Study Guide

Eragon Prologue

By Christopher Paolini


Shade of Fear

  • Something called a "Shade" is hanging out in the forest. He's tall, looks human, but has "crimson hair and maroon eyes" (Prologue.1). Hmmm.
  • He tells twelve Urgals to get ready to attack whoever is coming down the path. It's either that, or they'll, you know, die. Talk about a motivational speech. (By the way, an Urgal is a human-like creature that has bowed legs, short, thick arms, and horns on its head. In case you weren't familiar.)
  • Everyone hides, but nothing happens for hours. Eventually, though, three white horses appear on the path. 
  • At the front and rear ride male elves, all decked out for battle. Between them is a dark-haired female elf. She's got some sort of pouch in her lap that she keeps checking.
  • As they ride into the ambush, the wind changes direction, and the foul smell of the Urgals alerts their horses. 
  • The elves turn around to flee, but it's too late. The trap is sprung. The Urgals make it rain—with arrows, that is. The male elves are cut down. The Shade says a magic word and blasts the horse out from under the female elf.
  • She recovers, though, and runs off into the woods. (Woo! Yeah, we're already rooting for the elves.) The Shade tells the stinky Urgals to give chase.
  • While they're doing that, he climbs up onto a nearby rock and starts setting the forest on fire with magical blasts. Soon, there's a ring of fire around the perimeter, cutting off the elf's retreat. Lady elf is surrounded.
  • But as the Shade and the Urgals close in, the elf pulls a stone out of her pouch and magically makes it disappear. The Shade fires a blast to stop her, but it's too late.
  • The elf is knocked out by the Shade's blast, but the stone is already gone. The Shade ain't happy.
  • To cheer himself up, he kills the nine remaining Urgals (the elf killed three when they tried to catch her). Then he ties the unconscious elf to his horse and rides away, the forest in flames behind him. 
  • Yeah, we're thinking this guy is bad news.