Study Guide

Eragon Exploration

By Christopher Paolini

Exploration

The deer had led him deep into the Spine, a range of untamed mountains that extended up and down the land of Alagaësia. (1.4)

Just as the deer leads Eragon deeper into the Spine, we follow Eragon deeper into the world of Alagaësia. (See how Paolini did that? Pretty nifty, right?) As he encounters and learns about new lands and cities, so do we. His explorations become our explorations. Yeah, we're explorer-buddies.

Before him lay the Palancar Valley, exposed like an unrolled map. The base of the Igualda Falls, more than a half-mile below, was the northernmost point of the valley. A little ways from the falls was Carvahall. (2.8)

As Eragon takes in the scenery of his homeland, it's important to realize that the details are for us, not him. After all, he lives here, and knows that Carvahall is close to Igualda Falls the way he knows the back of his hand. We're the ones that need to see this detailed orientation like an "unrolled map." This kind of spatial detail adds a feeling of reality to what is fundamentally a supernatural setting (though, the elves and dragons haven't shown up just yet).

It unnerved Eragon how flat everything was […] He had lived his entire life surrounded by mountains and hills. (17.9)

Part of exploring is leaving your comfort zone. The plains that Eragon is seeing here for the first time are a strange sight in that it's something totally new and foreign to him. He's setting foot in a new land for the first time, which can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

Brom's eyes grew hazy […] "The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps." (23.5)

How poetic. For Brom, his explorations of the sea allow him to share his intense emotional experiences with Eragon. Eragon, through Brom's words, is allowed to explore this wild frontier, and we as readers are provided with sense of awe and adventure. We could write out this whole quote for you, but this is such a beautiful passage that you've just gotta read it for yourself.

Eragon […] eagerly began exploring Teirm. For hours he wandered the streets, entering every shop that struck his fancy and chatting with various people. (26.3)

Eragon is just an explorer at heart. It's one of the things we really love about him. Maybe you know people who, on vacation, stay inside their hotel rooms and watch TV all day. Okay, sometimes we're guilty of that, too. But travel is about new people, new sights, and new experiences. Even though it can be scary, it's an unmatched opportunity to learn that Eragon takes full advantage of.

Across the plains, sprawled the forest Du Weldenvarden. Like the Beor Mountains, its eastern end was unmapped. […] [I]ts heart lay mysterious and unexplored. (28.54)

Unlike our world, which is pretty much mapped out, save for the most remote corners, Alagaësia is still a wild place that has yet to be fully explored. Such mysteries provide an excellent chance for explorers, like our pal Eragon, to pursue adventure.

"Does the road ever end for you?"

A hollow laugh escaped Brom's lips. "I see it coming, but not for a while." (28.74-75)

In this convo between Eragon and Brom, the road is more than just any old road. It refers to a life of adventure, of exploration, of striving to achieve one's goals in the face of obstacles. It's a struggle, sure, but it's a struggle that gives their lives (and ours) meaning. Do you see yourself on a road?

Where are the goods for sale? wondered Eragon.

[…] "And here we have our first item," proclaimed the auctioneer. "A healthy male from the Hadarac Desert, captured just last month." (34.4-5)

Yikes. Exploration can be a thing of great fun and adventure, but it can also turn up terrible things, like this slave auction that Eragon finds in Dras-Leona. This practice is totally foreign to him, and he has to overcome his urge to blast it apart with his magic. Unlike his fun explorations in Teirm, his wanderings in Dras-Leona have taken a bad turn.

Brom blindly turned his eyes to the ceiling. "And now," he murmured, "for the greatest adventure of all…" (37.25)

What do you think of this idea? Do you share Brom's vision of death as the last great adventure, a realm waiting to be explored? Do you think Brom's view of the road as a way of life colors his attitude?

A vast expanse of dunes spread to the horizon like ripples on an ocean. Bursts of wind twirled the reddish gold sand into the air. (45.1)

The Hadarac Desert: another new, strange land that Eragon (along with Saphira and Murtagh and, we guess, the unconscious Arya) must travel through. Out there somewhere is the Varden, a cure for Arya, and the next step in Eragon's adventure. It's just a matter of exploring until they find them.