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Success story Christopher Paolini


Success story: Christopher Paolini

With the publication of Inheritance Christopher Paolini has brought to a triumphant conclusion his epic sequence. In the UK this book had a first week sale of 76,000 copies and the series as a whole has sold 1.2 million books to date in the UK. It had a first printing of 2.5 million in the US. Not only have the books been translated in 49 countries but total sales for the first three books in the series have been 25 million copies worldwide.

Inheritance is 300,000 words long, twice the length of the first book Eragon. The author, now 28, has been immersed in writing this series since this first book was published. He said: ‘I worried that if I stopped writing the Eragon books, I wouldn’t finish the series.  Also, this is a coming-of-age story and I didn’t want to be too far away from that when I was writing it.’

His readers will be pleased to hear that he seems to have lots more books in mind: ‘I want to move into a longer-term career where each book may not be as popular as Eragon but may be popular in its own right.’  He says he has a number of books already plotted out across a range of genres including SF, fantasy, thrillers and historical fiction, but his next book will probably be SF.

He hasn’t totally abandoned the fantasy word of Eragon though: ‘I have put so much work into developing this world that it seems a shame not to do so again.  But I would like to try other things first.’

‘I started writing the “Inheritance” cycle all the way back in 1998, when I was fifteen years old. Since then, I have spent almost every single day either working on, thinking about, or talking about the story. The world and the characters became an integral part of my life; when I read a book or watched a movie, I’d often ask myself, “How would Eragon (or Saphira, or any of the other characters) react to that?”’

During the writing of Inheritance, the fourth and final book of the series, Paolini said: ‘I was constantly aware of the expectations of the readers, and of my responsibility to do as good a job as possible with the story. That sense of responsibility inspired me to push myself in ways I hadn’t even known were possible, but it also weighed on me and perhaps made the writing a bit more difficult than it needed to be.’

So, what is it that has made Paolini's series so successful? It appears to be sheer readability, the power of a good story carried successfully through the series. Read him yourself and make up your own mind.

Blog about the end of the sequence

The Inheritance Cycle website

Earlier success stories Darren Shan, Evie Wyld