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In the Inheritance Cycle, are there any instances where the Eldunari are mentioned, before Oromis explains it to Eragon? I mean, apart from the point in Brisingr where Eragon talks to a wounded solider who says he saw multiple souls within Murtagh.

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Not directly, but Solembum tells Eragon about the Vault of Souls inside the Rock of Kuthian. I think I remember Glaedr and Oromis hinting at it, but they never explained it directly to him anytime before their talk about Eldunari. Oromis says he thinks he knows where Galbatorix's power comes from - the Eldunari, of course.

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There is an instance in Eldest right before Eragon and Sahpira leave Ellesméra to fight in the Battle of the burning plains. It is Glaedr's last line in the book.

Extending his neck, he [Glaedr] touched the tip of his nose to Saphira's, hit gold eyes glittering like swirling pools of embers. Remember to keep your heart safe, Saphira. She hummed in response.

Keeping her "heart" safe is obviously a reference to the heart-of-hearts or Eldunari.

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  • It's also a reference to Eragon; losing a rider is just as traumatic for a dragon as losing a dragon is for the rider.
    – brichins
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 20:52
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Eldunarí existed in Christopher's worldbuilding notes prior to the first draft of Eragon being written.

I’ve had the idea for the Eldunarí since the very beginning of the series. It was frustrating knowing about them but not being able to talk about the heart of hearts for almost ten years.
Shurtugal.com May 2009 Interview

The first page of the first draft was reproduced in the back of the 15th anniversary edition of Eragon. At the top of the page is some worldbuilding notes, which mention dragon hearts.

enter image description here
When a dragon dies the rider is supposed to turn in the heart. This is done because when a rider loses a dragon they are not considered stable enough to handle the heart's power.

Christopher says that they were even originally going to have a direct role in the first book, but he dialed back on the exposition and removed them.

The epigraph to the draft page of Eragon in the B&N 15th anniversary edition discusses dragon hearts. In the book as published of course, dragon hearts are nowhere discussed, and don't enter until the end of book three as a twist. When did the decision come to hide them from the reader? Also, were there any notable differences between how you had first conceived of these hearts and the final Eldunarí that we get in the books? And was there a plot reason why that draft opens with them? Did they originally have a big role early on?
The Eldunarí were part of my original worldbuilding for Eragon/IC. During the first draft of Eragon, I went too far with a bunch of stuff: character development, exposition of the world, etc. So I dialed it back in revisions and used those developments and information for later twists and events.
The epigraph was actually just part of my notes, which ran right into the actual writing of the book. I never had epigraphs before any of the chapters. (Maybe in a future book!)

Reddit AMA - November 2023

In the books as published, Eldunarí are not directly revealed until the end of Brisingr, but they are at hinted at numerous times.

  • Solembum tells Eragon to seek the Vault of Souls.

Listen closely and I will tell you two things. When the time comes and you need a weapon, look under the roots of the Menoa tree. Then, when all seems lost and your power is insufficient, go to the Rock of Kuthian and speak your name to open the Vault of Souls.
Eragon - "The Witch and the Werecat"

  • When Eragon asks Oromis how Galbatorix keeps getting stronger, Oromis says that he knows the answer, just that Eragon isn't ready for it yet.

“Wards,” said Oromis, “rely upon the strength of your body. If that strength is exceeded, you die. No matter how many wards you have, you will only be able to block attacks so long as your body can sustain the output of energy.”
“And Galbatorix’s strength has been increasing each year.… How is that possible?
It was a rhetorical question, yet when Oromis remained silent, his almond eyes fixed on a trio of swallows pirouetting overhead, Eragon realized that the elf was considering how best to answer him. The birds chased each other for several minutes. When they flitted from view, Oromis said, “It is not appropriate to have this discussion at the present.”
Then you know?” exclaimed Eragon, astonished.
I do. But that information must wait until later in your training. You are not ready for it.” Oromis looked at Eragon, as if expecting him to object.
Eldest - "The Nature of Evil"

  • When they leave Oromis and Glaedr, Glaedr tells Saphira to keep her heart safe.

“And may peace live in your heart,” finished the silver-haired elf. He repeated the exchange with Saphira. “Now go and fly as fast as the north wind, knowing that you—Saphira Brightscales and Eragon Shadeslayer—carry the blessing of Oromis, last scion of House Thrándurin, he who is both the Mourning Sage and the Cripple Who Is Whole.”
And mine as well, added Glaedr. Extending his neck, he touched the tip of his nose to Saphira’s, his gold eyes glittering like swirling pools of embers. Remember to keep your heart safe, Saphira. She hummed in response.
Eldest - "Gifts"

  • Before dying, the Ra'zac tells Eragon that Galbatorix has more "hearts" than him.

Thirty feet in front of him stood the Ra’zac. Blood dripped from the hem of the creature’s ragged robes. “My massster does not want me to kill you,” it hissed.
“But that does not matter to you now.”
“No. If I fall to your staff, let Galbatorix deal with you as he will. He has more heartsss than you do.”
Eragon laughed. “Hearts? I am the champion of the people, not him.”
“Foolish boy.” The Ra’zac cocked its head slightly, looking past him at the corpse of the other Ra’zac farther up the tunnel. “She was my hatchmate. You have become ssstrong since we firssst met, Shadeslayer.”
Brisingr - "Rider and Ra'zac"

  • When fighting, Murtagh says that Eragon would need to tear out his hearts

Unable to contain himself any longer, Eragon said, “I would sooner tear out my own heart!”
“Better to tear out my hearts,” Murtagh replied, then stabbed Zar’roc overhead and shouted a wild war cry.
Brisingr - "Fire in the Sky"

  • Bregan, the wounded soldier who can see energy sources, tells Eragon that he sensed Murtagh drawing his power from tortured captive inhuman sources

“Listen to me, Shadeslayer,” whispered the man, pulling Eragon toward his lined face. “I saw your brother, and he burned. But he did not burn like you. Oh no. The light from his soul shone through him, as if it came from somewhere else. He, he was a void, a shape of a man. And through that shape came the brilliance that burned. Do you understand? Others illuminated him.”
“Where were these others? Did you see them as well?”
The warrior hesitated. “I could feel them close at hand, raging at the world as if they hated everything in it, but their bodies were hidden from my sight. They were there and not there. I cannot explain better than that…. I would not want to get any closer to those creatures, Shadeslayer. They aren’t human, of that I’m sure, and their hate, it was like the largest thunderstorm you’ve ever seen crammed into a tiny glass bottle.”
“And when the bottle breaks …,” Eragon murmured.
“Exactly, Shadeslayer. Sometimes I wonder if Galbatorix has managed to capture the gods themselves and make them his slaves, but then I laugh and call myself a fool.”
Brisingr - "Man and Wife"

I wouldn't mind being so far away from you if only I could still touch your mind. That's the worst part of it: the horrible sense of emptiness. We dare not even speak to each other through the mirror in Nasuada's tent, for people would wonder why you kept visiting her without me.
Saphira blinked and flicked out her tongue, and he sensed a strange shift in her emotions.
What? he asked.
I … She blinked again. I agree. I wish we could remain in mental contact when we were at great distances from each other. It would reduce our worry and trouble and would allow us to confound the Empire more easily. She hummed with satisfaction as he sat next to her and began to scratch the small scales behind the corner of her jaw.
Brisingr - "Orders"

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The Eldunari were mentioned earlier but in an indirect way. It was an instance when Eragon was fighting his second battle with Murtagh, and Eragon felt a great power within Murtagh which was not his own, but was being supplied from an unknown source which were actually the Eldunari as was eventually revealed later in the series.

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murtagh said you might as well rip out my hearts

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  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This answer could use some additional information; when did this happen? Can you provide an exact quote? Also while this may allude to the Eldunari, it's not clear it qualifies as a mention.
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 3:03

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