Dragon Riders are group of magician-warriors in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle. Dragon Riders, called 'Shur'tugal' in the ancient language, are Humans or Elves who help maintain peace with the help of their Dragons. In the novels, Dragons are an intelligent and magical race that inhabit Alagaësia, a fictional country. During the timeframe of the novels, Dragons are nearly extinct. There are only three males (Shruikan, Thorn and the unhatched egg (Gleadr was a male dragon before his death in Brising thus lowering the count)), one female (Saphira), and one unhatched egg left in existence.
Riders and their dragons
As described in the novels, a Dragon Rider is a Human or Elf who has been 'bonded' to a Dragon
. Riders are marked by the Gedwëy Ignasia
, or "shining palm", a white circle of skin located on the hand with which the Rider touches a hatchling. The resulting connection permits the existence of a telepathic bond that can extend to such a degree that their identities may become united into a single point of view. All Riders develop longevity, strength, stamina, intelligence, and sensory powers surpassing those of their compatriots, while human Riders in particular change over time to develop elven features. All Riders are able to use magic with ability outstripping that of any other magician, though the uses of magic practiced by Riders are not significantly different (except in extent) from those practiced by others. Wild dragons are said to be fiercer and less articulate of thought than Riders' dragons, though they are genetically identical and have been known to interbreed.
In the history Paolini creates, while Dragon Riders were first assigned to keep the peace between the Elves and Dragons, their duty soon expanded to keeping peace and order among all the races and governments throughout Alagaësia. As time went on, the Dragon Riders' deeds became well-known, and the Dragon Rider's Council came to control the land. While the Dragon Riders held sway, the land prospered and great cities were built. The Dragon Riders helped establish peace treaties between nations and even quell small skirmishes and conflicts. As an ex-Dragon Rider, Brom, said, "How many men would draw their swords if they knew a great fire-breathing lizard—one with more natural cunning and wisdom than even a king could hope for—would soon be there to stop the violence?".
Although the Dragon Riders first lived in the then-Elvish city of Ilirea (now the King's capital, Uru'baen), a disagreement with the Elvish Queen, Dellanir, led to the leader Anurin to moving the Riders to the island of Vroengard, from which the Dragon Riders worked as independent peacemakers and controlled all the lands indirectly through the different rulers. This position placed the Riders above any scrutiny, whose lack contributed to their downfall.
Much as in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, dragons in the Inheritance cycle form a telepathic bond with their Rider, occasionally before the dragon has hatched from its egg.
According to the descriptions in the novels, a spell was cast over the dragon eggs to ensure that the baby dragons inside would only hatch when the eggs were touched by the human or elf whom they believed was best suited to them. Upon hatching, the young dragon would make contact with its Rider for the first time, leaving a mark, the gedwëy ignasia ("shining palm"), on the Dragon Rider’s hand. The novels state that a bond forms between the dragon and the Rider that melds their minds on a basic level, binding them for life in the most enduring friendship that can possibly exist and endowing the Dragon Rider with magic.
The novel states that originally, only the dragons and the elves participated in the bond, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that granted the elves immortality and gave the dragons the gift of speech through telepathy. Humans were the third race to enter the bond, and at the time of the events in Eragon, the spell has not affected them as strongly. The novel states that dwarves were never added to the spell, and that as a result there has never been a dwarf Rider.
According to the novel, the bond with the dragons gave Riders a strong ability to use magic, as well as enhanced physical abilities. Extensive training can develop the abilities to make Riders some of most powerful mages and swordsmen of the land.
The novel further states that newly bonded pairs of dragon and Rider were taken to the elvish capital of Ilirea (now the humans' capital Uru'baen) where older Riders trained one or two students. The training could consist of the senior dragon training the younger in aerial maneuvers (especially those used in battle), building stamina for long distance flights, increasing speed, dragonlore, and the ancient language. The novels state that as a mandatory requirement, the Rider and dragon would share their lessons, so that by keeping their minds connected they could listen in on each other's lessons and learn. After class, the senior Rider would test the two to ensure that both had learned each other's subject. Both the senior dragon and the senior Rider were addressed by their students as 'Master' or 'Ebrithil'.
To train a Rider to use magic, the novice was given a set of frustrating, apparently impossible tasks that could not be accomplished without use of the Rider's new abilities of psychokinesis. If a student discovered its ability before this regimen was complete, that student would be removed at once from the others and apprenticed to another elder.
The formal training of a Rider and dragon traditionally took many years (Galbatorix is known to have begun training at 10 and finished by 19), and the Dragon Riders continued to hone their skills throughout their lives.
According to the novels, before the formation of the Dragon Riders, about three millennia before the time of Eragon
, a young elf hunted and killed a dragon as if with impunity. The Dragons were naturally angered by this and banded together, attacking and killing the young elf. This began the Dragon/Elf war.
The novel states that five years into the war, an Elf called Eragon found a white Dragon egg, let it hatch, and raised the hatchling within, naming him "Bid'Daum". Together, they travelled across Alagaesia and stopped the war, allowing peace to follow. In order to prevent another war, the Dragons connected their souls with those of the Elves, changing both races as described above. Humans were added to the bond later and were therefore not as much immersed in it as were the Elves.
According to the novels, one hundred years before the events of the Inheritance Cycle, Galbatorix
--a Dragon Rider who was driven to insanity by the killing of his dragon by Urgals
and the refusal of the riders to grant him a new dragon--led a rebellion that crushed the Riders and brought an end to the order. Along with another Rider, Morzan, whom he persuaded to follow him, he captured a small black Dragon named Shruikan
and forced the young Dragon to obey him through powerful dark magic. Galbatorix than used his power to become the King of Alagaësia
Role in the Inheritance cycle
In the events of the Inheritance cycle
, there are Dragons on each side of the war. Galbatorix
houses one unhatched Dragon egg and his own Dragon, Shruikan
while under Galbatorix's control are Murtagh
and his Dragon Thorn
. Fighting against Galbatorix for the Varden
Shadeslayer, the stories' chief protagonist, and his Dragon Saphira
Brightscales, the last living female dragon. Another Dragon is Glaedr
, who is the Dragon of Oromis
, the oldest remaining Rider, who is an Elf. In Brisingr
, Oromis dies and Glaedr's consciousness is transferred to a gemlike object extracted from his body.
- Zar'roc - the sword of Morzan, it is of the colour red, with a large ruby set in the pommel. It is intended to be wielded in one hand, although can be used with two hands if need be. Eragon receives the sword from Brom in Eragon, for Brom took it from Morzan after he had killed him. During the Battle of the Burning Plains, Murtaugh, after defeating Eragon, claims that the sword should have gone to the eldest son, not the youngest, for at the time it is believed that Eragon and Murtaugh are full brothers. Zar'roc in the ancient language means Misery.
- Brisingr - the sword of Eragon, it is the colour of Saphira's scales, which is blue. It has a large sapphire set in the pommel and is forged, like all rider's swords out of Brightsteel. It is a hand-and-a-half sword, of middling length but with a larger than average hilt. It was forged by Eragon himself, with the elf Rhunon controlling his mind, for that was the only loophole in the oath she had made, stating that she would not forge another weapon. The unique thing about this sword, is that when Eragon utters the word "Brisingr" the sword bursts into flames, even when it is not intended.
- Naegling - this is the sword of the elf rider, Oromis. It is of a gold colour, for his dragon, Glaedr was gold. In its pommel, there is a large diamond, where Oromis, Glaedr and others have stored a vast amount of energy. It is unknown what Naegling means but the name could come from the story of Beowulf, for his last sword was called Naegling
- Tamerlain Tamerlain is a dark green sword forged for the Rider Arva. Tamerlain resides with Lord Fiolr in the House of Valtharos.
- Arvindr Arvindr is one of the last Rider swords not yet lost or in the hands of Galbatorix. It currently resides in the elven city of Nadindel.
- Undbitr - Brom's sword that was lost during the battle of Doru Areaba.
Notable Dragon Riders
The novels mention the existence of previous Dragon Riders including:
- Anurin - an Elf who was a leader of the Riders millennia before the events in Eragon. Although only mentioned once in the Inheritance books, Anurin played a highly significant role in the history of the Riders by convincing the elvish queen to allow humans into the Dragon Rider bond, which previously had only included elves and dragons. He was also responsible for moving the Riders to the island of Vroengard.
- Brom - an ex-Dragon Rider; his blue dragon, Saphira (whom Eragon named his dragon after), was killed at the battle of Doru Araeba. Vowing vengeance, he led attacks against the Forsworn, of whom he killed three (including Morzan, his archenemy) and caused the deaths of five others. When the new dragon hatched, Brom took her Rider Eragon far from Carvhall and taught Eragon through the ways of the Dragon Riders. When captured by the Ra'zac, Brom sacrificed his life to save Eragon and Saphira. Before dying, he revealed to Eragon that he too was once a Dragon Rider, and gave him the sword, Zar'roc. It is later revealed in Brisingr that Brom is Eragon's father.
- Eragon I - an Elf who became the first Dragon Rider. Along with his white Dragon, whoose name can not be spoken in any language, Eragon ended the war between the elves and dragons, and then established the Dragon Riders.
- Eragon - Named after the first Dragon Rider. He and his dragon, Saphira, are the first Dragon Riders since Vrael's death over a century ago. He is also known as "Shadeslayer", "Firesword", and "Argetlam" ("silver hand" in the ancient language).
- Galbatorix - a highly gifted Dragon Rider who was rendered mentally unstable after his dragon was killed. He later stole another dragon, killed the Riders who refused to serve him as well as the human king Angrenost, and has ruled for a century ever since. His new dragon, Shruikan, was stolen as a hatchling from a Rider in Ilirea.
- Morzan - first of the thirteen Dragon Riders (called the 'Thirteen Forsworn') who allied with Galbatorix and killed the other Dragon Riders. He, as well as Brom, was once a student of Oromis. He is Murtagh's father, and is stated to be Eragon's father as well, though this is later told to be false.
- Murtagh - Morzan's son and Eragon's half-brother. He was forced into Galbatorix's service against his will and bound by an unbreakable magical oaths, then was given Thorn, a red dragon. Under the king, he and his dragon learned enough to vanquish Eragon and Saphira.
- Oromis - an elven Rider, the last of the old order still alive, except for Galbatorix. Oromis and his gold dragon Glaedr are disabled in different ways, and so cannot fight. Oromis was Morzan's and Brom's tutor, and hid himself during The Fall. Later, he and Glaedr became Eragon and Saphira's tutors. After Eragon's return they join the elves in their battle and die at the hands of Galbatorix who was controlling Murtagh's body. Glaedr lives on, his soul preserved in his "heart of hearts".
- Vrael - the last leader of the old order of Dragon Riders. He was the only one to have overpowered Galbatorix, but hesitated to kill him, allowing the younger Rider to escape. Vrael was subsequently killed when Galbatorix, during a later combat, cheated to win and slew his elder.
- Kialandi - One of the Forsworn, he assisted in capturing and torturing Oromis and Glaedr. He also killed the owner of Tamerlain (a dark green Rider's sword) Arva.