a nd lives fantasy
o fMAGIC STORY
By Will Fifield
“AS A READER, I”ve always felt that well-told
stories are really the closest we come to magic
in this world,” says Christopher Paolini, 24,
author of the bestselling epic fantasy series
The Inheritance Cycle. “I feel this even more as
Novels in Paolini’s series include Eragon
and Eldest, which together have sold more
than 12. 5 million copies, as well as Brisingr,
which will be released later this month.
Though sold as children’s books, The Inheritance Cycle, like C.S. Le wis’ The Chronicles
of Narnia series and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The
Lord of the Rings trilogy, appeals to readers of
all ages. Eragon, for instance, has been translated into 50 languages. Book sales for the
series have been so strong that the publisher,
Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint
of Random House, will have a first printing
of 2. 5 million copies, the company’s largest
initial run ever for a children’s book title.
While magic is a part of The Inheritance
Cycle, many people see more than a little en-
chantment at work in Paolini”s pat h to to
becoming an author. He began
writing Eragon when he was 15,
after graduating from an accredited
distance learning school. At the time,
he had been experimenting with writing from an outline. The now famous tome, he says, was actually a
test he devised for himself to see if h e
had the discipline to flesh out a boo k-length story from a detailed outline.
When he handed the draft of Eragon to
children in Paradise Valley, Montana, where
the family still resides, they felt the practice
novel had potential. They devoted themselves
to editing the story for about a year, then self-published the book through a print-on-demand company.
Paolini says that this commitment is part
of how his parents raised and educated him.
He’s quick to credit them for teaching him to
learn on his own and try big ideas. “If my sister, Angela, or I ever expressed an interest in
a certain subject, we were encouraged to pursue it, to really dive into it,” he says.
His parents made endless trips to the
public library to find information on the children’s subjects of interest, helping them
become experts in various fields.
“This [kind of learning] ultimately leads
to an attitude where you’re not afraid to
pursue your interests,” Paolini tells The
Connection. “It’s very liberating when you
realize that you don’t need other people to tell
you how to do something. If you want to
learn woodcarving, well, you can go get books
and teach yourself woodcarving. Or physics.
Or math. Or whatever the subject may be.”
After self-publishing Eragon, his parents
risked nearly everything to help their son
pro-motethebook. Theytookayearoff workand
the entire family became a marketing team,
driving around the country to promote it.
Paolini says that if the book had taken much
longer to become profitable, the family would
have had to sell their house, move to a city
and take regular jobs.
novelist Carl Hiaasen read Eragon after Ryan,
his stepson, raved about it. Hiaasen liked the
novel so much he recommended it to an
editor at his publisher, Random House. The
publisher purchased the rights to the entire
series, and Paolini has been working on it
“If not for what he [Hiaasen] did
recommending Eragon to an editor at Random
House, none of this would have played out
quite the way it has with the series,” Paolini
says. “I am definitely in his debt for that.
“The whole experience with the series has
been 90 percent incredibly hard work and 10
percent incredible luck.” Not to mention a
little magic. C
The Costco Connection
Christopher Paolini’s Brisingr will be available in most warehouses and at costco.com
COSTCO HAS 25 signed copies of
Christopher Paolini’s Brisingr and Jamie
L ee Curtis’ Big Words for Little
P eople ( see page 42) to give
a way. To enter, print the name
o f the book you hope to win,
y our name, membership
number, address and daytime umber, address and daytime
p hone number on a postcard
o r letter and send it to: Book
Beat, The Costco Connect-i on, P.O. Box 34088, Seattle,
W A 98124-1088. Or send
an e-mail to
with “Book Beat” in the subject line.
No purchase is necessary. Open to legal
residents of the U.S. (except Puerto Rico) who
are age 18 or older at the time of entry and
who are current Costco members. One entry
per household. Entries must be received or
postmarked by October 1, 2008. Winners will
be randomly selected and notified by mail
on or before November 1, 2008. The value
of the prizes are $27.50 and $16.99 (
respectively). Void where prohibited. Winners are
responsible for all applicable federal, state and
local taxes. Odds of winning depend on the
number of eligible entries received. Employees
of Costco, Random House and HarperCollins and their families are not eligible.