Eragon and Saphira fight their new enemies in the air and on the ground, and then, when they are almost drained, Eragon recognizes his opponents fighting style and tears off his helmet to reveal his old friend, Murtagh.

Chapter 70: Inheritance

Murtagh points at Eragon’s prone body, fulfilling Eragon’s dream-vision. Then he explains how he was captured and forced to swear loyalty to Galbatorix after one of the dragon eggs hatched for him; now he is like his father, the evil rider Morzan, only even stronger. While Murtagh and Eragon talk, the Twins—the new spell-casters—continue to attack the Varden; then the two Riders watch as Roran sneaks up on them and kills them with his hammer. Murtagh tries to convince Eragon to join Galbatorix’s forces, explaining that Saphira is needed to mate with the male dragons in the King’s possessions, so as to continue the dragon race. Eragon refuses, and pleads with Murtagh to join the Varden and let them try to release him from Galbatorix’s rule—or failing that, to let Eragon kill him so that he won’t be compelled to do more evil. When Murtagh rejects this idea, Eragon renews his attack, but Murtagh’s magic is too strong and he is immobilized. For the sake of their friendship, Murtagh does not capture him, but he does take Zar’roc, saying that he should have it, being the eldest son of their father: he reveals that he and Eragon are brothers.

Chapter 71: Reunion

The battle is over, and Eragon and Saphira tend to the wounded while Eragon ponders Murtagh’s revelation; paradoxically, the knowledge of his biological parentage leads him to accept Garrow as his true father.

Eragon tries to comfort Orik about the death of Hrothgar and then encounters Roran, who punches him in the jaw and then asks to speak to him about Katrina. Eragon brings his cousin to Nasuada, wanting him to hear the story of the new Rider at the same time Eragon delivers his report. Nasuada thanks Roran for killing the Twins, and then Eragon relates what he now knows, to everyone’s shock. He is touched when Arya and Nasuada reassert their friendship for him, despite his descent.

Eragon and Roran tell each other their stories and eventually call each other brothers. Eragon finds out by scrying that Katrina is still alive, and promises to help Roran rescue her and kill the Ra’zac to avenge the man they now both claim as their father.

Extreme Summary

Aforementioned boy (see Eragon) learns more and participates in battle to overthrow empire.