Last night I went to the Christopher Paolini Brisingr release party at the New York Barnes & Noble on 17th Street. There I learned I will never be a reporter—I was surrounded by adorable ten year olds and way too shy to ask the burning question for every Inheritance Cycle fan: What do you think about John Jude Palencar’s artwork on the covers?
Instead, I had to settle for calling John and chatting with him a bit. “We wanted something more intimate than the typical grandiose, epic fantasy cover. Something that would hint at the psychic connection between Eragon and Sapphire. I was thinking of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as I was working on Eragon. The response to this series is overwhelming, just these past two weeks I talked to 15 different countries about the rights to the Brisngr cover.” John also mentioned he has had a number of conversations with Paolini, mostly talking about the creative process. It seems Paolini is an art fan, having discovered John and Brom through Spectrum and “tuckerized” both of them in his novels.
The Barnes & Noble was packed tonight, with a line around the block (to the puzzlement of Friday night club-goers.) Once inside it was full of whooping and cheering as Gerard Doyle, the Inheritance Cycle audio books actor, read from Eldest and then as Paolini read from a copy of Brisingr freshly pulled from a carton, cut open at midnight on the dot. (With the tired mom next to me saying, “I can’t believe I’ll be back here in a few hours to buy cheese and tomatoes at the farmers’ market.”) I haven’t read these books but it’s hard not to be moved by a crowd of people from seven to not-so-seven cheering and staying up late to buy a fantasy novel.
As I was milling about, I was finally able to get up the nerve to talk to one young man, Louis Philippe, but only because I overheard him talking about Palencar to his friends, and because he was sporting a very cool Japanese edition of Brisingr. When I asked him what he thought of John’s work, he grinned from ear to ear, was speechless for a second, and said, “He’s amazing. He breathes life into images.”