How I Would Have Ended "Inheritance"
I don’t know about you, but “Inheritance” was pretty dang disappointing, even as an anti-fan with low expectations. I finished with a “That’s it?” No real sacrifices, no real discoveries or reveals—it was a book where things just kind of happened and it didn’t really matter when they did.
So I’ve been thinking about ways that, with considerable rewriting and revision, Inheritance may have been, if not a good book, then at least a bit more rewarding and entertaining. I thought I’d share my thoughts; they might be a little bit more entertaining than Inheritance was. Hooray!
Naturally, if we’re going to rewrite, a few things from the past books would need to change. I’d probably leave Eragon: A New Hope more or less the same. That book was actually mostly enjoyable to read.
In Eldest and Brisingr, Eragon would have two main objectives: 1) unite the races of Alagaesia under his banner against Galbatorix and 2) complete his Rider training. Oh, and rescue Murtaugh and the green egg. So the dwarven politics and spending time with the Urgals would actually have a purpose other than “Look at my worldbuilding! Isn’t it awesome?”
Eragon still loses Zar’roc to Murtaugh, but instead of making a sword, he has to go on a quest to find Brom’s old blade (because I’d like to actually incorporate the theme of inheritance into the Inheritance series—might be a good idea). The Elves will point-blank not follow a Rider without an Elvish-made Rider sword. He gets a clue from the Menoa tree as to where the Riders’ old outpost was, and he journeys there to try to find Brom’s old sword.
The old outpost has been mostly destroyed, but there are a few records of the history of the Riders. Eragon begins to read and finds that it’s true that the Riders of old brought about peace and order to Alagaesia. They did primarily by oppressing and enslaving other races they deemed unworthy of the order they so desired (hence, why Urgals and dwarves were never considered to be suitable Riders, because Elves are jerks).
He also finds the Eldunari of Umaroth, the dragon of Vrael who was the last of the Riders before Galbatorix wiped them out. Umaroth mind melds with Eragon. He sees that Eragon wants to reinstate the Riders and is thrilled. He shows Eragon how things were before, when Riders were in their full supremacy, ruling almost as kings or gods (“the world gave us the proper respect we deserve as dragons and Riders”).
He also shows how the Riders intentionally kept the races separated and in frozen states of technological development; they didn’t want anything to challenge their authority, and being extremely powerful magicians that happen to ride fire-breathing dragons, that wasn’t particularly difficult to do. They hunted down and imprisoned/killed scientists and magicians who didn’t support them. They stole from and burned down libraries. They maintained peace in Alagaesia, certainly. They also maintained stagnation.
Eragon, being in this version of the story an actually pretty cool person and not a raging sociopath, gets a little freaked out by this. After all, his purpose in defying Galbatorix is for freedom’s sake and to end the strife between the races. He tries to escape, but Umaroth sees into his mind and seizes hold of it, trying to crush Eragon’s will and take him over. Eragon screams for Saphira’s help, and she destroys the Eldunari in order to free Eragon.
They collect Brom’s sword and leave the island. For the rest of Brisingr and a good chunk of Inheritance, Eragon ponders whether or not it’s a good idea to reinstate the Riders.
In the meantime, Galbatorix has actually been doing more than just twiddling his thumbs. While Eragon was off to the island, Galby and Shruikan launched an attack on Ellesmera, which killed many of the elves (I’d probably have Islandzadi die in this battle), destroyed much of the forest, and left many of the survivors badly wounded. Arya would abstain heavy burns which will permanently mar her face. The Menoa tree burns down.
Infuriated by this, the elf Rhunon decides to break her oath. Using the smoldering coals from the Menoa tree and a piece of star iron, she forges the dauthdaert/death-dart. Because it was forged in the remains of dragon fire, it has the ability to pierce dragon skin better than normal iron.
Eragon and Saphira return to Ellesmera in time to find Rhunon finishing the dauthdaert. As she completes the last touches of the weapon, her oath is broken and her soul shatters, tearing her into shadow-pieces as her screams ring through the forest. This act of breaking an oath in the Ancient Language imbues the weapon with magical immunity; wards provide no defense against it. Through her sacrifice, Eragon now has a weapon that can defeat a magician even as powerful as Galbatorix.
At some point Eragon and company go to Helgrind to rescue Nasuada (might as well make Helgrind a prison while we’re changing things). There, they meet an Urgal woman named Kayana (a new character for the series) and the green dragon egg. They wind up grappling with Murtaugh and Thorn. Using some knowledge he learned on the Riders’ island, Eragon manages to partially break Galbatorix’s hold on Murtaugh. Mostly, I just want Murtaugh to be rescued so he can be useful in the final showdown. I like Murtaugh. They all manage to escape, killing a number of Ra’zac and Lethrblaka in the process.
The green egg hatches for Kayana, which is a surprise for everyone. The elves back at the Varden camp are pretty disgusted about this, and while Eragon himself is a little taken aback, he thinks it is encouraging that they now have three Riders on their side and feels like this will help gain the Urgals’ support as well.
They spend some time forging alliances between races and leading battles against Galbatorix’s forces. They manage to free a number of towns, and eventually they get to a point where all the races are behind Eragon and they’re ready to take down Galbatorix himself. [This part would need some fleshing out, methinks]
Murtaugh, only having partial control over his mental faculties, doesn’t feel like he can help out in the combat. He explains to Nasuada that he hates Galbatorix and wants to fight against him, but at the same time he constantly has (thanks to Galbatorix’s meddling) an urge to kill Nasuada and Eragon and everyone in the Varden—and he probably could, too. So he thinks it’s best if he confines himself to camp and not face Galby head-on.
Roran and his men launch a ground-attack on Uru’baen, along with the dwarves. The werecats and Elves work magic throughout the city to wreak havoc, and the werecats manage to assassinate many key leaders throughout the town. At first, Eragon is confused because he can’t see Galbatorix anywhere while the Varden seem to be actually doing a fairly decent job. Then he notices that Helgrind seems to have an extra peak to it.
Galbatorix and a fleet of Shades descend from Helgrind and attack Eragon in the air. Eragon evades and ducks, trying to just survive and give his ground crew a chance to fire the dauthdaert (using a ballista).
Firnen is still too small to ride at this point, so he and Kayana are fighting on the ground. When the Shades begin attacking, she feels that they’re somehow familiar. As she fights with one, she manages to destroy his form (she doesn’t hit him in the heart) and realizes that he’s made up of spirits. Urgal spirits.
Spirits, in this rewrite, are the ancestral ghosts of the Urgals. When a human or elf tries to pull those souls into their bodies, it corrupts them both but it does give them magical powers. This gave Shades strong abilities to command and control Urgals, because they’re part Urgal themselves.
Urgals tend to have a form of ancestor worship (I’d imagine them to be more like the Tauren in World of Warcraft than the orcs in LOTR), and this upsets Kayana deeply. She begins picking out the Shades attacking the Varden, and says in the Ancient Language, “Free my people!” She’s able to take out many of the Shades.
Birgit, who is an excellent shot, finally gets a clear view of Shruikan and manages to pierce him with the dauthdaert. He screams and crashes through the roof of the cathedral we saw in book 1, almost completely demolishing the building. Eragon lands to try to finish him off.
Galbatorix pulls the dauthdaert from Shruikan’s side and magically heals him. The wound was very deep and severe, so the healing spell uses up a lot of Galbatorix’s stored power. As Eragon lands, Galbatorix throws the spear at Saphira and hits her solidly in the chest.
Eragon feels her pain shortly, and then nothing. He pulls the spear out of her (broken, now), and realizes that it’s struck her Eldunari, cracking it. She looks at him, frightened, and now that the Eldunari is broken, they’ve lost their telepathic connection. Galbatorix comes running toward Eragon as Shruikan also starts to stand, so Eragon pushes Saphira away and runs for cover himself into a labyrinth that was beneath the cathedral.
He runs through the dark labyrinth, holding onto the remains of the dauthdaert which keep him from being magically seen by Galby. Saphira flies away with Shruikan in pursuit. Galbatorix follows Eragon down into the dark labyrinth.
Saphira manages to get away from Shruikan and flies back to the Varden camp. Shruikan, meanwhile, presumably starts roasting/eating Roran’s men. Saphira lands in front of Nasuada and Murtaugh, who realize they can’t speak to her, nor her to them. They assume from her behavior that Eragon must have been killed. Murtaugh, now in a fury, gets on Thorn to join the fray.
Galbatorix and Eragon play cat-and-mouse in the labyrinth. The place Eragon finds himself was once the catacombs for the human kings and queens who ruled the city, but now it’s a vault where Galbatorix stores his Eldunari, most of them now only faintly glowing from magic expenditure.
Galbatorix begins to tease him, saying that the measure of a Rider is the number of his hearts, and Galbatorix has thousands. Now that Eragon can’t use his magic, he has none. He’s surrounded by the biggest accumulation of magical wealth in the world and has no means to use it. Eragon keeps to the shadows, trying to hide, but he knows that Galbatorix will eventually hide him.
The battle rages on above ground. Arya and Roran have breached the walls and are pouring into the city. Kayana and Firnen are wreaking havoc against the remaining Shades, which has gotten easier as now they have a legion of Urgal spirits behind them. The dwarves begin their TNT demolition in some key Uru’baen defenses. Thorn and Shruikan are grappling in the sky. The Varden are obtaining heavy casualties, but they are gaining ground.
Eragon finds a place to hide and catch his breath. He can see a little by the glow of the Eldunari, and he pulls out a fairth (magical polaroid) from his pocket. It’s an image of himself and most of his comrades in the Varden: Nasuada, Roran, Arya, Angela, Murtaugh, Kayana, Saphira, Solembum, and even a faint ghostly image of Brom. Arya had created it for him on one of Saphira’s shed scales.
Eragon realizes that Galbatorix is right; the measure of a Rider *is* the number of his hearts, but not Eldunari; it’s the hearts of the people that follow him. Renewed in his courage, Eragon climbs out of his hiding place, pulls out Brom’s sword, and begins destroying the Eldunari. Galbatorix screams, “What are you doing?!” but Eragon does not stop. While he doesn’t want to kill all of these ancient dragons, he knows that this much power is too much for anyone. It may mean the end of Rider knowledge, but it is the only way.
As Eragon begins to destroy the Eldunari, many of Galbatorix’s enchantments start breaking down. His soldiers become far more vulnerable, mortal, and able to surrender. The Varden successfully take the city.
Murtaugh is now able to control himself. He and Thorn are winning against Shruikan. Thorn rips at Shruikan’s neck and wrestles him to the ground. Galbatorix’s enchantments on Shruikan are also broken, and Murtaugh and Thorn see that, as old and malicious as he is, Shruikan is still very much a baby dragon who never really had a chance to experience freedom. Shruikan slowly dies from his wounds, and Thorn and Murtaugh stay by his side as he fades away.
Eragon destroys the last of the Eldunari and runs back above ground, Galbatorix in pursuit. All around them, they see the signs of Galbatorix’s grasp weakening. Eragon turns and confronts Galbatorix for some sword fighting and whatnot. Eragon points to the fallen city around them. “Look around you! Without magic, you have nothing. Without your dragon, you are nothing!” He goes on to talk about how Galbatorix’s time and dynasty is over. Without his magic, Galbatorix has no one that would follow him. He is entirely alone.
Galbatorix, realizing that he’s lost a dragon and everything that he’s worked his life to obtain, uses his last bit of magic to say “I am nothing” and ends himself.
The day is won! Hooray! The Varden start sorting through captives to see if there were any that were willingly followers of Galbatorix (not many, but some) and release those who were merely obedient due to spells. They put the dead to rest.
Eragon, Murtaugh, and Kayana talk about the future of the Riders while Thorn has gone to find Saphira. Kayana wants to keep the Riders going and tells Eragon she wants to apprentice under him. Murtaugh says he wants Ridership to end; he’s seen too well first-hand what a magician with access to a dragon can do, and while he loves Thorn, their bond was one formed from magic rather than choice. When Thorn returns, he intends to break the bond so that Thorn is Thorn’s, and Murtaugh is Murtaugh’s.
Eragon agrees with Murtaugh. Kayana will keep her bond with her dragon, but no more dragon eggs produced will have the binding spells put on them.
Eventually Thorn and Saphira return—and Saphira’s pregnant! (okay, let me ship just a little) Saphira and Thorn can talk to each other as dragons, but she can’t use mental speech with Eragon. However, she does recognize him and returns to him. Eragon comments that they’re going to have to learn how to be partners in a different way, now, but he’s really happy to have her back.
Murtaugh and Thorn sever their magical bonds to each other. They decide to go their separate ways for a while—Thorn especially wants to travel to old wild dragon country. He wants to experience the world and what it is to be a dragon, especially after visiting Shruikan’s mind. Murtaugh likewise wants to travel, anonymously and just experience a bit of life. They agree to meet again in two years and part as good friends.
Kayana and Firnen plan on visiting all of the Urgal tribes. She wants to meet more of her kind, especially to share stories with them and collect their stories to compile in books for humans and Elves to read. Carn (I am deciding that he didn’t die in Inheritance; I liked him) wants to go along with her, partially to train her a bit more in magic and writing and partially because they’re good friends.
Nasuada, Orin, Arya, and the other national leaders talk about rebuilding, and Eragon stresses the importance of the races working together, especially when they don’t have Rider overlords to keep them in check.
Arya and Eragon share a moment (I’m deciding in this rewrite he wouldn’t be totally creepy) where she tells him that the reason why the Varden won was because Eragon had a power that was stronger than magic. Eragon asks what that was. She gives him a kiss on the cheek and says “love. We won because those who follow you do so out of love.”
Eragon and Saphira leave for a while to a place of Saphira’s choosing so she can lay her eggs. Eragon plans on helping her through the birthing, and he assumes they’ll travel after that.
And everyone lived happily ever after.