Study Guide

Eragon The Supernatural

By Christopher Paolini

The Supernatural

A ball of flame sprang from his hand and flew toward the elf. (Prologue.22-23)

Right from the start, we are immersed in the supernatural here. Elves? Check. Magic? Check. Dark wizards from another spirit plane? Oh, you better believe that's a check.

If he had learned anything from the old stories, it was to treat magic, and those who used it, with great caution. (1.13)

Magic is actually pretty rare in Eragon's world, something from the "old stories." Because it's rare, though, it inspires fear and awe. When he becomes a magic-user himself, Eragon inspires those same feelings in others.

"Chaos seems to rule in Alagaësia. We could not avoid illness, attacks, and the most cursed black luck." (3.49)

Merlock the trader describes the goings-on in Alagaësia as the descent of "black luck." Do you think that the evil forces in charge of the Empire are capable of cursing an entire country, sort of like the worst version ever of pay-it-forward? Or is the Empire ruled by evil because of this black luck? This is a chicken and egg question… of the most evil dimensions.

"There Morzan entered into a dark apprenticeship, learning secrets and forbidden magic that should never have been revealed." (3.107)

What do you think of Brom's editorializing here? He points out that there are some supernatural powers that should never see the light of day. When it comes to the supernatural, is ignorance bliss?

Eragon recoiled in shock. Standing in front of him […] was a dragon. (4.10)

Uh, Toto? We ain't in Kansas anymore. We ain't even in Carvahall. Well, technically, we are still in Carvahall, but the introduction of this mythical creature is the key to unlocking an entire universe of supernatural forces for our buddy Eragon.

"Dragons have no beginning […] And if they have an end, it will be when this world perishes, for they suffer as the land does. They, the dwarves, and a few others are the true inhabitants of this land." (6.14)

Interesting idea here, Brom, that the supernatural inhabitants of Eragon's world are the most authentic creatures in that world. If that's true, then Eragon's reality is fundamentally a supernatural reality.

"Yes, a dragon will live for quite a while, forever, in fact, as long as it isn't killed and its Rider doesn't die." (6.54)

So Saphira's also got the supernatural power of living forever—provided that she and Eragon are not killed. Does that mean that Eragon gets to live forever?

An idea, a revelation slowly wormed its way through his mind. He, Eragon—farm boy of Palancar Valley—had used magic. Magic! It was the only word for what had happened. (19.26)

So he's not such a regular guy after all, eh? As Eragon soon learns, though, his supernatural powers bring a lot of super-stressful baggage with them. Would you want to have magic powers  if it meant that you had to rush out and save the world with them?

"I loathe Shades—they practice the most unholy magic, after necromancy." (54.29)

Ooh, burn. Take that Durza. No Christmas card from Angela for you. Here Angela shows us that there are good supernatural powers, like hers (reading fortunes, healing the sick and the wounded), and evil supernatural powers, like the Shade's (summoning spirits from dark, unholy regions). It's a continuation of the struggle of good against evil. (For more on that idea, mosey on over to "Themes: Good vs. Evil." Then hightail it on back here.)

It made sense that they would befriend each other—their personalities were similar, and they were both creatures of magic. (55.110)

Birds of a supernatural feather flock together. In this case, Saphira and Solembum, the werecat, hang out like old pals. The pairing makes sense to Eragon, since both of them share the supernatural realm. Eragon, for his part, sort of straddles that realm. He's both human and more than human. Do you think that it's a challenge for him to exist in these two realms at the same time, belonging wholly to neither?