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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Alagaesia News



I'm finally in the home stretch with Brisingr. It took an enormous
amount of effort to finish the first draft, but it is finished now,
and I couldn't be more relieved. At the moment, I'm busy chewing my
way through the editing, which has been a surprisingly enjoyable
experience this time around. The hardest part is having to excise
material that I spent days, and sometimes weeks, laboring over.
However, as most any writer will tell you, just because you spent ten
days slaving over a certain scene is no reason to keep it in the final
manuscript. The only question that matters is whether the scene
contributes to the book as a whole. If not, then it must go.

I have to say, I love the cover of the new book. I think that John
Jude Palencar really outdid himself with this one. It feels right for
the book too; Brisingr is the longest and most intense entry in the
series so far, and his art reflects that. Someday, I'd like to see him
paint the Ra'zac as well. The Ra'zac and Angela the Herbalist. . . .
Together. Yup. That would be interesting.

Winter has yet to release its clutches on our valley here in Montana.
Just today, we had another whiteout snowstorm and eight inches of
snow. I shouldn't be surprised, though. At one time or another, it's
snowed during every month of the year in Paradise Valley.

In other news, the literary world recently lost Arthur C. Clarke, the
last of the Big Three science fiction authors. (The others being
Heinlein and Asimov.) Each of the three wrote books that had a
profound influence on me while growing up. In Clarke's case, it was
Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood's End, and 2001. Arthur C. Clarke was
one of the greatest prophets and visionaries of our time, and the
world is a poorer place without him. May the memory of him live
forever among the stars.

Also, on a more personal note, we just had to have our dog, Annie, put
down. I mention it because she was as much a member of the family as
any one of us, and because it was she, more than anyone, who provided
the basis for Saphira's character. Annie was a mutt: half
cocker-spaniel and half Australian Shepherd dog, knee-high and full of
wiggles. She looked nothing like a dragon, but she was more like
Saphira than you might imagine.


We got Annie as a puppy in 1994, and my sister and I grew up playing
with her along the banks of the Yellowstone River. I remember coaxing
her into a deep hole I had dug and sitting with her in the cool
shadows, watching the clouds scurry past far overhead. I remember
running through the snow late at night, shouting her name, frantic
because I thought she might be lost. I remember wrestling with her. I
remember watching her do the most horrific things to baby mice. I
remember her wet nose, and the smell of her fur, and the expressions
on her face. I remember walking with her through a gigantic herd of
cows, and all of the cows forming a tight circle around us and mooing
as loudly as they could, eager to defend their calves from the little
wolf in their midst. The cows scared me, but they never scared her.
More than once, we saw Annie playing with a wild fox out in the
fields. She loved walks so much, we had to spell the word out, else
she became so excited, we had no choice but to take her out. Her
energy and enthusiasm seemed boundless.

In the past few years, though, various aches and pains began to slow
her down, and eventually, they left her in so much distress—along with
the stroke she had yesterday—the kindest thing we could do was relieve
her of her suffering.

Annie was as good a friend as I have ever known. I shall miss her for
the rest of my life. She taught me more about life and death and the
art of living than any philosopher. She taught me that happiness
consists of five things: food, sleep, exercise, being with your pack,
and freedom from pain. Everything else is extraneous.

Over the years, Annie gave me several scars, the biggest ones being
bite marks on my forearms, which were my own fault, not hers. Now that
she is gone, I wish I had more scars from her, for they are the only
things I have to remember her by. And I wish I had taken her on just
one more walk.

Stydja unin mor'ranr, Annie. May the ground squirrels whisper your
name in terror for generations to come.

Christopher Paolini

For more information and news about
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