Dragons were an ancient race of sentient creatures native to the land of Alagaësia. While most roamed free and did not commonly associate with the civilizations of other races, a significant number were the mounts and life-long companions of the Dragon Riders. Apart from werecats, spirits, Nïdhwal, and Lethrblaka, dragons were the only known intelligent non-humanoid species.
There were only five known dragons left in Alagaësia during the Rider War: Shruikan, Saphira, Thorn, Firnen, (though Saphira, Firnen, and Thorn were merely still eggs) and Glaedr. He was the only other dragon known to be alive at the start of the Rider War, then he was killed by Galbatorix (through Murtagh and Thorn) and then resided in his Eldunarí which was in Eragon's possession. However, there were still eggs in existence, hidden on Vroengard, ancient home of the Riders.
The dragons of Alagaësia were reptilian, with scales, sharp teeth, bat-like membraned wings. and a tongue that was covered with hooked barbs.They developed the ability to breathe fire as they matured. Their color varied from dragon to dragon, and there appeared to be some variation in features between different colored dragons. For example, Saphira, a blue dragon, possesses four cheek spikes, slightly curved horns, and two forehead spikes while Thorn, a red dragon, had wide, crescent-shaped horns, and two cheek spikes. Glaedr, who was gold, had six cheek spikes, crooked horns, and a beard. According to Brom, dragons could grow to be "larger than most houses" and that some older dragons could be confused with large hills. They were connected to the land in strange ways, that sometimes even they could not control. This is shown when Saphira touched Zar'roc with her muzzle, and when she turned Brom's grave to diamond.
Dragon eggs tended to be the same color as the dragon's scales, as did the color of their Rider's magic. Their scales were very strong, capable of deflecting arrows, even on the underbelly. The wings were the weakest part on their body, composed of only a thin membrane of flesh (Saphira often had holes punched in them once her wards failed). Females tended to be more aggressive, vain, and stronger than males; Saphira often called herself the "most beautiful creature in all of Alagaësia", as well as attacking Glaedr when he decided not to mate with her. Glaedr himself said that in the wild, the "females were so formidable". For most dragons, the color of their eyes and hide matched (though this was not always the case). They also possessed long, barbed tongues. All dragons ate meat, especially deer and other ungulates. The dragons were similar to other creatures, namely the Nïdhwalar and the Fanghur who were said by Glaedr to be "cousins of the dragons". The Lethrblaka were also said to resemble the dragons somewhat in their appearance.
Dragons hatched from eggs. It is unclear if all dragons were the same size at birth as the size of their eggs varied. When dragons reached about six months old, they gained the ability to breathe fire. Predators by nature, they hunted large animals, with an occasional fish or fowl and some plants, such as Fireweed, which eased bad breath and indigestion.
Dragons started to mate when they were young. They were unfading and did not die, unless by wounds in battle or by sickness. There was no limit to a dragon's size, as they grew continuously. Brom said that the most ancient dragons could be confused for hills or small mountains because of their size; a dragon's size directly correlated to the size of the Eldunarí. The largest known dragon was Raugmar the Black. Once dragons grew large, they spent most of their time asleep in a dream stage.
When the Unbound Dragons delivered one of their eggs to the Riders, certain words were said over it. These ensured that the dragon would only hatch for the one destined to be its Rider.
If a dragon's Rider was ever killed, they would go on rampage to avenge their death. Afterwards, they often died from grief. If they so chose to, after dying, they could retain their conscious mind in their Eldunarí, or their jeweled "heart of hearts". This allowed anyone with the Eldunarí - if the dragon gave it up to someone - to speak to the dragon and draw energy from them. The dragons could give up their Eldunarí and still live on until the dragon died. It was revealed by the elf Oromis that Galbatorix, during his rebellion, acquired all the Eldunarí from the dragons he killed, which was the source of his amplified power. He also gave some of them to Murtagh, which explains his increased power.
However, though Galbatorix did collect all the avalible eggs and Eldunarí, there were many hidden in the Vault of Souls underneath the Rock of Kuthian on Vroengard, which Galbatorix was oblivious of.
Along with the dwarves and the Grey Folk, dragons were one of the three races native to Alagäesia. The dwarves and the dragons constantly had skirmishes, and neither ever found any liking for the other race. Additionally, there were never any dwarf Dragon Riders because the dwarves were not included in the Blood Oath.
Du Fyrn Skulblaka
After a dragon was killed by a rash elf, the long and bitter Fyrn Skulblaka started between the two races. Each side did things they would regret; at one point, elves ambushed dragon mothers in a forested nesting-place (Stone of Broken Eggs), killing them and breaking their eggs. Eventually, however, an elf named Eragon I (namesake of the current Eragon) discovered an abandoned dragon egg and raised the dragon as his own. Together, the pair acted as mediators for the dragons and Elves, and were able to eventually resolve the conflict. Afterward, they established a pact and created the order of the Dragon Riders. The dragons and their Riders were tasked with maintaining the peace in Alagäesia. Humans were later added to the blood oath when they arrived.
The Dragon Rider Era
The dragons agreed to give some of their eggs to the Riders so that the order could continue. With the protection and assistance of the Riders, the dragons experienced an age of peace. Though they still had contentions with the dwarves, a full-scale war never again erupted between races.
During and after Galbatorix's rebellion, most of the dragons, along with their Riders, were killed. The Forsworn began a mass genocide of the dragons, leaving them on the brink of extinction. Galbatorix's dragon was thought to be the only surviving dragon. However, Galbatorix still held three dragon eggs, and there was another surviving dragon, Glaedr, living in Du Weldenvarden. By Eragon's time, there were only five known dragons in existence:
- Saphira: Eragon's dragon, a blue female
- Shruikan: Galbatorix's dragon, a black male
- Thorn: Murtagh's dragon, a red male
- Fírnen: Arya's dragon, a green male
- Glaedr: Oromis's dragon, a gold male (died during the elven invasion of Gil'ead in Brisingr, later resided in his Eldunarí)
When Eragon discovered the blue dragon egg in the Spine and eventually became Saphira's Rider, some hope was restored for the dragons. Galbatorix also wanted to reestablish the dragon race and the Riders to serve him.
Saphira was the last known female dragon in existence. As revealed by Murtagh, it was Galbatorix's desire to reestablish the order of Dragon Riders. Therefore, it was likely that Saphira would have become the "mother" of their race.
However, in the Vault of Souls, Eragon found that Vrael, Oromis, and a few other elders had realized that Galbatorix was too powerful, and decided to hide away 136 Eldunarí and 243 dragon eggs, 26 of which were saved for the new generation of Dragon Riders, and then the Eldunarí cast a spell like that of the Banishing of Names, that erased the memory of the Rock of Kuthian from everone's minds, including that of the Riders, and the mothers of the dragon eggs. This spell would also prevent anyone who entered and left the vault from remembering the dragon eggs in the vault until the demise of Galbatorix. Eragon took these eggs with him at the end of Inheritance.
In response to a fan question, Christopher Paolini stated that dragons would normally choose their own names once they were old enough to understand the concept. Additionally, it wasn't unheard of for a dragon to change his or her name over the centuries. In a perversion of the normal custom, Galbatorix gave Shruikan his name.
In the first book, when Eragon asked Brom about dragons and the Dragon Riders, he asked him about the names of the former dragons before the fall of the order. Amongst them was Saphira, the name of Brom's former dragon. Later, Eragon shares the list of names with her, and she chooses Saphira. Also, when Murtagh explains why his dragon is named Thorn, it is unclear whether Thorn chose his name or Murtagh. Christopher Paolini has stated in an interview that Thorn did indeed choose his own name.
Dragons mentioned within the series
- Agaravel, a dragon in its Eldunarí who's rider was killed by Kialandi and Formora
- Belgabad, wild, the largest dragon at the time of the fall
- Bid'Daum, dragon of Eragon I
- Cuaroc, Purple male
- Ënurfala, mythological, mentioned only in a deleted scene
- Fundor, the dragon that fought a Sea Serpent
- Glaedr, Oromis's dragon
- Fírnen, Arya's dragon, a green male
- Formora's dragon, a brown dragon
- Iormúngr, Saphira II's sire (father)
- Jarnunvösk, Galbatorix's first dragon
- Kialandi's dragon, a purple dragon
- Morzan's dragon
- Saphira I, Brom's dragon
- Saphira II, Eragon's dragon
- Shruikan, Galbatorix's dragon
- Spectral Dragon
- Thorn, Murtagh's dragon
- Umaroth, Vrael's dragon
- Unnamed White Dragon
- Valdr, one of the elder Dragons hidden within the Vault of Souls
- Vanilor, king of the Dragons
- Vervada, Saphira II's dam (mother)
In an October 2011 interview conducted by Shurtugal.com, Christopher Paolini stated, when asked whether any wild dragons survived:
Mike (Shurtugal): Brom says of Vrael in Eragon, “Ancient and wise, [Vrael] struggled to save what he could and keep the remaining dragons from falling to his enemies.” Is this insinuating that Vrael managed to save some wild dragons, or are we reading too far into this?
Christopher Paolini: Vrael was trying to save some wild dragons, but he didn’t succeed.
Mike (Shurtugal): This may be a path you’re unwilling to head down, but I’ll ask anyway. We debated this on the last podcast… dragons can fly incredible distances, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to assume there are some beyond what we see of Alagaësia — or would it?
Christopher Paolini: It would. Dragons have certainly lived pretty much everywhere in the world where Alagaësia exists. However, if any still lived, Galbatorix would have tracked them down and killed or enslaved them. Remember, Galbatorix has the strength of all of the Eldunarí at his disposal. He has enough energy to reach out to any distance with his mind. It would be extremely difficult for wild dragons (who can only rarely use magic) to hide from him. The only reason that Glaedr escaped was because he was under the protection of the elves.