Three cheers for these folks. They help Eragon and Saphira along the way in their quest and so should be rewarded by your fan mail. Now get to typin'.
Arya is a pretty powerful elf. And we're not talking the present-wrapping kind.
This little one is actually the first character we meet in all of Eragon—we just don't find that out until later. In the prologue, she's trying to move Saphira's egg back to the elven land of Ellesméra. After she's kidnapped by the Shade, though, she's out of the loop for a while—literally. Even when Eragon and Murtagh rescue her, she spends the entire voyage across the Hadarac Desert and through the Boer Mountains unconscious after being poisoned by the king's minions.
But that's not enough to keep her and Eragon from striking up a relationship. First, Arya haunts Eragon's dreams: "He saw a young woman, bent over by sorrow, chained in a cold, hard cell" (27.16). Then Eragon is able to establish a mental link with her, even while she's unconscious: "Her consciousness lured him closer, inviting him to submerge himself in the lyric strains of her blood. He resisted the summons with difficulty, though his heart ached to accept it" (46.14). Finally, when Arya is healed, she and Eragon share a moment… as she kicks his ever-lovin' booty in a duel.
Actually, Eragon and Arya are closely matched, which makes us wonder if they'd make a good, you know, romantic match. Eragon does admire her beauty—which makes Saphira jealous (56.65-68)—and then there's that whole exchange before the book's final battle. When Eragon tells her to say safe, "for my happiness," "Arya turn[s] her gaze away uneasily, the fringe of her hair obscuring her face" (57.84-85). Now, is it just us being incurable romantics, or is there a hint here that there might be, possibly, some day, in some way, maybe, something going on between these two? What do you think?
And how would that affect Eragon's relationship with Saphira?
The leader of the Varden rebels, Ajihad has a tough job. Not only is he supposed to fight off the Empire with vastly inferior numbers and supplies, but he's also supposed to manage an uneasy alliance between dwarves, elves, and humans. Frankly, we don't envy the dude.
As for Eragon, Ajihad gives him some very sound advice: "You must retain your freedom, for in it lies your true power: the ability to make choices independent of any leader or king" (52.90). If you think about it, this is a hard piece of advice to pass on, because Ajihad could easily demand that Eragon swear loyalty only to him. Still, he recognizes the importance of Eragon's power as something that is above politics. That kind of wisdom and sacrifice makes Ajihad a leader for Eragon to admire—and maybe even try to emulate.
Jeod is Brom's old drinking, er, fighting buddy. Now, though, he's settled down, gotten married (to a cranky wife—we're looking at you, Helen), and is struggling to keep his merchant's business afloat. Still, Jeod hasn't lost his taste for adventure. He sneaks Eragon and Brom into the castle at Teirm so that they can find out where the Ra'zac receive their shipments of the rare and deadly Seithr oil.
Don't forget, too, that Jeod's a man of letters. He's got a great library, which is where Eragon first starts to learn to read. And we have to admit, we identify with the guy when he says, "These books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life" (25.150). Us too, Jeod, old buddy. Us too.
The forty-second king of the dwarves, King Hrothgar is wise and cautious. On the battlefield, though, the dude can hold his own. He's an inspiration to Eragon, who sees him offing Urgals left and right with his giant hammer, Volund: "Every time Volund struck, it sounded the gong of death for another enemy" (58.29). Righteous.
Nasuada is Ajihad's daughter and a chief supporter. It would seem that Murtagh has the hots for her, and this gives Eragon an uneasy feeling. We're sure nothing comes of it in future books, though… right?
Orik is the tough but friendly dwarf who saves Eragon from drowning at the waterfall before the Varden's secret headquarters. He also stands up to those jerk-faced Twins when they try to probe everybody. For his disobedience, Ajihad has to suspend Orik from his formal role in the Varden. But as a dwarf (of King Hrothgar's clan, no less), Orik still gets to hang out in Tronjheim and give Eragon and Saphira the grand tour of the place. He's a great host and a solid fighter.