Study Guide

Eragon Fate and Free Will

By Christopher Paolini

Fate and Free Will

Was I meant to have it? He could not answer the question. (4.2)

The question of fate comes in fairly early on in the book. Does Saphira's egg seek Eragon out? Or is his finding the egg purely chance? How might the answer to those questions affect Eragon's sense of purpose on his quest?

It is our destiny to attempt the impossible, to accomplish great deeds regardless of fear. (14.10)

Saphira's great with pep talks. Whenever Eragon's down, she's there to pick him up (or tell him to suck it up). Notice how often in these pick-me-ups she references fate and destiny. Do you think Saphira knows something that Eragon doesn't? Or is she just trying to motivate him?

"The eggs, or rather the infants inside, wouldn't hatch until the person destined to be its Rider came into their presence." (16.9)

Brom explains that Saphira chose Eragon to be her Rider. In that way, Eragon is in fact destined to be her partner. This arrangement acts as a source of strength for both dragon and Rider through the course of the book, but this is especially true for Eragon. Think about it. How would you feel if you knew that you had destiny on your side?

"You are one of the few who are truly free to choose their own fate. That freedom is a gift, but it is also a responsibility more binding than chains." (26.54)

Hold up a sec there, Angela. Is it possible that Eragon is both chosen (by his name, by his dragon) and also free to choose? Can both of these possibilities exist at once? Is that part of what makes Eragon so special? What do you think?

Brom also wanted you to know that of all the people in Alagaësia, he believed you were the best suited to inherit the Rider's legacy. (38.44)

Saphira's words are a comfort to Eragon after Brom passes on. It should also make him feel better that, even though he's inherited his responsibilities as a Rider through the fate of his name, he's got what it takes to persevere. It's like his (free) will is strong enough to endure his fate. (For more on the legacy he inherited from his namesake, see "Themes: Identity." Then come on back, you hear?)

Arya's life is in Fate's hands now. You made your choice to stay with Murtagh; it's too late to change that, so stop agonizing over it…You're making my scales itch. (48.108)

You know what chaps Saphira's hide? Eragon's moping and complaining, that's what. She's got an intense acceptance of fate that Eragon doesn't seem to share. Whose view do you share, Eragon's or Saphira's? Is it better to accept the winds of fate, or does it make you feel better to think that you can change things?

It is your wyrd that shapes you, said Saphira. Every age needs an icon—perhaps that lot has fallen to you. (53.90)

In Eragon, "wyrd" is used to mean fate, or destiny. It's an interesting choice of… word, don't you think. A word names something, the way someone's fate names what will happen to them. Saphira says "perhaps" it's Eragon's wyrd to be a hero, but elsewhere she seems pretty sure of this fact. How convinced do you think she is?

"Brom was cursed in a way. It was his wyrd to fail at all of his tasks except one, although it was no fault of his own." (54.22)

Angela reveals a bit about Brom's fate here that makes us feel kind of sorry for the old guy. What about you? Is he nobler or somewhat pathetic, given this fate? Do you think that, if he knew it was his fate to fail in almost everything he did, he'd give up trying? Is character, like Brom's, in part formed by our refusal to give up, even if we may never succeed?

Zar'roc may have a bloody history, but that should not shape your actions. Forge a new history for it, and carry it with pride. (55.4)

More advice from Saphira here. Eragon's sword, since it belonged to Morzan, last of the Forsworn, has a pretty checkered past to say the least. Saphira, though, encourages Eragon to write a new fate and future for the sword. Do you think objects can have fates, the way people are said to have them? Can Eragon's will change his sword's fate?

"It is my wyrd to be here. The debt must be paid." (57.85)

Right before battling the Urgals in Farthen Dûr, Arya seems to accept the fact that she's about to head into a life-threatening situation. Do you think this acceptance of your "wyrd" or fate can be a source of courage? Or does take away from your freedom to choose and act freely?