Eragon Author Weighs in on Skyrim Paarthurnax Debate

Table of Contents

Highlights

  • The Paarthurnax debate in Skyrim continues to be a highly contested topic, with fans divided over whether he deserves to live or be killed.
  • Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon book series, believes that Paarthurnax should be spared and criticizes players who choose to kill him.
  • While siding with the Blades offers benefits, many players feel that killing Paarthurnax is a betrayal and prefer to side with him for gameplay advantages and the absence of consequences.

The Paarthurnax debate in Skyrim is one of the most contested topics in The Elder Scrolls‘ community even a decade after launch, and Eragon author Christopher Paolini weighed in with his thoughts on what the correct choice may be. While the Civil War in Skyrim has similarly split the fandom into Stormcloaks and Imperials, Bethesda (somewhat bluntly) attempted to pose a question with Paarthurnax on whether atonement was possible without punishment.

Paarthurnax was the younger brother of Alduin and his trusted lieutenant in the Dragon War – where he committed countless atrocities. He eventually chose to betray the World-Eater due to his increasingly tyrannical ambitions of conquering Mundus. Together with a group of ancient Nordic heroes and an Elder Scroll, Paarthurnax taught his allies how to use the Thu’um to banish Alduin into the Fourth Era. While the version of Paarthurnax that players meet in Skyrim is repentant, it could be argued that he never had a chance to repent for any of his sins. This is ultimately the crux of the debate among Skyrim players, and though they tend to favor Paarthurnax over siding with the Blades, time has proven that the choice isn’t as clear-cut as it may appear at first glance.

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Christopher Paolini, the author of the Eragon book series, seems to strongly believe that Paarthrunax deserves to live. In a reply to Tyler Richmond on Twitter, Paolini chastised Richmond for siding with the Blades and killing Paarthurnax in every single one of his Skyrim playthroughs. While Paolini being the author of a dragon-centric saga could be skewing his viewpoint, Paarthurnax plays a major role in helping the player face Alduin over the course of Skyrim‘s main quest, and he openly discusses his problematic past.

By contrast, Delphine and Esbern swear allegiance to the Dragonborn, yet present them with the ultimatum of killing Paarthurnax soon after. While siding with the Blades in Skyrim does have its benefits, such as increased damage against dragons, many players find killing Paarthurnax to be akin to betraying an ally.

Several Skyrim mods have attempted to add nuance to the Paarthurnax dilemma, as there are effectively no consequences for ignoring the Blades’ request. Meanwhile, killing Paarthurnax locks the Dragonborn out of receiving the Radiant quests that point towards unclaimed Word Walls, and given that Dragon Shouts in Skyrim play a major role in combat, siding with Paarthurnax is the most valuable choice from a pure gameplay perspective. Ultimately, fans hope that Bethesda will introduce more layered choices in the next Elder Scrolls title, which is currently in early development.

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Skyrim

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Franchise The Elder Scrolls Platform(s) PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, PS4, PS5, Switch Released November 11, 2011 Developer(s) Bethesda Publisher(s) Bethesda How Long To Beat 26 Hours Metascore 96 See at Bethesda Official See at Playstation Store See at Nintendo See at Xbox Games Store See at Steam

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