By Beth Clark • November 21, 2018
If you're as excited as we are about the upcoming publication of Christopher Paolini's "The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm," then this blog is for you! (And if you're not as excited as we are, you should be, so it's still for you.) Subtitled "Tales from Alagaësia Volume 1: Eragon" the book is the first in a new series and written as three short stories set in the world of Eragon's current adventures in Alagaësia.
Christopher Paolini was already unique among teens by virtue of his homeschooled upbringing in Montana, but it was his exceptional 'hobby' that catapulted him into a category of his own: writing Eragon at the age of 15. He'd already earned his high school diploma, but his parents didn't think he was quite mature enough for college, so drawing upon his love of the fantasy novels he began reading when he was 10, he got to work creating the world of a boy and a dragon, which we now know as Alagaësia, Eragon, and Saphira, respectively.
What makes Paolini's story even more epic is the way Eragon was published, or rather, self-published: by his parents initially, after they saw the final manuscript the year their son turned 18. (Well played, Mr. and Mrs. Paolini, well played!) Then—and this is where things get really cool—during a year-long promo tour of the US (in costume!), the book came to the attention of none other than Carl Hiaasen, the author of Hoot and over 30 other books for kids and grownups. Thanks to his intercession, Eragon was re-published by Random House a year later, and next thing he knew, 21-year-old Paolini was appearing on the "Today" show and touring the country on a whole new level.
On that note, this is where a synopsis of Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is in order, followed by a peek into the pages of The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm. Speaking of order, if you don't own his first four novels yet, now is the time to let ThriftBooks help you fix that since you'll have the perfect opportunity to read (or re-read) them while we work on making The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm available. (Oh, and by the way, Paolini never did go to college, but he was offered a scholarship.)
Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed following his attempt to use a mysterious ‘stone' he found in the mountains as payment to a butcher. (It was actually an egg, which he finds out when Saphira, his loyal dragon, hatches from it.) Gifted with only Saphira, an ancient sword, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.
Eragon and Saphira have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of cruel King Galbatorix, ruler of the Empire. Eragon must now travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in Dragon Rider skills: magic and swordsmanship. On the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to the awe-inspring places and people that fill his days with fresh adventure. But with chaos and betrayal plaguing him at every turn, and nothing what it seems, Eragon doesn't know whom to trust. Then his cousin Roran must fight a new battle that might put Eragon in even graver danger. Will the king's dark hand strangle all resistance?
Oaths sworn…loyalties tested…forces collide. Only months since Eragon first uttered "brisingr," the ancient word for fire, he's learned to create magic with words…and been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and Saphira narrowly escaped with their lives. There is still more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by promises he may not be able to keep. First is his oath to his cousin, Roran: to help rescue Roran's beloved from King Galbatorix's clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength, as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, possibly leading to unimagined sacrifice. Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?
Not long ago, Eragon Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider, was merely a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but also heartbreaking loss. The real battle still lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances. The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope, but can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?
According to an @OfficialPaolini Facebook Timeline post in response to the most popular questions received about The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the book is the first volume of a new series of short stories set in the world of Alagaësia. (The Inheritance Cycle will continue—squeee!—with book five to be set after the events of this volume.) The three short stories (one longer than the others) of The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm are set inside the larger framework of Eragon's current adventures far to the east of Alagaësia. The book also includes portions written by Paolini's younger sister, Angela, writing as 'Angela the Herbalist' in "On the Nature of Stars"
Happy reading, and as Eragon would say, "May your sword stay sharp!"