He watched as a group of people on proud horses approached a lonely river. Many had silver hair and carried tall lances. A strange, fair ship waited for them, shining under a bright moon. The figures slowly boarded the vessel; two of them, taller than the rest, walked arm in arm. Their faces were obscured by cowls, but he could tell that one was a woman. They stood on the deck of the ship and faced the shore. A man stood alone on the pebble beach, the only one who had not boarded the ship. He threw back his head and let out a long, aching cry. As it faded, the ship glided down the river, without a breeze or oars, out into the flat, empty land. The vision clouded, but just before it disappeared, Eragon glimpsed two dragons in the sky.
This is Eragon’s dream from the chapter Deathwatch in Eragon. Many meanings could be taken from this chapter and all seem to point to the end of the Inheritance Cycle, the epilogue most likely. The most popular interpretation is Eragon leaving Alagaesia as Angela foretold. He would leave with the elves, and of course Saphira and the new dragon, to a new land. Perhaps that was the Menoa Tree’s price, to leave Alagaesia and never return.
I, however, have a different idea on what this dream could mean. I believe that it is the elves traveling to the afterlife. Yes, I’m saying that Eragon dies. I have looked over this little excerpt many times and I’ve noticed a few interesting things about it, very interesting.
“He watched as a group of people on proud horses approached a lonely river. Many had silver hair and carried tall lances.”
Paolini has described these horses as being proud, so they must not have been traveling for very long. The fact that the river is ‘lonely’ suggests that they are not near any sort of civilization.
These descriptions tell us that these people boarding the ship are obviously elves as it is common for those of their race to have silver hair. If they are indeed heading to the afterlife, my guess would be that it is one only for the elves and as Eragon is more elf than human now, he would go with them.
“A strange, fair ship waited for them, shining under a bright moon. “
While as this is most likely an elven ship and those are built more beautifully than those of humans, even they build them for practicality. The fact that the ship is not only fair, but also strange, gives us the image that these ships are otherworldly. A ship meant to bear it’s passengers to the land of the dead would not be practical, as it would not be needed in the afterlife and an otherworldly appearance would be perfectly logical. The elves are also boarding this ship at night which is odd in of itself. People generally don’t board ships at night because of the lack of visibility, it makes it dangerous. This makes me think that in this place, it is always night, which would explain the sparse landscape.
“The figures slowly boarded the vessel; two of them, taller than the rest, walked arm in arm. Their faces were obscured by cowls, but he could tell that one was a woman.”
These two people are isolated from the rest of the elves boarding the ship, so they must be important. As is the general belief, I think that these two are Eragon and Arya, their linked arms denoting that they have, or rather had, some kind of relationship. As for their faces being hidden, I believe that is so the Eragon who had the dream would not realize who it is or what it meant. ‘Cause think about it, it wouldn’t exactly be very nice to have a prophetic dream about leaving for the land of the dead.
“They stood on the deck of the ship and faced the shore. A man stood alone on the pebble beach, the only one who had not boarded the ship. He threw back his head and let out a long, aching cry.”
The man on the beach I believe to be human, for only elves can board the ship and go to wherever it takes them, and is probably either dead or near death. I am suspecting near death and he is stuck in a sort of limbo, unable to join the elves because he is human and unable to go to his own afterlife because he is not quite dead. The man, I am guessing is either Roran or Murtagh. Roran would be lamenting the death of his cousin and Murtagh, depending on which side he is on in the end, would be too. However, if I had to choose between which one it would be more likely to be, I would guess Roran.
“ As it faded, the ship glided down the river, without a breeze or oars, out into the flat, empty land. The vision clouded, but just before it disappeared, Eragon glimpsed two dragons in the sky.”
This ship is moving without any sort of external force, which cements the idea that it is a ship of the dead. Chances are it is not being moved by magic because it would require a very large amount of concentration and energy to move a ship for who knows how long.
Now, Angela’s fortune telling contradicts this idea because she foretold that Eragon would live for either for an extremely long time or forever. I believe though that not all of Angela’s prophecies will come true. Oromis himself said that Angela’s fortunes might not all come true. There is also the fact that the future is always changing, one decision can change the whole course of your future. One different decision on Eragon’s part could bring about his death and prove Angela’s fortune false.