Christopher ?)- Paolini (1983() Biography
The publication of Christopher Paolini's first novel by New York-based publisher Alfred A. Knopf received more than its share of press, the reason being that the author was still a teenager. Paolini's novel, Eragon, the first book of a projected trilogy, quickly topped the bestseller charts.
Eragon takes place in Alagaësua, where a fifteen-year-old boy named Eragon lives on his family's farm with his uncle and cousin. Eragon discovers what he thinks is a blue gemstone covered with white veins, but the object is, in fact, a dragon egg. When a beautiful blue dragon emerges from the egg, the teen names her Saphira.
For over a century an evil king that rules Alagaësua took pains to destroy the Dragon Riders; now, by bonding with the mythical beast, Eragon becomes one of these forbidden riders. The evil King Galbatorix kills the boy's family and charges his dark servants with capturing Eragon and Saphira. Now hunted by these dark servants, the boy and dragon become travelers, and are joined by an old storyteller named Brom. During the adventures the travelers encounter, Eragon matures, and gains an understanding of love, loss, and the evil that is present in his world as he is pulled into the struggle between the king and the resistance forces of the Varden. Together, the boy, dragon, and wise old man draw on a combination of magic and traditional methods to protect and defend themselves from humanoid warriors.Paolini, who was home schooled by his mother, began writing Eragon at age fifteen, after earning his GED, because he was not yet ready to attend college and had time to kill. He finished the first draft of his novel within a year, and the second draft consumed another year. As Paolini noted on the Eragon Web site: "I started this book when I was fifteen, after several failed attempts composing other stories. It has been an incredible learning experience, and not only in writing. The greatest lesson it taught me was that clear writing is a direct result of clear thinking. Without one you cannot have the other."
Paolini's parents, who own a small publishing company, helped the teen edit the lengthy novel, and then printed 10,000 copies of the book. Turning down a full scholarship to attend Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Paolini and his parents took Eragon on the road. Dressed in medieval costume to reflect his novel's fantasy elements, the teen visited schools, libraries, bookstores, and fairs around the country, reading from his novel and promoting it at book signings, The Paolinis also placed Eragon in Montana book stores, where a copy was purchased by the stepson of Florida novelist Carl Hiaasen, while the Hiaasen family was in Montana on a fly-fishing trip. Hiaason called his editor at Alfred E. Knopf and suggested that the publisher might want to look at Eragon. They did and published a second edition, after doing some more editing of the book's length. In addition to climbing the bestseller charts, the novel was adapted as an audiobook and a film based on Eragon was scheduled for production in 2005.
Paolini drew on his knowledge of the history of modern fantasy, which he noted on his Web site has roots in "Teutonic, Scandinavian, and Old Norse history." He invented an Elven language based on Old Norse for his book; "all the Dwarf and Urgal words, however, are of my own invention," he added. The scenic area around Livingston, Montana, where the author lives, was also an inspiration for his story, which was described as a "solid, sweeping epic fantasy" by a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Booklist reviewer Sally Estes wrote that Paolini's "lush tale is full of recognizable fantasy elements and conventions. But the telling remains constantly fresh and fluid." Kliatt contributor Michele Winship noted that, in creating Eragon, the young author "takes a little Tolkien, a little McCaffrey, a coming-of-age quest, and combines them with some wicked good storytelling."
While both readers and critics enjoyed Eragon, some noted that the book nonetheless shows signs of being written by a first-time novelist. School Library Journal reviewer Susan L. Rogers felt that "sometimes the magic solutions are just too convenient for getting out of difficult situations," but noted that fans of J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy would find much in the novel that is familiar. New York Times Book Review contributor Liz Rosenberg cited what she saw as faults in the story, including clichés and "B-movie dialogue." While the book's "plot stumbles and jerks along, with gaps in logic and characters dropped, then suddenly remembered, or new ones invented at the last minute," Rosenberg added that "Eragon, for all its flaws, is an authentic work of great talent. The story is gripping; it may move awkwardly, but it moves with force. The power of Eragon lies in its overall effects—in the sweep of the story and the conviction of the storyteller. Here, Paolini is leagues ahead of most writers, and it is exactly here that his youth is on his side." While also noting Paolini's debt to Tolkien's work, a Publishers Weekly reviewer called Eragon "an auspicious beginning to both career and series."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August 15, 2003, Sally Estes, review of Eragon, p. 1981.
Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 2003, Yvonne Zipp, "Teen Author Wins Readers Book by Book."
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2003, review of Eragon, p. 967.
Kliatt, September, 2003, Michele Winship, review of Eragon, p. 10.
New York Times Book Review, November 16, 2003, Liz Rosenberg, review of Eragon.
Publishers Weekly, July 21, 2003, review of Eragon, p. 196.
School Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Susan L. Rogers, review of Eragon, p. 218; February, 2004, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Eragon (audiobook), p. 76.
Writer, March, 2004, interview with Paolini, p. 66.
Eragon Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/eragon/ (February 1, 2005).
Powells.com, http://www.powells.com/ (July 31, 2003), David Welch, "Philip Pullman, Tamora Pierce,a nd Christopher Paolini Talk Fantasy Fiction" (interview).*
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerChristopher ?)- Paolini (1983() Biography - Personal, Addresses, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights