Kvetha Fric?ya.

As with many authors who undertake an epic the length of the Inheritance trilogy, I have found that the creation of Eragon, and now Eldest, has become my own personal quest, one that has proven every bit as transforming as Eragon’s.

When first I conceived Eragon, I was fifteen — not quite a boy and not yet a man — just out of high school, unsure of what path to take in life, and addicted to the potent magic of the fantasy literature that adorned my shelves. The process of writing Eragon, marketing it across the world, and now finally completing Eldest has swept me into adulthood. I am twenty-one now and, to my continual astonishment, have already published two novels. Stranger things have occurred, I’m sure, but never to me.

Eragon’s journey has been my own: plucked from a sheltered rural upbringing and forced to rove the land in a desperate race against time; enduring intense and arduous training; achieving success against all expectations; dealing with the consequences of fame; and eventually finding a measure of peace.

Just as in fiction when the determined and well-meaning protagonist — who really isn’t all that bright, now is he? — is helped along his way by a host of wiser characters, so too have I been guided by a number of stupendously talented people. They are:

At home: Mom, for listening whenever I need to talk about a problem with the story or characters and for giving me the courage to throw out twelve pages and rewrite Eragon’s entrance into Ellesm?ra (painful); Dad, as always, for his incisive editing; and my dear sister, Angela, for deigning to reprise her role as a witch and for her contributions to her doppelg?nger’s dialogue.

At Writers House: my agent, the great and mighty Comma Master, Simon Lipskar, who makes all things possible (Mervyn Peake!); and his brave assistant Daniel Lazar, who keeps the Comma Master from being buried alive underneath a pile of unsolicited manuscripts, many of which I fear are the result of Eragon.

At Knopf: my editor, Michelle Frey, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in performing her job and has made Eldest so much better than it would have been otherwise; publicity director Judith Haut, for once again proving that no feat of promotion is beyond her reach (hear her roar!); Isabel Warren-Lynch, art director nonpareil who, with Eldest, has exceeded her previous accomplishments; John Jude Palencar, for a cover painting that I like even better than the one for Eragon; copy chief Artie Bennett, who has done a splendiferous job of checking all the obscure words in this trilogy and probably knows more than I do about the ancient language, although his Urgal is a mite weak; Chip Gibson, grand master of the children’s division at Random House; Nancy Hinkel, publishing director extraordinaire; Joan DeMayo, director of sales (much applause, cheers, and bowing!) and her team; Daisy Kline, who with her team designed the wonderful and eye-catching marketing materials; Linda Palladino, Rebecca Price, and Timothy Terhune, production; a bow of thanks to Pam White and her team, who have helped to spread Eragon to the four corners of the world; Melissa Nelson, design; Alison Kolani, copy editing; Michele Burke, Michelle Frey’s dedicated, hardworking assistant; and everyone else at Knopf who has supported me.

At Listening Library: Gerard Doyle, who brings the world of Alaga?sia to life; Taro Meyer for getting the pronunciation of my languages just right; Jacob Bronstein for pulling all the threads together; and Tim Ditlow, publisher of Listening Library.

Thank you all.

One more volume to go and we shall reach the end of this tale. One more manuscript of heartache, ecstasy, and perseverance… One more codex of dreams.

Stay with me, if it please you, and let us see where this winding path will carry us, both in this world and in Alaga?sia.

S? onr sverdar sitja hvass!

Christopher Paolini

August 23, 2005