Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Names in "Inheritance"

I think it's about time that I looked at the use of names in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle...

SPOILERS for the first three books (the fourth isn't out yet lol)!

Angela -- Named for Paolini's sister. She originally wasn't in the story, but she apparently inserted herself into it. Which isn't surprising, knowing our character Angela. But I don't know anything about Paolini's sister Angela, so I can't say anything else.

Argetlam -- The dwarves' (agh! I don't know how to spell that properly!!) word meaning "silver hand", used to refer to a dragon rider's gedwëy ignasia. It sounds supiciously like Airgetlám, which is another name for Nuada, from Irish mythology. Airgetlám, according to Wikipedia*, means "silver hand/arm."

Nuada was king of the Tuatha dé Danann, and lost his arm in battle. Because a king must be perfect he lost his kingship (and was forced to make way for someone who was not a great king) but eventually got a new arm made of silver.

Bid'duam --The first Eragon's dragon was named Bid'duam, which is the name -- spelled backwards -- of Frank Herbert's character Maud'dib. It's been so long since I've even read those books though, I'm not going to try to figure out why Paolini used that name at the moment.

Eragon -- This is "dragon" with the d replaced with an e. Yes, this was intentional on Paolini's part. I guess it's to emphasize Eragon's connection with the dragons, and that his proper place in life is as a dragon rider?

Hrothgar -- In Beowulf Hrothgar* is king of the Danes. He dies, just like our Hrothgar dies. Killed by the "monster." Hmm.

Maud -- A werecat. Obviously, "Maud" is part of Maud-dib's name. Hey, might there be a connection between this werecat and Bid-duam? Hmm...

Naegling* -- A sword in Beowulf! This is also the name of Oromis's sword. In Beowulf, the sword fails Beowulf in his final fight against the dragon, not because the sword was too weak but rather because of Beowulf's strength. In Inheritance, however, it failed Oromis because of his infirmity, which caused him to drop Naegling.

Note: It's spelled Naegling in the book (Brisingr, 734), though in the Wikipedia article about Beowulf's sword it is spelled Nægling.

*I know that Wikipedia isn't accepted as a source in academic writings but I'm not writing this for school, and anyways this is info that I know I've read elsewhere. It's just easier to use Wikipedia as my reference rather than looking through my other books.

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