Study Guide

Eragon Language and Communication

By Christopher Paolini

Language and Communication

Eragon blinked, trying to understand what had occurred. Something brushed against his consciousness, like a finger trailing over his skin. […] It was as if an invisible wall surrounding his thoughts had fallen away, and he was now free to reach out with his mind. (5.5)

Here we get the first inkling of Saphira and Eragon's very special mental bond, just after he first touches the dragon. They do more than just understand each other; their thoughts and minds are bonded together. Trippy, right? That bond sustains Eragon throughout the trials he faces in the book, and it highlights the power of their shared connection.

Eragon groped with his mind until he felt the dragon's consciousness. […] A dim acknowledgement came tentatively through the link, but Eragon wondered if it really understood. After all, it's only an animal. (5.19)

Although their mental bond will eventually be key to Eragon's heroic abilities, it's not something that just happens. In the beginning, his connection to Saphira is weak and tentative. It's also telling that Saphira doesn't have a name yet. Heck, she's not even a she yet. As they both mature and better understand one another, their mental link becomes stronger and more sophisticated. As that happens, too, Eragon's understanding of Saphira develops into something far more than just seeing her as "only an animal."

Eragon showed the dragon what he knew about the forest, not caring if it understood his meaning. It was the simple act of sharing that mattered. He talked to it continuously. The dragon gazed back at him with bright eyes, drinking in his words. (5.23)

Again, their communicative bond is not an automatic given from the get-go. Eragon and Saphira have to work to develop their link. What does that tell us about how we communicate with others? Is the effort to communicate more important than what is exchanged? Can making this effort lead to better, more meaningful communication, as it does in the book? (Our vote: a resounding yes.)

There was always a small part of him connected to the dragon, ignored at times, but never forgotten. When he talked with people, the contact was distracting, like a fly buzzing in his ear. (5.30)

At first glance, we might think this is magical, but if you take a closer look, it's something we all experience. You know when you bond with someone, and then you keep talking to them in your head even when they aren't around? Maybe that's a distraction at times, but we bet it can be a great comfort, too.

A single word rang in his head, deep and clear. 

Eragon.

It was solemn and sad, as if an unbreakable pact were being sealed. He stared at the dragon and a cold tingle ran down his arm. (5.38-40)

Saphira not only reaches out to Eragon's mind, but communicates her feelings, too. She's bummed that he has to leave her. That act, of giving Eragon a sense of how she feels, is described as a "pact […] being sealed." Is that how communication works? Is it all about feelings?

Saphira was as real and complex as any person. Her personality was eclectic and at times completely alien, yet they understood each other on a profound level. (8.15)

Saphira is truly different from Eragon (read: she's a dragon…), but through their bond, her personality is not a totally foreign thing for him. He is able to understand her point of view and vice versa.

Eragon tried to put his hand on the bay like Brom had, but it shied away. He automatically reached out with his mind to reassure the horse […] The contact was not clear or sharp like it was with Saphira, but he could communicate with the bay to a limited degree. (16.71)

Hmmm. Eragon not only has the power to mentally link up with Saphira, but he can do this with all living things (werecats included)—to a certain degree at least. He's a regular Dr. Doolittle. How does this affect the way we understand his power?

"But what does that have to do with magic?" interrupted Eragon.

"Everything! It is the basis for all power. The language describes the true nature of things, not the superficial aspects that everyone sees." (19.49-50)

Cool idea alert. Brom points out that the true power of magic has to do with the way it functions as a language. The language of magic is not just "hocus pocus," it's the expression of the true nature of reality. Think about how tough it can be to put your thoughts into words. Wouldn't it be great if you knew the exact right word for everything? It wouldn't be just great. It'd be magical.

"While speaking [the magical language], it's impossible to practice deceit." (20.24)

That makes sense. Since speaking magic is about putting ideas and objects into their truest expression, then there'd be no way to lie. Think about that for a minute. Would we ever need to lie, if we knew the right words for everything?

Her mind tugged at his, pulling him away from his body. […] His vision blurred, and he found himself looking through Saphira's eyes. Everything was distorted: colors had weird exotic tints; blues were more prominent now, while greens and reds were subdued. (22.11)

Whoa, trippy. Here, Eragon is riding Saphira in flight. As they share this experience, they bond on a super-intimate level, to the point that Eragon is literally looking through her eyes. We've all heard the expression, "look at it my way." Well, this is exactly what's happening here. It shows how the mark of a powerful connection is the ability to share the way others see the world.