Revisiting Favorite Series: Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle
You may have already seen the big announcement that fantasy superstar Christopher Paolini’s last book in the Inheritance cycle, titled Inheritance, will be published November 8. Christopher’s books are international bestsellers, with over 25 million sold worldwide and a movie made of his first novel, Eragon. We are all huge fans of his work, and will be blogging more about Inheritance leading up to the on-sale date. However, it has been years since Eragon was first published, and new children are ready to discover the wonders of Alagaesia, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira. I thought it would be fun for Deanna and me to revisit Christopher’s background, and to share our memories of working with this talented young author.
We would love to share the first three books in the series with new readers who love fantasy and adventure, so please leave a comment for a chance to win a boxed set of the first three books. If you share the post on Facebook or Twitter, let us know and you will be entered an additional time. US residents only, please, and we will randomly select a winner next Monday.
Christopher wrote the first draft of Eragon at fifteen years old. Homeschooled by his parents in Montana, his book became a family project, and with his parents’ help, he spent two more years revising it, editing, designing a cover, and creating marketing materials. The first self-published copy arrived in 2001, and from 2001-2003, the Paolini family toured regional schools, stores and libraries promoting Eragon. What happened next is really amazing; bestselling author Carl Hiaasen, on vacation with his family in Montana, came across a copy of Eragon when his stepson bought it to read. Interested in the book that so captured the boy’s attention, he took a copy to his publisher, Knopf, when he was in New York. Christopher’s future editor, Michelle Frey, called the Paolinis to find out if they would want to be published by Random House, and the rest is history. Our version of Eragon hit stores in August 2003 to wide acclaim and fantastic sales.
I first met Christopher when he was in San Diego for Comic Con, the year following Eragon’s release. We sat next to each other at a dinner honoring the science fiction and fantasy authors that were appearing at the show. Christopher was very excited to meet acclaimed science fiction author Terry Brooks. I really enjoyed our conversation over dinner, and left with the impression that he was young, sweet and a passionate book lover. He seemed a little overwhelmed at the attention he was receiving, and that crowds of fans wanted to come to his signings. I could tell the rollercoaster ride was just beginning for him.
The second time we met was years later, when Christopher came to Vroman’s Bookstore as part of a national tour for Brisingr. This was in fall of 2008, so five years and two books after Eragon was first published by Random House. During that time, he had traveled extensively across the world for the books, met countless numbers of fans, both here and internationally, and had watched his first book become a movie. Even though he was definitely more polished and mature, he was still just as down-to-earth as before, and while we waited backstage before his speech to the signing attendees, he joked with his publicist and me, did cartwheels, and chatted with various store staff members about chain mail collections, kung fu movies and his workout routine. At 22, he still resembled the many kids who were at the signing, eager to meet the young writer who inspired them.
Recently, I’ve seen more and more very young authors getting published, but when we published Eragon it really wasn’t as common. Christopher’s talent and drive, at such a young age, were really astonishing to our buyers, and his message to kids that they could go after their dreams and become what they wanted to be made a big impact. In almost every written piece I’ve read about Christopher there is a mention of the aspiring young authors who drew inspiration from his story. And of course, kids also love the books because they are just so entertaining! Here is a rave from a young fan:
Christopher Paolini is an awesome author. I was immediately hooked after reading the first chapter of “Eragon”, and the “Inheritance Cycle” is one of my favorite book series. Eragon is brave and smart, and he makes a great protagonist. The plot is also very addicting!
-Xavier R. (Epic guitar player)
Here’s what Deanna had to say…
When I first heard the news that Christopher Paolini’s Eragon had been picked up by Random House and was a self-published book, the first thing I did was get myself a copy of his first edition. If you’ve never seen it, see below for a picture of the cover. Inside my edition is his signature and a hand-written thank-you note from his first tour. He came to PNBA that year as the kick-off to his first tour. It was shortly after that things really took off!
Despite the fact that I love what John Jude Palencar has done with the covers, I have always liked this one because that’s Christopher’s artwork on the cover. He and his family did everything for this book. They printed it, they toured for it, they basically sacrificed everything for their son’s dream and it paid off!
Christopher has come to Seattle for each subsequent book, and of course the venues have gotten larger and larger.
For Eldest we created these red-hot boxes to emphasize the fiery red dragon on the cover. Don’t ask me why I still have these hanging around, but a recent office cleaning unearthed them.
In 2008, for the release of Brisingr, we created a national on-line and off-line scavenger hunt which ended with 3 eggs placed in public places. Here’s a picture of the one that was at the Seattle Public Library.
For Brisingr, University Books hosted him at Town Hall, a 1000 seat venue. Here’s a picture of their fantastic in-store display.
They set up a whole carnival-like event in the lobby which included a scrying station, a place for crafts, food, a photo booth and more. The highlights were the singers and swordsmen they hired to perform. They entertained the crowds before the reading and then again during the signing, which understandably took a lot of time and patience for his fans. Christopher in particular got a kick out of the local group called the Seattle Knights. After he finally came to the end of the long line, he got up on stage with them for a bit of sword play and to admire their weaponry up close. Christopher makes his own swords so this it was of particular interest to him.
We’ve heard Christopher will be touring again for Inheritance. I hope he comes to Seattle so I get a chance to see him and congratulate him on his wild ride. I can’t wait to see what stores across the country come up with to celebrate the end of the series!
If you’ve never read this amazing series, you still have time to catch up before Inheritance is released! Here are the first three chapters of Eragon to get you started! You can also read more about Christopher Paolini at www.alagaesia.com or http://shurtugal.com.