Kvetha Fricäya! Greetings Friends.
A few days ago, UPS pulled up to the house and delivered a scrapbook bound in tooled leather. The scrapbook is, quite simply, amazing. Mike Macauley, webmaster of Shurtugal.com, was the instigator of this project. It was his idea to solicit letters, poems, riddles, and art from fans of the Inheritance trilogy (over a thousand people from around the world participated), compile the responses into a single volume, and send it to me as a birthday present, as was also done in 2004.
Well, the scrapbook may have arrived a bit past my birthday, but the delay is understandable, considering that this tome weighs a staggering fifteen pounds. I have, at times, been accused of writing books too long for my own good—I even leveled that charge at myself when finding myself hard-pressed by a deadline—but Eldest is a puny volume indeed compared with this monster of a book. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the literary equivalent of a champion weightlifter. ’Tis a nine-hundred-pound gorilla, an eighteen wheeler, and a cruise ship all rolled into one.
To be brief, it’s big!
And I don’t just mean physical size. This scrapbook is big in another way; it represents the breadth of generosity, inventiveness, know-how, kindness, and energy that I have come to associate with those who love fantasy, and who love reading in general. It overwhelms me. I’ve never heard of another instance where readers commissioned a smith to forge a sword for an author; or spontaneously, and of their own free will, made a scrapbook of this quality and accomplishment; or did any of the other amazing deeds I have witnessed these past few years.
Elrun ono. Thank you. I’m honored to know that people such as you are the readers of my book. May the wind always be at your back, may the elves and dwarves consider you a friend, and, if you should happen to encounter a dragon, may you escape with all your limbs intact. (Dragons can be a mite unpredictable.)
A few highlights from the scrapbook seem appropriate. To wit, the book’s proper name is Du Dagshelgr abr Christopher Paolini-vor, or The Hallowed Day of Christopher Paolini, a rather clever use of the ancient language. Throughout, drawings, both large and small, adorn the book. They were created by Fatty Lumpkin (no, that’s not her real name) who has established herself as one of the finest and most prolific artists to find inspiration in the land of Alagaësia. Her fierce-eyed dragons and elegant scrollwork give the book a sense of age, as if the manuscript had been illuminated by monks a thousand years ago. The interior is partitioned into four sections: letters, poems, artwork, and finally, pictures of many of the contributors. Each section begins with a pair of riddles, all of which, I’m proud to say, I was able to solve, with the exception of an especially devilish one, the answer to which was a towel.
Here now is a partial list of those who made this possible: Mike Macauley, for pulling the project together; Fatty Lumpkin, for her art; Mrs. Lumpkin’s daughter (who must have the patience of a saint, as she designed and formatted the entire scrapbook—what a job!); and Joelle, Matt, Bob, Robert, Seth, and all the folks who keep Shurtugal.com running smoothly.
Thank you all.
As far as Book III goes, I’m finally making good headway. I took a few weeks off late last year to recover from my North American and European book tours. During my break, I drew two pieces of art that Random House will be printing in the deluxe edition of Eldest, and, for my own uses, worked out one of the dwarves’ two rune alphabets. Now, wonder of wonders, I am writing scenes that have been stuck in my head for over six years. Yay!
When I was on the road, I had several people ask me what the black mountain of Helgrind looks like. For those who are interested, I based Helgrind’s appearance upon an incredible rock formation called Shiprock, which is in New Mexico. I saw Shiprock while driving through the area, and it was so striking, so amazing, I had to use it somewhere in Eragon.
It’s still winter. The mountains are mostly covered in snow, with bare areas of rock that rise to spear the sky, miles above the Paradise Valley.
Hay fever is nothing but a distant threat. And a big leather notebook sits in front of me, waiting to be filled with the rest of this epic.
So for now, goodbye. I have a battle to describe.
May your swords stay sharp!