So in Inheritance, Eragon has to figure out his true name to

enter the vault of souls

And that sounds like a ren from Egyptian mythology.

Is that where Paolini was inspired to create true names?

  • It would be appreciated if you can use valid information instead of 'whatever'
    – Jack
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:52

They were inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin and folklore

The true names were one of my favorite things to write about. Fair mention to Ursula K. Le Guin and all the folklore I read growing up that introduced me to the concept.

Reddit AMA 2


I think that, while it certainly shares similarities with a Ren, Paolini was probably more inspired by true names from other stories. The concept of true names having power crops up in many fantasy stories. In his authors note at the end of inheritance Paolini says he is a fan of fantasy works. I would suggest he picked up the true name concept from these works rather than Egyptian mythology.

  • 3
    The oldest example I can remember from my own reading of fantasy novels is the Earthsea stories by Ursula K. LeGuin. In Earthsea, a person's "true name" is kept as tightly secret as possible. (For instance, members of your immediate family might know, and a few very close friends.) But it was understood that a wizard who knew your true name could do all sorts of nasty things to you when he used your name in a spell. Only after a person's death would his "true name" become a part of the public record. (And I suspect that sometimes not even then!)
    – Lorendiac
    Aug 6 '16 at 1:30

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