Christopher Paolini Reflects on Success, Writing and Returning to the World of Eragon in “Murtagh”


Murtagh: The World of Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini started writing Eragon when he was 15 years old. His first published novel told the story of an adventurous young boy and his friendship with a mystical dragon, which became a beloved book for readers of all ages. Twenty years after its publication, Paolini has returned to the world of the Inheritance Cycle with his new novel, Murtagh (Knopf Books For Young Readers).

Filled with fantasy, magic and beloved characters, Paolini’s novels have become modern classics in the genre. His sci-fi novel, Fractal Noise, proved that Paolini is a multi-faceted writer and storyteller, with an expert handle on the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

His stories have captured the hearts and souls of readers everywhere, and Murtagh is no exception. Murtagh is a powerful book, set after the last Eragon installment, Inheritance, and the events of his collection of stories titled The Fork, The Witch and The Worm. The book promises readers a fast-paced adventure as it follows a familiar main character, Murtagh — Eragon’s half-brother — and his dragon, Thorn. Together, they face the consequences of the fall of an evil king and their exile to the outskirts of society. As the pair faces new challenges alone, an epic journey to find a mysterious witch ensues.

BookTrib had the chance to speak with Paolini about his early rise to fame, the beloved worlds he has created and his plans for the future of the series.

Q: You began writing Eragon at 15 years old. Now, you’re finally returning to The Inheritance Cycle to continue the bestselling series with your new book Murtagh. Tell us about this journey — did you ever expect to be where you are now, returning to the world you created when you were a teenager?

A: Not even in my wildest dreams. When I started Eragon, I never expected anyone outside of my family to read it (heck, I wasn’t even sure if my sister would read it!). Eragon was something I wrote for myself, just to prove that I could write something longer than five or six pages. To still be talking about it and working in this world is amazing. That Murtagh is coming out in the twentieth-year anniversary of Eragon only makes that much more rewarding. I’m incredibly grateful for the support of readers throughout the years. Without them, none of this would have been possible.

Q: You lucked out with the publication of such a successful series at such a young age, and it launched your career. What advice would you give to other young writers who are taking the first steps in their writing careers? What is the advice you wish someone else had given you back then?

A: Hmm. The first thing any aspiring author should realize is that I’m a bad example. The odds of one’s first book having the success that Eragon did are vanishing small. I’m still not sure how it happened, quite honestly.

That said, one thing I really wish I had known when I was starting out is this: Just because you write a bad sentence/paragraph/scene/chapter/storyline/or even first draft, doesn’t make you a bad writer. Missteps are a natural part of the process. No one gets it right the first time, no matter how long they’ve been doing it. Accept that imperfection is normal . . . and then don’t let it discourage you. As long as you can see the issues in your work (or an editor can point them out to you), and as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort needed to fix them, you’ll be fine.

As they say in the military, “Embrace the suck.” The difficult path is usually the necessary path. So don’t be afraid of revision or criticism. And if you can come to terms with it, you’ll become immune to failure. It really feels like a type of superpower. You will be uncomfortable at times when writing/revising. That’s okay. As long as you love the story you’re working on, and as long as you don’t give up, you’ll get to where you’re trying to go (although probably not by the exact route you imagine). Trust the process, even when it’s hard.

Q: You are about to head out on tour to promote Murtagh. How do you feel about meeting fans who have loved the series for 20 years, since the very beginning? What excites you about finally releasing Murtagh to readers?

A: I’m incredibly excited to be heading back out on tour. It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with the folks, new and old, who support the series. The fun thing is that I’ve been meeting some of the same readers for a couple of decades now, which is pretty special.

As for Murtagh … mainly I just want people to finally be able to read it! After so much time since Inheritance, and after working on the new book for a couple of years, I’m eager to see the fans’ reactions.

Q: Eragon is getting the TV treatment on Disney+, and I for one can’t wait to see Eragon and Saphira grace the screen (again). Tell us a bit about your involvement as a co-writer on the show and what it’s like to get another shot at adapting your books for the screen.

A: We’re still very early in the process, but yes, I’ll be serving as both an executive producer and co-writer for the new show. We were just about to get it off the ground when the writers’ strike hit, so things got slowed down, but I’m hoping we’ll have the series back up and running before too long.

It’s pretty awesome to have another chance at adapting this story. Ultimately, I hope to help create a faithful, moving and good TV show. Fantasy is a lot harder to make than, say, science fiction, and I’d love to have a hand in crafting a really good fantasy show. And doubly so since it’s Eragon.

Q: A lot of people would consider you to be one of the canon authors of the fantasy genre. What authors have you been reading these days that inspire you and inform your own work? 

A: That’s very kind of them.

Alas, I haven’t been reading very much over the past year. Work and babies have chewed up all of my free time. Still, I recently read the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, which were fun, and I really enjoyed Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

Q: You’ve said that Murtagh isn’t the end of this series. What do you have in store for the upcoming books? Are there any other upcoming creative projects you can share?

A: In an ideal world, I would alternate between writing books set in the Fractalverse (my sci-fi universe) and the World of Eragon. That would make me happy. Still, I have ideas for an enormous amount of stories that directly follow Murtagh, and I’m tempted to dive right into one.

Once I’m finished touring, I’ll have a better idea of what I’d like to write next, so … ask me again in two months. Regardless, readers may rest assured that I have every intention of writing as many books as I can.

Publish Date: November 7, 2023

Genre: Fantasy

Author: Christopher Paolini

Page Count: 704 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 9780593650868

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