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October 2005

Kvetha Fricäya. Greetings Friends.

Just a few days ago, I returned home from the North American book tour for Eldest. In my absence, the first signs of winter have arrived, turning the cottonwood trees orange and burning yellow, suffusing the air with the sharp bite of frost, and garbing the mountains in mantles of snow, like noble kings in their robes of old.

As I sit here, I find it hard to summarize my trip; it was such a large and overwhelming experience. How can I do justice to each and every person I met when I often spoke to thousands at each event? How can I convey the palpable heat of standing in a bookstore filled with so many people that it’s standing room only, or the near-deafening sound of scores of children screaming at the top of their lungs? How can I make you feel the depth of emotion apparent in so many readers’ voices as they explained what the Inheritance trilogy meant to them? The task is beyond me, unless I were to write an entire book about the trip. And even then, I could not capture all of it.

I had high hopes for this tour when I started out, but I never imagined that it would receive the response it did. Astonishment and amazement are both too small of words to encompass my initial—and ongoing—surprise… I mean, all I do is sit in my room and tap the keys on my computer, or wiggle my pen across a sheet of paper, and things like this happen as a result. It’s very strange. Despite speaking in public for a number of years now, I’m still not very comfortable with all the attention, nor do I think that anyone should grow accustomed to it.

Though I can not give you a feeling for the whole tour, I can at least touch upon a handful of unique moments, a montage, if you will—like I did with Eragon during the Agaetí Blödhren—of a few memories that flash bright and clear through my travel-induced haze.

I remember sitting in the Random House building with Mike Macauley and Matthew (both of Shurtugal.com), helping them to stuff pamphlets into envelopes in order to fill a few spare minutes. I remember having my picture taken in Times Square, listening to Gerard Doyle doing an incredible reading from the beginning of Eldest, and being so overcome at my first signing that I could barely get the words out of my throat. And I remember meeting Tamora Pierce (a lovely woman), meeting again a young man who made an incredible board game out of Eragon, and being escorted by three policemen (for security) through a Barnes & Noble in Washington D.C.

In Cleveland, I was privileged to introduce the cover artist for the Inheritance trilogy, John Jude Palencar, to my audience. He ended up signing as many books as I did—and he’s got a longer name, to boot.

In Nashville, I visited the headquarters of Ingram, the book distributor, and stared with wonder at what seemed like miles of automated machinery designed to get thousands of books a day to stores across the country.

In Kansas, before my presentation, the folks at Rainy Day Books arranged to have the Five Rings Fencing school demonstrate various types of swordplay, and I got to cross rapiers with their coach, Mark Wickersham. I felt like Eragon when he first tried to spar with Brom.

And in Salt Lake City, I again crossed paths with the artist, known online as Fatty Lumpkin—Kim Kincaid—who has created a collection of art that captures the spirit of Alagaësia. She gave me an magnificent drawing: a portrait of me standing next to Saphira, as Saphira gazes across the misty reaches of Alagaësia. Thank you!

I was joined for lunch in San Francisco by Danielle and her mother. Danielle was the grand prize winner chosen at random from among everyone who attended the midnight parties for Eldest. Random House flew Danielle and her mother down from Seattle for one of my events. Danielle is a delightful young woman, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. After my presentation that evening, I brought her up on the stage with me, and she helped me with the signing.

I had two great signings in Canada, one in Vancouver and one in Victoria. Both places were beautiful, and I would love to return and spend more time there to gaze at the gorgeous mountains.

There was more, of course, so much more. The employees at the stores that hosted the events went above and beyond the call of duty; not only were they always kind, courteous, and helpful, but they stuck it out through signings that were often four hours or longer. My gratitude goes out to you guys! And also to the media escorts and others who ushered me around, got me to places on time, made sure that I was fed and had the right pens (no small concern on tour), and otherwise made this trip possible. Anyone who has that job deserves a medal for perseverance, valor, and good cheer in the face of lost sleep.

And last but not least, I say thankya true to Judith, Melanie, and Shannon from Random House who traveled with me. They did everything I did, plus—in Judith and Melanie’s case—answering all their e-mail on their Blackberries. May the stars watch over them for their efforts.

The end of this part of the tour certainly felt like the close of another chapter in my life, as did the actual completion of Eldest. It struck me during my last signing that that was it: I would never do a trip like this again for my second novel. In a way, it was hard to let go, after so long spent with Eldest. Still, Book III beckons….

Before that however, I’m flying to Europe to meet the foreign publishers and readers of the Inheritance trilogy. I leave tomorrow for the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. It will be lots of fun, and I’ll be sure to tell you about it once I return at the beginning of November.

Until then, may your swords stay sharp!

Christopher Paolini

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Christopher Paolini

About Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini is the author of the international bestsellers Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, along with Eragon’s Guide to Alagaësia. He resides in Paradise Valley, Montana, USA.