Nothing like a good book to make you want to stay up late reading or stand in line to be one of the first to get your copy at one minute past midnight on the release date.
You can add "Brisingr," the third installment in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, to the list of books that make you want to do that.
Die-hard fans gathered at the King's English bookstore, among other places, for a release party Friday night. Mixed in were members of the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Renaissance Society of Utah, who were there to offer swordplay demonstrations, let kids try on mail armor, help with a trivia contest and come up with other creative ways to pass the time until the book's release.
"This is a totally different crowd from the one that was here for Stephenie Meyer's 'Breaking Dawn,"' said Jenn Northington, events and marketing manager for the bookstore. "This one is all about dragons and battles and such." Plus, she added, "there's been a much longer wait for this book."
Paolini was 15 when he wrote the first draft of a story about a boy and his dragon. After some rewriting and polishing, he let his parents read it, and they decided to publish it themselves. "Eragon" eventually came to the attention of editors at Random House, who bought the publishing rights and released their first edition in 2003. The second volume in what was then designed as a trilogy came out in August 2005.
However, as Paolini, who lives in Montana, was writing volume three, he realized that a fourth book would be necessary to do the story justice, so a final volume will come along later.
"Brisingr" will have a first printing for 2.5 million copies, the largest initial run for a Random House Children's Book. Since "Eragon" was first released, there have been some 50 foreign-language licenses for that book, and together "Eragon" and "Eldest" have sold 12.5 million copies worldwide.
Those figures don't surprise anyone who was at the release party. "I absolutely love this story," said Lydia Black, who is with the Renaissance Society. "I love dragons of all kinds, but I really, really like these."
She is definitely looking forward to reading this next installment. "The last one ended in the middle of a battle. There are so many questions to be answered: Will Eragon go bad? Will Murtagh be redeemed? What color will the next dragon be? Is 'Brisingr' the name of a dragon or something else?"
All Paolini has said about the name is that "brisingr" is an Old Norse name for fire. "As the first ancient-language word that Eragon learns," he has written, "it has held particular significance for his legacy as a Dragon Rider. In this new book, it will be revealed to be even more meaningful than even Eragon could have known."
Dana Barrintham is one of those who can't wait to find out. "I think the books are really, really good. They are exciting and suspenseful."
For Jackson Smith, they are "the best books I've ever read. The whole fantasy thing is pretty cool."
And said Matt Nebeker, "I like them 10 times better than the Harry Potter books, and that's saying something because I loved Harry Potter."
Events such as this are "wonderful," said Anne Brillinger, with The King's English. It's just so fun, she said, to see what books can do for people, the interest they can generate and the way they bring people together. "And I love that these books appeal to boys so much." Boys, who are so into video games and sports, can sometimes be reluctant readers, she said.
Johnny Warton is not among them. "He has been so excited about this one coming out," said his mother, Liz. "He's been waiting two years since he read the others, and he's been checking and checking the Web site to see when it was coming out."
"I love it," said Johnny. "I love the way he writes. I can just picture the things he talks about. I read the first one in fourth grade and just had to read the next one. This is so exciting."
And will he get to stay up all night reading? "We're still negotiating that," said his mother.