Nickname: Saphira Brightscales
Featured in: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Voiced By: Rachel Weisz
Let me first start this review by saying that I loathe the film adaptation of Eragon. In point of fact, I sincerely doubt that there is anyone who has read and adored the books hold even a faint inkling of positivity towards the movie. For those who haven’t seen the film or the book, allow me to summarize the basic wrongness that occurred in the film. If the book itself is about a hundred pages long then the film took about twelve of those pages to incorporate into the film itself, never mind the severe alterations throughout what few pages they did make use of. Saphira is one such alteration though hers is a minor one it is one that I cannot for the life of me let go without at least one good rant.
In the books, Saphira is a dragon, from nose to tail, and is often described as having scales of such brilliant blue hues that she is given the nickname of Saphira Brightscales by the elves. I say this because while she is still blue scaled in the film, it is far more dulled down and less brilliant as what is described in the book. Yet the one trait above all others that they incorporate into the film incarnation of Saphira, the one thing that I can never, ever let go, is that they gave her feathers.
Now, before anyone argues the science of evolution and all that, let me first point out by saying that if Saphira’s wings were like that of a bird’s, I’d have absolutely no problem with her having feathers. In fact, I’d dare to say I wish they had given her some plumage about her head if they were going that route. However, such is not the case my dear readers for the film version of Saphira’s wings are akin to those of a bat. A bat’s wings with feathers, which are literally just long enough to hide the membrane but are nothing more than elaborate and unnecessary decoration. Seriously, someone, anyone, explain to me the sense of a creature, even a mythical one, possessing feathers on bat wings.
Stepping down from my soapbox, I will say that Saphira is easily one of the more recognized of dragons in literature as of late since she is one of the few to be female and play a pivotal role in the story from beginning to end, even go so far as to have four books under her wings and a poorly made film adaptation to boot. Aside from the atypical traits of dragons, such as fire breath, Saphira’s species of dragon form a mental/emotional bond with those they deem as their “Riders,” individuals whose heart and souls resonate so closely to their own that they could very well be two halves of the same soul. This is often demonstrated with Saphira and her rider Eragon Shadeslayer when their bond reached a point that the two of them began finishing each others’ sentences without even realizing it.
This bond is physically shown on the palm of the Rider and is referred to as the “gedwëy ignasia” or “shining palm” when translated from the Ancient Language. This mark also has the poor habit of shining brightly whenever a Rider happens to be using their magic but is otherwise nothing more than a brand signifying the bond between dragon and Rider.
Another startling trait amongst dragons in the Inheritance Cycle is their unique form of immortality insomuch that dragons can only die by either succumbing to sickness or by being killed but never to old age. It is said, quite often, that the oldest of dragons are often mistaken for hills, and that the older the dragon gets, the more it is prone to simply falling asleep and dreaming for the rest of time itself. That is of course, unless the dragon has disgorged its “Eldunarí” or “Heart of Hearts” when properly translated
The Eldunarí is a gemlike organ that all dragons possess upon birth and continually grows with them until they either disgorge the thing or are killed, rotting away within the body unless removed. When a dragon disgorges their Eldunarí, they no longer grow in size, but are made truly immortal, as their consciousness will return to their Eldunarí upon death. Alive or dead, a dragon’s Eldunarí can serves as a means of communication between the dragon and whoever holds it and can be used to increase their mental capacity alongside a strong increase of energy. However, a dragon’s Eldunarí is not indestructible and are often given with the promise that should a dragon’s Rider perish first, that the possessor destroy the Eldunarí so the dragon may follow them into oblivion.
As to the realm of Alagaësia… I’m sorry to say that there’s little to it that really stuck out to me as far as a land of fantasy is concerned. To be fair, Alagaësia does possess a myriad of creatures and beings that are unique but are otherwise quite similar to others if not exact copies with a few minor twists in name and function. While humans are the biggest population, there are also dwarves, elves, and urgals, creatures whom are akin to ogres really as far as personality and prowess are concerned.
Yet, out of the many fantastical books I’ve read to feature dragons, Saphira is easily one of the greats and would have been included in my top ten favorite dragons were it not for that awful, awful movie adaptation. While I can’t sing any praises towards Eragon, the boy reminding me too much of such characters like Cú Chulainn in making far too many vows and stretching himself thin, I can’t say enough for Saphira. She is a truly beautiful creature to behold even if one must do so in the realms of their own imagination but even so, she is a dragon whose story I can wholeheartedly say will still be selling of the bookshelves for many, many years to come.